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Letters to the editor: FLAX, Teufel, Dynaudio, Khadas & more

  • Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
    Everybody knows the war is over
    Everybody knows the good guys lost
    Everybody knows the fight was fixed

    Everybody knows. Fine for a Leonard Cohen song but when seen as part of general discourse we might ask ourselves: how might any one of us know everybody else and/or what they are thinking? Conflating our own opinion with common knowledge is a common side effect of a robustly-expressed opinion. A step back and a deep breath helps us realise that the strength of our opinion isn’t necessarily directly correlated with its ubiquity. And Everybody Knows is where we start our latest round of Letters to the Editor.


    Mark D. writes…

    I am going to make an obvious point that every audiophile is aware of, but that seemed to elude you during your conversation in the last podcast with Jeff Dorgay. Only one in three (I am being very generous) recordings sound good on a hi-end system. This has been true since the vinyl-only era. Very little contemporary electronic or rock music sounds good on hi-end audio. In fact, it sounds like shite. Everyone knows this. However, sounds fine on Bluetooth speakers and lowish end in earphones, the media it was intended for. Everyone knows this too. As soon as you start to obsess about the sound you become aware of how crap most recordings are. This is the price you pay for being an audiophile and explains why sound is often privileged over the music.

    James B. writes…

    Last weekend my daughter and I went to the Florida Audio Expo as we did last year. We heard a lot of nice stuff but it was only when we listened to Billie Eilish on the Piega Premium 701 powered speakers that my daughter offered an opinion. “I never knew Billie Eilish could sound that good. You miss so much on the car radio or the earbuds”. That’s the reaction manufacturers want. And that gets to the real problem. Seasoned listeners can recognize good sound even if played unfamiliar material. Newcomers don’t have that ability yet. They need to listen to music they’re familiar with and hold close in order to hear the difference and get that wow. Regarding the show, headphones are the gateway drug and I couldn’t [see?] any on Friday. They also allow folks to listen to their own music without annoying the pipe and jacket set.

    Lance. R writes…

    I love your YouTube and Darko.Audio website! You have made me acutely aware of how amazing the audio world is. Though still completely overwhelming and confusing, you have helped me see through the fog and noise and to remind me to STOP. LISTEN. ENJOY. The music. Not to stress about this or that, but simply sit back…enjoy the music. Smile, have a cup of coffee and let the music take us to another place. Because of you, I now experience music on another level. Amps, DACs, speakers and headphones. I have upgraded them all and in some cases actually bought one (DAC). Music has never sounded so personal.

    The reason I am actually writing to you tho is that I really appreciate your music lists. Currently listening to Meze Rai Penta (Spotify) list you so kindly put together for us. I think you missed your calling as a DJ (never too late). Thank you for introducing me to music I would otherwise have missed out on. Looking forward to your next list!

    Got Qobuz? Click here. Got Spotify? Click here.

    Jimmie L. writes…

    Good evening!

    First, the mandatory, I like what you do comment. I really like your take on reviews and you seem to be an audiophile that would be fun at parties, and those are hard to find.

    I realize that there are a lot of speakers you would like to review, but don’t have the time.
    I would just like to point your eyes, and ears, towards Dynaudio and their latest Xeo and Xeo XD range.

    That is all.

    Joe I. writes…

    My name is Joe. This is simply a little short message to say, I’ve been a HiFi and music enthusiast since a young buy. I had piles of HIFi mags that I would hoard and dream through. I believed in the voices of those magazines, later in life I realised much of those options were formed for other reasons other than the products innovation and worth, I guess money talks.

    But your journalism appears genuine and true, it’s refreshing and it’s what we need in the industry. Keep going, it’s been lovely to see your popularity and impact grow. Your insight and thoughts are wide and complex and we all love that. Keep strong to your passion, we need you in this game.


    Ronald E. writes.

    The audiophile world gets cooler and cooler with every passing day. Not exactly sure what the hell they’re saying…BUT, the claim is for triode tubey-ness for IBASSSO music players! Check it for yourself here. Found this as I was doing some research on the KORG Nutube device and some products that use it. Call me old but it fascinates the shit out of me.

    Paul B. writes…

    HI John

    The site continues to be great as always – a good mix of equipment and opinion without the ridiculous audiophile nonsense. If you haven’t yet, check out the Khadas Tone Board – single board DAC module. Can be added to their own SBC or stand-alone (with some crafting of a case). Performance per dollar is breathtaking.

    Frederik N. writes…

    Hello John,

    I like your approach to hi-fi testing and share your taste in music. I especially like your recent YouTube videos about Raspberry Pi streaming and other modern takes on a hi-fi setup, like the KEF LS50 Wireless and Bluesound Powernode 2i.

    One product (with a Swedish heritage) I would love to see you review is the Teenage Engineering OD-11, a modern take on the Sonab OD-11 from 1974, the original was created by legendary audio wizard Stig Carlsson. This is not a brand new product, I think it was introduced in 2015 or 2016 but it supports Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2.

    Steve O. writes…

    Perhaps you can review some JMR speakers (France) at some point. Not well known here in the States but probably should be based on their performance and relative affordability. Just a suggestion. You are a great asset to the world of audio, by the way!

    Steve D. writes…

    [Re. Jerry Raskin The Needle Doctor calling it a day]. I just found this out today, not sure if you knew of the business but it was legendary. The audio world is global but being on the other side from us you may not hear some things. No need to reply, just thought you might be interested.

    https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2019/11/19/the-needle-doctor-is-out-turntable-specialist.html

    An article from 1997:

    https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/stories/1997/11/17/smallb1.html

    I love the way he started off using Burger King parking for his clients, and note how he used a microphone in his record store when he was a student to sell to other students. Over time his business did really well financially.

    Andrew H. writes…

    Hi John,

    I’ve been a paid-up member of the Future-Fi movement since Slim Devices days, and through all that time the hardware’s been ahead of the controlling software. Now it’s harder than ever to juggle options, with support for various streaming services either through a service’s native technology and a proprietary app, or by leveraging a (semi) standard like Chromecast.

    My recent purchase of a Raumfeld Teufel Controller has me scratching my head again in search for a lossless streaming service that plays gapless controlled by an Android device running an app that doesn’t suck.

    I’m sure you’ve come across this phenomenon. It’s the software that makes the experience.

    I’ve not ponied up to try them, but I understand that Roon and BluOS aren’t bad, but they’re not compatible with the (frankly, cheap) option I went for. I thought I’d found a bargain, but now I’m starting to regret the decision based purely on its poor controller software.

    I wonder whether this is something you might consider as a topic, if only as a warning to potential purchasers like me? I’ve been searching all over for information on various third party apps in my quest for a solution, which services they support, whether they support gapless playback etc., but no-one seems to have tackled it yet. For what it’s worth my current compromise is Tidal over the Raumfeld app, but once again it’s lacking some fairly basic UX design work.

    Apologies if you have covered this elsewhere, but my search of your content didn’t turn anything up.

    My reply: I can only really tackle gapless and app UX on a case by case basis. i.e. each time I review a streaming device. I made a video recently with Terry Medalen from Primare about how essential gapless playback is. This is why I generally stay away from UPnP. It’s too much of a gapless lottery, as you have unfortunately discovered.

    Ronald E. writes…

    You go looking around the net for just basic answers to basic questions. What you get much of the time is a whole bunch of nothing. Fussing, fighting, confusion. The head spins. So, thanks for this comforting interview. I know now I’m not crazy. Or, if I am, I’m in really good company. 🙂

    And Paul, I wore that same monkey suit and sat behind an almost identical console in the late 1970’s. In my case, it was in D.C. at the Navy Yard, working for AIRS (Army Information Radio Service). Spinning 45’s and dispensing the army’s brand of consumer information.

    John X. writes…

    I just wanted to drop you a quick message and let you know how much I have enjoyed the interview videos you have posted with Mike and Jason. I am intrigued by their story, perspectives and their company. I have purchased a Magni and a Modi and am considering purchasing more of the products. I wish you had more video of interviews with Jason and Mike. I am also hoping Mike’s health has improved but the lack of information would suggest it has not improved. I enjoy your other videos as well. Keep up the great work…

    Daniel K. writes…

    Music first, right? You and I share a similar taste in music (and are expats in Germany).

    I wanted the share some bands I am really into that I haven’t seen on playlists or in the videos. Hoping it is something you like!!

    The Sidewalks and Skeletons album White Light may be ideal for your Sunday routine 🙂

    Boy Harsher
    Sidewalks and Skeletons
    Mr. Kitty
    Lorn
    She Past Away
    Linea Aspera
    Kontravoid
    Rue Oberkampf
    Henric De La Cour
    Fraunhofer Diffraction
    Pictureplane

    Thanks for putting music first!


    Art X. writes…

    Dear John,
    Thanks to your reviews and relaxed look on hi-fi and music choice, I am again discovering new music which is very valuable to me. You review the hardware on the sweet spot. Thanks again and keep up the good work, cheers! (no response is required).


    Colin C. writes…

    I am a recent viewer of your channel, and I wanted to thank you very much for your efforts. I’ve enjoyed your reviews, and been enlightened by your content in doing research for a forced upgraded to our studio. We are located in Ocean City Maryland, USA.

    Please don’t change a thing – I’m sure people tell you all the time you need this or that…what you are doing is top-notch. I’m very excited for your future review of the Bluesound Powernode 2i – I am interested in the none powered version as I already have amplification but hesitated based on the reviews of the App from the Apple App Store. I’m looking forward to your review for comparison.

    I am working out a new solution for our studio monitoring as we have upgraded to Mac Pros 2019s from the trashcan macs, which don’t have optical audio outs and render our original Benchmark DAC1s useless with the new work stations. We are thinking of going with the DENAFRIPS ARES II R2R DAC, and a separate volume attenuator like the products from GoldPoint Audio. Or perhaps we go with a Mytek product or the Dangerous Audio Source. We aren’t sure yet…but we wouldn’t have known about many of these options if it wasn’t for your channel and site.

    So thanks again, and carry on. If you had any insight on our computer audio DAC needs it would be fun to hear.

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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