Letters to the editor – Week #3, 2021

  • Carl B. writes…

    Hi John. I very much enjoyed your video on Electronica for Audiophiles. And I checked out some of them.

    Is there any chance sometime in the future you could do a similar video on music that’s good to listen to on headphones? Also, it should be available to purchase as high res audio stream or download.

    I enjoy your reviews and other video’s.



    Me: I’m curious: why does it have to be hi-res?

    Sebastian W. writes…

    Dear Darko,

    I came across your A500 video about a month ago and was tempted to order a pair last night from the fine guys at Burchardt. What I heard from you in the video and also what the numerous blogs and reviews described is too good to wait any longer.

    Following your advice, I specially ordered the version that has the Diana Krall Mute (DKM) feature built-in.

    I’m more in the JonHopkins/Trentemöller/Modeselektor camp and very much hope that by choosing this product I’m taking a good step forward in terms of sound, compared to my current “Burmester B10 along with 101 integrated amplifier-setup”.
    So: thanks for your very pleasant way of presenting (usually) fart-dry music technology in such a convincingly natural and rousing way!

    Since I can’t find this information on your website or in the A500 video (or the tech descriptions below in the comment section), can you please tell me on which speaker stands the speakers are placed, whether they can be screwed there in a wobble-proof way – or which stands you recommend?

    Thank you for your answer – and, I think I saw it in your latest video, I hope for all of us that the hairdressers will open again soon. 😉

    cheers from Berlin

    Me: Yep! They are Atacama Nexus 6i filled with Atabites. There’s a video on my YouTube channel about them.

    Andrew S. writes…


    I recently found you on YouTube and think I have now watched every video. Great stuff, thanks for doing it. I’m constantly battling with my Dad telling him that digital audio is greater than his knackered LPs lol.

    Anyway, in your latest video about DSP you mentioned that you had an equaliser setting on your sony xm3s. I have a pair of these and I think they sound a bit cack in the music department. Any chance you could share the settings???



    Me: Sure thing:

    David E. writes…

    Hi John

    I viewed your Ice Music video recently and wanted to recommend a piece of music I discovered a little while back. It#s a short album [or EP perhaps?] by Nils Frahm called Wintermusik. Maybe you know it?

    The sleeve notes say he originally made the music as a present for his family members – but they persuaded him to release it commercially. If I had to pigeon hole it [why would I do that?] I’d describe it as a kind of modern classical music. But don’t let that put you off [I don’t really listen to classics either]. Mostly pianos and organs.

    Anyway, I listened to this album while I was driving to Hereford some years back to collect my wife’s parents. To bring them to our home in London for Xmas. There was a good layer of snow on the ground and as the second track kicked in it began to snow again. Blue / grey sky and bitterly cold. A low setting sun. A stunning winters day. The music and the drive were just a perfect combination. A golden moment. The really deep organ in the third track still gives me goosebumps. Just fab!

    I’ve listened to a good deal of Nils music since then and saw him play at the Barbican a few years ago. He branched into more electronic music on that tour whilst promoting his All Melody album. Well worth a listen too.

    He may even be a neighbour of yours in Berlin? Who knows.

    Anyway, enjoying your videos.

    With best regards


    Reed B. writes…

    Re. “I might be wrong…”. You are not wrong. All of our equipment choices are fixed lenses for hearing our music. And DSP is the progressive lens for audio. DSP redefines “transparency”. If you want to be closer to the recording, put on the noise-cancelling headphones or tame your poor room acoustics digitally. Argue about the recording or mastering decisions, not your environment. I have a 10’x11’x10’ dedicated listening room. Problem. I treated it with absorbers. Better. Then I bought a NAD C658 with Dirac (to pair with my Vidar) and my world changed. No fatigue. No room mode. Just music. And the flexibility to have a different curve for late-night listening. My speakers still sound like my speakers, they just ceased sounding like my room.

    James B. writes…

    Hi John,

    Love the videos and your taste in music. I do a lot of listening in my bedroom (and often fall asleep to music) so I’d find a video on your Naim Mu-so in your bedroom interesting. And your opinion on all in one boxes when you can’t find space for stereo speakers.

    An annoyance for me are the bright blue or white ‘on’ lights that you don’t get given a choice to turn off on audio equipment. You can dim the display but not the ‘on/off’ light! I don’t like lights distracting me when I want to get lost in music so I always have to use blackout stickers!

    What about the lighting in a room affecting the listening experience? Sometimes I like to listen in complete darkness. The deprivation of light heightens the auditory experience. Have you ever tried smart lights or how do you create an ambience in the evening for a room?

    I use Apple TV and I think you’d like the clean interface of it and the elegant remote, which I think is better so you can control the screen from your chair rather than using a touch screen monitor and you get the artwork on a TV. But I don’t know if Apple TV would run Roon (or you could mirror your phone)…

    I was using Tidal but found its library still poor compared to Spotify and Apple Music. Hopefully, Apple Music will release a HD subscription one day…


    Daniel R. writes…

    You’re right!

    I used to love playing with hifi gear. I got a strange kick out of the look on my wife’s face as I spent another few hundred pounds on a different interconnect. But it was my system. The wife didn’t play it, and as the kids got older, neither did they.

    We happened to have a small Sonos speaker in the kitchen. One thing led to another – the NAD amp needed replacing, a small visiting child enjoyed the feel of pushing the tweeter in on my B&W floor standers (I cried and vowed never to leave the covers off again) and so I put them to one side and got a pair of Sonos Fives.

    No, they don’t sound as good as my old system, but the smaller speaker size enabled a better placement in the room, and their ease of use means that there is music playing in the house a lot more of the time from me and the family.

    And, for years, I haven’t been itching for new this and that. But I do know that when I sit to listen I am missing out. Those new KEF pair seem very enticing right now.

    On the note about vinyl… there was a two-second delay in the default settings on the analogue input in the Sonos app. You can change this to 75ms, and this is now acceptable rather than deeply upsetting.

    Love your work. Keep it up.

    Tim V. writes…

    Hi, I really like your videos on hifi stuff! I planned to buy the KEF LS50 wireless but then stumbled on your channel….Buchardt A500 will be delivered in a couple of weeks.

    I am really interested in why you use a Bluesound node in combination with the platin hub for streaming? Doesn’t the hub have the same connectivity options? Or is it a difference in ease of use or colour to the sound perhaps?

    Best regards, Tim from Utrecht, the Netherlands.

    Me: Only one reason and for one video: Tidal Connect.

    Larry E. writes…

    I agree that DSP is helpful and perhaps even necessary in today’s gear. And I appreciate that you can tell the difference when the upstream gear is changed. But the thing that concerns me is the evolution of DSP. If, in fact, the final room correction is performed to a standard rather than a chosen “flavor”, there would be no need for improvements of upstream components. Whatever they sound like, SHOULD be compensated for by the last stop in the chain. Then ALL DACs, phono stages, cartridges, etc. would ultimately sound the same! Then what would I spend my money on (and what would you do with your time)?

    Sergio C. writes…

    Hello John

    Just today, you have published a video about DSP. These topics have always intrigued me when playing with Roon because it has this feature built-in but, to be honest, I am afraid about playing with it because I don’t understand what it brings to the music (SQ).

    Is there a chance you can make a video about DSP in Roon or at least point me in the right direction to find good information about how to use this in Roon. I could read Roon website but I would like more your hands-on experience.

    Many Thanks and continue doing good videos! I always enjoy them.

    Cheers Mate!

    Sergio (from Melbourne)

    Me: Yep. I will consider this for a future video. 🙂

    Robert B. writes…

    First thing, I subscribed to your YouTube because of your immediately likeable, humble, and honest presentation.

    May I ask your opinion on how to enjoy a CD collection in HiFi? Would you purchase a good player or Rip the CDs to files?

    I purchased the KEF LS50WII due to their “usability and functionality”, as you say in your review. I am re-entering the HiFi world and thank you for your consideration.


    Me: I don’t know you (or your tastes or your financial position) so I can’t say what you should do. But I do both: spin and rip. 🙂

    Derek H. writes…

    Great video John and perfect analogy using lenses.

    After I’d had my Eikon system installed ( which does use DSP for room correction) I tried various analog and digital inputs. I don’t use a record player anymore (my daughter now has all of the albums she listened to growing up) so, using the Bluesound Node 2I I fed the analog output of it’s DAC as well as the analog output of 2 other DACs into the Eikon DSP engine. I had a couple of buddies over while we compared bypassing the Node2I and feeding the digital input to the Eikon system with the 3 analog inputs from the DAC’s mentioned above. We were unanimous in agreeing that the digital feed sounded better than the analog feed. We also tried fiber vs coax and the coax was better. Therefore, I support your conclusion of why bother adding other boxes e.g a DAC, into the chain where a DSP engine doing the crossover in software, room correction and digital to analog is present. Obviously, if you are playing records a phono stage is needed.

    Keep up the good work

    Derek Hughes

    Luke M. writes…

    Hi John and team,

    I really appreciate your videos, thank you.

    You just did a video on DSP use and I was wondering if you had played with the Morphit feature in USB audio player pro? You can get EQ correction for your particular headphones based on detailed measurements, and for me the results on my b&w PX headphones was huge. There is also the cross-feed option you keep mentioning that you like.


    Me: I knew nothing about it! Thanks for the tip-off.

    Franck M. writes…

    Hi John, keep up the good work.

    You got me a little confused with your DAC-in vs Phono Stage-In to the Active DSP-Only speakers.
    Obviously, you listened to the same artists/songs from the same album. But is it ? You always mentioned that next to the room acoustics, the mastering has the biggest effect on the overall sound performance. Now, the peculiarities and limited frequency and dynamic ranges of Vinyls (RIAA curve fit etc..) make me wonder : how can you be sure the difference you heard were exempt from mastering issues between the digital/analog versions ? I recently listened to the « Hey Joe Opus Red Meat » by Otis Taylor. Both Vinyl and CD mastering versions coexist, either in FLAC 44.1 kHz streaming (I use Deezer) or encoded in DSD64 from the original master tapes (through PSAUDIO Octave Records). They clearly sound different through Any System I have, from the entry-level Yamaha Class-D WXA-50 streaming amp (with Focal Chorus 706s), to Audirvana feeding the RME DAC you reviewed or even over Bluetooth LDAC or even AAC…

    Me: Think of it this way: even if it IS mastering differences and not format differences, the DSP speaker system is STILL communicating those differences. THAT’s my point!

    John D. writes…

    Hi John

    I have been watching your YouTube channel and website for a few years now. I enjoy the content, polished presentation, and your generally positive attitude.

    I very rarely comment on content however, your piece on Electronica really struck a positive, welcomed chord with me and a very cold day. Therefore I wanted to let you know more than just clicking a “thumbs up.”

    I live in the Northeastern US (near Providence) where the cold, gray, and sometimes wet (i.e. snow, ice, rain) bring about the winter blues and the need for music that warms the soul. I really connected with your piece, the feelings, and the music. Most of the music I was not familiar with so it was an opportunity to seek out something new, different…which I did. Some has stuck with my current cycle of playlists, some not. Nonetheless, I always enjoy finding something new and having a listen.

    Thanks for what you do, I like it. There are many of us that enjoy your intelligent and positive approach.


    PS – I really look forward to more product support for Tidal connect.

    John H. writes…

    Hi John,

    I appreciate your work and enjoy the content and style of your work.

    From time to time you sometimes mention Soundcloud, especially when reviewing streaming gear. Recently I went looking on Spotify and Qobuz for DJ mix albums. Only to find that the shelves are rather empty. Sure Spotify has loads of electronic music. However, on the whole, these are traditional albums with unmixed tracks.

    Finding music the like of which used to fill half of HMV in the 90s isn’t so easy these days. Soundcloud and Mixcloud appear to have the key to the missing link. I have to admit for a long time I ignored SC. I’m sure many of your viewers enjoy electronic music, and maybe you could be the one to raise the profile of Soundcloud highlighting how it is different to traditional streaming services and should be on the radar for anyone interested in electronic music.

    Keep doing what you’re doing – the best on YouTube.

    Best wishes

    Me: Yep, when I mention Soundcloud in my videos it’s almost always in regard to DJ mixes.

    Grahame W. writes…


    I agree with DSP usage and agree with minimising the number of links in a chain.

    The interesting case arrives with active speakers when digital and analogue sources are bounced between ADC and DAC on their way to the final driver.
    I’ll use these devices as an example of what I was pushing towards. But the point is general.

    If a good active speaker is regarded as having a good DAC at the end of the chain (after the DSP), which it should otherwise the speaker may not sound good. Then we should try to use this as the DAC.

    Digital material should be usable and analogue will need first an ADC. Vinyl could go through a dedicated, good quality ADC first.

    This is all sensible. I wanted mainly to suggest a speaker combo/setup that might just fit into the reach of your interest/audience.

    Motu 8D – as a digital preamp, computer, lots of digital inputs. With an extra ADC used for vinyl input.
    (AES digital out)

    Adam S3H (or other S series)(AES digital in) – the DSP can be tuned from the speaker or via the Adam computer software – or the DSP could be tuned from the Motu 8D.

    Generally, I think the S series should be looked at for home use more than they are.

    * I am not an Adam employee or do I sell Adam products. I have used a pair of S3H’s for 6 months with 1 or 2 levels of DSP.



    Dan M. writes…

    Hey John,

    I see you have written about this topic in a number of ways, and it seems it’s a constantly evolving question – but I am hoping you can help me demystify something.

    I recently helped a friend who wanted to get his a/v / home listening setup decently upgraded and modernized, but without being too complicated. We were limited to what is available via B&H for certain reasons, and what I put together for him was a simple two-channel system using an Audiolabs 6000A intergrated amplifier and some B&W 607’s – and I decided to go with the Nvidia SHield TV Pro as his main source – at home I have my own shield pro running via usb a to b straight into my Mytek Brooklyn – and was planning to do the same for him, but I missed the fact that the Audiolab 6000a does not have a USB input, only providing two toslink and two spdif inputs for digital files – so, what we are doing now is sending both sound and video through the tv, and then toslink out of the tv to the toslink input on the amp – but it’s getting to me that something is probably being lost by essentially using the television as an HDMI to toslink adapter – so, my i guess my question is, do you think it would be worthwhile to select a good USB to spdif adapter so he can run audio straight from the shield to the integrated amp, or do you think the difference in sound will be neglible?

    I hope that wasn’t too confusing. And happy to clarify if I’m missing anything!

    Thanks for keeping up such a good website.



    Me: You need a Topping D10S! That will do the job for $100. 🙂

    Fred U. writes…

    Hi John,

    I saw your page on this box and you said that UAPP doesn’t work on this box, which right on the side that it can’t be found from the Android TV app, but I install it after exporting my apk from my smartphone (which included the MQA decoder file), and it worked.

    The interface is hard to use with the remote, but it works better with a mouse.
    More important is that I can play Tidal MQA on it, and it outputs on a USB DAC detected by UAPP.

    I need to make more test, but it’s working.
    Let me know if you need more information.



    Me: Fred – Like you, I sideloaded the apk too but couldn’t get the remote to work with the UAPP UI, so I gave up. How does one use a mouse to control the Xiaomi?

    Jackson A. writes…

    Hello John –

    I just got done watching your most recent Electronica for Audiophiles video, and I must say first off that I appreciate the playlists. I always find something new.

    As a long time fan of the genre (Jungle and Drum and Bass being my main focus), I also appreciate hearing electronic music and audiophilia mentioned in the same paragraph. It’s refreshing. I often feel I have very little to talk about with regards to music when talking to other audio enthusiasts.

    Anyhow, besides writing to say thanks, I wanted to turn you on to something that you may (or may not) have heard. At the end of last year, Pete Rogers (Technicolour of duo Technimatic) released an eponymous album under the moniker Wardown. While it touches Jungle and DNB in places, it is a highly cinematic work, and sounds to me like liquid reminiscence. It’s an absolutely beautiful album. My favorite of 2020.

    Link to the Bandcamp here:
    And a link to a mix under the same project (not an album mix, but crafted in the same vein) here. Thanks again for your work and your videos. I hope that you enjoy the recommendation, assuming you haven’t heard it already.

    Jackson Allen

    Jay D. writes…

    Just wanted to compliment your latest ELECTRONICA for audiophiles d[-_-]b. It is nice to see someone reviewing electronic music and not the same old jazz, classical, acoustic trinity. I’m still going back through your previous “Electronica for audiophiles” hoping to find some gems.

    As a recommendation, and if you haven’t already found him, take a look at Lauge – Pusterum (Himylaya in particular). I don’t listen to completely beatless music often but this one seems to inspire winter while being uplifting at the same time.

    Alexander H. writes…

    Dear John,

    I want to say a big thank you to you for bringing more music to my life. I very much enjoy your videos and podcast and I share your ideas on FutureFi and being a music-first audiophile.

    As a teenager during the 90s, me and my best friends were deep into audio. We bought the best gear we could afford and dreamed of high-end systems (think B&W Matrix 800) inspired by the ‘Audio Bestenliste’ (German Audiophiles know what I mean…). Back then, I had a nice system with large-quality Canton floor standers that that gave me that relaxed full-range sound that I still love today. My music was mostly Techno/Dance (Moby, The Prodigy, Robert Miles, etc.).

    After university in the 2000s, I met my wife and we moved into a small apartment in Amsterdam. Probably not a surprise to other members of the male species, my floor standers weren’t allowed to come with me. )-: But I found a compromise in the tiny KEF 3005 ‘eggs’ with an NAD AV that gave me acceptable sound with good aesthetics. In terms of music, I still listened to my old favorites but hardly spent the time to discover new stuff.

    I used the KEFs for more than ten years, but it was never entirely pleasing to me as I was longing for the full-range sound of my old floor standers. But that was ok since I was busy with other things like career and the birth of my daughter. About three years ago, the topic started nagging again. So I researched the market for an upgrade. Given the small size of our living room (4×4,5M) and my wife’s strict aesthetics requirements, it couldn’t be anything bigger than bookshelf speakers.

    I listened to various premium passive bookshelf models from KEF, B&W, Dynaudio, etc. But frankly, I was disappointed. I missed that relaxed full-range room-filling sound that I was longing for. If music has a bassline or a kickdrum, I want to both hear it and somewhat feel it. A solution could be a subwoofer, but I cannot place it well in my living room. Given my experience from the 3005’s that included a sub, I also know how difficult it is to tune it it in properly.

    By coincidence I stumbled across your Podcast episode with Mads Buchardt in my Podcast app. This was a magic moment. The concept of an active bookshelf speaker that is using DSP to produce quality full-range sound was exactly what I was looking for. I checked out the Kii Three before, but they are still rather large (40 cm depth), their futuristic design doesn’t fit well into my Scandi-style living room, and their price is a bit steep.

    The A500s were exactly what I had been waiting for. Active, DSP-driven, small, and pretty (to me at least). I ordered them right away and received a pair from the first batch. They do everything what you describe in your video. I am very happy now as I have the full sound that I had back when I was a teenager with far better dynamics, precisions, and soundstage. A real upgrade!

    The result is that I am spending far more time listening to music now. I am currently into Nils Frahm, Rival Consoles, and Christian Loeffler. And thanks to your recent video, I also discovered Monolake.

    A big thank you to you for bringing more music to my life – both in terms of equipment and music content. I definitely helps me get through these homebound lockdown time.



    Tom. D writes…

    LMS has a plugin for “” (the “iPlayer” replacement). Requires a free BBC account.

    At least 4 weeks radio output, easily searchable. Wonderful!

    Jeremy S. writes…

    Hi John,

    Thanks for continuing to produce such excellent content!

    Not sure if you’re a fan of Fink or not, but I just discovered an old (2015) interview with him that you might be interested in as it covers his journey from Ninja Tunes promoter and DJ to live musician and talks of living in Berlin and minimal electronica:

    Listen to EX.256 Fink by RA Exchange on #SoundCloud

    I have a rather strange question for you which I’m hoping you may know something about, as I imagine you need to prep gear for the shoots, and when returning review units (plus with your contacts with the manufacturers) – how the hell do I physically clean the front of a KEF LS50? The rough surface seems to pick up bits of whatever cloth I use… Also not sure if it’s safe to use isopropyl alcohol on the driver itself?

    (Googling for such info tends to see “clean” as referring to the sound the speaker makes 🙂


    Me: Sorry, Jeremy. I’ve no idea as I’ve never had to clean mine. Maybe ask KEF?

    Jared D. writes…

    Hi John,

    This is purely a feedback email, not too serious!

    I really like the fine choices you have made to upgrade your audio chain for your podcast. As I am sure you are aware, Focusrite gear is of Rupert Neve pedigree. I’m sure this went into your decision to get the 212. But the Shure SM7b is a very fine mic, highly used in the pro world by the likes of Joe Rogan, for example, who probably exposed it to many observant listeners. Many bands use them as their mic of choice, James Hetfield of Metallica has been using them since forever. Unfortunately, also, Anthony Kiedis, of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s has also used them in his signal chain since the 90’s, but we won’t tell anyone that! Look up Andrew Scheps. Amazing mixer and now producer. He has a great story, well worth looking into (he works with the RHCP alot, but obviously it’s not that connection that would excite you at all).

    What I would like to point out is some of the pro gear that he uses. All “in the box”, meaning, emulated in his pc, replicas of “outboard” studio gear. A lot of which is Rupert Neve. I have many of these VSTs on my pc and use them to mix recorded music for mates and bands. Just for fun. But using all these VSTs has taught me a lot about sound, how certain sounds are created and why different pressings sound better or worse for example. Really interesting stuff which I can elaborate, if you have any interest whatsoever in it, or if you already know about or have invested time into, I can step aside. I know the audiophile universe is vast enough on its own, but the studio process is just as huge!!!

    Have a look at and look at the free trials etc. I am sure you use a decent daw to record your podcast, so I am sure you can play with some preamps and compression in your signal chain. Fun fun!!

    I love your work, thanks for the content!!



    Thomas E. writes…

    I’m feeling compelled to write to you after having discovered your website/YouTube/Vimeo and the wonderful content that you have been producing for the past 10 years. I’m arriving late.

    The video that finally made me break down and reach out to you was your film on “10 ways to listen to Qobuz” wherein breaking down Qobuz you’re walking through some of your favourite Electronica. I’ll get back to this in a second.

    Having discovered your feed in November, I ended up picking up a Schiit Modi/Magni and Meze Classics 99 headphones just to try something different from my Audio Technica ATH-A700x. A bit of a combination of Christmas and Birthday present for myself. I’ve since been re-discovering my (according to ROON, 1547 Collection). I had no idea I had so many FLAC albums and ROON has been bringing it all back.

    I knew that we had some similar music upbringing as you walked through some of your music picks in your reviews. Not entirely music-centric but always connecting to the music you were listening to. Which I sincerely appreciated.

    What broke me down to reach out to you to say thanks was this Qobuz review where you walk through so much of what made the foundation of my own early “music education”. Aphex Twin, U.F.Orb, FSOL, Orbital and what blew me away was Global Communication which I have rarely heard anyone review let alone speak of in a review about audio gear. I must have played 76:14 beginning to end a few hundred times. It was (still is) that good. I remember picking up a copy of Wire (issue 131 apparently) that had this lovely article (can’t believe I found the damn article) where I was introduced to Global Communication, Banco De Gaia, Bedouin Ascent among others…

    I’ve even started on your podcasts while I’m out walking my dog. Makes for easy listening while I keep my wits about me. Music, I can get sucked into.
    So many thanks for all of your work. It’s reconnected me to my collection and it’s made me rethink my relationship with digital sources.

    One more quick note:
    One of the first songs that I happened to listen to on the Meze 99’s through these Schiits was “One of these Days” from the Meddle album and …. It feels like I’m discovering this album all over again.

    Blown away,


    Rich W. writes…


    Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your latest video about Spotify/Tidal connect & Roon.
    Like the Rpi vid you put out before, these user experience/discovery videos you put out are you at your best in my opinion, and often give me the spark of inspiration to tinker or explore a new path.
    It gives the feeling of your personal discoveries and there’s something very relatable about that.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t normally go to the trouble but I thought this was one of your best vids in a while and wanted to share that.

    All the best,

    Rich Watson

    By the way, I noticed in your vid the taskbar on your big Roon touch screen. You may or may not find this useful but I=it used to bug me to have that until I discovered you can hit F11 to go fullscreen to further improve the aesthetics of your Roon experience. Small difference but I like it.

    Written by John

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

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    A short film about DSP audio systems & analogue sources

    Podcast: Alessandro Cortini & John Tejada talk Rosson RAD-0