Letters to the editor – Weeks #30-34, 2021

  • Antoine writes…

    Hi John, I want to express my gratitude for your work and my admiration for your attitude. Your presence has helped nourish this new interest of mine (listening to music) in a way that I think is only possible when a passion is shared with other people. At a time where sharing with other people is difficult, that is immensely valuable to me. I don’t feel any belonging to the audiophile community (if there is such a thing), but I can relate to you and your audience easily. At the same time, your professionalism is truly inspiring. You clearly won’t take bullshit from commenters and I have never felt like you would shy away from taking a stand or just saying: “No, I won’t do that”. I can imagine it must be exhausting to deal with the Internet and yet you keep showing up consistently with high-quality material. Anyways, I just wanted to give some positive feedback. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

    David writes…

    Hi John

    Your podcast “for Beginners” was very informative and also relevant for those who “have been around the block” for a bit. REALLY GOOD.

    I learned a fair bit I still didn’t know (you never stop learning), and I thought the advice “to a friend” was so good that I just sent the podcast link to “a friend” of mine who is contemplating his first return to hifi after the 1980’s!

    I don’t want to tell him how to spend his cash – just point him in a sensible direction where he cam make his own decisions.

    Although I’m an engineer and have repaired mixing desks (Neve) mixed, recorded and mastered music a little bit (and built my own class A and AB amplifiers – an audiophile for as long as I can remember) – thanks to your content and research suggestions, I am blissfully happy with Qobuz (yes, high res! 🤣) my eclectic CD collection, Roon, a Zenith SE and a pair of Kii Threes. (And the guys at Kii are amazing – so super helpful and genuine).

    I really can’t see myself wanting to change anything because I’m just enjoying the music so much.

    All best from the soggy NW of England. Oh, and thanks.

    Drew writes…

    Hey John – Just a quick note to let you know I enjoyed the video about your top 10 favorite continuous mix techno albums!

    As a lifelong lover of electronic music, I’m looking forward to checking them out! There’s a lot of artists you listed that I’ve never heard of. Thanks for putting together that video!

    One suggestion for you would be to check out some early Juno Reactor, such as the Transmissions, Bible of Dreams, and Beyond the Infinite albums. Apologies if you’ve already heard/listened to these albums, but I think they represent some of the amazing electronic music that was being made in the early/mid 90s and are well worth a listen, especially on a nice system!

    Me: Thanks for the suggestions, Drew. I know of Juno Reactor – they did a great remix job on the Fatima Mansions back in the 90s – but I’ve not heard any of their albums proper.

    Andy writes…

    Hi John – love your reviews etc. Your analysis and powers of audio description are legendary. As an audiophile and also someone who makes my living by recording audio (voiceover) I just discovered an amazing company – Sonosax from Switzerland. They are famous for their location sound mixers used in the movie industry – but are quite legendary – From Jean Luc Goddard to Bond movies and Harry Potter have all used Sonosax equipment.

    They are still a small privately-owned company led by the original owner Jacques Sax who still designs all their products. I just came across a small amazing Swiss Army Knife product they made called M2D2 which is a little bigger than an iPhone but is an amazing A/D converter, mic preamp, DA interface. It can be used as an incredibly high-quality portable headphone amp, a DAC for your main system (has XLR AES in and out). I’m in love with this device and I really hope you will contact Jacques and get a review model. Would absolutely love to hear your analysis – my feelings are that you’ll have the same sense of enthusiasm about this as you did the Buchardt speakers! I have absolutely no connection to this company other than being a new customer and it’s a total pleasure to buy something that is so high quality and where the guy who picks up the phone is the owner and chief designer and hasn’t been bought out by a conglomerate.

    These kinds of companies are dying out, although Buchardt is a real breath of fresh air in this respect, and as an audiophile, the pleasure of ownership is made more intense by this knowledge / it’s a bit like imagining that QUAD was still a small independently owned British company ( for us Brits) making cutting edge products today. What a loss that was!! It still hurts. Here’s a link to the product page.

    Mark writes…

    My name is Mark and I read your wonderful reviews and writings quite often and thank you for what you do. I have a problem that I need help with and am at a loss right now so any advice would really help me. I have some very nice stereo equipment and now would like to find something that sounds as good while sitting at my computer as sitting in my living room. My problem is that I don’t want to turn on a bunch of equipment each time I sit at my computer. I am looking for either a high-end active monitor or a very good integrated amp with built-in DAC to power my Raidho XT1 for near-field listening. I would rather have an active monitor that just comes on when I turn on Tidal but one button for an integrated is OK too. I can spend up to 6K and would really really appreciate any help you may give. a few suggestions would help as well. Thank you ahead of time for any help you may give.

    Me: Hi Mark. Sounds like you need a hi-fi consultant. Alas, that’s not me. As you’ve noted in your email, I’m a publisher of content (and nothing more). Sorry — and I wish you well in finding the help you need.

    George writes…

    Hi John

    Love your videos! I have a question for you. I am planning to buy Apple TV 4K 2021. I also have Schiit Modi 3+ DAC & an analogue amplifier. Please advise how I can connect Apple TV 4k to Modi 3+. I am considering an HDMI extractor. Does it reduce audio quality?

    Me: An HDMI extractor is exactly what you need. And as it is your ONLY option, any worries about its minor SQ reduction (via Toslink) are moot.

    Jonas writes…

    Hi – I would just like to recommend you go to TIDAL and play this: Gesu No Kiwami Otomo – Jinsei No Hari. It’s pretty nice even though I don’t understand Japanese. It’s this weird rock, rap thing with a great acoustic band. My God. 🙂

    Darren writes…

    Hello John

    Just wondering what your thoughts are when it comes to price point comparisons when considering brands that sell directly to the public. For example, should a pair of €1800 Buchardt speakers or a $995 Decware amplifier be compared with similarly priced items from companies who sell via distributors, or with higher-priced items to factor in the extra costs?

    Me: You mean like a golf handicap? If a company can bring a direct selling $2000 product to market that competes with a $4000 rival on build quality, feature set and sound quality AND can offer a time-limited money-back satisfaction guarantee AND can seamlessly service global warranty issues then more power to them. 

    Matteo writes…

    Dear John,

    I’ve recently read your article / saw the video about the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1. Since being a fan of your content, I think that the following words from this article are the essence when reviewing gear (in my opinion):

    Buying the NAD and hooking it up to the Diamond 12.1 was a sharp reminder of just how much a loudspeaker’s sound can change with its electronics; that judging a passive loudspeaker is fraught with risk when only one amplifier is used. And that also, per the video below, even the DAC and streamer can tip the tonal balance in the wrong (or right) direction. In covering a passive loudspeaker, we should try to remain mindful that what we’re hearing is a complete system.

    And that’s why I love to watch your videos, that’s what makes your reviews unique. You’re like a doctor who is looking for the whole human body, to tell what’s wrong with me. I think it’s called holistic medicine. You’re like the holistic medicine doctor in the hifi-review-world. Keep up your great work!

    Shun writes…


    Thank you for all the work you do.

    You mentioned that you will be doing a video about entry-level headphones later this year. For that video, the Koss KPH30i at $30 is shockingly good.

    Thanks again for the wonderful videos.

    Toby writes…

    When you decide to purchase music, how do you decide which format (vinyl, CD, stream)? Is vinyl or CD always the first choice, given the choice? Is streaming ever the best choice for you?

    Me: If it’s a modern techno record, often vinyl is the option if I want a physical format. If it’s an anniversary edition of a 90s or 00s indie record, I’ll go for the vinyl if the CD doesn’t offer any extra tracks — however, the CD almost always carries extra tracks that the vinyl reissue never sees. But when it’s a stone-cold classic, I buy both the vinyl and the CD.

    Tom writes…

    Have you ever known a major label to introduce a new release through a streamer (in this case, Apple Music)? And not just in the announcement at the end where distribution channels are often listed, but in the opening paragraph:

    “Dear Deutsche Grammophon fan. We are delighted to announce the release of the new album from pioneering composer Max Richter; Exiles is out now and also available in the new high-quality spatial listening experience of Dolby Atmos on Apple Music.”

    Okay, aside from Tidal where some of the label owners were investors in Tidal.

    Stay safe and keep doing what you do so well.

    Max writes…

    Hi Darko Audio,

    Apologies for cluttering your inbox, but I just wanted to say that I have discovered your YouTube channel recently and have found it both (1) practically helpful (it finally helped me decide on an actually workable DAC setup for my iPhone) and (2) really interesting. So I just wanted to say thank you and that I appreciate what you are doing!

    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

    Bowers & Wilkins’ 800 Series Diamond for dummies

    A very short film about volume knob feel