Steve Huff HiFi Audio Reviews

NEW! These are the best speaker Buchardt Makes! 

Coming VERY SOON: Borreson X1 Speaker Review (written and video), Galion TSA 75 Amp Review, Denafrips Pontus 12th-1 Anniversary DAC, LAIV High End Harmony DAC, HiFi Rose’s NEW $3k Integrated Amp! 

The NEWEST REVIEWS (a complete list is down below)

(NEW) – PS Audio AirLens Streamer Review 

(NEW) – Buchardt A700 SE Review (Buchardt’s BEST Speaker)

(NEW) – Galion TS Voyager TL Speaker Review! Affordable and SUPREMELY MUSICAL! 

(NEW) – Bursons BEST Headphone amp along with some amazing Audeze LCD-5 Headphones! REVIEW!!

(NEW) – WIIM Amp Review. Hype or for real? 

(NEW) – Brunoco Terra – Possibly the finest Tube Integrated I have heard! 

(NEW) – Axxess Forte 1 Integrated Amp Review

(NEW) – Denafrips Ares 12th-1 DAC Review. $1k for an End Game? 

(NEW) – OGY and B.O.B. System Review! Glorious! 

(full review listing below)

This Yamaha RN2000a REALLY impressed me. So much so, I bought it and have had it for six months in my main system! 

There is not much that can match the beauty and emotion of high end audio. Sitting in the dark in the “sweet spot” of a high end music reproduction system can transport you to another time and place. Expensive? HELL YES. Worth it? That depends on your love of music. In these days of $30,000 Leica cameras why not spend that $30k on a world class audio system that you can enjoy for the rest of your life? But beware..just as GAS exists in Photography, it exists in High End Audio as well!

Complete List of my Hi-Fi Reviews:

PS Audio AirLens Streamer Review 

Buchardt A700 SE Review (Buchardt’s BEST Speaker)

Galion TS Voyager TL Speaker Review! Affordable and SUPREMELY MUSICAL! 

Burns BEST Headphone amp along with some amazing Audeze LCD-5 Headphones! REVIEW!!

WIIM Amp Review. Hype or for real? 

 Brunoco Terra – Possibly the finest Tube Integrated I have heard! 

Denafrips Ares 12th-1 DAC review  – Under $1k! 

OGY and B.O.B. System Review! Glorious! 

Axxess Forte 1 Integrated amp Review

Eversolo DMP-A8 Streamer and DAC Review

HiFi Rose RS130 Flagship Streamer Review 

Yamaha R-N 2000 Receiver Review. Why I love this one. 

OGY Speakers are Magic Makers for under $1700

Yamaha R-N100A Receiver Review

Daniel Hertz AMBER System Review! 

Kinki Studios EARTH Speaker, Interconnect and Power Cable Review! 

FOUR Phono Pre Amps TESTED! Which was my fave? 

Streamer and DAC under $200 that is GOOD? Check this out…

Full HiFi Music and TV System for under $1k? See this one…

Buchardt Audio A10 Review 

Bluesound Node X Review 

The new REL Classic 98 Subwoofer Review

Daniel Hertz EVA S50 System Review 

Choco Sound Integrated Amp Review 

The CSS/JAY LEE Typhon Speaker Review! BASS BEASTS!

The Black Ice F35 Flagship Tube Integrated AMP Review!

The BLACK ICE FX10 is a $650 FULL TUBE amp with gorgeous build!

 I test this $180 Integrated tube amp from AMAZON. Any good?

 Alexandria Audio REFERENCE Monitor Review


Verum 1 Headphone Review 

Gato DIA-400S Integrated Amp Review 


KEF R3 META Speaker Review 

 EverSolo DMP-A6 Streamer Review

Pure Fidelity Harmony Turntable and Stratos Cartridge Review 

The Aavik U-150 Integrated Amp Review – ALL IN ONE HIGH END

Focal Diablo Colour EVO Speaker Review 

Mad Scientist Black Magic Speaker Cable Review 

 Heaven 11 Billie MKII Integrated Amp Review

 One year update on my Fleetwood Deville Speakers

(VIDEO REVIEW) – REL S/510 Subwoofer

Best Systems I have EVER HEARD!

Pass Labs X250.8 Stereo Amp Review 2023

Buchardt P300 Speaker Review ($1500 DYNAMOS)

MOFI SourcePoint 10 Speaker Review

Puritan Audio PSM 156 Review

Emotiva T1+ Tower Speaker Review

The MICHI X3 Integrated Amp Review

Denafrips Terminator PLUS 12th Anniversary Review

The iFi NEO STREAM Review

Focal Bathys Headphone Review 

Luxman 595 ASE Review 

Dennis Had 300B-v Amp review

HiFi Rose RA180 Integrated Amp Review

Willsenton R300 SET Amp Review

The Naim Supernait 3 Review 

DCS Lina Master Clock Review 

Buchardt S400 II Review!

Jay’s Audio CDT-3 and DAC-2 Review

Emotiva $1k Budget SYSTEM!

The DCS Lina DCA Review. High End DAC

Grimm MU1 Streamer Review. Digital Nirvana?

SoundKaos VOX 3a Speaker Review

HIFi Rose 150 B Streamer/DAC Review!

Denafrips Terminator PLUS DAC Review

Enleum AMP23R Review

Cary SLP-05 Pre-Amp Review

iFi DSD Pro Signature Review

Cary Audio DMS650 Streamer/DAC Review w/SLI 100 Tube Amp

Weiss DAC 501 REVIEW

Mark Levinson No 5909 Headphone Review 

Nagra Classic System Review 2022

Pass Labs XP-12 PreAmp Review

Kinki Studios EX-M1 Integrated Amplifier Review 

Denafrips Terminator II DAC Review

Audioquest Niagara 1200 Review

VIDEO: My Top 3 Integrated Amps of all time 

VIDEO: Analog system under $1k (Table, Pre, Speakers, Amp)

The Fleetwood Deville Speaker Review. 

Denafrips Pontus II Review. HiFi Gold!

Klipsch Forte IV Speaker Review! 

Dr. Feickert Volare Turntable Review

Cardas Clear Reflection Full Loom Cable Review!

Schiit Audio Freya + and Aegir Review!

Wharfedale Diamond 225 Speaker Review

Lampizator Amber 3 DAC Review

Koetsu Black Goldline Cartridge Review

Klipsch LaScala AL5 Speaker Review 

MoFi Studio Phono Pre Amp Review

The Pass Labs XA 60.8 Monoblock Amp Review Part 1

The iFi Neo iDSD Review as a DAC and VS my Chord Qutest. 

Pass labs INT-250 Integrated Amplifier Review

Dynaudio Heritage Special Review 

Pass Labs INT-25 Review. HiFi Magic. My new Reference.

The Chord Mscaler with Quest DAC Review. End Game Digital? 

The Willsenton R8 Tube Integrated Amp Review. 

Q Acoustics C300 Speaker Review

JBL L182 Speaker Review 

Naim Nova ALL IN ONE Review

Roon Nucleus as a Streamer and VS Zen MINI III

B&W 705 S2 Speaker Review. Smooth Operator! 

Naim Atom Review. Everyone needs this. 

Raven Audio Osprey III and Celeste Combo!

Qln Prestige 3 Speaker Review!

Klipsch Cornwall IV Review!

Innuos Zen Mini MKIII with Phoenix USB Re-Clocker Review!

Klipsch Heresy IV Speaker Review

Bluesound Node 2i Streamer Review

Vinnie Rossi L2 Phono Stage Review!

Vinnie Rossi L2i SE Integrated Amp Review

Raven Audio Nighthawk VIII Review

Chord Qutest Dac Review

PS Audio Sprout 100 Review

Sonus Faber Guarneri Tradition Speaker Review






Klipsch Heresy III Speaker Review

KEF LS50 Wireless Review!

Klipsch SIXES

Devialet Phantom GOLD Review!




RAVEN Audio Blackhawk LE Tube Integrated Amp Review!

Focal Sopra #2 Review

The HiFi Man HE-1000 Review. Best in the world?

The Audeze LCD-X and EL-8 Headphone Review!

The Devialet 200 Review!  

INTEGRATED AMP REVIEW: The Audio Research VSi 75 Integrated Amp Review, PART 1

SPEAKER REVIEW: Sonus Faber Guarneri Evolution Review

INTEGRATED AMP REVIEW: Line Magnetic 219ia Review

INTEGRATED AMP REVIEW: The premo $7000 Yamaha A S-3000



  1. Hi Steve,
    Let me start by saying I really appreciate your reviews and have a lot of respect for what you have to say about audio equipment. The reason for this note is about the Lumin U2. I like what you had to say about the streamer. However, My tastes out weigh my budget. I have an opportunity to buy a used Lumin U1 mimi or a Innuos Pulse mini. I would appreciate your feedback on these.
    Thanks Steve.
    Scott W.

  2. Hi Steve,

    I have just ordered The Buchardt Anniversary 10 Speakers after watching your excellent review. Could you please tell me the make and model of the speaker stands you used in the sound demo as I think they look a good match with the speakers.

    I live in the UK and also use the Puritan 156 and puritan power leads! This could be the best kept secret in world HiFi
    Made me smile when you discovered it.

    Huge Thanks,


  3. Hi Steve, I have a pass int-250 , hifi-rose 150b,and focal sopra 2″s. I know you reviewed all three of these so I thought you would be the man to help me. To me my rig is a little bright (sopra’s) so I was thinking about the wiess 204 Dac you recently reviewed. Compared to the rose 150b, do you think it would be worth the purchase.(looking for a more analog sound with less digital glare). What is your opinion on this?

    • The Spores are all about that treble. They are not bass heavy or mid bass heavy. They are airy and holographic. I used my Pass INT250 with the Diablos but they really needed the sub to flesh out. Even though the Spores are large, the bass is not really prevalent like you would think. The INT250 is one of the brighter Pass amps (if compared to the XA60.8’s which are warm) and has more sparkle up top. The Weiss would be too much of a good thing in your system now and would not warm it up at all. The ROSE 150b does have a slight digital edge to the sound but you would need something to warm up the system. As for DACs there are those that lean warm, lean bright and some that are neutral. The Weiss is neutral. Also make sure you are not aiming your Sopras right at your ears, so less toe in. Also, spread them out a bit and they can get more diffuse and the soundstage can grow. Not sure how much room you have but speaker placement and room are teh cause of many brighter systems.

  4. Hi Steve,
    I just watched your review of the Heaven 11 Billie MkII integrated amp. I have a a pair of Klipsch IV speakers. I have been looking at a Bel Canto C6i integrated amp which is a class D amp. I am now interested in the Billie Mk II. How do you think the Billie would pair with the Heresys? Thanks for your time.

  5. hi Steve;

    congratulations for your work;
    I have mini focal utopia boxes with integrated amplifier… I’m now looking for a streamer – considering that the only means of transport I currently use is the Iphone – and
    a DAC…
    in this scenario, would you indicate HIFI ROSE 150 or GOLD NOTE combo (DS + Psu)?
    not to use an “all in one”, what streamer would you recommend to join a Denafrips Pontus II? thank you…
    And wich os better: hi-fi Rose 150 or PS Audio Jr.?

    Rafael Pfeifer

    • Well, this all depends on budget. If you were on a budget and didn’t want to spend over $1500, the R8 for sure. As for PrimaLuna, they are fantastic. Most who own them adore them but you will pay more. Then again, you would have a dealer network and easy warranty service if needed as well. Pros and cons to each. The R8 would cost much more if it were available via a regular dealer network.

  6. Steve, IMHO, you are the no. 1 hifi reviewer in the world. Your reviews are so clear as to how things sound, and when your comparisons of different equipment leave no doubt as to which one is better, unlike almost everyone else, esp those from the magazines, who, in not trying to offend anyone, leave me confused as ever as to which is better. Your review of the Vinnie Rossi is an all time great piece of hifi writing, but really, every one of your reviews is like a work of art. Thank you.

  7. Have you ever considered reviewing the near-legendary BBC-designed LS3/5a (bookshelf-sized) reference loudspeakers? They have been in production for over 43 years now, are famed for their musicality, even though they don’t offer – or were designed to deliver – the low frequencies that many people generally expect of speakers.
    Comparing them to similarly-sized speakers made in 2020 may well satisfy the curiosity of those wondering why the BBC’s LS3/5a speakers are still highly regarded.

  8. Good Timing and glad I went back to your qutest review. What model of swisscables speaker wire and interconnect did you end up getting ?. I am in the market and want to pick these up. Thanks.

  9. Hey Steve, a friend of mine has the qutest and he put ISO Acoustics equipment isolators under it and bought an external rechargable battery pack he got off amazon that is also used to charge cell phones. Getting the qutest of the wall socket and onto quiet battery power took it to a new level. Might want to give it a try as it seems like a cheap upgrade.

    • Hey John, which Isoacoustics islolators did your friend get? I was thinking of doing the same. I did the external battery and it did make a difference!

  10. Hi Steve,

    I just got done reading your reviews on the Dynaudio Special 40 as well as the Focal Sopra 2. I do not see a time line on which one was reviewed or you still have today? Like you and I we both praise the Dynaudio 40’s and I love mine. But I was thinking of moving up to a tower speaker and the only thing that would compete with the 40’s were the Focal Kanta 2 or Sopra 2’s. So as of today 10-25-2019 which ones are you using still. Thanks for your reviews and I find you and I have the same sound signature taste.

    • I still own and use Dynaudio Special 40. The Sopras are nice, very nice. More transparent but the S40 has nicer bass in my room (and my room is small). The Focal’s are “lighter” in the midrange and bass where the Dynaudio S40 have a meatier mid and bass. But amps, room, cables will all determine the sound. I run them with Tubes. The S40 also give me a wider soundstage and while the Focal’s are larger sounding to some extent, they are simply lighter, and maybe a bit drier in the sound when compared. If this makes sense..the S40 are more “wet” sounding and the Focal more “dry”. Thank you.

  11. Hey Steve, I really enjoyed your review on on the Chord Dac. Been thinking about picking one up to replace my Schiit Gungnir MB for some time. Another DAC you have to hear if you get a chance is the Denafrips Terminator…completely mind blowing dac. A friend of mine has one and it’s the best build quality I have ever seen from a DAC but it is from China and you have to get it from a dealer in singapore. A question I wanted to ask you is have you heard any Class D Amps that you liked ?

    • Ive heard of the Terminator..sounds intriguing! As for class D, the only one I liked (and I have tried maybe only 3-4) was for more of a mid-fi setup. The little PS Audio Sprout 100. Doesn’t compete with a Class A or Class AB though it is great for a lower/mid priced system. To me, class D sounds MUCH different from others. In some ways it could be better but I always find class D to sound more lifeless, not as fleshed out, more strident. Some love class D and swear by them, so as always, trust your own ears. We all like different things and have different hearing capabilities as well.

  12. Are you still happy with the direct stream junior dac. Have you heard the Schiit Yggdrasil dac ? (made in california). People I know rave about the Schiit Dac. They don’t make the DS Junior anymore so I was looking at the Schiit as an alternative.

    • Yes I did, I compared them. I ended up with the Direct Stream SR which blew away both the Jr and the Shiit. Totally different presentation. The DSD is simply the best digital playback I have ever experienced and far exceeds the junior in depth, stage and richness. It’s magical with some material. The JR is also nice but a bit harder in the sound when directly compared. The Schiit dac is more detail oriented and did not give me nearly the soundstage, midrange or sound I was looking for. Nice dac though.

  13. Hi Steve.

    Very nice reviews you have here. I also have a pair of cornwalls III (… and forte III in my office) and I wonder if you ever used a moon amp.


  14. Hi Steve, if you are a heresy III owner could you simply add a good subwoofer to cover the bottom end instead of upgrading to the cornwall III and get the same effect ?. Also, before listening to the Cornwall III did you listen to the Forte III ? Just wondering your thoughts.

    • A sub with the Herseys for me was not like the Cornwalls. I have never been a fan of using subs as the really great ones that can blend well are crazy expensive. The Forte III’s are the brightest of them all where the Cornwalls are big, fat and warm sounding. All are great, I would buy the size that fits your room best.

  15. Hi Steve,
    I am using Rogue Cronus magnum KT90, thought of upgrading to ARC VSI75. I,m using Dynaudio Contour S1.4L.E, do you think it,s a good idea. Or should i buy Primaluna HP intergrated or maybe change it to SS seperates to matching my speakers instead? Do give me your opinion.

    • With those speakers I would actually go with a Primaluna HP or a GOOD Solid State. I have run Dynaudio with tubes and solid state, and some tube amps can not handle the power and current hungry Dynaudios which are notorious for wanting power.

      • Steve,
        Ok, really thanks for your opinion. Almost bought the ARC VSI75, than i shall either get the Primaluna HP or Plinius SA-103. Many thanks, glad to have gotten a valuable advise from you.

      • Hi Steve,
        Would it be better if i were to go for Plinius SA103 & Tautoro. Instead of Primaluna HP intergrated. Or could you recommend me some other brands of Solid State around the price of Plinius SA103 & Tautoro. Need to ask you, is it better for power cord to draw from power conditioner or direct from wall outlet to the amplifier? This question has been bugging me, cos the salesman told me power conditioner has a BYPASS outlet which is meant for power amplifier which in turn makes the background more quiet & cleaner sound. He recommends me to purchase their flagship conditioner, i myself do have a power conditioner SINE SAF30. Wants your view on this power conditioner, really want to know?

        • I haven experience with any Plinius gear, so can not comment on that. As for power cable, I have experimented with my best cord going from my amp to the wall as well as feeding my Audioquest Niagra 1000. I now have my best cord attached to my Niagra 1000 and 2nd best from the amp to that. I would never spend a fortune on power conditioners, but the $1000 I spent on the Niagra 1000 was worth it and it has the high current output for the amp. I do not have experience with all HiFi gear, as I only write about what I have used, tested, or bought for myself. Sort of like a hobby to share my thoughts on gear I like and enjoy. Right now my system is the best it has ever been, and I do not foresee changing anything with it. I found the biggest influence on your sound is not the amp, speakers, source or cables but your room. Get the room and placement right and you will have a solid foundation to tweak the sound to your liking with amp, source, cables, etc.

  16. Steve,

    Oh ok At least you’re not dropping the hobby. I liked reading the reviews. Hey not sure if you dropped the MAC integrated or not I didn’t see that on your Audiogon but if you’re looking for a small and simple setup you should try the YG Accoustics Caramel 2 speakers with a Pass Labs INT-60 integrated. I know someone that has both and its a great combo. The speakers are small but play surprisingly big and are like scalpel on resolution.

  17. Steve,

    I saw on Audiogon you’re selling the Focals, the McIntosh transport, Turntable and your Nordost cables. Whats going on? Getting out of the Hi-Fi hobby or just downsizing? New equipment coming soon?

    • I am moving to a new, smaller home (into a much better weather environment) and this will not fit. Have to downsize, so I am just going to use a nice small setup after this. All is sold but the speakers, which I just listed.

        • No, I am thrilled and happy living with my Phantom Golds, they are staying as they are the best I have had in my home for many reasons. They may not offer the huge expansive sound of the Evo’s but they are 90% there while saving me $30k (system wide) and being much more versatile.

  18. Great audio reviews, but no one can possibly test everything and all have the same preferences. We know what era you are from because you care so much about having a great “stereo.” That’s all we wanted back then in highschool, a great stereo, a fast car, and a hot chick. People our era all went down that same path of upgrading, upgrading, upgrading. The trend to great audio now is being a computer audiophile. It doesn’t require a huge outlay of cash, just a computer (or even phone), a great USB DAC, headphones or an amp/speakers, anything you want. The sound quality has never been better. Some of these hybrid tube/Class D amps blend that warm sound with plenty of power, having both warmth and power/speed. As most people have found out, audio gear is a about pure preference. Sometimes you like the bass, sometimes you don’t. All I can say is I had a few thousand dollars lying around when I was a kid and I bought a bike with it. If I had bought Apple at $8/share with it, it would be worth half a million dollars. Lesson: that bike got old fast. I still have it, but it ain’t worth $500k.

  19. Keep doing the hifi reviews! For me it all started in the sixties when my wife and I built a Dynaco Stero 70 amplifier kit while we were both in graduate school. Much later I went through a long and crazy period of continual upgrades.

    Today I’m listening to my 20 year old hand wired Quicksilver tube monoblocks with 130 watts each (new tubes of course). I recently had to get new Magnapan speakers as the glue dried in old ones creating a rattle. The system still sounds so good I have no urge to replace anything that does not break. Great gear can last a long time!

  20. Thank you Steve for taking the time to give us your opinion on our Blackhawk Limited Edition integrated amplifier. And we are humbled that you enjoyed it so much.

    This is our second from the bottom tiered product, so maybe some day you will enjoy what we can do on a bit larger budget. We have always loved your site… please above all – keep it up~!

    Again… thank you so much!

    Most Sincerely,
    Dave Thomson
    Raven Audio LLC
    Groveton, Texas

  21. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for the excellent review. I absolutely love the Focal Sopra 2. I have been considering them for my room but I’ve always been told they would be too big for my room. It’s similar to yours in size 13,5 x 14. Could you tell me how far the speakers are removed from the back and side walls and what your listening distance is? That would help a lot. Thanks.

    • Believe me, these will not be to large! I have had small speakers, bookshelf, stand mounted monitors and SF Amati’s (which were too much for the room, the Amati) – But the Focal Sopra #2’s are so magical in my room. No issues at all, and bests all speakers that came before them. Since owning them, ZERO urge to change them for anything else. In fact, if I did I know I would regret it as these sound as good as I have heard anywhere, even up to $100k systems. So, they are staying with me for sure. Mine are around 2 1/2-3 feet from my back wall, and almost 2 feet out from the side walls. My listening chair is the same distance as they are apart, or 7-8 feet (do not remember). I have run them with my MA8000 at 300WPC (standard power output driving them to room filling levels id day is around 3 watts) and even tested a 25WPC Tube amp with them, which had no issue driving them to insane levels if need be. To me, after 20+ years of speakers, some up to the $45k range, this is as good as it gets for me. Never better in my room.

  22. Hi Steve,

    Thank you very much for your reviews. I’ve them very helpful. I’m curious to hear your opinion on the MA8000 vs. Devialet 200. What areas do you think the MA8000 does better than the 200 and what areas do you think the 200 does better? Have you had a chance to try the MA7900 and MA6700? It seems to be that besides power output, they are quite similar to the MA8000. Thanks!


  23. Greetings Steve
    This is my first attempt at posting my comments on your site.

    Your site was brought to my attention by my daughter who works at Sotheby’s in NY and is involved doing photo work internally with them.
    My particular disease is high end audio… I am slowly putting together my final system.

    Currently I am using TAD CR-1’s speakers, Vitus RI-100 intergrated amp, Lumin S-1 network streamer, Nordost speaker cables [which you reviewed] along with Shuynata power cords.

    It is truly a wonderful time for all the new high end products that are being introduced to the market place and the younger buyers interested in high resolution products.

    I have enjoyed reading your postings and will periodically inject a comment or two.
    All the best…..

  24. Hello Steve, congratulations for your passion and the reviews that I always follow with great pleasure. I write from Italy and it’s fun I’ve learned to respect and love an Italian product thanks to you! (Guarneri Evolution !!). I bought today after several days of comparative tests with other products of many other brands with higher prices (mbl for example). Here in Italy it is easy to have a price around € 10,000, about half of your list American :). I had the opportunity to connect to ma8000 and make repeated comparisons with the focal sopra n2 and, contrary to what you wrote, I think the Guarneri absolutely best and much more refined, balanced, elegant, precise, and even better also on the management of bass! I think that you have not had the opportunity to install them along with ma8000, I’m sure, no one would choose sopra2 if you listen at the same time and in the same room of guarneri! this time Italy beat France 6-0, 6-0! hello from Naples!

    • I had them both side by side in my room 3 weeks ago. NO contest, Sopra beat the G’s in transparency, bass quality and quantity, realism, vocals, mids..all of it. Made me realize again that I made the right choice. With my MA8000, DT150, Transport and MT5, I have yet to hear better in all areas, anywhere..and I have heard systems up to 1 million dollars. All depends on room, equipment, etc. But both the G’s and the Sopras are top of the heap IMO. For me, the Sopras easily beat the G’s in MY room and with this gear. In your room, it may differ. I am so thrilled with the Sopra 2’s, more so than I have been with any speaker, ever.

      • I understand your point of view and often the listening room can create very different results. But in this situation, the differences are found to be very obvious to all, for some people present these products are not even comparable in some ways … we had the same ma8000 and at this point I think that the biggest differences are in the type of music listened (or format and quality), I select carefully, whenever possible, the first vinyl issues and the best editions of the albums I listen. But I also buy a lot of contemporary music. Maybe you’ve done some trouble with the connection of 4Ohm Guarneri or have any problem with your setup, the result was incredibly sharp at all and none of those present (some experts longtime) has tilted in favor of the Focal (who had It made a great impression in another room, but with a power of amplficazione 1200wpc !!!). I think you need to give a second chance to the incredible Guarneri, but I understand your emotion to discover new and just released products and perhaps at this moment you appreciate more the charm of the floor-speakers audio 🙂

    • I have heard the S2…go with the MA8000. You will NOT be disappointed in the slightest. It bests mostly all separates I have heard. You are giving up nothing when compared to even MC seperates with this piece. I am guessing the next MA9000 or whatever it is called will be scaled back as I see the 8000 hurting separate sales for McIntosh. It’s a beauty and am listening to it right now. Lots of cash but its one of those things you buy and do NOT regret, as in, it is giving me back $10k worth of pleasure easily.

  25. Steve,
    I randomly saw on Amazon you had posted a short review of the KEF LS 50 speakers. Any chance of a review of them here, with photos? Thanks in advance.

  26. Steve,
    I am headed to Scottsdale later this week…can you recommend a couple of Audio stores to visit while I am in town?
    Thank you,

    • AZ HiFi i Phx is my fave spot for Tubes and Turntables and Cables. L&M In Scottsdale is my fave for over the top high end gear, best of the best. Thats about it. There is also dedicated audio in scottsdale that sells Deynaudio, Focal, Clearaudio, etc but they are appt only.

  27. Hey Steve,
    I just wanted to know now that almost a year has passed how are liking the Devialet? I just splurged to pickup a pair of KEF Reference 3 speakers and I’ve been using Tube Equipment from Rogue Audio (Stereo 100 amp & Perseus Magnum Preamp) for a while but the claims on the Devialet equipment and what they do with their SAM technology have really got me considering going with their Devialet 400 for an upgrade on my front end components. I really trust your reviews and it seems like I am in the same ballpark as you were with you previous tube gear. So, I was wondering how the Devialet has compared to your previous tube equipment now that you have had a significant amount of time with it? Do you miss the tubes? Are you able to get the same performance or better from the Devialet?
    I’m going to a new dealer in about 3 months to audition VTL tube equipment but unfortunately I don’t really have a dealer local that has Devialet equipment inhouse to Demo. The couple of stores in driveable distance that advertise they have it only have the previous generation models.

    My equipment right now is:
    VPI PRIME turntable with Koetsu Black MC cart.
    Rogue Audio Stero 100 AMP and Perseus Preamp
    KEF Reference 3 speakers
    All IC’s are Audioquest Victoria
    All power cables are Granite Audio


    • FYI.. In case you have never heard of them or your dealer doesn’t do demo’s check out
      They are a local shop near me and they rent IC’s, power cables, power conditioners and other accessory components. This way if you ever need to try anything and a local dealer doesn’t have it they have a huge inventory of cables and equipment for rent. One of the biggest differences in my setup was testing the Shunyata power cables. Lowers the noise floor drastically!!! Try their Sigma or Alpha series. They are amazing! I was never a believer in power cables but these really changed the game for me. Now it just comes to attempting to afford them…

    • I am always trying new gear as several HIFI shots know me well, and some let me demo gear for review or to just see what I think. I had the Deviate for a while, long for me 😉 As of today I have a McIntosh MA-8000 Integrated Amp here and it does beat the Devialet for power and transparency/soundstage depth and has a fantastic MC phono stage and a very nice DAC built in. I’m testing it with the MCD-550 and MT-5 TT. A full Mac setup with Dynaudio C1 Platinum speakers. In comparison to my Devialet with Sonus Faber or Wilson Benesch this combo is more dynamic, clearer and cleaner and more soundstage depth than width. I have never really experienced a VERY front to back deep soundstage, only width. It’s quite fascinating. But the MA8000 is $10k, so around the same price range as the Dev 400.

      For convenience the Devialet would win. It has all you need in that slim case and SAM. For beauty, resale, power and transparent detailed (yet full) sound, the MA8000 takes the spot for best integrated I have tested. It in an all new Macintosh sound IMO. Gone is the dark mid bass heavy sound. It’s eerily transparent and lets you see into the music.

      The Devialet would now be #2 for me, but both do much of the same thing. One with a small footprint, one with a huge footprint! The Mac is 100 lbs, and huge. Listening to Lana Del Rey now and I have a full left to right and front to back “stage” where everything has its place and it is so smooth, clean and “see through” as if the voices and instruments are hanging around the room in their place. Magical.

      Using all Nordost Heimdall II cords from power to IC to speaker.

  28. In what ways do you find the Vectors better than the Olympica? I heard the Olympica II and found them on occasion a bit bright.

  29. I had a pair of traditional sonus fabers (Cremona M) which looked and sounded great however I’ve now downsized to Harbeth M30.1 speakers which whilst they don’t have the bass extension of the sonus fabers and aren’t anything like as pretty, are the most musically satisfying speakers I’ve owned. (coupled with Devialet 400 amps, Esoteric CD and Brinkmann La Grange deck).

  30. Kind of a shame what has happened to the Sonus Faber brand. They were hand built cabinets…designed to sound even better than they looked. Unfortunately, Sonus Faber’s new owners
    have moved production to China, and the company is doing whatever it can to drive costs down.

    IMHO: Sonus does’t sound like Sonus used to. Too bad as I have owned several pairs over the years. The new models do not have warmth lovely sound.

    I have listened to the DeVore’s matched Line Magnetic gear. It is a great match.

    • The Guarneri Evos and new Amatis are VERY WARM. Ive owned both. The Evo’s sound better than any previous Guarneri – Ive owned them all. In fact, the best speaker I have ever owned is the Guarneri Evo, and those are not made in China, neither is the Amati. They are made in Italy, by hand as they have always been. But to be clear, the EVO’s slaughter the Memento and Guarneri Homage. It’s quite striking how much better they are, and the Evo’s are warmer and richer than the Memento’s.

  31. Did you consider the Sonus Faber Olympic II or III? They’re around the same price as the Wilson Benesch Vectors.

      • Yes, they’re beautiful. I wanted to like them but found them a tad too bright. What did you think compared to the Vectors? I heard them on the end of an Audio Research vsi60.

  32. Correction last sentence: ” in all other respects, I would pretty much agree with your description of transparency, staging, clarity and imaging. ”

    Thanks steve

  33. Hey steve,
    just wondering what settings you put your d200 on to get it on the warm side of neutral? I’ve tried it with reduced Sam to 70%, reduced treble at -2db and find its still not quite so warm, let alone lush enough out of my Guarneri evolutions. Maybe I’m expecting too much out of it coming from an all tube background? In all other respects, your description of transparency, staging, clarity, imaging are at least equal or well beyond the best I’ve heard!


    • I do not change ANY settings. I leave it at 0 all the way. I do not use SAM. I get massive punch, volume, imaging and spaciousness while it being on the warm side of neutral. This is for any soaker I have tried with it. I am using Wilson Benesch Vectors now which are not considered warm speakers as the SF G’s are, yet they are still on the warm side of neutral and sound so so good. Room, placement, all of that makes a huge difference as well.

  34. Could you please check the noise level at the device once it is in a standby mode, please?
    I have heard it produces a lot of noise, and I don’t understand what’s the point of low output noise when the device itself produces it.


  35. Hi Steve,

    Such an amazing site you got going here…been following for years. Thank you.

    Any news regarding when you will launch the Devialet review? look forward to your thoughts about it as I am thinking about “investing” in the D200.

    Are you still enjoying it?

    All the best,

  36. Steve,

    How do you think the Vsi75 will sound with my original Guarneri Homages? I tried the Vsi60 and Vsi75 in a local dealer with Linn speakers and found that the amps were very close, if anything the Vsi60 sounded a little more musical a touch less clinical if you know what I mean?

    Best Regards

    • Not sure. When I owned the original Homage I remember running some Cary 805C’s with them and it was magical. I have not had a pair of the originals for many years.

  37. Charles, why on earth did you get rid of your vinyl / 300B rig? To para Groucho Marx: Did you fail the sanati clause? I’m just curious… I run a 300B (single-ended of course) with a Garrard 401 Various arms SME 3012 heavily modified to increase mass and rigidity, Ikeda 407 and Koetsu Red Sig (original) BlueOnyx and SPU 90th which are swapped from time to time (each has a different flavour, none will bite your ears) and speakers designed and built by me (big transmission-lines) and Guaneris (original).
    Kind Regards


  38. Me too. Until a couple of years ago I was a small part of the HiFi industry, cartooning and reviewing music for HiFi Plus mag. Whilst I’ve slightly curtailed the HiFi bug and have a relatively small main system (sonus faber Cremona M speakers, Brinkmann La Grange record deck, Esoteric X03 CD, and Devialet 170 amp), music remains a vital part of my life. As does photography. I got the bug years ago on a business trip to Brazil with a Leica Digilux. I now have a Nikon Df, D700 and D600 along with a wide range of lenses, and a much loved Fuji X100. Like music in some ways, photography is so engrossing since there is always something new to learn, another avenue to explore.

  39. I saw this and just had to comment. I think the two (photography and audio) really do seem to go together and this is not the first time I’ve came across somebody who likes both. I really miss my analog rig which consisted of a VPI TNT turntable with cutom 300B tube amps and custom Klipschorns to play my over 9,000 pieces of vinyl. I really enjoy your sight. My system changed many times over the years but my love for photography and audio will always remain.


  40. Steve, can you drop me a mail when you will have completed your review of the Line Magnetic 219ia ? I am looking forward reading it. If this AMP sound so good as it …look !
    thanks in advance

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