Elite Audio Brings Spiral Groove, Zesto, Kharma and more to BAAS Members

Over 50 BAAS members braved a rare San Francisco heat wave and Elite’s store renovations yesterday to hear some of the best that vinyl and tubes have to offer.

Thanks largely to the efforts of Michael Woods (our host) and Peter Truce (or Analog Czar and organizer), the event was a great success. Thanks also to Allen Perkins (Spiral) and George and Carolyn Counnas (Zesto) for sharing their knowledge and expertise. (As a special treat, Zesto played the prototype of their much-anticipated tube power amp.)

Well done!



Baas_6-29-13_1 Baas_6-29-13_2 Baas_6-29-13_4 Baas_6-29-13_6 Baas_6-29-13_9

Sunday, June 30th, 2013 Analog, Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events Comments Off

The Great BAAS DSD DAC Shootout…

…and DSD recording session.

BAAS members climbed into the Belmont hills yesterday to observe a live DSD-based recording session and to sample and audition four representatives from the current generation of DSD-capable DACs. The devices were:

  • Playback Designs MPD-5 (link)
  • Benchmark DAC2 HGC (link)
  • Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC (link)
  • TEAC UD-501 (link)

Musical selections – some of which were free downloads and available in both DSD and hires PCM – included:

  • “Lush Life” and “Freddie” from AJP3 (link)
  • Selkye:”Slow Day” from BCR (link)
  • Mahler 2/1 from Channel Classics (link)
  • Mahler 1/4 from DLN (link)
  • Iyer:”Human Nature” from DLN (link)
  • Recording from the live session

As to the results of the listening tests, I’ll leave the details to JVS and his report on I will say that the most prominent trend was once again sound quality mirroring price. But opinions varied, especially in the second session.

Also, late in the day and at a member’s request, we conducted a brief single-blind listening test. The setup was simple: two 30-sec level-matched excerpts were played on the MPD-5, one hires PCM and one DSD. Pick the DSD track. Consensus a priori was that this task was “easy” and a “waste of time.” The test results suggested otherwise.

Finally, you can access a list of current DSD DACs and DSD download sites here. 2L in particular has a great selection of free downloads.

Many thanks to Cookie Marenco, Patrick and the Blue Coast team, and Jason McGuire (master of Flamenco guitar). Great job in making this happen.


Sunday, February 24th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events Comments Off

It had to happen: First 3D-printed Record Albums

3dprintedrecord-660See this Wired article for a demo and an explanation by the engineer.

OK, so sound quality is about that achieved by Edison. But I predict that it’ll improve – a lot.

Is this the ultimate audiophile DAC?



Thursday, December 20th, 2012 Analog, Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, News Comments Off

Linn Loudspeakers Rock Bay Area Members

BAAS members enjoyed a pleasant Saturday at the Oakland HQ of Linn Audio.

David Linn, founder and CEO, played host to an enthusiastic crowd of listeners. Thanks, David!

Comments were heard throughout the day about how dynamic the speakers were and the “honesty” of their tone. They were also capable of sound levels that would fill a stadium.

When asked about the name of the firm and possible confusion with the Scots, Dr. Linn replied that “…Linn is my last name, not theirs….”



Monday, October 22nd, 2012 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events Comments Off

McIntosh Headlines Successful Event at Century Stereo

BAAS members were treated to a great program at last Saturday’s listen & learn session at Century Stereo in San Jose.

Multiple well-appointed rooms were in play, staffed by knowledgeable experts from the vendors. Highlights included:

  • All about room treatments (PMI). Why passive treatments still matter, even when EQ/signal processing are used.
  • Power conditioning intro (Furman). Is there a difference? Is the conditioned sound truly better? At what price?
  • McIntosh Line Array Loudspeakers and Lyngdorf technology. Ever heard a line array? Ever heard these? 110 drivers! Also, how digital signal processing (DSP) can auto-EQ and adjust/widen the “sweet spot.”
  • Audio cable technology update from China (Tributaries/Clarus). Video conference with cable pioneer Jay Victor. Why geometry matters, and where Chinese (and Japanese) manufacturing fits in.
  • High Resolution Video/Audio by Kaleidescape. What Bluray brings to digital audio, and how the Kaleidescape technology can make powerful video/music servers easy. amazing system.

A ton of great learning, pleasurable listening, and audiophile camaraderie.

Thanks to Melinda and Century Stereo (link at right)!


Monday, September 24th, 2012 Audiophile, Equipment, Events, Music Server Comments Off

A Pictorial History of a BAAS Event – EBTB Pre-launch Party

BAAS just completed a well-attended (over 50 members) gig featuring the rich product line of Everything But The Box (EBTB) Loudspeakers.

Held at the impressive 1340 Mission building – home of Michael Romanowski Mastering, Coast Recorders, and the Tape Project – the event featured 3 demo systems, a nice lobby for extended member discussions, an open bar, great snacks (loved those brownies!), and an expresso bar. But for me, the highlight of the facility was the acoustic qualities of the main studio. It’s hard to find such a neutral sonic environment.

In addition to the facility itself, we were blessed by the participation of several audio experts, most notably Bob Hodas, Michael Romanowski, and Piper Payne. Holding it all together was our sponsor, Konnie May – North American rep for EBTB. And we all thank Parasound, MIT Cables, and VTL for their support via equipment loans.

The sounds were great, the atmosphere light and collegial, and our hosts gracious. A beautiful thing.

Here are some pics, courtesy member Kevin O, to document things….


Reception Lobby

The Piper Room

The Main System

Mains Up Close

Wrapping Up / Debrief

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events, News Comments Off – Hires video reviews, factory tours, and show reports

For those of you looking for additional Memorial Day entertainment, check out the AVshowrooms web site.

Lots of high definition audiophile video. I found the Audio Note UK tour particularly enjoyable. Old world, minimalist design ethos. The YG Acoustics tour was a nice bookend – new world, high-tech approach and materials.

I like the overall concept. It strikes me as a useful adjunct to the written word, and valid means of getting greater exposure to the brands. I would think that quality manufacturers would value the service as well.

Sample below. Go “full screen” for best effect.




Monday, May 28th, 2012 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, General, Video Comments Off

Coolest Stereo Ever (If Apple Existed in 1961…)

Just lovely. Designed by the inimitable Dieter Rams, it featured a 6-tube amp and cord drive.

Affectionately called the “Snow White Coffin” by some. I wonder why….


Saturday, February 25th, 2012 Analog, Audiophile, Bob, Equipment Comments Off

Alón’s Audio Array

Updated March 12, 2014
Analogue Source: Townshend Rock 7 Turntable, Merlin 3 Power Supply, Excalibur 3 Tone Arm, Ortofon Cadenza Bronze.
Digital Source: Macbook Pro, Audirvana, Micromega MyDac.
Preamp: VAC Signature 2a with MC/MM Phono Stage
Amps: VAC Phi 200 mono blocks
Speakers: Thiel CS 3.7
Sub Woofers: Twin REL T5 Sub Bass System
Speaker Cables, Power Cords, and Interconnects: Speltz Audio Lab
Power: PurePower+ 2000 AC Regenerator With Battery Back-Up
Room Tweaks: Synergistic HFT (crazy voodoo product that shouldn’t work, but does anyway)
Headphones: Audeze LCD 3, Mr. Speakers Alpha Dog, AKG K702, Etymotic HF2
Headphone Amp: Ray Samuels Audio Raptor 3-tube Amp
RCM:  Audio Desk Systeme Ultrasonic Vinyl Cleaner
Electrical: 2 dedicated 20Amp circuits with Cruz Maestro Receptacle
Here’s a photo of my Rack of VAC in Black. This is the pure 2 Channel Analogue side. The digital components are separate and housed in the armoire on the right. More photos coming!


Sunday, February 5th, 2012 Analog, Audiophile, Equipment, Member's Systems 1 Comment

Making a B&W 802D (Not a DIY affair)

Friday, January 27th, 2012 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment 2 Comments

Bay Area Audiophiles Hear the DaVinci 384K DAC

Last Saturday, BAAS members were treated to a private sitting with the trend-setting DaVinci DAC.

Impressive in both design and specs, members noted in particular the impressive soundstage that the unit projected.

The music played, all hi-res except for the Montserrat Figueras tribute, was either classical or jazz: excerpts of Haydn and Beethoven string quartets, Mozart, Ole Bull’s very romantic violin, Paul Motian and Vince Guaraldi’s jazz, Montserrat Figueras and Jordi Savall’s period instrument Monteverdi, and, in the second session, Kumiko’s Steve Reich on marimba. A fine tribute to a pair of fallen artists.

Thanks again to Jason Victor Serinus for hosting. His fine room, system, and expert musical selections make auditions a treat.

And, of course, special thanks to Larry Ho and Light Harmonic for supplying this elegant piece of reproduction equipment. You can learn more here.


Monday, December 12th, 2011 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events, Jason Comments Off

Bay Area audiophiles meet the new Qol technology

This weekend offered something new few BAAS members, who were introduced to one of the first net-new technologies to hit the high-end scene in years. Of course, I’m talking about the Qol (think “coal” re pronunciation) algorithm from BSG Technologies.

Each of the three sessions began with a thorough briefing from BSG CEO Larry Kay. We then tested the transparency of the analog circuits in the Qol device. With Qol in a tape loop of the Wavelength preamp, we switched the unit in and out while playing the Mahler 2 from Classic. Not a single member could hear a difference. Nada. This in itself can be considered a fine accomplishment IMO. In fact, add an attenuator and a little gain to the Qol and a great preamp would emerge,

We spent much of the rest of the time switching the actual Qol processing in and out. This test was a bit tougher to interpret, as the nature of the Qol – adding (“restoring”) phase and harmonic information to the signal – results in a 0.5dB-2dB rise in acoustic power. So everybody heard a big and positive difference when the Qol was switched in. The question was how much of this goodness was due to the effect and how much do to the gain.

It’s not my role here to render a judgement. But I will say two things. First, BAAS members were unanimous that the Qol processing did no harm, i.e., the processed signal sounded at least as good as the raw signal. Second, one minute into the demo, an experienced BAAS listener sitting in the room’s sweet spot pronounced “I’m sure it’s doing more than a gain change!” Beyond that, I’d urge interested listeners to spend time with the unit themselves. (As I understand it, BSG has a reasonable home audition policy, at least in the Bay Area.)

All of our testing was supported by the new Triode loudspeakers from Jim Jordan of Vaughn. Jim also brought a stack of Wavelength electronics, which featured NOS Western Electric 300B tubes. The source was my highly-modified Pioneer Elite universal player.

Many thanks to Larry, Jim, and Shawn Herrara (local Qol dealer) for making the event a success.


Edit: The new issue of The Absolute Sound (#220) contains a seven-page rage of the Qol device by Robert Harley.


Monday, November 14th, 2011 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events Comments Off

Lindemann System Impresses Bay Area Audiophiles

Jonathan Josephs, head of importer One World Audio, wowed local audiophiles yesterday with an impressive array of mostly-Lindemann components.

Front-and-center in the performance were the small-but-mighty BL-10 monitors (pictured). They not only sounded great, but also measured well using the Goldline MP-30 Real-Time Analyzer that was on hand.

Vinyl-loving members were also impressed by the vintage Luxman turntable and Zesto phono stage being demmed.

Later in the day, newly-minted BAAS member Baron Lum was informed that he won the event’s house prize – a new $990-list Lindemann USB-DAC 24/192. (Unbiased post-event drawing shown.) Talk about “membership has its privileges”!

Many thanks to Jonathan and One World Audio….


Sunday, September 25th, 2011 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events Comments Off

Audiophile Light Bulb?

The listed freq response is about the same as I hear in some “high end” systems.

So it might be the way to go… (LOL)

[Thanks, Aaron]


Saturday, September 10th, 2011 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Humor Comments Off

It’s (Almost) Time…for Burning Amp 2011!

One of the true audiophile highlights of the year will be held on October 1st at Fort Mason in SF – Burning Amp.

Virtually mandatory for do-it-yourself (DIY) folks, I also recommend it for “general” audiophiles.

This year will feature a veritable “DIY God” – Douglas Self. I’m sure that I’m far from the only builder who got major acceleration from Mr. Self’s teachings.

Edit: The BA organizers are looking for help, especially in providing high-end digital and/or analog sources for the event. Contact info is on their site.

See you there,


Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 Announcements, Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events, General Comments Off

Sonorus – Pure. Audiophile. Analog.

I’m a digital guy, buy I gotta say this is sexy. Recommended by Yarlung Records (which has released two hot-selling LPs and may release on tape). Get yours here. Note that they are coming out with amps and electrostats!

I will investigate for a BAAS event when the line is released.


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 Analog, Audiophile, Bob, Equipment Comments Off

Pictures from the 2011 California Audio Show

These pictures via BAAS member Vince (skeptica).

If other members have pix, let me know and I will post them.

Thanks, Vince!


Sunday, July 17th, 2011 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events Comments Off

Thunderbolt – The world’s most sophisticated cable?

The geometry of Nordost Odin. The circuit-in-a-cable approach of MIT. The static charge on Synergistic shielding. All examples of how audio cables have progressed beyond the twisted pair.

But these are childlike in sophistication compared to the Thunderbolt cable, as featured in new Apple Macintosh products.

T-bolt, which some suspect to be the ‘next big thing’ in computer-audio connectivity, houses a dozen I/C’s in each cable!

Check out the details in this iFixit blog piece.

Fascinating stuff (for a geek).


Thursday, June 30th, 2011 Bob, Equipment, Technical 1 Comment

Dr. Linkwitz & His Orion Impress Bay Area Audiophiles

Yesterday, BAAS members were treated to the unique and highly capable “Orion IV Loudspeaker” system from Linkwitz Lab and Wood Artistry.

Sporting a “classic” planar baffle for mids and treble, bass is handled by a clever “W baffle” – a feature that no doubt contributes to the speaker’s fine top-to-bottom tonal balance and soundstage stability.

Also contruting to the overall sound were electronics from Pass Labs, Marantz, Bryston, and Auraliti (whose music server is becoming as ubiquitous at BAAS events as the first movement of “Symphonic Dances).

Indeed, I heard several members comment to each other after the event: “best sound I’ve heard in a long time.”

But that’s not all…. Also on hand were the designer (Siegfried Linkwitz) and builder (Don Naples). In addition to the obvious technical expertise of these two professionals, it was clear to me that both were avid audiophiles and music lovers too. Each describes his path in the audio biz, and the technical goals that were the targets of their efforts on Orion.

A discography of the music played is given below.

Thanks to West Valley College and all the folks that helped make this gig the success that it was.



Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events 1 Comment

JVS Hosts Audiophile Tour-de-force in Oakland

[Late post, with apologies.]

Late last month, our Jason Victor Serinus hosted an event at his home featuring both a vast array of new audiophile technologies and three guest presenters: Jason Jones of Jones Audio and Ray Burnham and Demian Martin of Auraliti.

Highlighting the equipment demmed were:

Also on hand were the Gen. 8 Series II’s 24/192 (and 176.4) upgrade, Stillpoints isolators, Magico QPods, the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport, Nordost Odin cables Odin everywhere, the Wavelength Wavelink USB to S/PIDF interface, and the Amarra playback software (2.2).

Musical selections included hi-res tracks from the new Attention Screen CD, more Yarlung Records via Linn Records hi-res download site, the ever-present works of Reference Recordings and Chesky Records/HD Tracks, and interesting hi-res content from ECM Records. There was also some funky hip-hop!

A bit of levity was added to the proceeding as JVS demmed how a particular orchestral crescendo could literally blow one of his gym socks out of the rear port on the Eficion’s midrange/tweeter module (a “knock your socks off” recording that indeed)!

In addition to the simple joy of hearing great music on a formidable system, members got yet more exposure to the realities of “why all digital does not sound alike.”

Many thanks to all those who made it happen.



Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events Comments Off