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2013 in Review, Secret Insights, and a Look Behind the Veil of 2014!

12-28-2013 | By Jeff Day |

The end of 2013 is arriving rapidly and 2014 will be on us in no time! I thought it would be fun to take a look back at 2013's notable moments and to take a look behind the veil of 2014 to see what might be waiting.

First up are those treasures that I wrote about for Positive Feedback Online in 2013:


Positive Feedback Online Award Winner - ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue Amplifier ($31,220 USD)

2013 was a fantastic year all the way around, with the first review of the year being about the ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue Amplifier ($31,220 USD) that completely blew my mind. The ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue amplifier that is hand crafted in Germany by Friedrich Schaefer’s ASR Audio Systeme is simply the finest amplifier I have ever encountered.

Kingdom Royal

Whether the ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue amplifier was powering my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers, or the Tannoy Kingdom Royal loudspeakers that I had in for review during that time, it was hands down the most musically satisfying amplifier I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to - period.

10 ASR with Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers

As I mentioned in the review, in terms of sheer musicality the Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue bested both the vacuum tube and solid-state amplifiers I am familiar with, and if I could have afforded its rather formidable price tag, I would have purchased it in a second! You can read the whole story about this magnificent amplifier in Issue 66 (March-April, 2013) of Positive Feedback Online.

Now here's something to ponder: I am told that Friedrich Schaefer has continued his tradition of continual Emitter refinement and has made some breakthrough advancements in component choices. The latest version of the Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue amplifier is said to be quite a lot better than the version I wrote about - which is hard to imagine! I have been asked if I would like to write about the new version for all of you, but I don't know if I'll be able to get to it in the review queue 2014 or not due to time constraints, but I'd sure like to!

ASR BE phono

I also wrote about the matching ASR Basis Exclusive Phono Equalizer ($10,310 USD) in Issue 67 (May-June, 2013) and I thought it was a fantastic match to the ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue amplifier.

ASR BE phono back

In combination with the ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue amplifier, the ASR Basis Exclusive phono equalizer connected me with the emotional content of the music better than anything I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, and I enjoyed this combination more than any other combination of audio electronics I have ever listened to. I am still marveling about it!

The ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue amplifier combined with the ASR Basis Exclusive phono equalizer is simply the most musically satisfying combination of audio electronics I have ever come across. The ASR audio electronics are the kind of Hi-Fi equipment that you buy for life, and then retire from considering other audio equipment, while you focus on building your music collection.

Kingdom Royal & Westminster Royal

Tannoy Kingdom Royal and Westminster Royal SE owners should take special note: the ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue amplifier and the Basis Exclusive phono equalizer have a special synergy with those loudspeakers that just has to be heard to be appreciated.

Sablon Audio Panatela

Everyone who has been reading my writing for a while knows that Mark Coles of Sablon Audio in London, England, makes astonishingly good cable products at a fair price courtesy of his direct sales approach.

Mark's Panatela interconnects & speaker cables completely blew me away, and they have a lot to do with why my reference system has been sounding so incredibly good.

120 Panatela ICs

In 2013 I also wrote about the entire Sablon Audio Corona Family of Power Cords: The Petit Corona, the Gran Corona, and the Quantum Gran Corona, in Issue 68 (July-August, 2013).

1 Corona Family of Power Cords

If you've never heard what a jaw-dropping experience using a super AC power cord like these can provide you are in for a treat!

6 Petit Corona

Mark Coles has demo models circulating in North America that you can hear for yourself, so you can ‘try before you buy' if you wish.

10 Quantum Gran Corona different angle

You can contact Mark Coles to make arrangements to be blown away by what a power cord can do for your system at [email protected].

29 Gran Corona

I can very enthusiastically recommended each and every one of the Sablon Audio Corona power cords, and I suspect you'll be as impressed with them as I am.

Acoustic Revive Chronicles 2

If you've been following my writing for a while you know that I have extremely high regard for the Acoustic Revive high-performance audio accessory products designed and manufactured by Mr. Ken Ishiguro in Japan.

12 RR-77 & RR-777

Ever since I reviewed my first Acoustic Revive product, the RR-77 Schumann Wave Generator (above), I have been hooked on Ken San's approach to high-performance audio accessories.

quartz footers

If you look carefully at photos of my system you'll see Acoustic Revive accessories everywhere, like the aforementioned RR-77 (and the new more powerful RR-777), the RIQ-5010 / RIQ-5010W Quartz Insulators that I use under my turntable and components, the SIP-8F RCA Input Shorting Plugs & QR-8 Quartz Resonators that I use in my vintage McIntosh MX110Z tuner-preamplifier, the RPT-2 & RPT-4 Ultimate Power Distributors with their Power Reference AC Power Cords, the RWL-3 Acoustic Conditioner you can see on the front & side-walls behind my Westminsters (below) ...

system photo with c2300 and mx110z

... CB-1DB Receptacle Base Plate (below), the CFRP-1F Carbon Fiber Outlet Plate (below), and the CS-F2 Outlet Stabilizer (below), the RST-38 & TB-38 Quartz Under-Boards (above), and the RAF-48 Air Floating Board, Single Core RCA Interconnects, the  Cable Insulators (above) are constant companions in my system ...

Maestro 7

In my latest Acoustic Revive Chronicles - Chapter 10 - I wrote about the new RR-777 Schumann Pulse Generator, the RL-30 Mark III Analogue Disc Demagnetizer, the CB-1DB receptacle base plate, CFRP-1F carbon fiber outlet plate, and the Acoustic Revive modified Oyaide R-1 receptacle. Check it all out in Issue 68 (July-August 2013) of Positive Feedback Online.

RL-30 Mark III Demagnetizer

Every since that first review of the RR-77 back in 2008 I have written 10 more survey articles about Acoustic Revive products, and I think it is safe to say I've written more about Acoustic Revive than anyone in the world. There's a simple reason for that - Acoustic Revive products work extremely well and I really like them!

4 SPA one front open top

Positive Feedback Online Award Winner - New Valve Order SPA one Phono Equalizer ($4250 USD)

I wrote about the New Valve Order SPA one Phono Equalizer in Issue 69 (September-October 2013) of Positive Feedback Online and it is my favorite phono stage so far. Andreas Hadjiminas really hit a home run with this one. 

19 SPA one side view

I enjoyed listening to music more through Andreas’ New Valve Order SPA one phono equalizer than any other phono equalizer I have heard to date. With the SPA one’s 13 glowing vacuum tubes lighting my darkened listening room, every single record I listened to became a musically involving event!

7 SPA one rear view

As I said in the review, in my experience very few components can create a emotional connection to the music at the level of the SPA one – and no other phono equalizer that I am aware of can match it musically – making it a very special device indeed. I haven’t come across anything that can come close to its combination of sonics & musicality, and it plays music with a verve that’ll light up your heart, thrill your senses, and keep you up late at night listening to music!


Positive Feedback Online Award Winner - The Duelund-WRSE Crossover Project ($12,402 USD)

The Duelund-WRSE Crossover Project (above) I wrote about in Issue 70 (November-December, 2013) of Positive Feedback Online is a mind-blower! Every single time I fire up my Hi-Fi I marvel at the magic that is the Duelund-WRSE Project and the way it infuses music with life, color, excitement, and emotion.

135 Duelund XO components

I believe Frederik & Magnus’ Duelund Coherent Audio CAST product line of capacitors, inductors, and resistors (above) to be the finest being made in the world today for audio applications, and each one of them is an impressive work of audio artistry.

106 Panatela through binding post holes

The performance of Frederik & Magnus’ Duelund CAST components, combined with Mark Coles' impressive Panatela cabling for the internal wiring of the Westminsters (above), is so good that I really struggle to fully convey to you what I'm hearing in the music, which is sort amazing by itself as I'm never normally at a loss for words about anything!

134 WRSE with Duelund XO

It is really an incredible combination that stretches the limits of my audio and music vocabulary ... and it may be a while before I can fully come to grips with articulating everything about the performance increase that the Duelund-WRSE Project has brought to my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers.

105 Panatela shrink-wrapped on binding post end

As you can tell from my short descriptions, 2013 was a banner year of writing about awesome components from all around the world. Let me give thanks to all involved in making it such a great year:

  • Many thanks to Dr. Friedrich Schaefer (ASR) and Mr. Zed Husain (Importer, Musical Sounds, LLC) for making the ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue Amplifier - Issue 66 (March-April, 2013) - and the ASR Basis Exclusive Phono Equalizer – Issue 67 (May-June, 2013) - available for review.
  • Many thanks to Mark Coles for making his Sablon Audio Corona Family of Power Cords available for review: The Petit Corona, the Gran Corona, and the Quantum Gran Corona. Read all about it in Issue 68 (July-August, 2013) of Positive Feedback Online.
  • Many thanks to Mr. Ken Ishiguro (Acoustic Revive) and Yoshi Hontani (Exporter, Muson Project) for making Chapter 10 of The Acoustic Revive Chronicles possible, by sending the amazing new RR-777 Schumann Pulse Generator, the RL-30 Mark III Analogue Disc Demagnetizer, the CB-1DB receptacle base plate, CFRP-1F carbon fiber outlet plate, and the Acoustic Revive modified Oyaide R-1 receptacle to me to write about. Read all about it in Issue 68 (July-August 2013).
  • Many thanks to Andreas Hadjiminas (NVO) and Panikos Kontemeniotis (Exporter) for making the New Valve Order SPA one Phono Equalizer available for review. Read all about it in Issue 69 (September-October 2013).
  • Many thanks to Frederik & Magnus’ (Duelund), Mark Coles (Sablon Audio), Dr. Paul Mills (Tannoy), Pete Riggle (Pete Riggle Audio Engineering), and David Biancosino (Answers In Art) for making the Duelund-WRSE Crossover Project possible - you guys are awesome! Read all about it here in Jeff's Place Review Archives or read the feature article at Positive Feedback Online in Issue 70 (November-December, 2013).

Secret Insights - It is a vintage world!

This year has been quite an exciting introduction to the world of vintage audio electronics through my friend Ron (below left, Chad on the right).

Chad & Ron 2

Ron (background below) infected me and audio pals George (below right) and Leo (below left) with the vintage bug by bringing over part of his vintage audio collection like his Crown reel-to-reel and Crown amp (below), and we've all succumbed!

Leo Ron George

crown 800 with mc240


My introduction to the vintage world was through the trio of the McIntosh MX110Z tuner-preamplifier-phono, the MC240 stereo amplifier, and the MC30 mono amplifiers. I bought my restored vintage mint+ McIntosh MX110Z tuner-preamplifier and Mint MC240 stereo amplifier from vintage vacuum-tube specialists Tom Manley & Terry DeWick in Knoxville, Tennessee.

117 MX110Z

118 MC240

Leo bought a really beautiful pair of restored vintage McIntosh MC30 mono amplifiers from Yves Beauvais at Vintage Vacuum Audio and they sounded absolutely stunning on the big Westminster Royal DSE (Duelund Special Edition) loudspeakers!


After George and I listened to the vintage Mac MC30s we each went out an bought a pair of restored MC30s from Yves for ourselves - great amps!

Leo's MC30 2

Below is a photo of Leo's beautiful Marantz 8.

Marantz 8

I've had quite a few people contact me and ask me if these vintage electronics are better sounding than modern kit. Well ... yes and no. They do play music better than most modern audio electronics, with a few exceptions, and those exceptions pretty much come in as a draw when you take into account all their plusses and minuses. The vintage gear isn't generally as transparent or detailed sounding as modern electronics, but you probably will not care because they play music so well! Vintage gear tends to sound more musical, modern gear more hi-fi 'ish and analytical.

MC240 with Philips

As I said to Mike in one of the comments when he asked me a similar question, "Mint+ vintage Mac gear like mine is very hard to come by, and even if you wanted to buy it chances are you couldn’t unless you were very lucky in finding someone to buy it from. Vintage Mac gear is an original, it isn’t inspired by anything else. It is living history. It sounds great and it communicates the essence of music superbly. It is a lot of fun. It gives me a sense of satisfaction in owning it that would be hard to duplicate with anything else. You’ll notice from time-to-time in the comments that people want to buy mine. I’m not selling. ... Can vintage Mac gear provide listening satisfaction on par with top flight modern kit I’ve heard? In my case the answer has been yes. The vintage Mac gear makes me very happy when I listen to it. They are different experiences though, and they sound different from each other, but they are equally fun, and when you listen to music with them you forget about the gear and you get lost in the music, which is the hallmark of great gear. There’s a reason that people around the world venerate vintage gear like McIntosh, Marantz, and so forth, as those designers knew what music sounded like. ... My Mac gear started out as my ‘vintage reference’ set of kit. A fun experiment … a classic addition to my electronics stable. Then something remarkable happened: it stayed in my system. I didn’t want to take it out – it makes hi-fi fun!"

I'm not the only one that thinks that either, check out the article below from my Wall Street Journal some months back.

WSJ MC240 article (1)

Many thanks to friends Ron, Leo, and George for fanning the vintage flames - we're all having a blast!

Secret Insights - AC Power Receptacles Matter!

Power receptacles matter. That's what I found out in Chapter 10 of the Acoustic Revive Chronicles when Ken San & Yoshi San sent me a custom Acoustic Revive modified Oyaide R-1 receptacle (below) that shows off the performance potential of the Acoustic Revive CB-1DB receptacle base plate (right), the CFRP-1F carbon fiber outlet plate (center).

35 Outlet Trio

24 Base plate, outlet plate, R-1 receptacle

Replacing your AC outlets with a high quality AC receptacle like the Oyaide or Maestro is one of the least expensive ways to make a significant improvement in your system's performance.

AR Oyaide R-1 modified AC receptacles 1

The Acoustic Revive modified Oyaide R-1 (above) is ridiculously good! Acoustic Revive uses a special version of the Oyaide R-1 receptacle with a beryllium-copper electrode (if you look up a photo of the stock R-1 it looks different). Ken San says that the beryllium-copper electrode has better conductance characteristics, and its also been polished to a mirror finish to further improve conductance.

AR Oyaide R-1 modified AC receptacles 3

Acoustic Revive modifies the electrode parts of the R-1 by applying a thick silver plating followed by a thick rhodium plating, both of which Acoustic Revive says improves the conductance and phase characteristics over the stock R-1. After the plating modifications Acoustic Revive cryogenically treats the electrode parts at -196oC for an additional improvement to conductance. After all the internal electrode parts are cryogenically treated they are reinstalled into the Oyaide resin receptacle bodies.

AR Oyaide R-1 modified AC receptacles 2

The bad news? The Acoustic Revive modified Oyaide R-1 is not for sale! That's too bad because it is totally awesome.

But don't despair, you can get a really nice Oyaide R-0 that will put a smile back on your face! I've got them in my outlets right now and they're really wonderful too.

Oyaide R-0 from Joe Cohen

The cruzeFIRST Audio Maestro outlet has been getting a lot of good comments as well, but so far I haven't heard the kind of performance from it that I have the Oyaides. I've put the Maestro on my Audiodharma for another round of conditioning and I'm going to give it another listen. More to come.

Below is the Maestro on the left, and the Oyaide R-0 on the right.

Maestro & Oyaide r-0 front

Maestro & Oyaide r-0 back

Maestro & Oyaide r-0 side

I'll talk about these outlets in much greater detail in the future, suffice it to say high-performance outlets may be one of the best-bang-for-the-buck improvements you can make for your hi-fi rig, so give them a try when you get a chance.

Secret Insights - Silver Duelund CAST PIO Capacitors Rock!

The more I listen to my Duelund-WRSE Project external crossovers with the Silver Duelund 6.8uF CAST capacitors the more I am totally freaking out at what I am hearing!

6.8 uF CAST Silver Caps silver * silk leads

These Silver Duelund 6.8uF CAST capacitors are from another planet! I think The Doctor must have brought them back with him on one of his visits back to Planet Earth, and yes, they are obscenely good.

Raw Silver Foil Winding (1)

Those kilograms of silver foil windings that are at the center of these little wonders really deliver music like I've never heard it out of my Westminsters. It's magic!

134 WRSE with Duelund XO

Ok ... I've written myself into burnout, so it is time for a cup of coffee and a little music listening.

If you'll check back later I'll have more stories to tell you ... from the future!

Thanks for stopping by, you guys are the best!

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