Manley Labs Chinook Phono Preamplifier

Around 2005, studio-tube-gear expert Manley Laboratories created an integrated tube amp with an iPod dock for the consumer market that had a triangular shape, and subsequently called it the Stingray iTube, keeping in line with naming the majority of its hi-fi consumer components after sea creatures.

“No one’s ever done fish before,” said EveAnna Manley (an avid scuba diver who is often referred to as the “Manley Tube Queen”) in a 2003 interview with Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, regarding the curious decision to name the company’s products after marine life.  “Let’s have some fun.”

And Manley keeps the fun going today—in terms of both its product nomenclature and the quality of audio that those products reproduce.  Earlier this year, the company launched its “bargain” phonostage, the Chinook, which goes for about a quarter of the cost of its pond mate, an $8,000 statement tube phono preamp called the Steelhead, which wowed vinyl junkies when it hit the market about 10 years ago.  As one of TONEAudio’s diehard analog guys, I get my share of vinyl-related products—cartridges, record cleaners, phono preamplifiers and the like—and, while phono fiends like myself still consider the Steelhead to be one of the industry’s best tube phonostages in its price range, the Chinook isn’t a bad catch.

Testing the Water

As I have gotten older, I have grown less tolerant of components that are tricky to install or exhibit quirky operation.  Thankfully, the Chinook phono preamp lacks these shortcomings.  Its default gain is set at 45 dB, a standard output for moving-magnet (MM) cartridges.  If you are a moving-coil (MC) freak like me, you can easily set the gain to 60 dB by removing the perforated cover (affixed with eight screws), flipping a pair of DIP switches for each channel, and replacing the cover.  Except for a blue on/standby button under the Manley Chinook logo (which illuminates with start-up), all of the action is on the rear panel, where you will find a ground post, a pair of unbalanced stereo inputs and outputs and dual banks of DIP switches for adjusting capacitance and resistance.

The Chinook offers a staggering 32 loading possibilities all the way up to 47,000 ohms, as well as 24 settings, which yield resistance values below 100 ohms—a setting that’s probably not the best option for most MC-cartridge users.  The preamp gives MM-cartridge users seven options for capacitance adjustments, ranging from 50 pF to 350 pF.  Manley supplied two pairs of 6922 dual triodes with the review sample, one pair for the gain stage and one for the output stage.  Tube rollers can also experiment with pairs of 7308s, 6DJ8s and ECC88s.

Given the Chinook’s $2,250 price tag, I matched it with the most appropriately priced gear available, namely my old standby table: a modified VPI Aries with outboard flywheel and a JMW 10.5i tonearm.  For my test cartridges, I used a stereo Clearaudio Stradivari and a mono Benz Micro Ruby 3.  Prior to serious listening, I broke in the Chinook a bit by leaving it powered on for 24 hours. (It has a light-bulb-sized appetite of just 42 watts.)  Manley recommends placing the Chinook in an area with adequate ventilation, although I noticed that it is only slightly warm during operation.  As a side note, this preamp safeguards its tube innards with a gentle 45-second power-up cycle, which helps provide some peace of mind, because there’s nothing more aggravating than blowing tubes at power-up.

Swimming Upstream with Ease

The ear party kicked off with Jazz at the Pawnshop (Proprius Records), a live recording from 1976 that features a bunch of plaid-clad Swedes hammering away at American standards.  I was immediately struck by the Chinook’s near-holographic soundstage.  I then moved on to Chamber Music Society (Heads Up) from bassist-vocalist Esperanza Spalding, on which she plays a snappy duet, “ Inútil Paisagem,” with jazz vocalist Gretchen Parlato.  This cut really tests a phonostage’s ability to distinguish between two female voices that continuously alternate parts; meanwhile a discrete acoustic bass provides the backbeat.  The Chinook kept perfect pace with the exchange between the vocals and Spalding’s infectious bass line.

Next, I wanted to see how the Chinook handled a recorded pipe organ, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it does offer an objective lesson in deep bass and, because most are built into large churches, big acoustic spaces.  In the 1970s, speaker maker Dave Wilson recorded a series of recitals with organ virtuoso James B. Welch, playing some of the finest pipe organs in the country.  One such LP from 1977, simply titled Concert (Wilson Audio), treated me to some of the best renditions of bass and space that I have been privileged to hear, courtesy of the Chinook.

To test it further, I had to see how the Chinook handled mono, because some of the best phonostages can bring life and breath to mono LPs, astonishing those who faintly remember such records playing on their parents’ old phonographs.  If you scratch the surface of serious vinyl lovers’ collections, you are likely to uncover these relics, and reissue companies have recently begun releasing some classic LPs from the glory days of yesteryear.  One such example is from Julie London, a sexy siren who made it big in the 1950s.  She heated up my listening room (in more ways than one) with “Cry Me a River,” from a 45-rpm reissue of Julie is Her Name (Boxstar Records). I then spun the tracks of the iconic bop-era recording, Birth of the Cool (Classic Records), which were laid down between 1949 and 1950 and feature trumpet idol Miles Davis, his big-band arranger Gil Evans and a legendary supporting cast.  The Chinook made sure that you heard everyone in the studio with amazing recovery of detail, including some off-mic chatter, which adds a level of authenticity and nostalgia to the listening session

Many, many, many LPs later, the ear party ended with MoFi’s reissue of Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus, arguably one of the greatest live rock albums of all time.  On this record, the late Lowell George and his super-boogie band present dueling synthesizers, guitars, percussion, keyboards and brass, a combination that makes for some hefty tunes.  Listening to the opening cut, “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” through the Chinook was a refreshing auditory slap in the face, just like having a primo standing-room-only place right near the stage.

Hooked on the Chinook

Vinyl records can quickly become an addiction that, fortunately, won’t shorten your natural life or get you busted for possession.  How you support this habit depends on source selection and, most critically, playback equipment.  Choice of turntable, tonearm and cartridge obviously matter, but the delicate signal still has to navigate the rest of the sound chain, where the phonostage acts as the gatekeeper of the grooves.  On this front, the Chinook excels, offering a substantial taste of the audio high life without maxing out your credit card.  It’s also a versatile component that will appeal to a variety of listeners.

Tube-phobes can relax, as this baby is dead quiet, even when cranked to the max; so can audio newbies, because setting up the Chinook is a cinch.  But before rushing out to plunk down more than two large ones, note that maximum gain for MC cartridges is 60 dB, which proved more than enough gain for the cartridges used in this review.  Some top-flight cartridges, however, put out less than 0.30 mV, which may not be the best match for this phonostage in a system based around a low gain preamplifier and/or low sensitivity speakers.

In summation, the Chinook provides spot-on imaging and recreation of the original recorded space, along with killer dynamics and a broad frequency spectrum—all at a reasonable price.

Gone Fishin’ (additional listnening)

Before sending the Chinook to Lawrence for this review, I had the pleasure of putting some initial hours on the clock and running it with a few of my own turntables.  I auditioned it with everything from the meager Shure M97 to the mighty Lyra Atlas, with excellent result.  Nothing in my stable of cartridges has less than 0.4 mV of output, so 60db of gain was more than sufficient.

Having spent a year with one of Manley’s Steelheads, that phono preamp has always been one of my favorites, it has a ton of personality—you’ll never mistake the Steelhead for anything less than a fish of the tubus maxiumus family.

Now compared to the big fish in my current analog pond (the Audio Research Reference Phono 2 SE, the Vitus MPP-201 and the Pass XP-25), the Chinook has a, shall we say, friendlier, more laid-back presentation.  But remember, my big-fish phonostages break the bank, with prices ranging from $11,000 to $60,000.  Everything else in the Chinook’s price is just StarKist tuna.

Mating the Chinook with the awesome and price-appropriate VPI Classic 1 turntable and the Lyra Kleos cartridge produced a relatively affordable analog front end of about $8,000, which won’t force you to take out a second mortgage.  That’s hardly Filet-O-Fish pocket change, but if you can find a heftier helping at this price, please, let us know about it.

The Manley Chinook gets down to the bare essentials, offering high performance in a basic box with no frills—everything you need and nothing you don’t.  We are happy to award it one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2012.   —Jeff Dorgay

Chinook Phono Preamplifier

MSRP: $2,250

Manufacturer: Manley Laboratories,


Preamplifier “Pass Labs X-30”
Amplifier “Pass Labs XA-100”.5”
Speakers “Martin Logan CLX”
Power Conditioner “Running Springs Audio Dmitri and Maxim”
Cables and power cords “Nordost Valhalla and Odin”

Wadia Intuition Power DAC

Thankfully, using the words “lifestyle” and “high fidelity” in the same sentence no longer makes you want to run for cover or the shower.

Great gear has been slowly getting more stylish: in part to attract the luxury goods consumer, and perhaps just because it’s cool.  Historically, big, clunky boxes have been banished from the main living space in all but the most tolerant of homes, so it’s wonderful to see manufacturers making products that are as enticing visually as they are sonically.

While Danish manufacturer Bang & Olufsen is certainly the pioneer of making audio products with a visual flair, it hasn’t been until just recently, when Devialet hit the scene with their D-Premier, that cutting edge audio performance is combined with sleek packaging.  It makes perfect sense that this fusion of style and performance would come from Europe, where living space tends to be at more of a premium.  Not as many of our European neighbors have the luxury of dedicated man caves.

Now Wadia, part of the Fine Sounds group, joins the party with the Intuition, and it’s a brilliant first effort.  A truly global product, the Intuition is designed and built in Italy.  Where the Devialet is square in form, the Intuition is softer in shape, looking much like an Apple MacBook Pro: inflated slightly, melted, and bent over a curved form.  Available in matte silver and black it was by far the most exciting product at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.  And the matte silver version, reviewed here, looks particularly Mac-like.

Power to spare

With 350 watts per channel at your fingertips (into 4 ohms, 190 WPC into 8) the Intuition can effortlessly drive anything.  It’s amazing how far switching amplification has come in the last few years, but the current design in the Wadia is fantastic, they refer to it as “Class D-Plus.”  Gone is the tinge of harshness and flat soundstage that used to plague these designs.

Because the current requirements from this type of design are very low, it’s easy to leave the Intuition on 24/7.  After a few days of continuous play, the Intuition opens up tremendously.  Interestingly, the Intuition is nowhere near as sensitive to speaker loads as the Class D amplifiers we’ve sampled.  Switching between Magnepans, electrostatic speakers and a plethora of cone speakers proves effortless.

Following Wadia’s John Schaffer’s suggestion, attention to power line conditioning and an upgraded power cord takes the Intuition to another level of performance entirely.  In this case, the Intuition is much like equipment with tubes under the hood, and once I install the Running Springs Dmitri and a Mongoose power cord, I’m rewarded with a dramatic increase in soundstage width, and a smoother high end as well.

Putting the pedal to the floor with a 45 r.p.m. single of AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” with the Intuition replaces about $200,000 worth of gear in my main system, driving the GamuT S9s.  The S9s go down to 18 Hz and reproduce the cannon shots at the end of the track with tons of weight and punch.  The Intuition proves equally adept with the cannon shots at the end of the Telarc 1812 Overture LP.  Having exhausted my repertoire of cannon shots, it’s time to venture into a wider range of music.

Great everywhere

Jumping in the wayback machine for a cursory listen of Neu!’s Neu!2 is fantastic; this ethereal electronic piece is properly rendered larger than life, with analog synthesizer bits, random drumming and tape-looped moans orbiting around my KEF Blades.  Granted, this won’t tell you anything about timbre, or tonal accuracy – this piece needs to sound grandiose in execution, and the Intuition nails it.

Ditto on the subtle reproduction of acoustic instruments.  The atonal piano riffs in David Bowie’s classic “Aladdin Sane” explode from between the speakers, with killer attack and expansive delay, fading into nothing ever so gently as the driving bass line stays perfectly intact.

The “Shelly Manne” track from The Charlie Watts/Jim Keltner Project further reveals the lightning speed the Intuition possesses.  Both of these master drummers interacting over a major bass line is phenomenal and reproduced with ease.  Anyone judging a system on PRAT (pace, rhythm and timing) will be in heaven.  More traditional, yet equally intriguing, is Kenny Burrell’s Soulero. The Intuition’s ability to keep all four musicians distinctly placed in the listening space is fantastic.

Nuance is the key with the Intuition.  Forget what you think you know about switching amplification – this baby is smooth and grain free.  After moving the Intuition out of the studio and into my new listening room in the house with a pair of KEF LS-50s, I am amazed at how easy it is to lapse into a groove with this combination, at times fooled into thinking perhaps I’m listening to the big system after all.  The overall musicality of the Intuition is impossible to ignore and tough to beat.

A magic DAC indeed

The Intuition has seven digital inputs, so it can become the center of your musical universe with ease.  Two line-level analog inputs are available as well, so those wanting to add a turntable, or other source with RCA outputs can do so, but be aware that the Intuition does convert the analog sources to high-resolution digital information and then processes everything in the digital domain.

Utilizing an SME 10 turntable and Sumiko Palo Santos cartridge, via the Audio Research REF Phono 2 phonostage, provides an excellent addition to the system, with barely any loss of spatial qualities and nuance, robbing analog of its charm.  Hard core analog purists may not want to roll this way, but considering the Intuition’s design ethos, this may be not the droid for you, should you want a pure analog experience anyway.  All but the most maniacal vinyl lovers will appreciate the analog inputs and the ability to enjoy this part of their music selection with the Intuition, should they so desire.

Schaffer also makes it a point to mention that the Intuition on many levels is “the latest generation DAC from Wadia,” incorporating everything they’ve done, up to and including their prestigious 9 series.  After having used both the 581 and 781 as reference players for years, we notice the resemblance instantly.  Bass is solid, tuneful and well controlled, with dynamics to match – amazing actually, in such a compact package.

Part of this continued innovation is the use of Wadia’s patented Digimaster algorithm, controlling level in the digital domain, and the Intuition features the latiest iteration.  Coax and AES inputs accommodate 24 bit/192 khz signals, with the USB input having 32bit/384khz and native DSD capability.  Wadia chose to forgo galvanic isolation with the Intuition, claiming better analog signal integrity, and the results certainly speak for themselves – this is one of the most natural sounding DACs we’ve encountered.

All of the sources at our disposal perform flawlessly, and the optical input’s performance is incredibly good, interfacing with the Meridian MS200 better than any other DAC at our disposal, including the dCS Vivaldi.  Impressive indeed.  We have not had the chance to fully exploit the 32/384 or DSD capabilities at this early date, but expect a follow-up on the TONEAudio website in the next 60 days.  As more mainstream material becomes available in the DSD world, we’ll be listening further.

Could be more intuitive

I love the sound and functionality of the Intuition, though it does take a little bit of getting used to.  Kudos to Wadia’s design team for making the display large enough to be easily seen from across the room; however the super stylish remote is another story.  Shaped exactly like the Intuition but bite sized, it features five buttons, with a larger button in the middle, sporting an engraved speaker symbol, which mutes the Intuition.  The top and bottom buttons select inputs, while the left and right buttons control volume, as they do on Wadia digital players.  You can determine top from bottom on this symmetrical remote by searching for the IR transmitter – that’s the top.

Legacy Wadia owners should feel right at home, but for the rest of us, this is highly cryptic.  Certainly not an epic fail, but something that should be considered for future versions of the Intuition, and perhaps other devices in the Intuition family that are no doubt on the horizon.  Schaffer maintains a poker face when I ask him about a matching Wadia transport to accompany the Intuition, but the pair of WadiaLink I2S inputs on the rear panel suggests something is indeed in the works.

Easily integrated

Very minor nits aside, the rest of the Intuition is as user friendly as an iPod, and this device is clearly what the world needs more of.  Steve Jobs once said at the Macworld Expo that “technology has to be as easy to use as putting a bagel in a toaster,” and I believe that extends to high-end audio.  Geeking out is fun for some of us but off-putting to most – and why miss out on enjoying great music in your home because you don’t want a rack full of square boxes connected by various lengths of garden hose?

After living with the Intuition for a while and sharing it with a few friends in their homes, it’s clear that Wadia has hit a home run, creating a product that should fly off the dealers’ shelves at an MSRP of $7,500.

The Intuition plays music at such a high degree of realism, it is the perfect building block for a system of any stature.  Whether you choose to pair it up with speakers costing $1,500 or $100,000 (and of course, anywhere in between), you will be amazed at the resulting sound quality.

Thanks to the small 15 x 15 inch footprint, and its ability to run cool, the Intuition will be comfortable anywhere in your home, but I suggest putting its sexy shape in a prominent place where it can become a conversation piece.  And a subtle nudge to the rest of the hifi industry: can we have more of this?  It’s definitely where we need to be headed.  Job well done, Wadia.

The Wadia Intuition

MSRP:  $7,500


Analog Source SME 10 Turntable w/Sumiko Palo Santos Cartridge
Digital Source Meridian Control 15, and MS200, Aurender S10
Phonostage Audio Research REF Phono 2SE
Speakers Sonus faber Guarneri Evolution,GamuT S9, KEF Blade, KEF LS-50
Cables Cardas Clear
Power Running Springs Dmitri PLC, Mongoose Power Cord
Accessories Furutech DeMag, DeStat, GIK acoustic treatments

Simaudio’s new MOON Neo 260D CD Transport

Simaudio Ltd. announces a very cool way to approach CD playback.

Their new MOON Nēo 260D CD Transport is available for $2,000 as a transport alone. Those having a favorite DAC, need only purchase this component to upgrade their system.  Those wanting an all in one digital solution can add the optional DAC for another $1,000, providing a very potent digital player that borrows heavily from the technology in Simaudio’s highly acclaimed MOON 650D

For the full press release, click here…

Merrill Audio Veritas Power Amp Mono Blocks

Based in Bernardsville, NJ, Merrill Audio was formed in 2010 by Merrill Wettasinghe, a lifelong audiophile and former HP executive with a background in R&D.

The current product line consists of the Veritas line of amplifiers and the Lucia preamplifiers.  Merrill Audio has a clear vision for the products they offer, which are designed and built with an attention to detail rarely encountered. In for review are the Veritas Power Amp Mono Blocks, priced at $12,000 a pair.

The Veritas monoblock amplifier is a Class D design that uses the Hypex Ncore NC1200 power modules.  Each  chassis is machined from a solid block of aluminum with one-inch thick outer walls.  The internal electronic components are laid out in various chambers to maximize isolation.  Further examination leads one to conclude that very few, if any, compromises are apparent in the construction and layout.

According to Merrill, wiring is point to point, and Cardas ultra pure copper litz wire is used throughout the amps. Around back are Cardas speaker binding posts that utilize solid copper  and a rhodium plate; however, they will only accept spade terminated speaker cable.  The inputs are fully balanced and feature only top-shelf Cardas XLR connectors, so balanced cables are mandatory.  For an interesting touch, the units are supplied with power cords that Merrill has had custom-designed for them by Triode Wire Labs.  The IEC inlet is gold-plated Furutech. The monoblocks also ship stock with either synergistic or Stillpoints support feet.

The Veritas are not for those with weak backs, as they weigh in at 33 pounds each. According to Merrill Audio, their build process is as follows: “Start with a 66-pound solid aluminum block.  Delicately machine the chassis from this solid block with isolation chambers and frames to limit any sonic interference and minimize vibrations. Keep the walls one-inch thick, to limit and absorb vibration. The signal paths are designed to be the shortest possible, giving you the cleanest audio signal possible. Longer cables typically use shielding. Excessive shielding introduces capacitances that slow the dynamics of the system, especially power amps, bloating the bass and reducing the high frequencies. Keeping wires short removes the requirement for shielding…”

Setup is straightforward: a MyTek Stereo 192 DAC, Musical Fidelity M1 CDT transport, Bogdan Audio Creations Art Deco and Thiel CS2.4 loudspeakers, Audience power conditioning, along with Kimber cabling make up the review system. One interesting note is there is no power switch – the amps are turned on or off by detaching the Triode Wire Labs power cords, which results in a faint, harmless pop through the speakers. The Veritas monos also run warm to the touch, and have been left on continuously for optimum performance.


The Veritas are given a few days of casual use to allow them to settle in, and then a steady diet of reference tracks for serious listening.  It is apparent from the very first listening session that the Veritas are very serious contenders for one of the biggest sounding amps to enter the listening room.  All the engineering, careful selection of parts, and attention to detail pay off.  The listener is rewarded with an enormous soundstage; feel-it-in-the-gut, super-controlled bass; and a wonderfully transparent midrange.

The topology of this amplifier never enters the mind during extended, fatigue-free, and highly engaging listening sessions. It is clear that many audiophiles have preconceived notions about certain amplifier types and, unfortunately, prejudge certain technologies without actually listening.  But with the Veritas, listening is believing.

The Veritas are nimble performers – aside from the excellent bass performance, the high frequencies are supple and delicate. Complex musical passages are rendered with a sense of effortless ease.  Listening with anything but full attention proves a difficult task.  All musical genres are rewarded equally with sublime transparency and appropriate scale.

The new album from Tom Jones, Spirit In The Room, is an amazing mélange of classic folk, blues, and rock. Jones and producer Ethan Johns call upon material from Richard Thompson, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, and more. It is well recorded, and through the Veritas monos, the gravitas of Jones’s voice is remarkable.  Jones’s take on Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song” comes through with the necessary emotional impact.

Switching gears, the remastered  Collectors’ Edition of Joy Division’s seminal 1980 release Closer simply dazzles rhythmically and texturally. The Veritas shines a glorious light on the recording, which laid a foundation for the alternative movement of the 1980s, with stripped-down arrangements, melodic bass lines, and minimalist production.

The Veritas is also spot-on with acoustic music, especially classic jazz. Listening to various high resolution downloads of historic Blue Note recordings from John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter,  Herbie Hancock, and Freddie Hubbard is a gas. Drums, horns, piano, and bass all sound natural in timbre and free from grain. Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil is a particular favorite with the drive and soul that the Veritas provided this classic recording.

The Veritas are so resolving, it is easy to hear the changes in upstream components, cables, and tweaks. The amps are remarkable in this regard, making it easy to detect something as simple as switching a power cord or two in the system. As revealing as the Veritas are, they never seem analytical or soulless. Quite the opposite, actually. They paint a holographic picture of the performers when the recording allows, without being the least bit mechanical.

On an ergonomic note, the Veritas runs slightly warm to the touch and responds positively to quality amplifier bases and speaker cables. It is utterly noiseless and offers some of the quietest operation experienced in this reviewer’s system. This manifests itself in a pristine soundstage and the ability of the listener to distinguish even the most subtle aspects of a recording.


At $12,000 per pair, the Merrill Audio Veritas Mono Block amps are certainly not entry level components; they provide a sonic picture virtually without flaw across the musical spectrum. Mind you, the Veritas for this review are installed in a system normally built around tube amplification.  The fact that tubes have not been missed in the least during the review period speaks volumes about the vision of Merrill Audio.

The Merrill Audio Veritas Mono Block amplifiers may very well be a breakthrough in Class D amplifier design.  The fact that the amplifiers are equipped with such performance enhancers such as high-end vibration control, top-shelf wiring, and connectors that many far more expensive amps cannot claim is impressive and makes these amps plug ‘n’ play.  The build quality of the Veritas is beyond reproach, and the footprint of each amp is relatively small, which means easy installation.

The time spent with the Merrill Audio Veritas Power Amp Mono Blocks was nothing less than enjoyable with long, satisfying listening sessions. They have the ability to drive virtually any pair of speakers without a hint of strain, and with a clarity and precision most often seen at the very upper echelon – highly recommended for those seeking a transparent amplifier with power to spare.

The Merrill Audio Veritas Mono Blocks

MSRP:  $12,000/pair


Associated Equipment:

Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT, Squeezebox Touch w/CIA power supply

DAC: MyTek Stereo 192 DSD DAC

Speakers: Bogdan Audio Creations Art Deco, Thiel CS2.4

Cables: Kimber, Stager, DH Labs, Transparent

Accessories: Audience aDeptResponse

Audioarts NYC Welcomes Robert Koda

Audioarts NYC proprietor Gideon Schwartz is proud to announce that they will now be the official US importer and distributor for Robert Koda products.

Very favorably reviewed in issue 51, their K-10 preamplifier remains a reference component in the TONEAudio studio, and the rest of the product line looks equally enticing.  Schwartz says, “All the accolades can not properly describe the level of fidelity these jewels are capable of.”

Watch for more information here, and an expanding dealer network in the US shortly.  These are not to be missed. Should you be in New York City, contact Audioarts NYC for an appointment.

Issue 57


Old School:
Sennheiser’s HD 414 and HD 424 Headphones

By Jeff Dorgay

995: Sounds that Won’t Break the Bank
2 Headphones under $100

By Rob Johnson

Journeyman Audiophile

Sennheiser HD 700 Headphones

By Mike Liang

Bigger Than Life:
A  Conversation With Sly and the Family
Stone Drummer Greg Errico

By Andy Downing

Does the Clash Still Matter?

By Todd Martens

Tone Style

A Modern Day Art Shaman:

An Interview With Our Cover Artist,
Jermaine Rogers

By Kristin Bauer

The Beer Snob:
Craft Beer in Cans?
Welcome to the Future
By Bob Gendron

Canon’s EOS-M

Johnny Cash Postage Stamps

Sennheiser HH10 Headphone Holder

Maxboost Atomic Air External Battery
For iPhone 5

Nerf N-Strike Elite Blaster

By Jeff Dorgay


Current Releases:

Fresh Releases in the Pop/Rock World
By the TONE Staff

Audiophile Pressings

Jazz & Blues
By Jim Macnie

Club Mix
By Connor Willemsen


Plinius SAREF Power Amplifier

Naim Unity Qute 2 DAC/Integrated

Focal Maestro Utopia Speakers

Sennheiser HDVD 800 Headphone Amp/DAC

Torque t103z Headphones

Wadia Intuition Integrated/DAC


Woo Audio WA7 Firefly
By Jerold O’Brien

NuForce HAP-100 Headphone Amplifier
By Paul Rigby

ALO Studio Six Headphone Amplifier
By Jeff Dorgay

Sennheiser Momentum Headphones
By Ian White

Grado RS-1 Headphones
By Ian White

AURALiC Taurus MK II Headphone Amplifier
By Jeff Dorgay

Magico Announces the Q-Sub

Magico, known for their highly innovative aluminum speaker enclosures, brings their technological expertise to the subwoofer segment for the first time, with their Q-Sub 15 ($22,000) and Q-Sub 18 $36,000).

The former, featuring a pair of 15-inch low frequency drivers and the latter a pair of 18-inch drivers.

Claiming that the all aluminum enclosure eliminates the enclosure flexing that plagues all other subwoofers, Magico promises “thundering low frequencies that are fast, pure and devastatingly accurate.”  They are also claiming a maximum sound pressure level of 175db (!!), with 6,000 watts of power drive behind the drivers.

Follow us to CEDIA at the end of this month to find out just how awesome these can be.  Knowing Magico’s past efforts, this should indeed be interesting.

For more info, go to