Stereophile’s September 2021 Edition is out!

Joseph Parvey Blog

So much to unpack in this month’s Stereophile! As House Of Stereo continues to grow and modernize its product lines, we cant help but check every month to see which of the products in our orbit have made it for testing. For September 2021, Jim Austin, Herb Reichert, Michael Fremer and Julie Mullins have unpacked and listened to several products near and dear to our hearts. In reality we have a lot to be thankful to Julie Mullins for beyond her excellent review on the Phono Box RS2, because over the course of our acquaintance, we’ve had several excellent conversations about Hi-Fi and what it means to both of us. Julie and I have similar tastes and ways of thinking audio through – so when I read her articles, I don’t have to stretch to understand what she is hearing. Over the course of these aforementioned conversations, I began to open up about what it is like going from manufacturing to operating a retail store – where the differences lay and the myriad challenges both sides face that I now have a more nuanced understanding of.  What I didn’t realize was that these conversations were starting to lead to something, and that something is now here. It took a customer sending me a congratulatory email for me to skip ahead to the back pages (Pg. 125) and see the article entitled “The Next Generation” My mother has never been prouder, and my kids couldn’t even sit through the recitation. If you are a subscriber, happy reading! If you aren’t, go pick one up this month… it’s a good one!

 

AudioVector R8 Arreté

Off the top: AudioVector’s R8 Arreté Speakers have wowed so many people here at the House Of Stereo…Jim Austin did a great write up and we agree wholeheartedly with his findings.  The R8 Arreté are one impressive pair of speakers – one that I’d own in a second if small children weren’t sure to leverage one as the pole of a blanket fort (it’s happened). In fact, the best sounding room award in Jacksonville goes to the owner of a pair of R8’s and it is driven with a monoblocked pair of T+A’s A 3000 HV Amplifiers with analog duties handled by VPI, van den Hul phono and Phasemation cartridge. There is something about AudioVector, and while I might never attain what I’d consider eloquence in describing music, AudioVector makes me want to try. Sadly, at times I find myself zoning out to tracks I’ve heard thousands of times in my life (and hundreds of times over the course of a single audio show) and could recite each note in my sleep. However, with the R8’s (and 6’s and 3’s and 1’s come to think of it), I’d never felt more engaged. That line about rediscovering all your old favorites? I now truly know what they mean. That’s what AudioVector does – bring a freshness and realism to music in a way that I had not experienced, with a soundstage that goes beyond my body to each side.

Other Reviews of the AudioVector line:

R8 Arrete: Hi-Fi+

R6 Arrete: The Absolute Sound   Part-Time Audiophile    Hi-Fi+

R3 Arrete: What Hi-Fi?  Hi-Fi+   The Absolute Sound

 

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition (HE)

Next up is the Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition (HE) review by Herb Reichert. I’m a long-time Naim fan thanks to my fathers esteem for the British brand. Their Statement, Classic and NAIT series are legendary components that have always captured our imagination, and their Uniti series bridges the gap between traditional HiFi and modern digital audio.  With a great looking display on the front and one of the coolest volume knobs we’ve ever seen on top, the Atom HE could never be accused of being bland looking. A few months ago, Herb reviewed our T+A HA 200 Headphone Amp/DAC and declared it one of the best out there. He is right of course, the T+A is the top performer we have EVER heard, but with a price that puts it out of reach for a chunk of the market, we were happy to see him turn his eyes to the more attainably priced Atom HE. With a great control app for phone and tablet and a bevy of physical connections and online services at your fingertips, the Atom is wildly attractive for newcomers and experienced audiophiles alike.  Like its 50w speaker playing Atom brother, the Atom HE is versatile – able to play some of the most demanding headphones without breaking a sweat. It is definitely a must-have device for modern audiophiles looking for an all-in-one solution that brings style to match its considerable substance.  Come in for a listen!

Read More on the Atom HE:

What Hi-Fi? 

Headfonia Reviews

StereoNET United Kingdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pro-ject Phono Box RS2

Pro-ject is company that in my short three years of retailer experience I have come to realize is multi-layered. They first caught my attention as a firm who made affordable turntables perfect for the elusive market of non-audiophiles dipping their toes into the Hi-Fi water. That’s where we started with Pro-ject, but it was not until we met and had a conversation with Heinz (President of Pro-ject) at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest that we came to truly respect his and Pro-jects vision of making Hi-Fi audio accessible at all price-points that we took a closer look at all Pro-ject has to offer.  Case in point is the Phono Box RS2 – perfect for a two-turntable setup, with settings that are changeable on the fly, a dual-mono design, no op-amps in the signal path, and balanced and RCA inputs – all for $1999; this is an impressive piece of gear. We had the good luck of selling one to a former Stereophile reviewer on the day the article came out. He sat and talked with us for a while on his audio journey and experiences, and we got a cool picture in the bargain.  He’s just walked back in the door and when i asked him how he is enjoying it, he broke into a big smile and said ” this is the single biggest step up in my system I’ve had” Apparently his last phono stage was the PS Audio GCPH, gear I have no direct experience with, but transparency and brighter and lighter tonality are , and this is beforfe breaking in… in the last few hours of listening however, space and dimensionality vastly improved.

Read more on the Phono Box RS2: ecoustics.com   What Hi-Fi? (whathifi.com)   Analog Planet

 

 

Capital Audiofest 2021

Joseph Parvey Blog

We are back from the Capital Audiofest and are now unpacked and all components back in their correct place.  CAF2021 was a major win – Audio Shows are back, we are now past the point of incubation periods for virus outbreaks and it seems to me that as long as protocols for safety are followed (and they were at CAF), we can start getting back to normal. Capital is a show that is near and dear to my heart. Having traipsed around DC in my youth, it feels a bit like going home. And while business definitely gets done during the show, CAF and the Florida show feel more like vacations to us than the other US audio shows.  Wolf Audio Systems was all over the building, showing in rooms with Linear Tube Audio, Spatial, MC Audiotech, etc. Wolf was even in the VPI room, driving a system that sounded amazing there at the end of the hall. That’s big, considering that VPI is probably the largest turntable manufacturer in the USA.

Watch AVShowrooms report on our room: AVShowrooms

What was most remarkable to me was the general feeling of this years show. Everyone was happy, they were glad to be there, glad to see friends and associates and get back to listening to music. We heard a lot of new music, saw a lot of new products and made new friends. We welcomed TAD Labs back to the United States with their new distribution team, Pro Audio Design. We debuted the new 200 Series electronics by T+A, including the super-exciting DAC 200, based on the DAC architecture of the SD Reference DAC. We quietly showed off the Red Wolf 2 SX, Wolf Audio Systems newest top-end server that will be officially launched next April at AXPONA. Analog Relax is also back on the scene, Page 23 of Stereophile’s December issue has Michael Fremer falling in love with this ultra-special, ultra-high-end cartridge, and we had it with us at the show, and then brought it home! It is an absolute revelation and redefines analog audio – at least as this digital audio guy understands it. Synergistic Research came with us, more on that below.

VPI is all-in on their Direct Drive technology, and that was evident in the Avenger Direct, their next direct drive table after the HW40, and VPI’s newest $30k table. We used it in a dual Fatboy Gimbal Tonearm configuration and good lord does this table look good! More importantly, I cant think of another table that sounded better in any show situation I’ve encountered. Along with the Avenger Direct, we had the Analog Relax EX1000 Cartridge, which is quite simply the best I’ve ever heard, and which we are carrying exclusively at House Of Stereo.
The separation of instruments and vocals is a huge shift over what I am used to, and we’ve got some great cartridges here at House Of Stereo. Michael Fremer warned me that I was about to ruin myself for other cartridges… for the price, I should be – and Analog Relax delivers. So is my father as well as one of our top customers – we are all Analog Relax converts. Catch Fremer’s review on page 23 of December’s Stereophile. We’ll circle back and post the link once the review goes online.

 

Our show system:
T+A’s M40 HV 1000w Monoblock amps driven by the SDV 3100 HV Reference DAC/Pre, the VPI Avenger Direct (world debut) with the Analog Relax EX1000 and the van den Hul – Grail SE+ phono stage and my Wolf Audio Systems Red Wolf 2 SX – it was a world debut, but I decided last minute to wait a bit on the announcement. TAD Laboratories Compact Reference 1 stand-mount speakers did all the singing, and this show marks a turning point in TAD’s American presence, which we’ll get to in a minute. These speakers are classified as stand-mounts, but I love to tell people that they are 105 lb bookshelves. Whatever they technically are, there is no denying that this is a  Connecting everything was a combination of Synergistic Research’s Galileo SX and SRX Cabling, as well as several devices like their Black Box sympathetic resonance devices – when we first heard the bass bloat in that 35 x 50 room I was terrified, envisioning ridicule and abject sonic failure – it’s a huge room, and no matter how good the equipment is, if it sounds like the ceiling might fall in on you, you’ve got a problem! But once Synergistic’s Dave Weintraub got to work tuning the room, the fears went away and elation prevailed. The room sounded damn good, and I have him and Synergistic to thank for it. There were many in the industry and show-goers alike who pronounced our room shockingly good – none of us expected such a massive room to sound as good as it did, but it did, as our 18 seat sweet-spot attested.
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Pro Audio Design: Dave Malekpour, owner of Pro Audio Design and Augsperger Speakers was a natural choice for TAD Labs to partner with after Pioneer USA was shuttered. TAD Labs makes some of the worlds best speakers – Andrew Jones designed them, and we know of several manufacturers who voice their electronics on these speakers. I have a feeling they are going to have a big impact in the pro world now as well. Dave Malekpour, Dave Anthony (formerly of Focal and Audio Plus Services) as well as Graham Clancy helped us to run the Plaza 3 ballroom and showed off more of the products and lines they represent – one of which was Jocavi. Jocavi is much more well known in the Pro world, providing their take on room treatment and correction (think Vicoustic, just a little more Rock N’ Roll). Malekpour’s Augsperger line of speakers and electronics systems for Pro Audio is another really cool line worth mentioning, as a quick google will show plenty of rock stars and artists sitting in front of their own Augsperger system. It’s obvious to me that these guys know studio audio, have a lot to offer our High-End world and are welcome entrants into our industry.
Show attendance was nowhere near as low as I feared, but it wasn’t as much as I had hoped. Either way, we are getting back to normal and that is good enough for me! We did a few interviews on camera with AVShowrooms and also had a chat with Michael Fremer for his Analog Planet video series. Having just reviewed the Analog Relax, we had a lot to talk about (off camera unfortunately). I’ll update this page as the videos roll in.
T+A News: (because we did this room in partnership with T+A and really like their products and are their top US Dealer 😉
T+A North America is now official – their offices and demo room are under construction in Georgia, and I am thoroughly excited to see the new space.
The 200 Series is here in the United States, and as any show-goer at Capital Audiofest will attest, it is beautiful! We’re breaking the system in now, but you’ll be seeing my mug on camera soon talking about it. Pre-orders are now shipping, and we have another order on its way later in November. If you want some of the 200 Series by Christmas, contact me now!
Another company near and dear to my heart is VPI. They called daysbefore the show and asked my opinion on hardware they could use, and I came up with PA 3100 HV and MP 3100 HV for them with the JBL Project Everest speakers. Harry and Mat were over the moon with the sound quality, and I have promised them M 40 HV’s and the SDV or P 3100 HV for next year. Two more converts to T+A! In addition to that, consider this: a turntable manufacturer also had a digital section in their room, and it was driven by my Wolf Audio Systems Alpha 3 SX server with the MP 3100 HV DAC and a Synergistic Research Galileo SX USB Cable. It sounded amazing, and that Harry was comfortable using the Audio Server for such a critical listening space is awesome, and a testament to what we do over with Wolf and T+A.
Other T+A developments at the show included Linear Tube Audio using the Solitaire-P headphones to show off their newest amp, and come to think of it, the P-SE’s were also borrowed by one guy to demo in his space and he came back excited as well.
We’ll be adding more show pics and posting more quotes from reviewers, visitors and dealers alike once we get unpacked and get our rooms put back together here in Florida. Thanks Everyone!
Linear Tube Audio and Spatial used their own Alpha 3 SX server in their room and these open baffles sound great!
– Joe Parvey

Synergistic Research

Joseph Parvey Blog

House of Stereo is excited to announce that we are now dealers for Synergistic Research products. Synergistic Research is a California-based cable and accessories maker who have been in business for over 25 years, creating some of the most cutting edge cables, accessories and new technologies in the business. They hold a significant patent portfolio, and consistently drive some of the best rooms we hear at Audio Shows. That being said, House Of Stereo has a firm stance on product performance per dollar, and anyone wanting to do business with us must demonstrate in-person why their products or services deserve to be on our floor. That challenge was accepted and Synergistic came out with several steam trunks full of gear and spent a few days with us last week setting it all up and demonstrating their portfolio on our systems.
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Positive Feedback DSD Sampler Vol. 3

Joseph Parvey Blog

Our friends at NativeDSD Music have teamed up again with Dr. David Robinson, Editor-in-Chief at Positive Feedback. Today they release “Positive Feedback DSD Sampler, Volume 3”.  NativeDSD has provided a 20% discount on this DSD Sampler in all DSD rates specially for House Of Stereo and Wolf Audio Systems customers and followers. HoS and Wolf is very happy to be a part of this Positive Feedback Sampler!

20% discount code: WOLFVOL3 (valid through July 1st, 2020)

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Quad’s Vena Integrated Amplifiers, and the Perfect Speakers For Them

Joseph Parvey Blog

The QUAD Vena

QUAD is a venerable manufacturer in the world of hi-fi and one with a long-time respected reputation, which is why we were naturally so excited to carry and sell their products as an official dealer. Thanks to QUAD, we’ve expanded in the reaches for simplicity and affordability in a world of hi-fi that is ever-reaching toward the sky. It is safe to say many dedicated people deep in the world of hi-fi have taken the time to step up their game despite the pandemic at hand, which could also be said for a good part of the industry in the last decade or so. QUAD is no exception.

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May Consignment Bonanza, and Upgrading Your Gear!

Joseph Parvey Blog

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Bring in your old gear and have an opportunity to listen to some impressive systems built with high-end consigned gear! A longtime House of Stereo customer called us last week wanting to trade in some of his older gear and create a theater room upstairs, so we happily obliged. We've got the Ayre 5 Series SACD player, a Mark Levinson Reference system with No 333 dual mono amp, 30.6 Pre, 31.5 transport, VPI Aries 3 table, Shelter Cartridge, Ayre Phono (in Black!) And the Amazing massive Thiel Audio 7.2's.

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VPI HW-40 Anniversary Direct Drive Turntable

Joseph Parvey Blog

What has four feet, one arm, and a snappy clear acrylic hat?  Why it’s the all new VPI HW-40 Anniversary Turntable from VPI of course.  The HW-40 is beautiful in its streamlined clean aesthetic, and a breeze to operate.  A few years ago, I had the great pleasure to sell and setup the superb (yet twice as expensive) Stereophile Class A+ rated VPI Classic Direct Drive table.

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Eggleston Works Kiva Speaker

Joseph Parvey Blog

Sometimes you can tell a lot about a company by how well they are packaged

Upon receiving Egglestonworks all new Kiva floorstanding speakers, the House Of Stereo staff were all impressed with the substantial wood shipping crates.  The icing on the cake however, resided within.  Subsequent removal of the top revealed a sculpted beauty in “Porsche Blue” paint.  The cabinets were affixed to a “rolling sled” with a ramp to execute an amazingly elegant removal of the speaker.  Nicely done Eggleston!

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The Kivas weigh in @ 130 lbs. and are 48” high, 22” deep, and 10.5” wide without stands.  The enclosures are extremely inert due to multiple layers of MDF and HDF with aluminum plates and baffle bracing.  The Kiva is a three way, five driver system with a medium efficiency rating of 88 dB.  Frequency response is a very wide 29 hz. -24khz.   The tweeter is a fabric soft dome from SEAS.  The two 6 ½” midrange drivers are loaded into a quasi transmission line to strongly reduce reflected energy, while also adding a slight degree of rear firing “ambient” information.  The two 7 ½” woofers, like the midrange drivers, are sourced from BA Acoustics Satoris series.  The Kivas are built at the Egglestonworks facility in Memphis, Tn.

From the opening notes of Richard Thompson’s latest LP, “13 Rivers”, I knew the Kivas were something special.  The tribal drums and cleverly delivered vocal and guitar were powerful and immediately drew me in.  They are one of the most “listenable” speakers I have auditioned in recent memory.  For a somewhat sizeable structure, the Kivas provided a very convincing “disappearing act”, while getting out of the way and allowing a very natural presentation.  While very dynamic and capable at high levels, the startling aspect of how terrific they sounded at mere conversation levels is worth noting.  They lean a tad to the warm side tonally, but with a very uncolored, natural demeanor.  They are eminently pleasing and offer the proverbial “I can’t wait to listen to what’s next” from your music collection.

 


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Richard Thompson 13 Rivers

Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady’s Hot Tuna excursion “Hesitation Blues” was swinging sweetly. Casady’s percussive “woody” attack matching Jorma’s intricate finger style guitar note for note without any blurring or transient smear.  As the audience clapped during the slowed tempo change, a vivid acoustic as characterized by a true live performance clearly emerged.  Turning now to the beautiful cello work of Maria Kleigel, on the Telefunken LP Virtuose Kammermusik, her vigorously and beautifully bowed cello was appropriately rich, resonant, and satisfyingly real.  Another very impressive performance on the Kivas was the David Grisman Quintet ’80 LP.  On the track, Mugavero, the very tip end of the pick was shockingly clear and resolute on Dave’s mando.  The natural “plunky” wooden quality was there in spades.


Summing up, regardless of the music’s size and scope, the Eggleston Kivas were more than up to the task.  In many important ways they are comparable to speakers costing 2-3 times their $15,000. pair price.  Every music enthusiast should make it a point to experience these beauties!

 

- Bill Gibson


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Quad Artera Solus Integrated Amp

Joseph Parvey Blog

Quad is an interesting company. In the Hi-Fi world, it is easy to get distracted with the shiny and new, so it is great to find a venerable brand like Quad has been steadily working (while our attention was elsewhere)  on creating amazing audiophile level components for one of today’s most important market segments: the newcomers. Ask any Brit, and Quad never went away. They have been listening through Quad gear all along, and passing their gear down the generations as they upgrade. We decided to bring Quad back to Jacksonville after seeing and hearing some great demonstrations at audio shows, and seeing the attention to detail that Quad puts into their S and Z series speakers. Likewise, after seeing what Quad was able to do with the $999 Vena II amp – Bluetooth connectivity, DSD DAC, Phono Stage and great sound, we decided to take a look at what they could do with their next step: the Artera Solus integrated at $2000. Out of the box, our first thought was, “This is just $2000?” Like our Quad Z3 speakers, the Solus looks and feels (and weighs) like a much more expensive component.
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