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Found 5 results

  1. I'm selling something from my personal collection. Didn't think I'd do it because you can no longer buy the temple pads for the K1000s, but I would like to test some of the newer upper headphones like the Focals. I ran these off of two 300B Paramount amps by Bottlehead. Regardless of what you run them off of, I would use the custom speaker tap adapter included as the output versus going directly into the 4-pin. The adapter cable is approximately 8' long and made out of nice Canare wire and uses high-quality techflex and a nice Neutrik jack. Just to add a little more about the temple pads. These are in 9/10 shape, which also indicates low hours. It is very rare to find a pair with this S/N that is in such a great condition. I'm not going to elaborate much on these. They're in very good condition and they sound unlike pretty much anything on the market. Furthermore, these are S/N 4313, which is a VERY rare S/N to find and some people feel that these have more bass than the 10XXX models. The last pair on eBay in the 4XXX sold for $3,206.95 USD. They should appreciate more than most you see with the wooden boxes. Unlike other headphones, these use no acoustically hard components, which enables the sound to interact more freely. What truly makes these one of a kind is the fact that they're equivalent to wearing speakers on your head (hence the speaker tap adapter cable they include). They require a lot of power, which is why we upgrade the adapter cable. The speaker enclosure uses a vibration-free diaphragm that is driven by a magnet system to minimize any interference or distortion and really provide a personalized listening experience. The speakers actually open and close using adjustable hinges and the hinges and locks both work very well. Many used ones you find, will have one or all of the locks not working. By opening and closing distance to your ear, the sound will change. Unfortunately, I don't have the manual, case, or original speaker extension adapter anymore, but I feel that both the custom speaker adapter cable and the case are much better than the original. The case is a brand new Pelican 1400 which we custom fit for the AKG K1000s. The case was purchased less than 1 month ago. There is a link to the manual on their website if you search for AKG K1000 on Google. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions. $1,650 via PP. I will pay shipping in CONUS; Buyer pays PP fee or via F&F.
  2. December Newsletter(Click above for link to full newsletter Double Club Ciamara Rewards Points Holiday Special + EMM Labs DA2 Flagship DAC Trade-in OFFER! For the remainder of the year, earn Double Rewards Points (10%)back on every purchase through our Club Ciamara Rewards Points Holiday Promotional. Be sure to register for our Club Ciamara Membership Rewards Program so you can start earning store credit on every purchase. We're also pleased to announce that we're now offering up to $7500 in trade-in credit towards the purchase of EMM Labs Flagship DA2 DAC. This is easily one of the best DACs available and an awesome way to take your digital playback to new heights. Finally, don't forget to check out our specials section for great deals on equipment, as well as, special component/cable bundles from some of our more popular products. As always, we offer FREE SHIPPINGon all purchases over $99 and the ability to try just about anything we sell in the comfort of your own home for up to 30-days. HOT PRODUCTS ENIGMAcoustics Dharma D1000 Hybrid Electrostatic Headphones($1190) ENIGMAcoustics has really gone all out with their Dharma D1000 Headphones. From the lightweight, sleek aesthetic to the innovative design and proprietary SBESL technology, it is one of our favorite headphones and one of the best we’ve heard. Lumin D1 Network Music Player ($2,000) - SAVE $150 on Sbooster Audiphile Power Supply Get close to the performance of the Lumin T1 for a fraction of the price when you add the Sbooster BOTW Audiophile Power Supply Since its release no other line of network music players have received as many awards as the Lumin line of music players. Lumin has taken what they have learned and applied it to what is now their most affordable player yet, the D1. Lumin’s D1 Network Music Player is based on their original and highly regarded, A1. It contains the same “no expense spared” development and technology of the A1, which provides unmatched and award-winning musicality, with minor differences that allow it be more affordable - all while taking extraordinary efforts to not compromise the sound quality. Reducing the size of the chassis and removing the HDMI output help reduce costs without losing music quality, and using an auto-ranging power supply offered the biggest savings for the least compromise. The Lumin family of players will playback everything from high-res to more popular formats: DSD LOSSLESS: DSF (DSD), DIFF (DSD), DoP (DSD); PCM LOSSLESS: FLAC, Apple Lossless (ALAC), WAV, AIFF; COMPRESSED (LOSSY) AUDIO: MP3, AAC (in M4A container). Sbooster Ultra Power Filter for Uptone Audio Regen ($100) The SBooster Ultra for the UpTone Audio Regen USB Hub is their first switch-mode power supply add on based on active filter technology. Compared to the passive SBooster Single Unit you will get with the Ultra an even greater crispness, tightness, distinctness and focus. Last but not least your Regen will run a lot cooler which has a positive impact on the overall sound quality. With the Sbooster Ultra Filter, you get high performance, as well as an economical upgrade for your Regen. Ayre Acoustics Codex Headphone Amp/DAC/preamp ($1795) 30% OFF CARDAS BALANCED HEADPHONE CABLE of your choice with purchase The Codex, manufactured in Boulder, CO is equally at home as a stand-alone DAC, DAC/Preamp combination, or Headphone Amplifier/DAC. Encased in a sleek, elegant chassis and equipped with the latest Ayre technology, Cardas Balanced Headphone Cable for the Codex One of the features that really separates the Codex from the competition is its ability to be used in balanced headphone mode. This feature has the ability to elevate the performance of your headphones beyond what you thought was possible. We feel that this is such an important aspect of the Codex that we're offering you the chance to purchase any one of the specially constructed balanced headphone cables from Cardas for 30% off! These cables have been specifically designed for the Ayre Codex (and Pono) and are available for a wide variety of the most popular headphones. It is important to note that not all supported headphone models are listed on our or Cardas' site, so please contact us if you have any questions regarding your headphones' compatibility with one of the Cardas models. Auralic Aries Mini - 20% OFF CABLES WITH PURCHASE ($549) One of this years most anticipated products has finally begun shipping.For those that don't already know, The ARIES MINI is a wireless streaming node designed for connecting to your existing home audio system. It not only has shared all software and hardware functions coming from original ARIES, but also equipped with additional high quality analog output and optional hard drive slot for anyone whom don’t want to invest for a dedicate DSD DAC and NAS drive. We don't know any other device from any manufacturer that can do what the Aries Mini can at this price. EMM LABS DA2 TRADE-IN OFFER EMM LABS DA2 - Next Generation Flagship DAC is HERE! (call for pricing details) For a limited time, trade-in your existing DAC and receive up to$7500 in credit towards a DA2. Not all DACs are eligible, so be sure and contact us to see if you have a qualifying product. This is a very limited time offer, so don't miss out on this great opportunity to own one of the world's finest DACs. Ed Meitner of EMM Labs proudly previews the DA2, his successor to the much beloved DAC2XThe DA2 is EMM Labs next generation flagship DAC. Re-designed from the ground up, Ed Meitner has once again created a DAC that significantly moves the bar in terms of transparency, accuracy and overall sound quality. NEW PERSONAL AUDIO PRODUCTS Cardas A8 Ear Speaker($300) After months and months of waiting, Cardas has finally launched their follow-up to their award winning EM5813 Ear Speakers. The Cardas A8 Ear Speaker features the world's first Ultra Linear, Contour Field, Dual Magnet Driver - an entirely new dynamic driver with no permeable core, delivering deep bass, strong midrange, and soaring highs. A8 users who want to use other playback devices, such as the balanced output on an Astell & Kern, Pono, or Ayre's Codex headphone amp, can purchase a separate cable specifically for that purpose. STAX SR-L700 Ear Speakers ($1400) STAX SR-L500 Ear Speakers ($700) STAX SRM-353X Headphone Amplifier ($925) STAX SRS-5100 Headphone System - SR-L500 + SRM-353X ($1650) The first SR-Lambda series was introduced 36 years ago and it has further developed into a new-generation SR-Lambda with its newly designed enclosure - the new SR-L700 and SR-L500 advanced-Lambda series Earspeakers. The SR-L700 and SR-L500 feature the same hand selected thin-film diaphragm that is used in their flagship SR-009. The SR-L700 also utilizes fixed electrodes machined through three-layer stainless etching using heat diffusion has been used for its sound element. These techniques result in an incredibly well-balanced headphone that produces rich deep bass, delicate high frequency and soothing mid-range.The SRM-353X is the exclusive driver unit (amplifier) produced to drive STAX electrostatic Earspeaker headphones. Thanks for taking the time to take a look at this month's newsletter, if you have any questions feel free to contact us here, in our LiveChat or at 844-242-6272 Happy Holidays! High End Audio Store NYC - Experience Ciamara1.844.CIAMARA (1.844.242.6272)
  3. I am very surprised by the lack of discussion RE: STAX headphones. So many people discuss Sennheiser HD-800's, Beyer and Audeze. But, when I heard an "entry level" STAX 2170 ($895) system at a www.hifiheadphones.ca location in Canada compared to all of the other top models I was shocked! To me the sound was sooo much more "HiFi" with the STAX, more open, uncompressed and the bass was had the best tone and definition by far. And that was just the start. Each model represented a significant improvement over the next all the way up to the SR-009 model. Is it just me? Are there just very few people that have heard a STAX system out there? I can't believe such a great sounding product isn't being discussed more here... BTW, the source was a new Sony HAP-Z1ES playing DSD files. Sublime!
  4. REVIEW: Smyth Realizer

    There has been quite a few (very positive) things written about the Smyth Research Realizer A8 around the web over the past year or two in places like Stereophile and Confessions of a Part-Time Audiophile. Yet the thing is that of these “reviews” have been based on short sessions at audio shows and the like—they tend to be more like “First Looks,” that do an incomplete job of fully dealing with the ownership experience of the Realizer. Given that there has been some interest in the Realizer at Computer Audiophile, here for example, and given that I bought my own about a week ago at Sensorium AV in NYC, I thought I would do what I could to give people a more complete sense of this product; I hope you enjoy the read! 1. Introduction I hate long user-reviews so I will try and keep this as short as possible—no musical examples, no lengthy discourses on technology or the physical characteristics of the unit, etc. However, with so complex a product, it is important to lay out a few basics first, even at the risk of otherwise boring the reader. Firstly, I am not a headphone enthusiast… it might be fair to say that I hate, hate the way headphones sound—real life does not take place within the 8”-wide space between one’s ears. However, I found that since I spent most of my time at home in front of my computer, I was listening to most of my music through my USB-connected B&W Zepplin-mini, while my audiophile rig gathered dust in another room. With all due respect to B&W, this just would not do. So I set about figuring out how to go about building an audiophile-quality desktop rig. I tried some pro near-field monitors (most notably the PMC AML 2s) but was not really satisfied. I never would have considered headphones a viable option… until I heard about the Realizer. If nothing else, the Realizer offers the promise of a whole new kind of audiophile listening, which is a good thing! Second, my rig: I am using the STAX SR-009s driven by a (heavily dampened and isolated) HeadAmp KGSS. Since, as I said, I am not a headphone aficionado, I have no other headphones or amps on hand, all my listening was via this combo and I cannot comment on the performance of the Realizer with other cans, to include lesser STAX. I sold-off my streaming DAC, a PS Audio PerfectWave MK I w/Bridge, to buy the Realizer, so the Realizer serves as my computer’s soundcard too (about which more below). I am using an otherwise vanilla Dell Latitude laptop to the Realizer through HDMI (MIT HDMI cables and analog interconnects), via JRiver in WASAPI event-style mode. Virtually my entire (+/- 2000 album) music collection was ripped from disk, by me, to FLAC using dbPoweramp (a few friends’ MP3, WAVs and whatever else are thrown in for good measure). In many forum posts, I have read comments to the effect of: “no matter what the Realizer does, there is just no way that headphone x could ever match six-figure speaker y.” I do not believe that this is true—at least in terms of absolute resolution. Of course, while one can never say that they have heard the the best speaker system in the world, I have heard many contenders (Magico, Aerial, mbl, Wilson, Revel, etc.)—and not just under crappy show conditions but in dealer showrooms, private homes and, in the case of Ariel, mbl, and Revel, in my own system (though, admittedly, not the top-of-their-line in any of those cases). After those experiences, I believe that the STAX SR-009s are absolutely the most revealing transducers I have ever heard. Period. They have a level of resolution and transparency and seamlessness that I have heard attributed to the full-range Martin Logan panels though, since I have never heard the “big” Martin Logans, I cannot personally comment on the comparison. Let me hasten to add that these being the most revealing (head) speakers in my experience is a long, long way from my saying that they have provided me the most musical, enjoyable, palpable, or “real” (in the Absolute Sound-sort of way) experience—in which terms these cans have been absolutely crushed by the various Magico, Ariel, mbl, Wilson, Revel, etc. speakers I have heard (remember, I hate headphones!). But, in terms of absolute resolution alone, I think the STAX cans are more than a match for any of these. Think of it this way: the STAX’s cost $5200 and are about the size and complexity of a pair of those monster’s tweeters (sans X/O); setting aside crazy diamond drivers, etc., I don’t think that many of these speakers have $5k + tweeters. If one extrapolated from that to a full, multi-driver speaker system, the price would get up to reference-level (price, at least) rapidly indeed! And lest one think that the STAX’s price is a result of typical audiophile price-inflation, the R&D put into the SR-009 basically busted the company and forced its fire-sale to a Chinese company. So, in short, I was not worried about the STAXs keeping up with mega-speakers in terms of resolution. But would the Realizer allow them to approach these systems in all other things good and great (e.g. sound-staging, palpability, getting the sound out from between my !@#$% ears, etc.)? Finally, my listening priorities: I like surround-sound just fine… when I can be bothered to care about it at all. But 99% of my listening is done in stereo—even on the rare occasions that I watch a movie, chances are it is streamed from Netflix to my computer, which does not support surround sound (thanks to Netflix, who does, confusingly, support surround for streaming on Roku, PS3, XboX, etc.). In any case, although I have been measured for surround and listened to such a system briefly via the Realizer (about which more below), this review is all about the Realizer as a stereo-surrogate. 2. How Does it Sound?!? On to the meat! I am currently only measured on one stereo system: Sensorium’s reference stereo rig, which uses top-of-the-line BAT and AMR electronics and some Italian speakers with plasma tweeters with which I was unfamiliar and of which I (embarrassingly!) forgot the name. As I collect profiles for more systems over time, I will update this post and/or add comments below. If I had but one word to describe the performance of the Realizer, it would be “WOW!” The thing is just amazing at what it does… but fully describing the experience will take more than one word (sorry). One of the most striking things is how the Realizer emulation has completely banished the bass-light character of the STAX. Within the confines of a headphone system (e.g. it cannot ruffle your pants legs or crush your chest with massive bass energy), the perceived bass of these system is now sledgehammer massive (when called for). I almost cannot describe the difference from the super-fast but light—to the point of being almost ephemeral—sound of the SR-009s before the Realizer to the SLAM they now posses with drums, synth bass-lines, organs, whatever. Perhaps related to the bass rebalancing is the sense of space, soundstage, which the Realizer gives the listener. I know that the Realizer EQs the headphones, apparently to great effect, but I think that much of the improved bass–effect comes from hearing, say, drums in space, firing at you, as opposed to the usual toy drum set between your ears that is usually presented by headphones. By the same token, I have taken to lowering the KGSS’s gain settings, when listening through the Realizer. Now I know that usually, it is a complement to say that a new component made me want to “crank it up!” because it was so fun/un-fatiguing/natural/etc. But, in the case of the SR-009s, I kept turning them up in an effort to make the musical experience as natural and physical as it is in real life-a trick they were never able to turn, not even close. With the Realizer in place, everything is so natural, so spatially, physically and palpably “right,” I no longer feel any need to BLAST my ears to try and connect with the music. It is just there. Oh yes, the soundstage is impressive and immersive—every bit as much as promised. Although the effect was quite natural when I was at Sensorium AV, it is absolutely disorienting (in a good way) as I sit 2-3 feet from my computer monitor—the sound is not coming from where it is supposed to be coming! Speaking of, the sense that the sound is not emanating from the two boxes directly over my ears is no less striking and strange. There is no, none, nada, zero sense that the headphones are making any sound at all—which is very odd as they sit heavily upon my head. With the Realizer in the circuit, headphone listening simply ceases to be headphone listening. I am listening to a real set of speakers, in real space, totally disconnected—disembodied—from the headphones that are otherwise omnipresent on my head. It is very strange—and good. But am I listing to the same stereo system I was hearing at Sensorium AV? This is much more difficult to say. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that, although I was at Sensorium for several hours, in the end, I am not sufficiently intimate with their system to answer this question exactly as I now sit back in my own house. When I was in their sound room, A-B-ing the headphones to the speakers and back again, the match seemed virtually perfect. But as Steve Guttenberg has opined, A-B testing is inherently difficult as our ears may learn to “anticipate” the first system and project it on to the second, masking differences that would otherwise become clear under extended listening. Was this effect present during my tests? Certainly, as I sit here now, the soundstage has moved MUCH closer than I remember it being at Sensorium AV—from the mid-hall perspective I remember at Sensorium, I am now very much in the Front Row. It is not unpleasant, but a difference, none the less. This change might be my ears playing another kind of trick on me, however. Smyth Research says that for best results the listener should place himself as far from boundaries/speakers as the originally measured speakers were, lest the eyes deceive the ears into making a false impression of depth that can ruin the auditory illusion. It is certainly the case that, even when I close my eyes, I know that my computer monitor is only about 2.5 feet from my face, and the wall just beyond that. If this is the reason for the change from my recollection of the sound at Sensorium AV the fault then cannot truly be laid at the feet of the Realizer. That said, if the ear-eye illusion is really this fragile, it does limit the applications for the Realizer. Please note however that while the sense of space has shifted it has in no way been removed; I am certain that I am hearing not headphones but speakers in space… but are they the same speakers upon which I was measured? Of this I am less certain. Measuring myself on more systems will certainly go some way to resolving this conundrum—and, as I said, I will post on my continuing Realizer adventures as they evolve. With all of the great things that the Realizer does to eliminate the headphone experience, it also seems to remove, or at least reduce, the single good thing that I heard with the STAX system: its remarkable, uncanny transparency and resolution. It is not as though veils have raised or walls of cotton now stand between me and the musicians, but rather that that preternatural resolution that the STAX possessed has been slightly dulled. I have to say that, to the very best of my recollection, I find this to be consistent with the Sensorium reference system, so this could simply be the Smyth being accurate to the system is was emulating. It could also be that the massive data manipulation involved in the emulation, the Smyth hardware and DACs, etc. are taking a small but noticeable toll. Again, further measurements will help resolve this question. But I have to say that the level of absolute resolution and detail I am now hearing with the Smyth is certainly lower than it was with the PerfectWave DAC/Bridge in its place… but would I trade that last ounce of resolution for the ability to listen to “speakers” as opposed to headphones? One thousand times out of one thousand! Others’ mileage may vary (and, I hasten to add, again, this could be an issue with the emulated system and not the Smyth, per se). Finally, I should note that the HeadTracker is… not such a big deal. Yes, it works, but the effect is not so large. But the same might be said for a stereo system: provided you are not listening to such head-in-vice speakers like older Maggies, moving one’s head a bit one way or another does not much change the perspective much (I think that your brain automatically compensates for the movement). The same is true here. On the other hand, I visited Smyth’s California HQ and did a full surround measurement about a year ago, when I was researching my purchase of a few days ago. Here, the emulation on a system far less exotic than that at Sensorium AV was, again, excellent (with the same proviso as above that A-B matching might unrealistically favor the Smyth), but the HeadTracker effect was far more pronounced on the surround system. So, while I find the HeadTracker useful and I do use it, I do not find it nearly as impressive as the emulation itself. However, once I start to collect surround systems it is possible that, as I found before, its usefulness will increase apace. 3. Emulation Speaking of emulating other systems, this has proven to be far more frustrating than I had anticipated. For me, the ability to “collect” excellent sound rooms was one of the major selling points for the Realizer. One considering the Realizer in order to take advantage of this feature should be forewarned that taking advantage it might prove much more difficult than you suppose—or at least than I supposed. Of the two shops I have thus far asked (who shall remain unnamed and to whom I offered to pay a substantial fee for the use of their sound rooms), one very politely said that they could not be bothered to work with me and the other, quite unpleasantly, indicated their unwillingness to do so. Of course these dealers’ businesses are their own and I am not inclined to tell them how to run them. And I appreciate that they have to invest a lot of money into systems and rooms that, if used for emulation, might actually end up losing them sales—as the second store-owner said to me, they are not in the business of being a “lending library.” On the other hand, neither my space-constraints, nor my budget permit me to be shopping for + $100,000 audio systems, so they are not losing my business—and, again, I did indicate I was very willing to pay for the use of their rooms that would have otherwise sat unused during my session. All that said, this could be a “feature” of dealing with the NYC High-End (though Bryan at Sensorium has been a consistent pleasure to deal with) and my results might improve as I look elsewhere—some on the forums have been able to find much more accommodating dealers in other cities. That said, my experience thus far in finding other Reference-level systems to emulate has been a distinct disappointment. While speaking of measuring, I should note that the measurement process itself is relatively quick and painless—maybe 10min for a basic stereo measurement and a bit more for surround (after everything is hooked up which will take another 20 minutes or so). That said, the Smyth has almost endless tweeking options for dialing the sound (I did many—but not all at Sensorium AV) that can be useful, but will obviously stretch the measurement time. If you do find a willing dealer who will accommodate your measurements, you should not need to take up their sound room for too long—maybe 30-45min for the whole thing. I should finally note that Smyth Research has worked out deals with Mi Casa and AIX mastering studios and the Egyptian Theatre, each of which will charge $200 - $400 for a session (though rates are negotiated individually, so please do not hold me to these numbers). While the price is right, this is little help if you do not live in Southern California. Luckily, my parents do so I will visit at some time, but those systems remain out of my reach for the time being. I will be sure to update this post after I have visited AIX, which seems to have gotten the best reviews (though, that said, I tend not get too much excited over B&W speakers, which is what they use). One should remember too that that if you think that it is a great deal to collect rooms at $200 - $400 a pop, it is… until you decide to sell your Realizer. Remember, those sessions are individual to you and cannot be sold along with your gear, should you decide to change directions. Just something to bear in mind. 4. Errata I was very curious to see how the Realizer would work as a DAC/soundcard for my computer. I matched the analog output of the Realizer against the analog outputs of the excellent AMR DP-777 DAC, fed from the Realizer’s Toslink digital output. Long story short, the AMR thoroughly bested the Realizer. Note that this test is NOT at all fair to the Realizer—indeed, if a DAC at twice the Realizer’s price and a fraction of its functionality was not able to outperform it, something would be very wrong. The only reason I conducted this blatantly unfair comparison was to see how much one might be shortchanged with the Realizer as the DAC—how much more was possible from the Realizer box if a Reference DAC followed it in the audio chain. The answer is “quite a bit,” and it is certainly possible that the slight “veiling” I mentioned above might be a contributed to by the Realizer’s DAC. (Unfortunately, having sold my PerfectWave DAC in order to buy the Realizer, it was not on hand to compare, though my memory of that device says it too would have substantially outperformed the Realizer as a pure DAC.) A more “fair” test would be to run the Realizer against a well-respected but moderately-priced DAC like, say, Musical Fidelity V-DAC II. I have not yet had an opportunity to make such a test, but I would be unsurprised if the Realizer faired pretty well. Even if the Realizer ain't an AMR DP-777, neither is it a slouch and I have been favorably impressed (if not blown away) by its DAC capabilities and find it very competent in this regard. Thus far, I do not find much missing in the Realizer’s performance until it is directly compared to much pricier and more exotic competition. Also of note is the fact that I had to feed the AMR via Toslink, its worst input choice, because the Realizer (bizarrely) has no other digital output options (given that Smyth Research claims that the Toslink is primarily to record emulated versions of one’s music, it would seem obvious that a USB output would be almost mandatory; given that Smyth likes to promote its pro roots, one would think a AES output would also be a must). Given that, if one was to select a DAC to pair with the Realizer, it might be wise to select one that plays well with Toslink—such as the Meitner MA1, which as Chris noted in a past review excelled with its optical input (the 6moons review came to the same conclusion). Also on the I/O side, Smyth made the almost inexplicable decision to make audiophile NON-approved HDMI the only digital input—all you Computer Audiophiles with fancy USB-to-AES converters need not apply. If you are a playlist addict, as am I, you had better be sure your computer has an HDMI (or DisplayPort) output... oh, and because the Smyth does not have a surround decoder onboard (ironic, given that Dr. Stephen Smyth invented the DTS surround algorithm), alternate HDMI-equipped transports, such as the Boxee Box, Roku, PS3, XboX and Apple TV are all out of the picture if you ever want to actually use the surround sound features of the Realizer. Fortunately for me and other PC audiophiles, JRiver can decode surround within the computer and send out the requisite decoded PCM-streams via HDMI. Of course other streaming options (e.g. Linn, Squeeze Box, Sonos, etc.) are out of the question—unless you use their analog outputs and subject the signal to an additional A/D-D/A conversion within the Realizer. If you are using a straight BluRay player and going out via HDMI, you are golden and can avoid any of the worries I’ve just mentioned but, otherwise, the terrible choices that Smyth has made on both the inputs and outputs is easily the most frustrating part of this package—beyond the inability to get dealers to cooperate in the measurement process. 5. Conclusion I absolutely do not want to end this review on a negative note. Sure, I do have quibbles with the Realizer—it is only passable as a DAC, the I/O choices are a comedy of errors (that are not so funny) and getting the best out of it requires either very rich audiophile friends that will let you emulate their systems, cooperative dealers or that you live in the greater LA area. But, in the end, the listening blows such minor concerns away. Simply put, this is a magic box that does things I would never have thought possible. It allows you (me) to listen to music in places and under conditions that simply would not have been possible (or even imaginable) just a few years ago on systems that would otherwise have been out of reach. The phrase “opens up new possibilities” may seem trite, but it is nowhere truer than in the case of the Realizer. Other gear, DACs, speakers, PrePros, etc. offer marginal (and diminishing) improvements as one moves up the range—more of the same, even if that more is better. This is something else. At least when coupled with the SR-009s and the KGSS, I think that that this is the best $3k I have ever spent on a piece of audio equipment and, if I can just find some more compliant dealers, that deal is going to get better and better as the future rolls on.
  5. It looks like all of the new STAX "Earspeakers" are available at HiFiHeadphones.ca. Pretty neat to see them again, brings back lots of memories... LINK