The Audio Geek!

New Music purchases in 2013

I thought I should document my music purchases for 2013. Not much of it is 'new' in 2013 rather more re-isssued releases, as my musical tastes tend to look backwards, not forwards....

The Allman Brothers Band 'Brothers and Sisters (Deluxe Edition)' Originally recorded 1972, Re-Issued 2013 2CD

I had the original album on vinyl many moons ago and saw this at my favourite CD store in the city and it filled a gap in the collection. Turns out that the music is every bit as good as I remember, and the sound quality of the CD is surprisingly sparkly and clean also.

You really can't listen to 'Wasted Words', 'Ramblin Man' and 'Jessica' too often. I need to go back and have another listen to their 'Eat a Peach' album.

Gregg Allman 'Low Country Blues' 2012 CD

I was in an Allman family mood, so I picked this one up on recommendation from the store owner above. I admit to not being familiar with Allman's solo efforts but this is a New Orleans / southern blues canter through a set of mostly covers with an all star backing band including producer T-Bone Burnett on guitar and Dr John on piano. I like Gregg Allman's voice and the classic tone of the Hammond B-3 organ and I enjoyed the sparse arrangements and production values. 'Low Country Blues' will encourage me to seek out other Gregg Allman solo efforts.

Bettye LaVette 'Interpretations - The British Rock Songbook' 2010 CD

I like Bettye LaVette's voice, the raspiness and the pain of a long life's journey seems to draw me in. Her work lends an element of sameness to whatever she is singing, but as I said I find the voice engaging.

My favourite tracks are a heavy rendering on The Beatles, 'The Word' and a haunting and heartfelt version of the George Harrison classic 'Isn't it a Pity'. Pink Floyd fans would be well advised to avoid this rendition of 'Wish You Were Here'. The phrase 'trying too hard' comes to mind. A swampy version of Ringo Starr's 'It Don't Come Easy' works very well to my ears.

While the music is generally excellent, the SQ is nothing special on this disc.

Boz Scaggs 'Memphis' 2013 HDTracks 44/24

I admit to having a bit of a Boz fetish and have most, if not all of his music since a tour to Australia in the mid 70s. 'Memphis' is well recorded, with a bunch a great players, and it delivers a great sense of Boz really stretching himself on a set of nine Memphis soul & R&B covers, and two originals. A most enjoyable album with the trademark Scaggs croon.

Bob Marley 'Legend' Originally released 1974, re-issued 2012 HDTracks 192/24

I am not really a reggae fan, but again this album was 'missing' in my collection and it's availability on HD Tracks in hi-res format seemed like a good enough reason to make a purchase. I haven't had a decent listen yet but I have found it a little more accessible (or mainstream) than I may have thought.

Paul & Linda McCartney 'Ram' Original recording 1971, remastered and re-issued 2012 HD Tracks 192/24

As a dyed in the wool Beatles fan (although not necessarily of McCartney), this is nevertheless a must-have album for the collection. Unavailable on CD now (used red book copies changing hands for $150 and up) I turned to hi-res again. Worth the entry price for the country scat-singing ditty 'Heart of the Country. The album is vintage McCartney, pretty meaningless songs about nothing, whimsy (or simply rubbish), but great melodies and arrangements. For example see Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey.

Howlin' Wolf 'The Memphis Sessions' Original tracks recorded 1950 onwards. Re-issued 2013 HD Tracks 96/24

Bit of a back story here. I might have told you that I have been doing some photography of a local blues band on the Mornington Peninsula called 'King Catfish'. They only play blues songs recorded in the 1930s/40s and 50s. So you get to hear a lot of Chester Arthur Burnett at a King Catfish gig. So in deference to the history of the blues (and a hat tip to King Catfish) I picked up this sort of best-of from Howlin' Wolf's Sun Studio days. A mono release of course, and a bit 'shouty' in places, but it is just an awesome piece of musical history. 

Muddy Waters 'Folk Singer' originally recorded 1964, re-issued 2013 HD tracks 192/24

Another 'classic' that I had to pick up. MFSL 'gold' copies are now getting pricey, so I thought I would go for the all-digital version rather than chase an expensive coaster. I haven't had a decent sit down and listen session with this yet but it is a treat that is in front of me and I am really looking forward to it.

Counting Crows 'August and Everything After - Live at the Town Hall' 2011, HD Tracks 96/24

The original studio album is one of my all-time favourite albums when released in 1993 and I just had to have this live set when I saw it. In some respects it is even more moody and melancholy in places that the original and being fresh and live it is even the better for it. The lead vocals of Adam Duritz and the jangling guitars throughout are particularly special.

Hugh Lawrie 'Didn't it Rain' 2013 CD

This is Hugh Lawrie's second album, which was a surprise to me as I didn't realise he had any at all! And I must say it is a bit of an acquired taste. Hugh's voice certainly does't thunder through this eclectic set of R&B, blues, jazz, southern US and South American inspired tracks. In fact he doesn't sing on all tracks, preferring to contribute on both piano and guitar. Given the musical variety, it is a bit hard to get into a 'groove' (pardon the pun) when listening to this album. As with most works these days, the guest musos and the delightfully named 'Copper Bottom Band' do a fine job in support.

As pleasant an exercise as this is, I can't help but think that it may have sunk without a trace if it didn't have 'HUGH LAWRIE' in capital letters on the album cover...

In addition to new discs, there were also a number of second-hand CD purchases from Second Spin and other downloads most of which are listed in the image below. A bit tricky to calculate as there are double albums, a couple of downloaded indie Eps, but about 50 or 51 albums all up. That surprises me as I would not have guessed that I bought one per week (on average) without this analysis. It also proves that whilst I may buy music, I am better at the shopping process than the listening piece.

Thanks to my hi-fi buddy Darwin for sowing the seed for this year end review.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 4.41.24 PM

Those of you with sharp eyes will see a couple of old Emerson, Lake & Palmer albums in there. See, I told you I was backward looking. Perhaps some newer stuff may appear in 2014!

Wadia Intuition 01 Demo @ Tivoli Hi-Fi

Over the last few months I have had very positive interactions with the fine team at Tivoli Hi-Fi in suburban Camberwell. I recently bought my Wadia 151 PowerDac Mini from them and attended a hi-fi forum event hosted at their premises. I have been totally impressed with their passion for fine sound and their unbridled enthusiasm to share it. Somewhere during this process, they manage to sell stuff. Like successfully for the last 40 odd years. More power to them.

For me, this relationship paid off in spades last week when senior audio guru James contacted me to let me know that Tivoli had the ONLY Wadia Intuition 01 DAC/Pre/Power box in Australia for demo for a week or so. James kindly arranged a time that was most suitable to me and today I went along for a listen to it. And more...

For those that don't know me, some information in the spirit of full disclosure is appropriate. I own three Wadia products, am known as 'wadiaman' on a few hi-fi forums and enjoy the build quality, sonics and long-term value that Wadia products afford their owners. So read this post with that information in the back (or front) of your mind. I have paid advertised prices for all my Wadia products and derive no commercial benefits from any relationships with Australian audio retailers or distributors.

So onto to the Intuition review. For more specific product details, please check out the Wadia Intuition 01 site here. But all you really need to know is that is a relatively high powered (350 watts at 4 ohm / 190w at 8 ohm) Class D+ (no real idea what the + means) power amplifier, seven digital and 2 analog inputs pre-amplifier and a full function Wadia proprietary DigiMaster 384kHz/32bit capable DAC. So all you then need is a new-ish computer, media software and music files and you are away. So I brought along the trusty MacBook Pro (Retina) running OSX Mavericks (10.9) and the Fidelia audio player (V1.3.0b3) with access to a range of FLAC and ALAC files of various resolutions.

My pictures don't do the Intuition justice at all. The curves of the 'chassis', the smoothness of the aluminium finish and it's compactness for such a full featured unit is quite a revelation. Designed and built in Italy, the Euro style certainly shows. A box it isn't...

MacBook Pro & Wadia Intuition 01 - 2013

James kindly commandeered Studio 1 (the big rig room) for the afternoon.

The Big Room - AR, PS Audio, Wadia Intuition 01, MBP and Wilson Audio Sasha - 2013

He slipped the Wadia onto a spare shelf and had it running for a day or so before I arrived. I placed the MBP onto the top shelf, added my Kimber USB cable, selected the Wadia as the output device and queued Track 1, Stevie Ray Vaughan / Albert Collins 'Pride & Joy', (HDTracks 96/24), from the 'In Session' album. Cool blues filled the room, although the sound was a little thicker and the guitars grungier than I remember. The next track, Pete Alderton playing 'Walking Blues' (Linn Downloads 44/24) was acoustically lighter and sounded much better. Great! But perhaps my old Kimber cable wasn't up to it. So James inserted a similarly priced Transparent Audio USB cable into the system and we tried again. If you don't believe cables make a difference, look away now.... Ooh, that was clearly worse. My cable had been used for 18 months or more and was fully broken in (again, if you believe that sort of stuff) and the Transparent was quite new, but there clearly was a tangible difference in the Kimbers favour and we stayed with that throughout the rest of the day.

As good as the sound was, James thought another speaker combo (and room change) would be worth trying. I amused myself with some Diana Krall and Shelby Lynne while the new speakers were configured. And mighty fine they sounded through the Sashas.

The curvaceous B&W 802 (left), and either the ghost of Tivoli past or JF in full flight (right)

So we moved to Studio 2 where a pair of B&W 802 were now expertly set up and waiting. Similar tracks were played and frankly there was no real magic. Slightly recessed vocals, some reduced dynamics and an overall dryness to the experience had the B&Ws sounding very hi-fi-ish and exiting stage left after a few demo tracks. I have heard these speakers previously through a stack of Electrocompaniet gear and they sounded absolutely superb. Either a lack of synergy or more setup / configuration time required for this combination to show it's best.

Enter a pair of Wilson Audio Sophia 3s.

Awesome looking and sounding Wilson Sophia 3 - 2013

Looking absolutely gorgeous in Desert Silver, it would be interesting to see how they sounded compared to the Sashas albeit in a different room. A question for later, but much, much better than the B&Ws in the current room was the initial answer. Immediately the music was more forward and layered, the mid-range glorious, especially on Phil Manning 'Two Roads' (ALAC 44/16), one of my go to demo tracks for male vocals and acoustic guitar. Another jazz favourite, 'Ode to Billy Joe' (ALAC 44/16) by Patricia Barber is another track that I have heard a hundred times on the Wadia and Zus at home. The 'new' Wadia and Wilson combo did it proud. Textured finger snaps, warm bass line and vocals really drew the listener in. OK, time to stop messing around with this low key stuff, so on went Yello and 'Rubberband Man' (ALAC 44/16). Most spectacular! Not only was the energy through the roof, but the Intuition dragged out some details and phrases from this track that I hadn't heard before. The native 384/32 USB upsampling maybe? For whatever reason it was simply stunning. Just for confirmation, we revisited Pete Alderton and the sound I thought was even better than the Sashas, albeit subjectively, after a 45 minute gap. The only thing holding the combo back was a slight (and I mean r-e-a-l-l-y slight) 'slowness' to the presentation compared to my whip-crack Zus and the fact that the Sophias are not the last word in bass impact (tone is fine). But I am really splitting hairs here.

But of course James had a plan to fix the speed and bass issues! Wheel those Wilsons away and lets try some Martin Logan Summit Xs.

The Martin Logan Summit X now in place - 2013

By this point, I have to say that I was getting weary watching James move huge speakers in and out of the room...

On a perfect day, my system sounds pretty darn good. And in two minutes James made the MLs and the Wadia sound better than my systems 'golden' moments.... Through these large panels and active bass boxes, I immediately heard the same (or larger) image size, the same (or faster) speed & snap with an added level of refinement. I could almost have been sitting in my own home, rather the uber-comfy sofa of a primo audio dealer. Of course that is a bit of a problem. Was it better? Absolutely yes, but was it different enough? Probably no, not really.

So the best pairing on the day is..... the Sophia 3 / Intuition 01 combo. It was fabulously engaging, detailed, balanced and to my ears, different enough to consider an investment.

While there were no real losers in this test, there was one standout performer, the Wadia Intuition 01. If you can get a listen, I am pretty sure that you will then understand why. If you have ever thought that digital plus Class D was dry, strident and un-engaging, this is THE product that will change your view.

Thanks again to Geoff and James for your hospitality, time and the outstanding opportunity to savour the delights of the Wadia Intuition 01!

Hi Fi Royalty In The House!

l was delighted to welcome 'Super Mustud' of SNA fame to our humble home today for a long overdue ''Royal Visit'. I have been to Mr Mustud's place several times and I kept promising to reciprocate but never delivered until now.

Frankly it didn't start well when the great man got lost at the front gate (!), was unsure then of the property boundaries and once inside was critical that he was not offered a wine when less than a third the way through his demanded light beer stubby.... I just put it down to jet lag and his minder/publicist being 'unavailable'....

Alex (left) and the intrepid host - 2013

Anyway, the good news was the day got better. Frankly, much better. A quick walk around the interior of the property re-aligned SM's bearings and we retired inside for some chat. And a bottle of 10yo Macallan... The thinking man's BYO...

Some convivial conversation was set aside when the BBQ soy chicken skewers hit the plate. After a respectable interlude, some very fine porterhouse steaks were delivered due, to be fair, a combination of the awesome skill, judgement and experience of the chef (me) and some silly over-priced temp-probe thingy that my guest thought rescued the day.... Luckily the salads were spared from the afore-mentioned intrusion... A superb 2002 Penfolds 389 matched the steak to perfection. Phew.

Tales of family, travels and work accompanied the main course and the home-made chocolate cake and fresh fruits were enthusiastically consumed with coffee.

Alex Focused...
Ultimate concentration - 2013

The afternoon wound up with a couple more 'cleansers' and my usual musical preferences, imposed on (polite) guests at uncomfortable volumes. Awesome!

I think a great day was had by all. Thanks Alex!

'Come a little closer, huh, a-will ya huh...'

Ah, the delightful refrain of Doug Fieger and The Knack. Did a little retail therapy mid week at the local CD store and found a $6.99 copy of The Knack's 'My Sharona' album, circa 1981. Perhaps not audiophile quality, and not the deepest lyrics but somehow awesome anyway!

MY Sharona

Australian Audio and AV Show 2013

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The Australian Audio and AV Show rolled into Melbourne on 18-20 October 2013 at the Intercontinental Hotel in the city. I spent an enjoyable three hours visiting old friends and making new acquaintances across the three floors of the show.

I attended the last event here in Melbourne in 2011 and in my opinion, the 'average' sound this year was better than 2011. I didn't get to very room, but I didn't hear many rooms that had 'ordinary sound', and most rooms sounded very good or better. It was a different hotel and maybe the rooms were better, but to me they look just like any other hotel room. So I put the improvements down to improved product development, considered set up and high quality front ends.

On the subject of front ends, the best sounding rooms were either analog and digital, with no obvious preference to either. To my ears, in most rooms (sorry for the generalisation), I couldn't tell the difference between the sound of either technologies, albeit on material I was mostly unfamiliar with. That is meant to be a compliment on the high quality delivered not a put down on vinyl. Most digital was just that, very few silver discs were seen, with a very significant number of rooms streaming off laptops or servers through various DACs.

So on to what I liked. Rather than do a 'Best of Show' thing, a bit arbitrary, and devaluing several great systems, let me list my preferences (in no particular order) and general recommendations.

The Rooms
Audio Note: An AN - TT 2 Deluxe Turntable with an AN Arm Three, feeding Audio Note's ultimate 211-tubed Ongaku Kensei integrated amplifier, driving their AN-E HE-SPe High Efficiency Speakers (in beautiful Madrona Burl) wedged into the room corners and heavily toed-in. The system laid out a gorgeous soundstage and delivered a detailed and engaging presentation. A real oasis of sound.

The spectacular Audio Note Ongaku amplifier and a very serious amp stand! - 2013

Kyron Audio: After their Gaia flagship, Kyron Audio has now developed and released a smaller dipole system to suit more modest listening environments, the Kronos. To be honest, I couldn't fault the sound at all. It was hard to identify the highs, mids and lows as the music just appears from 'nowhere' and the sound field lays out in front of you and 'plays' and 'hangs' in the air driven by the quality of the source and not coloured or impacted by the 'box'. Just outstanding. The system was fed by a laptop-driven digital front end.

The audibly and visually stunning Kyron Audio Kronos - 2013

Pure Music Group: A very, very engaging room. A Thales TT and Simplicity tone-arm with a Phasemation PP-1000 MC cartridge, Mola Mola Makua pre-amp, and Mola Mola Kaluga mono-blocks, EMM Labs XDS1v2 CD/SACD player, Gauder Akustik Berlina RC-7 loudspeakers, with the source gear supported on an HRS platform. From what I heard, these new products to the Oz market really got out of the way and you were drawn in to the glory of the music rather than just listening to high-end hi-fi products. A most enjoyable experience.

Audio Fidelity: An analog front end, Tenor amplifier and Vivid Audio GIYA G3 were superbly setup (better than in the distributor's room IMHO), and sounded spacious, relaxed and showed off the G3's to excellent effect.

Magenta Audio: Alternating between a laptop (through a Metrum HEX DAC) and analog front ends, into Audion Black Shadow 2 845 mono-blocks driving a pair of Zu Audio Definition Mk IV. Playing music and delivering a vibrant sound, the Zu's really do get you tapping your feet and drawing you into enjoying the music. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Magenta Audio but do own a pair of Zu Definition Mk 1.5s, and therefore I recognise and enjoy the Zu 'house sound'.

The Magenta Room, funky turntable, PS Audio, Pure Audio & Zu Definition Mk IV - 2013

I can't imagine anyone listening to any of the above rooms and coming away disappointed.

Anything else of interest? Well there was the Advance Audio room, using an audio sledge-hammer approach leveraging a clutch of uber high end brands. I didn't check the turntable (I don't usually as you can tell from the mostly non-existent analog descriptions above), but present was the awesome DCS stack (four very large boxes consuming an entire rack), a VTL pre and power combination and the Dan D'Agostino Momentum pre and power combination (visually ridiculously awesome). As for speakers, there was Wilson Audio Duette 2 and the new Wilson Audio Alexia. All in all, very, very serious audio jewellery to be sure. It was in one of the larger (and I suspect more difficult) rooms at the show and all I got to hear was the DCS/VTL/Duette 2 combo playing Dave Brubeck 'Take 5' . That said, the Duettes really sounded full-range like. Sparkling on top, good mid-range and very deep bass for a 'stand mount'. I have to say, the sound was pretty impressive. Would warrant a longer listen in a more friendly environment.

Apologies for the cr*ppy picture of hi-fi 'royalty - 2013

One final observation, I would like to praise most rooms for playing interesting, tailored, thoughtful music rather than the 'audiophile' selections that have been prevalent in the past. A special mention to the Audio Fidelity (playing VinylEye discs), Pure Music Group and Kyron Audio rooms for their musical selections and variety.

The mood of the vendors appeared positive and the crowd seemingly engaged with the products on the day. I do hope that lots of new business was generated and that the audio market place grows in Melbourne as a result of this show.

PS - Apologies for the rubbish pictures. It appears that indoor product photography in crowded dimly-lit spaces is not a core competency of mine…

Tivoli Hi-Fi - SNA Get Together

The Australian hi-fi forum, StereoNet Australia (SNA) and leading Melbourne audio retailer Tivoli Hi-Fi, held a joint musical evening at the Tivoli premises in inner Melbourne last week.

The evening was intended to bring SNA members to experience the range of products Tivoli offers in a congenial atmosphere. Fine finger food, excellent Grant Burge wines and live jazz was just the entree.

The many custom-designed listening rooms at Tivoli were setup with B&W / Electrocompanniet, Wilson Audio / Audio Research, PS Audio / Martin Logan, Primare / Vienna Acoustics, an outrageous home theatre room and a full complement of Loewe screens and electronics. All the rooms sounded great, but the Electro / B&W sounded very smooth and the Primare / Vienna gear sounded too good for it's price point.



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A special highlight was a fancy set of home theatre recliners. Nothing new there I hear you say. These are SERIOUS recliners, with electric controls for the footrest and head / backrest and an in inbuilt refrigerator to keep your drinks cold in the cup holders in the arms. A fold out laptop / food table is located in the arm as well as storage bins for remotes, magazines and stuff. Simply awesomely decadent!

And a big thanks to the AudioActive team (distributors of Vienna Acoustics, Primare, IsoTek and others) for gifting a copy of the IsoTek Ultimate System Set-Up Disc (by Opus3) to all the attendees on the night. Very generous indeed. I am sure it will help get my system really singing!


Thanks to SNA and Tivoli for being proactive and enabling us to get that bit closer to the high-end. A great night was had by all.

My Wadia 151PowerDACmini Review

As I dip my toes deeper and deeper into the water of hi-resolution computer-based audio, various different topologies of playback options present themselves.

Many of you will know that I am big fan of Wadia Digital having owned one of their high-end integrated CD transport/DAC combos for the last 15 years. A 170iTransport iPod dock graces my system as well.

My latest piece of Wadia gear is the 151PowerDACmini. And it is a visual and sonic beauty!

The Wadia 151 PowerDAC mini - 2013

The PowerDAC is DAC, digital pre-amplifer with a stereo power amplifier module. It supports only digital inputs (2x COAX, USB and TOSLINK), has no digital or analog outputs, a single pair of speaker binding posts and an IEC receptacle. It doesn't sound much but it is such a compact unit (20 centimetres square) so the rear panel gets pretty busy with 'audiophile' sized cables and connectors.

The specs are pretty straight forward. The 151 PowerDAC has an internal power supply (not too beefy as the entire unit weighs less than 3 kgs), USB is asynchronous and maxes out at 96/24 (although the Wadia DigiMaster software up samples to 24bit/384k before outputting), total power from the Class-D digital amp module is around 25 wpc at 8 ohms (50 wpc at 4 ohms). And that is about it. The only other feature to note is that like all Wadia players the 151 comes with a phase polarity switch to ensure playback can be matched to the source if phase is an issue.

The unit was simple plug and play to get going. Attach your connection of choice, select the correct input via the front panel or remote control and press play on your source and beautiful sound emanates from your speakers, in my case the Zu Audio Definition Mk1.5s. I have used the 170i dock, the Wadia 861SE as a transport (via it's Digital Out COAX output) and a MacBook Pro running Fidelia via an Audiophilleo2 (USB-to-S/DIF converter) as sources into the PowerDAC and they have all worked flawlessly with easy connectivity and setup. I ran the PowerDAC for over 150 hours before I commenced my evaluation and review.

So how does the 151 PowerDAC sound? Pretty darn good actually.

Belying it's solid state / digital amp heritage, the sound is dynamic and full, and not harsh or overly extended in the higher frequencies. I found the bass to be a real feature of the PowerDAC, deep, solid and tuneful providing a sound platform for the mids and highs o be layered upon. The overall sound is very smooth and 'listenable' with no apparent artefacts, gaps or quirks that leave you wanting for 'more of this or more of that'. Information and detail retrieval and playback is probably the PowerDAC's biggest strength with whatever is on the disc or FLAC file rendered completely and presenting it back as a whole for the listener's enjoyment. A very pleasant surprise on one of my favourite test tracks, 'Two Roads' by Phil Manning, was the clarity of the two voices in the chorus that can be hard to discern through lesser playback systems, even when listening hard via headphones. Transparency was also evident with the PowerDAC easily showing the performance and sonic differences of the multiple sources (both hardware and software) that I tried with it. Not surpassingly, power handling / headroom was not an issue in my medium sized room through the 101db efficient Zus.

The busy rear panel, TOSLINK and USB inaccessible - 2013

Compared to my Wadia 861SE player via my Supratek Sauvignon/Malbec tube combo, the PowerDAC throws a somewhat smaller soundstage. The image is properly centred and rock solid but clearly inside the speakers and emanating from a noticeably smaller 'window'.

Overall, I am very happy with my purchase from the fine folk at Tivoli HiFi in Melbourne. It may not see too much time in the 'Big Rig' but will certainly be the heart of my 'Simple & Small Second System' paired with my Red Rose Music stand mounts.

So in summary, the Wadia PowerDAC 151 mini is not SoTA in terms of sound quality and you must live with the limitations of it's digital inputs. But for modest dollars it is a very attractive and compact one-box DAC / amplifier solution that will drive most real world speaker loads in small to medium sized rooms delivering very high quality digital decoding from a range of sources and makes the most enjoyable music. To round out the value equation, Wadia has an enviable reputation for quality and longevity and my unit appears well made, runs silently with all controls and connectors having a solid feel.

Just add a computer and speakers and you have a gateway to high end sound. Recommended!!

Don't just take my word for it, other reviewers at Home Theatre Review and Tone Audio seem to like the 151 as well. The official PowerDAC 151 mini product page at Wadia can be found here.

New pictures

It has taken me a while (like years!) to take some decent pictures of my hi-fi system.

Wadia 861SE CD player
Supratek Sauvignon Pre Amplifier
First Watt Aleph J Power Amplifier

GtG at Super Mustuds

A small but intelligent and influential gathering of audiophiles (OK, I made most of that up) turned up at various times of the day and night last Saturday to enjoy Super Mustud's company and fine hospitality (I didn't make any of that bit up). Caddisgeek (who I unfortunately missed meeting for the first time due to my late arrival), DIYNut, Moondog, TonyC and myself made up Super Mustud's audience, oops, I meant guests.

The two stars of the show (no not THEM), but the Rowans Creek at left and the Lagavulin

Comfortably seated outdoors, conversations abounded regarding the big issues in life, regularly interspersed with semi-serious sipping and listening to some 'cool' music. At various times 'The Kamado Joe' was fired up producing lamb chaps, chorizo sausage and corn all grilled to perfection. As always.

All this as we waited for the sun to go down so that the serious part of the GtG could commence.That, of course, was the whisky tasting and education, most capably led by our gracious host. As the photo indicates, available bottles outnumbered guests about 10 to 1, a most satisfactory ratio IMHO.


The winner for me was the 2011 Lagavulin 12YO Special Release. Special by name and special by nature. Just fabulous. As a counter-point, I took along a Rowans Creek Bourbon of some repute and a mighty fine drop it turned out to be. Not that I got a lot of it with a certain person (whose initials are Moondog) consuming the 'dog's share' of the bottle. Said he wouldn't spoil the bourbon with food so he abstained from eating… For a long while…

Eventually the 'big rig' was fired up and was sounding as good as ever. A range of mellow music was played (Ray Lamontagne and Bat for Lashes were prominent) which suited the now very relaxed group perfectly. A cleansing coffee and a final wee dram rounded out the evening perfectly.

SM, TonyC and at rear, a very relaxed Moondog

On behalf of all of the guests, I would like to thank Super Mustud for again welcoming us into his humble palace and providing an outstanding afternoon and evening of refreshment and entertainment! And a big thank you to TonyC for admirably filling the role of my designated driver. Again…

Drinking is not doing me any good… Cheers!