Box of Fun


Back in 2006 a dealer suggested that I put together a compilation with songs featuring really well recorded bass. Based on that premise, I set about assembling some terrific music that just so happened to also have deep, deep bass. As usual I chose the music first & foremost based on its musical qualities; the album must stand on its own feet as something worth listening to. So while there are quite a lot of non-audiophile recordings on this album, it’s full of great music & some sonic surprises added for good measure.


Bruno Coulais’ Norbu from the Himalaya OST; very dramatic build up to a wonderful bass explosion.
Boyz II Men Yesterday – absolutely remarkable cover of the Beatles classic.
Kathryn Williams’ Little Black Numbers is superbly well recorded. Beautiful vocal, an artist that sadly seems neglected by music lovers.
Mino Cinelu’s Soon I Will Be Home is a first class demo tune; wonderfully defined, articulate bass, wrapped in a tune you will love over & over.

Listen on TIDAL.

Love Potion Playlist

This is a wonderful compilation that I am delighted to be able to share with my friends. When I originally tried to assemble this on Tidal, many of the songs were unavailable so I put it aside. It’s now complete. Originally compiled in 2009, this album cost me a small fortune in time & $$, as I polled on all the forums and asked people’s advice as to what music they use to make out. I ended up buying about forty odd CDs and pulled the best 80 minutes that played nicely together. I hope you & your significant other enjoy this album. Music is for sharing.

View playlist on TIDAL.

Transcendence Playlist

A wonderful compilation from 2006; while the music might be considered a little eclectic, I came across many of these tunes while living near the Goldfields in W. Australia in 1991. Tuned in to the BBC World service at night, where I sated my lust for interesting music. The commercially programmed radio stations in Australia were stuck in a time warp, still playing The Doors, Led Zeppelin… as if time stood still. All the tracks here have wonderful sonics and will stand the test of time with repeated listening. Here is a wonderful example of the armchair traveler, The album opens with a gorgeous piano adaptation of the Door’s “Birds Of Prey” played by George Winston, who turns it into a New Age melody. Regrettably neither Jim Morrison’s American Prayer nor KLF’s Chill Out are available on Tidal (yet), both albums I listened to extensively in 1991. Continue reading

Christmas in July! – Trio Céleste

Christmas came early for me this year; what a wonderful surprise! What a unique opportunity to sit in on Trio Céleste while they recorded an upcoming album at Soka’s Performing Arts Center, here in Southern California.

Kyle & Jesse monitoring intently with the Eclipse TD-508 MK II driven by the LUXMAN M-200 at the Control room at SOKA’s Performing Art Center, Thursday 2 July 2015

Kyle & Jesse monitoring intently with the Eclipse TD-508 MK II driven by the LUXMAN M-200 at the Control room at Soka’s Performing Art Center, Thursday 2 July 2015

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LP clunkers you should avoid spending your hard earned cash on

Below are a few LPs that I came across this year that are truly dreadful.  I write this to help you avoid wasting your hard earned cash on awful sounding LPs, especially when there are so many stunning albums released in the first half of 2015.  Continue reading

One of the best Rock albums in years, Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

Alabama Shakes Sound & ColorWith their 2012 Boys & Girls (debut) album, Alabama Shakes displayed that they were a band comfortable with blues, soul, gospel, and country but raised on modern rock. In their 2015 follow up, Sound & Color, they have pushed past any boundaries that might have confined them to deliver one of the best rock albums in years!

Brittany Howard sounds like she has been playing for the past twenty years (since the last album) screaming a force of natural delivery. The variety of genres, rhythms, arrangements, tempos, and vocal styling keep the listener rapt with attention. Sound quality is superb: tight, articulate guitars & rhythm section; composition is fresh & engaging. I have the high rez download and the three sided clear vinyl LP. Check it out on TIDAL.

Björk’s heartfelt Vulnicura album is one to let seep into your soul

BjorkRejoice if you felt that Björk went off the deep end about ten years ago into pretty incomprehensible territory, here is an album to wrap your arms around, sink into your comfortable sofa, pour a fine Irish whiskey and let this sublime music seep into your soul.

Vulnicura’s cover shows Björk with a gaping chest wound; the latin words “vulnus” and “cura” respectively translate to “injury” and “healing”.  It is an expression of sadness, coming on the back of her break up with her husband, it immerses the listener in the devastation of heartbreak.  The sadness is not pitiful but heartfelt and the perfect vehicle for Björk to convey the emotion that sadly many of her recent albums have lacked.

Musically, it starts out with Continue reading

Stereophile’s John Marks did a shootout between Luxman’s new M-700u and M-600A power amps!

Stereophile June 2015 M-700u vs M-600A shootout

“The huge family resemblance of the M-700u to the M-600A overshadows their few sonic differences, which I had mostly to strain to hear. With Ella Fitzgerald’s performance of  “Easy To Love,” there was a trivially greater impression of the tape hiss before the music begins through the M-700u than through the M-600A. This gave the M-700u’s sound an ever-so-slightly “Modern” feel, as well as slightly more forwardness and spatial specificity.”

“..Furthermore, the M-700u’s 120WPC had no trouble getting what sounded like almost a full octave more bass extension out of the Wilson Benesch Square Ones than had the M-600A.”

The 30WPC M-600A could be the last amplifier for the right listener with the right speakers. But the 120WPC M-700u, which debuts costing 11% more ($9990) is more an amplifier for all seasons: very well done, highly recommended and in my opinion  a solid pick for Class A of “Recommended Components.”

John Marks, Stereophile, June 2015 (now in print at newsstands)


Hi-Fi Harmony 2015 Music Seminar with Luxman in New Hampshire

Lux Gear

A glimpse of some attendees in front of the Luxman stacks

Hi-Fi Harmony 2015 was a great success. John Rein, owner of Audio Video Therapy & the host of the show, was very charismatic and effusive and a pleasure to be with. Attendance was roughly around 100 people.  Not only was it very well attended, the attendees felt the novelty of being able to listen to Luxman in New Hampshire!  Little did I know there are lots of Luxman enthusiasts in N.H. Continue reading

SoundStage! Hi-Fi bestowed Luxman’s M-900u Stereo/Mono Amplifier with their Recommended Reference Component Award

Luxman M-900u Stereo/Mono Amplifier Receives Recommended Reference Component Award from Soundstage! Network

Luxman M-900u Stereo/Mono Amplifier Receives Recommended Reference Component Award from Soundstage! Network

“You can find higher power outputs at or even below the M-900u’s price, but you’d be hard-pressed to find something that betters its sound and build qualities for even twice as much. In that sense, the Luxman M-900u delivers reference-level sound and build quality at what can be considered very reasonable cost, and is why Doug concluded his review by declaring that “The M-900u is one of the best values in high-end amplifiers.””  <full review>

Grammy-award winning producer Jeff Jones shares how he religiously uses the Eclipse TD-M1 speaker system to record natural dynamics

Jeff Jones, the Jedi Master uses Eclipse TD-M1 speaker system as his go to litmus test

Jeff Jones, the Jedi Master uses Eclipse TD-M1 speaker system as his go to litmus test

“Everything, absolutely everything in my final product has become more clear. My sensitivity to dynamic and transient aspects of music has gone up several notches.”

“I know for a fact that since hearing and working with the TD-M1 my skills became elevated to a new level. Every recording I’ve produced with the TD-M1 is sonically better because my view is unclouded.”

“I am an artist. The recordings I produce are considered high art. Now that I have the TD-M1 I have more precise tools to work with and my work shows it.” <more>

Vivid Audio celebrates 10th anniversary announcing OVAL B1 DECADE, the B1d (limited edition)

Limited edition OVAL B1 DECADE unseated K1 to claim flagship position in Vivid Audio's Oval Series Family

Limited edition OVAL B1 DECADE unseated K1 to claim flagship position in Vivid Audio’s Oval Series Family

Vivid Audio debut a new addition to its Oval Series Family, a limited edition revised OVAL B, the B1 DECADE.  At US$28,000, the Decade Edition Oval B1d loudspeakers assume the flagship position in the oval range due to its incredible performance and advanced construction.  Currently on display at the Munich High End Show, listeners have been amazed Continue reading

Reviewers’ Choice Award for Luxman L-550Ax Class A Integrated – SoundStage! Network

Luxman L-550AX Soundstage! Network's Reviewers' Choice Award

Luxman L-550AX Soundstage! Network’s Reviewers’ Choice Award

“What the L-550AX possessed was an incredibly lifelike, holographic, reach-out-and-touch-it three-dimensionality…”

“What set the L-550AX’s sound apart from the crowd was its presence — a natural, thoroughly organic sound that was most notable in the midrange, and made my Hegel H300 sound mechanical by comparison.”

“Once again, the Luxman was able to render the entire recording with such dimensional color and palpable weight that I struggled to find something worthwhile to write about. I was too interested in cueing up another tune. If that’s not an emphatic endorsement, I don’t know what is.” <full article>


AXPONA 2015 Show Report

The Westin O’Hare | Chicago, IL

April 24 -26, 2015

CAT statement and JL5 driving Giya G3 at Axpona Saturday Night WBF

Vivid Audio GIYA G3, Luxman D-08u CD/SACD Player, & CAT monoblocks

A glimpse into Kyomi Audio’s room: A customer wanted to hear the big CAT Statement monoblocks compared to the little JL5 stereo amp we had played all day. The JL5 is a stereo amp with triode design using 4 x KT120 per channel, it puts out 25W Class A or 100W Class AB and retails for $13k. The Statements are monoblocks using 16 x KT120 per chassis, with a 200W triode design, Class A and retails for $100k a pair.

The big guys did not disappoint as the micro dynamics were put in the spotlight. The tonal color was more dramatic and the sound-stage became huge and spacious; it sucked the listeners in to the musical event.

It was a packed room of music lovers who were willing to delay dinner to indulge in a religious experience. Feet tapping and lots of comments exchanged over the music played at realistic club levels. It had all the vibes of a happening.

Refreshments (wine, beer & Georgian brandy to be specific) finished but the roomful of audience stuck around for more. What does this tell you about this experience with an exceptional stereo?  Continue reading

Frank Sinatra – September of my Years, best album played at AXPONA 2015

Another music highlight at AXPONA 2015 from Kyomi Audio is Frank Sinatra’s September of my Years on vinyl. It was such a great album that we kept playing it repeatedly at AXPONA and no one got tired of it.

It was 1965 when the British Invasion was in full swing. Rock music was exploding in many different directions. Yet, in the midst of it all, came this beautiful, reflective album from the Chairman of the Board. September of my Years was a perfectly arranged (by Gordon Jenkins) selection of songs recorded as Sinatra approached his 50th birthday.

“It was a Very Good Year” is the standout track, and the kind of magic even Sinatra could not have recorded when he was starting out in the late 1930’s. Here it is evocative, heartfelt and very moving. There is a maturity in his delivery that comes with experience and his voice is a finely honed instrument at this stage.

At AXPONA we played the title track, a gorgeous harp accompanies the Nelson Riddle orchestra as Sinatra delivers his lonely liturgy and of course the effects of aging. An experience that we all share but one which had not been touched upon up until then by popular singers. String tone is superb, lots of air and a rich dense tonal texture. It is Sinatra’s greatest achievement with Reprise, and held up as one of his top five albums by the critics.

We listened to a Reprise reissue, though original LPs are readily available. This was a very popular album track in 1965, when it won a Grammy for “Album of the Year”. Clean Mint- copies are readily available. Also on CD or TIDAL. 

Oliver Nelson – The Blues And The Abstract Truth at AXPONA 2015

Oliver Nelson The Blues and the Abstract Truth

I bought the DSD download of the Blues and the Abstract Truth album a couple of years ago and have been mesmerized by the all-time classic, “Stolen Moments”. Recorded over fifty years ago in 1961, this piece is a timeless beauty. Its indisputable beauty shines through in a three-part horn harmony fronting Freddie Hubbard’s lead trumpet melody.

At AXPONA, George Vatchnadze, Kyomi Audio, whipped out the 45RPM LP and spun “Hoedown” – which is quite different from the rest of the album in that it has a joyful, country flavour; I love the barking of the horns from the different speakers in a call & response. The music is infectious and makes the listener sit up & pay attention.

Blues and the Abstract Truth is Oliver Nelson’s triumph as a musician & composer for not only defining the sound of an era but also for assembling one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever. Oliver Nelson, while a fine tenor sax player in his own right, is surrounded by extraordinary talent of Bill Evans (piano), Roy Haynes (drums), Eric Dolphy (flute & alto sax), Paul Chambers (bass) & Freddie Hubbard (trumpet).

Like Brubeck’s Time Out, Adderley’s Somethin’ Else and a handful of other jazz albums, Blues and the Abstract Truth will stand the test of time as one of the top dozen jazz albums from the fifties & sixties. Sound & Music quality – 10/10. Available on CD, SACD, LP or DSD download.

Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus at AXPONA 2015

Saxophone Colossus Sonny RollinsRevisiting Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas” from Saxophone Colossus on SACD at AXPONA was one of my personal highlights of the show. I first heard this when Paul Stubblebine from the Tape Project lent us (for CES one year) a Studer A80 with Dan Schmalle’s wonderful tube tape head preamp. We played the 1/4″ master tape at 15IPS. That is the yardstick that I hold dear as to how amazing this cut can be.

I LOVE Max Roach’s drum solo, two and a half minutes into the song. We could clearly hear how tight the drum skin is. When the music is so exciting, we quickly forget that we were listening to a mono recording.

The Luxman D-08u CD/SACD player’s performance (that we were using as the source at AXPONA) did not disappoint, none of the bloom that LP playback gives us, but probably closer to what the actual tape sounds like. Nonetheless it’s terrific music, however you get to play it. My only regret was that there weren’t enough hours on the Luxman D-08u as it was exhibiting signs of not being fully broken in. Wish we had more hours on it before the show.

Luxman’s new EQ-500 phonostage North American debut at THE Show Newport May 29-31, 2015

LUXMAN EQ500_PD171Pg12001 was the last time Luxman released a top of the line phono stage, the E-1 (solid state).  When they discontinued the E-1 recently, the buzz was on as to what they are replacing it with. Continue reading