The DC Hi-Fi Group

DCHFG March 2019 Meeting

Paul Elliot provided pictures and the narrative for this report.

Gary Gill graciously provided his home for an afternoon of good eats, good drinks, good talks, and good listening.

Dennis Clark, owner of the Leesburg Listening Room, was the special guest for this meeting. This is a new home audio dealer located about 10 miles west of Dulles just off Rt. 15. He carries PS Audio, Legacy Speakers, VPI, and many more notable products. The “Store” is located in a beautiful home in Creighton Farms private community. Dennis was exuberant in describing his philosophy of sound presentation.

Chris Barker talked about a very new affordable DAC called the Khadas Tone Board. He also mentioned he had completed a turntable kit build using the SRM Tech Azure Turntable Kit using Rega parts. It was also mentioned that Emotiva was now shipping mono block amplifiers featuring IcePower modules. Finally, there was a brief mention of the brand new Magnepan LRS ribbon speakers. Tom Perazella told us about interesting new developments using HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) technology to make headphones present a more natural sound stage.

Demo of iFi Pro Dac and Dynaudio Special Forty Speakers

We then clambered upstairs to Gary’s dedicated listing room for a listen to the iFi Pro DAC ($2500). This DAC is interesting because it is designed with a high-quality DSD up conversion/direct DSD engine and custom Alps volume section with a selectable tube or solid state buffer analog stage. The UK designed, China manufactured, DAC decodes to 768khz in PCM and up samples to 1024khz in DSD using the Crysopeia FPGA Digital DSD Engine. The PCM/DSD core DAC chip is from Burr Brown. The iFi Pro has tons of features including an onboard micro-SD card player that can be accessed via a Wi-Fi phone app (DLNA). Five user selectable digital filters are also available. Russ from Vinyl Revivers loaned a beautiful pair of Dynaudio Special Forty speakers. Gary’s room was tough for these small bookshelf speakers but if you got up close in a near field position you could hear what these speakers can do. They are very nice and would do very well in a small den or listening room that is better damped than Gary’s echo chamber.

Dynaudio Special Forty Speaker

Regular raffle winners included Walter and Gary Gill.

See you next month at Russ’s

DCHFG February 2019 Meeting

DCHFG Member Paul Elliot provides the text and photos for this month’s meeting.

Audiophilism [sic] (not a real word but it should be) is a lonely hobby. Think about it. One spends hours working on their kit, trying out a new this or that. Maybe you received a new LP or digital download, marveling about the bass or the glorious highs or the blooming midrange. But there you are in a room full of boxes with knobs and wires – alone.  At some point, you want to share or show off this stuff. This is where the Audio Club comes in.  A place to discuss what is new or important to you or your system. A place to meet others in the same boat that you are in. Floating along in a sea of bits and bytes, distortions and resonances, tubes and cartridges. Now you can find many others with the same doubts and concerns that you have whether to spend money on a widget or not that will take your system to the stratosphere and beyond. 

This is the great thing about Audio Clubs. They bring like minded people out of their dedicated sound rooms and into a room full of life.

It is always a great pleasure meeting at Dave’s house, a lovely place in a beautiful setting. We had quite a crowd on a rainy Saturday, maybe forty members all looking forward to an afternoon of comradeship, good food and drink, and listening to the new Bryston B135 V3 Integrated Amp/DAC.

So, here we are in Dave’s beautiful home listening to the B135 V3 with a pair of NHT Classic 4. The Byrston certainly had a lot of punch, speed and a high end that is (for me) the Bryston house sound, which is not my cup of single malt.

Dave’s journey is an interesting one. He at one point joined the DIY club and started a thread about what he was building and saying with confidence that he felt he was going in the right direction. Dave invited the DIYer’s over for a listen and to put it mildly our comments were not very subtle with what we heard. Every time I have heard Dave’s system in subsequent visits, I kept hearing vast improvements. Each time I said to myself, it cannot get better but it does. I feel his main system, in the basement, is one of the best I have heard – anywhere. Drop the scotch.

So, I hope all our members of the DC Hi-Fi Group are taking advantage of the combined knowledge available. As they move along their journey to optimizing their system, they can then sit back and enjoy the music.

Thrax/Dr. Vinyl open house February 16th and 17th, 2019

DCHFG member Paul Elliot filed this recent report.

The DC Hi-Fi Group took advantage of  Dr. Vinyl’s hospitality and gathered at his new demo rooms to hear some very special gear.

The Thrax kit was held together with the superb David cables from EnKlien. The music signal was presented at a level I have never heard before. Manufacturers often explain that they design and build their equipment to “do no harm” and to “simply get out of the way of the music”. I finally have heard this in listening to this system. Having never heard so far into the music, I was sucked into the performance.

The front end was provided by a Pear Audio turntable with Cornet ll arm supporting a Etsuro Urushi Cobalt Blue Moving Coil Phono Cartridge. It made for a warm laid back very musical analog sound. A Wolf Audio Systems Alpha 2 music server turned bits and bytes into sweet tunes.

The Thrax part of the equation started with the Orpheus Phono Preamplifier. This was connected to the Ares Modular System which contains in a single chassis two mono amps with independent power supplies, a line stage, a phono preamp, and a DAC. Music reached our ears by way of Lyra 2 stand mounted speakers. Using a compression ratio ring diaphragm driver loaded with a proprietary waveguide, allows the Lyra 2 tweeter to reach down to less than 1500 Hz. Uncommonly high sensitivity of 90db, makes it usable with lower power amplifiers.

All these parts were connected with EnKlein David level interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords.

Yes, this is a high dollar system at over $200k by my calculation. I think it is important to experience such systems to understand what is possible. There was truly something special going on here.

Tom Kleinbeck of EnKlein cables and a Thrax representative were on hand to provide some answers on what was heard.

I feel all enjoyed this experience of an intimate exposure to this system.

DCHFG January 2019 Meeting

With all the excitement of the Holidays and CAF 2018 behind us, DCHFG members congregated to trade stories about their latest gear acquisition and other Hi-Fi topics.

DCHFG President, John Gatski, brought the meeting to order and provided updates on possible future meetings and events. We are still hopeful that we will be able to visit the Furnace Records Plant and local audio legend Conrad Johnson in 2019.

John Gatski provides DCHFG updates

DIY subgroup co-chairman, Paul Elliot, gave a presentation on the latest solder tools and techniques and demonstrated the mini solder tool he is now using. Chris Barker was present but resting on his DIY laurels.

Paul Elliot discusses Soldering

Amar Krajvansh, Headphone subgroup chairman, gave an exciting update on his new line of headphones he and his partner will launch in early 2019. A prototype was on hand to audition. The target price is $899. More details to follow!

Dr. Vinyl, aka Jose Ramirez, updated members on the $3,800 Sutherland Phono Loco phono stage.

Russ Katz, president of The Vinyl Revivers, presented a preview of the Dr. Feikert line of turntables with a focus on the $3,500 Volare.

John Gatski prepares the audio demo for the afternoon
New Benchmark DAC3-B being supported by a very early sample of the Sutherland Phono Loco preamp

Thanks to all that attended!

How Good is your Hearing?

I was watching one of my favorite Youtube channels about music production (Rick Beato) and he showed how his music intern who was trained at Berklee, has perfect pitch, and can hear a 18k sine wave did when she took an audio test at NPR.

So, take the audio test at NPR and watch the Rick Beato video and report back on the DCHFG forum how you did. Good luck!