Letters • December 2015

"Thank you for always being there . . ."

December 21, 2015


No questions this time. I just wanted to wish you and yours a happy, peaceful joyous holiday. Thank you for always being there to help me sort through the questions, the gear, the concepts, etc. of this awesome hobby we both enjoy. No one out there comes even remotely close to you and the TAB staff. Best wishes for the holidays and the upcoming new year. Health, peace and prosperity!

Sheldon Simon

Integrated amp for KEF LS50s?

December 17, 2015


I'm looking to buy a pair of KEF LS50s very shortly and would be greatly interested in your views on the most synergistic integrated amplifiers for these speakers. I enjoyed your review of the Arcam A19 (you are one of my favorite hi-fi writers!) and duly noted your remarks regarding the successful pairing with the LS50s. I have the Arcam on a short list, but I am very keen to know what other integrateds marry successfully with the KEFs. I'm not limited to budget amps, but at the same time cannot afford anything with an uber prefix!

Tim Hayes

I'm glad you are considering the A19; it’s easy to overlook simply because it is so affordable. Used with the LS50s, it really is half of a pairing that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

What other amplifiers would I consider, if I was prepared to spend a bit more money? First up, let me just say that the LS50s are definitely worth the effort, especially if there’s no option to look at larger, wider-bandwidth models. Even then, you’d be looking at a pretty serious step up in price to get the benefits of the bigger box without sacrificing the LS50’s coherence and integration.

I’d look at two amps in particular. If I wanted greater transparency and detail and greater musical insight than the A19, I’d look at the Lavardin IS Reference. It won’t go as loud as the A19, but it is a lot more refined and seriously engaging on a musical level.

Like the A19 but just want more of what it gives you, look at the Naim SuperNait, a great match for the LS50. Just don’t use NACA5 cable with the combination or it will sound clumsy and you’ll lose the remarkable fluidity that the little Naim can supply.

Finally, if you want the best of both worlds, try the Arcam A49, with its innovative class-G output stage. Quick, clean and super powerful, it was John Dawson’s response to the challenge of driving the Blades. Combine it with the LS50 and the results are spectacular: a classic big-amp/small-box combination.

Finally, if you can find one, Neodio’s NR-800 or the bigger NR-1500 are more powerful alternatives to the Lavardin, with some of the same heritage and design DNA. If you love that clean, grainless and unobstructed clarity but want more grunt, they’re just the ticket. -Roy Gregory

Ayre or Esoteric?

December 11, 2015


Would you recommend I try to audition an Esoteric K-03 player against my Ayre C-5xeMP as a possible upgrade? I can’t afford the K-01, and a good friend of mine took my Esoteric X-01; the C-5xeMP performs as well, just as your review from years ago stated.

Bill Barotti

My advice for anyone looking for a new universal player is unconventional, because the product I recommend is not strictly for playing files (although it will do this) and no longer made. Keep your eyes peeled for an Ayre DX-5, then have Ayre upgrade it to a DSD unit, which will cost you another $1250. You'll not just have a terrific CD, SACD and DVD-A/V player, you'll also have a Blu-ray player and a high-end USB DSD-ready DAC as well. I do like the Esoteric players, and while I'm sure the K-03 is a worthy unit, it won't play Blu-rays or DVD-As, which will represent a fraction of anyone's collection but are still high-rez discs. I own a DX-5 DSD, and it is probably the last piece of my system I would change -- because I'll never find another one. -Marc Mickelson

Audio Systems Optimized

December 6, 2015


In response to the Audio Systems Optimized "equipment review," I must say that if one hasn’t made the sort of effort toward good music reproduction described in Stirling Trayle’s process, one must have been sleeping the last few years.

It should be canon that the foundation of good power distribution, adequate grounding, resonance control and rational signal cabling are required should one expect a good result.

Stan Delles


December 1, 2015


I would really like to join your reader list.

Clinton Munn

You're on the list. If others want to join TAB's reader e-mail list and find out about new articles first, they can send a message to rl@theaudiobeat.com.


The Audio Beat • Nothing on this site may be reprinted or reused without permission.