Loves his Mastersounds

May 21, 2010

To Garrett Hongo,

I purchased a set of the Mastersound 845 monoblocks after reading your article. They are driving my Wilson Benesch Chimera loudspeakers (CD player and transport are from McIntosh; vinyl from a Garrard 401). The sound is fantastic with a very expansive soundstage. Thanks for a great, informative read.

Kind regards,

Peter from the UK

Very glad to hear how happy you are with your Mastersound 845 monos. I'm pleased that combo works well.

I've heard Wilson Benesch Curve speakers on two occasions and liked them very much with deHavilland KE50A monoblocks. Happy listening. . . . Garrett Hongo

May 15, 2010

Red Wine Audio Isabellina HPA, headphones, and cables

To Uday Reddy,

I read your review of the Red Wine Audio Isabellina HPA and enjoyed it. I have two questions for you: Why didn't you use the Sennheiser HD 650s and, more importantly, why did you choose the Cardas Audio Neutral Reference Interconnect? Is that what Vinnie [at Red Wine Audio] recommends? Did you try different interconnects and, if so, what did you observe? I have a pair of the Sennheiser HD 650s and swapped out the stock headphone cable for the Cardas upgrade, which definitely opens them up nicely. So I'm going to be purchasing the Isabellina HPA very soon and wanted some feedback.


Steve F.

First of all, I don't have the HD 650s, which were introduced about six months after I bought my HD 600s and, unlike the HD 800s, was not a huge change from the previous model. As for the interconnects used, I probably should have mentioned this in the review: I used the Red Wine Audio RCA interconnects that were supplied with the Isabellina HPA. While I didn't do a head-to-head comparison, these interconnects were neutral and did not add anything detrimental to the sound.

Getting back to the headphones, I wholeheartedly agree with the Cardas upgrade option. During the review period, I used the stock Sennheiser cord, but a few weeks after completing the review, I upgraded to the Cardas HD 600 cord and noticed a marked improvement in detail and clarity. The improvement was so noticeable, I felt like kicking myself for not getting the upgrade earlier! . . . Uday Reddy

Simaudio Moon 600i opinion?

May 10, 2010

To Randall Smith,

I noticed that you have a Simaudio Moon 600i integrated amplifier in your system. I have been considering this unit and would appreciate your comments if not too much trouble. Thanks very much.


I have only had the 600i for a month or so and during that time it has shared duty with the Esoteric A-03 power amplifier. The 600i is the first integrated I have ever owned and I understood that there would be compromises made, but so far I have been very happy. I previously owned a Simaudio P-5.3 preamp, which I really loved. It was very transparent and made a huge improvement in my system, but I did not like the volume control. It would ramp up and down too quickly, which made me afraid that I would accidently turn it up too loud. It also meant that fine-tuning the volume was a bit more difficult. The 600i is much better in that regard. The 600i's volume can be adjusted in small increments, which helps me fine-tune each particular music selection to the proper listening level.

As far as the 600i amplifier section goes, it is less powerful than the Classé CA-2200 stereo amp that I previously used. Because I couldn't hear the 600i before I bought it, I was afraid the low end of the 600i would be far weaker than that of the Classé because of the discrepancy. It isn't. I actually think the 600i controls the bottom end a bit more. The 600i didn't have the same drive as the Esoteric amp I just reviewed, but the A-03 is far more expensive and is a dedicated stereo amp. I find that the 600i is much quieter than the Simaudio/Classé combo I used previously. The 600i's signal-to-noise ratio is rated somewhere around 119dB.

Overall, I am really happy with my purchase. I have always loved Simaudio products and I currently recommend them highly. The 600i set me back a bit financially, especially considering I am currently house hunting, but it will stay in my system for a long time. Thanks, and I hope you make the right choice for you! . . . Randall Smith