Our favorite components for Jack’s music system 

If you are familiar with “Jack and the Beanstalk” you will recall he likes to listen to the Magic Harp. He also needs instruments to slay the Giant.

In this space, we will feature audio components of exceptional value that slay components that have gigantic prices.

The Audreal LP-2 phono stage is a true Giant killer against all other transistor units.  Why?- because it is a vacuum tube circuit.  

Designers like to target low noise with silly little op-amps and transistors in units selling for over fifteen thousand dollars.  But in that pursuit, music dries up and disappears.

The Audreal LP-2 places no solid state parts in the signal path and the reward is instantly revealed when you cue the first LP.  A broad palette of musical harmonics, bold dynamic shifts, and a richness that will make analog playback captivating.

This is easily accomplished with affordable cartridges since the Audreal LP-2 is built for medium to high output cartridges that require standard 47K loading.  We will feature some of our favorites later in this space.

We have enjoyed this phono stage for many years.  At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show it was playing in our exhibit when Michael Fremer dropped in.  I just watched a video my son and I made while he was listening.  It was during the closing hours of the show and he proclaimed that our modestly priced Audreal system was in the top 3 of all that he had heard that week, amongst systems that were approaching one million dollars.

Michael requested a review sample and we complied.  A fantastic review of our room was covered in Stereophile Magazine soon after the show.  The Audreal LP-2 review he wrote introduced the phono stage to happy buyers throughout the U.S.A. and Canada.

This giant killer is a formidable beast built with very heavy gauge metal for noise shielding and heat sinking.  The massive toroidal power supply is in a separate enclosure from the tube gain stage.  We have never had to service one in all these years.

My unit still has the original tubes. (knocking wood now)

Visit Shop to purchase

Stay tuned here for a story about Jack’s amplifier *****

KEF Reference 5 Meta Review



An astonishing change in the way I feel about cone driven speakers happened when I received the new KEF Reference 5 Meta speakers.

Since the ’70’s every speaker I have owned in my personal systems have been line source variants and dipole designs.

The first time I heard Magneplanar Tympani 1U  speakers was an epiphany.  That was way back in 1974.  That event caused me to cross over from the professional audio industry to home audio.  Now it is 2023 and I remain in that career.

I evolved from Magneplanar speakers to Infinity IRS and RS-1B systems until the ’90’s.

The next epiphany was when I heard Apogee speakers set up by the legendary Jason Bloom.

I still have Apogee speakers as a seemingly permanent fixture.

All of these speakers have been tall and produced a soundfield with far more height than any box speaker.

Many of you have purchased and enjoyed cone type speakers from me over those same decades.  And many of you have purchased planar designs from me too.

In December 2022 I received my first pair of gorgeous KEF Reference 5 Meta speakers.  Let me call this my third lifetime speaker epiphany.


First and foremost they reproduce image height better than any other cone type speaker I have ever heard!

My son and I have grown accustomed to generous image height reproduction and it is a minimum requirement for us.

The very first recording I played on these freshly unpacked speakers was Saint-Saëns, Seiji Ozawa – Symphony No. 3.

Instantly the ceiling and walls of the living room were replaced by the enormous space of Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral.

But what I could see was not wall to wall 1200 pound Infinity IRS speakers or my enormous Apogee Diva speakers placed 6 feet from the back wall.

Comparatively the KEF Reference 5 Meta is a diminutive speaker visually.

Next we played Jon Cleary “So Swell” on NewVelle vinyl.

Only vacuum tubes were in use from the phono cartridge to the speakers. The room was filled with musical pleasure.

My buddy held his arm up to show the hair standing up on his arms while I was still drying my eyes from the previous recording.  Folks, nothing is more realistic than this for playback of recorded music!

Bass is unlike all the other big boxes that just go thump.  This is bass that is fully transparent to the changes of tone and pitch.  Bass is deeply capable and perfectly integrated to the rest of the speaker performance.

They are hand built by a single craftsman in England who makes sure they are perfectly matched pairs.

Pick a finish, place an order with us and we will build out this magical system for you.

Visit Shop to purchase