My name is Ken Presner. I am an audiophile. I also design high end audio power conditioners and accessories. Building a high end audio system is much more than a hobby for me. I am passionate about music. I went audio at a tender age. Have you gone audio?

My mother was the greatest musical influence in my life. My grandfather built and repaired radios in the 1920s while my mother was the secretary to Edgar Berliner, the former president of RCA Victor Canada. Edgar was the son of the inventor of the electroacoustic microphone and the phonograph record, Emile Berliner. My mother simply loved music. I went audio while listening to music from the womb. My mother enrolled me at the Royal Conservatory of Music where I trained as a classical pianist for 12 years.


A recent move has meant my beloved speaker system (below) is in storage for the next while. I am now in the process of creating a small headphone system so that I can resume enjoying my large collection of CDs.


Raidho C1.1 speakers
REL T3 subwoofer
PS Audio PerfectWave transport
PS Audio DS DirectStream DAC
Audio Horizons TP3.1 pre-amplifier with full mods
Atma-Sphere S-30 power amplifier with full mods
Lyngdorf RP-1
Monarchy Power Regenerator
Shunyata Triton Power Conditoner
Medical Grade Isolation Transformer

David Elrod Statement Gold power cord
A variety of Shunyata power cords and cables
Paul Speltz Anti-Cable interconnects and Zero Auto-Transformers
DIY power cords and interconnects using Futurech products
DIY silver speaker wires

10 Schumann resonance devices -- 4 with Chartres Coil
A variety of Bybee products
A variety of Audio Magic Products
5 IPC Acoustic Energizers
4 QRT Symphony Pro units
1 QRT ElectroClear EFC3X
4 Steinmusic Harmonizers
1 pair of Shakti Hallographs
Synergistic Reasearch ART with extra bowls
Kemp QA and SR plugs
Kemp Noise Eater
24 LOA Light of Arche
DIY HFRs based on the HFT concept -- via Franck Tchang
3 room treatment devices I have invented



I tried my best to become a concert pianist. My best was not good enough. Tapping my finger, my teacher one day asked why I kept hitting a wrong key. "That's my favorite key, Mrs. Kenton", I replied. Mrs. Kenton had a good sense of humor. She was also realistic. She said I should have been taking voice lessons. She was right. I still have a great love for singing -- and for the piano.

I have seen some great pianists perform live, including Eubie Blake, Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck. I recently read Oscar Peterson's autobiography and Robin Kelley's biography of Thelonious Monk. Something struck me about Peterson's book. There was no mention of Monk. But I discovered an interview:

"Interviewer: You don't mention Monk in the book. What was your attitude towards his playing?

Peterson: I didn't have an attitude towards his playing. [But Peterson then contradicts himself when hs says ... ] I didn't admire his playing. I admired his compositions. Look at it realistically. If you talk about pianists, and you say Thelonious Monk, would you say Art Tatum in the same voice ... There's a certain understanding or rapport that you gain with the piano ... But I don't feel pianistically that Thelonious Monk had it. That's one reason why he's not in the book. My mother always said if you can't say something nice, don't say anything!" But since Peterson admired Monk's compositions he declined the opportunity to mention this important aspect of Thelonious Monk's work in his book.

Peterson's comment about Monk and Tatum is clearly unfair because you would not mention the name of any modern jazz pianist except possibly Peterson, Hampton Hawes, Don Costa and few others in the same voice as Art Tatum. This is acknowledged by virtually everyone in the know, including jazz pianists.

But Peterson did not take his mother's advice. He did say something in the interview in this regard. It appears he had a definite attitude toward Monk's playing. When he stated Monk's lack of pianistic prowess is "... one reason he's not in the book ..." this begs the question, were there other reasons, as well?

Robin Kelley notes Peterson dominated the DownBeat Readers poll from 1948 into the 1960s. Monk never ranked #1 with Readers. But in their Critics Poll, Peterson was #1 in 1953. Monk was #1 in 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1961. Did this affect Peterson's attitude towards Monk? A YouTube interview may reveal somthing.

Peterson: "No piano history would be complete without mentioning Thelonious Monk [note the word "mentioning"]. Thelonious Monk epitomized the full extent of harmonic conception. He was a man that heard unusual harmonic clusters from the piano [he heard them ... but did not create them?] and he wrote these for various groups to play." Various groups to play? Monk's own group was the focus of his compositions. Monk created some beautiful (and dissonant) compositions that became classics. Peterson acknowledges at the end of the interview.

He went on to say, "I don't count him amongst the great players of the piano insofar as digital dexterity [meaning that he did not have Peterson's pyrotechnic ability] because he was much more pensive in that regard and he thought more of compositions and harmonic sequences. [This is a non sequitur. Monk's lack of pyrotechnic ability is not related to being pensive. It is simply the result of Monk having much shorter fingers than Peterson. Of course, Peterson was well aware of this. But he make it sound like Monk was simply dysfuntional in this area.] He came to us during the be-bop era and made it -- and helped to make it [correcting himself, not wanting to give Monk full credit] -- an important era of modern music.

Peterson then offered "a tribute to his great donation to the jazz world" by playing Monk's Round Midnight. That sounded like classic Peterson and not at all like a Monk rendition of his own work. Although Peterson was very capable of imitating the style of all modern Jazz pianists, as demonstrated in his interview with Dick Cavet, he did not attempt to immitate Monk while paying a Monk composition. This would have given Monk too much credit. Indeed, Monk has been quote as saying "Peterson never gave me any credit."

Was Peterson a jealous competitor? He must have been keenly aware of his own lack of creativity in the area of composition. So, if the situation were reversed and composition were put ahead of dexterity, the clear winner of that contest would be Monk. Which is perhaps why Peterson emphasized his strong point when "mentioning" Monk in his own version of the history of jazz. This clearly seems to be a back-handed putdown of Monk. Praise and criticism join hands in Peterson's "tribute" to Monk.

Dick Cavett did an interview with Peterson who beautifully imitated the styles of many jazz pianists -- without mentioning Monk. Was Peterson able to imitate Monk? Would doing so have placed Monk on the same level as the other jazz greats that Peterson highlighted?

Peterson saw Monk as a composer, not as a pianist. But Monk was both. He just didn't fit Peterson's idea of a jazz pianist in the Art Tatum tradition. Some people from the era say Monk could be lightning fast but consciously avoided speed for its own sake. It may be hard to find a pyrotechnical recording of Monk. But this is besides the point. Monk's well-deserved fame derived from his work as a composer and his playing style. The two are inseparable.

Let's say Peterson had died in 1982 and Monk commented, "I don't count Peterson amongst the great jazz composers insofar as he was not known for his compositions because he was much more pensive in that regard and he thought more of technique and digital dexterity. He came to us in the post-Tatum era and made it -- helped to make it -- an important era ... this is Oscar Peterson's Canadiana Suite." Which Monk proceeds to play a la Monk -- with dissonance and "clusters".

What about Peterson's comment about "digital dexterity"? Peterson did not need to advertise his own dexterity by making this back-handed comment about Monk's comparative lack of same. Peterson was gifted with large hands, a long baby finger & thumb, an amazing reach of 11 and was a master of the keyboard.

But Thelonious Monk -- as well as Count Basie and Erroll Garner -- were not gifted with large hands. Monk had a short thumb with his baby finger about half the length of his middle finger. What would have happened to his dexterity if his reach had been the same as Peterson's? What would have happened to Peterson's dexterity if his fingers had been as short as Monk's? Interesting thoughts. Peterson does not mention this in his comments on Monk.

Nellie Monk (Monk's wife) had this to say: "He [Monk] has smaller hands than most pianists, so he had to develop a different style of playing to fully express himself." Monk's hands were similar in size and shape to Count Basie's but Monk's hands were even more chunky than Basie's. The size of their hands and their short reach did not diminish the genius of Monk or Basie. In fact, their small hands made what Basie and Monk accomplished even more impressive. It is interesting to note that Peterson always held Basie in high regard -- inspite of his smaller hands. And what about the dimiutive genius Michel Petrucciani with his small hands? Look at how short his thmb and index fingers are.

Peterson and Monk were both great, but in different ways. I think this is what DownBeat critics were saying. Comparing dexterity, Peterson wins hands down -- although Monk is not the ham-handed pianist that Peterson would have us believe. Comparing compositions Monk wins, hands down. They were different facets of the same instrument. Monk never played a tune the same way twice. Peterson was the opposite. Peterson did little composing. He was an Art Tatum-inspired virtuoso. Tatum was his idol. He was arguably the best pianist among those who followed in Tatum's footsteps. Monk was an original stylist known for his compositions, many of which are classics.

Leonard Feather wrote about Monk in the Encyclopedia of Jazz: "Some musicians, notably pianists such as Oscar Peterson, have criticized Monk's technique and touch while acknowledging his value as a composer. On the other hand, pianist Bill Evans wrote of Monk: 'Make no mistake. This man knows exactly what he is doing in a theoretical way - organized, more than likely in a personal terminology, but strongly organized nevertheless. We can be further grateful to him for combining aptitude, insight, drive, compassion, fantasy, and whatever makes the total artist, and we should also be grateful for such direct speech in an age of insurmountable conformist pressures.'" Monk evoked a warm response in both critics and the listening public. Peterson cold never erase this fact.

Monk revealed in an interview, "Oscar Peterson never gave me any credit". Peterson never allowed Monk a seat with other jazz greats. He did not want Monk to sit in the same row as him -- although the critics may have thought otherwise. But Peterson and Monk both deserve a place in the front row. They both found their own way there.

If Peterson's view is correct and only those who have attained a superior level of pyrotechnics deserve a seat -- with the name Art Tatum lurking in the background -- then only Peterson and perhaps a handful of others including Bill Evans, Hampton Hawes, Phineas Newborn and Johnny Costa remain seated. But not only those who are highly dextrous deserve to be seated in the front row of jazz piano. Otherwise it would be a very boring place reserved only for speedy players. Thank goodness there is plenty of room for Monk and Garner and others in the first row.


Audiogon's "community" caters to special interests. It allows members to comment only if they don't step on any toes -- i.e. its advertisers. Audiogon is "moderated" with a heavy hand i.e. censored. Many of my posts have been declined. I am not alone. Whenever I comment on Synergistic Research, Grover Huffman or Hegel the censor lurks.

Forum censorship and general incompetence at Audiogon, shown by the debacle of their site make-over a few years ago, have discouraged many people from participating on the forum. It seems that incompetence, a who-cares attitude and plain stupidity have become normal, encouraging audiophiles to gravitate to other sites. If people could find a better place to sell their gear many would avoid Audiogon.

Here is a link to an interesting thread entitled Fraud and Censorship on Audiogon. It includes these comments:

"I would never do business through that site [Audiogon], the owners of it don't seem to be real interested in keeping it safe [from hacking and fraud]".

"Finally, to rub salt into the wound, when I tried to share my experience [about fraud on Audiogon] with other Audiogoners, their moderators refused to post my comment on their forums."

Here is a link to an interesting forum on Audiogon. It includes these comments:

"In short, not only is the new Audiogon technically deficient, fraud is now rife on Audiogon, and they censor and whitewash their forums in an attempt to prevent their users from finding out. I would warn everyone buying anything from Audiogon to be wary of these fraudsters and Audiogon's completely useless "security" and general negligence."

Here is a link to interesting observations about Audiogon corruption and censorship. It includes these comments:

"If you want to shill products on Audiogon, even in their forums, just pay them some money and they'll let you do / say / get away with anything you want. If someone questions the ethics of those shilling their products or the ethics of Audiogon for allowing them to shill with their full approval, they'll ban / censor that person from posting. By keeping those that want to expose corruption and promote honest business practices quiet, they maintain their leverage and income from those doing the shilling."

I think it's clear that, unless Audiogon makes a concerted effort to change direction, they may be surprised one day to find someone else taking their spot as the world's #1 audio site.


Below is one of many Audiogon posts of mine that were declined.


I cannot comment on a comparison between the Bricasti M1 DAC and the PS Audio DS DAC since I have not heard them side by side in the same system. But a big plus with PS Audio is their firmware upgrade program. It's like getting a new improved DS DAC every few months free of charge. My guess is that the new Yale firmware, much better than Yale beta and Pike, may perhaps bring the DS DAC close to the Bricasti M1 and even the Berkeley Reference DAC. I agree with Ozzy that the frequency response is very natural with Yale. I find the highs especially improved. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has done side-by-side comparisons using the DS, M1 and Berkeley Reference DACs.

Unfortunately, the PS Audio forum does not do justice to their DS DAC, IMO. Unlike the Audiogon forum, the PS forum has a weak and intolerant moderator. IMO, a forum is where people can agree to disagree as long as they are respectful. The PS moderator allows unseen hands (knowledgeable and wealthy forum members, he calls them) to enter by the back door and whisper in his ear. He follows their lead. If they don't like what they hear the moderator either moves a thread somewhere else or closes it altogether. Very courageous. LOL.

At least the Audiogon forum lets folks express themselves freely [LOL, since this post was declined by Audiogon -- Ken Presner]. In the past, Audiogon discussions sometimes got out of hand. That was lamentable. But I have yet to see where contrary opinions are cut off summarily by any Audiogon moderator. Audiogon is a very tolerant place. [LOL once again -- Ken Presner]

It is unfortunate that the PS Audio forum does not mirror the dedicated team that put together the DS DAC and who work hard at improving the DS with great firmware upgrades."


The following thread (initiated by another Audigon member) disappeared recently from the Audiogon forum:

HEGEL - Is it really made in Norway?

The thread was a discussion about the deceptive practices of Hegel whose components are stamped NORWAY on the back but are really Made in China. Here is the link to the cached copy on Google where you can still read the full thread that was deleted by Audiogon:

Link 1

Oops -- Audiogon has sucessfully taken this down. Censorship is alive and well on Audiogon.

I have just discovered another relevant link.

Read here.

Here is the link to another thread on Hegel initiated by me on the forum:

Link 2

So far, this thread is still up but it could disappear as mysteriously as the aforementioed one without notice. Audiogon is into censorship. They whittle down their membership list along the way. They probably did not know how to cope with their success and had to find a way to cut back. Bravo Audiogon!

Ooops -- I spoke too soon. Audiogon pulled that thread down, too. But I just found a cached copy on Google where you can still read this thread deleted by Audiogon:

Link 3

Ooops -- Audiogon has successfully taken this down. Censorship is alive and well on Audiogon.


I have bought and sold a lot of audio equipment on Audiogon and Ebay over the years. My experience is that the vast majority of buyers and sellers are honest. But there are always a few bad apples in the barrel. This is a short review of the bad apples I have had the misfortune to come across. It includes 2 surprises -- Rick Schultz of High Fidelity Cables and Peter, the UK distributor for Einstein Audio.



This seller's QRT Symphony Pro arrived DOA but the seller took no responsibility. It had clearly been tampered with. The back plate had been removed and replaced backwards, with the screws improperly screwed back on. I sent pictures to the seller who denied any tampering. He offered no compensation and no apology. Audiogon would not allow me to post negative feedback.


This seller shipped me a damaged Steinmusic Harmonizer -- one of 2 units I bought from him. The package was in perfect condition but the unit itself was cracked on one corner. This means the unit was not damaged in transit. The seller admitted he had not even inspected the 2 Harmonizers before shipping. He was simply reselling them. He took no responsibility and offered no compensation. And no apology. But he did offer a healthy dose of disrespect in his messages. He happens to be Rick Schultz of High Fidelity Cables.

Texasnissan123 (now banned from Audiogon)

The seller received payment for Jena cables -- but did not ship the goods.



I purchased a quad of Siemens Cca tubes from this seller. One tube arrived DOA. The seller said I must have caused the problem. I must have inserted the tube incorrectly. I have been inserting tubes correctly for years, thank you. Or my equipment must have been faulty. My equipment is fine, thank you. He took no responsibility and offered no compensation. His name is Peter and he is the UK distributor for Einstein Audio.


This seller promised a refund for his B&K model 707 tube tester that arrived damaged -- and DOA. But he never made good on his promise after I returned the tester to him at my expense. To top things off, his messages were liberally spiced with abusive language and cursing.


I am a very enthusiastic owner of the PS Audio DirectStream DAC. So, I joined the DS forum a while back to participate in the discussion. Ted Smith created the DS and posts to the forum. He creates free software upgrades and seeks ideas from the forum to improve the DS. The 2016 Torreys software advanced DS into world class DAC territory.

Exceedingly knowledgeable and wealthy ...
now that's impressive

Unfortunately, the DS forum, moderated by Eric Koch, is not up to the quality of the DAC. It is a private club pretending to be an open forum. The moderator is backed by "exceedingly knowledgeable, experienced and wealthy" friends [his words in a private message] whose existence is hidden from the forum. They are the "authority" behind the forum.


Hiding behind a 2-way mirror, the forum VIPs keep tabs on the forum and pigeon-hole participants. I wonder why they don't step out in the open and join the discussion? If they are as authoritative as they and the moderator seem to think then what have they to fear? Do they fear losing the power that anonymity offers by not being answerable to anyone?

"Hello ... is anyone there?"

Sodium bicarbonate

Unlucky targets are labelled "arrogant" & accused of "claiming impressive credentials, abilities, knowledge or resources" [the moderator's words]. The "experts" co-opt that domain for themselves. They judge who deserves to be heard and who needs to be silenced.

"DS DAC Hotline -- how may I help you?""

When the forum VIPs get upset they contact the moderator on his Hotline and he does their bidding -- censoring those voices they find irksome. The need to suppress opinions reveals PS Audio with a very weak underbelly.

Someone just posted to the PS forum ...
time to reach for a bicarb and the VIP Hotline

You would think wealthy "experts" would have more important things to do than hang around an audio forum watching for opinions they disagree with. Maybe they are retirees or shareholders looking out for the bottom line. In any case, Eric Koch says the "experts" are "not easily impressed" [his words]. Wow -- that's impressive! Not being easily impressed is a very important qualification for an "expert". And wealth puts the icing on the cake.


Kidding aside, the moderator and his friends think a valuable function is being served with an elite in charge of the forum. But it is plain to see that "experts" create a mess everywhere -- economic, intelligence, military medical, etc. Government statistics show that medical "experts" kill 250,000 people a year (legally) in the US via drug interactions and other medical malpractice. Only true "experts" could accomplish such a great task.

I was lucky. I was given up by "medical experts" when I was paralysed with MS in 1989 and was given up for dead by more medical "experts" after I nearly died of Crohn's disease in 1994. I went my own way and am in perfect health in 2021 -- not by accident, as My Recovery Protocol explains.

They must know what they're doing

A real expert

Audio is not in the same universe as the medical world. But look at the mess "exceedingly knowledgeable experts" have created, turning the forum into a mockery. My experience has taught me to question all "experts" in all fields. Independence of mind saved my life. It also works for audio.

To establish his credentials, the moderator lets us know he is a professional recording engineer. Wow. To prove his expertise he says the guitar of Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor don't sound like guitar. Wow. I must have got it wrong. Eric Koch says only classical guitar sounds like guitar. You need to turn to classical music to hear real guitar. Will do.

One of the Eric Koch's favorite records


When you join the forum you should also sign up for Politically Correct Listening 101 (PCL-101). Otherwise beware ... you'll get jumped on if you sound like you know what you're talking about. Even if you're right you'll be accused of sounding knowledgeable (the exclusive domain of the "experts") and being arrogant, which they know quite a bit about.

Eric Koch's Avatar
"It's not easy being a moderator"

In any case, if "audio political correctness" is not your bag you will run into trouble. Even uttering "in my opinion" on the forum can get you into hot water. My advice is to take Politically Correct Language 101 to get up to speed on correct forum behavior. And do not use the words "monkey business" on the forum -- or you'll be up the forum creek.

If you cross an unwritten line or touch a raw nerve on the fourm be prepared to visit The Shell Game with the moderator shuffling threads here and closing threads there to cut off discussion. Here he is giving a demo. He recently switched to larger shells to get the job done more efficiently.

Try this experiment. Listen to Dave Brubeck's Take 5, any version. Then list to track 9 on Oscar Peterson's remastered The Sound of The Trio. Both are from the same era. As you can hear, the SQ of Brubeck doesn't come close to Peterson. Which one is better for evaluating a DAC? Shhh ... don't say anything. The word "better" is verboten. Some folks may take it personally.

Challenge the forum ... make my day

Eric Koch invites people to challenge the forum but merely pays lip service to openness. He and his friends found my opinions intolerable. So he cut off discussion then invited me to challenge the forum -- which is exactly what I had been doing. I walked away from the mockery.

Unfortunately, PS Audio has not figured out that marginalizing voices they disagree with is not great marketing, and that letting everyone speak their mind is not only the basis for an authentic forum but is also good for business.

PS Audio really nailed the product with the DS but they got the hammer squarely on the thumb with the forum by running it as an exclusive venue. Remember Chuck Berry? The forum should adopt a theme from this Rock & Roll legend.

Too Much Monkey Business
On the famous Chess record label

Ted Smith

Software upgrades have transformed the DS into a world class DAC. Ted Smith looks to the forum for ideas to create a better DAC. But prospective participants who are not members of the old boys' club may be discouraged from participating when they learn how the forum is run.

Ted Smith

Ted Smith works in the shadow of a group that contradicts his interests. If he wanted to, he could insist the forum be open to everyone -- instead of pretending that it is. But he looks the other way. He probably figures he gets enough input from the old boy's club. No point in tangling with the forum's elite for the sake of an extra opinion here or there.

Paul McGowan

Paul McGowan, the owner of PS Audio, deems himself lucky to have Eric Koch, a moderator with professional credentials willing to work without pay. Let's be realistic. I imagine there are some unadvertised percs for the moderator to compensate for the missing paycheck. Perhaps this is where the VIPs and PS Audio largesse enter the picture -- unannounced on the forum.

Paul McGowan

Although he sometimes joins the discussion, Paul maintains neutrality. It is likely that the actions of the moderator and his friends reflect Paul's biases. Otherwise, I imagine Paul would set things straight via the VIP Hotline. It is no accident the forum oscillates between obsequiousness and rah-rah.

Free pompoms at the door

Paul planned the forum as a division of his Marketing Department. While PS is happy when folks speak with open wallets they don't want people to speak uncensored. PS treats the forum like a muzzled dog on a short leash. The result is a world class DAC juxtaposed with a control-obsessed forum reserved for insiders. Paul seems like a nice fellow in his videos -- but his forum needs an upgrade -- badly. DS DAC customers who spend hard-earned thousands on PS audio equipment deserve a forum that welcomes all opinions, not only those of forum insiders.

The box

Regarding sound quality, even a top DAC needs help. I have worked on room treatment ideas for years with good results. Paul has acknowledged he has never seen another system with as many room treatment accessories as mine. I have over 100 carefully integrated devices. More to come.

I have also invented 3 sound enhancement devices and have sourced a device from Asia (unknown in the West). My observations come from a unique perspective. But I am not the only independent researcher around. Although the cognoscenti may think they have seen it all they have not. No one has. Despite Paul's apparent openness, "exceedingly knowledgeable" VIPs scoff at "outsiders" with "impressive" ideas. Try to talk about this matter on the forum ... and watch the fur fly.

The forum cognoscenti

Drawing parallels, the forum VIPs remind me of medical "experts" who had my case figured out and scoffed when I questioned the system. I stepped outside the box, discovered some things and recovered from 2 "incurable" diseases they still declare incurable -- MS and Crohn's disease. I then excoriated the medical system that sanctions lethal practices. And I continue to do so on my site and in my books.

No monkey business ...
you get the picture

The audio context is obviously not in the same league as the medical context. In the latter case I found the solution outside the box. In the case of audio I found part of the solution outside the box. In the process I have found it a waste of time trying to talk to "experts" who have seen it all and already know it all -- with hands over their eyes and fingers in their ears. Now, I visit the PS Audio site to check for new software, avoiding the forum until they change their ways. But I am not holding my breath.

where yesterday's must-haves ...
become today's hasbeens

Ted Denney, lead designer and owner of Synergistic Research, has been called both an innovator and a hypster. Is he a bit of both? On Audiogon comments on companies are often censored. But here there is no one to tow-tow to. Stepping on toes is all in a day's work. So, here goes.

Besides catering to deep pockets, SR panders to those with basic systems who dream of top-tier sound. From a marketing standpoint Basik versions sound better than Basic versions. But you cannot cover up everything with the letter K. SR systems at audio shows have un-basic prices of $100,000++.

Like other audio companies, SR's agenda is to get folks on the treadmill. To get things rolling they offer cures for audio discontent. Audiophiles make SR's job a easier since they are perpetually yearning for Audio Nirvana. So, SR offers a lower noise floor and wider sound stage with each new product.

The background is always getting blacker at SR ...

For the low end of the market, SR's mission is to convince people their "game-changers" can turn an audio sow's ear into a silk purse. Those who get on the treadmill often end up proud owners of abandoned technology. So, come to the party with deep pockets and prepare for a long haul.

Turning a sow's ear into a silk purse ...
all in a day's work at SR

SR recently announced all active shielding products are history, including Tesla cables and the Transporter that replaced famously maddening Mini Power Couplers (MPCs) a.k.a. AC adapters. Thousands of folks spent big $$ on hoopla-ed technology that now has a new home --in The SR Audio Closet. New cats' meows have arrived.

Up-trade -- the math tells the story

SR creates new products at such a rate it's hard to keep up. If you join the party at the Basik level you will need deep pockets to keep moving up. Luckily for SR there is no end in sight. You may be tempted to join the SR bait and switch game with a trade-up program rigged in favor of the house.

Doing the math

To trade up you need to buy a product or products twice the value of those you are trading in. You receive 70% credit. For example, if you want to trade your $5000 PowerCell for MKI you receive $3500 but you have to purchase $10,000 worth of new SR products.

You can see where this is going. If you want to trade up to MKII and MKIII you need to buy $35,000 worth of products. You receive $10,500 in rebates. There are many audio companies that treat customers well with upgrading. SR is not there. Ted Denney was annoyed when I stated this on Audiogon. He likes to protect his image while his hands are in your wallet.

Comments on Audiogon can sometimes make or break a product. Touchy Ted takes time out from his busy schedule to monitor Audiogon and jumps all over anyone who criticizes his company.

Ted Denney is always on top of things
on Audiogon

I hit a nerve when I showed how fast one version of SR PowerCell power conditioners follows the next. Ted came out of his corner in fighting spirit. SR destroys the resale value of their products at high speed.

It looks like Ted is up to his old tricks again ... getting on the Audiogon Hotline when he gets upset with my postings. Two of my recent posts have been removed from a forum thread entitled "Placement Tips for Synergistic Research HFTs". But there is still a cached copy here. Here are the two posts that were removed from the thread:

Post 1.

I note there is a lot of talk here about $1 resonators. It looks like some folks are getting great mileage from their "cheap knock offs." Not good. Is there any way they can be reported? There must be some law against this that can be enforced so that those who sell the original tiny $100 resonator cups can make a living. Ted Denney of Synergistic Research was really smart. He patented his bowls and resonators -- after thinking hard about Franck Tchang's invention while sailing solo for 3 years around the South Pacific. Ooops ... my typo. Ted actually made his own discovery after seeing some Tibetan singing bowls floating in the ocean swells. Anyway, whatever the case, Ted had 3 years to think things over, sailing between the typhoons and monsoons. At least he can sue for patent infringement. I pity those poor souls trying to peddle their tiny $100 resonator cups with no patent behind them -- and Ted looking over their shoulder with legal counsel in tow. I wonder ... can you patent pebbles? Ted doesn't do pebbles, not yet anyway. Lol.

Post 2.

I think if Ted could find a way to patent pebbles he would definitely go for it. You can make 60 to 100 of your own "tiny cheap knock off" resonators for the price of a single SR HFT. But don't tell anyone. Shhhh. You could find yourself on the wrong side of the law -- and, more importantly, on the wrong side of some folks on the forum. You definitely do not want to risk that. Lol.

There are lots of Edsels
in The SR Audio Closet

Customers usually take a significant loss when selling, or else yesterday's must-haves become today's hasbeens in The SR Audio Closet. Audiogon is flooded with used SR products.

SR must-haves ...
destined to become famous hasbeens

If you had purchased a full loom of Teslas and received the news that your superlative-laden Tesla Apex were no longer superlative with the arrival of Elements and then Atmospheres, it would have cost a fortune to trade up level after level to the top of the SR ladder. SR never advertises the math. Atmosphere, the new cat's meow, will also become redundant. Wait & see.

One game-changer ... after another

You may notice SR only introduces game-changers -- PowerCells, Master Couplers, Galileos, Tranquility Bases, Quantum Fuses, HFTs, UEFs, FEQs and ECTs, & Tesla, Element and Atmosphere cables -- and all the recently-abandoned active shielding products. Superlatives are attached to each product while improvement in SQ is usually only incremental. You pay through the nose for each increment -- and each superlative.

More game-changers are coming -- with more superlatives. The advertising for Element and Atmosphere sounds like recycled Tesla & Master Coupler copy. Remember the good old days when SR superlatives were in their infancy, making small improvements sound spectacular. "Apex is a paradigm shift in cable performance ... [a] no compromise interconnect for the listener who wants it all."

Don't close your wallet. SR has a mountain of accessories. Galileo cells were the cat's meow, long since dead. Then came MIG couplers -- game-changers that needed improvement. There is a new version.

Ted Denney ...
announcing the latest SR game-changer

How about ART room treatment -- a $3000 game-changer? Ted had to think up a story to get folks to put these small bowls on the walls. He says he was inspired by Tibetan bowls while sailing solo across the South Pacific for 3 years. Franck Tchang of ASI International was already selling his resonator bowls with great results. Maybe a coincidence. Maybe not.

Ted works in the shadow of a genius but doesn't mention Franck Tchang. And there is no mention of sailing solo for 3 years through torrential monsoon rains. Never mind. Ted took out a patent after following Franck from the South Pacific.

Nothing worth noting ...
except Tibetan bowls

SR recently introduced new game-changers. Steinmusic, Enacom and Bybee already had similar products on the market when Ted decided to bring out his XOTs, received with mixed reviews & no comparison to the competition -- then announced HFTs with a touch of grandiosity as "the culmination of my life's work" -- without mentioning Franck Tchang.

Mr. Tchang gave credit to a Hong Kong audiophile friend who used a flattened 5-cent piece to transform the sound of his system -- to Franck's amazement. Franck took it from there after his friend declined to join him in business. Ted Denney gives credit to no one. He just files for patent.

for Ted's aluminum pimples

Never mind. According to customers, it looks like Ted has a winner with HFTs. I hope so, at $60 for each aluminum pimple. SR says you need spend up to $2400 to make the HFT system work -- plus up to 10 ECTs in each component ($600 per component) and a $1000 FEQ game-changer to top things off. Sounds like audio heaven for SR.

I spoke too soon. There is a new version of HFTs. Did you notice? HFTs are identical to ECTs except the color. And the price is identical. In their video SR folks spill ECTs inside components without before/after testing. The more the merrier, they say -- and the accounting department agrees.

SR is aided by Peter Breuninger of avshowrooms.com who shills for SR in a comic YouTube, staring at the camera with his head bobbing in agreement like a dashboard ornament, while Peter Hansen of SR counts out HFTs as if teaching kindergarten arithmetic. AVshowrooms needs a serious makeover.

for my copper pimples

Never mind. Being curious, I decided to experiment by making my own HFRs (High Frequency Resonators). I like to save money and I like DIY. Using my own placements and Franck Tchang's the sound is transformed. HFRs may not be HFTs but who cares? They do a great job. I will upgrade them soon with crystals -- like SR's.

So, thanks to Ted Denney for a great innovation (based on the unaccredited work of Franck Tchang) that can be replicated at home. Are you willing to spend $60 on HFTs you can make yourself for $1? I made 70 HFRs at a cost of $70 vs. $4,200 for 70 HFTs. You might want to try this out.

How deep are your pockets?

SR products used to have long names but now have 3 letters -- XOT, ECT, HFT, FEQ, MPC, UEF & RED fuses -- and Tranquility Bases for components (the Basik is only $1000). Here's the math for a basic set-up.

4 sets of HFTs $1200
1 FEQ $1000
1 pair of XOTs $400
1 regular Tranquility Base under each of 4 components $8000
4 sets of ECTs $1200. You may need up to 8 sets.

Total: $11,800 -- and this is just for starters.

Not included

System components and cables
PowerCell power conditoner
Black Box
Acoustic Panels
Atmosphere tuning module
Grounding block
New versions
Uptrades and upgrades

The Big SR Splash ...
can get you into deep $$ water before you know it

The music does not wrap around you in a live concert but SR is leading us in that direction. Congratulations, you have finally arrived at SR's virtual audio reality. After laying out big $$, your background is so black you think you went blind, your sound stage is so wide you need a car to get to the other end, and the music wraps around your head.

But ... here come 3 new game-changers. Darn it. And you thought you had "got there". Are you prepared to shell out for The New Big Splash after you already reached deep down for your hasbeens? Are you willing to pay through the nose knowing it is a whole new ball game again?

Is it ever enough?

Music is as much about spirit as it is about gear. How much more gear do we need? How much will it cost? When is enough, enough? If enough is never enough can we get creative to cut the cost of this expensive "hobby"?

What's it all about?

Ted Denney is both an innovator and a hypster. There will always be new game-changers. SR is not unique but they vie for top honors in high end audio. Are you ready to jump on the treadmill each time audio companies ring the bell? Has the time arrived to get off, get inventive in whatever way you can, and just enjoy the music?

Please note this article should be read as light entertainment by SR's favorite customers -- those for whom money is no object.

where the ear is underwhelmed
but there is more than meets the eye

Grover Huffman is a well-known boutique maker of audio cables. His cables are inexpensive and offer good value for the money. But are they as good as some people say and as good as the maker claims? Or are they simply good value for the money?

After being initially impressed with his cables I came to the conclusion that they cannot be compared to any really good cables in high end audio, even with the addition of a special element that Grover co-opted -- along with the trade name -- when we were partners in 2013. His cables fall short because they create weak harmonics which creates a thin sound with poor tonality, as well as unimpressive sound stage and imaging. They do not turn an audio sow's ear into a high end audio silk purse.

In March, 2014, I started an Audiogon thread entitled "Grover Huffman or David Elrod". I stuck strictly to the topic of comparing the patented ribbon cables from these two boutique cable makers. All my posts were deleted by Audiogon. The gist of my remarks was that the patenting process and the ribbon design do not necessarily mean the result will be superior cables.

Both Grover Huffman cables and David Elrod cables are patented and both have ribbon designs. But Elrod cables are light years ahead of Grover Huffman cables in terms of sound quality. Anyone who compares these cables will easily hear the difference. It is not subtle. While David Elrod cables are far more expensive than Grover Huffman cables, Grover would have people believe his cables can compete with the best. The truth is that they cannot. Huffman cables sound truly anemic beside the competition.

"Grover Huffman -- More Than Meets the Eye" was the title of a thread I started on Audiogon in Feb. 2014. It was about the "other side" of Grover Huffman -- the side most people do not get to see. Although there was nothing offensive in my posts the thread quickly disappeared from Audiogon's forum. It contained a post by an Audiogon member who commented that Grover Huffman was guilty of "plagiarism, at the very least". I will explain the reason for his observation.

In 2013 Grover Huffman and I were partners on a special audio project that involved the creation of a new kind of power conditioner that I designed. It used 2 elements that have been out there for a while in varous forms but that have never before, as far as I am aware of, been incorporated into a power conditioner. It took a reluctant Grover months to sign a non-disclosure agreement with me. But when he finally did he was astounded by the results of our collaboration after he transformed my design into a working prototype. But then he started smelling opportunity. This later reminded me of the opportunity he smelled a number of years ago when he partnered with Michael Wolff. After they parted ways, Grover was forced to state the following on an Internet forum:

"I have NOT co-opted Michael Wolff's coating, and will not be using his innovations."

I was not so fortunate in my partnership with Grover. Knowing I live overseas and that I have no legal recourse, Grover immediately co-opted my innovations. Although they have been out there for a while, Grover was clearly inspired by the work I had done and by the months it took for me to convince him to try out my ideas.

Once Grover signed the non-disclosure agreement and was in the know, without consulting with me, he added a special coating to his cables based on my idea. He did not give me any credit and he did not offer me any compensation for the improvements he made to his cables. Since he was using my idea in a modified form, he said he was entitled to use my idea as he wished. He has recently stated that he has plans to incorporate into his cables the second element that I presented to him.

Grover was willing to share the profits with me that might accrue from the sale of power conditioners. But he stated clearly that he had no intention of sharing any cable profits with me, although he publicly announced I was the designer of the power conditioner that inspired him to take my idea for his cables. Not surprisingly, my trust in Grover Huffman came face to face with the reality of an opportunistic and unethical partner. And a bully. I proceeded to withodraw from the project.

I eventually sold off all my Huffman cables on Audiogon. One of the cables I sold was signed Magic Cable by Grover. The "magic" was the addition of my innovation. Nevertheless, respecting my non-disclosure agreement with Grover, I refused to tell the Audiogon buyer anything about the content of the cable when he pressed me for details about Grover Huffman Magic Cables. Grover emailed me that the buyer had contacted him for an explanation of the difference between his regular cables and his Magic Cables. On the basis of the name being disclosed to this Audiogon buyer, Grover decided to go public and breach our non-disclosure agreement by producing Magic Cables without attribute or credit to me.

Grover says he is now intending to take the name Magic Cables for his own -- with the intention of profiting from my work and my considerable investment. What I discovered with Grover was an eager opportunist and an unrepentant bully prepared to take advantage of a partner who was acting in good faith. He acted with a sense of entitlement, knowing he could get away with it because I live overseas and am too far removed to do anything about it.

Grover could not get away with "co-opting" (better known as stealing) anything from Michael Wolff because their partnership attracted attention. Michael was a known US cable maker, and he had a following. This was not my case. My remote location and the fact that I am unknown in high end audio gave Grover an opportunity he could not resist. He saw the open door and dashed through it without hesitation.

But there's more. Grover is a devout Christian. He cultivates the image of a moral businessman. He lets friends know that only good Christians make it to the here-after, and hell and damnation await those not of his persuasion. Then it occurred to me. In wonder how Grover, in good conscience, can take cable orders from non-Christians? Musically, he reminds me of the Louvin Brothers, forever singing about God and sinners. Lamentably, religion and hypocrisy often go hand in hand. Some Buddhists run to the temple on the weekend to "make merit" after indulging in mischief all week. And some Christians run to Church on Sunday after a week of shenanigans. In case you may be wondering, many of my friends are Buddhist and Christian.

I confronted Grover over his un-Christian actions, aware that hypocrisy was nigh. He stated he was not worried. He did no wrong in our partnership and, after all, he and I are not going to the same place after this life since we are not of the same religion. Grover presumes he is going to a better place when he passes on because he has the right religious affiliation, and will therefore be judged appropriately.

Maybe. But I believe God judges our motives and actions on an equal basis -- no matter what our religious affiliation and no matter how fervent our beliefs. We are all God's children. I believe God looks for goodness and the truth, irrespective of religion. Otherwise, there would be only mockery and righteousness would depend on religious affiliation -- like party politics. I don't believe God allows wrong actions for those in the "right" religion no matter how fervent and self-righteous the believer. I do not believe God is fooled by merit-makers or Sunday pietists.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6:7


Z REVIEWS is a YouTube channel run by Zeos Pantero. He reviews headphones and associated gear and has quite a following. The problem with his reviews is that he uses the F word so often that I find this a totally unnecessary and frankly stupid distraction from the content of his observations. He will never make it to the audio print review world. I can just imagine John Darko in print or video peppering his comments with F**K and F*****G. Ridiculous is the word that comes to mind. Pantero may be pandering to a certain audience with his style. Frankly, I find it difficult to take anyone seriously who finds it necessary to F***K his way through an audio review.

Here is a recent example of Pantero's linguistic prowess on YouTube. Don't get me wrong. I am quite capable to tolerating and even using expletives when called for. But in my humble opinion, an audio review does not require F*****G to get the point across.

Ken Presner
August 5, 2019