I will give you a little background on myself and my company. I have been doing direct A/B testing on audio products for over 40 years. As of Sept 2018 I have personally auditioned 450 plus different speaker models, slightly over 400 different cable models, 75 different digital front ends including 30 plus servers, 68 different conditioning systems, tons and tons of amplifiers and far too many preamplifiers. Here is my opinion; speakers are personal preference and you should find a great amplifier that matches the efficiency of that speaker while deciding what genre of music you play most of the time. Also decide if you are a SET type listener or not.
I believe that the system starts from the wall receptacle out or if you go one step further, your panel out. Quality receptacles do make a difference and the power cable from your quality receptacle is one of your most important cables in your system. Until recently I did prefer a passive conditioner plugged into a quality receptacle and a quality power cord from that receptacle to the passive conditioner. But all that changed when I received my first Inakustik 3500P conditioner. Truthfully I could go into audiophile detail about the 3500P but all I will say is that it is the most important piece of equipment in my system and it has changed my opinion on what conditioning should do in a high end system. Here is a link to the Inakustik 3500P;
All other conditioning I have tested, including regeneration, balanced conditioning and capacitance based conditioning had positive attributes but also many negatives. Lastly on conditioning, if you have a hum or buzz in your system, isolate that piece of equipment where the hum or buzz is coming from and solve that problem but do not mask it with conditioning.
Now a days I prefer a digital front end versus an analogue front end but again this is just preference. The music players I have tested include Rockna, all Sonore products, all the Lumin products up to $12900 USD S1, top 2 Antipodes players, DS and DX models, 3 Aurender players, Total dac server (very nice but only when using the matching Total dac) and several units like Cocktail and Auralic that were very average. My favorite server and dac I have tested is the Rockna dacs with the Rockna WD Net server. If you want your audio system completely off your computer than I highly recommend using the Rockna WD Net with the built in SSD, plugged directly into a Rockna dac via i2s connection. This combination was much better than anything we tested by a large margin. I also want to mention that we tested many dacs and servers costing 2-3 times more than the Rockna products and the Rockna products were still audibly superior. We have a store in NY that sells our Rockna line up and they put together million dollar systems. The owner of the store has clearly told me that the Rockna Signature dac and the Rockna WD Net server bettered his previous favorite 150K MSB Stack 2 and 20K Aurender W20 server. Personally I have not heard that combo but I am not surprised to hear that the Rockna product competes at that price point. Rockna has a world class designer and they use very high quality parts which results in a stunning sounding product.
In regard to cables; I believe most cables are a pure scam unless the cable manufacture builds their cables from the ground up with some sort of proprietary technology. You might think this is a harsh and an unfair statement but most cable manufactures, including many well marketed cable manufactures, just buy a roll of cable and put a pretty sleeve on that cable and then add some expensive ends to the cable, while calling it “The Ultimate Cable”. Truth is, it is just a dressed up roll of very average sounding bulk cable. Again this might sound harsh but if you have swapped out 10-20 different cable models than you probably just swapped out different rolls of bulk cable. If you want to experience what a cable should do or in Inakustik’s case, not do than try Inakustik cables. Basically the best cables should the least amount of effect on a system and this is why we love Inakustik cables; they just disappear.
Inakustik cables, manufactured in Germany, is my personal favorite cable manufacture. Inakustik cables has sold over 15 million cables worldwide and last year Inakustik cables sold over 7000 Reference cables with virtually no Reference Inakustik cables on the used market. This tells me people are buying and keeping Inakustik Reference cables. The Cross Link Super Speed waveguides technology, say that twice in a row, is very unique and is actually a huge advancement in cable technology. In this technology individual conductors are not touching each other within the cable structure and are floating in air. The copper wires, which is razor-thin and lacquer coated on each individual cable strand has extra insulation and is braided around a PE core. This design considerably increases stability inside the waveguide by effectively preventing the formation of eddy currents. (These are caused by the very high currents transmitted on the speaker cables – actually the highest ones within the entire audio path.) There are several other technological advancements that make Inakustik cables proprietary but the only thing that matters is, you can audibility hear the difference. Here is a link to Inakustik proprietary cable design.
As you can see I have real opinions and after over 40 years of A/B testing of products, I feel it is OK to give you my opinions based on my research. I am not jumping on some forum and giving you an opinion on what my friend heard or what some other person thought but rather real, live A/B testing. Am I biased towards the brands I represent, absolutely but this is based on many years of experience and owning far too much equipment. Although there are some well marketed products in North America I have decided to distribute mostly European audio lines because I feel that there are some real “hidden gems” in Europe and we as audiophiles should have excess to the next level.
I hope this has helped you to understand me and the brands my company represents.