Audiophile Systems Review - #4 - October, 1995

Introduction By Geoff Armstrong


The following article is by Steven Rochlin, who is an AUDIO DEALER. His business centers mainly around Audio Note products. One thing is for sure, this guy has plenty of enthusiasm!

I personally do not own any Audio note products; and have only heard the Io cartridge, which I must admit sounded eerily realistic on a Voyd table with a SME V tonearm. I do own a Voyd, which is the table Steven uses and is also the table which has been championed by Peter Qvortrup, the Audio Note distributer based in the UK.




Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun :-{)+ (Pink Floyd). The single-ended tube "sun" to be exact! So ya' wanna know what makes me go coo-coo 'bout me music reproduction system huh? Cool. Here's the deal, kind cyberspace readers out there:

I got these toys here that reproduce music fairly well. Some who have heard music played through my system even say it, like, rules or something um huh huh um huh.

Please keep in mind that's in my opinion and others who have dropped by for a listen. And DARN well it should deliver the goods for the money I parleyed out for 'em!

On first base we got a VOYD, a cipher, a null, a black hole a... OK, OK. I'll stop joking here for a second. The VOYD is a really cool turntable I use. I even gots me all Audio Note silver wire and stuff for it. Yep, even the Io-2 cartridge I use is by Audio Note.

For speaks I gots me some KEF 104/2s and an M+K MX 2000 subschnauser (I nickname all my toys by the way. You'll learn more 'bout THAT later).

The phono stage I use is the Audio Note M2.

Now what about my amplifier you ask?

No problemmo, here's the deal:

You see, my oldest brother died of HIV (aids) last year, and on his death bed he told me,"Enjoy life. You never know when your time will come." So what was I to do? After the mourning, I canceled buying the home I was looking at and parleyed all my stash and then some, so I could get me a little "space heater".

This space heater has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined!!! It even cooks marshmallows too :-{)+ .

All those who have heard my music reproduction system leave by either saying some VERY nasty words to me and/or finally realize why I am so nuts 'bout my junk (I say "junk" in a lovin' way).

They could have a space heater too one day. Ya' know what, I feel everyone should at least hear this toy too. It LITERALLY changed my life for the better. OK, OK, enough with the suspense, here's the "really cool night light" I got...

So what's this really cool night light, space heater, and marshmallow cooker called?

Are you sittin' down? Cool. It's an Audio Note Ongaku. OK, OK, the 'bout $500 a month I pay for it STINKS BIG TIME, but ohhhhhhh THE MUSIC!!!

Enough 'bout the toys, let's get on to what REALLY counts... like I just said, "T H E M U S I C" !!!

You see, I put a record on the table, and my room disappears.

LOOK!!!! There's Robert Plant, the Satchmo, Billie Holiday, the Doors, and even King Crimson RIGHT THERE a-playin' their hearts out right in my very own home no less!!!

MAN-O-MAN, and do they jam out too. My neighbors hate me though as you will soon see why :-{(+ .

I got here this little ol' Crystal Clear album with pipe organ music on it (heh heh).

The way those 32 foot pedals sound is a sight, er, um, I mean a sound to behold. Ahhhhhhh the sensations at 18 Hz, ya' gotta love it :-{)+ .

Then we gots this little record here by Pink Floyd. A Japanese pressin' no less of "The Wall". After listenin' to it, I HAVE become comfortably numb :-{)+ .

OK, OK, for you who want specs, I aint got any for ya :-{>)+ .

Too bad huh?

Then again, what REALLY matters to me is the way a system reproduces MUSIC folks. Ya' know? What I'm trying to tell you 'bout here.

OK, OK, here's the breakdown of my junk in the room I have officially named "Room 1".

I gots me 2 rooms which are dedicated for musical ecstasy. Life is good. I'm broke, but happy :-{)+ .

  • Audio Note Ongaku: $89,200 (yes, you read that right)
  • Audio Note M2 phono preamp: $2,695
  • Audio Note AN-1/s-V silver wired tone arm: $2,000
  • Audio Note AN-S6c silver wired step-up transformer: $5,295 (connected between the Io-2 and the M2; the Ongaku has an integrated line stage with a volume control)
  • Audio Note Io-2 cartridge: $2,895
  • VOYD turntable (Point 5): $5,995
  • KEF 104/2 speakers: $3,200
  • M+K MX 2000 subwoofer: $1,800
  • Audio Note AN-Vx silver wired interconnect: $4,800 (for 20 feet length)
  • Audio Note AN-SP silver speaker wire: $3,200 (for 2 pair of 8 feet length for bi-wiring)

FOR A GRAND TOTAL OF (drum roll please) $121,080 !!! Please keep in mind I have spent about $1000 for the re-engineering of the room acoustics and electrical work needed for better sound too. How 'bout all my vinyl and CD's??? Do they count??? Please add about $15,000 for them. So now we are up to (drum roll please) $137,080. Will that be cash, check, charge, blood, first born, wife, house, or your McLaren F-1 sir :-{)+ ???

"Room 2" has some more stuff including the best bang for the buck Audio Alchemy and even an Audio Note Meishu. Enough of this stuff stuff, lets go back to the music....

Then I got those precious original RCA Living Stereo's on vinyl. Here, I'll put it on for ya'. Ya hear that? Yes, it's the theme music from 2001 (Steve's spaced out on music again) Odyssey %-{)+ .

Ya' gotta love it. So why do I love music soooo much? I mean, what dude would buy an integrated amplifier instead of a home? Am I nuts? No? Well, maybe I'm kinda nuts, yes.

You see kind readers, I have been a musician for over 14 years. Studio and touring has been a part of my life. When I was in high school, we had live music 'bout 4 days a week every week right in my home. So you see, it's hard for me to find stuff that meets up to MY standards.

After 10 years of hunting for cool stuff, I have found me a "home".

You see kind readers, music has all these cool harmonics and "get down and boogie" beats.

It's hard to get that on most music reproduction systems ya' know. Let alone if you are, like me, music wise. I want to hear EVERYTHING from Billie Holiday to Led Zepplin... AC/DC you ask? YEP, them too! "For those about to rock, we salute you."

Though classical music has a way of makin' me cry, ya' know? The way massed strings sound, full bodied and NO shrill either. And massed choir... Don't even get me going 'bout how I LOVE massed choir.

Just pure, unadulterated MUSIC, that's for me. Yes, the sound stage, imaging, and all that other stuff is there. Also the truth of timbre, the realism, the majesty of the music.

Kinda like I'm there dudettes/dude. You remember the first time you had that revelation while enjoying music. Ya' know, that FEELING of, "WOW". THAT'S what I am always trying to achieve folks. Kinda like a music addict looking for his next musical high.

So now I decided to open my very own "high-end" store. This just happened a few weeks ago, AFTER I had already owned most of this stuff, by the way.

Yep, Audio Note's one of my lines. Hey, what would YOU do if you were me? So instead of going to my job, I just sit here, have a few friends over to enjoy the music (as usual), except now they buy stuff from me.

This is sooooo cool. I have worked like a dog to get this thingy going, but FINALLY I am seein' the fruits of my labors.

There's a cool saying by William Blake that goes, "No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings." And now for the bad news...

Here's the bad part folks (aren't there always a few drawbacks in life :-{(+ ). Ya' know, all these musicians come over and have fun playin' in my home like Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Robert Plant, Yo Yo Ma, etc. Ya' know what??? I cook for them, I clean for them. I even pay their electricity bills!!! Ya' know what? Not even ONE of them has even offered to clean my house or do my laundry. Not even once!!! You'd think they'd offer to get me a drink at least. DAMN musicians :-{)+ ! All they want to do is play music all night and sleep all day.

Well, I can't say I blame them :-{)+ . Gotta go now. Mick Jagger is comin' over again to jam. He's a cool dude.

Yea, yea, nothin's perfect doggone it . Like the price for instance. Why can't I get this junk for, oh, say, 10 bucks. Naaaa, it'd probably sound like a $0.99 breakfast tastes.

Hmmmm, OK, let's say $2000. That way it'd hurt a bit, but still be kinda reasonable. There are a few other things I feel could be improved upon...

How 'bout we give me just a touch more stage depth.

You know, that "it came from outer space and into my room" stagin'.

The bass is cool, cool, cool. So's the mids and tweeties.

Maybe if we add, say, another 5000 more hours to the life of the needle. YES!!! That'd be cool!!!

At the same time we could have records that never have (corn) pops or tics (and fleas). Just perfectly flat vinyl... Yea, that's the ticket :-{)+ .

I'd also like just a touch more of clarity. Now I'm definitely NOT sayin' it's cloudy, just add that TOTALLY clean sound. Kinda like fresh mountain air in the winter time. That would literally be cool. Or as my bro's say, "It'd be fresh."

So you see, I got past all that equipment stuff FINALLY and am now "enjoying the music".

I just wish you were here to hear it. It's hard to describe the systems I sell, then when I do, it doesn't make sense because it's unlike most of those "high-end" stereos we all have heard a kabillion times.

If you're ever in Gainesville, Florida (USA), please look me up. I share my joy with all who ask. Just plain ol' friends sittin' around enjoying the music. And if you're a musician, bring your instrument too. We'll jam!!! Isn't that the way it should be???

Please don't forget to bring your favorite records with ya' either! I love to hear new stuff I haven't heard before. Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond. What REALLY matters to me is that you...

Enjoy the music,

Steven R. Rochlin
Enjoy the Music
Gainesville, FL
[email protected]

Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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