What's In The House

What’s in the house

I’m going to use today as an opportunity to build on the good will which I hopefully engendered in my introductory post Friday where I touched on topics like my beard, our bungalow, and my source agnosticism (among other things).

I’d like to think we’ve started to become what I hope will be good friends, but I’m sure you are all contemplating whether you want to read more about the journey I spoke of regarding the establishment of a baseline for sound quality – or not – if it’s a boring journey all about ever-vanishing percentages of measurable distortion.


I figure if you’ve read this far already, I might have piqued your curiosity enough that you might want to read on. So, I’ll write on.

I think specifications, measurements, and decoding abilities when it comes to computer audio playback hardware are essential, I just don’t rely on them as the final arbiter of anything other than what they are: parts which make up a sum total.


I rely on my ears, my gut, and most importantly my heart and mind. Is the experience of listening to the recorded event through whatever system is at hand an emotionally-involving one? Will I sit and listen with a slightly pained expression on my face as I try to discern a frequency dip at 2,185 Hertz? Will I run a pink noise sweep? No. I will never do those things.

I will however, do my best to include as much relevant information about every product I review as is humanly possible, and I will write about exactly how each gear sounds to me, and when appropriate, how it sounds to something similar in its class.

I do think it’s important that I establish some reference points, gear-wise, for those tuning into my humble abode here on the Internet.


I wanted to give you an overview of the listening room, and house I call home first though. I figure that if you can see where I’ll be doing the bulk of my listening, that will help you better understand where it is I’m coming from with my thoughts, and opinions on gear, and music. Help put you in my shoes so to speak.

As I mentioned previously, I’m in a bungalow, so I don’t have to worry about neighbours or volume levels. Sound-wise the room is slightly lively (which I prefer) versus being overly damped. I like to work at tuning my sound to taste with a bit of judicious pillow tossing here and there, or the odd plant, chair, stack of books, or painting thrown on the wall.


Curtains are always good, but here we’ve rolled with large wooden slats on the windows (because that’s the way the house came) and they seem to work quite nicely at breaking up any standing waves or reflections. Same goes for our big book shelf, and of course the furniture, and rugs do their bit quite well too. I listen where I live, I like to share music, and my family (for the most part) encourages music to be played as much as possible.

I’m reaching out to writers, and prominent figures in the industry regarding columns, op-ed pieces, and technical papers, so that there will always be more voices here on AudioStream than my own – variety is the spice of life.


The gear that I have been using for personal reference is based around Audio Note UK loudspeakers, source, amp, and cables.

I’ll be creating a “Reference Gear” page as we move forward so that anyone visiting the site always knows what’s on hand.

That said, I’ll also be posting a “Reference List” page of the gear I feel is the state-of-the-art, the bees knees, and the Bruce Lee of their respective categories and price points. I’ll also be letting readers know what’s in the pipeline for review. I’ll be doing all this as quickly as I can reach out to manufacturers, and have the gear shipped here for review.


In the meantime here’s what’s in the current “house” system:

  • AudioQuest interconnects/digital cables/speaker cables/AC cables
  • Clarus Cables Crimson Level interconnects/digital cables/speaker cables/AC cables
  • Thales TTT Slim-II turntable/Easy Tonearm
  • EMT JSD VM LOMC cartridge
  • Auditorium 23 EMT Step-Up Transformer
  • totaldac d-1 integral w/GIGAFILTER
  • Apple MacBook 11-inch
  • Audio Note UK CD4.1x
  • Audio Note Soro Phono SE Signature integrated amplifier
  • Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE loudspeakers
  • Audio Note ISIS, and LEXUS interconnects/speaker cable
  • PS Audio PerfectWave Power Plant 10
  • PS Audio DirectStream Power Plant 20
  • Shindo Laboratory Mr.T Power Conditioner

bullethead's picture

nice, love that selection of power equipment and cables.

Anton's picture

I think you might qualify as a more 'farfield' listener, as am I.

For critical listening, do you scooch closer or swing the Eames out into the middle of the room?

I have buddies who listen at a position 0.8 times the distance between the speakers, and it sounds fine, but I listen at a few multiples of that distance.

Thanks for the pics!

Looking forward to your time here!

udis's picture

Is that a Soulution piece?

Rafe Arnott's picture
Yes, the 330 integrated.Very nice piece of kit. Sounds closer to tubes than ss.
udis's picture

Is a review forthcoming? Curious to hear how this sounds in theatre mode (preamp bypass) and driven direct by dac.

Leffen's picture

"That said, I’ll also be posting a “Reference List” page of the gear I feel is the state-of-the-art, the bees knees, and the Bruce Lee of their respective categories and price points."

- Very happy about this. This is the only true recommendation system for review sites. Category, and then the pieces that offer the best value organized by price. The whole "recommended vs products of the year vs bla bla" was ridiculous. Truly just...embarrassing if you ask me. No back bone. Further even: "reference list" is less clear than simply: "recommended".

"I’ll be creating a “Reference Gear” page as we move forward so that anyone visiting the site always knows what’s on hand."

-What exactly do you mean by this Rafe? Like listing the system you're evaluating pieces through? If so, you might want to use a different word than "reference" since your other section also uses that word. Clear understanding of the categories of the site is paramount.

I don't want to overbear here, but if you ask me, you just have two main sections on the site: pieces of writing (reviews, thoughts, etc, maybe called "home"), and then the recommended section. It's that simple.

Then in the writing section you can create some tags so people can select for pieces by certain authors or on certain topics, like gear reviews, music writing, meetup pieces. And you put those tags on the side of the writing section or at the top.

And granted maybe you have a "resources" section as well to help people with basics. That's where I'd keep a page on my listening system as a reviewer.

What makes a site like this stand out is in the quality of the writing, the reviews, the ears of the writers. Let the categories be clear and defined. No need for any frills or funny business.

Forgive me if some harsh energy comes through my writing here. I have been chronically frustrated for some time with what I perceive as unclear and wishy-washy categories on review sites.

All the best and good luck.

Leffen's picture

simply put:

-Content (with tags, as many as you like to differentiate posts)

-Recommended (categories of gear -> pieces and prices. nothing else)


badda boom
so clean, so simple, so easy
please dear god

The current(old) organization of this site is dumbfoundingly chaotic. And I'm a reader and fan. lol.

Brush me off if I'm overstepping but. There you have it.

Sue's picture

Are you interested in a woman's perspective?

funambulistic's picture

Oh, I guess you were talking to Rafe... *kicks rock

Sue's picture

I once asked Harry Pearson that very same question and landed a gig at The Absolute Sound that lasted for over a decade.

You'd think I would have learned by now.....kicks self

Rafe Arnott's picture
Always interested in everyone's perspective. Thanks for asking!
Sue's picture

Will Stephen Mejias be returning? I enjoyed his writing at Stereophile, and while I probably don't share his taste in music, his column "Weird New Pop" was always interesting and creative.

Wavelength's picture


Stephen accepted a full time position back at AudioQuest. He starts next week I think.

I think having you on board here would be a big+!


edincleve's picture

Hi Sue
I guess I'm just too stupid to understand why a woman's perspective on reproduced sound would be any different than a man's. Differences in the appreciation of aesthetics of the equipment are a different story, as well as types of music listened to.
Please elucidate, or are you just looking for gig?

Sue's picture

Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a woman to be taken seriously in an industry overwhelmingly dominated by men? I could write a book, and maybe someday I will

But until then, I'm planning a series of articles/interviews with a few of ladies in this hobby. Should be interesting

And I already have a gig, thank you.

Sue Kraft

Wavelength's picture


I had a dealer in NYC and we were trying to track down a DAC I had made and so they sent me a spread sheet for the year, something like 101 dacs total.

I was shocked at how many of them were sold to women!

Serious with guys, then they have a problem. Maybe if we had more women over here then they would learn how to optimize their systems so they sound better.


Sue's picture

"I was shocked at how many of them were sold to women!"

That is surprising. Perhaps the DACs were purchased as gifts for their spousal units?

Wavelength's picture


First question I asked. Not the case, most of the women came into the store saying they either had a laptop/desktop with music on it (or streaming) and wanted something better than internal speakers.

It's a simple point! People have music on their computer and how to make it sound better. Various ways from something like a DragonFly Black and a pair of JBL 306P MkII powered monitors ($300) to well the space is the limit.

This is an easy subject that any music lover can appreciate.


jond's picture

I enjoyed your writing over at Part Time Audiophile and happy to have you here. Nice looking system I also use AN Speakers a pair of J/lx's so I have an idea of your perspective. Looking forward to reading some reviews. And please keep the Lovely Recordings feature!

Rafe Arnott's picture
Hi all,

Thanks for all the positive comments, and genuine feedback – I really appreciate you taking time to write your thoughts and concerns.

The site will be somewhat re-organized, it will be streamlined, and as for 'Reference list, gear, what have you," those were merely ideas for naming conventions, but I think "The Reference" will be utilized in some fashion moving forward.

I'm still going over the the back-end, coding machinations that need to be re-jigged, and structured differently to accommodate any changes ahead, so bear with me.

Affecting change on a site this size, and of this complexity has many moving parts and is more akin to turning a giant cargo ship: the wheel has been spun, but it takes awhile for the rudder/hull to respond. I'm very lucky to be working with talented and smart people who are helping me figure everything out, but they are on two continents, and three time zones, so it's not a simple task.

Rest assured the site will be fun, lively, honest, and full of great writers, reviews and columns.

Cheers everyone!

mskaye's picture

a lot about you. And I like it. It also tells me a lot about the current state of high end/hi res digital playback that you and your predecessor use totaldacs and tube amplification. It must be a very tactile sounding system that has a lot of body and corporeality. Looking forward to the new AudioStream. Congrats!

sonnenwender's picture

Rafe I wish you all the best with Audiostream and I am looking forward to learning about your writing and audiophile preferences. This said I find it an utter lack of respect towards Michael who founded one of the most interesting and fun Blogs about Computer audio that he wasn‘t even given the chance to say goodbye to his readers. I for my part would like to know why Michael had to go, how he is doing and what his next projects are.

Rafe Arnott's picture

Thank you for the kind words.

I am not, nor was I ever in a position to comment on Michael's departure from AudioStream.

I was brought onboard some time after he left the site and therefore had no say in his final goodbyes.

Michael is a friend of mine, and I can tell you that he is taking some time for himself at the moment.

That said, I too look forward with great interest what he decides to do next because I have no doubt it will be done with style, grace, class and humour.

sonnenwender's picture
Wavelength's picture


Do you find what looks to be dinning room just right of your right speaker to cause an inbalance in your room?

I tried setting up rooms like that right and left, shows etc... and always found some kind of suck out.


volvic's picture

I am surprised to see the Audionote speakers so close to the wall. Are they meant to be placed like that a la Linn Kan? If so very refreshing, as someone who lives in a NYC apt speakers that can be pushed right up to the wall is always a welcome sight. BTW! Very excited for IF and for the future of Audiostream. I look forward to more new posts. Keep it up Rafe.

Anton's picture

I think Herb Reichart or Art Dudley have covered placement of those speakers in their columns. I am sorry, I forget who did it.

volvic's picture

Thanks for replying Anton, nice to see manufacturers making speakers that an be used by people like myself who have limited space.

Frankrizzo's picture

Hi Rafe. Welcome to the site. Very nice to hear about your system and your background. I look forward to reading more from you and any contributors to the site that you may bring in.

I was just wondering if you intend on keeping up with Michael Lavorgna’s posting frequency. Michael always struck me as tireless, very insightful and curious as well as extremely engaged in his dedication to the site. When can we expect a little bit more content to start being published. I browse this site on a daily basis and have been wanting for more substance as I believe that readers hace been accustomed to from Michael.

Looking forward to reading more on this site as I do from the likes of Darko’s and others’