Responses from mikem

McIntosh- Sweetest, Smoothest sounding Solid State ?
I thought McIntosh used output transformers on their SS amps to purposely give them that rounded tube like sound. Not for me, but Which is best is up to the listener. Carver SS amps of yore used to provide outputs or a switch for tube like sound. ... 
Fist Watt F6 vs Pass Labs XA 25
I owned the XA25 and now the SIT3. I had these both side by side for 6 months before I decided to keep the SIT3.  The XA25 has more drive and is quite neutral sounding..  A bit flat compared to the SIT3, but a better match if your speakers are not... 
What do audiophiles do in their cars?
“What do audiophiles do in their cars?” Drive to fedex or UPS to pickup audio components for my home stereo that I ordered :)    
Who makes great active preamps ? Tube or solid state or hybrid.
If I were going for an active preamp, I would look into the Thomas Mayer 10Y.     
Adding a “safe haven” forum for discussion of tweaks?
@larry5729  Been on forums for decades, I was a moderator for Audio asylum for the first couple of years back in the late 90’s.   Best to learn how to read between the lines and to ignore some posts, then it is to complain about it..   Many of t... 
Help, which preamp to buy from my shortlist?
Try a good passive preamp… IME, it will embarrass most active units. A TVC or autoformer is best sounding. Transformer based preamps will matchup well with most components, impedance wise.  passive not for everyone.. but when matched properly, the... 
Which amp would you choose and why - Pass Labs XA-25 or First Watt F8?
@bumpy48  I’m using a passive TVC preamp with my DAC to a FW SIT3 with Excellent results!  I sold off my $10k active preamp and never looked back..    
SET the best?
In the mid-late 90’s I had a 2A3 PP amp from Cary audio. It was very SET like in its presentation and would work with not so sensitive speakers. It made several hard core SS folks listen up and take notice.  Too bad the reliability was an issue wi... 
SET the best?
My speakers are 95.5db sensitive which allows me to use low powered amps. I’ve come full circle from large speakers, big heavy tube amps, etc … to a minimalist system that uses a single stage amp w 18wpc. Less is more ! Everything sounds better wi... 
How do you know when a stereo sounds good?
When Listening to music becomes an “event”, where I experience the music and become emotionally involved.  When the music moves me and my setup pays for itself with each song played..  When there is almost nothing else I would rather be doing.. Wh... 
Best SS Amp - Pass Labs X350.8 vs. Luxman M900u vs. Ayre VX-R Twenty
The pass X series amps are very neutral as others have mentioned.. For those with hard to drive speakers, electrostats, etc…. These are very good sounding amps with endless drive..  IME.   
Chinese fake cables How fake, how good?
I purchased a cheap Chinese made PC on Amazon, just to try it and see for myself . Thick with red/black weaving for that “audiophile” look with a plug stamped “hospital grade”. Was $30 at the time. Looking closely at the plug through the semi tran... 
Seeking A New DAC - Recommendations
I second the Schiit Yggdrasil , now in three different models and flavors..   
Why the hate for mcintosh amps?
@walkertm  I believe McIntosh uses output transformers (like tubes) on some or all of its SS amps to give it that “house” sound. So it will take longer for a SS McIntosh amp to break in due to the output transformers.   
What is the best USB cable under $500 for a natural presentation and good detail ?
I chose a Shunyata because it separates the data/power