Black Ice Audio Fusion F11 & F35 Integrated Amps and Glass FX DAC DSD

February 21, 2022 – Big Ear has added to our collection of Black Ice display/demo gear with what I consider to be one of the best sounding, high value US tube audio product lines. The F11 is an EL84 (my favorite pentode output tube, almost always favoring the Gold Lion reissue) based integrated and the F35 (also the F22), an EL34, KT88 or 6550 based integrated amp. Most Black Ice products are available in black or silver. All are remote controlled. Built in bias meters make biasing a breeze. I purchased matched quads of reissue Gold Lion KT77 & KT88 output tubes (again from  Jim McShane Vacuum Tubes) so customers can experience the full range of experience. The lowest cost and top pick of the ten DACs tested at the AZ AV Club DAC-It-Out event in 2019 will be back here on display/demo shortly (Black Ice is always struggling to keep these in stock). I think 2022 is going to be a big year for Black Ice Audio. Maybe a little of that mojo will rub off on Big Ear.

Zesto Audio Bia 200 Select Stereo Amplifier

January 6, 2022 – With the just released Bia 200 tube amplifier arriving shortly, Big Ear can now demonstrate an all vacuum tube Zesto system: Andros Deluxe II phono stage > Leto Ultra II preamplifier > Bia 200 Select stereo amplifier. The Bia 200 produces up to 100W/channel with a three position selector switch that provides simple switching of three output power options (60, 80 & 100W) utilizing four possible output tubes (KT88, KT120, KT150 & KT170). Although the Bia 200 Select ships with KT150 output tubes (100W/channel), I can’t wait to hear it with a quad of Gold Lion KT88 tubes (60W/channel) sourced from one of my favorite tube vendors, Jim McShane Vacuum Tubes. Three output taps, 4, 8 & 16 ohms add to the flexibility of this stereo amp.

Manley Labs Neo-Classic 300B Line Stage/Headphone Amplifier & Chinook Phono Stage

December 22, 2021 – I love Manley Labs for both their consumer and pro (recording studio) gear. It’s hard to beat this legendary US manufacturer (Chino, CA). We’re excited to add this unique vacuum tube line stage/headphone amplifier and exceptional value vacuum tube phono stage to our Manley Mahi EL84 amplifiers and Fyne F703 speakers. It’s a very happy holiday at Big Ear.

Manley Labs Mahi EL84 Mono Amplifiers

November 12, 2021 – My favorite push-pull output tube is the EL84 and I believe that the Manley Mahi monoblocks (Mahi Mahi, ha ha haaaaa) to be the best of this type. Extra excited as these could be an incredible match with our relatively efficient Fyne Audio F703 or Pi 4 speakers. Stay tuned. Made in USA Manley Labs is an overall favorite at Big Ear; been a fan of EveAnna and her crew for decades. Also stay tuned for a series of revolutionary new preamps from Manley.

Environmental Potentials EP-2050EE Whole House AC Conditioner/Surge Suppressor

November 9, 2021 – I’ve had the Environmental Potentials EP-2050 AC power conditioner/waveform corrector/surge suppressor in all our homes, both in the US and Costa Rica, since the early 2000s. One of my original units, now almost 20 years old, worked flawlessly with the really bad electrical grid of Costa Rica coupled with highly corrosive saltwater air. All our neighbors were experiencing appliance and TV failures regularly while we never once had an issue. Better audio/video performance is icing on the cake. EP just released their heavy duty version, EP-2050EE, for larger homes and with better AC noise reduction characteristics. I’ve upgraded the Big Ear main AC panel with the EP-2050EE and am very pleased with the initial results.

Iso Acoustics Component Isolation Including the Famous Gaia Speaker Footers

October 29, 2021 – At Big Ear we listen to our customers. After several came back to me and said something like, “Hey Tom, I love my new speakers but you wouldn’t believe what an improvement I got decoupling them from the floor with Iso Acoustics Gaia footers.” Now you can purchase your Iso Acoustic products through Big Ear and I’ll be offering substantial discounts when you purchase Iso Acoustics products with a pair of speakers or subwoofers (retroactive to previous speaker customers). The Gaia footers are their claim to fame and biggest seller but their other isolation products for all your other components are very cost effective and well regarded isolation solutions. Yet another company that started serving the professional audio community so effectively that they made a very successful transition to consumer ultra hi fi audio. A continuing trend at Big Ear.

Mutec MC3+ Smart Clock USB

October 23, 2021 – Mutec is a professional audio company found in the best recording studios in the world. All recording engineers understand that a studio master clock is critical in order to produce the best sounding digital recordings. Audiophiles are either unaware or overpaying for inferior, overpriced consumer audio copy cats in expensive chassis. The Mutec MC3+ Smart Clock USB optimizes jitter-affected digital sources like CD/DVD/SACD transports, streamers and computers, conditions the signal to audibly improve any DAC and much more. Big Ear now has a unit on hand for your evaluation. For me, it’s a keeper and moves between my recording studio and stereo playback systems.

Fyne Audio F703 Speakers

October 19, 2021 – In a previous What’s New? announcement, I mentioned that Big Ear would soon have a pair of Fyne Audio F702 speakers on display. Since then, I decided to go with the same speaker that Jim Smith of Get Better Sound and RoomPlay Reference fame replaced his custom, $40,000 Tannoy Canterbury reference speakers with, the Fnye Audio F703. Jim now uses the Fyne F703 speakers exclusively for his RoomPlay Reference sessions. Needless to say we are very excited. I expect the Fyne F703 speakers will be installed, broken-in and ready for an audition around early November.

ATC Speaker Sale

October 16, 2021 – ATC SCM50, 100 & 150 models, both active or passive, are on sale for $6,000 off. At Big Ear I demonstrate the active ATC SCM100ASLT speakers in our main music room.

UberLight Flex Turntable & Stereo Equipment LED Task Light

October 12, 2021 – Michael Fremer’s favorite turntable lamp. I agree. The new UberLight™ Flex offers complete control. With nine total light settings and 40% more luminous efficiency, the new UberLight™ Flex delivers up to 240% more lumen power than their previous model. The UberLight™ Flex’s 26.5” silicone gooseneck can hold virtually any shape. Anywhere. Anytime. Includes USB connectivity and power brick for portability and a 270° rotational head for precision control. A great gift for the audiophile in your family. Available in black: $59.

Legacy Audio i.V2 Dual Mono Amplifier (Ultra)

October 8, 2021 – Coming soon at Big Ear we’ll have the Legacy i.V2 amplifier, the two channel version of the i.V4 Ultra reviewed here.

“The i.V Ultra amplifier has handily outdone all other amps reviewed, regardless of genre, which is unprecedented. I invite the community to peruse the entire listing of amps I have reviewed from the past 14 years; there is not a one of them, not a single one, that I would prefer to be hearing. It’s not just a matter of being somewhat better, or in some respects having advantage, but rather a wholesale superior experience.” Doug Schroeder, Dagogo – May 2020

Zesto Audio Leto Ultra II Line Stage On Display

September 26, 2021 – Big Ear now has the Zesto Leto Ultra II line stage on display along with the Zesto Andros Deluxe II phono stage.

Ken Micallef of Stereophile says, “Superbly clean and transparent, the Leto Ultra II’s midrange-to–upper treble focus and lucidity was off the charts, giving fresh insight to familiar LPs. Silky and smooth, its tone was also good. With its user-friendly, logical options, the Leto Ultra II is among the very best line preamplifiers I’ve heard, and it comes with a useful, innovative, fully defeatable tone control (the Presence feature), wrapped in an unusual, cosmetically striking frame.

Must be heard to be fully appreciated. Highly recommended.” – Full Stereophile Review

Weiss Engineering DAC and DSP Processors/Renderers

September 8, 2021 – There’s a lot to like about this Swiss DAC including the headphone output; simply world class. More proof that the best consumer stereo comes from professional audio guys like Daniel Weiss. Many of the world’s best recording studios feature products from ATC and Weiss. The DAC501/502 is the least costly of the top tier DACs and, unlike most, includes an excellent headphone output and a variety of useful DSP functions; equalization, room correction, de-essing, crosstalk canceling and more. RoonReady. Weiss is including factory supplied equalization curves for headphones, currently will all Audeze models available and plans to add more from other top headphone manufacturers. As Weiss receives new curves, they will automatically be installed on the Weiss through regular, automatic, software updates.

Puritan Audio Laboratories Mains Purification

August 23, 2021 – That’s power conditioning on this side of the pond. My experience with power conditioning has been uniformly negative over the decades. Yes, all power conditioners change the sound of your stereo but in most cases negatively. Other recent expensive units from popular cable makers may or may not work in your system and offer poor value if they do make a small improvement. Up to now we have found that the ifi PowerStation to do a good job at a reasonable price and will continue to offer that as an excellent entry level choice. Enter Puritan Audio Labs. Finally, reasonably priced units that clearly improve sound quality without breaking the bank. Unlike most power conditioners, Puritan includes DC blocking making these units a must for anyone experiencing buzzing transformers. Sorry to lay Srajan Ebaen on you, a master of stretching a short paragraph into pages of babble. But, hopefully, you’ll get to the point: “I personally see no compelling reason to spend more on AC power filtering even for our top system”. Puritan Audio Labs PSM156 AC-Purifier


August 11, 2021 – Big Ear Stereo will be the first dealer in the USA to audition and custom build ANKits DAC kits. Their world class DACs are very highly regarded and a tremendous value at any level; 2.1, 4.1, 4.1x or 5.1. In early October I’ll have the ANK DAC4.1x available for audition. ANKits DAC kits or our custom completed builds (I’ll have a menu of options) will be available for purchase through Big Ear Stereo.

Fyne Audio

August 7, 2021 – Fyne Audio, founded by engineers and management from Tannoy, has taken the Tannoy sound to another level. Big Ear will soon have the F702 floor stander ($10,995 retail) available for audition. Jim Smith of Get Better Sound sold his Tannoy Canterbury speakers ($30,000 retail with $10k Duelund external crossovers) after hearing the Fyne F703 ($13,995 retail). These are the speakers you will hear if you book one of Jim’s RoomPlay Reference sessions. Not yet well known but I expect this to be a very popular speaker line once the word gets out. The 700 and F1 series are built in Scotland. All Tannoy production has moved to China.

WAM Engineering WallyTools

July 19, 2021 – Big Ear has received a full compliment of WallyTools turntable alignment devices; WallyTractor, WallySkater, WallyReference and WallyFulcrum with WallyZenith and WallyAzimuth coming soon. When used in conjunction with our AnalogMagik, Feickert Adjust+, SMARTractor, various Best Tractors, high quality USB microscope with high precision stand, large collection of test records, electronic laboratory equipment, other turntable set up equipment and over 40 years of turntable set up experience, we feel that we’re closer to perfection in this art as is currently possible. This is still a time consuming process when done right, limiting this service to customers who have purchased their turntables through Big Ear. WallyTools are highly recommended by Michael Fremer and represent the current state of the art in turntable/arm/cartridge alignment tools. WAM Engineering WallyTools

Please watch this very recent YouTube video with Greg Weaver interviewing J.R. Boisclair of WAM engineering. In it, Mr Boisclair reveals how badly made many phono cartridges are regardless of price. Apparently, based on the data presented, there is no correlation between price and quality. The good news; once all the WallyTools are here, I’ll be able to determine if the cartridge you purchased will pass our stringent quality controls. If not, it will go right back to the manufacturer for replacement, ensuring that when the job is complete, you will have zero doubt as to the integrity of your purchase and that all parameters are set as close to perfect as possible. J.R. Boisclair Interviewed by Greg Weaver

Soundsmith Phono Cartridges

July 7, 2021 – Big Ear is very excited and proud to now be representing phono cartridges from legendary cartridge builder and renaissance man Peter Ledermann. As our focus, based on sound quality, value and very low noise, is now exclusively with MM and MI phono cartridges (busting more audiophile myths), Soundsmith is the perfect addition to our lineup. Our goal is to display/demo both high (Zephyr MK III) and low (Paua mk II) output examples of their mid-price offerings. Stay tuned…

Black Ice Audio Launches New Website

July 1, 2021 – Big Ear’s best value line of tube electronics, Black Ice Audio, just launched their new website. Expect informative articles and interesting content.  Black Ice Audio

Zesto Audio Vacuum Tube Stereo Components

June 2021- Big Ear is very proud to be Zesto Audio’s latest representative. This small, US, family run business, much like Big Ear, manufactures some of the best vacuum tube audio products on the planet. We have the highly acclaimed Andros Deluxe II phono stage on display followed soon by the Leto Ultra II line stage.

Legacy Audio Classic HD Speakers and Metro XD Subwoofers Now On Display

May 2021 – Experience the sound of one of my favorite speaker companies, Legacy Audio, with their Classic HD speakers ($5995) and a pair (one subwoofer is not sufficient for audiophile sound reproduction) of Metro XD subwoofers ($2623 each). Legacy speakers and Coda solid state amplification; a match made in heaven.

Black Ice Audio F159 Hybrid Phono, F360  Remote Controlled Hybrid Line Stage and Fusion Transport/DAC Now On Display

May 2021 – If you are considering similar products from Ayon Audio, PrimaLuna, Rogue Audio & Quicksilver Audio or even high value, high end solid-state designs and would prefer to have better sound quality and more features at much lower prices, please consider auditioning these products designed by legendary audio engineer Jim Fosgate. Folks using most SME and all Rega tonearms which lack the ability to adjust the critical azimuth (crosstalk) parameter should seriously consider the Fusion F159 phono stage ($1495) with it’s sophisticated crosstalk reduction circuitry praised by Michael Fremer. The Fusion F360 remote controlled, hybrid line stage ($1995) contains Fosgate’s unique soundstage expander and really unique bass control (ignore the audiophile police that strictly forbid such things). If one has serious limitations regarding proper speaker and listening chair positioning, this the best solution I know of to get the most fun out of your listening experience.

SME Model 20/3 Now On Display

April 2021 – We just received our display/demo SME 20/3 turntable with SME Series 5 tonearm. I’ll be installing the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge initially. Perhaps an Ortofon Windfeld Ti or Grado Statement3 down the line. After either owning, modifying or setting up high end turntables for 40 years, the SME line has become my personal favorite for a number of reasons.

Herron Audio M2 Amplifiers

December 2020 – We’ll be adding the Herron M2 mono block amplifiers to our other Herron components, VTPH-2A phono stage & VTSP-360 line stage, for a complete Herron Audio System, driving various Legacy or Fyne speakers. These four components will always be in one of my personal stereo systems.

SME Turntables

December 2020 – We’re proud to become the only stereo dealer in Arizona to represent the legendary line of SME turntables. We will display and demonstrate The Absolute Sound’s 2020 Turntable of the Year, the SME Model 12A.

Wireworld Cable

December 2020 – We’re proud to become the only stereo dealer in Arizona to become Wireworld cable suppliers. Although we still believe that Big Ear cable products are the best bang for the buck, Wireworld makes cable products that we are very impressed with.

Coda Technologies 06x Phono Stage, 07x Line Stage and Continuum No. 8 Amplifier

December 2020 – These outstanding products have been ordered and will be available shortly for audition. Anyone interested in components from Pass Labs or D’Agostino (IMHO ridiculously  overpriced) should audition these Coda products (better sound, better value). I’ve always been a tube guy and these are solid state products I could happily live with in my reference system.

ATC SCM100ASLT Active Loudspeakers

October 2020 – Big Ear is proud to announce that it will be only one of two US retailers to display and demonstrate the amazing ATC SCM100ASLT active loudspeakers. They will arrive and be ready for audition in late December 2020.

Chord English Electric 8Switch

September 2020 – The English Electric 8switch is an audio grade 8-port gigabit streaming network switch.