Author Archives: admin

Mardi Gras & SXSW!!!! By Appointment Only!

It's that time of the year!!! From March 1st through March 18th, I will be open By Appointment Only! I'm in two bands and am an avid music lover! SXSW is my "Staycation" and intensive liver therapy week. I will probably be in the neighborhood!

All you have to do is CALL ME to set up a convenient time to meet. 512-784-8282

easy peasy.

INNUOS Music Servers!!!

I'm the biggest luddite ever. I play records 85% of the time. The rest of the time I'm tooling around Tidal checking out all kinds of music. I have a couple music servers at the shop but they're tweaky and temperamental. They're not entirely intuitive and don't offer Tidal.

I was looking around for a music server that had all the kinks ironed out. It's been a few years since I've taken a gander. Frankly, I felt the same way I did when the format (aka Fadmat) wars were going on with VHS vs. Beta, SACD vs. DVD-A, etc. I really didn't give a damn. I was tired of being a guinea pig. I would just roll my eyes and flip the record. Redbook CD's were just fine when it wasn't offered on vinyl.

What I found was a company based out of Portugal called Innuos. They offer three models, basically a good (zenmini mk.2), better (zen mk.2) and best (zenith mk.2). I decided on the middle one to test the waters. The Zen mk2 arrived after I chatted up the US distributor Mark Sossa of Well Pleased Audio. I met Mark at Axpona last year and knew immediately he was one of the "good guys". The brands he represents are excellent and have that "think outside the box" ethos. The Zen comes with 2TB of storage and the "myinnuos" platform. It was easy right out of the box. I did have to mess around with my network by doing the "unplugging and plugging it back in" method. It didn't seem to like my fancy CAT5 cable either. The cable it comes with is fine. I used the USB input on my Heed Abacus DAC and started ripping a few CD's and playing files off my other music servers which the Zen found instantly.

Then I squeegeed my third eye...

Roon is a subscription based platform that takes ALL of your music and organizes it in one manageable place making everything seamless. The Innuos machine came with a free 60 day trial. I have to say, I'm hooked! The setup was easy and before I knew it, I had everything at my fingertips. Tidal is offered through the Roon software.

This is the future!

This is what I'd always hoped computer audio was going to become. Streaming great quality music is only going to get better as everything is switching over to fiber optics enabling faster streaming capabilities.

Am I giving up playing records? GAWD NO! There are pros and cons to both formats. As much content that Tidal and Spotify have, they still don't have a vast majority of music that will only be found on vinyl. Now I can listen to tons of new music and then go buy the record if I really like it.

Innuos Web Site


I tried some later hours and all I did was miss packages. So... back to the old hours. There will be a monthly "Hump Day Hootenanny"! Bring some records and libations! I'll have a featured system set up each time. Dates will be posted!

I'll be closed during SXSW (March 11-20). I'll also be attending the AXPONA show in Chicago (April 20-23)

Monday / Tuesday Appointment Only
Wednesday - Saturday 11am - if you plan on coming after 4pm

I'm available most of the time. Please call for an appointment!

New York City?

Whetstone Audio will be closed February 23-27. I will reopen on Saturday the 28th. I'm going to New York to visit with Grado Labs, DeVore Fidelity, Box Furniture and Tone Imports! Mainly, I just want some decent Italian food. See Y'all soon..


LSD! Coming Soon!


The Funk Firm turntables from the UK are coming to the shop!! The first to appear will be the Little Super Deck (LSD). I'm getting mine equipped with the F6.5 tonearm and 3mm Achromat ($115). Retail price with deck and arm is $1995. LSD is offered in Black or White. The F6.5 tonearm is available by itself for $895.

Read all about it HERE!

Transfiguration Cartridges

New to the shop are the excellent Transfiguration cartridges. “The unique yokeless design and double ring magnet result in an extremely accurate coil / magnet interface in which the coils are positioned right inside the magnets. This ground-breaking design was conceived to remove the variations in flux introduced by traditional magnetic field-dispersing yoke type assemblies. The result is a new level of focus, resolution of the subtlest details and a stunningly live performance”

Read more here: Transfiguration


cocktail audio X12

In my never ending search for "awesome" and "value", I've found the next great contender. They call X12 the "swiss army knife of audio". What does it do? Basically everything. HD Hi Fi Music Server with database, CD Ripper, High Quality DAC, Built-in 60W Amplifier, Network Streamer, FM / Internet radio, UPNP, Apple Airplay and Bluetooth. You will need to buy a HDD disc. I got a 2 TB for $80 off Amazon. Dump ALL of your CD's on this and access them through the APP. Just add some speakers or look into the other Cocktail Audio products for the perfect fit. The X12 is a great place to start without forking out tons of cash. A winner at $799!

Cocktail Audio


ortofon quintet


Ortofon has just released some new affordable moving coil cartridges. The Quintet series follows the excellent example of the successful 2M range of moving magnet carts.

A special ABS thermoplastic material is used for manufacturing of the body. This light-weight, impact resistant material is very suitable for injection-moulding and provides a very durable scratch resistant surface.

Neodymium magnets are implemented to achieve an optimal output.

Low internal impedance makes the cartridge less sensitive to load and therefore ensures compatibility with the widest range of preamps and transformers.

I will be installing the Quintet Blue on the shop's Rega RP3. Come give it a listen!

Line Magnetic Mini 218

I've been playing with a sweet little desktop system! The LM Mini 218 single ended triode integrated ($800). 3 watts of blazing class A power using EL84 power tubes! It's paired up with the Musical Fidelity V90 DAC ($299) and Grado SR80i headphones ($99). iTunes is sounding pretty good!

new stuff…


Now available at Whetstone Audio. Perfect for the TV in the bedroom (I have some in mine), your desktop at work, patio or dorm room. Powered speakers for everyone! This is a great way to start a system on a budget or throw some sound anywhere in a snap. Want to spin some records? Just add a turntable and phono pre amp to the mix. Starting at only $249 a pair!

The New Line Magnetic LM 502CA DAC is here!!

I just received the new Line Magnetic DAC! It sports both tube and solid state outputs. This is the best DAC I've ever heard! No "law of diminishing returns" here. Why spend $10K when you can trounce it for $1800? If you are DAC hunting, put this one on the top of your list to try!


Dave Woods Memorial & Benefit! TODAY!!

It's going to be quite a day! Come hang out with some of the best people and musicians I know in this town and share the awesomeness that is DAVE WOODS!! I'll be there with my entire family. We need to give Dave a proper send off. Come celebrate his life with the people who loved him.

See More Here!


Line Magnetic Gold Series!

New goodies coming soon!
The LM 501 IA is a one hundred watt per channel Class AB Integrated Stereo Amplifier. KT120 output power tubes, 12AX7, 12AU7 and 6SN7 input tubes. Four inputs and speaker terminals for 4, 8, 16 ohm speakers are located on the back panel. User bias control has been used for bias adjustment. Two separate meters for the Left and Right Channel have been built in for monitoring. Specially designed EI transformers for power supply and two EI output transformers with wide bandwidth are applied. Japanese ALPS volume potentiometer. Hand made construction with the finest point-to-point wiring. SoftStart and time-delay circuit. (30 seconds) Remote control. $4250
The LM-502CA is a tube rectified asynchronous DAC. It has both a tube analog output stage and a solid state output stage so you can use whichever you prefer. $1800

It got HEAVY today!

Noel Waggoner & Balan Villanueva of Heavy Light Records stopped by today with a box of the rarest grooves! Some 45's that go for $1100!! I'm talking RARE! Some of the records didn't even have a label! It was a blast. Hardcore record collectors are part record freak and private eye. I love hearing Noel's tales of finding records. He is one of the best. I'm stoked he started Heavy Light to share his finds with the World.

Line Magnetic Audio

Coming soon! Line Magnetic Audio. LM Audio are a highly respected Chinese company, not your typical "Chi-Fi". They make very nice gear that won't break the bank. They're also known for amazing reproductions of classic Western Electric gear. Horns, field coils, power supplies, etc... my future looks dangerous. The behemoths on the left are the LM-1 211 SET mono's for a measly $80K.. yeah, I'm not getting those..



I'm getting the 216ia. It's a KT88 push pull amp. 22 watts per channel in triode, 38 watts per channel in ultra linear. Remote controlled. Bias adjustable with built in meter. 4, 8 and 16 ohm output taps. Point to point wiring used throughout. Comes with a tube cage. $1850

Don Cornelius gone at 75..

Soul Train was one of the longest running TV show of all time. For nearly 40 years, It had a profound effect on popular culture that has not been duplicated.

First Rega RP6 in the USA!

I successfully wore down my pal Steve at Sound Org., (with my incessant whining) to send me their demo RP6 from CES. Still no sight of the first shipment, but it's coming! Honest! At least you can come to the shop and give her a spin.

"two more weeks mate"

Lets dumb it down some more!

I don't like to get political on a hi-fi site but the "Evil Doers" in Washington want to scrap NPR and PBS. I learned my right from my left and how to tie my shoes on Sesame Street!! If we keep this up we are DOOMED. Next will be music, dancing and reading books of your choice. It'll be John Tesh, Yanni and Amy Grant for your musical enjoyment. You won't be buying records. You'll be buying a drool cup.
sign the petition here

27 years ago today…

I wrote a fake doctors note to leave school. Yes, yours truly, skipped out on Catholic school to go interview MOTLEY CRÃœE! As an underage music enthusiast I wrote for Public News a weekly entertainment newspaper (later bought by Patty Hearst!). My plan worked. I could navigate myself into bars and clubs deemed for those 18 or above. I was only 16 at the time but I had press passes. So Ozzy was coming to town for the Bark At The Moon tour and The Crue were opening. I basically wanted to see if I could pull off a interview with them. After many, I'm sure annoying, phone calls to the WEA offices in Houston I got my interview. "Hey kid, I admire your persistence. Vince and Nikki will be here at 2". I enlisted my friend Paul to take pictures and we headed off to our "dentist" appointments. That afternoon I drank champagne and ate cake (literally) with Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx in celebration of them selling a Gold record. I scored a couple records and two passes for the show that night. We then returned to school.
"Where ya been all day DiFrank?"
"Oh, drinking champagne with Motley Crue"
I then pulled out my "Crue loot" and a cassette recording of the interview..
heh heh...

The only reason I remembered this date is because later that night, while I was rocking out at the Ozzy concert, my sister gave birth to my niece, Heather. Happy Birthday Heather!! A day I will never forget!
The Crue

isoblue racks

1279962780_Isoblue Nat ash_w600_h400.png
Founded in 2000, Isoblue modular hi-fi furniture was designed by company founder, Chris Bampton.
This is a modular system for modular hi-fi and each stack will require a base level (spiked to the floor) and subsequent shelves with the trademark 'V' uprights in solid wood. We would suggest keeping the stacks moderately low with a base plus 3 (OK, maybe 4 shelves in total per stack. Standard spacing is 100mm between shelves and additional spacers are available to bring these spaces to 135mm, 165 mm up to a maximum of 230 mm.
The design is of ageless simplicity but it also works extremely well. Isoblue has been a darling of Naim users for most of the past ten years and, whilst it is extremely compatible with the Naim character, not to say dimensions, it is also pretty universal in its appeal. The Series 60 racks are $325 per shelf. Rack pictured is $1300.

well put.

Hey Brian,
I just read your website rant and wanted to reply.
I've emailed you on a few occasions (maybe more!) for advice and a quote but unfortunately shipping to Canada plus exchange, duty, custom brokerage fees... makes it too expensive. So far all I've bought from you is a green Rega platter matte and a t-shirt. Sorry.
Unfortunately the dealers here (Toronto) and in most places in North America, suck. The Forums are for mostly nut cases that just need to talk about their gear. Everyone's an expert... they all know better than the gears designers or manufactures.....
Tweak tweak tweak.
When a Naim dealer tries to sell me a power conditioner I know there is trouble!

My local dealers.

I hadn't bought any gear in 4 years as I have been happy with my all Rega system. I'm not a tweaker or upgrader. I've bought a lot of records though. I'm more into the music than the gear.
But, ......I've always loved and wanted a Naim system. Have suggested them and arranged them for a couple friends. Its great sounding gear. Works as a system. Is reliable, and repairable and has been around a long time.
I tried to buy Nait 5i once with cash in hand from a Naim dealer. The dealer told me not to waste my money and tried to sell me a more expensive Cyrus system. It sounded thin to me. Metallic and cold. I was told it was "better", I bought nothing.
This happened again a few years back. Except this time it was a Nait 5-i-2, and I was told Densen smokes Naim. I didn't want Densen... I bought nothing.
I finally decided to buy a Nait xs. I ordered one from a small local shop on the phone. I didn't want to be talked out of it this time! He said I'd have it in 3 days. It took over two weeks. I even called the distributor to make sure they had stock and I wasn't being screwed as I had gone through this years ago when another local dealer took my credit card for a new Rega P5, power supply and Exact. After three weeks of excuses and being told by the dealer that the distributor was back-ordered and wouldn't have stock for another 2-3 weeks. I called the distributor. They had 15 in stock. They intervened, arranged for my refund and an apologetic upgrade to a P7.... The dealer went out of business shortly after....
The nait xs arrived. Great amp. I love it. Way more fun and more engaging. Music has slam and attack and a big soundstage, much more like live music than my Rega amps. So far, less detail though. I'd like to try it with Naca 5 and am curious what the flatcap xs would bring. The dealer has neither on the floor or to lend, but assures me they are excellent and will "smoke" my Rega gear. I need to hear it for myself in this case.
So I called some other local Naim dealers.

None of the 4 local Naim dealers in Toronto have a pair of Naca 5 speaker cable I can hear or borrow with my new Nait xs. Their Naim systems on their floors are wired with other cable! Nobody has a flatcap xs to demo. One told me the flatcap is meant to use with a second power amp for bi-amping and tried to sell me the two pieces. Moron. I wasn't looking to bi-amp! He didn't even ask what my speakers are or if they are bi-ampable. They aren't!

Nobody has a stageline for MM either for demo or on the floor. But I've been assured it will "smoke" my Rega Fono or Graham slee era gold. I hope it would, I would give it the chance to, but I'm not buying based on these dealers advice. I'm not even convinced they have heard a Stageline!

Another dealer just out of town I used to know was a big Naim and Rega believer. He thought it was the greatest equipment and was really knowledgeable and helpful. I called him to find out his opinion on a flatcap. He thinks Naim is "overrated crap" and suggested other gear! "Rega is no better than NAD" Why the sudden change of heart? I called the distributor to ask (both Rega and Naim have the same distibutor in Canada now) the dealer was cut-off for non-payment of his bills.....

I know it's a difficult business to be in. I realize a lot of people just use the stores to demo then price shop elsewhere or buy used from the forums. But when the value added of a local store is zero, and they don't have demo gear, have a questionable knowledge base, and their store is a revolving door of brands depending on which distributor is carrying what lines and who they owe money to.... What is a customer supposed to do? This stuff is expensive, sells used at a substantial loss, and it's easy to make purchasing mistakes. And dealers wonder why most people don't buy decent stereos...

I think lousy local dealers are equally to blame for the current mess of this industry. If there was a great local dealer who knew his stuff, was instrumental in helping me build a system, had fair prices, was reliable at filling orders, carried brands i related to, was helpful in setting stuff up and and made demo equipment available, at least in the store properly set up, they would have my business and wouldn't need to compete with online prices. Unfortunately, this hasn't existed here for a long time.

I've yet to make it to Austin (although it is my last name!) I have friends that go every year to south by southwest, that's how I found out about your store. I can tell by your site and your replies that you are pretty passionate about music. That you carry brands that you believe in and stick with them and believe in the system approach. Music nights? We have nothing like your store here. Maybe it is unique? I wish I was closer or that cross border shipping wasn't such a big deal. I appologise for wasting your time with audio questions. I do appreciate and value your opinions. I can't say that about very many people, one other in fact.
As I mentioned it is very likely I'm moving to San Francisco later this year as my wife has been offered a great job there. I realize that doesn't make you "my local audio store" but it's close enough for me, no borders, shipping is feasible and warranty isn't an issue. Hopefully my future business will make you realize that not everyone is out to use and abuse you and that your advice and web site have been greatly appreciated. I won't bug you again with audio questions until I'm ready to buy from you.

Thanks again,
Take care,

Hi Shawn,

I really enjoyed your letter. I'm sorry your local dealers "ride the short bus". Seems like their business model isn't working out. Unfortunately, many dealers are more interested in moving boxes with bigger margins than providing quality goods. NAD over Rega? Please. I sold Cyrus years ago and liked it until it started breaking and offered no support, so I dropped it. Naim and Rega are the backbone of my shop. They sound great, don't break and are always in stock.

I don't mind giving out advice to people and you aren't wasting my time. The "bitch" post was basically addressed to a couple local individuals that I needed to vent on. A good 50% of my business is out of state because there are no local dealers anymore... or they suck, as you well know. Please feel free to pick my brain anytime you want. I hope I don't scare people away because of my "bitching". Audiogon and "Gurus" on audio forums really piss me off.

I hope San Francisco works out for you! It's a great city and has some really good hi-fi shops!

Enjoy the music (not the power conditioner)! ; )


Coming back in soon!

wellTempered_image01The excellent Well Tempered Amadeus is coming back to the shop. I sold my floor model a couple months ago and have been busy buying other goodies for the shop. I'm pondering what cart will go on it. Probably the EMT TSD15.

Neil Peart. Ghost Rider

I've been on a kick reading about rock stars. The past few weeks I've read Keith Richards bio, Life. Guns n' Roses drummer Stephen Adler's sad read and porn star Ron Jeremy's book Hardest Working Man In Showbiz (not really a rock star, but close enough).

I just started reading Rush drummer, Neil Peart's book, Ghost Rider. Poor dude! He lost his daughter and wife within a year. The book is about him hopping on a BMW motorcycle and hitting the healing highway. I love drums, autobiographies and travel books! So far, it's been hard to put down.

Buy Local. If you can..


99% of the people who come into my shop are well behaved and pleasant. There are a few "special" visitors who make me feel like that kid Stephen on YouTube who freaks out. Have you seen this kid? whoa! anger issues!

Times are tight. I don't blame people for trying to save a few bucks by shopping around. But I DO MIND if you:

1. Use my knowledge, time, gear and services to make up your mind only to buy the same products I offer on the web.

2. Come back in and gloat about how you bought on the web AFTER wasting my time. I'm not going to be thrilled for you, just pissed. Ignorance is bliss.

3. Buy grey market goods on the web that I sell locally and then resell them, killing local sales I have been working on.

4. Buy something new on the web that you know I carry and then ask me to set it up or fix it. This is like going to McDonalds, only to bring it into another restaurant to eat it... Also, the end result of #3. I'm not going to get your grey market, broken crap fixed. Suffer.

Ask yourself this, do you like to work for free? I lose thousands of dollars a year because somebody wants to save a few bucks on local sales tax. It's a wash because you'll have to pay shipping, get no warranty, possibly get burned and have zero local service. Mom & Pop shops close every day because many people don't get it. Why would you buy something you can't hear? I could easily close my shop and become a mail order "Ho". My site doesn't have a shopping cart because I like educating people and demoing systems that actually work. One on one relationships are key. Just because it's cheaper, doesn't mean you'll be better off. You'll just cobble together a bad sounding mess because "it was a good deal".

For those of you who are my clients, thanks. a lot! Business has been great because of you. I'm glad that you "get it" on more levels than one. I've been doing this for almost 16 years and I plan on bringing music into your home for many years to come. It's a heck of a lot of fun!

BTW, This rule should apply to everything you buy, wherever you live.

On that note, my pal Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports coined a great new word!

NECROAUDIOPHILLIAC. One who scours estate sales to pilfer old, dead guy's stereos for profit. Nice! I submitted it to Urban Dictionary!

$995 Rega DAC better than the $11K dCS Debussy?

Here's the Rega DAC review from Positive Feedback. Loaded with digital nonsense words that confuse the hell out of me, but a positive review. You can skip the asinine techno speak and just come hear it at my shop (or your local Rega dealer).
The Leben RS-30EQ phono pre has been breaking in nicely but it looks like I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get in the Auditorium 23 SPU step up transformer so my Dynavector low output carts will sing.
I'm looking at a few new turntable lines simply because I want to show more cartridges. Kuzma is at the top of the "Want List". They have the Stabi SD table which holds two arms, sounds great and doesn't cost $20K.

I’m New Here: Gil Scott-Heron

There is a proper procedure for taking advantage of any investment.
Music, for example. Buying music is an investment.
To get the maximum you must


Not in your car or on a portable player through a headset.
Take it home.
Get rid of all distractions, (even her or him)
Turn off your cell phone.
Turn off everything that rings or beeps or rattles or whistles.
Make yourself comfortable.
Play your LP.
LISTEN all the way through.
Think about what you got.
Think about who would appreciate this investment.
Decide if there is someone to share this with.
Turn it on again.
Enjoy Yourself.

Gil Scott-Heron

Snowing in Austin!

26781_1367820997721_1297573855_1099051_841709_nIt's weird to look outside and see it dumping in Texas! All we need are a few weeks of this and some mountains! I still have my skis!

Victory Grill gets Historical Marker!


During World War II, segregation prevented African American servicemen from enjoying most civilian restaurants and recreational facilities. In an effort to address this issue, Austin civic leaders urged the city to provide recreational sites for servicemen on leave from military posts. By war’s end, African American servicemen had added but limited “R&R” sites in Austin. Johnny Holmes responded to this need when he opened the original Victory Grill on VJ day (Victory over Japan Day, Aug. 16, 1945) in a converted icehouse on east 11th street. Holmes created a venue in east Austin that provided returning African American servicemen with both an accessible dining establishment and blues and jazz entertainment.
Victory Grill Website

KUDOS X2 In the house!

DHL came by today with the new Kudos X2 loudspeakers! (breaking them in with some Radio Birdman as I write this) The small floor standing X2's along with the Naim Uniti, are a simple solution to covering all your bases. The X2 are $2495 a pair. Something this small shouldn't sound this big! Come have a listen!

Kudos C-10 and X2  ROCK!

Roth Music Cocoon MC4… Recession Proof Hi-Fi!

The Roth MC4 Pod integrated amp is now in. For only $499 you can get the silky smoothness of tubes and three inputs for iPod, CD/ phono and computer. 


The Music Cocoon has been designed for use with the lovely Apple iPod (hence the fairly obvious dock on the top of the amplifier), any portable audio device (that’s why there is a 3.5mm socket on the back of the amplifier), any device which outputs audio to a 3.5mm jack (e.g. a laptop), or a CD player (that’ll be why there is a pair of RCA sockets on the back as well).


This means that regardless of the source unit, the MC4 can handle it, which immediately makes it more useful than a simple docking device for the iPod.


If one considers the iPod or MP3 player, for sure, what you put in is what comes out, so if you are using compressed audio files, we can’t weave some magic to restore what has been lost. However……we can guarantee that the amplifier will add a real warmth and dimension to the music which other amplifiers are not designed to do. That’s the thing about vacuum tubes; there is a science behind their use, but the results cannot be quantified.


When using uncompressed files, this amplifier has the ability to allow you to hear things in the music which you have not heard before. It will bring back the excitement of listening for the first time to that new album from your favourite artist, the same anticipation, but, with a curiously smooth and refined playback which you will not have experienced before. Yes. It is that good.


For CD playback it simply is astonishing and the audio quality and depth generated from such a small amplifier is beyond froody*.


In use, the MC4 is simple to operate and you can of course control the functionality of the iPod from the remote control. We made this nice and chunky so that you’re less likely to lose it.


* see Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams.


This is the one & only PINK Rega P3-24 that will be imported to the United States!   I've put a red mat and Ortofon 2M blue cartridge on it. SOLD! It may be time to get an ORANGE one in and Longhorn it up!

My new table!

I scored this sweet lab table from Habitat For Humanity!  I can now solder cables and set up turntables in style.  I dig the built in plugs.  It's the little things in life...



snapshot-2008-02-03-09-33-33_2.jpg    * A client of mine was featured in the March issue of Dwell magazine and they took a pic of the system I sold him (Naim, Rega P3, Neat Elites).  I almost made it a few months ago, but the Rega P3 / DV 10x5 was out of the shot (El Cosmico in Marfa, Tx)