To Doug Schneider,

Your impressive study of the Focus Audio FS-788 loudspeakers in 2004 convinced me to purchase them in 2006. 

As you mentioned in your excellent paper, they require a powerful amplifier, but I could only buy a Roksan Caspian integrated amplifier (M series) at that time, with a Roksan Caspian CD player (M series) to play my CDs.

As a Belgian citizen, I traveled a lot with my hi-fi equipment, including three years in Madagascar and I am now living in South Africa where my loudspeakers still deliver a marvelous sound both for classical and blues music.

I assume the technology has progressed and I strictly do not know what and how to make a choice today. I would like to buy the amplifier you would recommend for my loudspeakers when I go back to Europe next July. Could you send me your updated recommendation of the more suited ones for my equipment? Thank you so much. 

Kind regards,
Michel Rinaldi

Focus’s FS-788 was one of the first speakers from that company that I reviewed. As I recall, it was excellent, so I’m not surprised it has served you well. Roksan’s equipment is quite good, but there’s obviously better.

I’m not sure what your budget is or if you want another integrated amplifier or separates, but I’ll give you my thoughts on the brands and products I like today that deliver outstanding performance and are still reasonably priced. By far and away, the best product I’ve heard in a long time is Devialet’s D-Premier integrated amplifier-DAC. It’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination ($15,995 in the United States), but its sound is state of the art and it incorporates a power amplifier, preamplifier, and DAC into one case. Devialet is based in France. I’m also a big fan of Canada’s Simaudio and Bryston -- both companies make outstanding integrated amplifiers, as well as preamplifiers, power amplifiers, and digital products. Right now I use a Bryston 4B SST2 in my reference system and can’t say enough good things about it. Simaudio’s Moon Evolution 650D is a cutting-edge digital source that I just reviewed. Both companies know how to make good stuff. Ayre of the United States is another one to check out. I just reviewed Ayre’s VX-R stereo power amplifier and found it to be the very best power amplifier I’ve heard. It’s probably a little pricey, though -- $14,950 and you’ll still need a preamp to go with it. Their much-more-affordable 60Wpc AX-7e integrated amplifier is really nice, though, and I bet it would be powerful enough for those speakers -- you do need a powerful amplifier with the FS-788s, but you don’t have to go overboard. Finally, there’s Vitus Audio of Denmark, a brand that shouldn’t be overlooked. Their Masterpiece-series products are insanely priced, but from what I’ve heard they’re insanely good too. It’s the Reference line you’ll likely want to look at – the RI-100 looks really nice and, in fact, it’s a product I’d like to review. I hope that helps. . . . Doug Schneider

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