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Essence Picks Ivan Berger as Winner of Winter 2019 Sweeps!

I am very happy to announce that well-known audiophile journalist Ivan Berger is the winner of the Essence Winter 2019 Sweeps to win the HDACC II-4K HDMI v2.0 DAC, a $599 value. Congrats to Ivan and thanks to all who entered but didn’t win, good luck next time. This was a big contest with more entries than any previous Essence Sweeps over the last 5 years.

Ivan was one of the early generation of audiophiles and journalists who covered Hi Fi.  I remember growing up reading his columns and product reviews in Stereo Review, High Fidelity, Popular Science, Popluar Mechanics, Audio, Video, and others.  It’s fair to say his writing influenced me and inspired young audiophiles everywhere.  If there was a Hall of Fame for audiophile journalists, I believe Ivan would make the top 5 of all time.  

As a young industry exec back in the day, I remember Ivan stopping by my booth at every CES  to see and hear the products I was selling to see if there was anything newsworthy.  His presence in a vendors booth meant you were doing something right.  He would actually get the demo on the spot, seeking out the sweet spot listening position for best performance and he was usually the first to print for audiophiles around the country waiting to learn about the latest and greatest products of the day from each show. 

Below is Ivan’s “My Audiophile Journey”, some of you will remember the early days of the industry through his eyes.

My Audiophile Journey by Ivan Berger:

“I started in audio back around 1949, by spending my birthday money on an RCA 45-rpm changer playing through a jack in the back of our RCA TV–our family’s first phonograph (though we did have an FM radio). The RCA was soon replaced by a Webcor 3-speed changer, so we could play LPs. When I reached high school, my chem teacher turned me on to component audio (I think he had a Pilot integrated amp, Rek-O-Kut turntable, and a Bozak speaker (no stereo yet).  By the time I started college, I had a Grommes 10- or 12-watt amp and a Lafayette Radio speaker. By my last year of college, I’d replaced the changer with a Weathers turntable and a Dynaco / B&O arm/cartridge (tracking at an awesomely low 2 g!), replaced the Grommes with a Heathkit preamp and 25-watt amp, replaced the Lafayette speaker with an RJ / Wharfedale system, and added an Eico kit FM tuner and an old Magnecord tape deck.

The phono cartridge was already stereo, and soon after college I replaced the mono Heathkits with stereo Dynakits and added a second RJ / Wharfedale.  Those were the days when you could save a lot by building gear from kits—by the ‘70s, manufacturing techniques had made factory-assembled gear cheaper than kits, and kit-building faded away.

Next, I replaced the mono Magnecord with a 15/7.5-ips Tapesonic that took 10-1/2” reels, and bought some B&O ribbon mikes for live recording. Over the years, I upgraded piece by piece by piece by piece, until nothing but the mikes remained from those days. Today, I have SOTA and VPI turntables, Ortofon MC and Shure MM cartridges (among others), a Kenwood CD player and a Krell DAC, Onkyo Integra FM tuner, a variety of amps (currently using a Carver), and Martin-Logan SL3 hybrid speakers. I alternate between a Denon and a Soundstream preamp—can’t decide which I like better. For recording gear, I have a Yamaha cassette deck, Victor (JVC) DAT deck, Pioneer ¼-track recorder and Tandberg half-track. The Essence DAC will be exactly what I need to start bringing this mostly analog system into the digital present and future.

When I started, learning what to buy was an adventure. Finding no book explaining it, I vowed to write one once my research was complete.  It took a decade before I got around to that (I wrote another 10 years after), but just one year after college I wrote and sold my first article on audio, the start of a career that led to my writing for Stereo Review, High Fidelity, Popular Science, and more and brought me to editorial jobs at Popular Mechanics, Popular Electronics, Video, and Audio. My research never was complete and never will be–audio keeps changing and progressing.”

My current system:

SOTA star sapphire with Ortofon MC and Shure MM cartridges

Ortofon T-30 NC transformer

Cinepro Studio II line conditioner (also illuminates)

Krell Studio 2 DAC

Onkyo Integra preamp (or Soundstream)

Yamaha KX-690 cassette deck

Onkyo Integra FM tuner

Kenwood DP-M7750 multi-CD player

Victor [JVC] XD-2900 DAT deck

Carver M-1.01 Magnetic Field amp

Pioneer open-reel deck

Tandberg half-track 7.5-15 ips deck       

Inttra sound rack

Martin-Logan SL3 hybrid speakers


Ivan can be reached at

Bob Rapoport

Award-winning sales and marketing exec, consultant and product launch specialist to manufacturers of high performance audio / video products for consumer and professional applications. Holder of 2 patents for analog matrix surround decoding, winner of 12 CES Innovations Design & Engineering awards, recognized in the Who's Who of American Inventors, and the leading advocate for adoption of the Blu-ray audio standard for music and movies; currently the CEO of Essence For Hi Res Audio manufacturing the HDACC Upsampling 24/192K DAC Preamp, DPA-440 Class D Power Amp, and online marketer in the USA for Acoustic Energy, Ceratec, Core Power Technologies, REVO, Verisonix Headphones, and ARCHT One.

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