pl | en

Srajan Ebaen is the Editor in Chief, publisher and owner of the Swiss (former American) Internet magazine „”. Born German, USA citizen, living for years in Cyprus and since a few years residing in Switzerland – he seems to be a happy and fulfilled person. The history of this unusual man in a brief interview.

Srajan Ebaen is interviewed by Wojciech Pacuła


Text: Wojciech Pacuła/Srajan Ebaen
Photographs: Srajan Ebaen

Interview published: in Polish on Jan 1th 2012, No. 93

Where were you born?
Flensburg, Germany.

How was your childhood?
Perfectly ordinary for our purposes here.

You mentioned that you and your family are musicians – can you tell me more about it?
I began getting clarinet lessons at around 6 years of age. I progressed from there to participating in a youth marching band with sit-down concerts in various tourist places across Schleswig Holstein. Next came studies with a clarinet teacher in Hamburg while I went to high school like everyone else. I participated in amateur chamber music ensembles, in holiday concert orchestras which assembled as symphonic workshops with concluding performances. I also participated and won prizes in the Bundeswettbewerb Jugend Musiziert which led to being invited to play with the Bundesjugendorchester from the age of 16 to 18. I finished school at 17 and entered the Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Hannover under Hans Deinzer. My seniors in his class included Sabine Meyer who became famous for being the first female clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic under Karajan. My older sister and younger brother both are professional concert musicians on the French horn. My parents are amateur clarinetists who pursue music for the pure joy of it.

When did you move to the USA?
I lost track, but ca. 1984.

What was your first occupation there?
I worked as a window cleaner.

How did you feel there – a man from Europe?
I never felt European or German. I’m simply a citizen of the world, a spirit with a human experience in a man’s body. America at the time represented freedom and opportunity but it’s important to state that my sole reason for emigrating was following my spiritual teacher Osho to his Oregon community. It’s where he was so that’s where I went. America per se had nothing to do with it.

What did you like there and dislike?
At the time I liked the expanse and accessibility of the people and the raw vitality of what I now consider to be a retrograde culture stuck in adolescence – powerful, immature, irresponsible and very deluded. Capitalism and consumerism as the de facto state religion became more oppressive as time went by. Subsequent to that I felt that the country had lost its soul and sold out to the Big Brother concept with all the control mechanisms of the media and misinformation this implies. I viewed the US as headed for a very serious downward spiral which would take generations to remedy. That’s when my wife and I decided to leave. We haven’t given America a second thought since. Like the Roman Empire under Nero, its relevance as the supreme power has come and gone.

Tell me about your job in Positive-Feedback Online magazine.
Not much to tell. I applied for an opportunity to write, they accepted. I had stints with them, SoundStage!, Goodsound and EnjoyTheMusic. It’s how I began writing about hifi.

Can you tell me about magazines in the USA as a whole?
Not really. I know my own. That’s it.

You moved to Cyprus later – why?
See above. We were finished with the US and like many harbored a romantic notion of living on a Mediterranean island. I’d designed 6moons to be a portable business and when the opportunity arose I exploited it.

What did you like there and what dislike?
I loved being outside the mind smog of the US which vanished like a fog on the horizon. It’s impossible to appreciate its true pervasiveness until one is outside – just like a fish in the water doesn’t know he’s in the water until he jumps out. I loved the climate and how abundantly everything grew. I love Greek and Turkish music and the Mediterranean food. I learnt to despise the corruption and far-spread ineptitude which required concerns over mundane daily tasks one takes for granted in more mature developed countries like Switzerland or Germany. Running a business out of Cyprus became harder than it needed to be. Then the drought worsened, the weather got too hot and my wife required heart surgery for which we had to go to Germany. By then the Cyprus romance had worn off. I’d say the same about living in Italy or France as a foreigner who still operates a business rather than lives as a retiree. There’s very good reason why the most industrious nations developed in colder climates. And I’m still in an industrious phase of my life.

Is there an audio scene?
Probably. I didn’t see much of it.

Why did you move to Switzerland?
Quality of life pure and simple. Political and financial stability. A secure supply of water. A nation which doesn’t spend 90% of its annual tax revenue on war but reinvests much into the community. A multi-lingual multi-cultural populace. The good parts in the word civilized.

You mentioned that you found a paradise there – can you tell me how come?
Switzerland is very clean and functional (just like Germany) but the Southern French part where we live also has the Italian/French influences of laissez-fair and its life style which mixes both flavors. Living on Lake Geneva surrounded by snow-capped mountains in a small French-style village yet having access to an international airport, a brilliant IT and banking infrastructure and being able to be anywhere in Europe within a few short hours are vital additional benefits. It’s a very beautiful place and the people are genuinely friendly. By not being part of the EU, Switzerland also has strategically avoided the very obvious issues which now plague the European Union as a whole.

Where you live there – pleas tell me some details about your neighborhood.
That’s quite irrelevant. I’m just a guy doing a job he enjoys. I’m not a celebrity.

Tell me something about audio scene there – I mean megabuck, very high quality products; am I right?
I’m not into bling. While I have met Serge Schmidlin of Audio Consulting, Sven Boenicke of Audiomanuktur, Gino Colombo of Colotube and such Swiss makers, I’m actually more of a modern yogi. Think caveman. I work out of the house and things come to me. That’s how I set this whole thing up. It’s what I learnt from Osho. He sat in his room and the whole world came to him.

How is your relationship between printed and Internet-based magazines? What strengths and weakness they have?
As you know I collaborate with your magazine and in Germany. Plans are underway to expand that with a French site and there has been interest with Turkey and Hungary. We’ll see. Online publishing is real time, international and without distribution infrastructure. That’s a plus. That you can’t read online content like a book is a minus for many, particularly older readers. Online publishing is far more cost-effective. This has obvious and far-reaching consequences.

Self-publishing meanwhile overrides or circumvents traditional ‘rite-of-passage’ apprenticeships. Anyone who so desires can operate and run an online magazine. Qualifications and professionalism need not factor one iota. That’s a huge demerit and there exist plenty of examples which are no credit to our profession. With the advent of blogs and forums the distinction between ‘professional’ and ‘casual’ online content has begun to blur further .This weighs in on the side of discredit for those amongst us who work hard to apply ‘old print-magazine type’ standards as best we can (seeing we’re entirely self-taught and –made).

What is the future of the audio – can you predict any path it will go?
I’m not an oracle and have no interest to be considered one. The interest in music is clearly vibrant and more widespread than ever before thanks to the iPod/iTunes phenomenon. Apple’s expertise at industrial design, trend-setting functionality and massive volume production has created expectations for size, multi-tasking, fit/finish and price which high-end audio flat-out cannot compete with. We sell ugly big heavy expensive boxes which can only do one thing (whilst punishing us further with curtailed interfaces) whilst the iTrend is about miniaturization and doing more with less. High-end uses lifestyle as a dirty word. That’s ludicrous. Listening to music on a regular basis is a lifestyle pure and simple. Until high-end absorbs that lesson it’ll remain relevant to only the few.
That said, there will always be room for better. The real issue is of exposure. The traditional hifi dealer used to fulfill that role. That’s gone away in a big way. How the iGeneration will discover better hardware; what shape this hardware must take to be relevant and appealing to them… this I do not know. If I did I’d be a very rich man. It’s a question people far smarter than I are struggling with and as yet I don’t see a magic solution.

How about vinyl – is this just temporary revival or something longer?
I don’t know and I don’t care. The music I enjoy most doesn’t exist on vinyl so for me the medium (like SACD) has always been irrelevant. These formats don’t speak my language.

You told me that you don’t like very high price gear – why? Are you thinking it is always overpriced?
It’s elitist, exclusionary and relevant to only the few. I prefer to be relevant to more rather than fewer readers. Hifi is just a hobby. To be crude, the world is going to shit and we worry about nonsense. Do you think that once you die and look back over your life you’d remember your hifi components? Do you think you could relate to any of the concerns and obsessive behavior over it then? If not, why take this stuff so serious now? It’s simply not relevant. Having fun is. If you enjoy agonizing over hardware and swapping around a lot, who am I to disagree? I’ve simply done more of it than most to perhaps find it less interesting now. The kid in the candy store syndrome has worn off.

You told me that you prefer low wattage amps and high sensitive speakers – you mean that it is a better scenario than low sensitive + high wattage?
Preference implies no right, wrong, better or worse. It’s simply a preference. I find it smarter to not require lots of power. This allows for simpler amplification circuits. On a whole those tend to sound better (or can be done for less money). I will shortly own a pair of 10-watt monoblocks with just one active amplification device per. One stage, one output device, no feedback, no degeneration but adjustable class A bias to tweak the load line behavior to the speaker. A transistor amp with true triode curves. That’s my idea of an interesting concept. In my experience hi-eff speakers excel at low volumes. That is vital when you listen to music a lot but have neighbors as most people do. It’s not about ideals and fancy notions, abstracts and absolutes. All that is poppycock and much ado about nothing. It’s about getting the job done in the desired fashion with the minimum amount of fuss and expense. The rest is snobbism and boys with toys.

Srajan’s main system:

  • Sources: 27" iMac with 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, AMD Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, PureMusic 1.82 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold/Voltikus, April Music Eximus DP1, Weiss DAC2, Metrum Acoustics NOS Mini DAC Octave, Esoteric/APL Hifi UX1/NWO-M
  • Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Synergy Hifi tubes, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X
  • Amplifiers: FirstWatt S2, J2 & F5; ModWright KWA-100SE, Octave MRE-130 with SBB,
  • Yamamoto A-09S, Woo Audio Model 5, Trafomatic Audio Kaivalya
  • Speakers: Aries Cerat Gladius, Voxativ Ampeggio, Zu Essence, Audiomanufacture Boenicke B10 with Swingbase
  • Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event, Entreq USB cables
  • Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier stands, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stands
  • Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF2, 1 x Furutech RTP-6

Video system:

  • Source: NuForce Edition Oppo 93SE
  • Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE
  • Amplifier: Lavardin IT
  • Speakers: Mark+Daniel Fantasia S
  • Cables: Crystal Cable Ultra
  • Screen: Sony Bravia 35”

Desktop system:

  • Sources: iPod 160GB with 16/44 AIFF files, Pure i20,
  • Integrated amplifier: Bel Canto C5i
  • Speakers: Everything But The Box Terra III, Amphion Impact 400 subwoofer
  • Cables: Zu Event


  • Headphones: Audez’e LCD-2, Sennheiser HD800, Beyerdynamic T1 & T5p, AKG K-702 all recables by ALO Audio, HifiMan HE-5LE, HE-500 and HE-6, Ortofon eQ7
  • Sources: 256GB SSD iMod, 160GB iPod, 27” iMac, Cypherlabs Algorhythm Solo
  • Amplifiers: April Music Eximus DP-1, ModWright LS100, Schiit Lyr, Trafomatic Head One, Burson Audio HA-160D, ALO Audio RxMkII

Editorial note: Srajan Ebaen visited Krakow in August 2011 on invitation from the company Ancient Audio. He found some time to visit me at my home, when he was there, and then to attend a meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society. The report from that meeting can be found HERE.

Please direct your questions, suggestions, opinions, etc. to:


"High Fidelity OnLine" is an internet magazine, published since may 2004, devoted to high quality reproduction of sound and picture. It is a monthly magazine, but the articles are uploaded twice a month - in the beginning of the month and in the middle. The news column is updated on on-going basis, if possible. The main sections are: "Tests", "Events" (interviews, reportages, and similar), "Hyde Park" (user tests, opinions) and "Who asks..." (readers questions and HFOL answers). Articles from earlier issues can be read in the "Archive". Have a nice read!

Digital camera:
Canon 450D, EF-16-35F/2.8 L USM + EF 100 mm 1:2.8 USM

The site is powered by