September 25, 2022 § Leave a comment

Many small and inexpensive speakers claim greatness, but few achieve it. The JBL L52 Classic Bookshelf Speaker is one of the best of those few. It achieves big speaker status to a greater degree than pretty much any bookshelf/stand-mount speaker I’ve listened to. It produces a clean and clear sound that is balanced across the frequency range. It delivers strong but controlled bass that reaches lower than you’d expect. You can place them straight or toed, wide or narrow, and they’ll create a huge sound stage that goes far beyond the confines of your room. And they look amazing. The retro style in this case is simple and to the point. The real walnut veneer adds a touch of high-end and the grille can only be called cool. And if you don’t want them to stand out, get the black grille.


September 25, 2022 § Leave a comment

A very popular chip, issued from the MasterHiFi series and advertised as a “low power audio DAC with a high-fidelity headphone amplifier to provide a superior system-level audio performance”. And, history has proven that Cirrus really knows cirrus knows a thing or two about it, improving year after year, for the last decade.

As usual, this chip is more of an SOC than a simple DAC, embedding all kinds of features like advanced 32-bit oversampled multi-bit modulator with mismatch shaping technology, or an Integrated GND-centered, Class H headphone driver, helping brands like FiiO to create all-in-one devices, with smaller PCB.

Best Closed-Back Audiophile Headphones of 2022

September 25, 2022 § Leave a comment

iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon Portable DAC/Amplifier $600 Review

September 24, 2022 § Leave a comment

With the XBass II setting disabled, it was rather clear that the xDSD Gryphon has very impressive low end performance; bass notes have strong definition, impact, and a lot of texture. The clarity in the low end was also excellent and when I used headphones that could show it off — it was clear that the unit is capable of letting you hear the differences between bass guitars and percussion instruments.

That is not very common with portable units like this and I was happy to hear that the performance did not fall off as we moved into the mid bass and upper bass regions; the impact remained very strong but with excellent linearity and texture.

There was no bleed into the lower midrange and it keeps things very clean in this range; even turning the XBass II on did not cause the bass to overwhelm the rest of the music.

Stenheim Alumine Five SE Loudspeaker $72,000 REVIEW

September 24, 2022 § Leave a comment

Bottom line: Like the superb Estelon X Diamond Mk II, the Stenheim Five SE is not just a great speaker; it is one of high-end audio’s greatest speakers. Its ability to generate truly deep, linear, powerful bass, unusually rich and lifelike tone color, near-visible three-dimensional images, and astounding detail and dynamics from such a modest enclosure is not just a surprise; it is one for the ages. For those of you looking for the high-end answer to a limited listening space, look no further. Hie thee to the nearest Stenheim dealership—pronto. In cones-in-a-box loudspeakers, you just don’t find this big a gift in this small a package every day (or every decade). 

Denon PMA-1700NE stereo integrated amplifier 

September 24, 2022 § Leave a comment

Gryphon Apex Stereo power amplifier $99,000 Review

September 23, 2022 § Leave a comment


I don’t think I’ve ever used the old audiophile acronym PRaT (pace, rhythm, and timing), so I’ll use it now, in my final Stereophile review: The Apex Stereo amp has PRaT, but the Apex–Commander combo has it in spades. The Apex Stereo amp, alone and combined with the Commander preamp, seems to up the pace of everything, as if your turntable is running fast, while simultaneously digging further down into each musical instant, making each gesture live longer, with precise attack, generous sustain, and long decay. The amp simultaneously speeds things up and slows things down. A neat trick. That’s the long and the short of it.

Pure Fidelity Horizon Turntable $10,000 REVIEW

September 23, 2022 § Leave a comment


Any complaints? Only the expanding popularity of this turntable along with inflation and global supply chain issues has caused the cost to rise somewhat significantly over the past two years. Is it still a value of $10,000 for the arm and table together? Answering that question in any type of objective sense would require a sample size of turntables most people will never even encounter, let alone spend time with. 

For me, the Pure Fidelity Horizon (USD $9995 incl. arm) fits the bill. It offers sonic clarity with an analog flow that only a good belt drive design can achieve. It showcases a beautiful and simple design with high-quality components, and it comes as a complete package that prevents the need to spend countless hours and dollars tweaking accessories and add-ons. Pair with one of the high quality 9” tonearms offered from either Origin Live or Acoustic Signature, and you have a turntable that can get you off the HiFi merry-go-round. For me, I’ve found my “last” turntable, and I couldn’t be happier.

Roon 2 0 now also mobile

September 23, 2022 § Leave a comment

Klipsch La Scala AL5 Review

September 22, 2022 § Leave a comment


One of my favourite loudspeakers currently on sale, Klipsch’s La Scala AL5 is a mighty design that sounds like few others available and makes music absolutely captivating to listen to in the process. Although huge and heavy, it’s not actually the company’s flagship – that accolade goes to the £17,500 Heritage Klipschorn AK6 – but is a far more practical proposition for anyone in terms of space. It’s far from perfect – as are all speakers – but it has a unique charm and an enthusiasm for music that’s hard not to love. Match carefully to a smooth sounding source and amplifier, and you’re close to hi-fi nirvana.

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