November 17, 2019 § Leave a comment

“The iFi Pro iDSD 4.4 hits on all cylinders. As a DAC it is unparalleled in versatility and sound to my ear. The fact that it offers a triode tube analog section as well as a separate Class A discrete solid-state analog section puts it in a class by itself. As a DAC by itself, I would have no problem using this as a reference DAC, it is exceptionally musical, with an excellent but realistic soundstage, and it handles all existing digital formats. It has a wide range of digital filter options allowing the user to tailor the sound to their specific tastes, but no setting in my experience was particularly harsh or grainy.”

Magnepan Magneplanar LRS Review

November 17, 2019 § Leave a comment


“Do the LRS’s deserve their Stereophile Class A rating? Yes, and even more, because they’re much more than just a “taste of the high end.” Are they absolutely perfect? No, because they definitely have a restricted low frequency range, and certain tracks—especially those that contain strong mid-bass passages, like plucked upper-register acoustic bass—may cause the mid-bass panel to snap and misbehave. Not a common occurrence, but I can cite numerous instances of tracks that have given these babies some level of trouble—and they’re almost all jazz records. That said, the ability of these loudspeakers to portray a startlingly realistic image of the recorded event is stunningly good—I can’t heap on enough superlatives.

Back to the Wigglesworth Shostakovich disc; in the fourth movement “Finale. Allegro molto,” where the orchestral crescendos explode across the soundstage with enormously massive transients—you just wouldn’t expect an “entry level” pair of flat panel speakers to be able to recreate this music with completely unrestrained dynamics! The orchestral crash is literally like a train wreck taking place right inside the listening room, but the LRS manages to pull it off without strain of any kid. The series of tympani whacks that follow certainly gave me reason to hold the remote closely—just in case—but the LRS even took those completely in stride! The listening experience isn’t lacking in any way; even the $700 Schiit Vidar stereo amp was able to provide the necessary voltage to make the performance shockingly believable—not to flog a d”

Conrad-Johnson Classic Sixty-Two SE Stereo Power AmplifierReview

November 17, 2019 § Leave a comment


“The Classic 62SE was completely reliable during the review period, and the bias of one or two of the power tubes required just a small adjustment or two after the initial setting. The sonic character is very linear and transparent from the upper bass to upper treble, so this is not a tube amplifier to “sweeten up” an overly dry or harmonically thin system. The owner of a C-J Classic 62SE amplifier will get the characteristic harmonic depth of tube products in a good looking, musically revealing, reliable, and quite powerful amplifier.”


November 16, 2019 § Leave a comment


“However, no one is thinking BA for the lows and a dynamic driver for the mids and that is the genius of the Elysium. It shouldn’t really work on conventional thinking but it does. The solidity and texture of the Elysium mids are to die for and just stunning because they can breathe and take center stage. Vocals are smooth, slightly to the euphonic side but thoroughly addictive to listen to. The clever transition from mids to a smooth but very detailed electrostatic treble tuning is really the icing on the cake.

The Elysium is in my bag for 90% of the time and it pretty much works for almost all of the music I listen to for hours on end. Bass heads might find this not to their taste. I suggest the Layla if you want the complete sub-bass experience from a flagship driver. But if solid mids and deep richly textured vocals are your thing then the Elysium is it, and then some.”


November 16, 2019 § Leave a comment


There are no user-selectable digital filter options for the Astell&Kern KANN CUBE. The above digital filter test is based on a protocol suggested by Jurgen Reis of MBL Audio. This noise test shows the characteristics of a sharp filter that is flat to 22 kHz (with a 44k sample/sec input) with a steep roll-off thereafter. The reconstruction tone of a 19KHz signal is down 65dB. This is as it should be. Some products have filters that can produce a high-end droop and minimal rejection of the 19kHz reconstruction tone.

All in all, from an objective standpoint, the Astell&Kern KANN CUBE produces impressively low THD+N numbers and has excellent linearity characteristics. One should have no qualms using it as a source component in a high-end stereo system let alone in its intended portable use.”

Sonus faber Electa Amator III Loudspeaker Review

November 16, 2019 § Leave a comment


“As you will have surmised, then, this loudspeaker isn’t just a device for superior reproduction of scale, space and, yes, rich bottom octaves: it’s also a champion with vocals. The interplay between Rawls and Reeves has long been one of my aural litmus tests, and the ‘III sailed through it with aplomb. Detail, controlled sibilants, ideal contrast in the vocal textures – the title track oozed warmth and realism, even sounding valve-like when driven by the D’Agostino Momentum Stereo.

On to Keb’ Mo’s Peace… Back By Popular Demand [Okeh/Epic EK92687] to hear the twang of the bottleneck guitar, the sublime piano on ‘Imagine’ – the Electa Amator IIIs simply sang. I could surely live with these, concerned with only one downside: I’d be up every night until 3am, trying to hear my entire record collection just one more time.

SPL Phonitor XE Headamp/DAC Review

November 15, 2019 § Leave a comment


“If the Phonitor has a noticeable sound, it is in a more conceptual sense. The perception of a low noise background is very good, and there is an exceptional degree of smoothness to the sound. The smoothness is not the result of dulled transients, but rather a sense of space and depth to individual sounds that rather than emphasizing instrumental separation, seems to draw my attention to the musical presentation as a whole. Despite possessing the resolution capability to act as an audio microscope, I never lost the forest for the trees in any music when listening to the Phonitor amp. This exceptional smoothness and sense of space meant it also worked with somewhat forward or brighter headphones that typically don’t get along well with solid state. I could experience sensitive dynamics with the SPL that previously had only ever really spoken to me when run on tube or hybrid gear “

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