QUAD PA-ONE+ TRIODE TUBE DAC/HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER $1,299 REVIEW

April 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The Quad PA-ONE+ and ERA-1 have excellent synergy providing realistic timbre and tonal balance, a large three-dimensional soundstage, wide dynamic range, and great musicality. Listening to Billy Joel’s “The Ballad Of Billy The Kid” (Piano Man – DSD) the piano was rich and energetic and the orchestra was full expansive with good instrument placement and imaging. The drums were tight and impactful and the bass showed exemplary resolution. There was real depth to the soundstage placing the instruments at a distance with Billy up front and his vocals warm and musical.

Moving on to “The Firebird Suite” (Robert Shaw & the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra – Stravinsky: The Firebird; Borodin: Music from Prince Igor – 16/44.1 kHz) there was great air around the soloists, and the tonality was pitch perfect making it easy to pick out the similar sounding woodwinds and brass. The tympanis were fast and articulate and the detail during the crescendos exhibited great resolution from the DAC playing standard resolution tracks.”

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Verity Audio Monsalvat Amp-60 power amplifier $58,000 Review

April 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Of all the power amplifiers I’ve heard, whether in my own systems or at audio shows, the one whose midrange continues to linger in my mind is Verity Audio’s Monsalvat Amp-60. I’ve packed up a lot of great gear in my time, but next to my loaner dCS Vivaldi DAC, now on its way home to the UK after bringing me joy for well over a year, the sound I’ve most regretted saying goodbye to is the Amp-60’s.

At first, I thought I’d describe the Monsalvat Amp-60’s smooth, glowing, naturally warm sound as “dew-kissed”—but to some, that metaphor might imply a hyper-liquidity that I did not hear. Better to describe its midrange as velvet smooth. Imagine yourself blindfolded and led to a series of objects that you can identify only by touch. With each new texture your fingers encounter, your sense of wonder increases: the surface of a ceramic dinner plate, the warm chassis of an amplifier, a piece of cardboard, a cloak of finest velvet. As you luxuriate in the feel of those textures, you can begin to imagine how the Amp-60 sounds.

VAC, Von Schweikert

April 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

CHORD ELECTRONICS ÉTUDE STEREO POWER AMPLIFIER REVIEW

April 29, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Finally, there’s an important aspect of the Étude that has almost nothing to do with the technology; namely, the trinity of Blu, DAVE, and Étude that I’m going to call the ‘Power Chord’. Unfortunately, due to the rarity of all three (they sell out faster than Chord Electronics can make them), I did not have all three Chord Electronics products to hand at the same time, but they match in terms of equal degrees of technological advancement and styling, and from memory I’m fairly sure they match in terms of sound and performance, too. I’m hoping to put the three together later in the year to find out for sure, but I have a feeling this might be one of those ‘stick a fork in me, I’m done!’ type systems where – aside from the choice of cable and loudspeakers, the system is a complete given.”

MrSpeakers Ether 2 Review

April 29, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Comparing the Ether 2 with the Hifiman HE1000v2 headphones both are superb, but the HE1000v2 produces a more spacious and three-dimensional soundstage. The Ether 2’s tone is more fleshed out and solid, while the HE1000v2 reveals superior detail in the quieter parts of the music. I’m more aware of the acoustics of the room the musicians were playing in over the HE1000v2, and treble detail sparkles more. The Ether 2 brings the instruments in closer, so the sound is more intimate than what I’m getting from the HE1000v2. These two headphones present different sonic perspectives, the Ether 2 digs deeper, the music has more weight, and feels more fully developed; the HE1000v2 is more transparent and livelier.”

KEF LSX wireless loudspeaker system $1099 Review

April 29, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The best-sounding album I played during my first week with the LSX system was jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson’s Meltframe (16/44.1 FLAC, Firehouse 12/Tidal). The quality and character of timbre of Halvorson’s guitar convinced me that, after many experiments, I’d nailed the Desktop EQ/DSP settings in the Control app’s Expert section. On my desktop stage, the speakers’ octave-to-octave energy balance let instruments and humans sound quite natural. The vibrating body of Halvorson’s guitar took up residence behind my desk. My enjoyment of Meltframe put to rest any lingering questions I had about the LSX’s sound.

Fine detail and sharply focused images were the most conspicuous aspects of the LSX system’s sound. Soprano Dorothee Mields singing John Dowland’s “From Silent Night,” accompanied by viola da gambist Hille Perl and lutenist Lee Santana, from In Darkness Let Me Dwell (16/44.1 FLAC, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi/Tidal), sounded sweet, tuneful, and exceedingly spacious. All I could ask for was more strong energy in the mid-bass and a greater sense of macrodynamics. Lack of force and dynamic expression were the LSX system’s prime failings

SVS SB16-Ultra subwoofer $1,999 Review

April 28, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Now let’s get serious about guilty pleasures when it comes to music — the kind of stuff we’re loathe to admit is on our playlists. I reckon what harm could come of this, so I start playing music that should not benefit from a subwoofer, only to discover that these tracks actually have low-octave content. Hot damn, there are bass lines to be plumbed in and at depth. Not what I expected and I am being forced, in a very good way, to re-listen to a number of recordings all over again.

The Dayton Audio subwoofer is indeed serviceable, with its 120 watts of amplification and downward flared ported design it comes in at the princely sum of $148.00. Is this model the last word in subwoofers? No, it is not. Is this model a great entry point for the novice? Indeed it is, and more. For someone as cynical and skeptical as myself it is not in me to jump in with both feet. So here I am, already searching out the upgrade path. I’ve got SVS squarely in my sites. Gary Yacoubian, SVS President, was so helpful in pointing me in the direction of Ed over there, so it is down to two models of theirs, both sealed box variants: the new SB-4000 or the SB16-Ultra. Either one would take me to a whole new level and, now that I am more at ease with the subwoofer as more than a concept, I am prepared to take that next step. I went with the SB-16 Ultra because size does indeed matter, and if I was going to risk physical injury with a component that size, I reckon I’d go all-in.”

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