Hifiman Ananda-BT Bluetooth Headphones $999 Review

January 28, 2020 § Leave a comment

“The Ananda-BT gives you everything you expect from a world class pair of open back planar magnetic headphones with none of the drawbacks, no cables, and no headphone amp or DAC to worry about, you simply connect them via Bluetooth and start enjoying your music in all its high resolution glory. A molded plastic carrying case and USB mic are included for portability, phone calls, and gaming.

The Ananda-BT aren’t finicky, pray at the audiophile altar headphones, they go where you go! You’ll quickly fall in love their fabulous sound, untethered freedom of movement, and absence of sacrifices. I’ve used them for critical listening (god I hate that term), danced around my living room listening to Billie Eilish, made a fabulous red sauce streaming Pavarotti, and drifted off to a peaceful late night slumber with Windham Hill. These aren’t your father’s headphones, they’re easy breezy carefree sonic showstoppers you’ll be fighting to get back from your significant other. Recommended without reservation.”

Naim Mu-So 2 Sets the Bar

January 28, 2020 § Leave a comment

MBL 101 X-treme Omnidirectional Loudspeaker $263,000 the pair Review

January 27, 2020 § Leave a comment

“Auditioning the 101 X’s was a virtual replay of their original sojourn in my room. Then as now I can’t stop listening to the things. Then as now visitors—friends, colleagues, and manufacturers—think they are the best transducers they’ve ever heard (as do I), and eachof them has had the same slack-jawed initial reaction to hearing them, expressed in almost exactly the same words: “Where are the speakers?” 

Despite any shortcomings (and I will come to these), the MBL 101 X’s (properly situated and adjusted) sound less like loudspeakers than any other system I’ve heard. As I wrote the first time around, “all of the various ways in which conventional transducers betray that their sound is being projected in narrower or broader dispersion patterns by individual drivers in resonant enclosures simply aren’t present.” What you hear, instead, as I’ve already repeatedly noted, is a soundfield that seems to have been magically imported in toto from some other place—from a concert hall or a studio—and plopped down in your listening room with all three of its dimensions intact. To quote again from my first review, “where other transducers sound the way a film looks—like a two-dimensional medium imitating a three-dimensional reality—the 101 X-tremes sound the way a theatrical play looks—no ersatz third dimension, but actual people on an actual stage right there in front of you.

Totem Acoustic Tribe Tower Loudspeakers $5300 Review

January 27, 2020 § Leave a comment


By most standards, the Totem Tribe Tower would be considered a relatively tiny floorstander, but the pair of them sounded big in my mid-size room. Having heard what their similar sibling, the Sky Tower, could do here less than a year before, I wasn’t completely surprised, but unsuspecting listeners might be at first caught off guard, then quite pleased — this speaker should be of interest to anyone who wants room-filling sound but who doesn’t have the space for a pair of big boxes.

At first I thought I’d prefer setting up the Tribe Towers closer to the front of the room, to make better use of the front and sidewalls to help reinforce the bass — indeed, Totem recommends placing them as little as 4” from the front wall. While I was never going to do that — I’ve never been happy with the sound of speakers from that close to the wall behind them — I did try pulling them out just over 12” from the front wall. Unsurprisingly, the Tribes benefited from room gain — the bass was fuller, the overall output greater. However, even with 2’ between the wall and the speakers’ rear panels, I was still more than satisfied with their low-end performance, while preferring the greater three-dimensionality of soundstage I experienced with them farther out from the wall. Ultimately, they ended up very near the positions where most speakers tend to work best in my room.”

Kondo Audio Note Japan galore.

January 27, 2020 § Leave a comment

Parasound Flagship Halo JC 1+ 450-Watt Monoblock Power Amplifier

January 26, 2020 § Leave a comment


The Parasound Halo JC 1+ is remarkably quiet and is the first commercially built product to employ active high-frequency noise filtering with Bybee Music Rails, eliminating input stage noise that compromises sound quality. Curl’s newly-designed driver stage employs a cascode circuit with greater open-loop bandwidth and increased linearity. In another first for the JC 1+, the input and driver stages reside on FR-408 printed circuit board material. Until now FR408 was used in super-computer and aerospace applications. The input-stage power supply is totally independent from the main power supply. Its R-core transformer isolates sensitive circuitry from high-frequency power line noise. This input stage power supply employs quiet high speed/soft recovery diodes and 22,400 uF filter capacitance, to deliver +/- 112 VDC rail voltage, virtually eliminating distortion. Premium Wilson Audio REL capacitors use a proprietary design, which resists micro vibrations that typically degrade the sound quality of other caps. The addition of an XLR Loop Out as well as a 12V-trigger/delayed-turn-on improve the connectivity and utility when multiple JC 1+s are used in bi, tri, and quad amp configurations.

FIIO K5 PRO $149 Review

January 26, 2020 § Leave a comment


“You may not notice the upgrade on the outside, but this is a great feature that allows much more precise low-volume control, letting you enjoy sensitive IEMs in a quiet environment also to use the K5 Pro as a volume controller/ Preamp for powerful power amps.

Channel balance issues have always been a nightmare for mid-night listens especially with multi-ba IEMs and sometimes it may get too loud before you find the sweet spot/ minimum vol. that works, if you have very sensitive ears this may be a great feature.”

Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems Progression Stereo Amplifier and Preamplifier $22,000 Review

January 25, 2020 § Leave a comment


“The power amplifier is, well, a power amplifier. Aside from a large front-panel meter, with some fun color options, it has no special controls. The only practical feature I’d flag is that the amp has XLR inputs only, but few audiophiles today are going to use RCA cables in any case. Like all good power amps, you put it in place, hook it up, turn it on, and forget about it, although you will want to run a mini-cable between the preamp’s 12V trigger output and the power amp’s trigger input so that the amplifier turns on automatically with your preamp. 

This is not just an ordinary power amp, however. When D’Agostino uses the word “power,” he is not kidding. The Progression stereo power amp is a 125-pound unit that can deliver 300 watts into 8 ohms and 600 watts into 4 ohms. Its gee-whiz technical features include 42 output transistors, a nearly 3000VA power-supply transformer, and 400,000 microfarads of power-supply storage capacitance, and it can optionally be hooked up to a 240V AC socket.”

PS Audio Perfectwave DirectStream DAC

January 25, 2020 § Leave a comment

Bose To Close HALF of Their Retail Stores Worldwide

January 24, 2020 § Leave a comment


“Bose Corporation, a leading manufacturer of headphones and other audio equipment announced that they will be closing HALF of their retail stores worldwide due to a dramatic increase in online purchases. Although founded in Massachusetts in 1964 by Amar Bose, the first retail store was opened in 1993 in Kittery Maine.  Bose was founded on creating speaker systems which used multiple drivers aimed at the surrounding walls to reflect the sound to replicate the sound of a concert hall, it has diversified its products to include smaller portable speakers, earbuds, and the highly promoted and profitable sports, military, and consumer based sound cancelling over the ear headphones.”

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