CH Precision A1.5 Power Amplifier $39,500 Review

July 31, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Where it didn’t quite match the pricier amplifiers that I’ve recently had in my system like the D’Agostino Relentless, which comes in at a cool $250,000 a pair, or the Ypsilon Hyperions, is in the ultimate degree of relaxation and grip and control. It may sound wacky, but the fact is that there is even more performance to be had than this amplifier delivers. That’s something CH knows—and why you can go up the line in its offerings to bigger and better amps. But make no mistake: What the A1.5 offers you is more than an introduction to the high end. It constitutes an invitation to a high level of performance that is unlikely to leaving you feeling neutral about its sonic prowess.”

Scansonic MB5 B Loudspeaker Review

July 31, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“If the original MB 5 would sound effortless, calm and perhaps a little creamy then the MB5 B stands ready to bring more energy, vigour and chest-pounding vitality to the music at hand. Perhaps the ‘B’ should be retitled ‘D’ because while this reworked version looks identical, when played hard it reveals itself to be a sonic dopplegänger. OK, so the MB5 B is no evil twin, but it does play Mars to the MB5’s Venus…

The ribbon-esque treble unit, unchanged here, sounds deliciously open and extended without a hint of brightness. There is still plenty of ‘air’ but absolutely no coarseness or brittleness, qualities that feed all the way down through mid and bass to ensure the MB5 B creates large and unforced soundscapes.”

OSD Black SRT4 Streaming Media Server Review

July 31, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The SRT4 server arrived with zero fanfare in a plain white box with simple black lettering. Inside the box was the unit itself along with a wall-wart power plug (12-volt DC, 1.5 amp), detachable rack ears, and a user guide.

My initial impression upon removing the SRT4 from its box was how incredibly light it felt, reminding me more of a speaker selector than a four-zone media server. I didn’t bother to take the top off, but I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of parts inside. Obviously, a product’s weight only tells a part of its story, but the SRT4 doesn’t scream “build quality” when you’re holding it”

AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-AWAS REVIEW

July 30, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“However, a closer look at the spec sheet tells us that there are a few differences between the two Audio Technica stablemates. The ATH-AWAS uses a 53mm dynamic driver which has a nominal impedance of 40-ohms and a sensitivity of 99db/mW, slightly different to the 48-ohm/102dB/mW driver used in the ATH-AWKT. This driver features integrated pure-iron yoke, diamond-like carbon coating, and a 6N-OFC high-purity, oxygen-free copper voice coils. Audio Technica opted for synthetic leather pads for the ATH-AWAS as opposed to the sheepskin employed in the ATH-AWKT, which presumably helps to lower the cost between models by some $500. Like the ATH-AWKT, Audio Technica thankfully includes two 3.0m cables (employing their proprietary A2DC connector) as standard with the ATH-AWAS, a 6.3mm single-ended cable plus a 4-pin XLR cable. Listeners will appreciate the inclusion of the latter cable, which is both conspicuously absent from their flagship?

EMM Labs DV2 DAC-Preamplifier $30,000 Review

July 30, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“It took a little while for me to understand and acclimate to how music was now being re-created in my room, but the more I listened and the deeper I dug, the more I liked what I heard. While the soundstage was a bit smaller, bass a smidge less pronounced, and images a tad freer, the DV2 was now better at limning the boundaries of the recording venue, refining the textural nuances of various bass instruments, and presenting images with the finest balance of precision and warmth I’ve heard in my room. “Hold On,” from McLachlan’s Mirrorball (16/44.1 FLAC, Nettwerk), had an uncanny sense of liveliness chock full of inner details and nuances I hadn’t heard before. For example, at the beginning of the track, as McLachlan plucks her acoustic guitar, I could better hear the crackle of applause and, as the audience quieted, one intricately delineated person still clapping on the left, who before had been barely audible, was now obvious. The senses of definition and distance that were communicated were uncanny, and they continued throughout the track, letting me further relish the taps of Ashwin Sood’s brass, their long decays, and the fervor with which McLachlan melodiously imbues every note she sings.”

DALI MENUET SE SPEAKER $1799 REVIEW

July 30, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“And so, my reviews of European speaker companies continue. As much as I like the DALI Oberons, I was really impressed with the performance of the diminutive Menuet SEs. The quality of the gorgeous walnut finish was amazing and the sound from these little speakers was much bigger than anything I thought you could get from a speaker so small. When paired with a sub, you could easily have a 2.1 system that would make many people envious. DALI has proven that size is in the eye of the beholder and if saving space is as important to you as having excellent sound, the Menuets may be exactly what you are looking for.”

AAW Halcyon Review $1,999 Review

July 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The Halcyon does quite well for staging with excellent headroom and an airy treble from those quad-electrostatic drivers. The depth is particularly good also, especially when you up the bass levels using the filters.

What impresses me the most is how the Halcyon electrostatic treble can deliver a clean treble without sounding overly forced and peaky. However, poor tip choice and a bright source can at times draw too much attention to anything crossing that 5-6k elevation and that is where I tend to PMEQ or tip roll to introduce a more liquid overtone.

In terms of imaging vocals are to the fore, lower-mids instruments to the rear with anything below 200Hz leveling out with the vocal positioning. Treble is more forward at 5-7k compared to 8-10k so percussion and high-pitch synth notes can resonate a little louder.”

Innuos • ZENmini Mk 3 Music Server and LPSU Power Supply $1999

July 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“What are the disadvantages of the ZENmini Mk 3 and LPSU? The absolute need for Ethernet might be a small impediment, but Ethernet over either A/C devices or WiFi extenders worked great. The lack of Bluetooth or AirPlay could absolutely be a non-starter for some audiophiles, as would the inability to use portable hard drives as playback devices. I have heard more expensive units do a better job at fleshing out images in the back of the soundstage and, while the ZENmini’s bass was nimble, it certainly lacked some slam and body behind the initial bass hit. Finally, if you own the ZENmini Mk 3 but use it without the LPSU, you are missing out on much of its magic and you’ll need to find the funds to complete the pair.”

Wells Audio Commander Level II Preamplifier Review

July 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Recording after recording, music through the Commander Level II was at all times without noise or artifacts. I never felt that this preamp was coloring the signal in any way. All of the desirable tubal tonality was there, but it was never overly lush or burnished, as is heard from other tubed models. There was also tremendous extension and detail at both frequency extremes, with no bottom-end bloat or top-end glare.”

Chord Ultima Pre 2/Ultima 2 Pre/Power Amplifier £18,360 Review

July 28, 2020 § Leave a comment

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If the Ultima flagship is a costly ‘technology demonstrator’ then these Ultima 2 offsprings are a textbook illustration of trickledown in action. Frankly, if you were enthralled by the debut Ultimas and have been saving ever since then cash in your chips now, buy the Ultima 2s instead and spend the excess £40k on new floorstanders and music. Yes, the Ultima Pre 2 and Ultima 2 really are that good.”

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