Yamaha A-S3200 integrated amplifier $7499 Review

August 30, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The handsome front panel’s two output meters can be set to display either “Peak” or “VU”; the latter, says the manual, “shows an effective audio output value that represents the way sound is perceived by human ears.” If you want to, you can dim the meters or turn them off entirely. On the chance that meter operation and illumination could negatively affect sound, I turned both off during serious listening.

Input can be selected by either the large input knob—there’s another large knob to control volume—or the lightweight plastic remote that controls those functions and more. According to the manual, the “Audio Mute” toggle “reduce[s] the current volume level by approximately 20dB and lights up when activated.” Add in a balance control and another toggle for choosing the type of phono cartridge in use (MM or MC), and you’ve got everything on the A-S3200’s exterior deserving of attention.”

NAD Masters M33 Review – Video

August 30, 2020 § Leave a comment

Mark Levinson No.36 D/A converter $3995 Review

August 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“As to HDCD, the performance of the No.36 remained top-class. Pop an HDCD into the transport, and the letters “HDCD” light up the No.36’s LED display screen. But color me undecided when it comes to HDCD vs standard CD. To date, there’s simply not enough material available in both formats (make that almost none) to make a really intelligent comparison. Sure, the HDCD recordings I’ve heard have been uniformly terrific in sound. But they’ve been excellent with and without decoding. Comparisons between their undecoded or decoded playback are not only invalid—because the coding results in subtle changes to the sound of an undecoded disc over that which might be expected from a conventionally mastered one—but also nearly impossible to make. You can’t shut off the HDCD processing in any HDCD decoder I know of, and comparing the modes using two processors—one HDCD, the other not—requires that the processors be otherwise identical: an impossible condition to meet.”

Cayin N3Pro Review

August 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The N3Pro is consistent with the N6ii and N8 and kind of looks like a miniature crossover of both. One thing for certain is that the build quality is a massive step up on the old N3 if also the size.

At 195g it is not the heaviest nor the largest at 115.2 x 63.5 x18.9 (mm) and overall, fairly easy to operate single-handed with some nice smooth cornering. It’s CNC-machined aluminum black housing is bulkier than both the R5 and the DX160, however, but allowances need to be made to fit those tubes.

To that effect, it has that same N8 glass protected front panel design with a smallish touch-sensitive 3.2″ IPS panel to the top and a fairly large black ‘expanse’ from about 2/3’rds of the way down where the tubes are located. This expanse has a semi-transparent design so when the tube operational mode is activated you will see them light up with a reddish glow which is a pretty cool effect.”

Prima Luna Evo 100 Preamp REVIEW

August 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

Pass Labs XA30.8 Amplifier $6800 Review

August 27, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“I borrowed Purist Audio Design Neptune speaker cables ($2905/2 meter pair) from Dave Clark. They sounded quite good for the short time I used them. They were massive and resistant to staying fixed in place. They quickly slipped out of my speaker terminals a few times til I got bold enough to really exert pressure on the binding posts. So I thought. Within a day the Netptunes slipped out of the binding posts again. I swapped in a pair of Audioquest Castle Rock bi-wired cables. ($1799). These surrendered to the will of my five way binding posts, but were slightly harder to work with due to more mechanical stiffness, a new but resolvable problem. They both sounded better than my twisted pair of Romex, so… one does what one must. I have trouble believing that the costs of making speaker cables is anywhere equivalent to the cost of building an amplifier, and so I am bothered that I had to resort to such expensive cables. But, I’ll also acknowledge that they did sound superior.”

Focal Arche Headphone Amplifier/DAC/Preamplifier Review

August 27, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“With the vast majority of headphones and in-ears I attached to the Arche I found no mismatch issues, except with the highly sensitive (119dB) Earsonics EM10 CIEM. With EM10 there was a slight low-level hiss. With my most inefficient headphones, the Beyer Dynamic DT-990 600-ohm version, the Arche had more than adequate drive to produce high volume levels with lots of juice left over.

While not ergonomically perfect, the Focal Arche does most things right, both in terms of sonics and of its built-in headphone profiles and amplifier options, making it an impressive first-time electronic offering.”

Triangle Genese Trio stand mount speakers

August 27, 2020 § Leave a comment

Boulder 866 Integrated Amplifier DAC/Streamer $14,450 Review

August 26, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Compared to the 75K worth of separates I use, the only thing I can say the 866 may not quite equal the duo in is density of image, sheer presence, and overall richness. To put that into perspective, richness and body have always been very important to me. What I’m getting from the Boulder’s strengths, its take on the music is so compelling on its own terms, I’m just not missing what’s not there. The 866 succeeds wildly on its own merits.

The Boulder 866 makes an incredibly compelling overall case. I had a feeling it would be good, but not this good. Like the surprise delivered by Boulder’s diminutive 508 phono stage, I was not prepared for how good the 866 would be, and to an even greater degree than the surprise delivered by the 508. No matter how you cut it this integrated amplifier DAC/streamer is a triumph of audio design and engineering. Do not skip over this piece if you are shopping any where near the price. And please, do not let the relatively compact stature fool you—this thing is a beast. It is truly cutting edge in sonics, capabilities, and construction. In 25 years of sampling audio gear, the Boulder 866 is one of the best audio components I’ve ever reviewed.”

iBasso DX220 MAX $1888 Review

August 26, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Despite its analog design, the OS can tap into the status and you do get a battery icon on the top-right drop-down bar that drips down by percentage which is very useful. You get a similar separate percentage-based battery icon on the left for the digital side.

Combined the DX220 MAX actually delivers a healthy 14-hour life cycle which, given the size and output ratings this is very competitive. You will experience a drop in that when you start going heavy on the WiFi and Bluetooth as these tests are normally 50% volume with the screen off on lossy files. ”

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