VAC Master Preamplifier/Signature 200iQ Pre & Power Amplifier Review

April 30, 2021 § Leave a comment

Probably the most overwhelming display of the system’s prowess via vinyl came with the admittedly-magnificent One-Step release of Patricia Barber’s Café Blue [Impex IMP6035-1]. Because this is a lean recording with just Barber on piano and a guitar/bass/drums trio, recorded with subtlety, the VAC system simply glowed – and I don’t mean the light from the valves. Fed material that oozes finesse, the VAC pre/power neither enhances nor constrains: it simply lets the music breathe.

I do realise that seems a contradiction if I’ve described the VAC combination as tending toward the warm, but that is a sensation of an arguably moot nature, rather than a readily-identifiable sonic artefact like ‘dry bass’ or ‘crisp transients’. They just seem more human, more lifelike than many over-etched, kick-you-in-the-gut amplifiers, and nowhere was it more evident than on Barber’s arresting handling of ‘Ode To Billy Joe’.

If you crave intimacy, especially if you are partial to vocals, you need to hear this set-up through LS3/5As, however incongruous that might seem. Then again, what they do with the Wilson loudspeakers…


TIDAL CONNECT on the Raspberry Pi

April 30, 2021 § Leave a comment


April 29, 2021 § Leave a comment

Listening to the Fidata – especially in the most uncompromised, most direct ways – highlights the Japanese are eschewing the PC in an audio setting for a reason. HFAS1-XS20U server rips and plays your stored music exceptionally well, and if that means it should be unencumbered by demands for streaming services on purely sonic grounds, then so be it! Those who want to enjoy their digital music collections at an uncannily high level of resolution and musicality will find an awful lot to like about this beautifully executed and highly refined server. 

PrimaLuna EVO 300 Integrated Amplifier Review

April 29, 2021 § Leave a comment

Because these recordings were of the same vintage, with known recording hardware, the transparency of the EVO 300 – categorically not found in vintage amplifiers to this degree – will delight you if you’re a student of early record labels. I am not schooled in classical, so I can’t tell you which of Mercury, Columbia, Decca or RCA did the best with symphony orchestras, but you will definitely hear the ‘Capitol sound’ versus ‘the Columbia sound’.

It’s more complex than studio versus studio, eg, you also have to factor in Mitch Miller versus Nelson Riddle, but the pleasure of discovery is there. The EVO 300, in stock form, was a revelation. But, oh, to have the time to indulge in trying every one of the tubes it can accommodate.

And The Honeycombs? So chunky was the pounding, overegged-by-Joe-Meek drumming on the title track and ‘Just A Face In The Crowd’ that I suddenly lost the urge to swap out the EL34s for 6550s. For the weight of the drums alone, you can declare that this amp rocks. Whatever the tube.


April 29, 2021 § Leave a comment

PS Audio Stellar M1200 Amplifier Review

April 28, 2021 § Leave a comment

The hall ambience it coaxes into your listening room also means that the lower regions of the piano resound with great fidelity. The piano chords have a 3-D dimensionality to them that is quite winning, particularly in the bass region. Ah, the bass region. I’ll admit it. I’m something of a bass fanatic, and not just because my system is located in the basement. Nor is it that I’m intent on pounding out the low bass on rock recordings, though I’ll confess that I enjoy it upon occasion

Shure Aonic 4 / Aonic 5 IEM Review

April 28, 2021 § Leave a comment

Belden Speaker and Interconnect Cables and BAV Power Cords Review

April 28, 2021 § Leave a comment

A word to the smarmy, arrogant types who make ridiculous proclamations in regard to all cables sounding the same, and that there is no “science” behind aftermarket cables. I submit for your education Galen’s nearly three-hour YouTube video of his discussion with the San Francisco Audiophile Society in regard to the science behind cable design and manufacturing. It is an eminently in-depth discussion, and that alone should make skeptics think twice before demonstrating their ignorance. When you have one of the world’s foremost authorities going through the minutia involved, you do best to keep your mouth shut and listen!

Classé Audio Delta Pre Preamplifier-DAC $9999 Review

April 27, 2021 § Leave a comment

I’m not a big fan of tone controls, but I appreciated how the Delta Pre allowed me to select an inflection point, then apply up to 6dB of boost or cut. In my setup, this helped restore a bit of weight around my room’s 31Hz suckout. I then applied the PEQ’s maximum boost of 3dB. Having exercised enough restraint to ensure that the result didn’t sound artificially boosted, the cumulative effect was a moderately more fulsome-sounding bottom end. What really filled in that suckout was to turn off the Tone controls and add both subs. Adding them with no adjustment of PEQ yielded bloated, uncontrolled bass, and worsened two of my room’s bass modes. But after taking a few measurements, making independent PEQ settings for each subwoofer (using the Aux output to enable stereo subs), and fine-tuning the crossover slope for each sub, I could barely tell that they were on. The only clue was the only one that matters: I heard a smoother, punchier, more linear bottom end, especially below 40Hz. Providing this way of fine-tuning the sound and integrating one or two subwoofers into a system makes the Classé Delta Pre a dream component for listeners who need these features and this kind of flexibility.

NAD C658 Streaming DAC and C298 Power Amplifier Review

April 27, 2021 § Leave a comment

I connected the C658 to my network via an Ethernet cable. NAD also sent to me the Bluesound Pulse 2i, an all-in-one tabletop system ($699) that connects to the BluOS network wirelessly (as I used it) or via an Ethernet port. NAD wanted me to experience how products like the Pulse 2i allow BluOS to function as a whole-house wireless audio system. I wasn’t expecting to receive the Pulse 2i, but discovered that it was a great way to have music outside the listening room. There’s the joke that the audiophile’s way of realizing whole-house audio is to open the listening room door and turn up the volume. I must confess to taking that approach myself. But the ability to place the Pulse 2i in the kitchen, for example, and have full wireless access to high-resolution streaming music controlled by my iPad was compelling.

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