Rotel RA-1572MKII Integrated Amplifier-DAC $2099 Review

June 30, 2021 § Leave a comment

When I was a budding audiophile, Rotel was one of the first brands I became aware of. The fun I had using their RA-1572MKII integrated-DAC reminded me of why I got into audio all those years ago. It provides a huge amount of sound quality at a price within reach of the serious but budget-conscious enthusiast. It lacks the streaming and/or DSP and/or room correction of some of the costlier integrateds I’ve recently reviewed, but at this price you have to make some choices. What it offers is excellent sound, a high-resolution DAC that supports MQA, a good MM phono input, and a good headphone amp—all features that many audiophiles will appreciate. For only $2099, the high-powered Rotel RA-1572MKII offers one of today’s best combinations of price and performance in an integrated amplifier-DAC.



June 30, 2021 § Leave a comment

And another Cong Audio installation in the dedicated listening room, this time with a large Cessaro Beta II 4-way horn speaker system powered by CH Precision electronics. Photos from Tran Hung.

Cambridge Audio Evo 75 & Evo 150 – Streaming mini systems

June 30, 2021 § Leave a comment

Hi-res music streaming services compared

June 29, 2021 § Leave a comment

Tidal is perhaps the most established. It’s our favourite service, too, and holder of a 2020 What Hi-Fi? Award in the music streaming service category. Since January 2017, its £20 ($20) per month HiFi tier has granted access to hi-res (typically 24-bit/96kHz) Tidal Master streams, encoded using MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) technology. So is Tidal the answer? It’s certainly one answer, but not the only one.

Thrax Enyo Amplifier Review

June 29, 2021 § Leave a comment


June 29, 2021 § Leave a comment


June 28, 2021 § Leave a comment

The LRS’s articulacy and dynamic agility are outstanding, too. To appreciate what I mean by this, try Rodrigo y Gabriela’s rendition of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from their album of the same name [Universal Imports, 16/44.1]. Folklore has it that this song has been so over-played that it has been banned in most every music store in the known world, but Rodrigo y Gabriela’s flamenco guitar interpretation is so energetic, expressive, and finely crafted that one can’t help but stop and listen. Happily, the LRS’s do their part to bring the music alive. First, they capture the sharp transient attacks and the fiery but also warmly rounded timbres of the guitars in a highly realistic way. Next, the speakers effortlessly keep pace with the performers’ often fleet-fingered runs of notes while also making it easy to appreciate differences between the guitarists’ playing styles. Most importantly, though, the LRS’s show this guitar duet is truly a conversation between two world-class musicians who both have a lot to say.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable Review

June 28, 2021 § Leave a comment

I’m particularly fussy, though, which shouldn’t be a surprise. So, in the spirit of that fuss, here are two small quibbles. First, Pro-Ject included a felt platter mat. I know, groans and eyerolls, lots of folks like felt, but I find it particularly abhorrent. I’ve just never liked felt, and this was no exception. Very minor thing, and easily remedied. Second, the power cord is strangely short. It barely reached my power receptacle, which was maybe four feet away. Again, this can be remedied with an aftermarket cord, but be aware of this, and reach out to your dealer or Pro-Ject to ensure that whatever cord you choose works fine. 

Those gripes out of the way, in almost every other department the EVO really ticked my boxes and then some. The addition of electronic speed-switching, in particular, is a huge bonus, saving folks from having to lift off the platter and touch the belt every time they want to change from 33 to 45rpm. And, let’s be honest, I can’t imagine many people are actually using a belt-switching tool, so they’re grabbing the belt with their dirty, greasy fingers, and getting the whole drive mechanism filthy. With the EVO, you can eat as much fried food as you want and still jump between your favorite formats. 

HiFiMAN Susvara vs Focal Utopia – Endgame headphone comparison

June 28, 2021 § Leave a comment

Clearaudio Concept Active Wood turntable Review

June 26, 2021 § Leave a comment

Designed by Clearaudio founder Peter Suchy with his sons Robert and Patrick, the Satisfy series tonearms are constructed of aluminum (except, optionally, the armwand) including a two-part headshell, cueing lever, tonearm collar, counterweight, and rear threaded armtube. “Satisfy Black uses an aluminum arm tube,” Leerer wrote, “while the CF arm uses a woven carbon fiber arm tube providing extra stiffness and lower resonance.” Both Satisfy CF and Black tonearms use Swiss-made vertical and lateral bearings comprised of polished tungsten steel points against a ruby thrust pad


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