TechDAS Air Force Zero turntable $450,000 Review

September 16, 2021 § Leave a comment

It may seem contradictory to note that a turntable with a base price of $450,000 has a recognizable sound, but if you get to hear the Air Force Zero under conditions commensurate with its performance capabilities, you’ll quickly understand that it’s not contradictory at all. The turntable is recognizable because no other turntable, or none that I’ve yet reviewed, so effectively sinks unwanted and extraneous noise while passing the musical goods with effortless ease, often in the most subtle and nuanced ways. The AF Zero is not a flashy-sounding “show off” turntable.

The Zero is the most speed-consistent belt-drive turntable I’ve reviewed, and with its air-bearing platters and air suspension, also the quietest, best isolated, and most inert, with stable sonics, quiet, and exceptional detail resolution with no added grain or unnatural, mechanical edge definition. The Zero was also trouble- and hassle-free for six months and as much fun to use as it was to hear.


September 16, 2021 § Leave a comment

The last few days more and more rumors have been popping up about the ELITE and many of you were thinking the ELITE was a closed back headphone. But that’s not he case at all. The ELITE is a brand new open back headphone, and it was a very well-kept secret.

We’ve had the pleasure to play with the new Meze Audio ELITE for several weeks now and I have to say it’s been nothing but exciting. The ELITE still carries the “Empyrean” name and it basically is a different, higher end version of the award winning “normal” Empyrean. To fully understand this review, it’s rather important that you know all about the original Empyrean and we suggest to read up on that one first

Chord DAVE and MScaler Review

September 16, 2021 § Leave a comment


September 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

Wrapping up the listening with an all-time favourite tune, Toto’s ‘Africa’ [Toto IV, Columbia], a song that was on the radio a lot when I first encountered Atma-Sphere as a company in 1982. Africa offers up a compelling mix of percussion and vocal harmonies that have made it a classic rock staple. The M-60’s brought out the best in this SACD recording with drums, xylophone and marimba’s anchoring syncopated rhythms that drive the song forward. Soaring vocals moved along across a wide and clear soundstage. The rains were indeed blessed. 

PSB Synchrony T600 Loudspeaker Review

September 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

I suspect this is because the speaker, which has a 4 ohms minimum impedance rating, presents a relatively challenging load to an amplifier. I also heard a trace of overload in the right channel on a few challenging cuts. But this was barely audible and never alarming, and it may have resulted from less than earth-shattering power of the Denon AVR, which is rated at 140Wpc into 8 ohms, two channels driven. There was also the matter of the right speaker’s physical location: While the left speaker in my setup sits about 4 feet from the wall, the right one adjoins a fully open kitchen and dining area, a room-related factor that makes its job more challenging.

Adding a pair of SVS PB-3000 subwoofers to the PSBs and crossing them over at 80Hz (both high- and low-pass filtered) extended the bass in my room with specific, highly challenging material. But the improvements weren’t always dramatic. Organ went deeper, with that quietly played 16Hz pedal note in the Saint-Saëns symphony mentioned above now just barely sensed. Drums were more powerful withthe subwoofers connected though minor reductions to the Denon’s Bass control and/ or the subwoofer level were necessary to keep the result from sounding overcooked.

Matrix X-Sabre Pro Review

September 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

SPL Phonitor xe DAC/Headphone Amp Review

September 14, 2021 § Leave a comment

With more intimate recordings, such the Oyster Duo’s Stolen Pearls [Channel Classics CCS 43121; DXD], the ‘zoom’ effect of this control was more comical than satisfying. More useful here was a little increase of crossfeed, dependent on the ‘phones used, to create a more speaker-like impression of an ‘out of the head’ sonic image.

More likely to be set and then left are the two DIP switches built into the underside of the chassis which are marked 1 and 2. Switch 1 increases the gain of the headphone amp, while switch 2 increases the gain (sensitivity) of the analogue line input. I’d suggest these are best left in their ‘off’ position unless you have a line source with a truly feeble output. Moreover, the Phonitor xe has a prodigious output capability, particularly with high impedance headphones, in no small part due to its proprietary VOLTAiR op-amps that operate at a very high voltage.

With this extra headroom on tap, those DIP switch boosters really won’t be needed. I found the Phonitor xe more than capable of driving cleanly well beyond the pain level even with these switches ‘off’.

Helius Designs Viridia Turntable and Phaedra Tonearm Review

September 14, 2021 § Leave a comment

From the first launch of sound, I felt the Helius Phaedra and Viridian combo create a robust presence with rhythmic precision and an ability to cast convincing sonic images within an expansive soundstage, especially with acoustically recorded music. But that sound was never in your face. The perspective was more 12th row rather than front—set reasonably back in the orchestra section, but still catching the waves of sound before hall reflections might smooth things out. The images and instrumental timbres were clear with no sonic confusions or smears. There was a weightiness to the music but also a light touch when called for. Through almost everything I played, the Helius combo presented intimacy as well as scale and boldness.

For instance, one of the first LPs I spun on it was Venice, an Analogue Productions reissue of an RCA Living Stereo release (RCA LSC-2313) that was a compilation of orchestral pieces performed by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducted by Georg Solti. On its first track, the “Preludio” to Act I of Verdi’s opera La Traviata, I heard delicately pianissimo violins that then swelled gorgeously, the double basses bouncing away like a circus organ, and violas and cellos noticeably fattening the sound as they joined in. Together they created a sweeping, skating feeling to the music and a deep, complex sonic field that extended horizontally before the plane of my speakers. I could separate different string sections from each other, pick out various parts as they played, and felt stirred by the French horns adding color and depth. When the festive music wound down into sweeping, feathery notes, I discerned a mordant delicacy that presaged the tragic plot of the opera. The Helius ’table and arm made this previously average-sounding record into something very special, like replacing a cheap red wine with a great Barolo.

Accuphase A-75 Unboxing

September 14, 2021 § Leave a comment

Canton Reference 7K loudspeaker $6995 Review

September 13, 2021 § Leave a comment

If recorded piano can reveal problems, the same can be said about the marimba. One of the things I love about Roon is its integration with streaming radio stations. A favorite is Linn Classical, which plays tracks from the Scottish label’s expanding catalog of well-engineered recordings. One evening, before I started some Canton critical listening, the Linn station streamed the Allemande from the Cello Suite No.5 in C Minor, BWV1011, performed on marimba by Kuniko Kato. Immediately impressed by the Japanese percussionist’s empathetic approach to this work, I found the album, J.S. Bach: Solo Works for Marimba, on Tidal (16/44.1 FLAC, Linn Classical CKD 585) and listened to the entire suite. The Reference 7Ks faithfully reproduced the delightful balance between the direct sound of the instrument and the ambience behind it. The Cantons’ transparency allowed me to hear clearly how the attack on each note lit up the reverberation in St. John’s Church in Estonia. No specific notes seemed emphasized, though the instrument’s lower registers did sound very rich.

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