HiFi Rose RS250 audio & video streaming D/A preamplifier Review

December 9, 2021 § Leave a comment


For my first listening session, I selected the HiFi Rose RS250’s network connection as Roon’s active Audio Zone and played files from the internal hard drive I had fitted to my Roon Nucleus+ server. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Had the efforts of the HiFi Rose design team been focused on versatility and functionality rather than sound quality? The RS250’s diminutive chassis contained a powerful computer and what appears to be a hefty power transformer close to the signal circuitry; won’t the analog output be contaminated with noise? Finally, my system has been based on balanced analog connections for many years; would substituting the RS250’s single-ended analog outputs compromise the sound?

I started my auditioning with an album I know intimately, having engineered and mixed it at the end of the 1990s for release as a Stereophile CD: Jerome Harris’s Rendezvous (16/44.1 ALAC files, STPH013-2, footnote 3)). Electric bass player Harris had assembled an all-star band for the sessions at Chad Kassem’s Blue Heaven Studios: Art Baron on trombone, Marty Erlich on alto sax, Steve Nelson on vibes, and Billy Drummond on drums. Listening to “Cool Pursuit” played back from the USB stick, the RS250’s soundstaging accurately preserved what I had intended in the mix. Harris’s Taylor bass guitar was dead center, Erlich’s saxophone was positioned far right, Baron’s trombone slightly right of center, Nelson’s vibes, which I had miked in stereo, were spread across the left of the stage. Drummond’s kit was placed slightly behind the other players, his drums illuminating the studio’s churchlike acoustic. The kickdrum sounded a little tubbier than I was used to, and the bass guitar had a touch of extra upper-bass bloom.

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