November 30, 2022 § Leave a comment

The Astell&Kern A&Ultima SP3000 is like having the portable audio equivalent of a high-performance luxury sport sedan in your jacket pocket. It’s heaver, has all the bells and whistles (more than you can count in many respects), is built to an impeccable luxurious standard, is intuitive to use, brimming with technology, and with a particular focus on edge-of-the-apex performance. It is a thing of both sonic and physical beauty and as such you will pay dearly for it. It is not meant for someone who merely wants a good quality DAP. It is for the audio enthusiast who demands the very best on all counts. Does its price and position cause it to suffer the pitfall of being just another pretentious status symbol consumer product? Go out and listen to one and then give me your answer. As far as I’m concerned, it is the finest portable digital audio player I have ever come across.


Audiolab Omnia £1,599 Review

November 30, 2022 § Leave a comment

As long as you steer clear of dirt-cheap garage rock and the like, though, there are remarkably few downsides to Audiolab Omnia ownership. Its rather rustic control interface aside (and we’re not including the blameless DTS app in that, you understand), keep both the price and the extensive functionality uppermost in your mind and it’s an almost startlingly accomplished piece of equipment. Its power output may not look anything special when written down – because it isn’t – but the Omnia is resolute and deep-breathing enough to deal with any loudspeakers that can realistically be considered appropriate partners.

If you want a fine-sounding and extensive system without the whole ‘extensive’ thing getting too badly out of hand, the Omnia is more than worthy of lining up in direct competition to the likes of Cambridge Audio’s fêted (and similarly priced) Evo 75. With the Omnia, Audiolab has faced facts, bitten bullets and emerged with its reputation enhanced.


November 30, 2022 § Leave a comment

SIVGA Oriole $200 Review

November 28, 2022 § Leave a comment

In their marketing materials, SIVGA promised the Oriole would have “a smooth, balanced, rich sound with a wide soundstage, good instrument separation, and high-resolution clarity.” After listening to these headphones for some time now, I think they made good on a lot of what they promised.

Vivid Audio Kaya S12 $6900 Review

November 28, 2022 § Leave a comment

Vivid Audio’s Kaya S12 flat-out caught me off guard—not an easy thing to do given the number of two-ways I’ve road tested over the years. Nonetheless, few compacts have managed to achieve the overall sense of midrange balance, tonal verisimilitude, and seat-of-the-pants musicality of the Kaya S12. Within its limits it offered an unfiltered, uncolored window on the music. Its whimsical appearance belies a serious engineering effort to extend the capabilities of the small loudspeaker segment. An impressive achievement and a joy to listen to. 

Schiit Folkvangr Tube Headphone Amp Review

November 28, 2022 § Leave a comment

Audio Analogue Bellini Anniversary and Donizetti Anniversary £11,000 Review

November 27, 2022 § Leave a comment

The spectre of audio’s rose-tinted view of the past should be exorcised. We sometimes prize those classic big pre/power combinations from the 1980s, but if we listened to them today on a level playing field, I suspect a few of the Anointed Ones of audio wouldn’t hold a candle to this Audio Analogue pairing. It’s gentle, refined and sophisticated touch with music – that not only rolls with the punches but can also deliver a neat haymaker when required – is extremely alluring, especially for those who do not simply choose audiophile-approved recordings. The Audio Analogue Bellini Anniversary and Donizetti Anniversary is the pre/power combo that puts a smile on your face.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 $699 Review

November 27, 2022 § Leave a comment

Overall, the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 are hugely capable performers that justify their price with a combination of build and sound quality that cheaper alternatives just can’t match. Apple’s AirPods Max may have kick-started the market for higher-end wireless noise-cancelling headphones but, to our ears, these B&Ws deliver even more in the way of musical insight and enjoyment.

There are some niggles but nothing that comes close to denting our enthusiasm for these headphones. They are a fine effort that deserve serious consideration if you are buying at this level.

Jay’s Audio DAC 2 MK3 Ladder DAC Review

November 27, 2022 § Leave a comment

Arylic S50 Pro+ Pre-amp / Streamer / DAC Review

November 26, 2022 § Leave a comment

For sure, at this price point you can’t expect neither DSD/DXD support nor Hi-Res digital outputs, and you may come to limits with you 5000+ digital library. ROON or Apple music isn’t supported, and it does not offer HDMI-ARC support. Ah yes, this ATMOS is sincerely out of reach. As usual, you can get an advanced DAC, better streaming, better network connection, better APPs … just not with the same budget and the same ease of use.

Nonetheless, I would love to see the device receiving upgrades with a more recent Wi-Fi module and a better DAC chip, changes we could already encounter with the UP2Stream HD DAC, which is up next for review in my Sonic Encounters blog here on Audiophile Style. Advancements regarding the App performance might be the sweet cherry on the cake, thus you are free to use the performant WIIM app instead.

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