Stage III Concepts Ckahron Ultimate Statement XLR interconnects $16,500 Review

March 31, 2023 § Leave a comment


 LSA VT-150 Integrated Review

March 31, 2023 § Leave a comment

And, putting a $2,500-$3,000 amplifier in the context of the $7,500 to $15k system it is more than likely going to end up in will leave you thrilled with the purchase. If you’ve been dreaming of investigating a tube amplifier, I can think of no better place to start your journey. Perhaps at some point, we will commandeer a second one to investigate how these perform as monoblocks. For now, staffer Jerold O’Brien will be using this one on a daily. His daughter took the VT-70, so how can you argue with that?

Ultimate Sessions Extreme

March 31, 2023 § Leave a comment

Sony NW-WM1ZM2 $3699 Review

March 30, 2023 § Leave a comment

On the surface, all that versatility seems like a good thing, but we’re not convinced. Anyone willing to spend this amount of money on a portable music player values music replay above all else. They, in all likelihood, already have a smartphone, so all that other functionality is already taken care of, and the last thing anyone deeply engrossed in listening to music wants is a random notification or similar interrupting their enjoyment. Of course, notifications can be switched off, but we think this kind of unit makes the most sense when it concentrates on music replay and nothing else. 

Our view is reinforced by the clunky way the NW-WM1ZM2 works when we swap between apps or use the touchscreen in general. Too often it’s the kind of slow and stuttering experience early Android phones used to suffer from, and is a world away in terms of slickness from current phone flagships, including those from Sony. There is no excuse for this given the unit’s price.

Technics SU-R1000 Integrated Amplifier $9,999 Review

March 30, 2023 § Leave a comment

Where I do wish Technics would have followed NAD is in the use of the step-up AKM AK5578EN ADC chip and ganged together its 8 channels into two sets of 4 (one set for the left and one set for the right) allowing for a 3 dB increase in SNR. That’s where the largest positive gain could be made. Frankly, for the price point of the SU-R1000, two of those chips could have been used in full mono mode allowing for even more SNR headroom.

To be perfectly honest, there is a heavy dose of nostalgia being leveraged by Technics in the design and marketing of the SU-R1000. That no doubt is a large part of its appeal to someone like me. However, it doesn’t change the fact that, from a subjective standpoint, the Technics SU-R1000 was a pleasure to both look at and listen to while it was in my care. There is something to be said for that.

FLAC and WAV transfers

March 30, 2023 § Leave a comment

NAD Masters M23 Stereo/Mono Amplifier $3749 Review

March 29, 2023 § Leave a comment

I’ve had the privilege of hearing a lot of truly excellent amplifiers in my system over the past few years, and the NAD Masters M23 is one of the very best. In fact, it compares very well to my Anthem M1 monoblocks and the Bryston 4B3—my two favorite amps in the upper four-figure price range. While I still prefer the sound of my Anthems, I don’t consider the Bryston or the M1s to be substantially better in any area of performance. And since the M23 is roughly half the cost of those two other amps, it is a screaming bargain, and a great-looking one at that.

IsoAcoustics zaZen II Isolation Platform $229 Review

March 29, 2023 § Leave a comment

How does the zaZen II stack up to state-of-art-isolation like my Critical Mass Systems four-tier Sotto Voce equipment rack? Keeping in mind that zaZen II is limited to relatively small, lightweight components, it nonetheless fared remarkably well. In comparison to the CMS, it couldn’t quite confer the weight or elicit the deepest background silences that underpin large-scale orchestral recordings or big bands, but on key issues like image stability and low-level resolving power the zaZen II gave this listener more than a glimpse of the transparency that intelligent isolation can impart.

On shelf or sideboard, the IsoAcoustics zaZen II will integrate almost invisibly with the décor of an existingden or living room. Visually low-impact, but sonically high-achieving, it provided an excellent foundation for smaller budget systems. The primary takeaway: zaZen’s steadying influence allowed more of the fruits of a musical recording to be revealed and enjoyed.

Apple Music Classical First Look

March 29, 2023 § Leave a comment

Esoteric Pro Audio Kora Speaker System.

March 28, 2023 § Leave a comment

The project is a mixture of technologies that goes from the pneumatic suspension of the woofer, to the loaded dipole for the midrange, to the horn for the tweeter. Our horns follow a proprietary design that has as a principle the cancellation of distortion and any type of characterization with the advantage of reproducing a neutral and therefore natural sound. The absence of the passive crossover guarantees a level of detail and transparency that is difficult to obtain with other systems.

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