May 15, 2021 § Leave a comment
Turntable owners will notice no mention of a built-in phono stage – sadly, that’s not an oversight on our part. As well as delivering double the power output and featuring a different ESS Sabre DAC chip, the step-up Evo 150’s selling point is the inclusion of phono, asynchronous USB and balanced XLR inputs, a second optical input, plus two sets of speaker terminals for running two pairs of speakers simultaneously. Vinyl-loving Evo 75 owners will have to connect a deck with a phono stage to the RCA input, or buy a separate phono stage.
May 13, 2021 § Leave a comment
MOON’s 860A v2 is an exciting and versatile beast, but it also stands apart. On the one hand, it cannot match – even in mono mode – the unforced clarity and lucid communication of an amp like CH Precision’s M1.1. On the other, it doesn’t cost nearly as much. What it does offer is the sort of sheer presence, musical momentum and colour that has become increasingly rare amongst the current generation of solid-state amps – and which works spectacularly well with many of today’s loudspeakers. It might (sensibly) sacrifice ultimate transparency and resolution on the alter of the musical whole, but in one sense it stands astride, with one musical foot in the past and the other equally firmly in the versatile, adaptable future. If the majority of remotely affordable, silicon-based designs have got too clean, too tight and too up themselves, this MOON quietly offers a welcome antidote. The fact that it’s practical, reliable and versatile too is a generous layer of icing on what is, by any measure, a pretty tasty and seriously substantial cake.
May 12, 2021 § Leave a comment
I really enjoyed what the Parasound Halo JC 5 Stereo Power Amplifier brought to my rig. It provided a fine balance between the fork in the proverbial audiophile road of good sound and accuracy. Inherently neutral, accurate without being dry, no solidstate etching or harshness whatsoever, and imaging and soundstage that could compete with similarly priced tube amps – this all adds up to what I think is a big win for Parasound.
Parasound’s design objective for the JC 5 was to meet customer requests to distill the essence of the acclaimed JC 1+ monoblocks into a stereo power amp. I haven’t heard the JC 1+ yet so I cannot comment on that, but in my opinion the Parasound Halo JC 5 Stereo Power Amplifier is a winner. If you are looking for a beefy solid state power amplifier under $10k I suggest giving the JC 5 an audition. Highly recommended.
May 10, 2021 § Leave a comment
Early in 2021, as I finished my review of the Estelon X Diamond Mk II speakers, I vowed to then clear my schedule so that I could experience MSB Technology’s ecosystem of gear. Although that journey had actually begun the previous summer, when I bought an MSB Discrete DAC, I could now hear MSB’s D/A conversion directly driving MSB amplification. This is a review of MSB’s S202 stereo amplifier; it’s also an exploration of what MSB gear can do when entrusted with the entire signal path, right up to the loudspeakers.
May 8, 2021 § Leave a comment
Mytek keeps making little boxes that do big things, which makes me wonder what Jurewicz might do with bigger boxes. The company’s forthcoming monoblocks will be built in full-size chassis, part of Mytek’s new Empire series. “AMP+ has newer, faster MOSFETs for a more squared wave,” Jurewicz told me, “but it’s not yet 100% what could be accomplished. For a better squarewave, you need newer transistors called GaN-FETs. It’s a game changer for class-D. In the next few years, we will see examples of class-D proving to be the best sounding amplifier technology with the use of GaN-FETs.”
May 7, 2021 § Leave a comment
The amp saved its best ’til last, however, with the SACD of Lyn Stanley’s wonderfully-recorded Live At Studio A [ATM 3019]. A jazzy redux of Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 boogie ‘Pink Cadillac’ was conveyed with the intimacy intended, right from the opening ‘1, 2, 3, 4…’. The feel of studio space was well articulated, while brushed cymbals, double-bass and tinkled piano keys provided a feather-soft bed for Stanley’s idiosyncratic vocal delivery.
In the hands of a lesser amp, this recording can easily lose its charm, which isn’t so much the notes being played as the way they’re delivered. Here it sounded effortless.
May 6, 2021 § Leave a comment
Back then, I was using the dCS Vivaldi DAC; because it had a volume control and its single-ended and balanced outputs sounded quite similar, I was happy to connect it to the Doshis with single-ended cabling. Since then, however, dCS’s Rossini DAC (footnote 6) has replaced the Vivaldi in my system. The Rossini, too, has a volume control and single-ended outputs, and can be connected directly to the monoblocks without a preamp in between. I’ve found, however, that feeding its output to the balanced-only D’Agostino Momentum HD preamplifier produces larger and weightier images, more and better-controlled bass, heightened color contrasts, and a greater sense of texture. So, I prefer to use the Rossini with the Momentum HD. But since the Momentum HD preamp only has balanced (XLR) connectors, I asked Doshi how I should proceed.