Simaudio 390 Review

May 20, 2019 § Leave a comment

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Pushing the 390 a little more, “The Dark” from the latest Thrice album Palms, delivers thundering toms and brooding guitars with enough space to hear how well the 390 can unpack even the most complex modern recordings. There’s plenty of air, detail, as well as bass extension as the track manically swings between the quieter verses and heavy chorus. The overall sound that the 390 produces reminds me again why the previous 380D DAC that the 390 builds on was such an amazing value. (you can read the original 380D TONE review here for additional listening reference: It’s clear that Simaudio has eclipsed the already excellent 380D with their latest release.”


Copland CTA408 Review

May 18, 2019 § Leave a comment

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Perhaps the biggest surprise is just how well the Copland gets along with JBL L100 Classics. These retro-themed speakers may not seem an obvious partner but their combination of high sensitivity (90dB/W/m), vivid dynamics and sheer enthusiasm works brilliantly with the CTA408’s sophisticated style of sonic delivery. We stay with these for much of the test.

The sound of Copland’s products tend to buck the valve norm. They trade the stereotypical warm and softness of many such designs for a neutral, even-handed balance that’s far more typical of a good transistor circuit. Detail levels are impressive, though the CTA408 is never one to emphasise leading edges in a bid to make the music sound more exciting than it is. Instead you get a well-organised, insightful presentation that puts the musical message first.”

Schiit Aegir amp Review

May 9, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“That depends on how loud you listen, the size of your room, the sensitivity of your speakers, and the music genres you enjoy. Big rooms soak up more power than small rooms, and high sensitivity speakers need less power to play at a given volume level than lower sensitivity speakers.

I split my Aegir listening sessions between two sets of speakers, the low sensitivity KEF LS50 and high sensitivity Klipsch Forte III speakers. Fueled by the Aegir, the LS50’s sound took on a burnished glow, with the tone richer and sweeter than I’m used to. Stereo imaging was superb, that’s what the LS50 is known for, but paired with the Aegir there’s more depth and body to the sound of vocalists and instruments on acoustic music.”


May 7, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“I am firmly in the camp that believes that every component in the reproduction chain, has a ‘sound’ or distortion that it adds to the music source. In the recording studio, it includes the microphones, cables, mixing desk, software, and any number of additional processes before we even consume or playback the original performance. We can only attempt to get as close as possible to the musical truth.

The combination of components we choose will ultimately have a bearing on the final result, and that is what will dictate ‘synergy’ in your audio system. Why do I bring this up? Because initially, I felt I wasn’t quite able to obtain a level of synergy with the Nº585.5 and various loudspeakers that I was happy with at this level. I came close a couple of times but felt that since the amplifier was very likely voiced with fellow-Harman brands JBL and Revel speakers, which of course I didn’t have on hand, that I didn’t quite achieve the audio nirvana that I am personally looking for. This is not a criticism of Mark Levinson or the amplifier, but we are talking about a pairing of two critical components that have much to do with the tonal balance and overall enjoyment.”

Schiit Amp Review

May 7, 2019 § Leave a comment

Verity Audio Monsalvat Amp-60 power amplifier $58,000 Review

May 5, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Steve and I were of one mind about the gorgeous midrange that enriches mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa and pianist Fazil Say’s award-winning recording of Debussy’s Trois Chansons de Bilitis (24/96 WAV, Erato 564483). Turning to very different music, a recording of Xenakis’s Psappha on percussionist Kjell Tore Innervik’s superbly recorded Utopias (MQA 24/352.8, 2L 2L-141), I was thrilled by how masterfully the Monsalvat Amp-60 conveyed the contrasting colors of Innervik’s various instruments, and how well it handled the sustains and natural decays of their sounds. The complex overtones, undertones, and sonorous core of a single bell resounding in space were conveyed to perfection. Lows sounded a bit boomy and lazy, but everything else was of demonstration class.

Using the dCS Rossini SACD/CD transport, we listened to “Duke’s in Bed,” from a reissue of tenor saxophonist Ben Webster’s 1965 recording My Romance (SACD/CD, Top Music International UD-SACD8934.2). Beyond the hard-left/-right nature of the recording, we both felt the sound was too romantically warm, and the bass was mush.”

Alexus Audio 845SE Single-Ended mono amplifiers $16,995 Review

May 2, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The highlight for me might be One For All’s rendition of “John Coltrane,” with its sweet ride cymbal ring, bass bloom, sonorous trumpet and brooding sax which really lit up the groove. The piano body was warm and well integrated with the other instruments. Taps on the center of a cymbal held a strong place in space.

Lastly, I spun the newly-pressed and recently received “No Filter” by Jerome Sabbagh and Greg Tuohey. This is the second of Jerome’s Kickstarters I’ve backed and I can say it’s always a thrill to spin a newly-minted pressing from a project one has so closely followed. The density of the music hits you first – it’s thick and meaty, like a nice sauce, with rich textures and overtones and replete with rewarding musicianship…. but all was not all roses – overall too dark and dense for my taste with this particular mix of components. The 845SE’s show warts and all, they give you what you give them.”

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