PMC Cor Integrated Amplifier Review

April 2, 2020 § Leave a comment

“I figured that if I was going to hear any differences between them, subtle or otherwise, I’d have to play some bass-heavy electronic music at LOUD volumes into these 4-ohm loads. “She Will,” from Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV (16/44.1 FLAC, Cash Money), has a strong foundation of pulsing ultra-low bass notes complemented by rhythmic thumping in the lower midbass. I listened at volumes high enough that I could feel the pulsing low-frequency notes in my chair and the bass thump in my chest. I estimate that the needles on my MC302’s power meters were peaking in 100W land! In terms of dynamic punch, that feeling of pressure in the chest, the amps performed the same, controlling each DALI’s two 8” woofers with authority, and the sensation of bass slam was powerful and taut — in a word, impressive. With respect to the low-frequency extension — the rumbling pulsing I felt in the lower half of my body — I thought those lowest notes sustained just a bit longer through the MC302. But even this difference was tiny. Kudos to the Cor’s power-amp stage for holding its own against the far more powerful MC302 at these high volumes.”

Vinnie Rossi L2i-SE ‘Signature Edition’ Integrated Amplifier Review

March 28, 2020 § Leave a comment

“For sure, it’s an easy visual winner in all of Rossi’s categories. Just look at it. But the sound it produces is very special. And some of the most musically inviting, transparent, sweet and diaphanous sound I’ve had the pleasure of hearing in my music room.

The magic is mixed in Rossi’s conjuror’s hat. For sure, the very high quality Elrogs have a great deal to do with the sound—typical of superb 300Bs—but Rossi’s design prowess (ears/voicing) adds much to the general character.

Constellation Centaur II 500 Power Amplifier £64,998 Review

March 27, 2020 § Leave a comment

“But the amplifier is just as magical with the solo piano of Paul Lewis playing Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition [from Harmonia Mundi HMC 902096; 96kHz/24-bit], not only with the punchy rhythms of the faster-paced ‘pictures’, but also with the lovely limpid sense of the slower ones, with every note from Lewis’s instrument hanging in the acoustic of Berlin’s Teldex Studio. It’s a delicious sound, both lush and rich but at the same time tightly defined, just as it should be.

That this amplifier can rock is beyond question: its combination of speed, grip and sheer grunt ensures it drives speakers hard and tight with everything from the histrionics of Queen’s ‘Keep Yourself Alive’, from the band’s eponymous first album [Universal/Island UIGY-9510; DSD64] through to the refined soft rock of ‘Listen To What The Man Said’ from Paul McCartney’s Pure McCartney retrospective [Concord Music Group/MPL HRM-38690-02; 44.1kHz/24-bit]. The agility of this amp, belying its apparent status as a big ol’ bruiser, is consistently in evidence, to exceptionally satisfying effect.”


March 25, 2020 § Leave a comment

Perhaps the acid test of the No. 5805 came when casually listening to a series of YouTube clips through the optical input, being fed from my TV. I had a few friends come round, and I’m not ashaimed to say we all got a bit ‘refreshed’ and had given up on regular music and video entertainment and engaged in a spot of random YouTube clip watching instead. Over the course of the evening, we churned through everything from Frankie Boyle insulting his audience, through the ‘let’s play the most obscure piece of music you can find’ game, and eventually to essentially giggling at silly memes and Mitchell & Webb clips. Eventually, we gave up when trying to count just how many SS soldiers Clint Eastwood shot up in each clip of Where Eagles Dare, and carriages (well, Ubers) awaited the revellers. Then it struck me. I had managed to turn on, use, enjoy, and turn off, a high-end audio system – while drunk and in the company of fellow members of the ‘inebriati’ – switch it to play from TOSlink, play it loud and enjoyable enough to shout down ‘The Knights Tippler’ and nothing went ‘bang!’, nothing required adult supervision, and fun was had. In contrast, had I been using a more conventional high-end system, I’d have never even thrown the first switch!”

Bryston’s 28B Cubed Power Amplifiers $25,000 Review

March 15, 2020 § Leave a comment

Finally, the 28Bs are available with 17 inch or 19-inch front panels, in silver or black. I love the silver, and it’s worth calling attention to the fantastic job Bryston has done in the machine work on these cubed amplifiers. It’s a tremendous aesthetic combination – paying homage to the massive power contained within, yet not overdone in the least. The only decision is whether to get the front handles or not. They look great without, yet are so much easier to handle with, and both models have the rear mounted handles.

Honestly, that’s the biggest decision you face. When we did our initial look at the 28B Cubed monoblocks last year, we gave them one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2019. Yes, $25k is not an idle purchase, but you won’t find a $100k pair of amplifiers that best these. Considering the build quality, Bryston’s dedication to their customers and dealer network, and the top-level performance, if that doesn’t say exceptional value, I don’t know what does. These amplifiers were an absolute pleasure to use.

Jeff Rowland Design Group • Daemon Integrated Amplifier $38,800 Review

March 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

“The first thing to note is the absence of a ground post on the Daemon (I finally found something Rowland overlooked), meaning that I had to ground the tonearm via an unused input. With that minor inconvenience sorted, the HP boards delivered a nearly silent background, even at high volume levels. More importantly, they exhibited exactly the sort of easy musical expression and flow that you should expect from a good record player. Differences between cartridges were clear, with the benefits of the big Clearaudio particularly apparent. But what really intrigued me was just how comfortably the Denon DL-103 generator, rehoused in a milled-aluminum body, dovetailed with the Daemon amplifier’s sonic characteristics. Big and bold, rich and rounded, the ‘103 has never been a high-res cartridge, but its body, presence and broad tonal palette gave the Daemon just what it needed to make the most of an otherwise modest front-end. Sure, the added dynamic range, impact, separation and detail of the Goldfinger were sonically spectacular, delivered via the Daemon’s willing power delivery, but the Denon delivered spectacular value in purely musical terms.

Quad Vena II Play Streaming Amplifier Review

March 12, 2020 § Leave a comment

“Now, after leaving it aside while we considered the merits of the Vena II Play itself, it’s time to talk about the bit that makes it a Vena II Play. On description alone, DTS Play-Fi sounds like an open platform equivalent of the barnstorming BluOS interface; support for many streaming services, UPnP for network audio playback and the ability to tie multiple Play-Fi devices together via the same control app. The catch has been that for a fair bit of the life of Play-Fi, the reality of the experience hasn’t met the promise. What’s interesting though is how my perception of the software has changed since IAG started to use it. It’s been a little less than a year and I’ve already seen more tweaks and improvements to Play-Fi than I have since between the Audiolab and the Arcam rPlay back in 2017. This is still not as good as BluOS but once I would have said it had no chance of ever getting there. Now I’m not so sure. “

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