Audio Note Cobra Integrated Tube Amplifier Review

May 25, 2022 § Leave a comment

The musicality pf this device is striking , even addictive. And you don’t need any technically sophisticated recording, because the Floyds have already sounded great. I did not expect, however, that the debut of the Led Zeppelin group would sound so well, rocking me with so much fire. I listened to the version remastered by Robert Plant and although it is not a particularly good version in terms of timbre, its resolution is excellent, much better than of all previous digital versions.

The sound had a weight and gravitated towards the lower midrange, there was also a lot of bass. The latter, however, was not exaggerated, and in its own special way it was actually an excellent basis for the sound, not overshadowing the midrange. In fact, the sound had great dynamics and scale, and was still warm at the same time. How was it achieved by Lithuanians and Qvortrup—I have no idea. But people from Leben achieved something similar. Again, the sound stage was wide and full, and the sounds placed by the recording engineer behind me, as in the “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” where they had a well-defined position, they were big-bodied, they didn’t seem fleeting.

Rotel Michi X3 Integrated Amplifier $4999 Review

May 19, 2022 § Leave a comment

I have used the word smooth more than a few times describing the sound of this amplifier. This is an honest observation. And yet inner detail and clarity are all there. Bass is deep and impactful. Soundstage depth and width are excellent. Tonal balance and clarity are effortless yet relaxed. It sounds smooth, but doesn’t mask bad recordings. All the audiophile performance traits are there. But did I feel at times transients could be a bit sharper. Yes, but I was having too much fun listening to the music to worry. Yet the best way I found to describe the sound of this integrated amplifier is that it sounds smooth, musical, and detailed. I have heard smooth and musical solid-state amplifiers before, but they usually come off as trying to replicate the sound of a tube amp. They are usually expensive, and end up sounding colored. I don’t know what kind of alchemy the engineers at Rotel are putting into the Michi line, but whatever it is it is working quite well. This integrated amplifier drew me into the music from the get-go, and never let me go. This integrated amplifier is the best I have ever heard at just making you forget what you are doing and draw you into the music for a long listen.

Gryphon Audio Designs Apex Stereo Amplifier $99,000 Review

May 18, 2022 § Leave a comment

https://www.soundstageultra.com/index.php/equipment-menu/1106-gryphon-audio-designs-apex-stereo-amplifier

Next, I moved on to something more delicate: Esther Abrami’s eponymous album (Esther Abrami, 24/48 MQA, Sony Classical/Tidal). The 25-year-old violinist has introduced classical music to thousands of new listeners through her TikTok and Instagram posts, and her first album on a major label, released in March of this year, is a wonderful listen. It was made even more so with the Gryphon Apex anchoring my system. The fourth track, “Tomorrow,” is one of my favorites, particularly for the interplay between violin and piano, which combined to pour rich sound into my room through the Apex. The piano that begins the track was weightier and more tonally saturated than I’ve heard it, and the French player’s violin was satisfyingly resonant—that word again—and textured, yet silky smooth and present in my room. I could not believe how much better this track sounded over my system with the Apex. It honestly made my old setup sound like the dreaded “hi-fi” by comparison: clean and precise, yet still lacking in realism.

Gryphon Audio Designs Apex Stereo Amplifier $99,000 Review

May 16, 2022 § Leave a comment

https://www.soundstageultra.com/index.php/equipment-menu/1106-gryphon-audio-designs-apex-stereo-amplifier#most-read-equipment-reviews

Next, I moved on to something more delicate: Esther Abrami’s eponymous album (Esther Abrami, 24/48 MQA, Sony Classical/Tidal). The 25-year-old violinist has introduced classical music to thousands of new listeners through her TikTok and Instagram posts, and her first album on a major label, released in March of this year, is a wonderful listen. It was made even more so with the Gryphon Apex anchoring my system. The fourth track, “Tomorrow,” is one of my favorites, particularly for the interplay between violin and piano, which combined to pour rich sound into my room through the Apex. The piano that begins the track was weightier and more tonally saturated than I’ve heard it, and the French player’s violin was satisfyingly resonant—that word again—and textured, yet silky smooth and present in my room. I could not believe how much better this track sounded over my system with the Apex. It honestly made my old setup sound like the dreaded “hi-fi” by comparison: clean and precise, yet still lacking in realism.

Copland CSA70 $3900 Review

May 15, 2022 § Leave a comment

https://www.whathifi.com/us/reviews/copland-csa70

We’re left with an amplifier that sounds impressively clean and precise; one that errs slightly to the cooler side of neutral but never enough to cause issues. Listening to Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa, we’re aware of the pleasing sense of space in the presentation and the amplifier’s ability to layer the soundstage in a focussed and stable manner. It’s an expansive image with a fine sense of depth where the recording dictates.

Detail levels are good, and as with other Copland products we’ve heard, there is a definite feeling of a product that’s a little self-effacing. The CSA70 clearly prefers to let the recording take centre stage rather than deliberately add flavour to make things more exciting. It has a good sense of scale and can deliver the slowly building intensity of the Arvo Pärt piece well.

NAD C 399 Integrated Amplifier Review

May 14, 2022 § Leave a comment

https://www.soundandvision.com/content/nad-c-399-integrated-amplifier-review

I connected the C 399 to a pair of System Audio Saxo 5 powered bookshelf speakers and a JL Audio Dominion d-110 subwoofer via the C 399’s single-ended RCA pre-outs and one of its sub outs. To test the C 399’s internal amplifier, I connected the C 399’s speaker outputs to a pair of Polk audio bookshelves.

I mainly auditioned the C 399 by using the BlueOS app to stream music via Tidal, Qobuz, internet radio, and several connected USB thumb drives. To test the C 399’s ARC feature, I connected its HDMI eARC port to an LG OLED TV. My TV doesn’t support eARC, so I made do with the older HDMI ARC protocol, which is compatible with eARC.

Luxman M-10X power amplifier $19,995 Review

May 12, 2022 § Leave a comment

https://www.stereophile.com/content/luxman-m-10x-power-amplifier

My final comparison was with the GoldenEar speakers, using the chamber orchestra version of Copland’s Appalachian Spring, which I had recorded live at the 1995 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. This was the first recording I made with the microphone array that was to become my go-to for live recording projects: a central ORTF pair of cardioids flanked by two omnidirectionals, with the outputs of the two pairs time-aligned in the mix. The cardioids give a stable, accurate stereo image with the omnis adding low-frequency bloom. From the hushed opening through to the joyful “Simple Gifts” melody, the Luxman and Parasounds both produced the clear, stable image of the orchestra in Santa Fe’s St. Francis Auditorium that I had worked to create. Both amplifiers correctly placed the woodwinds and piano behind the strings, and the occasional cough from the audience was placed well back in the soundstage with both the Luxman and Parasounds. The presentation of the cellos and basses was similarly articulate. I was hard put to choose one model of amplifier over the other.

Cary SLP-05 Review

May 10, 2022 § Leave a comment

First Watt F8 Design Background Review

May 9, 2022 § Leave a comment

If it hasn’t already become apparent to the reader of this review, I will state clearly my take-home. The First Watt F8 is not only a great all-around amplifier, it’s also quite a triumph of design. Nelson Pass has again succeeded in designing something that is different enough from its stable mates to be truly interesting and enjoyable while still pushing the envelope of amplifier design and implementation.

While I love both the F7 and the SIT 3 for that unique listening experience each can provide, I find the First Watt F8 to be the almost perfect all-around amplifier for the two stereophonic setups that I spend most of my time enjoying. That it can be swapped between two such different speaker systems and still provide an equally satisfying and engrossing listening experience is remarkable.

NAD M10 V2 BLUOS STREAMING AMPLIFIER $2,499 REVIEW

May 6, 2022 § Leave a comment

Though I could have hooked my TV up to the M10 V2, I decided to use it just for music. The HDMI input allows for home theater listening with the addition of wireless surround speakers for a 4.2 experience, but oddly, there is no inclusion of a center channel. Sure, you could “phantom” it, but it is an unfortunate exclusion. In fairness, this device is not designed to be a home theater receiver and the fact that you can hook in your TV is really a bonus anyway.

I played music from all genres and found the M10 V2 to be detailed, dynamic, and easy to use. The unit ran warm after hours of use but never got hot to the touch. I never sounded strained or overtaxed. The touchscreen volume wheel was very sensitive, and the remote volume was quite responsive as well. The BluOS app has everything you need to control the sound of the M10 V2 and offers almost all the major streaming services. You can adjust the tone, the subs and turn Dirac on/off on the fly. A nice touch is the transition from one song to another. The volume fades in and out briefly so you don’t blast your speakers or ears. It is a subtle effect, but pleasant.

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