July 22, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“I am of two minds about the D’Agostino Progression, both of them good. First, I can’t help feeling that the Progression is just that – progress by D’Agostino. This series is not simply D’Agostino making more attainable products; it’s adding things to the amp concept, some of which I can’t help thinking will end up in the top line. Second, I have a distinct impression that these amps sound ‘almost’ as good as the big guns. In some respects, they may even sound better. Far from being Momentum-lite or MyFirstD’Agostino, the Progression amplifiers are well-matched, well engineered, and well nigh endlessly powerful for most modern systems. What’s great here is not just that D’Agostino managed to make something as attractive and as good sounding for almost half the price, but that for most people those more attainable Progression models are more than enough. In a straight fight, the D’Agostino Momentum models are the better products, but their biggest rivals are their little brothers.”


PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP Review

July 17, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“My experiences with the HP versions of the DiaLogue Premium amps have further solidified my opinion of this brand, which is that these really are excellent amplifiers that are widely applicable. One can do better, but it will cost multiples to beat them on all accounts.In case of these PrimaLunas, big transformers mean great bass control and lots of slam, but this does seem to come at the expense of some refinement. The Audio Research Ref75SE, with its smaller transformers, on the other hand, has an excellent low-level resolution but not nearly the fullness of sound, the dynamic reserves or the amount of slam that even the smaller PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium amp has, let alone the HP version”

Ypsilon Hyperion Monoblock Amplifier $93,000 Review

July 16, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“At the very same time, I would caution that all its power doesn’t simply mean that the Hyperion will blow down the walls of your listening room. Even more impressive in some ways is its ability to convey soft passages without a loss of resolution or immediacy. It was quite entrancing to listen, for example, to a Harmonia Mundi CD of Javier Perianes playing Schubert’s piano sonatas in B flat major and A major. The Hyperion helped to unveil Peraines’ supreme craftsmanship in the andante movements, where the music seems to hover in the air for what feels like an eternity before resolving into a new chord. This very ability to convey the pianissimo passages with such palpability—a kind of reach-out-and-touch-me character—meant that the monumental passages (and they are there, believe you me) came across with even greater conviction and force. The ability of the Hyperion to deliver the rolling thunder of the left hand on the piano was truly something to hear. Obviously, the Wilson WAMM has something to do with this as well. But the Hyperion does an excellent job of maintaining pitch stability in the bass region, which is something that I think tends to get lost in less ambitious systems.”

Mark Levinson No.585 Integrated Amplifier Review

July 8, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“The Mark Levinson No.585 was an absolute pleasure to listen to. I found myself getting sucked into listening sessions that lasted much longer than anticipated. Many times, I wound up listening to an entire album, even though I only sat down to listen to one or two tracks. The No.585 is well balanced and neutral, both in tonality and its ability to control speakers, while providing lots of power. Its detail and precision make for well-defined and precise soundstages. I found that the No.585’s soundstages were often smaller than those of systems that have more diffuse imaging, but I suspect that the No.585 is probably more accurate in this regard. Overall, if you are looking for an integrated amplifier and DAC that will maximize the performance of your both digital and line-level sources, the No.585 is highly recommended. ”

Anthem Electronics STR D/A integrated amplifier $4499 Review

July 6, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“Because I evaluated the STR full range, without a subwoofer, and only with a digital input, my setup was far simpler than the above discussion might imply. But with its ability to set up different inputs separately, use more than one setup for any input, pass along an analog input unaltered or convert it to digital for processing, and more, the STR is exceptionally flexible. I left most of the controls at their factory default settings, which meant that it took me about five minutes to get the STR up and running. Setting up ARC will take a little longer.”

PS Audio • Stellar Gain Cell Digital-to-Analog Converter and Stellar M700 Mono Amplifiers

July 1, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“After reinserting the Emerald Physics EP100.2SE stereo amplifier into the chain, the most immediate thing I noticed was the need to increase the volume setting in order to get the same level as that reached with the M700s. Those 350 on-demand watts per channel do make a difference. With the Emerald Physics amp, I did notice a very slight narrowing of the soundstage and I thought I could hear a slight softening of the mids and highs, although I cannot make a definitive statement on this. In fact, I find it difficult to make any definitive comparative statements regarding the sound of the two amplifiers. They are that close. Perhaps the explanation is that they both use Danish ICEpower modules. Both provided ample power to pressurize my room when called for and both seemed equally able to plumb the lowest bass frequencies without feeling any pain. If anything, the Emerald Physics EP100.2SE summoned up more robust, if less controlled bass than the M700s, as evidenced on the Pan Sonic track cited earlier. As for the mids and highs, well, these are not tube amps and they did present, in my experience, a more analytical, less euphonic sound in this range than tubes (the Emerald Physics EP100.2SE less so). I personally prefer this sound.”

Chord Electronics TToby Stereo Power Amplifier Review

June 29, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“he TToby is a stunning achievement by John Franks and the Chord Electronics team. He obviously wasn’t willing to compromise sound quality for size or design. Most designers won’t consult with other ears when designing products, which baffles me. Mr. Franks, on the other hand, gets the team together for listening tests and takes feedback seriously. I have no doubt this is one of the reasons why the TToby is voiced so beautifully.”

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