June 21, 2022 § Leave a comment
As I mentioned earlier about these streaming services, they may not offer the sheer quality available elsewhere, but they’re a useful function to have – in the case of vTuner, it’s free music after all, and a lot of it from around the world – and the DreamPlay XC delivers it in a consistently enjoyable fashion. Radio 3’s stream may only be 320kbps AAC at best, but the music still communicates well via this player.
Push up into the DXD and DSD resolutions the DreamPlay XC supports via its network connection, and while that warmth and smoothness remains, the player is fully able to demonstrate the advantages of more data being moved to deliver the music. Play trumpeter Angelo Verploegen’s relaxed When Night Falls set, a typically intimate recording from the Just Listen label [JL028; DSD256], and the result is a remarkably effective evocation of the three musicians – Ed Verhoeff on guitar and Eric van Der Westen on bass – just sitting down and playing together, recorded straight to DSD256. Yes, there are other network players that might bring out more of the studio ambience but very few will match the wonderful late-night cosiness going on via the DreamPlay XC, entirely befitting the gentle theme of these sessions.
February 4, 2022 § Leave a comment
Upgrades over the previous generation of EMC 1 are a new (unspecified) drive unit for the player’s top-loading mechanism, refinements to the balanced analogue circuitry that sits downstream of the Cirrus Logic upsampling and DAC chips, and improvements to the vibration-cancelling properties of the chassis. Connections are exactly the same, however: balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA, plus coaxial and optical digital audio outputs enabling the EMC 1 MKV to be paired with an outboard DAC, operating in transport-only mode.
Back around the front, the display’s illuminated blue text is large, making it easy to note track number and time elapsed, and it can be dimmed fully. The supplied plastic remote control is less impressive – lightweight compared to the player itself – and festooned with buttons that are of no use here. However, it makes operating the EMC 1 MKV a breeze with keys for direct track access, search, shuffle and various repeat play options.
May 20, 2021 § Leave a comment
So that I don’t come out sounding like a complete spoilsport when it comes to my earlier broadside against superhero movies, my 14-year-old daughter has become quite the fan of Marvel Comics and the movies made from them. During the pandemic she watched them all, and I will confess to having a good time joining her for some of these, notably Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is filled with more action and CGI than any ten movies can handle. The sound work is genuinely sensational, which is exactly the way it sounded with the soundtrack routed through my two-channel setup: everything clear, clean, well separated and registered, with dynamic range wider than can be comfortably accommodated in a domestic setting—during some of the battle scenes the detonations were such as to make me happy our house is anchored to its foundation. And, yes, I confess, very dramatic, very exciting, very entertaining, and no, never once did we miss back channels.
March 15, 2021 § Leave a comment
Mezzo-soprano Marianne Beate Kielland and pianist Sergei Osadchuck’s performance of the Gerald Finzi song “Come Away, Death,” from the album of that title (SACD/CD, 2L 2L-064-SACD), is haunting, with superb sound. However, its wide dynamic range can wreak havoc with a stereo system, particularly at high volumes. Even more than the K1, the K1X nailed the utter transparency, close miking, and subtle ringing of this mostly dry recording. Further, Kielland’s most pronounced vocal peaks, which sound a bit rough through the K1, were now tamed.
In most tracks on Come Away, Death, the same change was evident in the top notes of Osadchuck’s piano, which were now much more polished and crystalline than I’d heard before. As this album begs to be played loudly, I turned the volume high, even though my YG Acoustics Kipod II Signature speakers don’t really do well at sky-high volumes. Nonetheless, the K1X’s ultra-low noise floor became even more apparent—it was now a lot harder to get these speakers to misbehave.
April 28, 2020 § Leave a comment
That ability to allow the performance its separate voice is both rare and important, suggesting the Atlantis DAC possesses that most valuable of all talents when it comes to transducers: sonic invisibility — the power to step behind the music and out of the aural sightline. With almost no thumbprint imposed on the signal, the Atlantis can pull the same trick whether it’s a classical recording or The Cure. The recording and developmental contrasts between Three Imaginary Boys [Fiction 827 686-2], Seventeen Seconds [Fiction 25 354-2} and Faith [Fiction 827 687-2] underline the band’s steep learning curve and growing sophistication in those pre-sequencer days. Likewise, the lyrical and musical development of artists as varied as Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello, Steve Earle and Nanci Griffith, is just as clear and equally individual. If the perfect system should play all types of music, then the Wadax gets extremely close to that ideal.”
April 8, 2020 § Leave a comment
As I mentioned earlier, audio components usually fall into one of three categories: boring, annoying, or engaging. Quad’s Artera Solus fell easily into the third category. It was exciting to use, and it delivered music with a uniquely satisfying je ne sais quoi that I can best describe as sounding strong and musical. Recommended for the music-first audiophile who still enjoys CDs, and who wants lively, natural sound from a simple system.”