McIntosh C53 Preamplifier and MCT500 SACD/CD Transport Review

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.

Esoteric Grandioso K1X SACD/CD Player-DAC and Grandioso PS1 Power Supply $36,000 Review

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.

Rotel Tribute Series A11 & CD11 Review

December 6, 2020 § Leave a comment

Introducing Metronome AQWO Series

November 5, 2020 § Leave a comment

Luxman D10X SACD

August 24, 2020 § 1 Comment

Wadax • Atlantis Digital-to-Analog Converter and Universal Transport $69,000 Review

April 28, 2020 § Leave a comment

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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.”

Quad Artera Solus integrated amplifier/CD player Review

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.”

Audio-GD – R7HE 2020 Magna R2R DAC

February 22, 2020 § Leave a comment

McIntosh MCD600 SACD/CD Player Review

February 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

“As I mentioned, I’ve been using the same CD player as a reference for the last nine or ten years. It has dual DACs, and a quartet of 12AU7s in the output stage. It sounds really good, and that was all I needed back in 2010. It cost about $4500, and I always thought it was a good value and a strong performer, which is why I still use it.

The MCD600 is $7000, and in 2020 that sounds like a lot of money for a CD player. For that extra $2500 over my existing deck, you do a get a lot—especially when you consider the cost of an outboard headphone amp that sounds this good, or four separate high-resolution DACs, or the choice of fixed and variable outputs, or the ability to play USB thumb drives or DVD data discs.”

TEAC Reference NR-7CD Network CD Player and Integrated Amplifier-DAC Review $4999

April 17, 2019 § Leave a comment

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Seattle-based indie electronic group Odesza was in heavy rotation during my time with the NR-7CD, and the latter’s reproduction of “Higher Ground,” from Odesza’s A Moment Apart (16/44.1 FLAC, Counter/Tidal), had an immediacy and bite that lent itself to the punctuality that characterizes so much modern electronica, including this. I loved this track’s air and reverb through the TEAC — it sounded enormous in my long, narrow listening room. I was also taken with the lazy falsetto of guest singer Naomi Wild — it was superdetailed, with excellent stereo imaging. The bass line was similarly impressive, the NR-7CD exerting above-average control over my KEFs’ 5.25” midrange-woofers. At low to medium volume levels I was seduced by the TEAC’s multitude of talents; its synchronized routine with my LS50s produced a sound as transparent as mountain spring water.”

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