CH Precision • D1.5 CD/SACD Player and Transport $46,000. Review

February 16, 2023 Comments Off on CH Precision • D1.5 CD/SACD Player and Transport $46,000. Review

Where the CH Precision D1.5 MQA playback really shines, however, is with exceptionally well-recorded classical music, and nothing shines brighter than the Lisa Batiashvili and Daniel Barenboim disc of Tchaikovsky’s and Sibelius’s Violin Concertos. It comes in a standard CD package [Deutsche Grammophon 479 6038] but also in a UHQCD package with MQA encoding [Deutsche Grammophon Uccg-41048 484 2089]. It is a modern recording, made in 2016, and is thus fully MQA Studio. The improvement with the UHQCD/MQA disc is not subtle. The original disc was an exceptional-sounding CD, but the improvements with the MQA version, played on the CH Precision player, are nothing short of stunning. The soundstage opened up and details lost in the digital haze were fleshed out. How much does all this boil down to improvements from the UHQCD manufacturing and how much to the MQA? The newer disc is certainly a significant improvement played on a non-MQA player like the Neodio simply because of the UHQCD manufacturing, but MQA Studio encoding takes it into another league.


Audiolab Omnia $2299 Review

February 5, 2023 Comments Off on Audiolab Omnia $2299 Review

It may be nearly half the price, but the talented Technics SA-C600 system shares more features in common with the Omnia than other rivals, especially the CD player. The Technics may not be as big-scaled, open or reveal as much detail as the Omnia, but it’s more adept at conveying enthusiasm, rhythmic precision and dynamic punch – all qualities that the Omnia could do with a healthy dose of. 

The rapid-fire keys – which time with stunning precision – and rousing sense of momentum in Gonzales’ Blizzard in B Flat Minor are more immediate and captivating through the Technics. The interplay of notes and precise edges in songs like Four Tet’s Circling or Massive Attack’s Teardrop is more tangible, too. While Omnia is more capable in hi-fi terms, we simply want a bit more punch and drive to the proceedings. 

Technics SA-C600 $999 Review

January 18, 2023 Comments Off on Technics SA-C600 $999 Review

Mahler’s Symphony No.10 is a dense and demanding piece of classical music. The Technics does well, though to be fair if you’re after the last word in insight a well-chosen combination of separates will do better. Regardless, the SA-C600 captures the feel of the music convincingly, delivering a combination of drama and fluidity that grabs a firm hold of our attention. A claimed power output of 30 watts per channel (into 8 ohms) is pretty modest, but the SA-C600 exceeds expectations by sounding surprisingly authoritative and suitably large-scale.

The digital inputs maintain this high standard, provided the source is of the requisite quality, of course. It’s only when we feed a signal through the single line-level analogue input do we feel a tinge of disappointment, as it sounds a little more opaque and dynamically constrained than we’d hoped for. Oddly, the onboard moving magnet phono stage doesn’t exhibit these traits to any serious extent and sounds way better than is the norm from such built-in circuits. This phono stage is good enough for most price-compatible turntables, which is an unexpected but thoroughly pleasant surprise.

Audiolab Omnia £1,599 Review

November 30, 2022 Comments Off on Audiolab Omnia £1,599 Review

As long as you steer clear of dirt-cheap garage rock and the like, though, there are remarkably few downsides to Audiolab Omnia ownership. Its rather rustic control interface aside (and we’re not including the blameless DTS app in that, you understand), keep both the price and the extensive functionality uppermost in your mind and it’s an almost startlingly accomplished piece of equipment. Its power output may not look anything special when written down – because it isn’t – but the Omnia is resolute and deep-breathing enough to deal with any loudspeakers that can realistically be considered appropriate partners.

If you want a fine-sounding and extensive system without the whole ‘extensive’ thing getting too badly out of hand, the Omnia is more than worthy of lining up in direct competition to the likes of Cambridge Audio’s fêted (and similarly priced) Evo 75. With the Omnia, Audiolab has faced facts, bitten bullets and emerged with its reputation enhanced.

 Best HiFi System in the World ? TAD Esoteric REL

August 5, 2022 Comments Off on  Best HiFi System in the World ? TAD Esoteric REL

Rotel CD14 MKII CD player Review

July 30, 2022 Comments Off on Rotel CD14 MKII CD player Review

Luxman D10X SACD, DSD, MQA player Review

July 20, 2022 Comments Off on Luxman D10X SACD, DSD, MQA player Review

Kalista DreamPlay XC CD/SACD Network Player Review

June 21, 2022 Comments Off on Kalista DreamPlay XC CD/SACD Network Player Review

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.

Electrocompaniet EMC 1 MK V CD Player Review

February 4, 2022 Comments Off on Electrocompaniet EMC 1 MK V CD Player Review

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.

McIntosh C53 Preamplifier and MCT500 SACD/CD Transport Review

May 20, 2021 Comments Off on McIntosh C53 Preamplifier and MCT500 SACD/CD Transport Review

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.

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