April 4, 2020 § Leave a comment
“I was also impressed by the DAC 9’s build quality. It was apparently designed to last a lifetime and could become a legacy product. There are a lot of serious Audio Research fans out there and I can see why after my time with the DAC 9. It will hold its value like all other Audio Research components before and after.
The unit was packed up and shipped back some time ago. I still remember the performance of the DAC 9 like it was yesterday. This is one of the few components I have reviewed that I think about often because of how great it was. The tube analog stage doesn’t put a halo on the sound but it did make everything that passed through there sound like authentic music. I am not sure if you can offer higher praise for a DAC!”
March 2, 2020 § Leave a comment
“There is no funny reconstruction filter that is said to sound better. The Topping has a high-performance FIR that is flat to 20kHz and has a sharp stopband down 90dB. The output at 0 dBFS comes in at 2VRMS, the industry standard. Channels were remarkably well matched in all tests. It is 0.5dB down at 80kHz!!
I have a complete set of measurements below but nothing on the market at $90 will produce numbers within an order of magnitude of what I measured above. You could stop here and run out and purchase one but I’d advise you to please read my next section on shopping advice when purchasing small brands from the Far East first.”
March 1, 2020 § Leave a comment
“The basic specification of 250W/8ohm and 500W/4ohm, and RCA/XLR line pre-outs to feed external power amps, active speakers and subwoofers, has not changed from the original DIA-250S amplifier. Similarly, the controls are minimal, with nothing more than that large central volume control, input selector, plus a standby button, on the front panel. The display shows volume and input as standard, but when playing digital sources the right-hand panel can be set to show input sampling rate, either for a few seconds via remote control, or by default using the display dimmer button on the rear panel.
Crucially, Gato has now added its NPM (network player module) to the DIA-250S, opening up a whole new world of digital streaming to the user. Inserted into the upper part of the rear panel, where once was just a screw terminal to connect a Bluetooth stub antenna, this adds an Ethernet port and a USB-A socket into which can be inserted a supplied Wi-Fi dongle, and upgrades the Bluetooth provision to aptX HD.”
February 25, 2020 § Leave a comment
“That is a lot of detailed engineering and scientific information. What does it all mean to the layman who wants an all in one unit that can drive a line stage system? To someone that wants a whole lot of great features in a compact, easy to use (once you read the instructions and take the time to learn the unit), and very flexible unit built to a high standard that has not only great use ability, but also exceptional aesthetics? Perhaps we should get into that now.
I was very impressed when I unboxed the unit. It was compact, but a very stoutly built piece of kit. The review unit came in the silver finish and mated well to the white and silver theme of most of my gear. I have owned three Gold Note items. The Tuscany cartridge, the Pamphili phono preamp, and the DSS30 Blacknote (another Gold Note sub brand) USB player. All of their products have an immediate feel of quality. “
February 19, 2020 § Leave a comment
“Yes, the Hugo 2 presents an analytical sound especially against its predecessor. But I don’t find it too analytical, at least not that much like the people say. To me it has great dynamism, very sharp separation and sublime transparency. But there’s a sense of musicality in it, and if you pair it with a warmer headphone/IEM, it is simply wonderful to listen to.
Overall, the Hugo 2 makes you think about the “taps” that Rob talks about. The more taps you have, the better sound you will hear. It has better bass decay, a blacker background, better imaging and better micro detail reproduction. The timbre is more realistic as well, which I put a lot of emphasis on because it’s one of the most important aspects.
But among all of those improvements, the most striking difference when I switch to Hugo 2 is the air. The original can’t give you that, as it’s made of romanticism and intimacy. It has that organic gene, which you can’t change or alter in any way. And that’s totally fine. You win some you lose some, it’s normal.”
February 18, 2020 § Leave a comment
“Now, while I am well aware that precious few enthusiasts will be looking at the Brooklyn Bridge as a phono stage, the feature is there so I felt duty-bound to give it a spin. With my Michell Gyro SE turntable cued up with both Ortofon Rondo Red MC and 2M Black MM cartridges ready to mount in turn, I took a pristine copy of Chris Rea’s One Fine Day LP [Magnet 0 190295 498856] from its sleeve. Despite expecting the unit to struggle with a low-output MC, the sound emanating from the speakers was sumptuous. Even better, switching to MM was a revelation, the album being delivered with all of its top-end sweetness intact. What’s more, bass lines were again punchy and taut.
Returning to my digital music files, and with the emphasis on more hi-res content delivered via USB and LAN, I pulled up tracks from Enya’s album Dark Sky Island (Deluxe) [Warner Music Group 2553131; 96kHz/24-bit, FLAC]. The Brooklyn Bridge served up the lush sounds in a manner that was rich and unrestrained yet neither gloopy nor gushing. It was the perfect chill-out experience. Next up was the Danish String Quartet’s self-produced Last Leaf [ECM Records 581 5746; 96kHz/24-bit, FLAC]. Here the sounds of the harmonium, piano, glockenspiel and cello on these traditional pieces came across with real fire and finesse.”
February 9, 2020 § Leave a comment
W”hat the N31 does not feature is MQA support (Reis could not confirm whether MQA was a possible future update) or an SACD drive. More on this choice later. But, what the feature rich N31 does include is a very sophisticated, deep dive design by Reis minimizing jitter and intersample overload. It also includes a CD text recognition display (and full colour album art as part of its Roon Endpoint feature set), a CD slot drive that has been optimized to account for air turbulence and mechanical vibration (the CD drive and its bog standard Red Book playback is one of the glories of this machine), a fully-balanced signal path from the DA converter to XLR output and optically-isolated USB inputs with its own power supply”