CHORD ELECTRONICS QUTEST DAC REVIEW

July 12, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Every manufactured chip has limitations and generally made to a price point and design criteria. The chip cannot be auditioned before production, and although it is logically and mathematically sound, you have to wonder if they’re designed with the utmost sound quality in mind?

At Chord Electronics, things are done a little differently. Rob Watts’ FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) approach allows him to design digital circuits with total control over the hardware. So by designing a DAC using FPGA and discrete analog components, it is possible to have increased flexibility over the rigid performance aspects compared to typical off-the-shelf DAC chips.

Watts’ considered approach to ultimate DAC design is to utilise far more complex calculations than was ever thought to be needed, with unheard of long interpolation filters which he designs using what’s known as a windowed-sinc technique. He calculated that a 1,000,000 tap filter (with the number of taps being the indicator of how complex the FIR filter is) is needed to guarantee 16-bit performance from the interpolation filter, a number that was so inconceivably high that many thought that it would be impossible to build. ”

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Primare Prisma I15 Integrated Amplifier/Dac $1,999 Review

July 9, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Leaving to one side the late French maître’s insistent and occasionally heavy-handed Catholic mysticism and bird- song obsessions, Messiaen’s cornucopia of colorful sonic delights is nearly boundless. Listening to a performance of Eclairs sur l’Au Delà (Lightning over the Hereafter) , a late orchestral work, I was stunned by its ninth section, an astonishing, rhythmically free representation of forest birdsong that may well be the best musical representation of a naturalistic soundscape ever composed. The tumbling, teetering jumble of high woodwinds—flutes, piccolos, clarinets—demanded clarity, treble finesse, and top-octave air in great quantities, and the Prisma I15’s digital-to-analog and amplifying processes delivered these unrestricted for one of those literally hair-raising listening moments.

Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC Review

July 1, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“I don’t have any real qualms with the Yggdrasil’s sound. Instead, most of my complaints are with its functionality and versatility. In my opinion, the biggest omission Schiit made for Yggdrasil was the lack of built-in volume control. There are other high-performance DACs out there, some that cost less than the Yggdrasil, that provide lossless digital volume control. I suppose the retort Schiit might have against digital volume control is that attenuating the output voltage creates a reduction in signal-to-noise ratio. But if you create a DAC with a low enough noise floor, you can still end up with no noticeable reduction in sound quality so I don’t think this is a valid argument, especially at Yggdrasil’s price point. Buyers should also be aware that this omission forces you into an additional preamp purchase (unless you’re using an integrated amp). As I said above, I don’t advise owners to use software volume control from the likes of Windows or MacOS as it will ruin the integrity of the audio you’re sending this high-performance DAC. If you simply must go this route, though, at least use something like JRiver Media Center. ”

BAT REX DAC $19,900 REVIEW

June 24, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Getting it to work with the Sony HAP-Z1ES HDD audio player was as simple as running a USB cable between the two units. With the Windows-based PC running jRiver Media centre, all you have to do is to download and install the drivers from the BAT website and select the relevant option on the media-playing software. For Mac users, it’s simply plug-and-play, of course.

As expected with a complement of six tubes, the REX does run hot, so ensure that it has sufficient ventilation; an air-conditioned room will also add to your personal comfort.

With all that in place, the only thing left to do is to let the music play and immerse yourself in the REX DAC’s marvellous sonics.

And simply glorious it is. It’s not about analysing in detail each and every aspect of its performance, it is the gestalt, the sum of its parts, the ability to draw you into the sonic landscape it paints that beguiles and keeps you listening hour after hour.

How digital clocks affect sound quality

June 17, 2019 § Leave a comment

AURALIC VEGA G1 NETWORK STREAMING DAC £3,299 REVIEW

June 12, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The G1 not being a G2 only manifests in comparison. In day-to-day use, the VEGA G1 is an ideal network streaming device that puts many really good rival products to shame. It’s extremely well built, sounds exceptionally good, and plays nice with most products it’s likely to be hooked to. I started this investigation to see what all the fuss was about, and now I’m reading from the AURALiC Fanatic’s Handbook. The company really does live up to the hype, as anyone who gives the VEGA (G2 or G1) a serious listen will attest. In fact, they might well say one of the notes I made while listening to the AURALiC VEGA G1 – Bloody hell… this thing’s good!”

Naim DAC-V1 Review

June 7, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“On the 24/96 Qobuz version of Kenyan-born J.S. Ondara’s Tales Of America the V1’s genealogical timing shone through with musical, yet metronomic precision in the drum work of Griffin Goldsmith and the basslines of Sebastian Steinberg and Jon Flower. The timbral bloom off Gabe Noel’s and Evgeny Tonkha’s cellos had the Naim not only capture the dimensional cues of their bow and fret work, it allowed for a constant demonstration of the DAC’s textural retrieval qualifications as well. Ondara’s voice, with all its comparisons to that of Tracy Chapman, shines through on its own merit via the V1 with the subtle – of what I can only assume are Nairobi – inflections of his birth place flavoring his lyrics on acoustically-dense tracks like “American Dream” and the a cappella “Turkish Bandana,” which is resonant with spatial reflections loaded back onto his voice beautifully capturing the studio space of the recording.”

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