April 1, 2021 § Leave a comment
As much a digital audio product can, Bartok comes on as the equivalent of a ‘60s McIntosh tube amplifier or ‘80s JBL horn speaker — classics to which people keep returning because they are that good, that reliable, that fun. Another incentive: Its seamless interfacing ability with Roon, particularly now that the platform’s 1.8 software makes streaming on Bartok an easier and smarter experience. It also should go without saying (again) that using a Bartok doesn’t mean you’ll stop spinning records. Instead, it serves as an equalizer: Granting added access, increasing options, bestowing convenience, and bringing sought-after analog qualities to digital while spotlighting albums that sound better digitally than they do on a turntable
March 24, 2021 § Leave a comment
. Once you detect the deformities, you can fix them, and whatever correction is applied to the biasing tracks sine wave, can then be applied to the audio tracks which will correct the errors introduced by the wow and flutter of the tape during archival. While I have not had an opportunity to listen to a tape that has been archived using this technique, Mytek’s owner Michal told me that the result is a rock solid 3D image. I believe this is probably true, as I have found DACs that prioritize timing accuracy (like Chord DACs) to produce the best and most stable 3D images. Research conducted into psychoacoustic also suggest that humans are very sensitive to timing errors and phase shifts in audio.
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.
February 18, 2021 § Leave a comment
I streamed the DSD128 files of the Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble’s Musica Sacra album (Opus 3 19516) from Roon. I left the DSD low-pass filter set to “Auto”; the word “Native” appeared on the Okto’s display. The unaccompanied singers in Bach’s chorale “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (Savior of the nations, come) were surrounded with a richly ambient acoustic, but that ambience did not obscure the position of the singers. Courtesy of the dac8 Stereo, the solo organ interlude in the work’s second half unambiguously occupied the same space, with rich low frequencies.
Throughout my auditioning, I continued to be impressed by the combination of upper-bass weight and leading-edge definition offered by the Okto processor. The lower register of Chris Jones’s fretless Fender Jazz bass guitar on Live at Merkin Hall sounded as lifelike as I remembered it sounding at the concert.
January 31, 2021 § Leave a comment
Surprisingly, not really. For some reason I can’t explain, for the first two weeks I couldn’t get Qobuz to play above 96kHz. But then, suddenly I saw some known 192kHz tracks displaying 192 instead of 96, and it hasn’t been an issue since. No real issues with Tidal at all. In fact, the only concern so far has been when playing on shuffle off my hard drive or Tidal, whenever the format or resolution changes, there is a slight click audible. I’m sure will get resolved soon, as I haven’t heard that as an issue in my system with any other software or hardware in several years.
End result of all this was that having the NEO iDSD in my system was beneficial in all key areas. Sound quality was definitely a step up from my previous DACs, and in ways that I hadn’t taken as areas the older iDAC2 was deficient in. My system could be simplified; removing an active $1900 preamp and a $350 DAC while replacing them with one $699 device and improving sound quality substantially was my kind of deal. Now all I need to do is replace my notebook with a fanless, quiet mini PC or dedicated music streamer and my digital source will be set for a while. Not only is the NEO iDSD highly recommended, I’m actually spending my own money on it and buying the review sample.