March 26, 2020 § Leave a comment
March 22, 2020 § Leave a comment
“HeadFi is a growing market in audio, especially among young people, as my generation is far less likely to own a home, or have the space for a big HiFi system compared with previous generations. If one wants to forgo the space and expense of a 2 channel system, the Arche could itself make a complete, satisfying system with the addition of a laptop and a nice pair of headphones. So, does that make it worth the $2,500 cost? I think that depends. If you already own the Utopia, Stellia, or Clear, this box can complete the sound these cans strive for, and there is a certain piece of mind knowing that one was designed to compliment the other in a world where headphone compatibility is a hotly debated topic. However, as a standalone unit, one can’t help wonder if there aren’t more competitively priced options that have most of these features, the $1,999 Naim DAC V1 comes to mind, as well as offerings from Schiit Audio that fall under 1k. There is also the issue of the amplifier mainly being for lower impedance cans, which while best for the vast majority of headphones, still means this isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution.”
March 16, 2020 § Leave a comment
“As a pure DAC, it is resolving enough without having excessive flavour. Upon switching its analogue output to my Lovely Cube Premium class A solid-state headphone amp, it’s immediately apparent how average the DAC section on this unit is. The TA-03S resolves macro details well but micro details such as the scratch from calloused fingers rubbing against guitar string gets lost in translation and blends into the background. To that I say, who cares? You’re listening to music, not trying to count the number of people clapping in the front seat at the end of Track 3 of Adele’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall album.
As a pure headphone amp, the TA-03S does so many things right. I would even go as far as to say the performance is bottlenecked by the mediocre DAC stage. Mids are smooth and intimate with no hint of sibilance or graininess. Through the Gen 1 Chord Hugo, switching from my solid state amp to this unit expanded the soundstage abruptly.”
March 7, 2020 § Leave a comment
“The PA-One+ utilizes an two-channel ‘audiophile grade’ HyperStream ESS Sabre 9018K2M ‘Reference’ DAC chip capable of both asynchronous and synchronous 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256 decoding. For this review I ran a Roon Nucleus+ into the PA-One+ with 16-bit/44.1kHz (FLAC rips) 24-bit/192kHz, DSD64/128 local-drive downloads and TIDAL and Qobuz streaming files. I did not tube roll the Quad as even though I have acquired (and continue to acquire) ever more tubes, they tend to input/line/phono applications, and I had no varietals of 6SL7/6SN7). I did not use it as a pre-amp either, rather, I focused on it’s headphone amp/DAC abilities. I used a variety of headphones, of varying impedances and sensitivity from the Audeze LCD-2 Classic, Mr. Speakers Aeon Closed, HIFIMAN HE1000se to Quad’s own Planar-Magnetic ERA-1, which had real synergy with the PA-One+ and that I settled on for all my critical-listening and review sessions.”
February 26, 2020 § Leave a comment
Manley still weren’t satisfied with this however, as they also tossed in a set of Baxandall EQ filters and both Mono and Balance functionality. Anyone with hearing loss or old mono records will appreciate the balance controls, though they were more ‘nice to have’ than necessary for me. The EQ was the real star of this show however, and Manley’s pro-audio heritage shines here. Most hi-fi companies, when they implement EQ controls, design simple bell or shelf filters, boosting frequencies in a given area pretty equally. The Absolute uses Baxandall filters which have subtle tapering and shaping around the outermost affected frequencies, and combining both controls can give interesting effects, such as boosting or cutting the midrange – if you’re a tweaker this will give you hours of endless fun.
February 23, 2020 § Leave a comment