Shure KSE1200SYS electrostatic in-ear headphone system Review

March 18, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“A problem with armature-based IEMs, such as my Ultimate Ears 18 Pros, is that their vibrating reeds start to run out of excursion with high levels of low-frequency tones, producing “doubling” (second-harmonic distortion). This was not the case with either the KSE1500 or KSE1200SYS earpieces, which played the low-frequency, 1/3-octave warble tones on my Editor’s Choice (CD, Stereophile STPH016-2) cleanly and with full weight down to 32Hz, provided the sleeves were making good seals with my ear canals. The combination of low-frequency clarity and weight in “Happiness Is Easy,” from Talk Talk’s The Colour of Spring (DSD64 file ripped from SACD, EMI 591452), made the sparse interjections from Danny Thompson’s double bass and Alan Gorrie’s electric bass sound suitably forceful. No, in terms of low-frequency weight, the in-ear Shures still couldn’t match my long-term headphone reference, Audeze’s LCD-Xes, driven in balanced mode by Ayre Acoustics’ EX-8 integrated amplifier. However, the over-ear LCD-Xes weigh my head down after the first couple of hours; the lightweight Shures remained comfortable throughout far longer listening sessions.”


WA11 topaz Overview

March 6, 2019 § Leave a comment

Woo WA11 headphone amp

March 4, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Upfront there’s a machined metal volume control and two headphone jacks, a standard 6.3mm jack and a 4.4mm Pentaconn jack (for headphones fitted with balanced cables with Pentaconn connectors; only one headphone can be plugged in at a time). The amplifier circuitry is fully balanced from input to output.

Too bad Woo didn’t also squeeze in a 3.5mm headphone jack, but space is limited. The amp’s side panel has a high/low gain switch for compatibility with easy- and hard-to-drive headphones.”

Best Headphone Amps & DACs To Buy In 2019

January 17, 2019 § Leave a comment

Best headphones, portable and desktop digital gear and amps of 2018

January 14, 2019 § Leave a comment

iFi Audio xDSD DAC $399 Review

January 10, 2019 § Leave a comment

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” see two quite different “types” of audiophile as the primary customers for the xDSD. First, younger, more mobile-oriented audiophiles with smartphones and portable computers could find the xDSD to be the perfect “step-up” audio device to improve sound from all sources. Long-time audiophiles (the ones with the 25-year-old DACs that they still love for Red Book) could add an xDSD to their system as an auxiliary digital device that would give them access to all the newest high-resolution files, streams, and digital codecs for a pittance of the price they paid for their “main-squeeze” DAC. Both types of audiophile will be pleased and impressed by the xDSD’s flexibility, utility, performance level, and overall value. I know I was.”

iFi Audio xDSD Bluetooth DAC and Headphone Amp Review

December 5, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“Now that you know all that, where does that leave us with the xDSD? Well, it is quite pleasing to listen to and the sound quality it puts out has a certain warmness to it that I can see a lot of people really liking. When I subjectively compare the xDSD to the sound of my OPPO HA-2SE, the OPPO comes across as cleaner and more neutral to my ears. This may have more to do with the tuning of the analog output stage more than the actual DAC chipset itself. When I used the xDSD as a stand-alone DAC, with the separate line-out jack attached to my reference system, the same sound signature translated through to my speakers. I find this sound characteristic less objectionable over headphones but it’s not something I personally care to hear in my main system. It’s just a matter of taste.”

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