November 11, 2019 § Leave a comment
“I can hear why the Black and its PCM1704K chipset is so highly regarded and it does have a bit more dynamic range and complexity to its sound than the Red. However, for vocal lovers, the Red has a lot of charm and a stunning harmonic balance.
If you can put up with the OS limitations and can find an HWA capable transmitter smartphone we may just have the best sounding sources reviewed to date. It will be a very interesting main review so stay tuned!”
November 1, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Using my two reference earphones with the N5iiS, I listened carefully to ‘For Turiya’ from Charlie Haden and Antonio Forcione’s Heartplay [Naim, 16/44.1] and just drank in the timbres of the instruments at play. Several things stood out for me. First, the deep sonorous ‘woodiness’ of Haden’s bass sounded spot on, while the sweet yet also highly articulate voice of Forcione’s guitar sounded positively luminous and three dimensional. Next, the attack and decay characteristics of both the bass and guitar were deftly rendered with precision, finesse, and a high degree of musical sensitivity. The Cayin invited me to become caught up in the launches of individual notes and then to follow them as they bloomed and gradually faded back into silence. Finally, the N5iiS enabled my high-res earphones to dig way down deep into the recording to reproduce subtle interactions between the instruments voices and the acoustics of the recording space. Put all these factors together and you have a DAP that not only sounds powerful, articulate, and refined, but also helps to bring the music alive.”
October 22, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Similarly, on “Gibraltar” from Weather Report’s Black Market [Columbia, DSD64], the Woo shows how the brilliant keyboardist Josef Zawinul has used multiple synthesizers to lovingly shape individual imaginary instruments to fit the needs of the song. Through the WA11, Zawinul’s brilliance is on full display. But even more of the track’s emotional content is expressed through the highly interactive “conversational” interplay between Zawinul, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Alphonso Johnson, and percussionists Chester Thompson and Alex Acuña. Again, the Topaz shows the meanings and intentions underlying the notes.”
October 21, 2019 § Leave a comment
“The Cobalt perhaps lacks the last iota of dynamic ceiling as compared to some megabuck, big-component outboard headphone amp/DACs, but then again, maybe not. Either way, I was very impressed with just how “high-end” the best hi-res music sounded via AudioQuest’s pocket wonder. Price no object, can you buy better DAC-based headphone sound? Probably. Can you do so for less than two or three times the Cobalt’s $299 price? Doubtful. Very doubtful.
September 8, 2019 § Leave a comment
“A little piece of trivia: Mama Cass Elliot and Keith Moon both died in the same room in Harry Nilsson’s London flat. Four years apart. Now on with the show. Harry Nilsson’s A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night is one of my favorite albums. I listen to it in spurts as I do Taylor Swift’s 1989 album (gilty pleasure). I have this album on my laptop and my iPhone for my offline listening pleasure. I press play and don’t stop listening until the final note of track twelve. The album’s opener, Lazy Moon begins with a smooth Nilsson vocal and Gordon Jenkins conducted orchestra sending the listener floating through the air via violins and strings similar to when an Academy Award is presented and the winner walks up to the stage. My Etymotic and Cobalt combo reproduce this sonic delight pretty well and about as good as I’d expect from a portable system. Nilsson’s voice doesn’t quite have the enveloping full range that I’m used to with my full-sized audio system, but that’s to be expected. Above all, this track, and entire album, has a beautiful bloom to it through the Cobalt.”