NAD C 658 Network Audio Player/Preamplifier $1,649 Review

March 4, 2020 § Leave a comment

“I hooked the C 658 up in a system consisting of a NAD C 268 stereo amplifier that the company sent along for use during testing and Polk Audio L800 tower speakers. While the C 268 is conservatively rated for 80 watts continuous output into 8 and 4 ohms (20 Hz-20 kHz at 0.03 percent THD, both channels driven), it easily drove the full-range Polk Audio towers to a satisfactory listening level. Sources included a Panasonic DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player for CD playback and a Pro-Ject Debut turntable with Clearaudio Aurum Beta/S moving magnet cartridge for vinyl. The music streaming services I used for my testing were Tidal Hi-Fi, Qobuz Studio, and Amazon Music HD.”

Gold Note DS-10 DAC/Preamp/Streamer $2995 Review

February 25, 2020 § Leave a comment

“That is a lot of detailed engineering and scientific information. What does it all mean to the layman who wants an all in one unit that can drive a line stage system? To someone that wants a whole lot of great features in a compact, easy to use (once you read the instructions and take the time to learn the unit), and very flexible unit built to a high standard that has not only great use ability, but also exceptional aesthetics? Perhaps we should get into that now.

I was very impressed when I unboxed the unit. It was compact, but a very stoutly built piece of kit. The review unit came in the silver finish and mated well to the white and silver theme of most of my gear. I have owned three Gold Note items. The Tuscany cartridge, the Pamphili phono preamp, and the DSS30 Blacknote (another Gold Note sub brand) USB player. All of their products have an immediate feel of quality. “

Mytek Brooklyn Bridge Network-Attached DAC £2500 Review

February 18, 2020 § Leave a comment

“Now, while I am well aware that precious few enthusiasts will be looking at the Brooklyn Bridge as a phono stage, the feature is there so I felt duty-bound to give it a spin. With my Michell Gyro SE turntable cued up with both Ortofon Rondo Red MC and 2M Black MM cartridges ready to mount in turn, I took a pristine copy of Chris Rea’s One Fine Day LP [Magnet 0 190295 498856] from its sleeve. Despite expecting the unit to struggle with a low-output MC, the sound emanating from the speakers was sumptuous. Even better, switching to MM was a revelation, the album being delivered with all of its top-end sweetness intact. What’s more, bass lines were again punchy and taut.

Returning to my digital music files, and with the emphasis on more hi-res content delivered via USB and LAN, I pulled up tracks from Enya’s album Dark Sky Island (Deluxe) [Warner Music Group 2553131; 96kHz/24-bit, FLAC]. The Brooklyn Bridge served up the lush sounds in a manner that was rich and unrestrained yet neither gloopy nor gushing. It was the perfect chill-out experience. Next up was the Danish String Quartet’s self-produced Last Leaf [ECM Records 581 5746; 96kHz/24-bit, FLAC]. Here the sounds of the harmonium, piano, glockenspiel and cello on these traditional pieces came across with real fire and finesse.”

Bluesound Powernode 2i Review

February 18, 2020 § Leave a comment

Aurender A30 Music Server | Review

February 14, 2020 § Leave a comment

t is hard to not love the A30. The sound is reference-quality. The build is reference-quality. In fact, the A30 invites you to spend more on the rest of your system just to keep up with it. Given that you’ll be able to consolidate a preamp, a DAC, and a computer server all at one fell swoop, you might find that the A30 actually saves you money even as it ups your game. Now there’s a weird thought.

The A30 can centralize and orchestrate your disparate musical world – from local files to NAS files, to streaming services. And this one-box solution from Aurender will not only seriously improve your audio system’s performance, it will also do that one thing that technology is supposed to do – it will simplify your life.

Bluesound Vault 2i Review

February 2, 2020 § Leave a comment

Material played out by the music server creates a solid, believable soundstage that, while not as spacious as some streaming rivals, is able to portray Lofgren, the stage and his enthusiastic audience in a manner that makes total sense to the listener. Give it something enormous like Underworld’s mighty live recording of Push Upstairs on the Everything Everything album, and it doesn’t quite deliver the scale and visceral impact that is possible on some other devices but it’s far from unconvincing. Some of this seems to be down to the bass, which favours detail and speed over outright depth, but if I were asked to pick two of those three attributes, those are ones I’d favour.”

Lumin X1 Network Player Review

December 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

“Using this gorgeous art piece was an aesthetic and musical joy from initial power up ‘till review’s end. I’ve not seen a more beautiful high end component in my music room.

Equal to its visual beauty are the multi functions, ease of use, and, above all, the beautiful sound it enables. Yet, like all great components, the N51 doesn’t have a sound signature per se. What it does brilliantly and beautifully is prepare and amplify digital and vinyl signals so they always sound their very best. Many components desire plenty of refined power—no nonsense energy from which music can flow and energize the listener and the room. Hand in hand down a musical lane—two against the world. The MBL N51 worked perfectly with my components. It endowed each to their musical fullest. As such, I’ve never heard them sound better or as cohesively from an integrated source. I dare say, you could place the N51 in any components’ company and it would accept the musical challenges and surpass your expectations.”

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