March 29, 2021 § Leave a comment
Finally, I’d like to note that the headphone amplifier feature of the ALTAIR G1 is much improved over the one in the original ALTAIR. AURALiC seemed to add the headphone feature in the original ALTAIR as just a throwaway convenience and did not care about its performance much. But, the improved headphone sonic performance in the ALTAIR G1 makes me think that AURALiC considers it as one of the important features of the product now. Clarity and transparency were the sonic attributes that were noticeably improved when listening using Massdrop X Sennheiser HD6XX headphones through the ALTAIR G1. Midrange sounded solid, treble was extended but not excessive, and bass was plentiful and well defined. The sense-of-space presentation was no slouch either, although as noticeable on some tracks, this seemed to be the area that could use some improvement. But overall, the headphone feature of the ALTAIR G1 is respectable and should satisfy casual to moderately serious headphone listeners.
March 8, 2021 § Leave a comment
I had been playing one of my favorite performances of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2, with Vladimir Ashkenazy accompanied by Bernard Haitink conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra (16/44.1 ALAC file ripped from CD, Decca 4757550). An early digital recording—it was released in 1986—the sound via the MU1’s network connection was somewhat congested, with limited soundstage depth. The same recording, upsampled to 176.4kHz and sent to the MBL DAC via the MU1’s AES/EBU connection, was dramatically better. The tonal balance was still warm, but the congestion was reduced, adding depth to the soundstage and increasing the separation between instruments and groups of instruments within that stage. Even lossy-compressed audio, like the 128kbps stream of BBC Radio 3’s Night Tracks program, to which I have become addicted, benefited from the MU1’s upsampling.
February 26, 2021 § Leave a comment
The Moon 680D sounds pretty good from cold but improves considerably over a few weeks of use. Given time, it becomes clearer and more transparent, gaining an appreciable amount of openness in the process.
We start with the digital inputs, which prove remarkably consistent. In our experience, many high-end companies struggle to make their USB inputs sound as good as the others. We suspect that has something to do with the fact that the USB receiver module tends to be a ready-made unit bought from third-party suppliers that may not match up to the standards of the rest of the DAC circuitry. We’re pleased to report that Moon avoids any such issues.
Regardless of the input chosen, the sonic signature is familiar enough. The company’s products have always been smooth and refined performers and this one is no different. It’s a friendly and accommodating balance – one that isn’t easily provoked by bright or aggressive recordings.
February 19, 2021 § Leave a comment
The ability to convert any non-Bluetooth digital device to Bluetooth V5.0 with the superior sound quality options of LDAC or aptX HD makes the BTA30 a boon to fans of wireless audio and smart technology. Whether you want to watch television with High Definition sound quality in your own head a 3 AM without disturbing others or stream music from your phone to your old HiFi system, the BTA30 is a must-have and will prove useful for a multitude of applications without putting a heavy lien on your pocketbook. Definite thumbs up and highly recommended product.
February 13, 2021 § Leave a comment
Tempting though it may be to think ‘but it’s just a computer and some storage’, Grimm Audio’s MU1 is all about delivering the best possible digital data to your DAC. To that end, this is an entirely convincing ‘transport’ solution, and is capable of sparkling results. The ‘analogue/digital’ thing may be a blind alley, but the MU1 still delivers one of the most musical sounds I’ve heard from digital to date.
February 6, 2021 § Leave a comment
The Roon Nucleus and Nucleus Plus are amazingly capable devices. For a power user who needs the flexibility that the Nucleus series offers, and who wants to avoid the time and trouble of building their own Nucleus-type device, the prices are justified. Also, by buying the Nucleus, one gets a full two-year repair or replacement warranty from Roon.
Using the Nucleus via Roon Remote is a very comfortable experience, particularly for users who are already familiar with the interface. Even for beginners, the Roon Remote software has a very mild learning curve, and users will quickly be able to access all the features. I’d have to conclude that Roon’s goal of user-friendliness for the Nucleus has been met.
February 2, 2021 § Leave a comment
Volumio seems to rely on the library’s file structure for organization, but it provides no library-management tools, and the documentation says nothing about how it expects a library to be configured. I have set up most of the directories and files in my library by date added and not by artist, work, etc. Other programs, like JRiver and Roon, are okay with this: They use flexible, sophisticated metadata tagging. Volumio’s system, however it works, didn’t play as well with my library. Search often returned incongruous results, and the standard views, such as Albums, Genres, Artists, Playlists, and Favorites, failed to display cover art for a substantial part of my collection. (Why didn’t it discover all the cover art in my library?) Maybe this wouldn’t happen if I were a more scrupulous curator, but it has not been a problem with other servers I’ve used. Also, Volumio seems unable to search by file format, and it cannot tell me a file’s sampling/ bit rate until after I start playing it.