May 26, 2022 § Leave a comment
Kenny Dorham’s legendary 1956 hard-bop album, ’Round Midnight at the Café Bohemia [Blue Note BLP 1524] was presented through the N20 with the wonderful intimacy and nuance that only come from live recordings made late at night in a jazz club, when the band is fully warmed up and really swinging. The stick and brushwork of Arthur Edgehill on cymbals was rendered with a fine, delicate, brassy sheen; Dorham’s trumpet was warm, sweet, and inviting, never biting. The Aurender N20’s fine rendering of space, atmosphere, and instrumental subtleties put me in the club with the audience. What a wonderful recording.
Summing up, I loved the musical experiences conjured up the by the Aurender N20. It presented the music with very high accuracy and precision, complete with the requisite muscle and horsepower to provide superb rendition of dynamic contrasts and shadings, but could temper and punctuate those dynamics with the delicate articulation of instruments and voices. The overall presentation was exceptionally uncolored and tonally accurate, yet rich with natural timbral warmth, three-dimensional weight and body, and fine gradations of instrumental or vocal textures. All this goodness was presented with clean, quiet, and very black backgrounds, refined, stable, and precise imaging, expansive soundstaging, and most importantly, nuanced, refined, and relaxed naturalness.
May 24, 2022 § Leave a comment
I tried another filter setting, it’s hard to choose when your favourite NOS (non oversampling) option isn’t available, and alighted on minimum phase, slow roll off, which turned out to be a little on the polite side. However combine this balance with the emotionally and musically raw ‘Pensacola’ by Joan Osborne [Relish, Mercury] and you have a surprisingly gripping, clear and powerful sound. This track often sounds too raucous and edgy but the Rose delivered its intrinsic message rather well, proving that full on exposure can mask the message if that recording isn’t cut for revealing systems
April 7, 2022 § Leave a comment
March 1, 2022 § Leave a comment
I can only report what I have heard, and what I have experienced in my room. And as of today, The Taiko Extreme gets me closer to the music, closer to what the musicians are conveying to me, and closer to the room/venue that the recording was recorded in than I have previously experienced. And it accomplished this while looking and behaving the part of an ultra-reference component, with the tech support to properly back it.
But… the best?!? Well, I have conveyed to you that I have never heard a better digital source in my room, and I have heard many. I have not heard the Wadax Reference DAC and server (over $100,000 each). But personally, I’d rather buy the Taiko Extreme and have money left over for that F8 Tributo…. If you are looking for a digital source and can afford it, I can not recommend the Extreme more highly; it’s that good!
February 13, 2022 § Leave a comment
The end result is that the No 5206 gives you least three components—all designed with the same lack of coloration—for the price of one: A standard preamp, a DAC, and the kind of phono preamp that I wish were integrated into every preamp. The phono section fully complements the sound character of the high-level analog sections; it is unusually quiet, although best used with normal rather than ultra-low-output moving coils. The phono sound is about as revealing as the LP permits. It does a great job of handling low-level passages, and the cartridge and recording—not the preamp—will limit the accuracy of timbre and soundstage.
Another key feature of the phono preamp is that the DIP switches on the rear panel provide a much wider range of loading for moving-coil cartridges than usual. This is a feature that has real practical value in getting the best moving-coil frequency response, and one where I’ve found user experimentation can really pay off—particularly in smoothing the upper midrange and highs and in getting a smooth balance with the rest of the midrange and bass. Loading is a tweak that’s really worth several hours of listening, during which you may well find the cartridge manufacturer’s recommended load is not the best option. (Go for natural musical sound, not warmth or exaggerated highs.) There also are four capacitance loadings for moving-magnet cartridges. Finally, the No 5206 has a number of other features that are described in detail in an exceptionally well-written and detailed instruction book. These include the ability to update the No 5206 using your home computer, home-theater pass-through mode, and a subwoofer high-pass filter that can be switched between the RCA and XLR outputs
December 7, 2021 § Leave a comment
Aurender has wisely curated the features available in its Conductor application by accepting feedback and deciding which ideas don’t belong in the app. I’ve asked for some fairly technical features over the years and looking back on it now, I’m happy the team said, thanks but no thanks. I still want the ability to upload a convolution filter, but that’s a topic for another day.
One more note about Aurender’s Conductor application. The app works very well on Apple Silicon based hardware. I run the app on my Mac Mini (M1) with Pro Display XDR and enjoy seeing more album covers on one screen that I can possibly comprehend (OK, I counted, it’s 264). It’s just nice to sit at my desk and control the Aurender from my desktop rather than wake my iPad or iPhone (I know, first world problem).