Naim ND5 XS 2 media player Review

March 25, 2019 § Leave a comment

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"Most of the other setup chores were straightforward. To listen to Internet Radio, I chose that icon from the Naim app's home screen and was off and running. Having done that, I could sort and ultimately select stations by genre, country of origin, and other logical criteria. Similarly, to listen to files stored on a thumb drive, I inserted the drive in one of the ND5 XS 2's two USB ports, selected the app's USB icon, and presto—once again, I was off to the races.

Pairing a user-supplied smartphone with the Naim's Bluetooth input option isn't covered in the Quick Start Guide. Through trial and error, I found that getting my iPhone to communicate with the Naim depended on my turning off and then turning on all associated products and functions in just the right order. And although Naim's implementation of Bluetooth sounded no worse than any others I've heard, it was nevertheless not worth the trouble: As with just about every other Bluetooth-as-serious-audio-source effort I've experienced, the sound quality was to Tidal as soft-serve ice cream is to the real thing, only filled with slightly more icy particles. Don't bother."

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Volumio Primo network player

March 18, 2019 § Leave a comment

Moon 390 Network Player/Preamplifier $5,300 Review

March 16, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“While high-res audio is a selling point of the Moon 390, it didn’t exactly need to be fed high-res audio to sound great. Listening to a 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC stream of “Woodstock” by jazz supergroup Hudson, John Medeski’s acoustic piano solo had a solid, almost meaty, presence, while Larry Grenadier’s standup bass sounded sinewy and clean. The cymbals from drummer Jack DeJohnette’s kit also had a 3D-like quality that made them float realistically in space.

I wrapped up my assessment of the Moon 390’s digital chops by comparing the performance of its built-in DAC with the Pioneer universal disc player’s using a handful of reference CDs. In each case, the sound delivered by the 390’s DAC was more precise, layered, and clean. The performance of the Pioneer’s DAC, in comparison, was consistently more recessed and less engaging.

Aurender Content Server ACS10 Full Review

March 9, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“In addition to the aforementioned features the ACS10 brings Aurender into the world of multi-zone audio with centralized music storage in an all-Aurender ecosystem. The ACS10 can host all one’s music and serve it out to other Aurender components throughout one’s network. But, don’t worry about typical network issues that arise with DLNA or UPnP because the Aurender ecosystem doesn’t touch that non-standard standard called UPnP.

The thing to remember about the ACS10 is simplicity. Usually when the number of features rise, so does complexity. Not so with the Content Server. In addition, Aurender has developed this platform to operate 100% of the time without requiring a traditional computer for setup, music management, or even loading music on the server. It can all be accomplished through the Aurender ACS Manager app for iOS. ”

PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player and DirectStream DAC Review

March 6, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The Digital Lens imposes a small penalty on user experience. The interface to the Memory Player is the same symbols and functions we are accustomed to for CD and DVD playback – and for tape before that – except you engage with it via the touchscreen in place of physical buttons. But because the Digital Lens needs to accumulate the data before sending it along, the Memory Player is overall less responsive than CD and DVD players. Not agonizingly so, and certainly not a deal breaker for me, but having lived with CD players for decades, it’s something you notice and may find frustrating. We’re used to ever-increasing speed with our technology (among other things); it’s hard to go back.”

MOON 390 NETWORK PLAYER/PREAMPLIFIER REVIEW

February 27, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“It is worth noting that the 400M’s are no spring chickens; they have been around for at least the last seven years, they don’t seem to have been picked up by reviewers anywhere – they appear to occupy space below the radar. At £7,200 they are something of a bargain, and they seem to have a special affinity with the B&W802d2s. They have the power to grip the bass performance of the speakers and to drive them with aplomb. My turntable is an Inspire Monarch, with an SME V, and I’ve not heard such impressive bass performance as this on my system. Continuing with the vinyl odyssey, this time the Amadeus Quartet with Cecil Aronowitz playing Mozart’s early and utterly charming Bb Quintet op 174 on DG, the combination really captures the vitality of this world-class ensemble. The sound is packed with detail, lovely tonal nuance, and the colours of the players’ Strads (not all of them) finessed effortlessly. This is the opposite of many of the digital amps I’ve heard recently. The greyness and lack of tonal nuance kill them for me. None of that here! All this from the phono stage that comes from a preamp costing £4,750.”

BLUESOUND WIRELESS MUSIC SYSTEM REVIEW

February 24, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Did I find the Bluesound player better than my reliable and beloved Sonos system? The answer is a resounding yes. High resolution files sounded great, something the Sonos can’t play. Ripped CDs often sounded better than when they were playing back through the Sonos. Trying to describe the differences between the Sonos and the Bluesound system on the same equipment is a matter of subtleties. Instrument locations, especially acoustic instruments are more precise. Percussion instruments have more bite, and ‘liveness’. Switching between ripped CDs, it was almost always obvious which equipment was playing. That was true even when another person made the switches so I had no idea if I was listening to the Sonos or the Bluesound as a source. It could be a difference in DACs, the ripping into FLAC format, or something in the way the networking is architected. Whatever the reason, it sounded like a thin veil had been lifted when listening to the Bluesound.”

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