Pro Ject Pre Box S2: MQA decoding Digital DAC/pre-amp – Vieo

April 2, 2018 § Leave a comment

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Aurender N100H Caching Network Streamer Plus X725 USB DAC / Amplifier Review

March 9, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“I’m a sucker for the French Impressionists. No, not the painters, the composers – Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Sometimes Eric Satie is lumped into this category, but he doesn’t have enough recorded works to really be part of this group. If I would have to pick only one piece of music to represent this subgenre, though, it would be Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe. I have many recordings of this work in my collection, my favorite digital version, which also happens to be my favorite analog version, is the Living Stereo issue conducted by Charles Munch. His Boston Symphony Orchestra recorded this for RCA that was originally released in 1960. I have a Red Book CD versions ripped from the two-layer SACD and an older CD, and a DSD file of this on my hard-drives, and all of them sound incredible. I’ve read that some aren’t as enamored as I am of this recording, mostly because of the tape hiss that’s been faithfully reproduced. I suppose I’m used to it. It doesn’t bother me at all. I played both the 16-bit and DSD version through the N100H, sometimes connected to the X725 and sometimes not, and I had the same impression of their sound quality as I did when listening to the Peter Gabriel, but on this album it was amazing to hear how well the N100H was able to handle these real instruments recorded in a real space.”

Pass XP-17 Phono Preamplifier Review

December 19, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“The XP-17 finally is positioned several price classes higher, but very much deservedly so. Although the Pass has no tubes, it does sound every bit as fluid and organic as the SW1X. It is perhaps not quite as spritely nor as nimble and speedy, but it makes up for this with an even more sonorous sound with more powerful and more sonorous bass and a harmonically richer midrange, while simultaneously sounding more even-handed. Importantly, regardless of its full-bodied bass and rich midrange, the Pass sounds clear and articulate, well-balanced and very neutral. It actually combines virtues that are often contradictory: tonally full yet neutral, organic, rich and fluid yet clean, clear and detailed, and all aspects in equal measure.”

Rogue Audio RP-7 Tube Preamplifier $4995 – Review

December 16, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“I’m happy to say that the Rogue Audio RP-7 was good enough for me to use without yearning to switch back to my reference preamps. Of course, I did switch back to these reference preamps for comparisons sake. I put back into the system the Balanced Audio Technology (BAT) VK-33 preamplifier for a while, a vacuum tube preamp that is one I’ve used on and off in my system for over two years. This preamp sells for two thousand dollars more than the RP-7 in its standard configuration, and although this isn’t a shoot-out, I can honestly say that the two preamps are more the same than different, and that is great praise for the Rogue Audio preamp. I also reinstalled the two solid-state preamps I had on hand. After becoming accustomed to the different sound that a solid-state preamplifier offers, it was easy to deduce that both these preamps sounded superior to the Rogue preamp. But I was also astounded that the reference units were not necessarily better in every area. This is not a trivial matter, not only because both these preamps are 2017 Blue Note Award winners, but because these preamps much costlier than the Rogue Audio preamp.”

Schiit Freya tube preamplifier $699 Review

November 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“With Freya’s tubes engaged, Miles Davis’ “The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions” album’s sound blew me away. Its at-times almost-ambient music completely fills my room. Amazing, and then Davis’ killer rhythm section kicks in, and oh boy the band takes off and the music’s dynamics rocked my world. Switching from the tubes to the Freya’s buffer stage the soundstage flattens, becoming smaller and more two-dimensional. The music feels less dynamically alive without the tubes in the signal path. Still, listening with the passive or buffer stages was perfectly enjoyable and probably more neutral. Anyway, it’s easy enough to switch between passive, buffer and tube stages to decide for yourself which one sounds best.”

JEFF ROWLAND DESIGN GROUP CAPRI S2 PREAMPLIFIER REVIEW

October 20, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“It’s worth noting that this Jeff Rowland does not sound like it has a switch mode power supply, as there’s no graininess or brightness at all. In fact, it couldn’t be smoother, it’s the most polished SMPS device I’ve encountered. And this does the Capri S2 a lot of favours when bringing out the tonal richness of everything you play. It’s not just classical sopranos who benefit; Tom Waits’ ‘In Shades’ [Heart Attack & Vine, Ayslum] also has great depth to the guitar and organ, and the burble of the dining audience is clearly separated from the music, a result in part of the impressive low level resolution on offer. This is a very quiet preamp indeed, which means that very little fails to get to its outputs. This in turn means there’s plenty of dynamic range available in the resulting sound.”

Audio Research LS28 Stereo Preamplifier Review

October 17, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“The LS28 left me wondering about the end of the road in audiophile land. Where does a hobbyist go when spending $7,500 gets you a component as luxurious and high quality as the LS28? There are some exotic preamplifiers costing two or three times as much, even from Audio Research, that are unlikely to sound two or three times better. Or do they? Before spending that kind of coin, does it not make more sense to substantially upgrade your room and then your amplification or speakers? Combined with the fact that no other company on the market can equal the service and support offered by ARC, the value proposition for the LS28 is substantial.”

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