October 9, 2021 § Leave a comment
When the DS-10 Plus and PSU-10 EVO arrived, I was not instantly enamored, due primarily to my previous experience with a much earlier generation of Gold Note DACs. But after living with and using the DS-10 Plus/PSU-10 EVO combo for several months, I must admit that my initial misgivings were misplaced. The Gold Note DS-10 Plus/PSU-10 EVO combination is capable of producing reference-level sonics and has a feature set that includes all the essential options, including Ethernet and Wi-Fi, a true all-analog signal path, and those 192 different filter settings. When you factor in the dedicated remote and headphone capabilities, as well as Roon and MQA compatibility, you have a component that does everything that a current-generation DAC/preamplifier needs to do, and does it well.
October 5, 2021 § Leave a comment
Sticking with the dual-mono setup and the L600s, I put on the Tone Poets vinyl reissue of My Point of View by Herbie Hancock. The tune “King Cobra” opens the B-side, and it features Tony Williams at only 17 years old showing off all his incredible potential, with dancing cymbals that really sparkled through the STA/PRA combo. Williams’ fills sounded exuberant and rhythmically complex, and the system never compromised or slowed down his fascinating drumming. In the midrange, the piano and horns were smooth and silky with a hint of nice, heavy warmth down in their lower regions. Hancock’s solo was quick and slithering, like the song’s namesake, and each note was clearly delineated. Attacks and decays were on point, which added to the whole rhythmic picture building throughout the song. When the horns massed for the theme, each instrument remained wholly itself and focused, creating a wide sense of soundstage. The STA/PRA dual-mono combo worked very well with the L600s, since the speakers have a very solid and deep lower end, and the amp/preamp shines in the lower registers. It was that deep heft that really brought a difficult song like “King Cobra” to life, and leant the entire ensemble a massive sound.
October 4, 2021 § Leave a comment
Under the best circumstances a review, for me at least, will result in widening perspectives and expanding my knowledge regarding what is possible in high-end audio. Keep in mind, this system is designed as purist in form for the purist at heart. There are no creature comforts such as remote volume adjustment or input switching. As my current set up must accommodate my family’s entertainment center, the lack of remote and the temperament of tubes makes this an affair of whimsy and abandon rather than a long term committed relationship. But make no mistake, the Triangle Art M-100 amplifiers and L-200 preamplifier recreates music with verve and life adding up too an intensely musical experience.
September 3, 2021 § Leave a comment
Well, almost set. First, I familiarized myself with the Director Mk2’s sound when working as a DAC and preamp to drive my Classé Delta Mono power amps. The sound of the Director Mk2 when fed a digital music signal was, in a word, unveiled: highly dynamic, transparent, vivid, and powerful. Andy Newmark’s drums in “True to Life,” from Roxy Music’s Avalon (24/96 FLAC, Virgin), were re-created in my room with tangible impact—and I enjoyed the spaces between those drums, Bryan Ferry’s voice, and Neil Hubbard’s guitar, the image of which appeared at the far left of my room. I’ve listened to this album countless times through more components than I can count, and rarely have instruments, voices, and percussive effects sounded so well layered yet spaced so distinctly apart and individually dynamic. I especially enjoyed the opening seconds of “Take a Chance with Me” as Hubbard and Phil Manzanera fill the soundstage with eerie sounds from their masterfully manipulated electric guitars. Though Ferry’s keyboard filled the center of the soundstage, it was eclipsed by Newmark’s drums, which slammed out with more body and weight than I’ve heard.
September 2, 2021 § Leave a comment
July 15, 2021 § Leave a comment
Sonically, the subtle distinctions that distinguish these equally excellent preamps are well described by yin/yang. Note, however, that my acquaintance with Chinese medicine and philosophy leads me to invoke these categories in ways that differ from Harry Pearson, the man who first invoked them in audiophile contexts. Plus, it’s also a bit dicey to invoke yin/yang, female/male polarities in an era when many eschew rigid gender roles. Nonetheless, with yin and yang we shall proceed.
Paradoxically, given its more understated appearance, the Esoteric makes the more forthright, more “yang” sonic statement. It knows what it wants to say and does not equivocate. An oboe sounds like this, a bass drum pounds like that. There’s nothing to second guess; it is as clear and transparent and truthful as can be. As Tosca stabs Scarpia, you can be sure she’s not thinking about the balance in her bank account or how well she sang the “Te Deum” last night. The D’Agostino is no more equivocal; its reach is as high, its bass as impactful. But there’s a bit more pastel among the primary colors, more yin amidst the yang. In this respect, the D’Agostino reminds me a bit of the best Pass and Gryphon amplification I’ve heard.