June 12, 2019 § Leave a comment
“The L2 enhanced my very fine digital setup, and considering the preamplifier section of the Continuum S2 (basically, a Jeff Rowland Capri II preamplifier) is outstanding and an obvious match for its connected amplifier section, it couldn’t better the gorgeous sounds the 300Bs were portraying. For sure, a completely different topology, but the way Rossi has his tubes singing is very persuasive.
It’s been my experience that some tube preamps let the side down during thunderous piano performances. No fears, here. Martha Argerich’s famous Berlin/Abbado/DG (vinyl reissue) of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 was overwhelming at times. She’s a powerhouse; a force of nature. And all her power was unsullied and heard to astounding effect. Piano fans will love this preamplifier. Yet, at the other end of the dynamic spectrum, the Rossi retrieved even more subtlety from John Bingham’s playing of Schubert Songs arr. Liszt on Meridian vinyl than I’m used to. I use my late friend’s playing as a test for quiet pianism; pedal, bell tones, touch, ppp voicing, etc. This was pretty miraculous as a musical experience. The LP is available on Discogs. ”
April 25, 2019 § Leave a comment
“This isn’t just about hearing more from your recordings, although that is what first attracts you to the Reference 10’s performance. It’s like a reset button on your music. Tracks you know so well aren’t just replayed as if it were the first time you heard them; they are rebuilt note-by-note in front of you, opening up that music in ways you can’t anticipate until you experience them. Yes this is about detail, space, and dynamic range – Bernard Purdie’s drum pedal on ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ [KIng Curtis Live at Filmore West, ATCO] has a squeak that really high-resolution systems can resolve. Many of those are brutally analytical rendering the track hard to hear because of that ever-present squeak, but the Reference 10 forces you beyond that, to a point where it is just a part of the musical whole again. It’s just this time, there are so many more parts to that whole. Let’s put it this way; anyone who was actually at that concert almost 50 years ago might have heard that squeaky drum pedal, and I guarantee not one person walked out of the concert because of that squeak. That’s how the Reference 10 pushes ahead of the competition. That’s not to say the preamplifier is forgiving, but instead is so informative that detail alone isn’t enough; it’s like you get a new set of ears with the Reference 10 and they take everything in! Going back to more real world preamps is an exercise in disappointment.”
April 1, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Thirty-four years of engineering focus has given Boulder time to learn more efficient and effective ways to construct its gear, with build quality that routinely functions for a decade plus of set-it-and-forget-it life spans, better heat dissipation, plus ARM Chip inclusion for web capabilities as well as advanced power management and circuit protection. I have not found any area that has not been considered for improvement. And, the music! Absolutely musical! I could not detect any colour being inserted by the Boulder siblings. They did not offer a warm, cool, or shaded tonal signature. Everything was by the book, whatever was the disc, LP, or streaming bits. That is what I want from a solid state, state of the art system. ”
March 26, 2019 § Leave a comment
“I was really quickly entangled with the CH Precision P1 mind-boggling and complex core. I certainly didn’t predict to dip that deep and thoroughly into this apparatus, but once I’ve discovered P1’s current input potency I’ve literary pull out all of my cartridges that I own or have them in the review loop (Top Wing Blue Dragon, Top Wing Red Sparrow, Lyra Etna SL, Gold Note Tuscany Gold, Hana SL, Murasakino Sumile Mono, Etsuro Urushi, Miyabi Labs, Soundsmith Paua Mk Ii Cartridge etc.) and entered the non-plotted, but a most rewarding and prolonged sleepless nights analog adve”nture.
The cartridge list itself reveals my passion for the MC cartridges and with the up to 25dB user adjustable input gain, there was never even the slightest trait of the missing gain.”
March 16, 2019 § Leave a comment
“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.
February 27, 2019 § Leave a comment
“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.”