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.”
February 23, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Finally, I tried Leif Ove Andsnes playing Chopin Ballades and Nocturnes on Sony, as heard through Qobuz, a 96k/24 bit recording. The piano is a funny one for me. It’s tough to capture a keyboard well so that it sounds like a single instrument and not a series of drive units- so it’s more a speaker thing, but the amp and DAC also play a starring role in the success of good pianistic reproduction.
Chord’s DAVE is the master of the piano, but somehow what I’m hearing on this hi-res Qobuz recording makes me want to listen further and further. It’s a beautiful sound with no harsh edges, and the incredible subtlety of Andsnes’ phrasing spins the musical line in an arresting way. Not only is the timbre of the piano just right, but the micro-phrasing that you hear when you stand next to a great musical artist is all there. It is so often lost.”
February 19, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Delicate, signal-centric analog and digital sections are kept separate thanks to an internal, two layer dual-chassis design which according to the company was developed to prevent signal corruption, shielding intricate circuitry from RF and EMI interference. Analog inputs consist of three balanced (XLR), four unbalanced (RCA – gold plated, solid brass) and dedicated MM and MC phono stages (40dB/60dB voltage gain respectively). Digital inputs include one asynchronous USB Type-B, two coaxial, three optical and one proprietary McIntosh MCT (DIN) which offers a secure DSD connection for McIntosh SACD/CD transports. A headphone amplifier featuring McIntosh’s Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) is built-in as well “to allow high quality recordings to image like conventional speakers in your headphones” according to the company (A claim I can attest to after extensive listening sessions, the sensation is less ‘in the centre of your head’ if I had to briefly describe it). You can utilize or bypass Tone controls and all inputs can be individually named to custom tailor them to your specific gear or nomenclature and be input level-matched to +/-6dB, bass and treble settings can also be adjusted on a per-input basis. The unit also has a Home Theatre PassThru, Power Control Output (one main, four trigger), RS232 Control Input and a rear panel IR sensor input.”
January 28, 2019 § Leave a comment
“The Noble Line N11 and N15 certainly bring out the 101s’ virtues without being hamstrung by their peculiarities. You might think that a speaker with a sensitivity of 81dB (or less), like the 101 E Mk.II, would be a challenge for any amp short of a behemoth, but the N15 (like the even more powerful MBL Reference 9011) never seemed fazed by the Radialstrahlers’ hunger for watts, volts, and amps. While I wouldn’t say that the N15s had quite the overall resolution or sensational treble snap and extension of the 9011s, they effortlessly reproduced hard-hitting bar-band rock ’n’ roll like Lake Street Dive’s “Shame, Shame, Shame” from Free Yourself Up [Nonesuch] at lifelike levels (ca. 95–96dB average SPLs), and they did this without sacrificing one of the very things that makes Radialstrahlers such a pleasure to listen to—their ability to play at very very high volumes without turning the slightest bit rough, bright, or annoying. (According to MBL’s literature, the N15 has a “soft-clipping” feature that, I assume, makes it sound even less rough and bright at very high levels, though this feature may also be partly responsible for the amp’s slight reduction in treble-range brilliance).”