Kronos Audio Reference phono preamplifier unboxing

June 19, 2018 § Leave a comment

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McIntosh C52 Solid-State Preamplifier $7000 Review

June 15, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“One of the secrets of the Benchmark’s stellar performance is that it re-clocks the signal to eliminate jitter and timing errors. McIntosh addresses this issue with its own set of proprietary protocols. The C52’s digital engine deploys premium ESS chips configured in a fully balanced mode of eight DACs (four per channel) with fanatical attention to regulating power-supply voltage so precisely that it doesn’t deviate from the exact value the DACs require for optimal performance. I have no means of measuring this, but I did try to confound the C52 by replacing my audiophile-grade coaxial cable (of superb construction and shielding) with a cheap, no-name RCA interconnect. The result? Absolutely no discernable effect upon the reproduced sound. Still not satisfied, I went for the jugular, unbending a coat hanger and using it for the coaxial connection. Same difference: no effect upon the sound quality whatsoever. Suffice it to say that you can safely banish all worries about the C52’s ability to deliver a bit-perfect signal. (The coat-hanger stunt was to simulate a worst-case scenario of timing errors and jitter, but you should never use anything except a shielded cable for all digital connections owing to the sheer amount of RFI digital radiates—enough, say, to interfere with an FM tuner or other equipment used within ten to twenty feet of an unshielded connection.)”

AVM Ovation CS 8.2 All-in-One System $12,995 Review

May 28, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“Obviously, I have the room and cables to handle an extensive multi-box audio system. Replacing all those boxes and wires with one AVM CS 8.2 was a refreshingly musical alternative experience. I found that when pitted against a separates system with approximately the same overall price tag the CS 8.2 can deliver equally impressive sound.

For me the one elephant in the room that kept staring me in the face and sideswiping me with its trunk was: “How does the AVM CS 6.2 compare with the AVM CS 8.2?” I have never heard the 6.2, so I am not qualified to answer that question. Since these two components are identical except for the tube linestage in the 8.2, the final decision between them is something that can only be made at an AVM dealer who has both units in stock.”

Cambridge Solo & Duo Phono Preamp Review – Video

May 14, 2018 § Leave a comment

Esoteric Grandioso D1 DAC, P1 Disc Transport, C1 Linestage, and M1 Monoblock Power Amplifier Review

May 7, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“Comparing the Grandioso stack to my reference gear proved instructive. My Goldmund electronics are slightly faster and airier, thanks to their megahertz bandwidth and the speed that comes with it. The Goldmund gear also more accurately follows the shapes of notes. By comparison, these rise and fall a bit too quickly on the Grandioso stack; this is my one real complaint. On the other hand, the Grandioso series is more neutral than my reference electronics. And in other areas, such as dynamics and resolution, the Grandioso stack is among the scant few components I’ve encountered that can go head-to-head with Goldmund gear.”

VTL • TL-6.5 Series II Signature Preamplifier $15,000 Review

May 5, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“That makes understanding just where the ‘6.5 II fits into the audio firmament a challenging prospect — not because of the product but because of the reality it forces us to confront. On the one hand it delivers a genuine glimpse of the highest end; on the other, it can be as unforgiving of partnering equipment — or more specifically, the failings of such — as those high-end credentials suggest. Are you ready to meet that challenge, or to build and work with a system that can? This product is all about musical power and communication — not about pretty pictures and a rose-tinted audio viewpoint. Its impressive dynamic range is based on a genuinely low noise floor, its rock-like stability and presence on seemingly unburstable reserves of power. It won’t mask shortcomings elsewhere in the system, or draw a discrete veil over poor recordings. Instead it has that almost priceless ability to step aside, allowing each performer and performance its own voice, focussing not on the surface detail but their inner structure and musical integrity. It’s a quality it will bring to your whole system if the partnering products are up to it.”

Pass Labs XP-12 Preamplifier And XA30.8 Stereo Amplifier Review

May 3, 2018 § Leave a comment

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“The Pass Labs combination is astonishingly informative dynamically, digging deep into the heart of the source signal and presenting the subtlest of fine pressure changes with finesse and, to my ears, more true-to-life veracity than most. This dynamic agility enables it to sound much more powerful than might be expected for ‘just’ 30W, though power doesn’t necessarily equal dynamic agility, and loudness and dynamics are not the same thing either.”

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