Schiit Audio Freya + and Aegir Review. Tubes, Class A

July 31, 2021 § Leave a comment

Atoll Electronique MS120 network player, DAC and pre-amp

July 30, 2021 § Leave a comment

Esoteric Grandioso C1X line preamplifier Review

July 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

https://www.stereophile.com/content/esoteric-grandioso-c1x-line-preamplifier


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.

McIntosh C53 Preamplifier and MCT500 SACD/CD Transport Review

June 8, 2021 § Leave a comment

  So that I don’t come out sounding like a complete spoilsport when it comes to my earlier broadside against superhero movies, my 14-year-old daughter has become quite the fan of Marvel Comics and the movies made from them. During the pandemic she watched them all, and I will confess to having a good time joining her for some of these, notably Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is filled with more action and CGI than any ten movies can handle. The sound work is genuinely sensational, which is exactly the way it sounded with the soundtrack routed through my two-channel setup: everything clear, clean, well separated and registered, with dynamic range wider than can be comfortably accommodated in a domestic setting—during some of the battle scenes the detonations were such as to make me happy our house is anchored to its foundation. And, yes, I confess, very dramatic, very exciting, very entertaining, and no, never once did we miss back channels.

Simaudio MOON 740P Preamplifier $9000 Review

June 5, 2021 § Leave a comment

If you are looking for a preamp and you have a system (without a preamp) that has a retail price of $25k and up, the Moon 740P is well worth auditioning. I have not experienced a better preamp at this point in my audiophile journey. If I was not in the process of buying a new home, the 740P would not have left my system, and maybe one day will come back to it. It did nearly everything right, and looked great while doing it. I look forward to hopefully having the chance to explore the rest of the MOON line, if the 740P is any indicator I need to first make sure my wallet is ready.

McIntosh C53 Preamplifier and MCT500 SACD/CD Transport Review

May 20, 2021 § Leave a comment

So that I don’t come out sounding like a complete spoilsport when it comes to my earlier broadside against superhero movies, my 14-year-old daughter has become quite the fan of Marvel Comics and the movies made from them. During the pandemic she watched them all, and I will confess to having a good time joining her for some of these, notably Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is filled with more action and CGI than any ten movies can handle. The sound work is genuinely sensational, which is exactly the way it sounded with the soundtrack routed through my two-channel setup: everything clear, clean, well separated and registered, with dynamic range wider than can be comfortably accommodated in a domestic setting—during some of the battle scenes the detonations were such as to make me happy our house is anchored to its foundation. And, yes, I confess, very dramatic, very exciting, very entertaining, and no, never once did we miss back channels.

Allnic Audio L-8500 OTL/OCL Preamplifier Review

May 4, 2021 § Leave a comment

https://www.audiophilia.com/reviews/2021/2/18/epcvdco6oljh7fo5hk67c1mwrltx2o

I recently received a care package of wonderful ESOTERIC SACD remasters from American Sound in Toronto, incl. a famous Boston/DG recording of Má vlast by Smetana conducted by Rafael Kubelík. It was during the many replays of this set of tone poems when I realized that I had fallen in love with the OTL/OCL’s replication of instruments. Vinyl gives the search for accurate timbre a huge helping hand, digital much less so. The 8500 spun the bits into liquid gold. Accurate, sure, but with with timbres so full of life and passion that its sound became, to use Allnic’s word, ‘addictive’. Frigging catnip for my ears. The OTL/OCL topology was winning me over. Although missing the very last 10% of the DHT’s manipulating magic or the vistas set free by the 7000, I kept throwing the L-8500 OTL/OCL into the mix. And, when replaced by the L-7000, I’d be sitting away from the system and the 8500’s sound would keep popping into my head. It felt like an illicit affair.

Classé Audio Delta Pre Preamplifier-DAC $9999 Review

April 27, 2021 § Leave a comment

https://www.soundstageultra.com/index.php/equipment-menu/1036-classe-audio-delta-pre-preamplifier-dac#most-read-equipment-reviews

I’m not a big fan of tone controls, but I appreciated how the Delta Pre allowed me to select an inflection point, then apply up to 6dB of boost or cut. In my setup, this helped restore a bit of weight around my room’s 31Hz suckout. I then applied the PEQ’s maximum boost of 3dB. Having exercised enough restraint to ensure that the result didn’t sound artificially boosted, the cumulative effect was a moderately more fulsome-sounding bottom end. What really filled in that suckout was to turn off the Tone controls and add both subs. Adding them with no adjustment of PEQ yielded bloated, uncontrolled bass, and worsened two of my room’s bass modes. But after taking a few measurements, making independent PEQ settings for each subwoofer (using the Aux output to enable stereo subs), and fine-tuning the crossover slope for each sub, I could barely tell that they were on. The only clue was the only one that matters: I heard a smoother, punchier, more linear bottom end, especially below 40Hz. Providing this way of fine-tuning the sound and integrating one or two subwoofers into a system makes the Classé Delta Pre a dream component for listeners who need these features and this kind of flexibility.

GRYPHON AUDIO DESIGNS ESSENCE PREAMP AND POWER AMPLIFIER £20,299 REVIEW

April 24, 2021 § Leave a comment

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/gryphon-audio-designs-essence-preamp-and-power-amplifier/

Some good systems remind you of why you got into audio in the first place and while the Essence does that well, more importantly it reminds you why you got into that piece of music in the first place. This is no small feat; often those of us who have a lot of musical miles on the clock can get a bit jaded by it all (especially when playing test discs); many tracks in your collection have been overplayed to the point where the excitement and the musical intent have been worn away. The Essence strips away those years and presents your music anew. It doesn’t trigger memories of that first time you heard Dylan or Joni Mitchell, Led Zep or Beyoncé… it’s like it’s the first time you heard them, and all that excitement hits you. 

A lot of this comes down to the Essence duo’s remarkable combination of leading-edge performance, powerful dynamic range, excellent detailing, and that aforementioned authority. Music is vibrant, visceral, and red in tooth and claw. This is amplification for people who like to stand and applaud a good performance, and in a year where a good performance is a recording rather than a live event, you might feel a little silly standing up and cheering a CD or a streamed track, but go for it. That’s what the Essence does for you and your music.

CH PRECISION L10 LINE-STAGE PREAMPLIFIER AND M10 TWIN-CHASSIS POWER AMPLIFIER REVIEW

April 21, 2021 § Leave a comment

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/ch-precision-l10-line-stage-preamplifier-and-m10-twin-chassis-power-amplifier/

Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante K.364 is perhaps the perfect choice for this exercise. Not only does it play heavily on the tonal contrast between violin and viola, but enduringly popular it has been recorded across the years by multiple artists in an almost dizzying range of styles. Of the early stereo recordings, Decca’s 1963 impression, featuring the brother’s Oistrakh is deservedly highly regarded – leading to the almost inevitable slew of supposedly superior re-issues. I don’t have the original LP, but amongst my collection you’ll find a Universal/Decca gold CD and an FIM XRCD. Listening to these two on the 10 Series amps, it’s hard to credit that it’s the same recording. The gold CD sounds thin, pinched and gutless in comparison to the warmth, dimensionality, full-bodied swagger and instrumental interplay of the FIM disc. The instrumental conversation at the heart of the performance, the character of the key instruments and the way their exchanges lead you through the piece is far more convincing. This is a musical as opposed to a sonic distinction.

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