Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems Progression Stereo Amplifier and Preamplifier $22,000 Review

January 25, 2020 § Leave a comment


“The power amplifier is, well, a power amplifier. Aside from a large front-panel meter, with some fun color options, it has no special controls. The only practical feature I’d flag is that the amp has XLR inputs only, but few audiophiles today are going to use RCA cables in any case. Like all good power amps, you put it in place, hook it up, turn it on, and forget about it, although you will want to run a mini-cable between the preamp’s 12V trigger output and the power amp’s trigger input so that the amplifier turns on automatically with your preamp. 

This is not just an ordinary power amp, however. When D’Agostino uses the word “power,” he is not kidding. The Progression stereo power amp is a 125-pound unit that can deliver 300 watts into 8 ohms and 600 watts into 4 ohms. Its gee-whiz technical features include 42 output transistors, a nearly 3000VA power-supply transformer, and 400,000 microfarads of power-supply storage capacitance, and it can optionally be hooked up to a 240V AC socket.”

Pass Labs XP-12 Preamplifier Review

January 20, 2020 § Leave a comment


I did all my evaluation of the XP-12 in my dedicated home theater. With the preamplifier positioned dead-center between a pair of Pass Labs XA-60.8 monoblock amplifiers, the preamp appeared diminutive by comparison, despite its rather standard 17-inch width, 12.5-inch depth, and four-inch height. Despite the visual disparity, this location provided plenty of wiggle room for secure attachment of Wireworld Eclipse 8 balanced interconnects and speaker cables. 

I connected NAD’s M17 V2 Surround Sound Preamp Processor to input five of the XP-12 to take advantage of the home theater bypass function. My primary source for this review was an Oppo BDP-105D Blu-ray Disc player and streamer. With the Oppo’s HDMI output already connected to the processor, I ran the balanced analog outputs of the player directly to the XP-12. In this configuration, the Oppo would use both its digital HDMI and analog outputs, providing an easy comparison of both preamplifiers.”

iFi Pro iDSD D/A Converter HP Amp/Line Preamplifier Review $2,749

January 5, 2020 § Leave a comment


” The classic “Autumn Leaves” track also revealed the same layering of the drum cymbals and an increase in dynamic range. Ooh, those cymbal brush licks.  In top-class DACs, such as the Benchmark DAC3 and Mytek Brooklyn, there might be better spec numbers, but the iFi was right there in the straight ahead listening sessions.  I listened to a Pentatone DSD download album, the 1974 version of Berlioz Symphony Fantastique, Sir Colin Davis and The Concertglow Philharmonic (Phillips)). This is my favorite recording of this Berlioz staple, in performance and in sound quality. The richness, fullness and ultimate power of the orchestra — combined with a vastly dynamic, yet rich, analog tape character  — was stellar in the Bit Perfect mode, at 2.8MHz sample rate DSD”

PrimaLuna EVO 400 Preamplifier Review

January 2, 2020 § Leave a comment


“The EVO 400 provides this in abundance. Yet, where some tube components take this to an extreme, where it is so lush and romantic, dynamics and resolution suffer, the EVO 400 is a modern tube preamplifier. Most tube families have their own voice – the 6922/6DJ8 based units have one range of sound, those based on the 6H30 another, and the 12AX7/12AU7 still another. There are even a few designs based on the 300B tube.

Without going into an endless playlist of tracks, the EVO 400 is definitely rich in tonal saturation and contrast without over embellishing. Great recordings sound great, yet mediocre recordings sound pretty good, unlike some overly “tubey” preamplifiers, where everything sounds pretty good, yet nothing sounds brilliant. All of your favorite audiophile clichés apply to the sonic landscape painted by the EVO 400: big, broad, three dimensional. This is that “reach out and touch – it” feeling that tubes accomplish with ease.”

Anthem STR Preamplifier and STR Power Amplifier $5999 Review

November 22, 2019 § Leave a comment


heir next journey. 

“The two components were in my system from mid-March to mid-May, which happens to be the busiest time every year for me to take in classical concerts. In that span, I saw two operas, and attended two orchestral concerts, two chamber music recitals, plus a couple of piano performances. Normally, I have a hard time listening to recordings for a period of time after enjoying the live experience, maybe for a day or so. Yes, it’s probably setting an unnecessarily high bar but I guess I’m looking for the sort of emotional connection I get from flesh-and-blood musicians in an acoustically favorable venue when I sit down in front of my audio system. I got more than a little of that when listening to canned music with Anthem’s STR electronics—it seemed that I wasn’t nearly as refractory to the appeal of my favorite recordings. That’s a distinction, for sure.”

Burmester 088/911 Mk 3 Review

October 27, 2019 § Leave a comment

Read Here

“Take a look inside and you’ll find the circuits are beautifully laid out, and it’s obvious that the company takes a great deal of care in the quality of components used and in minimising unwanted interaction between them. There’s even a carbon fibre suspension system to reduce the amount of external vibration that enters the 088’s chassis. The aim of this isolation is to optimise clarity and reduce distortion.

The preamp’s connectivity is good. There are six line level inputs – all balanced XLRs – and the option of having a DAC, line, moving magnet or moving coil module. You get one of these modules as part of the price we’ve quoted, but if you want another it’ll cost a hefty £2,600. If any of your sources only have single-ended outputs, don’t worry, Burmester can supply RCA to XLR adaptors to make things work.”

Elac Alchemy DDP-2 Pre-amp, DAC, streamer

October 17, 2019 § Leave a comment

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