Mark Levinson No 523 Preamplifier, Phonostage And Headphone Amplifier $15,000 World Premiere Review

September 22, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“Let’s not forget about the Mark Levinson No 523’s phono preamplifier. First of all, I was quite surprised at this onboard phono preamp’s flexibility. And of course its sound quality! As with its headphone amp, the phono preamp that is in the Mark Levinson No 523 is hardly an afterthought. As I said in the introduction of this review, this phono preamp uses the same design principles as the No 523 itself, with a fully discrete design running in Class A, with tantalum nitride thin-film resistors and polypropylene capacitors. Mark Levinson doesn’t publish many specifications in regards to its phono preamplifier, but I have no doubt that due to its two channels being physically separated from each other, its channel separation specifications are most likely very impressive. I use low-output moving coil (MC) cartridges, and I found it very easy to adjust the phono preamps gain settings and loading options. It was quite a simple task, as I used its front panel input knob to scroll through the menu options, and then used it’s enter button to select the desired options. The phono preamp’s menu choices include opting for either an MM or MC cartridge, resistive and capacitive load options, balance, either high or low gain, and its infrasonic filter.”


Lamm LL1.1 Signature Dual-Mono Preamplifier $45,590 Review

September 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

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” For a long time, I wished audio components would go on a high-calorie diet and put some meat on the bones. High resolution audio is often thin and hard-edged. Well, maybe that is changing. For one thing, the audiophile press is talking non-stop about tonal saturation, fullness, and larger scale in a positive way these days.”


September 9, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“I realize that the more I wrote about the music I listened to, the less I talked about the McIntosh D1100 2-Channel Digital Preamplifier. That is really the highest praise I can give to an audio component. Listening to quality music through the D1100 brought me a level of involvement and joy that I have not experienced in a long time. I wasn’t thinking about the playback gear, I was simply getting lost in the sound. I had forgotten just how good two-channel music can be when played through a top-notch piece of gear and the D1100 did nothing to pull me out of my sonic dreamland. From a sound quality perspective, the McIntosh D1100 delivered everything I could possibly want; amazing bass, a beautiful midrange, detailed and airy treble, stunning imaging, and an expansive soundstage”

Audio Research Reference Phono 3 Review

August 25, 2017 § Leave a comment

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“The Ref Phono 3 flexed its muscles once again when I played Richter’s performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 & 2 on Philips (PHS 900-000) If you do not yet own this album please do yourself a favour and pick up an original FR-1 on ebay rather than the Speaker’s Corner version. Even though it says Philips on the label, it is actually a Mercury production of Richter’s first ever recording at the Walthamstow Town Hall in the UK, using 35mm film for the recording instead of magnetic tape. Richter’s breathtaking performance delivered through the Mercury “Living Presence” sound poses great challenges for lesser equipment To reproduce the sound of a full size concert piano with all its dynamic spectrum is difficult enough, but to render the thunderous lower notes with clarity and distinction,”

McIntosh D1100 Digital Preamplifier DAC Review

August 21, 2017 § Leave a comment


“The issue boils down to the fact that the DAC chip is normally muted until it receives non-silence data. But, this non-silence data can’t be just any non-silence data, it must be at a minimum volume level for the DAC to unmute. When the track reaches a certain volume level, the DAC unmutes and quickly fades-in to the music. In other words, the fade-in is triggered by a minimum amplitude, not by the start of a stream of USB data. Many DACs use a similar mute technique to reduce or eliminate pops on sample rate switches, but this is the only DAC I’ve seen that requires a minimum amplitude to unmute the volume.”

McIntosh MP1100 Phono Preamplifier Review

August 8, 2017 § Leave a comment


“As a McIntosh lover, I have waited long enough for their statement phono preamplifier but the wait has been worthwhile. At $8,000 USD, the MP1100 is not cheap, but hardly expensive in the world of high-end phono stages. Certainly cheaper than the last three phono stages I reviewed (CH Precision P1/X1 – $90,000 USD, Tenor Phono 1 – $50,000 USD, and the AR Ref Phono 3 $14,000 USD). Like all McIntosh equipment, the MP1100 is a safe purchase. The long list of user-friendly features combined with the naturally conservative McIntosh house sound makes it an easy decision for the McIntosh owner. For those new to McIntosh, the MP1100 is a serious contender in its price range. The MP1100 will not be my last phono preamplifier, but it is one which I intend to keep and treasure for a very long time”

MP1100 Angle Right LP (hi res)

KORG DS-DAC-10R Phono Pre, A/D-D/A Combo $600 Review

July 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

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” Preferences vary from one listener to the next, but I enjoyed the DSD record dubs more than those tracks recorded with 192 kHz PCM. The only problem with DSD is that it doesn’t lend itself to easy editing or processing like PCM. For example, when dealing with problem vinyl (vinyl with excessive scratches and/or wear and tear), the AudioGate4 does not offer extensive de-noising. So I used a separate de-noise program. I recorded problem vinly in PCM via the KORG, then used iZotope’s De-click plug-in from their RX 6 Audio Repair plug-in suite.”

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