Audiophiles and snake oil

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How to Make Homemade Vinyl Records

December 1, 2019 § Leave a comment

Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 9 Loudspeaker $200,000 Review

November 25, 2019 § Leave a comment

“As music lovers and audiophiles, we live in an astonishingly exciting time. Today we are able to select from so many truly affordable speakers, electronics, and source products, all capable of producing more accurate and engaging sound than was possible from even the very best and most costly products in the early 1970s—the period that marks the start of what has become the high-end audio world we know today, as well as the start of my own audiophile quest. In addition to the number and excellence of affordable products, there have never before been so many luxury-class products capable of expanding the boundaries of what can be accomplished in the reconstruction of a live performance. 

The trailblazing work that VSA is doing under the direction of its current chief designer, Leif Swanson, and CEO Damon Von Schweikert, building upon the groundbreaking work of the company founder, Albert Von Schweikert, epitomizes what can be done to recreate an authentic musical experience in the home. A product like the Ultra 9 elevates listening to music to the level of an enormously enjoyable event. At every turn, from its remarkably inert and voiceless enclosure, to its fabulously coherent drivers, to its distinct, serene, and transparent dividing network, to its extraordinary ambience, and speaker array with its unparalleled room-integration capabilities, we see how the Ultra 9 can deliver this exceptional musical expressiveness, with such heightened transparency and vanishingly low self-generated noise.”

SPL Phonitor XE Headamp/DAC Review

November 15, 2019 § Leave a comment

“If the Phonitor has a noticeable sound, it is in a more conceptual sense. The perception of a low noise background is very good, and there is an exceptional degree of smoothness to the sound. The smoothness is not the result of dulled transients, but rather a sense of space and depth to individual sounds that rather than emphasizing instrumental separation, seems to draw my attention to the musical presentation as a whole. Despite possessing the resolution capability to act as an audio microscope, I never lost the forest for the trees in any music when listening to the Phonitor amp. This exceptional smoothness and sense of space meant it also worked with somewhat forward or brighter headphones that typically don’t get along well with solid state. I could experience sensitive dynamics with the SPL that previously had only ever really spoken to me when run on tube or hybrid gear “

dCS Bartok D/A processor/headphone amplifier $15,000 Review

October 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“There’s something to be said for those DACs that have been influenced, directly or indirectly, by the needs of pro audio. Pro audio needs DACs that approach transparency, to the point at which several passes through the DAC (round-tripped via a companion ADC) change the sound negligibly. That puts consumers at a huge advantage, since the music only passes through our DACs once—any alteration in the sound will, therefore, be a fraction of what it would be in a studio.”

Wilson Audio Specialties Alexx Loudspeaker $109,000 Review

October 20, 2019 § Leave a comment

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The Alexx is a milestone loudspeaker for Wilson Audio in many ways. Absent any context, it is simply a superb transducer. But when viewed as a reflection of Daryl Wilson’s design talents and musical aesthetic, the Alexx also makes a bold statement about the direction and future of this iconic brand.

It would have been safer and easier to simply make minor changes to existing products, and to pursue the sonic qualities that have endeared so many to Wilson Audio’s products over the past 45 years. But the Alexx doesn’t take the safe route, and in the process breaks new ground for Wilson Audio in midrange smoothness, liquidity, low coloration, transparency, and the feeling of musical communication and intimacy those qualities engender. Moreover, the Alexx is the best Wilson yet in the bass, combining greater speed and transient fidelity with tremendous power, weight, and extension. ”

Stax SR-009S Electrostatic Earspeaker $4325 Review

October 19, 2019 § Leave a comment

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Finally, the SR-009S offers bass performance superior to the SR-009, both in resolution and dynamic wallop. The “Lopsy Lu/Silly Putty” medley from S.M.V.’s Thunder [Heads Up, 16/44.1] made this abundantly clear, as master bassists Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Victor Wooten took turns showing off their chops and the distinctive voices of their instruments. Thunder is a serious low-frequency challenge, but the SR-009S tackled the track with an exuberant dynamic swagger and punch the SR-009 could not have matched.

Has Stax’s SR-009S reclaimed the title of performance “king of the hill?” I think that it has, although the MrSpeakers Voce comes very close and at a lower price. The SR-009S is a masterful achievement that expands upon the SR-009’s strengths, offering heightened detail and focus, more nuanced and expansive dynamics, and superior bass.”

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