Cambridge Audio Evo 75 $2250 Review

May 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

Turntable owners will notice no mention of a built-in phono stage – sadly, that’s not an oversight on our part. As well as delivering double the power output and featuring a different ESS Sabre DAC chip, the step-up Evo 150’s selling point is the inclusion of phono, asynchronous USB and balanced XLR inputs, a second optical input, plus two sets of speaker terminals for running two pairs of speakers simultaneously. Vinyl-loving Evo 75 owners will have to connect a deck with a phono stage to the RCA input, or buy a separate phono stage.

Charisma Audio Musiko Tonearm $2500 Review

May 14, 2021 § Leave a comment

Charisma Audio Musiko Tonearm, Soundeck, and Audio Machina Accessories

If you’re putting this tonearm on a Linn turntable, you will have to forego using the dust cover as the arm is a bit too long at the back and the lift lever sticks out a tad too much at the side. Most high-end audio turntables in this league don’t have dust covers, and I haven’t been using one with my Linn since I started modifying it, so this is not a problem for me. If you have concerns about fitment on a specific turntable, it wouldn’t hurt to check with Bernard.

The tonearm catch on the resting post does a reasonably good job of securing the tonearm at rest but it is not secured the way the snap-lock mechanism does on the Sumiko. In everyday use, it has a quality feel and is perfectly adequate. If I were to transport the table in a car, I would have to secure the arm to the post with some tape or a twist-tie, but obviously, this is not a deal-breaker.


May 13, 2021 § Leave a comment

MOON’s 860A v2 is an exciting and versatile beast, but it also stands apart. On the one hand, it cannot match – even in mono mode – the unforced clarity and lucid communication of an amp like CH Precision’s M1.1. On the other, it doesn’t cost nearly as much. What it does offer is the sort of sheer presence, musical momentum and colour that has become increasingly rare amongst the current generation of solid-state amps – and which works spectacularly well with many of today’s loudspeakers. It might (sensibly) sacrifice ultimate transparency and resolution on the alter of the musical whole, but in one sense it stands astride, with one musical foot in the past and the other equally firmly in the versatile, adaptable future. If the majority of remotely affordable, silicon-based designs have got too clean, too tight and too up themselves, this MOON quietly offers a welcome antidote. The fact that it’s practical, reliable and versatile too is a generous layer of icing on what is, by any measure, a pretty tasty and seriously substantial cake.

Audio Note UK K/SPe speaker 5,665 Review

May 13, 2021 § Leave a comment

After a few more head-to-head comparisons in a follow up session with B&W’s N805 and the Reference 3a MM De Capo i, the AN-K/SPe continued to win my heart and mind. The N805’s treble sounded grainy on Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” as well as with oboes and flutes with various Vivaldi pieces that I was so enamoured with at the time. The K/SPe reminded me of a single-driver speaker but with bass and treble. The De Capo i lost ground with vocal reproductions as occasionally they seemed pushed too far back in the mix and I had trouble making out lyrics clearly — the speaker made me work harder. Meanwhile, the AN-K/SPe kept everything balanced and straightforward and honest. If the album had a singer more upfront, I heard the singer more upfront. If a singer was further back, I heard him further back.


May 12, 2021 § Leave a comment

Midrange acts similar to the low region. Absolute clarity, flat response, raw presentation. Gustard X16 will reveal if there is anything bad about the mastering. If you also like detailed, reference DACs like me, but also prefer a tad warmer midrange, I would suggest pairing the X16 with something like LCD-X or HD58X, rather than Hifiman DEVA for example. I paired X16 with the SMSL SH-9 and they made a brilliant couple, however, they’re nitpicking Tidal MQA tracks so beware. Pairing it with Archel 2.5 Pro resulted in a more effortless presentation. If you have a brilliant archive of well-mastered tracks, Gustard X16 will make you incredibly happy. Returning back to the midrange, vocals are presented with plenty of detail. It does not feel dry even though it is very flat. I can’t hear any mid-bass bloat or upper-mid harshness. Tonality-wise everything feels in place, however, note-thickness or weight, whichever you prefer, depends a lot on the equipment you pair it with. The accuracy is the most impressive side of this DAC.

Parasound Halo JC 5 Power Amplifier | REVIEW

May 12, 2021 § Leave a comment


I really enjoyed what the Parasound Halo JC 5 Stereo Power Amplifier brought to my rig. It provided a fine balance between the fork in the proverbial audiophile road of good sound and accuracy. Inherently neutral, accurate without being dry, no solidstate etching or harshness whatsoever, and imaging and soundstage that could compete with similarly priced tube amps – this all adds up to what I think is a big win for Parasound.

Parasound’s design objective for the JC 5 was to meet customer requests to distill the essence of the acclaimed JC 1+ monoblocks into a stereo power amp. I haven’t heard the JC 1+ yet so I cannot comment on that, but in my opinion the Parasound Halo JC 5 Stereo Power Amplifier is a winner. If you are looking for a beefy solid state power amplifier under $10k I suggest giving the JC 5 an audition. Highly recommended.


May 11, 2021 § Leave a comment

However, the soundstage is quite narrow and the instruments play a bit close to each other, which creates a cramped feeling at times. The width is not spectacular in this case. The depth is on good levels and there’s good layering here. The only thing missing is the sound-stage width. As a result, the positioning is not the best here.

Tonality is very good, especially when you consider the fact that this is a v-shaped IEM (although not substantially). Instruments have a very realistic tone with good breath, and I especially liked the guitar with the 3DT. The separation is also very good but that takes a hit because of the sound-stage width. The IEM has excellent control, especially in lows.

Elac Uni-Fi 2.0 UB5.2 $599 Review

May 11, 2021 § Leave a comment

The art of loudspeaker design is producing a product with a Uni-Fied and refined voice that sounds like music, not a patchwork of sonic criteria. I think Elac’s success in this regard is, in part, the reason for the sonic leap I hear in this next generation of Uni-Fi. Elac’s UB5.2 has taken the well-deserved success of its immediate predecessor, ratcheted up the sonic positives, and, where they merited attention, minimized the shortcomings. In my book, there’s nothing better than witnessing a maturation process that improves the breed—and all for an extra hundred bucks. A terrific speaker that I can recommend without reservation. 

Siltech Crown Princess Interconnect $5500/m Review

May 10, 2021 § Leave a comment

The Crown Princess sounds thoroughly modern, the sound of our time, with a cluster of characteristics that those of us who’ve been around a while would consider shouldn’t coexist in a single product; they would seem to cancel each other. At once unfailingly beautiful, yet quite capable of unleashing controlled aggression that’ll strain the capacity of your room, all while acting as if it’s no big deal. Rich sounding, but on the cool side. And there’s nothing timid about the thrust of her lower register. It’ll be the envy of your pals.

MSB Technology S202 Stereo Amplifier $29,500 Review

May 10, 2021 § Leave a comment

Early in 2021, as I finished my review of the Estelon X Diamond Mk II speakers, I vowed to then clear my schedule so that I could experience MSB Technology’s ecosystem of gear. Although that journey had actually begun the previous summer, when I bought an MSB Discrete DAC, I could now hear MSB’s D/A conversion directly driving MSB amplification. This is a review of MSB’s S202 stereo amplifier; it’s also an exploration of what MSB gear can do when entrusted with the entire signal path, right up to the loudspeakers.

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