April 6, 2020 § Leave a comment

“McIntosh has always made great preamps, and their latest solid-state flagship not only carries on the tradition but does so with a full eight-band analog equalizer! One might fear that the full feature set provided with the C53 would interfere with the preamplifier’s tonality or transparency. Nope – This preamp runs with the best in the business in both categories. If you want McIntosh’s flagship stereo preamplifier, the C53 is for you!

The McIntosh C53 Stereo Preamplifier brings an exceptional level of control to a prospective owner without sacrificing sound quality. This is a difficult achievement because more active circuitry increases the risk of damage to the sound’s delicacy, flat frequency response, and imaging. This is why the majority of audiophile preamplifiers cling to the straight-wire-with-gain design philosophy. But McIntosh, ever the rebel, still offers this control center design that competes at the very top level. With but minor quibbles, this is one of the very best preamplifiers you can buy.”

Elac Carina BS243.4 Loudspeaker Review

April 5, 2020 § Leave a comment

“Note that Carina possesses substantial midbass output, meaning that placement in your room is important. In my small-room setup I pulled the speakers out at least a couple feet from the backwall; otherwise low-end response was predominant. In spite of these ministrations Carina tended on occasion to impart a thickness to the bass range that in my room I was never able to entirely dispel. For instance, during Ana Caram’s cover of the “The Girl from Ipanema” from Blue Bossa, the acoustic bass was presented as more of a pulse than a group of specific pitches. In this respect, the bass response from the active Elac Navis ARB-51 (Issue 291) was more specific in pitch, timbre, sustain, and decay. “


April 4, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The SparkoS Labs Aries Headphone Amplifier far outperformed expectations and is one of the most musical solid-state headphone amplifiers I have heard and not artificially so (through rolling off the highs or compromising tonality, timbre, and detail). In fact, I would almost be willing to remove the “solid-state” caveat, and everyone knows I am a tube guy (though not for the reasons most people would suppose, a proper tube amp should have the same linearity of tonal balance that a solid-state amplifier does). It clearly has the ability to easily drive any headphone short of an electrostatic or ribbon headphone which require special purpose-built amplifiers.”


April 4, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“I was also impressed by the DAC 9’s build quality. It was apparently designed to last a lifetime and could become a legacy product. There are a lot of serious Audio Research fans out there and I can see why after my time with the DAC 9. It will hold its value like all other Audio Research components before and after.

The unit was packed up and shipped back some time ago. I still remember the performance of the DAC 9 like it was yesterday. This is one of the few components I have reviewed that I think about often because of how great it was. The tube analog stage doesn’t put a halo on the sound but it did make everything that passed through there sound like authentic music. I am not sure if you can offer higher praise for a DAC!”

Rega P10 Turntable | Review

April 3, 2020 § Leave a comment

Cyrus soundBuds review

April 3, 2020 § Leave a comment

“The little flip-top case is pleasantly small, has a useful LED display for battery life and is thoroughly pocket-friendly. It might not take kindly to being dropped from a great height, so Cyrus has supplied a little velour bag, which is a nice touch at this price point. The soundBuds are also IPX5 rated, meaning that they should withstand a sweaty spin class at the very least.

Bluetooth pairing is easy, helped along by in-ear voice prompts, and once achieved, connection is strong throughout our tests. There’s no app support and no active noise cancellation onboard, but the mic works well during calls and when we ask Siri for a weather forecast. All in all, it’s a fuss free approach.”

Shunyata Research Hydra Alpha A12 Power Conditioner and Venom NR-V10 Power Cord $4498 Review

April 3, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“As I write this, I’m somewhat amazed that, in the context of the gear usually reviewed on SoundStage! Ultra, my $95k stereo system would be considered a fairly modest one. But I’m just as amazed that the level of sound quality I now hear in my room can compete with virtually anything out there, with only the subtlest differences separating it from the state of the art. The fact that Shunyata Research’s Hydra Alpha A12 power conditioner and Venom NR-V10 power cords got me that much closer to the state of the art for only about 5% of the cost of my system is a testament to what Caelin Gabriel and his company have accomplished. That makes these products not only an easy recommendation from me, but one of the best values in high-end audio. If you buy them, you’ll be acting as a responsible steward of your stereo budget, and increase your enjoyment of your music as you get closer to true ultra-high fidelity.”

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