PRO-JECT X1 TURNTABLE $899 REVIEW

July 8, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Both, the X1 and X2 sit above the Debut line, which sits above the Essential line of turntables offered by Pro-Ject. The X Series is heavier (a good thing), features an improved aluminum carbon fiber tonearm (another good thing), a better motor with easier speed adjustment (a super good thing), and upgraded styli from Sumiko. Sumiko is the US distributor of Pro-Ject, and they graciously outfit each Pro-Ject model with one of their cartridges. Of the two, the Pro-Ject X2 is quite a step up from the X1. It’s bigger, heavier, and larger in overall dimension and features a thicker plinth. That translates to lower resonances and therefore better sound. The X2’s platter is thicker too and a pound heavier than the X1’s. The X2 outweighs the X1 by a good bit, tipping the scales at 22 versus 15 pounds. To top it off, the X2 ships with the higher end Sumiko Moonstone cartridge. The bodies of the Oyster series cartridges are the same, so you do have the option of switching out the stylus on the X1 for an upgrade in the future. Lastly, the X2 is priced at $1299 where the X1 is priced at $899.”

DALI MENUET SE SPEAKER $1799 REVIEW

July 8, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“And so, my reviews of European speaker companies continue. As much as I like the DALI Oberons, I was really impressed with the performance of the diminutive Menuet SEs. The quality of the gorgeous walnut finish was amazing and the sound from these little speakers was much bigger than anything I thought you could get from a speaker so small. When paired with a sub, you could easily have a 2.1 system that would make many people envious. DALI has proven that size is in the eye of the beholder and if saving space is as important to you as having excellent sound, the Menuets may be exactly what you are looking for.”

Classé Delta Mono monoblock power amplifier $21,998/pair. review

July 7, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“As you’d expect from a pair of monoblocks, the Delta Monos’ stereo imaging was superbly stable and well-defined. When I recorded male-voice choir Cantus performing Eric Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque” in Indiana’s Goshen College in June 2007—it was released on While You Are Alive (CD Baby 5637240534)—the nine singers were positioned in an arc in front of the array of six microphones. Before I started capturing the performance, I got each singer in turn to say his name. That way, when I prepared the mixdown, I could make sure that I wasn’t distorting the stereo image. However, I accepted a slight broadening of the images of the singers at the edges of the soundstage in order to preserve enough of the bloom of the hall’s glorious ambience. Listening to the MQA-encoded 24-bit, 88.2kHz master file of “Lux Aurumque” with the Classé-driven Vimbergs, that is exactly what I heard: tightly focused images of the singers in the center and slightly more diffuse images to the sides, with excellent soundstage depth overall. To draw a photographic analogy, the Delta Monos offer superb image acuity.

FOCAL ARCHE REVIEW

July 7, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Without a doubt, the most interesting feature of the Arche is its ability to switch between individual preset modes for each of Focal’s range of audiophile headphones. Using the volume dial, the user is able to choose the setting for their headphone of choice, and a unique EQ profile is applied. Using the Stellia, the effect is extremely noticeable – there’s a distinct smoothing of the Stellia’s top-end, and its signature aggression is mildly reigned-in. I’m looking forward to testing-out the Arche with a range of non-Focal headphones to understand whether it’s a worthwhile contender as a do-all, all-in-one unit – it’s features and form-factor are all looking positive so far. The Focal Clear will also be joining the Arche in-house in the next week or so (review on that one also inbound!), so the Clear/Arche pairing will also get a thorough testing. Stay tuned!

Noble Audio Sultan Review $2900 Review

July 6, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Vocals on the Sultan are forward, particularly for higher-pitched vocals but they are not quite as forward as the Khan. The Khan was fairly strong around 2-3k and the Sultan feels closer to 1-2k and slightly milder which is great for some male vocals which often get a nice natural sounding lift without diminishing lower-mids instrumental presence.

Female vocals, depending on the pitch, sound a little further forward than male vocals for me and they do get a little cleaner with a slightly heavier mix of upper harmonics from the Sultan treble tuning.”

Monitor Audio Bronze 100 $595 Review

July 6, 2020 § Leave a comment

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On the plus side, those changes in mid/bass and cabinet size help the speakers produce an output of impressive scale and authority. Play Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar OST and the Bronze 100s render a huge sound underpinned by a good hefty slab of bass. They can play loudly too, retaining their composure even when pushed to high levels with demanding music such as this.

The Monitor Audios are also clear and manage to dig up a fair amount of detail. On a dense and demanding track, such as Where We’re Going, they do a good job of separating the various instrumental strands and keeping them easy to follow.

Switching to Melody Gardot’s The Absence shows off the Bronze’s even tonal balance and their impressive agility. They’re upfront, punchy and decently precise, and Gardot’s distinctive voice is well-projected and securely placed front and centre.”

MAGICO A1 STAND-MOUNT LOUDSPEAKER £8,888 REVIEW

July 5, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Naturally, such an inherently informative loudspeaker gives good dynamic range and soundstaging, but these elements are more ‘there’ than ‘directly noticeable’. Some systems are so dynamic they can make a piccolo sound like an atom bomb, but the Magico has more restraint. Not too much restraint though. It’s like the dynamic equivalent of the Han Solo ‘fly casual’ quote. Ultimately, there are few things the Magico A1 doesn’t do really well, and most of those are more to do with not trying to bend the laws of physics with respect to cabinet size. In other words, what it doesn’t do is be dishonest with the music.”

Amazon Music Unlimited Review

July 5, 2020 § Leave a comment

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Amazon Music Unlimited also works on its homegrown Echo and Dot wireless speakers, as does Spotify.And Amazon has worked to further its service’s functionality, integration and intelligence with its voice-control assistant. For example, saying “Alexa, try Amazon Music Unlimited” gets you up and running with the service.You can ask it to play certain songs, albums or artists (“Alexa, play Stormzy” will shuffle his songs) or, for example, 80s pop.
You can even search by lyrics; say “Alexa, play the song with the lyrics ‘hello, is it me you’re looking for?’” and it complies – even if it does choose a cover rather than Lionel Richie’s original. “What cover is this?” we ask. “Zooey Deschanel’s from the Trolls soundtrack” we are told. Like we didn’t know.

Home Systems

July 5, 2020 § Leave a comment

MBL Noble Line N11 line preamplifier $14,600 Review

July 2, 2020 § Leave a comment

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I switched to Nordost Titanium Sort Kones under the HDPlex LPS that powers my Roon Nucleus+ music server/streamer, external USB hub, and the final Sonore optical Module—MBL’s N11 preamp seemed an ideal match. Engaging Unity Gain provided the best bass control I’d ever heard from my system, save when I used the far more expensive D’Agostino Momentum HD preamp ($40,000), which in my opinion deserves a Product of the Year award. The N11’s Unity Gain also toned down the noisy top ends of some recordings, making for easier listening. Tonalities were spot on, the range of colors varied and intriguing, and the listening experience a joy.

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