VISION EARS VE 3.2 REVIEW

July 13, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“You get a fuller sound with excellent resolution and imaging. The Plenue L has a slightly warmer than neutral signature, which plays very well with the balanced and almost reference class sounding VE 3.2 in my opinion.

The Cowon adds some of the missing blood and emotions to the sound. It does not fall short in terms of resolution at all, as the Plenue L definitely knows how to properly do D/A conversion.”

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Cambridge Audio Edge NQ/W Review

July 13, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Moving from seventies rock to eighties pop, and this combo proves itself to be a seriously enjoyable musical performer. David Bowie Let’s Dance shows how fast, lithe and agile it is on its feet, rhythmically speaking and I can easily hear the woodblock percussion playing along, and how this is a counterpoint to the tight, fast-attack, quick-release drum sound. At the same time, Bowie uses keyboard bass in parts of this track and electric bass guitar in others, and the Edge combo is agile enough to show which is which. Indeed, the reverb on the track’s great Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar solo is clear to hear along with the brilliant rhythmic gait of his playing. The NQ/W offers both impressive amounts of detail, as well as the vital ability to string it all together in a musically coherent way.

Via its internal DAC and streamed from my Western Digital NAS drive, the Edge pre/power serves up a sumptuously wide recorded acoustic from Kate Bush’s Snowflake in 24/96 WAV format. This is truly immersive stuff, as I bask in the intricacy and vibrancy of the close-miked piano. Kate’s voice hovers over this ethereally, located with great precision in the recorded acoustic.”

Primare I35 Prisma Integrated Amplifier Review

July 13, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Given the sophistication of today’s streamer amps, organization is key. For the I35 that responsibility is mostly handled by the Prisma app—a free download onto a smart device such as an iPad or comparable Android tablet. I connected an Ethernet cable to my router, and in the time it takes to say “Swedish meatballs” I was off to the races. With my NAS drive automatically configured, I was effortlessly streaming content from Spotify, Tidal, and TunedIn within the Chromecast folder. Fortunately, the configurable world of the I35 keys well off the Prisma app. The graphical interface is nicely sorted out for selecting input sources and streaming services; it’s stable and, after brief experience, intuitive to navigate. It controls volume, renames source inputs, and even adjusts input gain per source with a swipe or the touch of a virtual button. More than likely you will end up putting the traditional remote control in a drawer. But don’t lose it—it comes in handy when your teenager makes off with the iPad.

A couple of minor quibbles: The characters of the OLED display are perfectly legible up close, but so tiny that you’ll need a pair of binoculars to read them from more than a few feet away. The front-panel menu interface on the I35 needs updating, and users are much better off getting cozy with the comprehensive Prisma app. Finally, Chromecast worked well (the more Google Home stuff the better) but, on occasion, toggling between the Prisma app and a streaming service like Tidal caused the audio output to default to the iPad’s internal speakers. It took only a moment to reselect the I35 output, but this was a reminder of the complexity of these systems.”

CHORD ELECTRONICS QUTEST DAC REVIEW

July 12, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Every manufactured chip has limitations and generally made to a price point and design criteria. The chip cannot be auditioned before production, and although it is logically and mathematically sound, you have to wonder if they’re designed with the utmost sound quality in mind?

At Chord Electronics, things are done a little differently. Rob Watts’ FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) approach allows him to design digital circuits with total control over the hardware. So by designing a DAC using FPGA and discrete analog components, it is possible to have increased flexibility over the rigid performance aspects compared to typical off-the-shelf DAC chips.

Watts’ considered approach to ultimate DAC design is to utilise far more complex calculations than was ever thought to be needed, with unheard of long interpolation filters which he designs using what’s known as a windowed-sinc technique. He calculated that a 1,000,000 tap filter (with the number of taps being the indicator of how complex the FIR filter is) is needed to guarantee 16-bit performance from the interpolation filter, a number that was so inconceivably high that many thought that it would be impossible to build. ”

Sony NW-A45 Review

July 12, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“The NW-A45 is more natural, precise and convincing through the treble and midrange, but the iPod just edges it for dynamic punch, momentum and timing as we listen to Zimmer’s synth-layered drum fills. Put simply, the Sony offers a hi-fi sound in the best possible way, but the Apple product sounds marginally more fun on occasion.

It comes down to what you want from a player. If you’re looking for a personal music player (PMP) that has wireless internet support for Deezer, Tidal, Spotify streaming and the like, then go for the iPod Touch. If you want something that requires a bit more work, but lets you listen to hi-res PCM and DSD files on the fly with optional noise-cancelling, then this Walkman is for you.

But the Sony has one other advantage over the iPod Touch: it doubles up as a DAC, so can upscale the sound quality of your laptop. Simply plug the Walkman into your computer’s USB port and select the DAC function from the device’s home screen. The signal is then processed by the Sony’s DAC, levelling-up your computer’s inbuilt digital-analogue-converter.”

Schiit Freya + Preamplifier $899 Review

July 11, 2019 § Leave a comment

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“Schiit have taken their already well-received Freya preamp and have incorporated modifications that fans of the company have eagerly asked for. With a remote control set to the potentiometer and near distortion-free tuning, the Freya plus represents a newly improved preamplifier that would work well in any audiophile’s set-up. The chassis feels and looks incredibly sleek and with the new fasterlessness design fits well with Schiit’s ‘Made in America’ product range. Nestled at the top of their price-performance curves, Schiit does not disappoint with this new amplifier which adds a delightful tuning yet flexible approach when dealing between existing source components. It will be interesting to see if there is enough demand for this product to survive Schiit’s ‘Thunderdome’ concept. For this reason, I would strongly urge readers to try this product for those seeking a smart preamplifier solution to their audiophile needs.”

Sony WF-1000XM3 REVIEW

July 11, 2019 § Leave a comment

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