March 2013

Monthly Archives

  • Portal Audio Panache integrated amplifier

    Not a review (yet) but a heads up.  One of the more interesting reader-suggested amplifiers for the Magnepan MMG is a 10 year old, no-frills integrated from little-known Portal Audio. The Panache is a dual mono Class A/B design that seemingly inherited its looks from a Russian army tank. A bespoke 425VA toroidal runs the […]

  • REDGUM RGi60 w/ Magnepan MMG (6Moons) review

    Turn, turn, turn.  Never the trust the numbers on the spec sheet.  Out in the wild, there’s the never-ending talk of the need for big watts to get you out of the Magnepan woods.  Not always so, sir.  REDGUM’s nominally rated RGi60 integrated is the finest sounding amplifier of the three that I tested with […]

  • Metrum Acoustics launch MKII Octave DAC

    Metrum Acoustic’s flagship Hex DAC’s USB implementation knocked it out of the park – an internally powered M2Tech OEM module. It’s one of the very few DACs that I’ve heard that doesn’t require Concero or Audiophilleo intervention to reach optimal performance – the Hex kept it all in one box. Time now for the junior […]

  • Zu Union – from factory floor to Sydney Audio Club

    Ogden, Utah. October 2012.  Hi-fi isn’t just about boxes and wires – it’s about people. Meet Christian Drecksel: paint shop guru and tour guide of Zu Audio’s factory floor. I’m here to talk Union, a new loudspeaker that’s pitched sonically closer to Zu’s A-game Soul Superfly (right) than their entry-level Omen (left). I’m keen to […]

  • #nowplaying Function – Incubation

    1998. London Stansted Airport should be not named as such. It’s not even IN London. It’s forty miles north! I’d arrived there late one night inbound from Prague one night. The journey back to Brighton, fifty miles south of London, wouldn’t be easy. I eventually stumbled onto a night bus to Victoria Station at 4am, […]

  • The battle for gapless playback

    It’s amazing to think that I’ve owned an iPod in some form or other for over ten years now. I was one of the first to jump for the Windows version when it launched in late 2002. (Remember when iPods came in Mac and Windows versions?). I also recall bundling a Belkin firewire card into […]

  • Graham Slee ‘Bitzie’ DAC / headphone amplifier

    Graham Slee has had his USB DAC & headphone amplifier in the oven for a while…and now it’s finally ready to eat. This palm-sized unit was first christened ‘Itsy’ but now it’s called Bitzie. Not much better if you ask me but it’s a minor niggle for what appears to be an impressive feature set. […]

  • Resonessence Labs Concero DAC review (TONEAudio)

    I wanted to call this article: What’s wrong with USB? The problem? 1. Resolution. Yes, sample rate compatibility has nearly always lagged behind the steadfast 24/192 of most S/PDIF inputs. Even two years ago many a DAC’s USB input would only decode up to 48kHz sample rates. This is slowly improving.  Some examples?  Sure!  The […]

  • Audio-gd Master 10 w/ Magnepan MMG (6Moons)

    Ask any Magnepan loudspeaker owner about amplifier choices and they’ll tell you that you need three things: power, power and more power. This is the premise upon which I hooked my search for budget integrateds to partner withe MMG. Class D is a fast-track to more watts per channel but what about Class A/B? Surely […]

  • Matrix Audio announce X-SABRE DSD/DXD DAC

    Is this the lowest-priced native DSD-capable DAC to drop thus far*? The X-SABRE from Matrix Audio marries an XMOS USB DSP to the well-established ESS Sabre 9018 Reference decoding chip for DXD (24bit/352.8kHZ) and DSD (1bit/2.8224MHz or 5.6448MHz) joy. Playback resolution is indicated by a series of front panel LEDs. The USB input can also […]

  • David Byrne & St. Vincent at State Theatre, Sydney (TONEAudio)

    No two David Byrne shows are ever alike: in 2008 he could be found re-treading Brian Eno collaborations new and old at Sydney Opera House. A couple of years prior to that, an intimate songwriter-with-band show at the Enmore Theatre. We have to reach back ten years for Byrne’s last State Theatre performance, then promoting […]

  • Wadia 151PowerDAC Mini amplifier review

    Wadia’s 151PowerDAC Mini is a sealed compound: DAC, pre-amp and power-amp rolled into one box, all fused together in one clever digital circuit. There are four ways in (ALL digital: USB, optical and two coaxial) and one way out (loudspeakers). There’s no line- or pre-out. That’d cannibalise the market for Wadia’s 121 digital-pre. Amplification is […]