DAR turns 3. Where is my mind?


Digital Audio Review has just entered its fourth year of operation. We’re past the terrible twos and running into toddler territory. Channeling the Pixies, I ask: where is my mind?

stayposDarko on the darkside. 2013 was the year I tried to quit vinyl…but it just wouldn’t quit me. The force remains strong within. Know that spinning the black stuff remains a private pursuit, only leaking into DAR articles when there’s a digital angle to be had, as was/is the case with PS Audio’s NuWave Phono Converter. There’s more to come down the pike on this superb phono stage / ADC.

Photography. Regular readers will have noticed a gradual shift away from attempts to emulate product shots and towards a more ‘down home’ vibe. Some folk have opined that they prefer to see the product at hand, all of it, in its natural habitat – the listening space – no funky angles required. Fair enough.

nadd3020Review solicitations. What began as a trickle has since become a flood. Despite writing more reviews in 2013 than previous years, I knock back more review requests than I accept, predominantly due to time constraints. Now that’s what I call frustrating. The upside is that I get to cherry-pick what I believe will be the best of the best in any given category and price point.

Other voices. I’ve long since thought about bringing a second writer on board to cope with demand but the thing is, I’m a picky bastard. Thankfully, Mal Kenney stepped in and nailed the RMAF coverage in my absence, freeing me up to take in the Chester Group’s Melbourne AAAV show and to go headphoning in Tokyolo.

But that ain’t all…

srajan…with one eye on coverage expansion, DAR will be taking on a new voice: that of Srajan Ebaen, editor and publisher of 6Moons. Having been a staff writer for 6Moons these past few years myself, Ebaen’s occasional contributions will complete the lunar cycle. His first piece is expected to drop any day now has already dropped.

State of the nation. The DAR site itself enjoyed some fairly radical plastic surgery in September but a snappy product review rate kept me from affording it the promotional fanfare it deserved. DAR-KO-awarded products have been given their own category and I’ve begun inking the review schedule for the tail end of 2013 and early 2014. A full list can be found in the ‘coming soon’ section. (Obviously, such future planning is subject to change).

cakePopularity. A BIG thank you to everyone who helped push DAR-related stats up, up and away this year, more than any previous year, by a considerable margin. Website visitor numbers are up 50% on this time last year, Facebook ‘likes’ have doubled (to almost 1700) and Twitter is getting dangerously close to 1000 followers. Instagram has also been added to DAR’s social network presence. Don’t be shy – hit us up.

Happy birthday to DAR. Time for cake.

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR


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  1. “Happy birthday to DAR. Time for cake.” – I couldn’t have said it better myself… 😉

    I am one of the newcomers to your site (just a few months), but I love it and I try to spread the word. Not by way of “social” sites, since I never frequent them, but by word-of-mouth.

    As I said before, I like your no-nonsense approach to both music and equipment and an accent you put on affordability (as one of the main factors that can not be separated from quality).

    Thank you, John, and I wish you many more years of successful blogging about our mutual hobby.

  2. Happy bday DAR! Things either work or they don’t, simple as that. DAR works and works well. I have bought a couple of components with the help of your reviews (Empirical Audio Synchro Mesh comes to mind) and I can definitely say I trust your ears. DAR is on my daily internet tour list, and will likely be that way for a while ( unless you start reviewing microwaves, air conditioners and doors). Congratulation on such great numbers, well deserved.

  3. Happy Hatchday, DAR, and congrats John. Hope you continue dissing audiophile music, because that’s what it’s all about. Hopefully, 20 years from now, audiophillia will finally be rid of all that Diana Krall and Michael Bubble drivel.

    • “Hope you continue dissing audiophile music, because that’s what it’s all about.” <--- reading this almost made me blurt a sip of whisky over my Macbook screen.

  4. Congratulations on the 3 years John and hopefully there are many more to come!

    In my opinion, there are far too many reviewers online who seem far too caught up in their own reflections and I agree with Rob D., your no-nonsense approach, to equipment and music, is of great value to the average and advanced audio buff alike and the accessibility of your writing style could teach some of your peers a thing or two.

    I only discovered your site a year ago, but I’ve never missed a post since. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work!

  5. Hey Darko. Contrats bud…

    About the vinyl thing… I’d love to see you add an “AAR” sub-directory or sister site to complete the yin-yang Feng Shui thing. Your bread-and-butter material that jumpstarted everything has been your grounded coverage of all things digital for the real-guy. And that has been awesome bud! But look, I’m a pretty smart guy and I really don’t have a feel for this segment. One one end you have the USB tables, and on the other end things just get absurdly ridunculous. What about following the same award winning formula with analog. It’s the new digital, baby! But really though it’s really confusing between the tables, the arms, the cartridges (MC/MM), phono amps, and the various adjustments. In a lot of ways digital is easier to get write about with the hot/cold Hunter S. Thompson thing. Help me out where should I start… a Linn Sondek LP12? For a first quality table maybe too much? What about the entry-level Pro-ject? Good enough? We need you to summon your animal spirits and help us out Darko. Go ahead, embrace your 7th chakra and do us a great favor.

    It’s been an honor watching you get started up, and I wish you great success with defining your career on your own terms, and for all of our enlightenment! Thanks Darko.

    • Thanks Josh. If and when I make this a full-time gig, I’ll consider it. However, I’m currently going suffering turntable setup traumas and am far from sufficiently experienced to turn what I do/see/hear into commentary. Unless said commentary’s called “Your own private slice of hell: turntable setup for beginners”. 😉

  6. Congratulations DAR.
    There’s always good stuff to read about on this site. (I do this for nearly the whole 3 years now)
    As Rob D. said: “I like your no-nonsense approach to both music and equipment and an accent you put on affordability”, I second that.

    Greetings from the Netherlands. 😉

  7. It’s been quite remarkable to see this site grow in breadth and scope over time since I have been visiting it. I think people enjoy your work so much because you are much more relate-able to average audiophile as opposed to somebody like Michael Fremer.

  8. Hey John, Congratz on your achievements so far. If I could request anything it would be for a few more speaker reviews. I suspect they may the most difficult to arrange due to size and shipping costs.

    Well done mate and keep on keeping on.


    • Brad – not as tricky as you might think. Speakers get turned over at a slower rate because they have the biggest impact on sound. Tough(er) to review upstream electronics when the final output devices keep changing.