January 2014

Monthly Archives

  • KIH #5: Power Over Sensibility

    POS? To play with our ongoing 3-letter thematic, let this one momentarily mean power over sensibility to set the scene for today’s movie concept of Jane Austin meets Wladimir Klitschko. How much power must our amplifiers really deliver? Is the SET crowd off their collective rocker claiming a fistful of watts sufficient? How about shoppers […]

  • Essence announce Evolve – a multi-channel HDMI DAC

    Bob Rapoport of Essence Electrostatic is a man on a mission. A mission to bring you D/A conversion over HDMI. A mere two months after the launch of his HDACC digital-pre amp (review soon) comes a cheaper, smaller box to tap multi-channel, high resolution digital audio from a Blu-Ray feed. The Essence Evolve is an […]

  • How to buy (and sell) a turntable in Australia?

    The tyranny of distance. I really don’t know how many people choose an new turntable in Australia. This country is big. No, strike that, it’s HUGE. The population is around 23 million people and its two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are separated by 900 kms. That stacks up to a 12 hour drive or […]

  • NAD D 3020 review (Part 2 – digital decoding)

    In Part 1 of this review I assessed the NAD D 3020’s (AU$699) talents as an entry-level amplifier using only its analogue input. Time now to get a handle on its digital dealing. I started by considering the NAD as a possible rival to the Wadia 151PowerDAC Mini. The latter keeps everything digital from woe […]

  • Astell&Kern Castor and Moon III loudspeakers at CES 2014

    With their hitherto top-of-the-line player (the AK120) outselling its cheaper predecessor (the AK100) by something like to 10:1, iRiver’s sub-brand Astell&Kern are pushing even deeper into the luxury DAP territory with their all-new AK240 player, formally launched last week at CES 2014. The skinny: dual core processor, 3.3″ 800 x 480 AMOLED touchscreen, up to […]

  • Line Magnetic LM-502 CA switchable tube D/A converter

    Yesterday I began asking myself “Where did all the tube DACs go?”, my renewed interest in which will be revealed in due course. Yes, I’m aware of the glass and gas inside AMR’s DP-777 but, for now at least, I’m focussing on the budget space: hitherto radar-dodging, entry level DACs with tube output stages that sell for […]

  • Clones Audio introduce 55pm monoblock amplifiers

    Hong Kong’s Clones Audio have already made a bit of a name for themselves with the 25i integrated, a gainclone amplifier that started life as a hobby project for Clones Audio proprietor ‘Funjoe’; yes, that’s his preferred nickname. I have the 25i here and initial listening suggests it punches a little above its €629 (~US$955) […]

  • Cary Audio DAC100t tubed D/A converter

    Cary Audio’s radar-dodging DAC made me sit up and ask, “Where did all the tube DACs go?”. A couple of years ago some of my favourite decoders ran with tubular output stages: Eastern Electric’s Minimax and MHDT’s NOS, balanced Havana.  Many folk LOVE tubes because they allow listeners to continue with their tinkering without busting […]

  • KIH #4: Signal to noise strangleholds

    S&M + SNR = whollotta noise? Abbreviations get cryptic fast. Here S&M isn’t sado/maso. It’s sales and marketing. And the other thing isn’t snot ‘n’ rasp but ordinary signal-to-noise ratio. As ex national sales manager for Mesa Boogie’s hifi division, Meadowlark Audio and Soliloquy Loudspeaker Company, I knew a thing or two about life on […]

  • Metrum Acoustics ready Aurix headphone amplifier

    Cees Rujtenberg is a man who marches to his own drum. It’s been 18 months since Metrum Acoustic’s previous product announcement, the ~$3k-class-leading Hex D/A converter. That’s a seriously long time when you consider the furious explosion of new headphone products/companies of the last couple of years. Now comes the Metrum Acoustics Aurix, a Class […]

  • NAD D 3020 review (Part 1 – vs. NAD 3020i)

    I always keep a pair of Usher S-520 loudspeakers to hand, pressing them into service every few months to keep it honest. Available via eBay and other retail outlets for AU$320-350 you get a high quality speaker for relatively little money; although not as refined as the recently reviewed GoldenEar Aon 2 they’re far better at dealing […]

  • AURALiC announce Lightning ARIES USB audio streamer

    If you’re using a standard-ish PC or Mac to feed your DAC direct with USB audio then chances are you’ll be listening to an audio stream tainted by jitter and electrical noise; it’ll probably sound tonally bleached and lacking in dynamic muscle. A USB-S/PDIF converter will cure some of these ills with the best in […]

  • Audeze LCD-XC headphones review

    X-rated odyssey. X presumably means xtra whilst odyssey spells Audeze. And though there’s a rather big one, C isn’t for brassiere cup size but closed. The LCD-XC thus becomes the first closed not open-backed headphone from Audeze. In pincer-type attack formation this US firm have in effect teamed with China-sourced HifiMan to replace the classic […]