March 2016

Monthly Archives


    Vinnie Rossi LIO review (Part 3 – DAC & AVC/Tubestage combo)

    What’s best: Smarties or Skittles? The sugar-coated chocolate of the Rowntree (Nestle) bean or the sugar-shelled, fruit-flavoured corn syrup ball from Mars? Do Smarties have the answer or do you prefer to taste the rainbow? Perhaps you can already taste the ridiculousness: with each sugar ball satisfying one’s desire for a little sweetness, the notion of […]

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    Tidal registers 3 million users…45% on ‘Hifi’?

    Whilst Stateside audiophiles sung their hallelujahs during the October 2014 launch of its lossless ‘Hifi’ tier, streaming service Tidal didn’t see a more robust push for a mainstream audience until Jay Z’s acquisition of parent company Aspiro six months later. An over-wrought, star-studded reboot in March 2015 divided opinion: were its sixteen artist-owners crying poor or were they going front foot on the artist remuneration debate? The […]

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    CanJam SoCal 2016: Cardas A8 Ear Speakers

    Giving fellow entry-level headphoners a run for their money at CanJam SoCal 2016 were long-time cable stalwart Cardas. Their recently introduced second universal IEM might have been lost to the large hall’s gloom and this commentator’s jet-lag were it not for the red LED glow of the Ayre Acoustics’ Codex headphone amplifiers that lined their double-width table. Cardas’ first ‘Ear Speaker’, the […]

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    KIH #32 – The infinite realities of playback

    In-laws, outlaws and other deviants. On absolutes vs. relatives (where relatives aren’t your in-laws). The notion of the absolute sound is abstract, elitist, erroneous and misleading. If the ideal were the sound of unamplified instruments in a concert setting as Harry Pearson of The Abso!ute Sound proposed at the time, the vast majority of modern […]

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    Chord Electronics extend Mojo at CanJam SoCal 2016

    Making connections. Kent’s Chord Electronics no longer design DACs with off-the-shelf silicon. Instead of implementing a decoder chip from Wolfson, ESS, Cirrus Logic, TI or AKM et al, Chord take an FPGA and load it with custom filter code written by one Robert Watts. Watts’ ‘WTA’ filter works its magic via taps which we can […]

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    ALO Audio tease Continental v5 at CanJam SoCal 2016

    Split personality Pt. 1. Ken Ball is the big cheese at ALO Audio. The Portland-based manufacturer’s stock in trade is 1) deluxe wire and 2) headphone amplifiers of outstanding industrial design. See the Studio Six (covered here) and the Continental Dual Mono (covered here) — two of ALO’s finest looking pieces with the latter a portable distillation of […]

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    RIAA: Streaming now pulls in more dollars than downloads

    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organisation that represents the recording industry in the United States. Today it published its “Shipment and Revenue Statistics” for 2015 which shows a slight increase in total revenue on 2014 – “up 0.9% to $7.0 billion” – but it’s the distribution of revenue sources that are […]

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    Talking Schiit about MQA, DSD at CanJam SoCal 2016

    Schiit Audio was founded in mid 2010 by Mike Moffat (designer of the very first outboard DAC at Theta Digital) and Jason Stoddard (ex-Sumo, marketing guru, published sci-fi writer). The intervening half-decade has seen the pair establish themselves as one seriously high watermark when it comes to sharp value audio products. In that time the company HQ has relocated twice […]

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    Audeze Cipher cable brings in-line DAC/amplifier to Sine headphones

    Over the past five years Audeze have inked their high-end headphone reputation with the LCD series of planar-magnetic headphones: the open-back LCD-2, LCD-3, LCD-X and closed-back LCD-XC. One morsel of news dropping at CanJam SoCal 2016 was that each of these models have recently enjoyed a driver revision – a slightly thinner film now brings the music […]

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    The sights and sounds of CanJam SoCal 2016

    California dreamin’. The leaves weren’t brown but the sky was grey as each of CanJam SoCal’s two day run in Costa Mesa kicked into action. Immediately across the road from one of the largest high-end shopping malls in America, the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel hosted over seventy of the biggest names in headphones and personal audio. For a […]

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    Amoeba Hollywood is Disneyland for music lovers

    Independent record store – what mental image is conjured? Dilapidated signage above a dark shop window? An out of the way location on the edge of town? A cramped interior? A musty smell? A stand-off-ish 40-something counter clerk who looks down on your lack of Buffalo Springfield knowledge? A vintage hifi rig that spins Northern Soul […]