April 2016

Monthly Archives

  • Rip vinyl direct to AK3xx DAPs with Astell&Kern’s AK Recorder

    Another show, another new portable player from Astell&Kern. This year’s month’s week’s newcomer is the AK300, the third model in the ‘3’ series that started with the flagship AK380 and was later augmented by the more affordable but non-native-DSD-ing AK320 (US$1795). At US$795, the AK300 is more affordable still. Separating the AK300 from the AK320 is a single AKM4490 […]

  • Boys AND girls at the Spring 2016 Fujiya Avic headphone festival

    If US audio shows are dominated by a middle-aged male demographic, Japanese headphone shows are very much not. Fujiya Avic’s Spring 2016 Headphone Festival proved to be more similar than different to their Autumn 2015 and Spring 2014 events – perhaps little quieter (?) but it’s still a dude-fest. The median average age of attendees is lower than […]

  • Metrum Acoustics tease Adagio NOS digital pre-amplifier

    The arrivals lounge of audio news is populated by many varied creatures. In the VIP room, a range of photos accompany a press release, furiously polished by a third party PR company. Up at the saloon bar we find smaller companies whose tighter belts demand they do it all in-house. Announcing his new unit – the Adagio – Metrum Acoustics Cees […]

  • DAR prize giveaway #7: Chord Electronics Mojo

    What’s the best DAC for under a grand in 2016? Not at easy question to answer. Different strokes suit different folks. Let’s skip out on the car analogy and head straight to the local Indian restaurant. Now we ask: what’s the best curry? A Korma echoes the Schiit Bifrost multibit’s fuller creamed euphony. For a […]

  • Getting real with Audioengine HD6 active loudspeakers

    Audioengine have a solid reputation as one of the goto brands for entry-level (read: affordable) hifi hardware. It’s not hard to see why: a tidy range of passive loudspeakers, amplifiers and Bluetooth/USB DACs all aimed at budgets that have both feet firmly planted on terra firma. Better still are Audioengine’s powered offerings; speakers where the usually external amplifier […]

  • Punch a higher floor with the Dynaudio Xeo 2

    An active loudspeaker’s simplicity is often fundamental to its attractiveness. With everything required to play back music loaded into the speaker cabinet, we needn’t fret over “Which interconnect?” or “Which speaker cable?” or how to keep the associated kabelsalat from spoiling the view. With digital input handling added to the feature set mix, our system box count drops as […]

  • Shut up already – damn!

    We’re but four months into 2016 and Death has already snatched some big names from us: Bowie, Lemmy, Merle Haggard and today, Prince. He was 57. You couldn’t move on the FM dial in the 1980s without striking up one of Prince’s hit singles. “Raspberry Beret”, “1999”, “When Doves Cry”, “Purple Rain” and “Kiss” – their status […]

  • PS Audio ready BHK Signature pre-/headphone amplifier

    An audio show is often a manufacturer’s preferred launchpad for a new product or line. For the journalist covering such events, it can sometimes be tricky to know which products are prototypes (see: everything at HiFiMAN’s stand at CanJam SoCal), which products are ‘shipping soon’ and which remain under strict embargo about which you can […]

  • Gear galore at Yeller Audio, Shenzhen

    What does a high end audio store in China look like? If your first thought is “big” then you’d be on the money. Not surprising when we consider the country’s 1.3 billion population. That, Sir, is 56 times larger than Australia’s 23 million. Yeller in Shenzhen is the Godzilla (and not Godzuki) of hifi stores, one of […]

  • The distortion of sound (and its real culprits)

    The Distortion of Sound. The above documentary has seen over three million views on YouTube since its 2014 release. It was made in association with Harmon Kardon as a way to raise awareness of the evils of compression, citing MP3s and streaming music as the main culprits. Unfortunately, like all great pieces of propaganda, it offers a few […]

  • The MQA revolution: brother, you have to wait (and see)

    The next big thing™? Back in 2011 it was DSD; the (alleged) holy grail of hi-res digital playback. Content would come “eventually” (we were told). Who were we to disbelieve those who brokered deals with studios and music execs behind close doors? Our responsibility as consumers was to be ready with a DSD compliant D/A converter […]

  • Talking ’bout pop music: Pet Shop Boys and James

    What year is it again? One look at the 2016 Primavera Sound line-up – Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Sigur Ros, PJ Harvey, Air, Suede, Dinosaur Jr – and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was 2006. Heritage rock and pop acts are trending hard this year. That line-up is typical of the live festival scene right now – […]

  • Risk vs. reward: crowdfunding Nativ Sound’s Vita

    It’s on the risk/reward axis that the entrepreneur rotates. Product comes to market, consumer buys product, profit is made. The risk is in ensuring bang-for-buck sufficiently stokes demand so that the ensuing revenue outweighs costs. Otherwise, the entrepreneur waves farewell to his/her investment capital and then some. S/he’s in the red. What if that risk could be […]

  • KIH #33 – Hearing the forest for the trees

    RIAA. Resolution is absolutely all. That silliness just converted the established abbreviation for vinyl’s standard re-equalization curve; and that of the Recording Industry Association of America in general. Having it mean res über alles is a bit capricious and laboured. This installment of KIH means to show that so could be the meaning itself. Let’s […]

  • Roon announce v1.2, Bridge, iPhone & Android smartphone apps

    Roon’s feature set and pricing place it at the deluxe end of the music manager/player software market. Its interface, which begs for touchscreen use, is without peer. This post makes the introductions. I run the OS X desktop version of Roon on a MacMini in my office. For local library content, it indexes/syncs with an attached USB […]