October 2016

Monthly Archives

  • elac-element_1

    RMAF 2016: a headstart for happiness with the ELAC Element

    Basic. One word to describe the vinyl finish of the Andrew Jones-designed Debut and Uni-Fi series loudspeakers from ELAC. A year or so on from those initial releases we get improved aesthetics – initially aimed at the European market. The Uni-Fi slimline variant comes in a black or white satin finish and is available Stateside. Sticker price premiums have been […]

  • schiit-rmaf-2016_1

    Saga, Freya, Vidar: three fresh pieces of Schiit from RMAF 2016

    After six years kicking the headphone world in the seat of the pants, high-end audio’s equivalent of the Rebel Alliance are moving into two-channel territory. At RMAF 2016, that meant two separate demo spaces: Mike Moffat fronted the company’s range of DACs and headphone amplifiers at Schiit’s now familiar CanJam spot. Meanwhile, Jason Stoddard could […]

  • audio-precision_3

    Audio Precision: RMAF 2016’s men in blue coats

    Measurements. There isn’t sufficient time/money for this publication to undertake them. If that bothers you, head to the safety of another publication; I heartily recommend Stereophile. Maybe a compromise for webzines like DAR would the use of a third party measurement service. The device under scrutiny would be sent off to a lab for the men in […]

  • naim-atom-core_2

    What’s in a Naim? A new Uniti family debuts at RMAF 2016

    Naim’s revamped Uniti range made its debut at RMAF 2016. Well, half of it. The first two products to appear fully-formed are the ARM-powered Core music server/ripper and the Atom 40wpc (into 8 Ohms) Class A/B streaming amplifier. Each will sell for ~US$2595 and ~US$2995 respectively. Shipping kicks off in December. This new Uniti family underlines streaming. The Core […]

  • crystal-cables-cci

    Getting square with Crystal Cables at RMAF 2016

    Primed for the space-limited or space-conscious high-end player, The Netherlands’ Crystal Cable have moved the funky design aesthetic of their Arabesque loudspeaker series – pictured here in orange – over to their all-new integrated amplifier. The Crystal Cable Integrated (CCI) is an all-in-one cuboid that pays strict attention to the cooling of its Class A/B output (heavy A bias, […]

  • noble-audio-rmaf2016_5

    RMAF 2016: Alternative tastes and textures from Noble Audio

    Intimacy – a prominent and potent quality of Noble Audio’s twin-BA Savant. This custom IEM’s deeper than average ear-canal penetration converts to a better than average seal against external noise intrusion. As a result, the volume on the connected DAP stays lower, music feels closer. Like I said, intimacy. Such qualities really come into their own in […]

  • aurender-a10_2

    Apocalypse now? MQA, Aurender at RMAF 2016

    Mytek. Meridian. Bluesound. Brinkmann. Pioneer/Onkyo. Cary Audio. Six digital audio manufacturers to embrace Bob Stuart’s controversial-for-some MQA. Joining them with a big splash at RMAF 2016 were Aurender whose A10 music server/streamer, a model that we first caught at its CES debut, will soon be made MQA capable. With their new toy, Aurender were conducting A/B demos of MQA content. […]

  • ifi-micro1

    RMAF 2016: Accessorising with iFi Audio

    Fifty dollar widgets. iFi Audio, AMR’s more affordable spin-off, had three new dongle fixes to show at RMAF/CanJam 2016. The first is for headphone listeners. More specifically, those with highly sensitive IEMs who find their amplifier or DAP’s power output forces them to use lower volume levels, putting them closer to the noise floor and stifling dynamics. The […]

  • talisker-dark-storm

    Sonore at RMAF 2016: Talisker taste on a Teachers budget

    Ethernet in, USB out – the microRendu from Florida’s Sonore is the purist’s streamer. A Bluesound, AURALiC or Sonos with multiple outputs and slick smartphone app it is not. Setup and config takes place in the web browser, which gives us access to a variety of operational modes: ShairPort, Squeezelite, MPD/DLNA, HQPlayer and – my personal […]

  • rupert-neve

    Go pro: the Rupert Neve Headphone Amplifier at RMAF 2016

    RNHP. Rupert Neve Headphone Amplifier. The hitherto pro audio company, fronted by the titular Brit, have plucked the headphone circuit from their 5060 Centerpiece Desktop Mixer to fire a first salvo into consumer audio territory. From the murky Circus Tent-housed CanJam at RMAF 2016, co-founder Josh Thomas and Dennis Alichwer introduce us to the new guy. The RNHP is a […]

  • auralic-polaris_1

    AURALiC show Polaris, refreshed Lightning DS iPad app at RMAF 2016

    A slice of Future-Fi for those who prefer their loudspeakers passive is the new kitchen-sink system,  the POLARIS, from China’s AURALiC: powerful Class D amplifier; digital pre-amplifier with hybrid volume control; DAC; MM phono stage and network streamer, all under one roof for US$3800. Catch up on the specifics here. At RMAF 2016, Xuanqian Wang walked us […]

  • kef-ls50-wireless_3

    Future-fi now: KEF’s LS50 Wireless active loudspeaker

    Best amplifier for the KEF LS50 standmount? A hundred listeners might spill with a hundred different answers. Each would more than likely be the result of a brief trial and error dance with power shortfall, driver overdamping and tonal balance shifts, more often than not determined after money has been committed, before settling. We choose loudspeakers […]

  • aqua-la-scala-optologic_3

    RMAF 2016: Aqua La Scala DAC gets Optologic upgrade

    “What kind of music IS this?”, asks a bemused Peter Breuninger [above, left] of Well Pleased AV’s Mark Sossa [above, right]. The answer: DJ Shadow’s “Midnight In A Perfect World”. Prior to that, the considerably more confronting breakbeat-tech of “Windowlicker” by Aphex Twin. Brueninger had unwittingly stepped into Sossa’s 8th floor RMAF demo room just as this […]

  • resonessence-labs-veritas_3

    Resonessence Labs talk more VERITAS at RMAF 2016

    At last year’s RMAF, Resonessence Labs teased two new products: the VERITAS DAC – a compact, single-chipped take on an INVICTA Mirus shorn of its SD card reader – and a still-to-be-named network streamer. The latter’s development was subsequently shelved but the former saw first light of day in April this year. Conversing with company mainman Mark Mallinson at RMAF […]

  • gamut-audio-rmaf-2016_3

    RMAF 2016: Through the looking glass with GamuT Audio

    Expectations. Five years on the audio show circuit has seen this commentator recalibrate his. I’ve almost come to accept the likes of Boz Scaggs as the norm when it comes to exhibitor music selections. One might (quite reasonably) describe audiophile-aimed events like the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest as the upside down of music’s real world. Here Diana Krall remains more popular than Elvis Costello. Of the three […]