January 2019
« Dec    
>> Breadcrumb :/John H. Darko

About John H. Darko

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far John H. Darko has created 653 blog entries.

Letters to the editor: Konto, Lindemann, Dynaudio & more

By | January 17th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

A new year brings a fresh batch of ‘givers’ to the yard. A robust ‘thank you’ goes out to all who choose to share their findings with us.

Ryan K. writes:

Just wanted to say thank you for your approach to reviewing, as you’ve become my first in line, go-to guy when I inevitably begin my daily music & audio obsession.

Also wanted to thank you for your coverage on Raspberry Pi/DigiOne/Allo etc. as it pushed me to finally get a USBridge to replace my laptop as my streaming source via Roon.… Read the full article

Chord DAVE vs. PS Audio DirectStream?

By | January 16th, 2019|Categories: DAR, Head-Fi|Tags: , , , , , , , |

PS AudioDirect Stream vs Chord DAVE? The thirst for comparative data no doubt stems from both DACs’ use of an internal FPGA instead of an off-the-shelf DAC chip to handle data marshalling and upsampling as well as decode preparation and execution. But it’s the software that matters most. In the PS Audio, the mathematics comes from Ted Smith. In the Chord unit, from Rob Watts.

Both DACs offer a choice of balanced and single-ended outputs and pre-amplifier possibilities. Both offer USB, TOSLINK and BNC (on the DAVE) / coaxial (on the DirectStream) digital inputs.… Read the full article

That’s Entertainment!

By | January 13th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Darko.Audio’s biggest success of 2018 wasn’t website related. It took place over on YouTube where a collision of circumstances – a new contributor whose day job turned out to be a professional cameraman and the laying off of Stereophile’s video editor – saw yours truly kick video production into a higher gear.

I’d been shooting show reports and factory visits on a smartphone since 2016 but if videos were to stand in for the words and pictures found in feature articles, they would have to be shot and edited to a professional standard.… Read the full article

Google pulls plug on Chromecast Audio

By | January 12th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

We’ll start with the bad: citing weaker sales figures than its video-capable counterpart, Google is discontinuing its Chromecast Audio streamer.

The Chromecast Audio was launched in 2015 to overnight become the most affordable music streamer this side of a Raspberry Pi. It was even made Roon capable last year to become the cheapest Roon endpoint available.

The sound quality of the Chromecast’s internal DAC is exactly what we might expect from a US$35 device – nothing special – but for a better-sounding Chromecast experience, we tap the 3.5mm socket’s mini-TOSLINK digital output for connection to an external DAC.… Read the full article

CES 2019: Qobuz opens US beta

By | January 9th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

“Total Blam Blam” or “Where Are We Now?”. If Qobuz’s entry into the US market were a David Bowie song, it would very much fall into the latter camp. The planned official launch at RMAF 2018 was stalled at the eleventh hour (and for reasons unknown). Only at the end of 2018 was it rescheduled for Q1 this year and tier pricing announced.

And if Qobuz’s presence at CES 2019 is anything to by, the French music streaming company’s plans seem to be once again on track: a public beta is now open to anyone wanting to try before they buy.… Read the full article

Future-Fi at CES 2019: the NAD Masters M10

By | January 8th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Future-Fi at home – it’s about minimising audio hardware’s physical intrusion and maximising its ease of use. Slipstreaming neatly into a steady flow of shoebox-sized streaming amplifiers (like Naim’s Uniti Atom and Linn’s Selekt DSM) comes NAD’s Masters M10 to which we just add loudspeakers.

The M10 weighs 5kg, measures 215 x 100 x 260 mm and features 1) a BluOS streaming module, powered by a 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 CPU for Roon, AirPlay 2, MQA, bi-directional aptX Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and (eventually) full Dirac Live room correction plus 2) back panel inputs for analogue sources, coaxial digital (TOSLINK, S/PDIF), USB storage devices and HDMI ARC, all routed via 3) an unnamed ESS Sabre DAC chip and 4) 100wpc Hypex nCore amplifier circuit.… Read the full article

Vinyl DJs rejoice! Technics announce SL-1200 MK7 turntable

By | January 8th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

When Panasonic re-booted the Technics SL-1200 in 2016, they did so for audiophiles as the SL-1200G/AE; and with a build quality and a multi-thousand dollar price tag to match.

When the Japanese company issued the US$1500 SL-1200GR* a year later, they took aim at audiophiles once again, albeit those on a tighter budget. Cashed-up DJs might have taken the bait but this was hardly the affordable workhorse of yesteryear.

Anyone wanting to pick up a pair of DJ-friendly, direct-drive turntables for under a grand would still need to do battle with the scattershot used market (the original SL-1200 was discontinued in 2010) or drop cash on one of the many Hanpin/-type clones spilling via Pioneer, Reloop, Denon, Audio Technica et al.… Read the full article

CES 2019: Tidal Masters coming to all Android devices

By | January 7th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

After almost twelve months of being exclusive to the LG V30 smartphone, its descendants and the Essential phone, Master support, powered by MQA, will soon roll out to the Tidal app used by all other Android devices. (Sorry, iOS users – you’ll have to wait).

However, unlike the LG models and the Essential device, Tidal Master support for Android is limited to MQA’s Core Decoder where 24bit/44.1kHz and 24bit/48kHz streams are unfolded to 24bit/88.2kHz and 24bit/96kHz respectively. What your Android smartphone does with these unfolded, higher sample rates remains device dependent.… Read the full article

Try walking in my shoes

By | December 31st, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Empathy – to place oneself in another’s position – is this reviewer’s most valuable skill.

To understand that journeyman audiophiles see their multi-box systems, complete with hi-fi rack and cable salad, as an audio playground BUT ALSO that many others are repelled by such monstrous setups, preferring instead the Future-Fi minimalism of a pair of active loudspeakers and a streamer or a pair of passive loudspeakers juiced by a super-integrated (where streamer, DAC and amplifier play from one box).

To understand that state-of-the-art audio invariably means small production runs and a price tag that would otherwise buy a six-month vacation BUT ALSO that many would-be hi-fi buyers are horrified by the idea of dropping new-car-money on an amplifier or DAC.… Read the full article

Comments Off on Try walking in my shoes