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So far John H. Darko has created 685 blog entries.

Being Frank about vinyl

By | March 21st, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , |

In the above photo, we see Frank Schröder, a Berlin-based tonearm manufacturer of over twenty years, sitting on my couch (in Mitte) and not on his own, 6 km away in Charlottenburg. He has just installed a Zu/Denon DL-103r to a Rega Planar 2 turntable — because if anyone in the world knows how to properly align a cartridge, it’s Schröder.

This Berliner made his first tonearm at 14 years old, sold his first tonearm at 17 years old and joined the world of high-end audio exhibitors in 1999 at the High-End event in Frankfurt (before it relocated to Munich).… Read the full article

Hi-res techno: Berghain 9 by Vatican Shadow

By | March 16th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

90 minutes. 90 tracks. 13 exclusives. These are the vital statistics of Ostgut Ton’s latest DJ mix release Berghain 9. Curated and mixed by relatively new Berghain resident Vatican Shadow (Dominic Fernow), the mix is part field recording, part industrial, part noise, all underpinned by a foreboding techno sound:

“My interest in DJing developed naturally out of industrial music traditions such as mail art, tape trading, and sound collage. While this mix, of course, does not solely focus on cassettes, they were used as the bridge between the seemingly disparate areas and cross-sections of underground electronic edits you will find sewn together from diverse factions to create a sonic ‘cut up’.Read the full article

A short film about the ELAC Navis ARB-51

By | March 14th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Instead of activating ELAC’s Uni-Fi series of passive loudspeakers (see here and here) celebrity loudspeaker designer Andrew Jones created an all-new active loudspeaker called Navis — formerly Argo.

“The original name, in full, was Argo-Navis. This based on a constellation and in keeping with nautical themes that we have chosen for recent naming conventions. It is in recognition of ELAC’s headquarters in Kiel Germany, an important sailing centre. Hence Vela (sail) and Carina (keel). We used Argo for short but were challenged by someone registering the Argo name after we started using it.Read the full article

The inconvenient truth about MQA on iOS

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

The email that read “Stream Tidal Masters everywhere: iPhone now supports MQA” called for immediate care. This wasn’t Apple embracing MQA technology directly but an extension of Tidal’s existing MQA support.

Two years ago, Tidal made its repository of MQA ‘Masters’ streamable to anyone subscribing to the company’s ‘Hifi’ tier — and at no extra cost. Nice. The announcement covered Tidal’s MacOS and Windows apps.

Last year, Tidal rolled out MQA support to Android devices and earlier this week, per the aforementioned email, iOS app users were now being invited to the MQA party.… Read the full article

Mum’s the word (until it’s not)

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

Coming up. Not Brit-rocking Suede’s third album but a paradoxical nod to the future where news items wouldn’t be news were we to announce them in advance. Still, the Internet generates a furious thirst among readers for more intel: “Do you know if Brand A is working on Product X?”; “When is Product X coming?”.

If I’ve no idea, the answer to such questions is easy: “I don’t know”. 

However, even if I do know, the answer is still: “I don’t know”.… Read the full article

Letters to the editor: Soekris, FiiO, Parks Audio, Gustard

By | March 11th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , |

Once again, thank you to everyone who writes in to offer up their own experiences and insights.

James W. writes…


I enjoyed your article, much needed in audio circles in my opinion, about active loudspeakers, which I have consistently found to outperform passive designs. I was surprised, however, that you forgot to mention THE grandaddy and possibly still the leading exponent of active/DSP speaker design, the people who practically invented them at least for domestic use – Meridian.

If you haven’t heard a pair of Meridian DSPs, you owe it to yourself, particularly the SE speakers since you like MQA and they are probably still the only speakers designed from the ground up to take full advantage of the format.… Read the full article

The sensual world

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

There are many reasons to applaud Steven Brykman’s article for Ars Technica on Why Vinyl Records Survive in the Digital Age. Vinyl’s playback ritual and tactility are well-trodden paths but Brykman takes these ideas further. Unencumbered by simpleton audiophile thinking that vinyl must compete against digital audio, he posits that: that vinyl reflects the past from which it came and must be similarly carefully handled. “Designing for multiple senses can be more powerful than designing for just one,” opines Brykman.… Read the full article

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HiFiMAN’s Bluetooth Ananda-BT come with a USB twist

By | March 6th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Ananda. For Buddhists, a state of extreme happiness. For Chinese headphone manufacturer, a mid-tier headphone model: full-size, circumaural and open back with the 1-2 micron-thick ‘NSD’ planar magnetic diaphragm easing power thirst. At 25 Ohms input impedance and 103 dB input sensitivity, the Ananda demands no muscle amp. Pretty much any portable player (or integrated amplifier headphone socket) would do.

But which player? The tyranny of choice wades into view with numerous options from Astell&Kern, Sony, FiiO, iBasso, Shanling, Pioneer, Onkyo, HiBy, Opus or HiFiMAN’s own offerings.… Read the full article

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Tangled up in Bluetooth

By | March 4th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Like music streaming services, Bluetooth audio sound quality is determined by the codec that carries digital audio (the music) from source to destination; from smartphone to wireless headphone.

Unlike music streaming services, Bluetooth audio offers no lossless option — at least not yet. All codecs used for Bluetooth audio transmission are lossy. Before music can be sent from smartphone to wireless headphone, its file size must be reduced to meet Bluetooth’s (lower) bandwidth requirements. A small part of the original file is discarded.… Read the full article

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A short film about the DALI Callisto 2C

By | February 28th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

What does a modern hi-fi system look like? If you’re Denmark’s DALI, a pair of active loudspeakers fed via a control hub fitted with a streaming module. No hi-fi rack full of amplifiers and DACs – they sit inside the loudspeaker – and no cable salad. In other words: unobtrusive.

Plus! The engineering prowess of a DSP crossover and an amplifier tailored to each driver’s input that no similarly configured and similarly priced passive loudspeaker system could touch. (Think about it: one of the most costly components of an outboard amplifier is its chassis).… Read the full article

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