I had never been alone with a Russian-manufactured 6C33C tube. At least not at night, in the dark. The first night Balanced Audio Technology’s VK-56SE tubed amplifier was in my system, I sat on the floor studying the unusual shape and dark orange glow of its four 6C33C-B output tubes. I noticed their brightly lit, cathedral-like innards. My Russian neighbor told me they were used as regulator tubes in MiG jets during the Cold War. I could believe it—their exposed cathodes were the exact color of the Soviet flag.… Read the full article
Every time I review a digital-to-analog converter, my memory drifts to the spring of 1983, when the first Compact Discs arrived at Tower Records in New York City. They appeared in the opera section. Sitting next to big, thick boxed sets of opera LPs, these new discs looked truly compact. A few months later, boxed sets of popular opera LPs, in almost untouched condition, began selling in the Tower Annex for $1/disc.
I was shocked. I could not believe people were actually trading these luxurious, linen-covered, rag-papered, thick-librettoed boxes for chintzy, verkakte plastic “jewel cases.” I saw no alternative: I began collecting opera LPs.… Read the full article
It’s a toss-up: The house where my family and I lived for 15 years was bigger than the one we have now, and had a much nicer view. On the other hand, we now live in a less economically depressed region, as suggested by the relative scarcity of inflatable lawn decorations. During the last year I saw in my neighborhood far fewer leprechauns, reindeer, Easter Bunnies, purple-and-green Draculas, and turkeys wearing pilgrim hats (which makes about as much sense as Russian soldiers wearing lederhosen).… Read the full article
Audiophilia is nothing if not nostalgic—in fact, it’s doubly so. Listening to recorded music is an act of looking back, often with the hope of re-creating some wistfully recalled wonder. On top of that, the zeal to perfect the playback experience, whether by means of better-quality recordings or better hardware, is far less common than it used to be among middle-class consumers. Although in recent years our pastime has surprised with its resilience, we’re surely nearer the immolation scene than the Prelude to Act I.… Read the full article
For those who listen with their ears and not their brain, perfectionist hi-fi offers many surprises.
A friend called me up a few weeks ago and asked if the DAC we both own had received an automatic firmware update he hadn’t heard about; something had changed, it wasn’t good, and he couldn’t figure out what it was. His system’s sound was suddenly pale and unfocused.
There had been no firmware update.
The next morning, he called me again. He’d remembered that, earlier the day before, he’d swapped out a meter or so of the standard Ethernet cable connecting his network switch to his DAC with an expensive, audiophile one.… Read the full article
I have reviewed several network-connected music servers in recent years, from Antipodes, Aurender, and NAD. All performed well but are relatively expensive, and their associated player apps didn’t equal Roon’s user friendliness in terms of interface, organization of the library, and inclusion and updating of metadata. So when Roon Labs introduced their own server, the Nucleus+, I first reviewed and then purchased it, along with a lifetime subscription to Roon. But at $2498 without an internal drive for storing music files, the Nucleus+ is still relatively expensive, and even Roon’s less-powerful Nucleus costs $1398.… Read the full article