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About Phil Wright

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So far Phil Wright has created 20 blog entries.

Allo’s Katana Player & Shanti power supply  

By | September 23rd, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

The Raspberry Pi small board computer (RPi SBC) — add suitable HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) and for a total of less than £50 – e.g. an RPi Zero with IQAudio Pi-DACZero – we can snag ourselves a decent little streamer/DAC combo. If we pay even a little more, we get more: don’t be fooled by the Allo Boss DAC’s US$59 price; it’s a righteous contender, even when sat among far more expensive entry-level streamers.

Allo’s Katana Player is an RPi + audio board/s + power supplies.… Read the full article

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Retro sound with JBL’s L100 Classic loudspeaker

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

Still retro in looks, the JBL L100 Classic’s heritage snakes back to 1970. Its role in those Maxell TV ads (here & here) lives on. “Night on a Bare Mountain”, the music used in the UK spot, was first to sound forth for this review. “Ride of the Valkyries” was used for the US version. Both are good markers for the revised JBL’s sound: big & bold.

The original L100 was JBL’s biggest seller of all time. The L100 Classic is that loudspeaker reinterpreted for the 21st Century.… Read the full article

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dCS’ Network Bridge is ‘affordable’ excellence

By | August 20th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Aston Martin, purveyor of upmarket automobiles; a brand that is synonymous with consumer desire, with James Bond glamour and with excellence. We pay a pretty penny but the best things in life don’t come for free (well, mostly).

This British car manufacturer once offered a small car, the Cygnet, for £30k. Hardly bargain basement pricing but certainly more affordable than their main range of models that started at £120k. As a rebadged Toyota IQ with Aston Martin branding, the Cygnet fooled no one.… Read the full article

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The exquisite Revel M126Be standmount loudspeaker

By | July 26th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

HI. HARMAN International is part of the mighty Samsung empire, having been swallowed in 2017 for an estimated $8bn. Who said there’s no money in audio? Revel is part of the HI group, but unlike Mark Levinson, Arcam, and others, it began life within HI as a high-end startup rather than an acquisition. That gave Revel access to huge resources from the outset. Perhaps no surprise that it flourished.

New products continue to flow at a healthy rate. That includes the two-strong PerformaBe range.… Read the full article

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The big & beautiful Klipsch Forte III

By | May 24th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Baby of the Heritage range, the Klipsch Heresy III’s sojourn at my home (review here) was mildly infuriating at times. Its unevenness disqualified it from the Do-No-Harm club and the sound of a piano never quite gelled. It got its hooks into me big time though with its uncanny ability to conjure a live event out of a studio recording.

Serious fun, more please. Which brings us to Klipsch’s Forte III (£4k / €4.4k / $4k). A chance to see what moving one step higher up the ladder brings forth.… Read the full article

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The uncompromising Sistema M2 amplifier

By | May 15th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Sistema’s M2 is a dual-mono loudspeaker amplifier offering 85W per channel into 8Ω. Yours for €5000 plus taxes with optional 15-day money-back trial period. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Not quite.

On inputs, there’s no analogue, just a single USB socket to play catch on PCM up to 384kHz and DSD64. No volume control or remote control either. Both are handed off to the connected PC/Mac’s software player. Think of the M2 as a digital-direct power amplifier.

Users must also provide their own 12-24V power supply to bring the M2 to life and there’s no on/off button on the unit itself.… Read the full article

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Ayre’s EX-8 streaming amplifier is ECM in a box

By | April 29th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

One-boxers seem to be catching. Look at Naim, Linn, NAD and Devialet et al. The main attraction of a streaming amplifier is system simplicity – just add speakers. A single box introduces us to an aesthetic calm where both space (and the patience of significant others) is often at a premium. Music is streamed from a NAS device or a cloud service (Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify etc.).

Separates enthusiasts highlight (valid) compromises – RFI and shared power supplies – whilst playing down the audible potential of shorter signal paths or the manufacturer retaining voicing control over a complete chain of electronics: streamer, DAC, amplifier.… Read the full article

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Have your Pi & eat it: Pro-ject’s Stream Box S2 Ultra

By | March 19th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

‘£600 is flipping expensive for a tarted up Raspberry Pi!’

Not quite the words of the forum poster but in line with the sentiment: that Pro-ject is ripping off customers by charging silly money for a Pi with open source software and a nice case. Fairy dust or what?

Actually, strip away the invective and we find a reasonable question. Pro-ject are quite open about the Stream Box S2 Ultra (Stream Ultra) being based on the (CM3 industrial version of a) Raspberry Pi running a customised Volumio operating system.Read the full article

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Gold Note CD-1000 MKII review

By | February 20th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

“You’ve got a what?!” said my ex-wife and daughter in unison. My son was even blunter: “Why are you reviewing obsolete technology?”. The object of their ire – Gold Note’s new CD player, the CD-1000 MKII. Did they have a point?

CD sales are struggling whilst streaming is powering ahead. And many with large CD collections have long since ripped them to a computer (haven’t they?) with the donor discs, at best, relegated to aesthetic service? And hasn’t the steady flow of new CD player models coming to market been reduced to a trickle?… Read the full article

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Boom, boom, boom, boom! A dCS factory tour!

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

Ben Ashcroft (pictured above) – he’s head of dCS’s service department and he’s deep into techno music. He’s still smiling too, despite the ‘help’ provided by Andy McHaig, dCS Technical Director. When Ben first joined the company as an apprentice he was tasked with developing a ladder DAC (dCS make DACs). McHaig assisted Ashcroft hard-wiring some of Ashcroft’s beloved techno into the logic board to expedite listening tests. How thoughtful.

Vengaboys is techno, right? Worse: McHaig had made this Euro dance pop non-defeatable so that Ashcroft would have to endure it for the entire project.… Read the full article

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