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RMAF 2018: dCS Bartok DAC with head amp speaks to the youth of today

By | October 22nd, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

I came up the dCS ladder of kit honestly. Starting out with a dCS Bridge (streaming hardware with Swiss-army knife connections) and Debussy DAC which was then superseded by the company’s legendary Rossini streaming DAC (both of which I wrote on HERE), I feel as if I have firm grasp of their sonic signature (or lack thereof) and innate musicality which all their designs seem to possess.

So, when I was told that their Debussy replacement, the $13,500 USD Bartok DAC (with dCS patented Ring DAC, built-in streaming and $2,500 USD optional headphone amplifier, which I wrote about HERE) was going to be showing at CANJAM inside the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I made sure it was my list of “must-hear” booths this year.… Read the full article

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This is a Test: Music For Appreciating and Evaluating Headphones or Hi-fi

By | October 20th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

A quick intro: Scott Eastlick has been writing for AudioStream on many things music-related, creating original sonic mixes for our readers there to enjoy and to explore, and moving forward may even scribble the odd hardware review. Please welcome him here to InnerFidelity, as I thought some of the mixes he’s been doing for AudioStream would be a great fit here too. His bio is at the bottom of this article. – Rafe Arnott

*SOME TRACKS CONTAIN EXPLICIT LYRICS

While my love for music is as preternatural as my love for sugar, oxygen, and affection, I’ve never considered myself to be a bonafide audiophile.… Read the full article

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RMAF 2018: Campfire Audio

By | October 19th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

I’ve always enjoyed Campfire Audio’s relaxed and casual company culture – my experiences with them have always been from one personal audio enthusiast to another, never corporate or stiff.

These folks make gear they would want to listen to and it shows.

Back in the day they made cables and even some headphone amps as ALO Audio, before branching into IEMs, so while the Campfire name may be newer, they have plenty of experience when it comes to personal audio.

IEM’s can be quite difficult for me, as I have two differently shaped ear canals, with my left ear being very resistant to having foam and silicone bits shoved into it.… Read the full article

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RMAF 2018: HIFIMAN Electronics Arya headphone and R2R2000 streaming player

By | October 18th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

I have had numerous emails and a lengthy Q&A with Dr. Fang Bian of HIFIMAN regarding the company and several of its products, but despite all this electronic back-and-forth, I was not prepared for the huge smile that greeted me from him as I came up to the HIFIMAN booth at CANJAM in the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. As he got up and came around to shake hands with me I was struck by his soft-spoken and friendly demeanour and warmed to his enthusiasm as he briefly described the new Arya headphones and R2R2000 portable streaming handheld I was going to listen to.… Read the full article

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RMAF 2018: Chord Electronics

By | October 17th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

The Chord table at CANJAM inside the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was filled with variations of their popular Hugo DAC/Amp.

I tried out the Hugo TT 2 and M Scaler combo with a Pair of Ether 2 headphones and this was easily another Best of Show sound for me, (You’ve probably figured out that I like the Ether 2 by now) although I could see some finding it a little on the dry side depending on your listening tastes.

I thought the staging on this combo was a little more spacious and had better depth than the Hugo 2 and Hugo TT which were not connected to M-Scalers when I was at the table.… Read the full article

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RMAF 2018: Astell & Kern rollout new players, firmware upgrades imminent

By | October 16th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

Astell & Kern seem like a company hell bent on introducing new models that are feature-packed based on feedback from both existing customers and those they are courting to embrace the brand.

I say this because they continue to add specific features and new, updated hardware/software not only for their latest off the production line models, but with continuing support of legacy or existing models with an array of cutting-edge re-ups via firmware updates.

The company was showing off their new SP1000 and SP1000M portable players along with their T5P second-generation Beyerdynamics headphones at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, so I gave both a spin and also discussed what was happening with the Android APK (Android PacKage is the package file format used by the Android operating system for distribution and installation of mobile apps and middleware) rollout.… Read the full article

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RMAF 2018: iFi xDSD and Pro iDSD impress at both ends of price spectrum

By | October 15th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

I always make a point to stop by the iFi booth as the folks who work there are super friendly and I enjoy their products.

They were showing an immense AMR DAC that looked a bit like the front end of a DeLorean. I believe it was called the Diablo. They also had the new xDSD on display, which I currently have in for review and am liking quite a lot. I won’t spoil the review, but the sound quality here reminds me of their Black Label products in a very good way.… Read the full article

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RMAF 2018: ZMF impresses with Verite and Aeolus prototypes

By | October 14th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

ZMF

You’ll have to forgive me for not being the savviest picture take this Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, but there was so much to see and do, and most of the pictures I took on my iPhone were either woefully inadequate or unusably blurry – luckily Rafe is an expert photographer and has lots of gorgeous shots for you to pore over in his posts. In any case, on to the booths I saw…

I’ve known Zach Mehrbach, the founder and owner of ZMF for several years now, and he’s quite an interesting guy, having at various times been a professor of film at Columbia, a professional luthier, and now a headphone maker.… Read the full article

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RMAF 2018: Sony DMP-Z1 Headphone amp and MDR-Z1R headphones

By | October 12th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

Walkman.

That’s pretty much all you have to say to anyone to trigger a universal response to conjure up the name SONY.

The company which has been around since 1946 got its name from a mix of the Latin word sonus (root for sonics, or sound) and good old American slang sonny, which to the Japanese at the time meant a smart, hip and well put together young man… this is part of the history that launched a corporate juggernaut in electronics and heavy industry that currently has a $15 billion valuation.… Read the full article

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RMAF 2018: Meze Empyrean headphones

By | October 9th, 2018|Categories: Innerfidelity|

The Meze booth stood out to me upon first walking into CANJAM at RMAF this year because their managing director, Mircea Fanatan, was standing there looking very peaceful amid a sea of headphone-enthusiast chaos which was buffeting every surface and corner of the event. It practically felt windy in there.

He seemed buddha-still amid all the movement so my eyes seemed to naturally seek his booth out as a great place to start my journey that morning. Meze is a Romanian company well known for their highly-praised, and budget-conscious 99 Classics ($309 USD) and 99 Neo ($249 USD) headphones, so when I first heard about the new flagship planar-magnetic design-based Empyrean – featuring the first Isodynamic Hybrid-Array driver of its type – around the time of High End at Munich this spring (before I was at InnerFidelity) and their $3,000 USD price tag, I made a mental note that the company had decided to jump into the deep, shark-infested waters of upper-price, open-back, over-ear headphones.… Read the full article

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