February 2019
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Pro-Ject’s DAC Box E Mobile is for PCs AND smartphones

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

A USB dongle DAC/headphone amplifier compatible with both computer and smartphone? Options (that meet Apple’s low power draw requirements) are surprisingly few: the AudioQuest DragonFlys, the Cyrus Soundkey and the FiiO K1.

This week we add another possibility to this list with the introduction of Pro-Ject’s DAC Box E Mobile that wraps an all-metal case around an (unspecified) 32bit/192kHz-capable DAC to fit in the palm of the hand, ready for connection to a smartphone or Mac/PC whose internal DACs are often found wanting on sound quality.… Read the full article

Rotel’s CD11: there’s life in the old digital dog yet

By | February 18th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Global CD sales dropped almost 19% in 2019 whilst vinyl sales grew by 12%. The headline? Vinyl is back. CDs are dying. End of story.

Not so fast. It’s often the most easily digestible narrative that grabs our attention. The numbers behind those percentage point deltas remind us that CDs outsold vinyl 6:1 in 2019; 9.7 million vinyl records and 60 million CDs were sold worldwide last year. It might still be half a decade before we see CD sales fall below that of vinyl in absolute terms.… Read the full article

Letters to the editor: Pro-Ject, Synology, FLAX & Kallax

By | February 18th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: |

Header image: Darko HQ, February 2019.

Jeff R. writes…

I do like to purchase 16-bit ‘CD quality’ FLAC downloads once in a while for my personal library. For now, I was pleasantly surprised to see the US Qobuz site has lower prices for 16-bit FLAC albums than the Tidal store. Price is king!

Gregor T writes (with his tongue in his cheek)…

Dear John,

I am writing to you because of this very important issue and topic and I feel inclined to correct someone on the internet if they are wrong.… Read the full article

A short film about the Innuos ZEN MK3

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

A custom motherboard (not off-the-shelf); a dual linear power supply from one Dr. Sean Jacobs; three asymmetrically aligned feet tuned to the resonant frequency of the chassis to combat microphonics — these are the core ingredients of the ZEN MK3 from Innuos, the middle unit in the Portuguse company’s current crop of server/streamers. Pricing starts at US$2599, €2099, £1899 for the full-width box (black or silver) fitted with an internal 1TB HDD. That’s mid-range 13″ MacBook Pro cash.

For those making use of the ZEN MK3’s in-built server functionality (UPnP, Sonos, Squeezebox, Roon), a larger hard drive might be required.… Read the full article

ATC announces CD2 CD player, SIA2-100 integrated

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

New from British ‘loudspeaker’ manufacturer ATC: the CD2 CD player and SIA2-100 integrated amplifier (with DAC).

Inside the CD2, a TEAC 5020A-AT transport mechanism sends digital audio read from a CD’s surface 1) out to an external DAC via its rear-facing coaxial and TOSLINK outputs or 2) to the CD2’s internal AKM DAC that in turn dispatches its analogue output via rear panel single-ended or balanced socketry.

From ATC’s press release: “The DAC is from AKM operating in conjunction with an output filter stage comprising a digital filter and ATC’s own low-noise multiple feedback analogue filter.Read the full article

Darko.Audio podcast #14 – Vinyl

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

Get into the groove? With entry-level turntables shipping with their own factory-fitted cartridges, I’m finding it a challenge, especially when sitting them next to entry-level streamers selling for similar cash. A recent poll revealed that many of you feel the same way. What’s going on? Where is that elusive magic that so many vinyl die-hards speak of?

I put this to TONEAudio’s Jeff Dorgay for our first podcast episode of the year. Dorgay is a far, far more experienced vinylphile than I.… Read the full article

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

Voxativ talks DSP optimisation, Bluetooth streaming

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

Digital Signal Processing. We might expect Voxativ, a Berlin-based loudspeaker manufacturer steeped in the heritage of single/compression drivers, to invite DSP to talk to the hand. And yet at this year’s Norddeutsche Hifi-Tage Voxativ could be seen using DSP – inside a black box and before the amplification stage – to squeeze additional low-frequency extension from the Hagen; standmounts that previously called for subwoofer assistance.

The Hamburg-based controversies didn’t end there: the new box’s DSP core was being fed via Bluetooth, its TOSLINK digital and analogue/phono inputs ignored.… Read the full article

A closer look at the Technics SL-1500C, SL-1200 MK7

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

In three of the four Januarys since 2016 Technics announced a new version of the rebooted SL-1200: the G/AE in 2016, built and priced (€3499) for audiophiles; the GR, in 2017, whose pricing (€1499) crosses into DJ territory; and in 2019 the MK7, aimed squarely at DJs, albeit it at a higher price (€899) than many expected. We can now travel down the range to see price drop in accordance with ‘table weight: 18kg to 11.5kg to 7.6kg.

Each SL-1200 is a direct-drive design, featuring a pitch slider for playback speed variation, a strobe light for visual confirmation of speed stability and a target light to illuminate where the stylus meeting the record’s surface.… Read the full article

The sights & sounds of Norddeutsche Hifi-Tage 2019

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

NEWS. North, east, west and south. A regional audio show exists for all four corners of Germany, the two poles operated by Hamburg dealer Hi-fi Studio Bramfeld. We must wait until September for Stuttgart in the south but the first weekend of February brings the Norddeutsche Hifi-Tage (“North German Hifi Days”) back to Hamburg’s Elbbrücke Holiday Inn – a 15-minute drive from the city centre.

In 2019, the show’s popularity is sharper than ever: more hotel floors given over to more exhibitors (count ’em: 200) across the show’s modest two-day run.… Read the full article

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