December 2018
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Cables & consistency

By | December 11th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Tell the Average Joe not versed in the double trouble of electrical noise and jitter that you dropped US$350 on a USB cable and s/he’ll likely question your sanity. Audiophiles know what Joe does not: that not all USB connections are born equal.

For this commentator, there’s no doubting the Curious USB cable’s audible superiority to vanilla wire – some of which doesn’t even meet the USB spec. The Curious also knocks out other audiophile-aimed offerings like AudioQuest’s Carbon. Old Yella lends music more pep, more detail and a better sense of space but without straying into the Carbon’s occasional brightness — a handful of reasons why the Curious has been my goto USB wire for the past three years.… Read the full article

OnSight: a video view of the Linn Selekt DSM

By | December 10th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Boxen Gross. Big speakers? Not for this commentator’s first visit to the Kreuzberg hi-fi store of the same name. Instead, I’m here to meet one Guido Schuetze – Brand Ambassador for Linn in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – for an extended introduction to the Scottish company’s first foray into a more mainstream-friendly all-in-one device: the Selekt DSM.

At its heart, Linn’s Selekt DSM is a streaming DAC – with Ethernet, USB, 2 x TOSLINK, 2 x coaxial and HDMI ARC inputs – plus MM/MC phono stage with options for integrated 50wpc (into 8 Ohms) in-house-designed Class D power amplifier and/or upgraded Katalyst DAC.… Read the full article

Letters to the editor: Putting on weight (& height)

By | December 10th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Response to a recent editorial and poll on hi-res audio and a show and tell on doorstops.

Jim C:

Hey John,

I read your doorstop article, and on a total whim I ordered these:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MFEC211/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I put one on my Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC and one on my First Watt M2 amp (both in my main system) and one on my Schiit Modi Uber 2 DAC (in my office system).  The improvement was immediately obvious:  better image stability and focus, and more “air” around the images. … Read the full article

Burson announces opamp-rollable DAC, headphone amplifier

By | December 7th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , |

Swing and Playmate. Channelling the ghost of Hugh Hefner, Melbourne’s Burson Audio’s have announced two new models: the respectively-named digital pre-amplifier (US$399) and 2-watt headphone amplifier w/DAC (US$399).

The Swing sports a line-level output to run as a DAC and variable gain RCA outputs for pre-amplifier duties. Inside, a sextet of Burson’s ‘Maximum Current Power Supplies’ (MCPS) each juice six different stages of the DAC.

However, with its headphone output occupying more internal real estate, the Playmate gets one less MCPS and a single set of variable gain RCAs.

Read the full article

I’m chairman of the board!

By | December 6th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

“I’m bored.
I’m the chairman of the board.
I’m a Lincoln monologue,
I’m livin’ like a God,
I’m bored.”

— Iggy Pop


Hi-fi racks – we audiophiles use them to organise our components, to more attractively display them and, sometimes, to minimise the negative influence of vibrations, which not applied to mechanical devices like turntables but also electronics. Our amplifier and/or DAC’s circuitry can, to varying degrees, translate (airborne) mechanical vibrations into deleterious electrical noise – that’s microphony at work. The fewer the vibrations reaching our gear, the lower the electrical noise generated and the better the sound quality.… Read the full article

Doorstop me if you think you’ve heard this one before…

By | December 5th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

“Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before
Stop me, oh, stop me
Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before
Nothing’s changed
I still love you, oh, I still love you
…Only
Slightly, only slightly less
Than I used to, my love”

— The Smiths


Microphony: where electronic devices turn mechanical vibrations into electrical noise. Tube amplifier owners and guitar amp rockers know the effects all too well.… Read the full article

Darko.Audio podcast #12 – Small speakers

By | December 3rd, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sometimes we want steak, other times only sushi will do.

And so it goes with loudspeakers: we might lust for (full-range) floorstanders but either our room’s acoustics and/or our aesthetic sensibilities say otherwise: only standmounts can be accommodated.

Like food, it’s better to have too little than too much.

In our latest episode of the Darko.Audio podcast, Jeff Dorgay of TONEAudio and I discuss small loudspeakers with our informal chat romping through the following products (and more):

47 Labs Lens
Atacama Nexus 6i
Blumenstein Audio
DENSOTen Eclipse 510Z MKII
ELAC Debut 2.0
ELAC Uni-Fi UB5
Genelec 8341 ‘The Ones’
Genelec GTwo
Harbeth P3/ESR
JERN 14DS
KEF LSX
Michael Green Room Tunes
Martin Logan Motion 4i
Paradigm Monitor SE Atom
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR
ProAc Tablette 10/Signature:
Raidho Acoustics D1.1
Sonus Faber Sonetto I
Sound Anchors
Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 / 10

A must listen for any apartment dweller or standmount loudspeaker enthusiast:

Follow us on Soundcloud here and subscribe to the iTunes feed here.… Read the full article

Gold Note announces PA-1175 MK2 amplifier

By | December 2nd, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Prefer your amplification big n ballsy? Introducing a revision of the first stereo power amplifier from Florence’s Gold Note. Inside its 22kg aluminium and steel chassis, the PA-1175 MK2 sets a 640VA custom toroidal transformer to work on four ‘matched’ output transistors per channel for a fully-balanced circuit that nets 200wpc into 8 Ohms, extendable to 520wpc when bridged into mono.

According to the Italian manufacturer, a proprietary “BIAS constant current generator” ensures high-current delivery, low distortion of <0.01%THD @ 20Hz-20kHz and a slew rate – “the maximum rate at which an amplifier can respond to an abrupt change of input level” – of 20V/μs.… Read the full article

Worth the wait: Qobuz US launch bumped to ‘early 2019’

By | November 30th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

“Do you know when Qobuz is launching in the USA?” This question has landed in my inbox several times a week ever since the French music streaming service previously announced it would be formally flipping the switch on the USA in October.

And yet Qobuz’s RMAF 2018 presence was more low-key than many expected and, crucially, went without a launch or mention of ‘when’.

This week, Qobuz has announced that their Stateside debut will happen sometime in ‘early 2019’ with the following four pricing tiers:

  • Sublime+: $299.99/year for full Hi-Res streaming and substantial (40-60%) discounts on purchases from the Qobuz Hi-Res (up to 24-bit / 192kHz) download store
  • Studio: $24.99/month for unlimited Hi-Res (24-bit /up to 192kHz) streaming ($249.99 annually)
  • Hi-Fi: $19.99/month for streaming including 16-bit CD quality streaming ($199.9 annually)
  • Premium: $9.99/month for 320 kbps MP3 quality streaming ($99.99 annually)

For hi-res fans, the devil is in the details.… Read the full article

A short film about the Schiit Modi 3 DAC

By | November 29th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

“Saw it on the tube
Bought it on the phone
Now you’re home alone
With a piece of crap”

– Neil Young


The Modi 3 DAC. It’s a piece of Schiit  but it’s no piece of crap. Previewed (here) and reviewed with words and pictures (here), the Modi 3 might not have the portable prowess of the identically-priced AudioQuest DragonFly Black but what it lacks in go anwhere utility, it more than compensates us with broader connectivity – coaxial, TOSLINK and USB – and a tonally richer, weightier sound.… Read the full article