September 2019
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The McIntosh MHA150 is more than meets the eye

By | September 16th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

McIntosh Labs is, by all accounts, an iconic audio firm. Throughout their 70 years of operation, McIntosh gear has been reviewed countless times and their history thoroughly documented in a number of places – see former employee Roger Russell’s meticulous website coverage for what must be a definitive take on the subject.

I grew up listening to a MAC1700 receiver (from the late 1960s). That relatively modest McIntosh product, its tube tuner imbuing the numerous local jazz stations of the era with a strong sense of tone.… Read the full article

RMAF 2019’s youngbloods: Vinnie Rossi, Mark Sossa & Grover Neville

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

“Hi. My name’s Grover Neville. I work for Schiit in tech support. I’m 24 years old.”. No, we’re not back in junior school quoting every last month of our age but at RMAF 2019 where Darko.Audio’s three-pronged show coverage fork skewered three younger exhibitors and the brands they represent. The following three gents are all ≤40 years of age and put a serious downward drag on the average age of audio show attendees.

With a reversal of our usual roles, Darko.Audio video editor Jana Dagdagan was on-site* [see footnote #1] at RMAF’s new venue – the Gaylord Rockies Resort, a spit from Denver airport – to record proceedings whilst I took care of editing in-between days spent at IFA Berlin 2019 (coverage here and here).… Read the full article

Another reason for audiophiles to visit IKEA: ODDLAUG

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

ODDLAUG is the typically oblique name given to a new IKEA product that might prove to be of as much utility to audiophiles running loudspeaker systems as the KALLAX storage unit is to vinyl collectors.

ODDLAUG are interlocking sound absorbers that the Swedish furniture company claims “absorbs annoying sounds from chitter-chatter, the clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen or the action picture on TV”.  We ask: could they also be deployed to tame a loudspeaker’s first reflections that would otherwise bounce off a hard wall or window?… Read the full article

Letters to the editor: Curious, Flare, MagicLX & more

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

Another selection of missives from around the world that seek to pay it forward to everyone else.


Mark D. writes…

Just wondering if you are aware of the fact that the Curious USB cable has been updated to the Evolved. I’m probably going to grab one in the next week to compare it against the original. I spoke to Rob the other week. He tells me he was aiming for more “air” in the new cable. I always thought the Curious was quite “contained” so it will interesting to hear how it goes.… Read the full article

Another hi-fi high-five from IFA 2019

By | September 10th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

This is our second slice of IFA 2019 coverage. Read Part 1 here.


The first thing that hits you upon entering one of the Messe Berlin’s 20+ exhibition halls is the noise cacophony of a thousand conversations. Exhibitors attempting to cut through with loudspeaker systems find themselves on the losing end. Neighbouring exhibitors might duke it out for a short while before embracing bilateral surrender or perhaps – as per NAMM – a fine from show organisers.

For the consumer, this is a show to see, to touch and to talk.… Read the full article

A hi-fi high-five from IFA 2019

By | September 9th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Denver’s RMAF isn’t the only event to bear audio fruit in early September. Also running this past weekend were the Süddeutsche Hifi-Tage audio show in Stuttgart and the broader consumer electronics aim of IFA in Berlin. On floorspace and attendee numbers, IFA dwarfs SDHT and RMAF, even when we isolate its audio exhibits.

Of the three, only at IFA do we see hi-fi and portable audio hardware presented in the same way as smartphones, computers, TVs, cameras, white goods and wearables.… Read the full article

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

RIP Sonos Connect. Hello, Sonos Port

By | September 5th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Sonos has today announced the imminent availability of a new multi-room network streamer, the Port. It will replace the Connect that has been in play for over a decade and was many an audiophile’s first experience with streaming from a server at home and, later, from the cloud.

The Port switches the case from white to matte black and to a lower, wider profile to bring the new model into line with the Sonos Amp. ‘Round back we note the following connections: Ethernet in and out; a pair of RCA inputs for streaming analogue sources to other Sonos devices; a pair of RCA outputs for connection to an amplifier or pair of powered loudspeakers; and only ONE digital output — coaxial.… Read the full article

Schiit’s first turntable, Sol, drops for $799

By | September 4th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

You wait weeks for one and then two arrive in the same 7-day period. Not buses but press releases from the masters of affordable audio, Schiit (💩).

Today’s news brings the Californian company’s long-drawn-out development of their first turntable to a close. After six years of R&D, Sol is finally available for purchase.

The belt-drive’s features include a die-cast aluminium construction, a 11” uni-pivot carbon-fibre tonearm, an outboard motor, an “insanely over-engineered” 2.5” inverted bearing, integrated cueing and on-the-fly VTA adjustment.… Read the full article

Innuos to launch PhoenixUSB re-clocker with A/B demos

By | September 3rd, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

From Portugal, a two-fer about a three-fer.

Connect a USB DAC to an average computer and we hear one level of sound quality. Swap that Macbook, HP or Dell out for an Innuos server/streamer and we what we hear is different: music sounds less tense, less rigid in the joints; it displays a greater sense of ease.

Why? Apple and Dell don’t optimise their computers’ sound quality by lowering the USB sockets’ electrical noise emissions. Noise that messes with the connected DAC’s audio data clock and analogue output stage.… Read the full article