February 2018
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Mytek’s Brooklyn DAC+: host with most offers more

By | February 23rd, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Let’s cut to the chase: listening to both models side by side over a number of weeks, the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ (US$2195, preview here) sounds slightly better than the standard Brooklyn DAC (US$1995, review here): slightly better image focus, slightly better stage depth, a little more punch (especially from its headphone output/s). The new model comfortably earns the US$200 price jump on the original.

This video details the new model’s improvements, all of which are internal:

For those still deciding, go for the Plus but existing Brooklyn DAC owners are advised to stick with what they have.… Read the full article

Global feedback: Death to WAF

By | February 21st, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

WAF. Web application firewall? World Architecture Festival? Welsh Automotive Forum? In the audiophile world, dominated by dudes, we’re talking Wife Acceptance Factor — how likely our better half would approve of our latest hifi acquisition’s looks, the implication being that s/he cares only about the device’s industrial design and colour and isn’t the least bit interested in its sound quality (‘poor thing’).

According to Stereophile staffer Larry Greenhill, WAF was coined by one Lewis Lipnick, back in the 1950s when loudspeakers were as large as small cars and amplifiers their engines.… Read the full article

ATC’s CDA2 MK2 is a 21st Century CD player

By | February 20th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Acoustic Transducer Company. As per the British manufacturer’s lesser-known unabbreviated name, ATC is best known for its loudspeakers: actives taking up residence in the some of the world’s finest recording studios and a consumer range – actives and passives – continuing to impress at home. Being well-versed in active loudspeaker design means ATC also know a thing or two about electronics, specifically amplifiers and DACs.

This week ATC announce the availability of the CDA2 MK2 – an outboard D/A converter whose sleek-looking chassis has been fashioned from steel and aluminium with any airborne resonances tamed by constrained layer damping.… Read the full article

Electronica for audiophiles (Part 8 – Ignoreland)

By | February 17th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Electronic music doesn’t enjoy a great deal of playtime in audiophile circles. Why? Maybe it’s snobbery? Maybe it’s a lack of exposure. Maybe it’s preconceptions of mindlessness? That so-called mindlessness is a feature, not a bug. Fresh converts might be made if only the properly curious were pointed in the direction of what’s good — examples of IDM/techno/ambient/electronica that are simultaneously intellectual, arty and enjoyable.

I feature large helpings of electronic music in my hardware reviews and I pen the ‘Electronica for Audiophiles’ annual:

Electronica for audiophiles – Part 1

Electronica for audiophiles – Part 2

Electronica for audiophiles – Part 3

Electronica for audiophiles – Part 4

Electronica for audiophiles – 303 edition

Electronica for audiophiles – Bandcamp edition

Part 7 featured some fairly robust material.… Read the full article

Cue fanfare: Tellurium Q’s Silver Diamond USB cable

By | February 15th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

USB cables. In joining DAC to network streamer, theoretical idealism would have us believe that they all sound the same. Real-world pragmatism tells us otherwise. Bridging the reality gap are several possible points of order:

1) There is no such thing as digital signal transmission, only analogue representations of a digital signal. For USB data, a one is registered by the USB receiver when a voltage crosses a certain threshold, otherwise it’s a zero. Timing matters.

2) Those remarking, snarkily or otherwise, that a deluxe USB cable won’t make a difference to the quality of a printout or to data written to a thumb drive are absolutely 100% correct – it won’t – but digital audio is a different animal altogether.… Read the full article

Letters to the editor: What’s best?

By | February 12th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

What’s best: the Audeze LCDi4 (US$2495) or the Noble Audio Katana (US$1850)? The answer depends on who is asking. For the indoor listener with no-one to disturb with an open-backed planar, the choice can fall to sound quality alone — the LCD-i4 — but for the everyday train/plane traveller, the open-backed design of the Audeze is a no go. We need an IEM that won’t leak sound and will simultaneously passively isolate us from external noise intrusion — the Katana.… Read the full article

Freedom! Mytek announce US$995 Liberty DAC

By | February 12th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Subtraction. Take the Mytek Brooklyn (and not the Plus). Shrink the box volume by a factor of three to remove the colour LED display and dancing signal level meters but maintain balanced outputs by converting the associated rear panel socketry from XLR to TRS (and offer TRS-XLR adaptors as an option). Keep hold of its internal ESS Sabre 9018K2M DAC chip and bypassable internal power supply but take away its MM/MC phono stage and analogue volume control to leave digital attenuation*.… Read the full article

To Core Infinity and beyond with Devialet, Seprolec

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

Re-unification. UPnP, Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth and Roon – five key streaming connections Devialet intend to add to their Expert Pro range of ‘super-integrated’ amplifiers, bringing future software development in line with the Phantom range of digitally active loudspeakers.

This means new software. The forthcoming Devialet OS, “a Linux-based OS tailored for audio applications optimal performance” will see the French company ultimately develop only a single software stream.

For the Expert Pro, that means new hardware upon which the upgradeable Devialet OS will run.… Read the full article

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Dynaudio introduces Xeo 20, Xeo 30 active loudspeakers

By | February 8th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Danish loudspeaker company Dynaudio has announced reworked versions of their Xeo 4 (standmount) and Xeo 6 (floorstanding) active loudspeaker models.

The incoming models hold tight to their predecessors’ driver complement with a 28mm Esotec soft dome tweeter augmented by an in-house developed 14cm MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) mid/bass driver in the standmount Xeo 20 (€2199/pair) and an additional 14cm MSP bass driver in the floorstanding Xeo 30 (€3599/pair).

Each driver is powered by a 65 Watt amplifier (up from 50 Watts found in the outgoing Xeo 4), tailored to meet input impedance swings across its required bandwidth, and crossed over in the digital domain with DSP.… Read the full article

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An industry overview from Norddeutsche Hifi-Tage 2018

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

Train, train. The Sunday night ride on rails from Hamburg to Berlin was a time for contemplation, soundtracked by 1more ANC IEMs pulling Nina Kraviz’s 2017 Essential Mix from an iPhone. The 2018 edition of Norddeutsche Hi-fi Tage (translation: North German Hifi Days) had wrapped not an hour before: over 170 rooms of the Holiday Inn converted into high-end audio listening spaces.

By Sunday afternoon, a weekend long snowstorm had slowly filtered the view from the 16th floor to monochrome, no Instagram intervention required.… Read the full article

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