October 2018
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Wrapping up RMAF 2018 with Angela Cardas (& more)

By | October 14th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

As RMAF 2018 drew to a close, I joined Angela Cardas in the Marriott hotel bar for a chat about her role as manager of Cardas Audio and what she thinks of the term ‘WAF’. Guess what! She’s “not a fan”. The way Cardas tells it, the days of audio shows being an escape from the family are over. Now is the time to include the family (as exemplified by Munich High-End).

Echoing this sentiment is Zu Audio‘s own RMAF 2018 reflection: “If it’s one thing exhibitors at these hi-fi shows need to do better is play music that more people want to hear—the days of playing ten safe cuts of pretty and impressive music are long gone.” The majority of exhibitors still pull from a shallow pool as beige as the name given to the refurbished Marriott’s bar: Pint Brothers.… Read the full article

Eat Schiit, audiophiles!

By | October 13th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Aegir (“Ay-jjj-ear”?) is the forthcoming stereo (and mono-blockable) amplifier from California’s Schiit Audio and teased at RMAF 2018: a Class A-ish circuit dropped into a Vidar chassis that borrows from the Lyr 3’s Continuity output stage to deliver 20wpc into 8 Ohms, 40wpc into 4 Ohms. It was designed by Jason Stoddard and will be available for purchase from Q1 2019. Price? US$799.

That same (estimated) price and release quarter will be shared by the Mike Moffat-steered Sol turntable that threatens to shake up the entry-level(ish) vinyl playback world for those willing to put a little time into ‘table setup.… Read the full article

The talking heads of RMAF 2018: Gordon Rankin

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

The USB stick, handed to me early Saturday morning by Wavelength Audio’s Gordon Rankin, detailed the five new models being shown at RMAF 2018: the Duetto v5 8w 300B amplifier, the (flagship) Crimson HS3x ES9038 USB DAC, the Cosecant HS3x ES9038 USB DAC, the Brick N2 Hybrid NOS Ladder DAC and, most newsworthy of all for this commentator, the Ethernet Spacelator — an optically isolated, dual-clocked repeater ($TBC) that sits between streamer (or streaming DAC) and network.

Rankin’s USB stick elaborated: “The input side of the circuit goes to a really high-quality reclocker, this is then converted to a digital parallel interface that is optically coupled in both directions to the clean side reclocker.Read the full article

The talking heads of RMAF 2018: Sean Casey

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

Numerous high-end loudspeaker manufacturers show at RMAF but none are quite like Utah’s Zu Audio. They are the only exhibitor to constantly play interesting music all weekend, to consistently throw a kick-ass party with their main system on the show’s Saturday night and to demo their gear in visual and – this year – olfactory contexts.

For RMAF 2018, Zu Audio put Druid VI floorstanders (US$10,000/pair), Pass Labs amplification and Mo-Fi turntables at the centre of a dark meditative space in which incense continually burned.… Read the full article

Andrew Jones must be stopped!

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

“Dear John. I don’t know about you but I’m becoming heartily sick of Andrew Jones. His US$20,000+ loudspeaker designs for TAD were great and all – and the US$129 Pioneer SP-BS22-LR was a cute attempt to snag entry-level buyers – but ever since he decamped to ELAC a few years back, I can’t open a web browser for fear of seeing his beaming smile and man-of-the-people disposition staring right back at me. The Debut Series. The Uni-Fi Series. The Uni-Fi Slim.Read the full article

Future-Fi Now (Redux): Devialet announce Phantom Reactor

By | October 9th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

The best Bluetooth speaker in the world? That could easily be the Devialet Phantom. And yet such a feature-limiting title sells the Phantom short. Configured with the Dialog router as a stereo pair, this Alien Egg of a streaming-service-equipped loudspeaker would take on – and take down – many similarly priced traditional hi-fi rigs. It’s the epitomé of Future-Fi. Anyone telling you otherwise is probably overly-invested in audiophile snobbery.

Devialet’s all-new Phantom Reactor (announced today) is a digitally active and streaming-capable Alien Egg but reduced in size and price to better suit smaller listening spaces and budgets.… Read the full article

Sonicorbiter v2.7 comes to Sonore streamers/servers

By | October 9th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , |

Small Green Computer has announced the availability of Sonicorbiter v2.7, the latest – and reportedly greatest – operating system for all Sonore Rendu series streamers (microRendu, ultraRendu, Signature Rendu SE) and the sonicTransporter server.

Causing the Small Green Computer coders refer to v2.7 as the ‘greatest’ OS to date is the addition of: 1) Resilio Sync which “gives customers the ability to easily sync their music files on their computer with their sonicTransporter series servers”; 2) HQ Player to the SonicTransporter and 3) Roon-less Tidal to Rendu streamers where users can now repurpose Linn’s Kazoo with Tidal login to talk directly to any Sonore endpoint.… Read the full article

The talking heads of RMAF 2018: Jude Mansilla

By | October 9th, 2018|Categories: DAR, Head-Fi|Tags: , , , , |

Jude Mansilla is the founder of Head-fi.org — the world’s largest online community for headphones and personal audio. He is also the founder of CanJam — real-world events in which headphone manufacturers and distributors show off their wares to the public.

CanJam now runs annually in SoCal, New York, London, Singapore, Shanghai and Denver, the latter attached to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF). I sat down with Mansilla just before CanJam @ RMAF 2018 kicked into life to ask him about his work as a scientific measurer of headphone performance:

Further information: Head-fi.org | CanJamRead the full article

The talking heads of RMAF 2018: Gayle Sanders

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

From icon to EIKON. Gayle Sanders is well-known to hi-fi industry enthusiasts as the former owner of Martin Logan. He sold the company in 2005 before taking an extended break from loudspeaker design.

Thirteen years later Sanders is back with a new company and a new (old) message: the room can limit the performance of any loudspeaker, no matter how luxurious, and attractive room treatments can be costly. Active loudspeakers with DSP crossover to the rescue!

The EIKON system (US$24,500) comprises the Eikontrol unit – that houses the crossover maths and driver-level amplification – loudspeakers and cables.… Read the full article

The talking heads of RMAF 2018: Katie Springer

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

Astell&Kern is not only about to introduce a new portable audio player in the SP1000M but is in the process of reworking the firmware on many of their existing models to add a pseudo-app store that allows users to optionally add streaming services such as Spotify, Soundcloud and Pandora to their player. Along for the ride come native interfaces – including Tidal – and offline support.

Also coming to Astell&Kern players in the next few weeks is MQA support. It is not restricted to locally-stored files (on a microSD card) but adds Tidal streaming and Tidal offline mode to the deal.… Read the full article