December 2017
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Bluetooth Future-Fi: RHA MA650/750 Wireless IEMs

By | December 11th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

First world problems? For portable audio idealists, there are many. Buy a nice pair of IEMs and your smartphone won’t do them justice. Offloading music playback duties to a DAP’s audiophile sensitivities brings better sound – sure – means a second device that (almost always) brings with it a backwards step in UX. Adding a portable amplifier – often a third device – waves the white flag on pocketability.

RHA’s MA650 Wireless feature a pair of the Glasgow company’s custom 380.1 dynamic drivers, each housed in an Apple-grade aluminium earpiece.… Read the full article

PS Audio ready Redcloud OS, add Spotify & Qobuz support

By | December 8th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The DirectStream DAC is not like other DACs. Instead of a more common off-the shelf DAC chip, PS Audio load an FPGA chip with software coded by one Ted Smith, he of wizard beard and Hawaiian shirt. And like the computer operating systems we use daily, Smith’s DirectStream code is updated semi-regularly – at zero charge to the end user – to bring him/her better sound quality from the DirectStream DAC.

Each software version is named after one of Colorado’s ‘Fourteener’ peaks.… Read the full article

Look hear: Klipsch announce Heritage headphone amplifier

By | December 5th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Behold: the Klipsch Heritage headphone amplifier. Price = US$499.

Headphone enthusiasts will want to know how well this unit pairs up with a range of transducers, from low impedance IEMs to high impedance over-ears. Inside, dual Class-AB TI TPA6120A2 op-amps load the single-ended 6.4mm socket with 810mW and 940mW into 16 Ohms and 32 Ohms respectively.

Thirstier cans will benefit from a move to the 4-pin XLR balanced socket from which those same TI op-amps push 525mW into 16 Ohms / 1440mW into 32 Ohms.… Read the full article

Dreamin’ Man: Neil Young’s archive goes online

By | December 4th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

When it comes to audio quality, Neil Young’s heart has always been in the right place: championing vinyl when the man in the street was cutting over to CD; talking up hi-res audio in a world of MP3; putting the ‘better audio hardware’ conversation under mainstream noses.

Alas, the Canadian rocker’s actualisation of these ideas (ideologies?) have often come up short: withholding albums from CD release; wallet-melting pricing on vinyl releases; pulling his music from streaming services (only to quietly reinstate it a few months later); and most notably allowing the Pono player to buckle under the weight of the hi-res audio debate, instead of promoting it as an SQ-elevator of all formats, MP3 included.… Read the full article

KIH #52 – Nutube

By | December 4th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , |

Had I heard a preamp with a Korg Nutube in it? That was np aka Nelson Pass. I had not. But with Google being everyone’s favourite uncle, I had shortly afterwards at least read up on it. Now I knew that a Korg Nutube, not a keyboard, looks like a larger 17-legged opamp but is actually a device with an anode grid filament that operates like a triode and exhibits actual twin- triode curves. Yet it is built by applying vacuum fluorescent display aka VFD tech from Noritake Itron Corp.… Read the full article

Four to the floor with Voyeur

By | December 1st, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Voyeur is Virgin Australia’s complimentary in-flight magazine whose “editorial pillars now revolve around enabling our reader to expand their horizons.”

Quoth editor Kirsten Rowlingson, “The core of what Voyeur is about is giving our readers the inspiration and information to enable them to explore new horizons. We do this through our four editorial pillars: Explore, Travel, Navigate and Unwind.”

A few months ago, Voyeur’s publisher Pacific magazines invited yours truly to pen a piece on “four must-buy records players” across four different price points.… Read the full article

ProAc’s delightfully insightful Tablette 10 loudspeaker

By | November 29th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Ninety degrees. The last loudspeaker to ask for a quarter turn from my pair of Atacama Nexus 6 stands was the Rogers LS3/5a. They’re wider than they are deep. This month, that very same stand turn angle has been executed once more for the identically-sized ProAc Tablette 10 (€1400/pair) – the British manufacturer’s tenth iteration of their smallest standmount, in production since 1979.

It isn’t just this new Tablette’s LS3/5a-aping dimensions (16cm deep, 19.5cm wide, 30.4cm tall) that mark the 10 out as wholly different to previous versions.… Read the full article

OPPO Digital add MQA support to UDP-205

By | November 28th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Going ground up, OPPO Digital’s UDP-205 is a D/A converter and a headphone amplifier. Asynchronous (DSD512/PCM768kHz-capable) USB, coaxial and TOSLINK inputs each feed a pair of internalised ESS Labs’ 9038PRO chips to output via balanced XLR, singled-ended RCA on the back panel; or a 6.4mm headphone socket on the front. Multi-channel hi-res content – PCM up to 192kHz, native DSD64 and PCM-converted DSD128 – are also supported.

However, it’s the UDP-205’s optical disc playback capabilities that take it from the ordinary to extra-ordinary: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD and Audio CD.… Read the full article

KIH #51 – Out of time

By | November 27th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , |

Timing. Consider Xeric’s Halograph Automatic which also comes in quartz; or their Soloscope SQ variant here in one square case option. Both remind us that fine timekeeping pieces are about a lot more than just telling time. These even demonstrate how an apparently retrograde movement (one which jumps backward) can be executed with an ordinary movement. By obscuring parts of its face, when the longer half of the Soloscope hand moves across the outer circle at 7:00, the shorter half is fully hidden between its vertical divider.… Read the full article

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Letters to the editor: Know-how with KEF & Roon

By | November 27th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , |

On digital audio knowledge, it’s not what we know that matters most but our ability to grasp what we don’t know. High-end digital audio asks us to install software and USB drivers and troubleshoot the same. When faced with a roadblock, do we dismiss the pursuit of better sound quality as overly complicated or do we admit that it’s currently beyond our ken and that we’re keen to learn?

Self-knowledge pertaining to the setup and troubleshooting of network audio often comes with sharper edges.… Read the full article

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