April 2019
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Munich High-End 2019: Thorens goes direct-drive & reel-to-reel

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

Bergisch Gladbach. Not a lesser-known internal organ but the German home of Thorens since being acquired a year ago by ex-ELAC/Denon MD Gunter Kürten. To this year’s Munich High-End event in May, Kürten’s revitalised Thorens will bring four new products.

The TD 1600 (€TBC) and TD 1601 (€TBC) turntables are built around the same platform – belt driving motor unit, power supply, wooden plinth, height-adjustable TP 92 tonearm and a sub-chassis suspended via conical springs, any horizontal movement locked out by a steel pin – but the TD 1601 offers a few niceties over the TD 1600: an electrical arm lift, auto shut-off and true balanced (XLR) outputs.… Read the full article

High street life with the Ascendo Live 15

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

Engineer after engineer point to the impossibility of two loudspeakers recreating a live event at home. And yet some loudspeakers get closer others. One bass guitar-playing pal Down Under swore hard that the Zu Audio Omen sounded far more like his instrument of choice than did the KEF LS50. That’s likely a matter of tone. Zooming out to hear the full band, we look to the Zu’s higher dynamic contrasts as another approximator of live event truth.

I was reminded of these two trains of thought yesterday – high dynamics and heavy tone – as I sat down at Berlin dealer Max Schlundt for a brief listen to the Live 15 loudspeaker from Germany’s Ascendo. … Read the full article

Stepping out – Vinnie Rossi’s Stiletto 15 loudspeaker

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

“I gotta drive this year!” — that’s Massachusetts man Vinnie Rossi passing off-the-record comment on his plans for AXPONA 2019, the USA’s largest regional audio show that runs this coming weekend (April 12th – 14th) in Chicago. “I don’t want to ship what I’m taking with me,” he continues.

A month later and the cat has now jumped from the bag to reveal Rossi’s latest product: a pair of loudspeakers. An unexpected move from someone hitherto known for his stellar-sounding electronics, first under the Red Wine Audio banner and now under his own name.… Read the full article

KIH #66 – Raal’s Requisite Ribbon

By | April 8th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Forest. Tree. Fall. Does it make any sound if nobody hears it? Product. Disruptor. Is that still true if nobody notices?

Today isn’t about the forest. It’s about a game-changing product which won’t do much disrupting unless more people learn about it first. To start, let’s ask what one common issue is which plagues all dynamic drivers – their suspension of outer surround (foam, rubber, corrugated paper) and inner spider (corrugated impregnated textile). It’s why companies like France’s Leedh and Belgium’s Ilumnia eliminate these parts altogether; why Cube of Poland replace their spider with a phenolic spring.… Read the full article

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5 reasons why the iPhone is a poor choice for portable audio

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

Pragmatism vs. Idealism? I practice the former to show the latter the door. In the laptop world, that means Apple: a Macbook (Standard/Air/Pro) has been my primary work tool for the past 13 years. I tried switching back to Windows in 2018 with the Microsoft Surface Book 2. The hardware is terrific (coil whine aside) but the operating system (still) makes me twitch. Back to the Mac…

When it comes to smartphones, I’m not in love with Google’s Android operating system; that hardware providers and telcos are permitted to install their own software layer and/or apps spoils any UX consistency.… Read the full article

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Global recorded music market grows 9.7%, shapeshifts

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

Tower Records Japan recently announced that the tenth floor of its Shinjuku outlet will be turned over exclusively to vinyl with space for around 70,000 records. Business must be booming. However, not only is vinyl still big in Japan but so are CDs. They occupy the display racks of Tower Records’ numerous other floors. It’s a similar story in the busy Disk Union stores dotted around the city.

This jives with the IFPI’s 2019 report, issued this week, that Japan is not only the second largest market in the world for recorded music – the largest remains the USA – but that 71% of Japan’s revenue comes from physical formats.… Read the full article

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‘Beyond Class A’ – Schiit announces $799 Aegir amplifier

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

‘Competes with products two or three times the price’. Without qualification, any such review sign-off remains toothless and impotent. Full identification of those costlier rivals is critical. Anonymity results in a strong whiff of BS. Moooooo.

Putting Schiit’s half-width Saga pre-amplifier (US$349) and Vidar power amplifier (US$699) through their paces a year ago, I pitted them against AURALiC’s Polaris (US$3500), Vinnie Rossi’s LIO (US$5500 and up) and the Peachtree’s nova300 (US$2299) to find the Schiit pile – functional shortcomings notwithstanding – capable of pulling up alongside the more costly, tidier integrateds.… Read the full article

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Munich High-End 2019: Warwick Acoustics’ APERIO

By | April 2nd, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Complete systems. We don’t have to look too far into the high-end loudspeaker world to find ’em: Kii, Dutch & Dutch, Meridian, KEF, ELAC, DALI. In the headphone world, sourcing a system in which amplifier output is EQ-d to match driver input is less common.

At this year’s Munich High-End show, Warwick Acoustics will formally launch their flagship APERIO: a complete electrostatic headphone system where the streaming DAC / headphone amplifier’s output is bespoke fit to the driver’s input. Warwick’s “Balanced-Drive High Precision Electrostatic Laminate (BD-HPEL)” drivers are designed and manufactured in-house.… Read the full article

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OnSight: an afternoon with MBL’s Jürgen Reis

By | April 2nd, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Is it possible to recreate a live event with a pair of loudspeakers? Responding with a firm no and a cheeky smile is Jürgen Reis, MBL’s Chief Engineer of 35 years. A recent visit to the German manufacturer’s headquarters in Berlin saw yours truly sit down with Reis to get a beginner’s introduction to the MBL 101 Radialstrahler loudspeaker, their range of electronics, their customer base, how music has changed over the decades and – more importantly for this commentator – to pull back the curtain on the product design process.… Read the full article

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Everybody knows…

By | March 31st, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: |

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
That’s how it goes.
Everybody knows.

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