February 2019
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Constellation Inspiration 1.0 Linestage and 1.0 Stereo Amplifier: The Definition of Value

By | February 17th, 2019|Categories: Positive Feedback|Tags: , , |

The Constellation Audio Inspiration 1.0 Linestage and pair of 1.0 Stereo amplifiers, driving the GamuT Flagship Zodiac Loudspeakers.

From the Beginning

For a company that just recently celebrated only its 8th birthday, Constellation Audio has proven itself virtually unparalleled in both accomplishment and acceptance. My first take was at their 2010 CES introduction, where I caught up with designer Peter Madnick for the first time in some years. Peter’s track record is, staying with the cosmic theme here, stellar.

In the mid-1990s, his Audio Alchemy products redefined the budget market and promulgated the use of a multi-box digital playback system, the use of a separate transport, DAC, power supply, and re-clocking device, rather than the previous paradigm of the one-box optical disc player.… Read the full article

Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ and Brooklyn Amplifier

By | February 14th, 2019|Categories: Positive Feedback|Tags: , , , |

I was recently introduced to Mytek, a company out of Brooklyn, NY that specializes in digital electronics. Not being known for being the go-to guy for digital I thought the opportunity to try something completely different was something I could not pass up. Suffice it to say right up front that I am glad that I didn’t pass. Mytek HIFI produces some impressive gear. This is a review of both units.

The very first thing that caught my attention was the diminutive size of both the preamp/DAC and the amplifier.… Read the full article

Focal’s Got A Brand New Can – CES 2019

By | February 13th, 2019|Categories: Audiohead|Tags: , , , , , , |

Focal Stellia Heaphone

With the PR machine in full gear, the reaction to Focal’s new closed-back headphone called Stellia has mostly been about its color. The $3k can now sits just under the flagship Utopia ($4k) and above most of the remaining product line of hifi personal audio. The Stellia does borrow much of the driver tech from the Utopia, mainly its M-shaped beryllium dome transducer and suspension harness.

The color isn’t particularly off putting to my tastes. The diversion away from audiophile black and silver is a nice change up in a sea of consistent color schemes.… Read the full article

ATC announces CD2 CD player, SIA2-100 integrated

By | February 13th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

New from British ‘loudspeaker’ manufacturer ATC: the CD2 CD player and SIA2-100 integrated amplifier (with DAC).

Inside the CD2, a TEAC 5020A-AT transport mechanism sends digital audio read from a CD’s surface 1) out to an external DAC via its rear-facing coaxial and TOSLINK outputs or 2) to the CD2’s internal AKM DAC that in turn dispatches its analogue output via rear panel single-ended or balanced socketry.

From ATC’s press release: “The DAC is from AKM operating in conjunction with an output filter stage comprising a digital filter and ATC’s own low-noise multiple feedback analogue filter.Read the full article

Experiences with Gryphon Audio

By | February 11th, 2019|Categories: Positive Feedback|Tags: , , , |

Mythical Sound from the Winged Lion.

How many manufacturers offer fully designed turn-key systems? How many do it with the panache of Gryphon Audio of Denmark? The answer can fit on one hand if you were missing at least two fingers.

My first encounter with Danish designer Fleming Rasmussen’s Gryphon Audio came with the review of the Gryphon Encore stereo amplifier, and Prelude preamplifier in 2004. In what seems to be another lifetime, the Encore displaced my Jeff Rowland 302 stereo amp as I fell for the spell cast by the Gryphon center of the earth weight, and warm slightly dark tonal balance.… Read the full article

NAD D 3045 Review

By | January 30th, 2019|Categories: Audiohead|Tags: , , , , , |

NAD D 3045 Review

NAD has a history of producing some of the worlds most well regarded amplifiers. Most famously their 3020 integrated, which upended the industry by offering a do-all component that provided more muscle and audiophile finesse per dollar (or pound). Over a twenty year span, the NAD 3020 became the most successful amplifier in history. Lessons learned, NAD has done little to steer away from the formula of success, and done well over the years to build on that recipe. More recent to the trophy mantel, the NAD 316BEE V2 which I reviewed over at our sister publication Part-Time Audiophile.… Read the full article

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Parasound A21+ Amplifier

By | January 26th, 2019|Categories: Positive Feedback|Tags: , |

Spoiler Alert

Parasound has chosen to take a staple core product that has remained an exceptional value for over fifteen years, the Halo A21 amplifier, and re-spin it into the Halo A21+. Doing so has proved that extremely high performance-per-dollar is still possible today when a company leverages decades of experience, and is spearheaded by a legend…

Parasound the Pragmatists

Everywhere you look across the audioscape, entropy has a way of tearing apart all that is good. Well respected companies whose founders have poured their lives work into the development of the highest quality sound equipment price themselves out of the market, or sell out to investors, or simply lack the chops it takes to push themselves to the next level.… Read the full article

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PS Audio Sprout100

By | January 23rd, 2019|Categories: Positive Feedback|Tags: , , |

A little over three years ago, I reviewed the original PS Audio Sprout integrated amplifier (HERE). That unit received widespread acclaim throughout the audio press for its feature set, performance and price. However, those who paid attention to my review would recognize that though I respected it for its effort and its potential significance in the “entry level” marketplace, I wasn’t overall terribly enthused by it. I found its sound with my favorite lower cost speakers to be lackluster and not very involving.… Read the full article

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The CH Precision M1 goes to M1.1: An Improved Statement Amplifier

By | January 18th, 2019|Categories: Positive Feedback|Tags: , |

The old capacitors.

A Parcel Arrives

One day a box of gargantuan capacitors arrived—really heavy industrial cans measuring nearly 7″ high and 3″ in diameter. They were destined to replace the main caps in my CH Precision M1 monoblocks. This was the hardware component of the newly released M1.1 Amplifier mod.

I had been informed about the modification in a pre-release email:

The upgrade consists of changing the main power supply capacitors of the M1 to new special ones. These are huge electrolytic capacitors that act as energy reservoirs for the amplifier boards.Read the full article

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Future-Fi at CES 2019: the NAD Masters M10

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

Future-Fi at home – it’s about minimising audio hardware’s physical intrusion and maximising its ease of use. Slipstreaming neatly into a steady flow of shoebox-sized streaming amplifiers (like Naim’s Uniti Atom and Linn’s Selekt DSM) comes NAD’s Masters M10 to which we just add loudspeakers.

The M10 weighs 5kg, measures 215 x 100 x 260 mm and features 1) a BluOS streaming module, powered by a 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 CPU for Roon, AirPlay 2, MQA, bi-directional aptX Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and (eventually) full Dirac Live room correction plus 2) back panel inputs for analogue sources, coaxial digital (TOSLINK, S/PDIF), USB storage devices and HDMI ARC, all routed via 3) an unnamed ESS Sabre DAC chip and 4) 100wpc Hypex nCore amplifier circuit.… Read the full article

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