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What’s the deal with preamplifiers?

By | February 26th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Beginner talk. In an age of DACs arriving with in-built lossless volume controls, the theory suggests that traditional pre-amplifiers are surplus to digital audio’s requirements. Personal experience over the years – with units from Schiit, PS Audio, Wyred 4 Sound and Vinnie Rossi – says otherwise. Returning a pre-amplifier to the mix adds body and weight to the sound. But why?

Time to tug on the coat of experienced audio electronics designer Vinnie Rossi to learn why the preamplifier’s role in an audio system is more than just signal routing and volume control.… Read the full article

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Darko.Audio podcast #14 – Vinyl

By | February 12th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Get into the groove? With entry-level turntables shipping with their own factory-fitted cartridges, I’m finding it a challenge, especially when sitting them next to entry-level streamers selling for similar cash. A recent poll revealed that many of you feel the same way. What’s going on? Where is that elusive magic that so many vinyl die-hards speak of?

I put this to TONEAudio’s Jeff Dorgay for our first podcast episode of the year. Dorgay is a far, far more experienced vinylphile than I.… Read the full article

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Darko.Audio podcast #13 – Best of 2018

By | December 19th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , |

In which Jeff Dogay of TONEAudio and I select five of our favourite products of the past twelve months and the industry trends to which they speak. Listen here:

Follow us on Soundcloud here and subscribe to the iTunes feed here.

My picks…

Naim Uniti Atom £1,999 [Review here]

Chord Qutest DAC £1,195 [Review here]

Devialet Expert Pro 140 €4,999 [Review soon]

Campfire Audio Atlas IEM US$1,299 [Preview here and here]

MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Open US$799 [Review here]
Campfire Cascade US$799
Audeze LCD 2 Classic US$799

(I’ll be nominating my Product of the Year 2018 in a separate post)

Jeff’s picks…

Hana SL US$749

Boulder 508 US$5,000

PS Audio DirectStream PowerPlant 15 US$7,499

Roon Nucleus €1,500 – €2,500

dCS Vivaldi One US$88,000Read the full article

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Darko.Audio podcast #12 – Small speakers

By | December 3rd, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sometimes we want steak, other times only sushi will do.

And so it goes with loudspeakers: we might lust for (full-range) floorstanders but either our room’s acoustics and/or our aesthetic sensibilities say otherwise: only standmounts can be accommodated.

Like food, it’s better to have too little than too much.

In our latest episode of the Darko.Audio podcast, Jeff Dorgay of TONEAudio and I discuss small loudspeakers with our informal chat romping through the following products (and more):

47 Labs Lens
Atacama Nexus 6i
Blumenstein Audio
DENSOTen Eclipse 510Z MKII
ELAC Debut 2.0
Genelec 8341 ‘The Ones’
Genelec GTwo
Harbeth P3/ESR
Michael Green Room Tunes
Martin Logan Motion 4i
Paradigm Monitor SE Atom
Pioneer SP-BS22-LR
ProAc Tablette 10/Signature:
Raidho Acoustics D1.1
Sonus Faber Sonetto I
Sound Anchors
Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 / 10

A must listen for any apartment dweller or standmount loudspeaker enthusiast:

Follow us on Soundcloud here and subscribe to the iTunes feed here.… Read the full article

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Letters to the editor: Videos vs. words

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

It seems our Chord Qutest, ALLO DigiOne Signature and KEF LSX video reviews really pushed back the email floodgates. What follows is a selection of missives from Darko.Audio readers around the world arriving in the past few weeks.

Dominik H:

Hi John,

Thank you for your review of Qutest. Actually, I have learned about Chord products thanks to your previous reviews and went along the way using Mojo and then Hugo2 for my setup during the last 12 months.

A year ago I was all into hi-end headphones and portable DAC/amps, but then I realized I prefer convenience over absolute sound quality and ended up owning and using B&W PX’s over Audeze’s and Apple AirPods over Westone UM Pro’s.… Read the full article

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Darko.Audio podcast #11 – RMAF 2018

By | October 18th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

With RMAF 2018 coverage firmly in the bag, Jeff Dorgay and I discuss our favourite finds of the show – which aren’t all products – whilst springing into tangents on the idea of accuracy (again), why snake oil no longer persists, the scarcity of bad reviews and why we don’t divulge manufacturer plans.

Photos are included below for those who want to follow along with their eyes.

Listen here:

Follow us on Soundcloud here and subscribe to the iTunes feed here.… Read the full article

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Darko.Audio podcast #10 – Accuracy

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

As the sun went down on Berlin, it came up in Portland, just as Jeff Dorgay and I convened across Internet wires, Macs and microphones for another episode of the Darko.Audio podcast. Monday’s Euro sunset turned in a spectacular performance – enough for me to interrupt podcast recording midway to take four shots with a Canon EOS 200D camera. See above (but also below).

Question time: how accurate is my photo? How close is it to the actual event?

Framing a shot crops out reality’s width and height to render it instanstly compromised.… Read the full article

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Darko.Audio podcast #9 – Music formats

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

Vinyl sales are on the up and up. Audiophiles already know that. But cassettes are coming back too. UK cassette sales were up 90% on the same period last year. Moreover, almost all new releases still get pressed to CD. And yet that DSD-loaded future we were promised back in 2010 is nowhere to be seen.

A new Aphex Twin EP will soon be issued as a limited vinyl, a standard vinyl, a CD and a cassette. And if it wasn’t for the 24-bit PCM download or the streaming, you’d swear it was 1991 all over again.… Read the full article

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Darko.Audio podcast #8 – Music discovery

By | July 25th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

We like your old stuff better than your new stuff. A criticism levelled at most successful musicians over the years. And levelled also at Apple — whose journey into USB-C has seen their mag-safe power connector bite the dust and whose more recent low/er-travel keyboards aren’t as satisfying to the touch as those of yore, never mind their ability to trap dust to render keys stuck or unresponsive. It is for these reasons that for the first time in a decade I’m moving back to Windows with a Surface Book 2.… Read the full article

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Darko.Audio podcast #7 – Streaming methods

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

Naim’s Uniti Atom could be the poster child of the modern hi-fi age: a small 40wpc integrated amplifier with probably the best volume control in the world that streams every which way: aptX Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, Googlecast, UPnP and Roon; plus Internet radio and Tidal through Naim’s own app.

The Uniti Atom is the perfect platform from which to discuss how we stream music in the home and the perfect starting point for the seventh Darko.Audio podcast, the second with TONEAudio‘s Jeff Dorgay.… Read the full article

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