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A short film about the HEDD Tower Mains

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

I first heard the HEDD Tower Mains at their (local) Emil Berliner Studio launch event in January; a pair of active loudspeakers, over two meters tall in their full configuration (€27,000/pair), playing a range of classical, opera, pop/rock and, at the very end, a cut from Kangding Ray. No Iggy and no Bowie — odd given that both recorded career-defining albums in the very same building.

How did they sound? Big and majestic. Just as one might expect for loudspeakers of this size and of this calibre.… Read the full article

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In absentia: an AXPONA 2019 preview

By | April 11th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

AXPONA is the USA’s largest regional audio show. It takes place this weekend at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center in Chicago. I won’t be there. Ha! As with every year, this Stateside event is too close to Munich High-End to justify punching a 12-day hole in my review schedule: five days to get to and from Chicago; five days to report on what I saw; and two or three more days for the double dose of jetlag to subside.… Read the full article

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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

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A short film about CanJam NYC 2019

By | February 25th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

With up to 100 exhibitors in tow, we might see Head-Fi.org’s CanJam as the travelling circus of audio shows. This headphone-centric audio show now runs in six cities around the world and throughout the year: Denver, Singapore, London, Shangai, Los Angeles and, on the second weekend of February, New York.

CanJam NYC is now in its third year and in 2019 attracted 65 exhibitors. No high-end headphone store on the planet could hope to match that level of product audition potential but with 2200 attendees spilling through the doors of the Marriott Marquis at Times Square, background chatter was bound to intrude upon definitive product assessment.… Read the full article

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Boom, boom, boom, boom! A dCS factory tour!

By | February 11th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Ben Ashcroft (pictured above) – he’s head of dCS’s service department and he’s deep into techno music. He’s still smiling too, despite the ‘help’ provided by Andy McHaig, dCS Technical Director. When Ben first joined the company as an apprentice he was tasked with developing a ladder DAC (dCS make DACs). McHaig assisted Ashcroft hard-wiring some of Ashcroft’s beloved techno into the logic board to expedite listening tests. How thoughtful.

Vengaboys is techno, right? Worse: McHaig had made this Euro dance pop non-defeatable so that Ashcroft would have to endure it for the entire project.… Read the full article

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nd_baumecker is Berghain’s audiophile DJ

By | December 28th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

A high-quality experience. It’s not a term we readily associate with DJ culture where an all too easily a quick turnover in musical trends leads to a quick turnover at the turnstile and record counter. Play it loud and play it fast.

Exceptions exist. Playing the long game in the no-mans land between the River Spree and Karl Marx Allee is iconic Berlin nightclub Berghain. An imposing building – and a power station in a past life – that takes its name from the largest of its three spaces: Säule doesn’t keep the extended weekend club hours of Berghain and Panorama Bar, opening only occasionally and for more experimental music.… Read the full article

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Darko.Audio’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018

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

You won’t see it in the nighttime happy snaps of Berliners huddled in groups at Christmas markets, sipping on Glühwein. And you won’t see it in the opulence of KaDeWe’s seasonal displays, nor in Friedrichstraße’s understated lights. At this time of year, Berlin says Auf Wiedersehen to the sun until March to deliver day after day of slate grey skies and snow unable to make good on any threat. The temperature barely makes it above 5C (41F). Daylight vanishes at 3.30pm after showing up at 9am only to spend the day kicking around the house in its pyjamas.… Read the full article

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Cables & consistency

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

Tell the Average Joe not versed in the double trouble of electrical noise and jitter that you dropped US$350 on a USB cable and s/he’ll likely question your sanity. Audiophiles know what Joe does not: that not all USB connections are born equal.

For this commentator, there’s no doubting the Curious USB cable’s audible superiority to vanilla wire – some of which doesn’t even meet the USB spec. The Curious also knocks out other audiophile-aimed offerings like AudioQuest’s Carbon. Old Yella lends music more pep, more detail and a better sense of space but without straying into the Carbon’s occasional brightness — a handful of reasons why the Curious has been my goto USB wire for the past three years.… Read the full article

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I’m chairman of the board!

By | December 6th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

“I’m bored.
I’m the chairman of the board.
I’m a Lincoln monologue,
I’m livin’ like a God,
I’m bored.”

— Iggy Pop


Hi-fi racks – we audiophiles use them to organise our components, to more attractively display them and, sometimes, to minimise the negative influence of vibrations, which not applied to mechanical devices like turntables but also electronics. Our amplifier and/or DAC’s circuitry can, to varying degrees, translate (airborne) mechanical vibrations into deleterious electrical noise – that’s microphony at work. The fewer the vibrations reaching our gear, the lower the electrical noise generated and the better the sound quality.… Read the full article

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EarSpace w/ Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature & Harbeth 40.2

By | November 27th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

New room, new broom, new possibilities and – for the hi-fi system owner – new challenges: standing waves and suck-outs in the low-end plus soundstage smear caused by wall, ceiling and floor reflections.

I’m now two years into my first Berlin apartment and I have my listening room dialled in so that it sounds pleasing to the ear but also looks and feels cosy enough to sit in when not listening to music. I work hard to keep the electronics tidy so that the room doesn’t appear overrun with audio gear and the (judiciously-placed) acoustic panels don’t have it looking like a sound lab.… Read the full article

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