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HiBy R3 Pro – First Contact

By | November 15th, 2019|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , , |

The HiBy R3 Pro is the company’s second-generation mid-fi touch-capable portable media player installed with HiBy OS. It is priced at $199. Disclaimer: The HiBy R3 Pro was sent to us a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank HiBy Music for this opportunity.  To learn more about HiBy reviews on Headfonics you can click […]

The post HiBy R3 Pro – First Contact appeared first on Headfonics.… Read the full article

FiiO Q5s Review

By | November 3rd, 2019|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , , |

The FiiO Q5s is a revision of the original Q5 portable Bluetooth DAC/Amp using FiiO’s latest interchangeable AM3E amp module. It retails for $349.99 Disclaimer: The FiiO Q5s sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank FiiO for this opportunity.  To learn more about FiiO reviews on Headfonics you can click […]

The post FiiO Q5s Review appeared first on Headfonics.… Read the full article

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Melco’s S100 is a low-noise network switch

By | October 24th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Digital audiophiles — we feed our DACs with all manner of Macs, PCs, USB re-clockers, USB-S/PDIF converters and dedicated network streamers/bridges because not all digital audio connections sound alike. If they did, there’d be no market for high-end solutions and digital audiophiles the world over would be quite happy with consumer-grade PCs or Google dongles.

But we’re not: experience tells us that the sound quality of a Bluesound Node 2/i’s coaxial output bests a Chromecast Audio’s TOSLINK feed; that an Innuos ZENMini’s USB output will run rings around that of a Macbook Pro.… Read the full article

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AudioQuest announces Niagara 1200 noise dissipator

By | October 23rd, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

“I know not of any other upgrade at any price that gives (relatively) so much for (relatively) so little.” –– to this day, my closing statement on AudioQuest’s US$995 Niagara 1000 ‘Low-Z Power Noise-Dissipation System’ holds true. Having the chrome tube strip away mains-supplied (and airborne) electrical noise from a hi-fi/head-fi system nets clearly audible results — I’d liken the improvement to a remastering of every album played through it.

In this Darko.Audio podcast episode, Niagara series designer Garth Powell explained why:

However, the Niagara 1000’s single high current outlet – essential for loudspeaker amplifiers – meant only integrateds or power amplifiers could play.… Read the full article

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Primare’s NP5 Prisma puts Roon, Chromecast under one roof

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

Network in, S/PDIF out (with a side of Bluetooth) is the basic premise of Primare’s NP5 Prisma. The Swedish company have extracted and re-housed the streaming module from their larger components for a palm-sized network streamer that pulls music from the cloud, a local server, a smartphone or a directly attached USB hard-drive.

From the press release sheet: “Specifically designed to be small enough to slip inconspicuously into any system setup, NP5 Prisma can be used with any product with a digital input, both stereo and multi-channel, Primare or other brands, to provide full Prisma connectivity and control, making it the network player for anyone and any system.”

On inputs, we note Ethernet, Wifi and USB-A.… Read the full article

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LG’s V30 as a hi-res network streamer with touchscreen

By | October 7th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

ES9218P – a system-on-a-chip (SoC) from ESS Labs that executes D/A conversion and headphone drive, fitted by LG into their V series smartphones for some of the best smartphone sound quality in the world. The V30 can’t match the iPhone on dynamic punch but its way with tone and a filigreed top-end means that when it came time to upgrade earlier this year, I considered nothing but its successor: V40. The V40 uses the same SoC and sounds identical to the V30.… Read the full article

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Tangled up in Bluetooth (revisited)

By | September 30th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Bluetooth in, analogue (or digital out). That’s the premise of iFi’s new ZEN Blue streaming DAC (£129) whose system-on-a-chip – a Qualcomm QCC5100 – routes the incoming data stream to your choice of 1) an ESS Sabre DAC followed by a discrete, fully-balanced analogue output stage (RCA or Pentaconn 4.4mm) or 2) a coaxial or TOSLINK output for connection to an outboard DAC.

With design input from John Curl, iFi Technical Director Thorsten Loesch says that the ZEN Blue’s analogue stage “incorporates a range of high-quality circuit components, carefully selected for their performance in an audio context, including professional-grade balanced line drivers, C0G capacitors from TDK and a precision low-noise power supply IC from Texas Instruments.”

In between the ZEN Blue’s input and output, we note support for the following advanced codecs that keep us away from the audibly weak SBC: AAC (hello iPhone), Sony’s LDAC (hello Android 8.0 and above), Huawei’s HWA and Qualcomm’s aptX HD (hello selected Androids).… Read the full article

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Hifiman R2R2000 Red & Black – First Contact

By | September 28th, 2019|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , , , |

The Hifiman R2R2000 Red & Black Editions are the company’s newest Hi-Res Bluetooth receivers using dual PCM1704K R2R, (Black) and PCM1702 R2R, (Red) DACs. They are priced at $2500 for the Black and $999 for the Red Edition. Disclaimer: The Hifiman R2R2000 Red & Black Editions sent to us are samples in exchange for our […]

The post Hifiman R2R2000 Red & Black – First Contact appeared first on Headfonics.… Read the full article

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Dethonray DTR1 Prelude – First Contact

By | September 27th, 2019|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , , |

The Dethonray DTR1 Prelude is a boutique digital media player with a strong focus on a high-end audio performance. It retails for around $550 depending on location. Disclaimer: The Dethonray DTR1 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Dethonray for giving us this opportunity. You […]

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A short film about the Auralic ALTAIR G1

By | September 27th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

A headphone amplifier with in-built DAC and in-house developed network streamer, all wrapped in an attractive aluminium chassis with colour front panel display? That’s the second generation ALTAIR – the G1 (US$2699) – from Auralic that serves as a tasting plate for the Chinese/American company’s ever-expanding range of digital audio products.

With the ARIES Mini discontinued, the ALTAIR G1 is the new entry point to Auralic’s TESLA streaming platform where an ARM 1GHz Quad-Core Cortex A9 CPU, 1GB DD3 RAM and 4GB of (operating) system storage are deployed to route and tidy up the streamer’s digital audio feed.… Read the full article

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