January 2019
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‘Engineered by Audio Note’: EVGA’s Nu Audio sound card

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

EVGA — among audio circles they barely rate a mention but for those building PCs the Californian motherboards and graphics card manufacturer is much bigger news. For their latest product, EVGA teamed up with Audio Note UK for a most unlikely collaboration.

What gives?

EVGA CEO Andrew Han is a die-hard audiophile who owns vintage Western Electric horns, a dCS digital front-end and Audio Note UK amplifiers. With the latter customer connection in place, Han tapped the talents of the UK company’s Andy Grove to design his NU Audio Card (US$250), EVGA’s first sound card and announced at CES 2019.… Read the full article

New Digital From NAD & Nagra – CES 2019

By | January 22nd, 2019|Categories: Audiohead|Tags: , , , , , , |

Wilson Audio Sasha DAW speakers

Two of the digital highlights from CES this year came in the form of the all-in-one M10 NAD streamer ($2,499) and new Nagra DAC X ($64,500). Both releases were securely lodged to the trimmed 29th floor of the Venetian in Las Vegas and made for interesting talking points, even though they clearly target two different markets.

Nagra DAC X

The new DAC updated from Nagra includes a separate power supply and a custom delta sigma chipset. Along with a custom USB design, the Switzerland-based manufacturer decked out the internals with a total of 37 individual power supplies for everything on the inside.… Read the full article

Astell & Kern’s New Player Is Gold, Because…Why Not?

By | January 18th, 2019|Categories: Audiohead|Tags: , , , , |

The Gold AK SP1000M

High Res player-maker Astell and Kern has dabbled with all sorts of materials in the making of their DAPs over the years. While the frame for their flagships has usually been stainless steel with an outer casing of varying materials (including copper) the newest “M” version of the SP1000 line proves that the bling bling isn’t just for the pinky ring.

The SP1000M that goes on pre order today comes fully equipped for playback duties with a brass frame and 99.7% purity gold plating.… Read the full article

Technics New SL-1200MK7 & SL-1500C Turntables – CES 2019

By | January 15th, 2019|Categories: Audiohead|Tags: , , , , , , , |

There was quite a bit of buzz all week at CES about the new Technics SL-1200MK7 turntable. The proposition perhaps sat in a more inviting manner than even the new audiophile-oriented SL-1500C table did.

The 1200MK7 is more of a DJ-targeted turntable, and the first update in a long while to have a price tag closer to a grand at $1200. Let’s not forget that a DJ actually needs two tables to do the job properly, which puts some of the more recent Technics releases in this category in a somewhat spicy cost bracket for a pair.… Read the full article

Google pulls plug on Chromecast Audio

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

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

We’ll start with the bad: citing weaker sales figures than its video-capable counterpart, Google is discontinuing its Chromecast Audio streamer.

The Chromecast Audio was launched in 2015 to overnight become the most affordable music streamer this side of a Raspberry Pi. It was even made Roon capable last year to become the cheapest Roon endpoint available.

The sound quality of the Chromecast’s internal DAC is exactly what we might expect from a US$35 device – nothing special – but for a better-sounding Chromecast experience, we tap the 3.5mm socket’s mini-TOSLINK digital output for connection to an external DAC.… Read the full article

CES 2019: Qobuz opens US beta

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

“Total Blam Blam” or “Where Are We Now?”. If Qobuz’s entry into the US market were a David Bowie song, it would very much fall into the latter camp. The planned official launch at RMAF 2018 was stalled at the eleventh hour (and for reasons unknown). Only at the end of 2018 was it rescheduled for Q1 this year and tier pricing announced.

And if Qobuz’s presence at CES 2019 is anything to by, the French music streaming company’s plans seem to be once again on track: a public beta is now open to anyone wanting to try before they buy.… Read the full article

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CES 2019: Tidal Masters coming to all Android devices

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

After almost twelve months of being exclusive to the LG V30 smartphone, its descendants and the Essential phone, Master support, powered by MQA, will soon roll out to the Tidal app used by all other Android devices. (Sorry, iOS users – you’ll have to wait).

However, unlike the LG models and the Essential device, Tidal Master support for Android is limited to MQA’s Core Decoder where 24bit/44.1kHz and 24bit/48kHz streams are unfolded to 24bit/88.2kHz and 24bit/96kHz respectively. What your Android smartphone does with these unfolded, higher sample rates remains device dependent.… Read the full article

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Stack Audio announce the Link: a streamer with surprises!

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

First blood on digital audio streamer news for 2019 (and we’re not even there yet) goes to the Stack Audio. The UK company’s forthcoming WiFi/Ethernet-connectable Link is a network bridge; it will drop into any UPnP/OpenHome (powered by Volumio), Shairport-powered Airplay, Roon (TBC) or Spotify Connect streaming system to output via USB (and USB only) to a neighbouring DAC. The Link also features a Bluetooth input for when convenience is more important than sound quality.

Up the Link’s sleeve sits a trio of party tricks: 1) the Link is a CD ripper with a second USB port allowing for the connection of an external optical drive ; 2) the Link is a USB pipe cleaner where its Type B USB port will play catch on any other USB source to clean up its signal before sending it on the DAC; 3) an HDMI display port for big screen display of the Link’s Volumio interface.… Read the full article

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OnSight: a video view of the Linn Selekt DSM

By | December 10th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

Boxen Gross. Big speakers? Not for this commentator’s first visit to the Kreuzberg hi-fi store of the same name. Instead, I’m here to meet one Guido Schuetze – Brand Ambassador for Linn in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – for an extended introduction to the Scottish company’s first foray into a more mainstream-friendly all-in-one device: the Selekt DSM.

At its heart, Linn’s Selekt DSM is a streaming DAC – with Ethernet, USB, 2 x TOSLINK, 2 x coaxial and HDMI ARC inputs – plus MM/MC phono stage with options for integrated 50wpc (into 8 Ohms) in-house-designed Class D power amplifier and/or upgraded Katalyst DAC.… Read the full article

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Letters to the editor: Putting on weight (& height)

By | December 10th, 2018|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

Response to a recent editorial and poll on hi-res audio and a show and tell on doorstops.

Jim C:

Hey John,

I read your doorstop article, and on a total whim I ordered these:


I put one on my Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC and one on my First Watt M2 amp (both in my main system) and one on my Schiit Modi Uber 2 DAC (in my office system).  The improvement was immediately obvious:  better image stability and focus, and more “air” around the images. … Read the full article

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