March 2019
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Being Frank about vinyl

By | March 21st, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , |

In the above photo, we see Frank Schröder, a Berlin-based tonearm manufacturer of over twenty years, sitting on my couch (in Mitte) and not on his own, 6 km away in Charlottenburg. He has just installed a Zu/Denon DL-103r to a Rega Planar 2 turntable — because if anyone in the world knows how to properly align a cartridge, it’s Schröder.

This Berliner made his first tonearm at 14 years old, sold his first tonearm at 17 years old and joined the world of high-end audio exhibitors in 1999 at the High-End event in Frankfurt (before it relocated to Munich).… Read the full article

A short film about the ELAC Navis ARB-51

By | March 14th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Instead of activating ELAC’s Uni-Fi series of passive loudspeakers (see here and here) celebrity loudspeaker designer Andrew Jones created an all-new active loudspeaker called Navis — formerly Argo.

“The original name, in full, was Argo-Navis. This based on a constellation and in keeping with nautical themes that we have chosen for recent naming conventions. It is in recognition of ELAC’s headquarters in Kiel Germany, an important sailing centre. Hence Vela (sail) and Carina (keel). We used Argo for short but were challenged by someone registering the Argo name after we started using it.Read the full article

HiFiMAN’s Bluetooth Ananda-BT come with a USB twist

By | March 6th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Ananda. For Buddhists, a state of extreme happiness. For Chinese headphone manufacturer, a mid-tier headphone model: full-size, circumaural and open back with the 1-2 micron-thick ‘NSD’ planar magnetic diaphragm easing power thirst. At 25 Ohms input impedance and 103 dB input sensitivity, the Ananda demands no muscle amp. Pretty much any portable player (or integrated amplifier headphone socket) would do.

But which player? The tyranny of choice wades into view with numerous options from Astell&Kern, Sony, FiiO, iBasso, Shanling, Pioneer, Onkyo, HiBy, Opus or HiFiMAN’s own offerings.… Read the full article

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Tangled up in Bluetooth

By | March 4th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Like music streaming services, Bluetooth audio sound quality is determined by the codec that carries digital audio (the music) from source to destination; from smartphone to wireless headphone.

Unlike music streaming services, Bluetooth audio offers no lossless option — at least not yet. All codecs used for Bluetooth audio transmission are lossy. Before music can be sent from smartphone to wireless headphone, its file size must be reduced to meet Bluetooth’s (lower) bandwidth requirements. A small part of the original file is discarded.… Read the full article

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A short film about the DALI Callisto 2C

By | February 28th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , |

What does a modern hi-fi system look like? If you’re Denmark’s DALI, a pair of active loudspeakers fed via a control hub fitted with a streaming module. No hi-fi rack full of amplifiers and DACs – they sit inside the loudspeaker – and no cable salad. In other words: unobtrusive.

Plus! The engineering prowess of a DSP crossover and an amplifier tailored to each driver’s input that no similarly configured and similarly priced passive loudspeaker system could touch. (Think about it: one of the most costly components of an outboard amplifier is its chassis).… 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’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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This Music-First Audiophile says “Thank You!”

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

A year ago, almost to the day – and with a professional working the camera – I dipped a tentative toe into pro-shot video production. The videos would be edited by yours truly, embedded in a text review to serve as a product preview (a more effective show and tell) with sound quality and comparisons reserved for the written word. Thank you, Olaf Von Voss for giving me the first push.

Then came Jana Dagdagan, fresh from her stint at Stereophile and keen to take on Darko.Audio’s video editing role.… Read the full article

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A short film about the Innuos ZEN MK3

By | February 14th, 2019|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

A custom motherboard (not off-the-shelf); a dual linear power supply from one Dr. Sean Jacobs; three asymmetrically aligned feet tuned to the resonant frequency of the chassis to combat microphonics — these are the core ingredients of the ZEN MK3 from Innuos, the middle unit in the Portuguse company’s current crop of server/streamers. Pricing starts at US$2599, €2099, £1899 for the full-width box (black or silver) fitted with an internal 1TB HDD. That’s mid-range 13″ MacBook Pro cash.

For those making use of the ZEN MK3’s in-built server functionality (UPnP, Sonos, Squeezebox, Roon), a larger hard drive might be required.… Read the full article

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Voxativ talks DSP optimisation, Bluetooth streaming

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

Digital Signal Processing. We might expect Voxativ, a Berlin-based loudspeaker manufacturer steeped in the heritage of single/compression drivers, to invite DSP to talk to the hand. And yet at this year’s Norddeutsche Hifi-Tage Voxativ could be seen using DSP – inside a black box and before the amplification stage – to squeeze additional low-frequency extension from the Hagen; standmounts that previously called for subwoofer assistance.

The Hamburg-based controversies didn’t end there: the new box’s DSP core was being fed via Bluetooth, its TOSLINK digital and analogue/phono inputs ignored.… Read the full article

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A closer look at the Technics SL-1500C, SL-1200 MK7

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

In three of the four Januarys since 2016 Technics announced a new version of the rebooted SL-1200: the G/AE in 2016, built and priced (€3499) for audiophiles; the GR, in 2017, whose pricing (€1499) crosses into DJ territory; and in 2019 the MK7, aimed squarely at DJs, albeit it at a higher price (€899) than many expected. We can now travel down the range to see price drop in accordance with ‘table weight: 18kg to 11.5kg to 7.6kg.

Each SL-1200 is a direct-drive design, featuring a pitch slider for playback speed variation, a strobe light for visual confirmation of speed stability and a target light to illuminate where the stylus meeting the record’s surface.… Read the full article

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