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Bryston B135 SST² Integrated Amplifier/DAC

Bryston B-135 Integrated Amp“This all-purpose amplifying and control device has been at the heart of my audio system for several weeks now, first as a basic amp, replacing a 3B SST, and subsequently operating as a full preamp/amp/DAC. I won’t say that it has surprised me a lot, but it is a case where familiarity definitely does not breed contempt…”

Audioquest DragonFly USB DAC

Audioquest DragonFly USB Dac“This is a product that may look a little like a Dragonfly, but one that soars more like a Dragon flying, as seen in various special-effects-heavy Hollywood films of late. It’s a friendly beast, too, easy to set up and use with any computer of today’s normal specs for USB digital audio output. It can be used with headphones, powered speakers or as your computer output into an audio system. I had mine going in 10 minutes through Windows 7 in my new Quad-core i7 laptop PC.

AURALiC Taurus Headphone Amplifier & Analog Preamplifier and ARK MX+ 96 kHz Coaxial/USB DAC

Auralic Taurus Preamplifier and Headphone Amplifier “AURALiC is a Hong Kong-based company that has its own very specific, and special ideas about designing audio components. With ideals based around classic professional products, such as the famous and revered designs of Rupert Neve, the company sets high standards for itself.”

TASCAM DR-680 High Resolution Digital Recorder

Tascam DR-680 Multitrack Digital Recorder“The key positive info about this recorder is that it will record 6 tracks at 96/24 resolution, and 2 at 192/24, if you’re feeling especially hair-shirt purist. This high resolution capability for 6 was what sold me on this machine. It’s just about the same size as my Edirol R-4 (now shakin’ in Shanghai, thanks to eBay), which served me well for a few years, but more versatile, not locked to a 40 GB hard disc, and allowing up to 32 GB SDHC cards, which I mainly used for outdoor recording at the cottage, along with a couple of 16 GB cards…”

NAD C 446 Digital Media Tuner: NAD Goes Media Mad!

NAD C446 Digital Media Tuner“Digital audio in its many variations seems to yield new categories of product constantly, this new product from NAD a case in point. It will snoop for music files in your computer via its wired or wireless networks, receive AM and FM broadcasts, and search the internet for transmissions of all sorts, from faraway radio stations to specific podcasts, and send all of these directly to your high end audio system via 24-bit/192-kHz DACs (caveat coming) via RCA jacks, or by direct digital feed (Toslink). It also has a Data Port for your MP3 player when you add the appropriate dock and cable.”

CEntrance DACPort

Dacport - detail“Headphones are hot these days. And, like much of the rest of the high end, headphone prices have been smashing through one upper price threshold after another. It was not very long ago that a $1,000 pair of headphones was exceedingly rare, the purview of Stax and a scant few other esoteric models. These days, when shopping at the upper end of the spectrum anyway, a grand is more like the starting point, with plenty of models in the fifteen hundred and up range…”

Bryston B100 DA SST Integrated Amplifier

Bryston B-100 DA Integrated Amplifier

“The Bryston B100 sits in a line of revered preamplifiers and integrated amplifiers, outstanding for their sonic performance and operational flexibility, and the latest version provides 6 analog inputs (TV, CD, AUX/PHONO, AUX 2/SPDIF [A/D or ANALOG/DIGITAL on DA remote and faceplate, respectively] VIDEO, and TUNER), with RECORD IN and POWER AMP IN complementing the RECORD OUT and PREAMP OUT RCAs. A slide switch on the rear panel allows disconnecting of the normally direct preamp/amp path…”

HeadRoom Total BitHead Headphone Amp / USB DAC

HeadRoom Total BitHead

“If you do a lot of commuting, and/or like to use your computer listen to music at work, the folks at HeadRoom have your number. I myself fall into this group, and while my commute might vary quite a bit job to job (the film business is not for those who prize consistency and predictability) I listen to music at work as often as I can. A couple of years ago I reviewed the Echo Indigo laptop sound card, a device which will fit just about any laptop and offers two 1/8″ mini outputs to drive headphones or powered speakers…”

Aurum Acoustics Integris CDP CD Player and Linestage

Aurum Acoustics CDP CD Player/Preamp

“I don’t think I ever expected to get my hands on a piece of audio equipment as fine as this. In fact, there aren’t many as good as this. When it comes to the cost of an audio component (or anything else, for that matter) I want only value for money. But that is not as easy as it sounds and, one must be cautious, a bargain isn’t necessarily value for money…”

Bryston BP-25 DA Stereo Preamplifier

Bryston BP-25DA Remote

“Occupational hazards are minor and few when it comes to reviewing audio equipment. Perhaps one of the most common occurs when a product under review is updated by the manufacturer during the review process. This scenario played out before I could finish with Bryston’s BP-25 DA preamplifier, the fully loaded version of the venerable BP-20 series with its own built-in digital to analog converter…”

Echo Indigo Laptop Sound Card

PSB Platinum M2 Loudspeaker

“More than just a headphone jack (the Indigo actually has two 1/8″ gold plated mini jacks) the Echo Audio card is a D to A converter as well as a high quality analog output stage. It supports up to 24 bit, 96 kHz signals, uses a 100 Mhz Motorola DSP chip and has a nice, chunky analog volume control knob right on top. For those looking to use their notebook as a recorder, Echo also makes an Indigo with an analog input as well as a model aimed at DJs, featuring two independent stereo outputs.”

Bel Canto DAC 2 and Musical Fidelity A3 24 D to A Converters

Bel Canto DAC 2

“Since audio reviews generally rely heavily on comparisons, and, more specifically from the cataloguing of differences gleaned from such comparisons, this review might be a little shorter than usual. You see, the products in question here are similar in more ways than any two I’ve reviewed before…”

Perpetual Technologies P-1A and P-3A

Perpetual Technologies P1-A and P-3A

“Until recently it seemed that things in the world of digital audio were getting a bit simpler (save for the confusion and complexity associated with the ongoing rollout of DVD-A and SACD). After a long period in which outboard DACs and various other little boxes tasked with eliminating digital jitter were de rigueur for any serious digiphile, the last few years have seen a return to prominence of the single box CD player, and even very good sounding single box DVD/CD players…”

Assemblage D2D-1 Upsampler and DAC 2.6

Rotel RCD-991

“There’s been both misunderstanding and skepticism about the process of upsampling digital data. In recent months several DACs have appeared which do this data interpolation and bit creation, which is said to provide better sound by creating a 96-kHz/24- bit signal from a 44.1-kHz/16-bit source…”

MSB Link III 96/24 DAC

MSB Link III DAC

“First, let’s look at a common misunderstanding: upsampling is not oversampling. In the case of the latter process, data is multiplied, sometimes with interpolation algorithms operating to provide data that looks more complete and can be better decoded to analog; however, that data is still going into a 44/16 DAC, so a good deal of the oversampling is, in my view, wasted…”

Entech Number Cruncher 205.2 D to A Converter

Entech Number Cruncher

“With Audio Alchemy gone a void was left in the industry. Not only was it that much harder to get high performance entry level equipment, the industry as a whole lost one of its most effective recruiters, few companies being as successful in turning neophytes into hopelessly addicted audiophiles. Thankfully that void has started to fill with companies like Musical Fidelity introducing their X-Series line of small, modular components…”


  Outside the Speakers

    Random Thoughts on the Music Mask
    NPR on Whether Audiophiles Still Exist
    Audiophile Grade Mics?
    CDs Sales Die, LP Sales Fly
    Some High End 'Phones from CES

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