• Digital to Analog Converter

    by Published on 12-02-2016 09:36 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    6. AES/EBU Interface,
    7. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    8. Preamp
    Article Preview



    The Mytek Brooklyn is an incredibly versatile audio component. In fact, I can't think of another HiFi component that packs as much capability and technology into a single chassis (OK, the new $5,995 Mytek Manhattan II does but in a chassis roughly twice the size and four times the weight).). In most of the world, a plethora of features is a good thing. In the world of audiophiles, this can be seen as a bad thing. Many audiophiles still have in their heads the idea that they can use a straight wire with gain for preampfification. Such thinking is frequently called "purist." I suppose someone who still rides a horse to work could be called a purist as well. That's a club of which I don't want to be a member. I'm a card-carrying, knuckle-dragging audiophile that's skeptical of products that claim to do it all, but I also have an open mind and recognize solid technology when I see it. The Mytek Brooklyn is definitely a jack of all trades and a master of most. I held off on saying master of all trades because I didn't use the Brooklyn as a headphone amp or a phono preamplifier. All the other technologies and features of the Brooklyn were worked over very well throughout this review period. Overall, I really like the Brooklyn and believe, in many cases, it could be the best component in its class for under $2,000. ...
    by Published on 11-23-2016 09:03 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    5. Preamp
    Article Preview



    I'm going to start this off with an assignment for those reading the review. I hate to sound professorial, or like there will be an exam later in the semester, but it's for your own benefit. Please read my review of the Peachtree Audio nova150 before reading further. There's no need to recreate the wheel and go over the 99% of shared concepts and features a second time. The nova150 and the nova300 have so much in common, that I consider them not just brothers, but twins. Not in the complete Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito kind of way. Rather, more like real twins. One is stronger, better at sports, and receives more accolades. The nova150 and nova300 have the same DNA, just like identical twins, but the nova300 is that captain of the hockey team twin. The nova300 has a bit more going for it than the nova150. Similar to the way that members of the opposite sex may be more attracted to the stronger more athletic twin, audiophiles may be more attracted to the nova300. 300 is more than 150, so it must be better. Right? Or, just like the real world, does the smaller twin have more brains and finesse? After taking the nova300 for a spin for a week, I have no doubt that the stronger twin is equal to or better than the nova150 at everything. When paired with my TAD Compact Reference One loudspeakers, the nova300 had plenty of power to play Nine Inch Nails at 100 dB, with peaks near 115 dB, and play Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 5 in F, Op. 24 at reasonable levels with excellent detail and texture. I had so much fun with the nova300 in my system that I played everything from classical to classic rock to heavy metal to rap to metal rap. I just had to hear if the nova300 was capable of driving my 86 dB sensitive loudspeakers with power, finesse, and control. Test = passed. I hate to demean the nova150, but life isn't fair sometimes. Just like that identical twin who was naturally stronger and more gifted than his brother, in my system the nova300 is simply better. When in doubt, the Peachtree Audio nova300 is the one you want. Period. ...
    by Published on 11-03-2016 02:49 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    4. AES/EBU Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface
    Article Preview



    Reviewing or writing about updated versions of products is something I rarely do. For the most part, I am just not as interested in the incremental updates so often placed into audio components, as I am interested in products that are new or significantly changed. I've been disappointed in the past to learn of manufacturers who release "Mark II" of a product only because a single internal component of the original version is no longer available. It's just as disappointing to see the unaware spend hard-earned money on such an upgrade. This type of thing happens across all industries. It's the nature of capitalism and consumerism. Fortunately, we are in the golden age of the Internet, where people can freely publish opinions about products without any trouble. We've all see numerous follow up reviews of version 2.0, where the writer says the upgrade isn't worth it or the upgrade didn't make any difference. Oh wait, today is November 1st, not April 1st. I can't recall ever seeing such an article. Back to my distaste of wasting virtual ink on incremental version upgrades. Aside from my skepticism about such upgrades, my lack of interest would no doubt lead to lackluster articles. Ever try writing about a topic with which you have zero interest? If the piece turned out good, you're a much better writer than I. Working for myself, I have no boss breathing down my neck to get a follow up review done. Without such pressure, I physically can't write such an article. It's just not in me. How does any of this relate to the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series 2? The DAC is obviously version 2 of the original, but in this case I can't not write about the RS2. The difference in sonic quality between Series 1 and Series 2 is substantial. This difference makes the decision to upgrade from from S1 to S2 a no brainer, and puts the Alpha DAC Reference Series back into play for people who may have written it off based on previous listening sessions. The Alpha DAC Reference Series 2 is easily Berkeley Audio Design's finest work to date and a reference by which other DACs will be measured. ...
    by Published on 10-05-2016 11:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    6. AES/EBU Interface,
    7. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface
    Article Preview



    Best Of Both Worlds? Best of Neither?

    The Holo Audio Spring Level 3 Kitsune Tuned Edition R2R PCM/DSD DAC

    The world of digital audio is often a confusing one to the prospective buyer. How does one differentiate between technical jargon and marketing terminology, especially within an industry segment that is changing rapidly and offering supposedly the same sample and bit rate playback from $199 to $99k? Does one need to buy a PCM dac and convert any good DSD-based music to it? Conversely, buy a DSD-rich system and then upsample to that system's DSD sweetspot? Which upsampler? Own two dacs?? Yikes.

    Nowadays there is a sub-sub segment of this confusing DAC market that seems to be offering two dacs in one, a PCM side and a DSD side. Keeps cold things cold and hot things hot...how does it know?

    This review is not hugely technical (duh, mine never are) for many, many reasons, not the least of which is due to my brain stem and Catholic school math and science burnout. When I got to a Marianist university I discovered pot, sex and philosophy (mostly in that order). I realized that technical things need to be explained via the soul, not the brain, in order to make sense for me. It's really well-justified laziness, but I had finally found my comfortable skin.....if I don't need to know what ketones are used for, I don't need to know ketones! Period. B.S in English and Journalism, career in software sales/management. Dumb down tech jargon to make sense to a burned out elitist. Enough about me. ...
    by Published on 09-30-2016 09:18 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Digital to Analog Converter,
    4. Disk Storage,
    5. Music Servers,
    6. Software,
    7. Wireless,
    8. USB Interface,
    9. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    10. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    11. UPnP / DLNA
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    Not that long ago, when I visited audio dealers around the world, many of them told me they were selling Sonos systems in more volume than any other product. In fact the numbers weren't even close, Sonos was flying out the door. The same dealers also told me they wished they had a product that was better than Sonos. A product that supported high resolution audio and was built for customers with a discerning ear for sound quality. AURALiC's first product to fill this void was the original ARIES. Priced at $1,599, the ARIES was definitely a product much better than anything Sonos had released, but it was a bit too expensive for many music aficionados. In an effort to bring more people into this wonderful HiFi hobby and to fill the gap between the mass market Sonos system and the class market ARIES, AURALiC released its ARIES MINI. Rather than pricing the MINI somewhere in between Sonos and the original ARIES, AURALiC managed to deliver a very high quality product for right around $500 (depending on included streaming service bundles). In addition to releasing the ARIES MINI, AURALiC accelerated development of its Lightning DS iOS application and has continued to release feature enhancing firmware upgrades to all AIRES series hardware devices. Looking at ARIES, ARIES LE, ARIES MINI, and Lightning DS all together, there's no question AURALiC has created a terrific ecosystem capable of replacing or improving any Sonos system.

    I've used the ARIES MINI since the first pre-production unit was sent here about a year ago. Sure, I really like to use products thoroughly before reviewing them, but an entire year would be overkill. The reason I haven't published a review of the MINI, like seemingly every other publication on the planet, is that I kept hearing about new features, enhancements, and app upgrades. All of these sounded fantastic and I wanted to write about something more than the other guys. I waited, and waited, and waited until finally firmware version 4.0 was released to the public. This week, it was time to put the newly upgraded MINI through the wringer and to write up the review. ...
    by Published on 09-01-2016 11:14 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    6. AES/EBU Interface,
    7. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface
    Article Preview



    Shopping for HiFi components can be tricky. It's always wise to consider the company from which one is purchasing, in addition to the quality of the products. The best HiFi in the world quickly turns to the worst Hifi in the world, if it malfunctions and one can't get it serviced. Unfortunately, it seems there are many questionable companies popping up to offer digital HiFi products. Some of them have left customers high and dry. As Chris Rock said at the 1997 MTV VMAs when talking about pop stars in the music industry, "Here today, gone today." It's not quite that bad in HiFi, but nonetheless, nobody likes to throw away hard earned money. On the other end of the spectrum is Canada's Bryston Limited. Bryston was founded in 1962 and makes some of the most robust products in the industry. The company prides itself on making all its components in Canada, and offering a 20 year warranty for analog products and a 5 year warranty for digital products. In addition, everyone at Bryston I've ever talked to has been a straight-shooter and very down to earth. There's no such thing as snake oil in the Bryston repertoire. When offered the opportunity to review a component from a company such as Bryston, I jump at the chance. I see part of my job as reviewing good components and another part as giving my word that the company behind the component is equally as good. In this case, I am unequivocal that Bryston ltd. is a pillar of the HiFi community, and its new BDA-3 DAC is ranked very high on my list of go-to components. The BDA-3 has more inputs and features than any normal enthusiast will ever need, and when it comes to music reproduction, it sets the new standard in the Bryston line-up. Against the competition, the BDA-3 performs equal to or better than many DACs I've heard in my system and in other systems. Needless to say, I've had a great time listening to the BDA-3 throughout this review period. It doesn't get much better than spending my time listening to my favorite music through a great component such as the Bryston BDA-3. ...
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