• USB Interface

    by Published on 12-10-2014 10:17 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. AES/EBU Interface,
    6. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    7. Preamp,
    8. Headphones
    Article Preview



    The wild world of DACs continues to expand with a new update from the pro-leaning company Grace Design. The m903 was released just 3 years previous but already it seems like a (product) lifetime ago. The newest bible-sized, DAC/headphone amplifier is called the m920 “High Resolution Monitoring System” and still shares many of the same external design elements from its predecessor. The internals have had some renovating of course, and the price moved $100 north from $1,895 to $1,995. As of September of this year the m903 is permanently discontinued so older models aren’t kept around for purchase like the Benchmark DAC 1 series or a previous generation iPad. ...
    by Published on 10-06-2014 12:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Speakers,
    3. Wireless,
    4. USB Interface
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    Computer desktop audio and hifi converge in the form of several products each year. The newest submission by Eclipse is called the TD-M1 wireless speaker system. The bullet-shaped casing from each of the mounted speaker cabinets houses a single 8mm driver and is rated for 20W output from the built in amplification. Also included in the mix are an interesting selection of inputs that include Apple’s Airplay, your standard computer USB input and a USB input from a direct connection to an iDevice. The overall layout of the system screams for desktop and nearfield listening, although the setup can still be used in a pinch for a makeshift bookshelf or kitchen stereo.

    A satisfying gloss finish further complements the TD-M1’s external appearance. The review pair that was received was set in black but a white model is also available for purchase. The 8mm driver is slightly recessed into the front of the airplane engine shaped module and feels like a fairly tight little package overall. The 11-½ lbs. combined weight of the pair certainly contributes to the sturdy form factor. The adjustable tilt from the non-removable stands is a godsend for getting the sonic delivery adjusted to your liking and is fairly easy to use and setup. While the height of the speakers is locked in, this designated distance from the ground keeps the setup from becoming to intrusive against tight desk quarters. The protruding clip found hidden in the rear design allows for the tilt to be adjusted in much the same manner as a car steering wheel. The removable antennae in the back may allude to Bluetooth connectivity, but alas, the M1 is restricted to Wi-Fi usage on the wireless front.



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    by Published on 06-30-2014 11:23 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. AES/EBU Interface,
    6. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    7. Preamp,
    8. Headphones
    Article Preview



    The Oppo HA-1 is a harvester of many tricks, so many in fact that it is almost unfair to label it strictly a headphone amplifier as the acronym in the name suggests. It really stretches the boundaries of inputs, outputs and digital conversion all within a reasonable amount of desktop real estate.

    As with all things Oppo, attention to detail appears to be a top priority, even down to the packaging. In a market where the focus on sound quality can allow manufacturers to slip by with off-the-shelf interfaces and external design, the Oppo ship is watertight. In rare form for most HiFi equipment, the head amp includes a fully interactive graphical interface, complete with pretty icons for source selection. Connectivity is king with the HA-1. Nearly every single base is covered. In the rear you can find super DSD-friendly USB, single ended ins and outs, balanced XLR ins and outs, and one of each type of available digital input (including optical, coaxial and AES/EBU). To top it all off Oppo included both an in and out trigger and Bluetooth connectivity with aptX. An external remote is included, but in case you don’t want another one lying around the house, Oppo even has a remote app for your perusing pleasure that connects via Bluetooth. ...
    by Published on 06-06-2014 11:31 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. UPnP / DLNA
    Article Preview



    Have a good USB DAC? Check. Want to turn it into a networked device without changing one item on the DAC? Check.

    Over the last couple years I increasingly wanted a specific product that didn't exist. I wanted an ultra simple device with Ethernet input and USB audio output. This seems like such an obvious product that should have been available since the day the first USB DACs hit the market. Especially because so many of the network addressable DACs have big problems with file types, compression schemes, gapless playback, etc… Plus, if the sound of a specific USB DAC is what the listeners want, but they also want the functionality of a networked DAC, they should be able to bridge the gap. This isn't rocket science and this isn't the 1980s. Tiny ARM based Linux compatible single board computers are everywhere. It's time for the Internet of Things and running on this IoT are millions of tiny devices that can be used to create a simple Ethernet in and USB audio out device. As The O'Jays, The Kinks, and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings said, Give the People What They Want. Thus, the SOtM sMS-100 Mini Server was created. We finally have a physically simple device that converts network audio streams into USB audio streams for playback on nearly any popular USB DAC. ...
    by Published on 04-21-2014 09:28 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface

    (Computer Audiophile Contributor Ted Brady completes his thorough review of the Chord Qute HD / EX with this final update. I don't think there is anyone in the industry with more insight and time spent with this DAC than Ted. His original review of the HD and two updates can be read HERE. Below is Ted's wrap up with incredibly high praise for the EX. - Editor)

    I have owned the Chord Qute EX (aka EX) now for a couple months (arrived Feb 10) and wanted to wrap up my feelings about this DAC; i.e what is different about it from the HD I reviewed above, and what additional information or impressions I have of the Qute DACs since last writing about them. ...
    by Published on 01-29-2014 10:09 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface



    Over the last few years I've had the privilege of sharing presentation spaces at dealer events with Ayre's Alex Brinkman. Usually Alex talks a bit about Ayre Acoustics as a company followed by a specific product or two then hands the floor over to me for my presentation. Listening to Alex's presentation five to ten times per evening has enabled me to learn a lot about Ayre. In fact I could likely fill in for Alex at the next event if needed. One item that sticks in my mind is Ayre's policy of keeping products in the lineup for extended periods of time. For example the Ayre K-5xeMP preamplifier has been in production for twelve years. During those twelve years Ayre has continued to make advances in design and sound quality and offered these advances as upgrades to its customers. Many customers who purchased the original K-5 preamp have sent their components to the Ayre factory for upgrades and are now using a K-5xeMP identical to the current model on showroom floors. The Ayre QB-9 USB DAC was released in April 2009. The initial version of the DAC supported sample rates up through 96 kHz. In July 2010 Ayre offered its QB-9 customers the opportunity to upgrade the initial version to support 192 kHz for a nominal fee. This upgrade had no impact on sound quality so Ayre left the QB-9 name unchanged. In May 2013 Ayre released a major upgrade to the QB-9 and adjusted its name to QB-9 DSD. This upgrade was an overhaul that could have warranted a completely new product in Ayre's lineup. Sticking with its policy of upgradability Ayre has been upgrading QB-9 DACs to the QB-9 DSD version for $500, the same as the price difference between the new and old model. As the name changed to QB-9 DSD implies, the sound quality improvement to this DAC is well worth the price of the upgrade. The QB-9 DSD is a completely different DAC from the previous generation of the QB-9. Adding the letters DSD to the QB-9 name is a bit misleading because this upgrade is much more about everything else inside the DAC than it is about the ability to play DSD material. Ayre has elevated the QB-9 to arguably the best sounding USB only DAC in its price range. ...
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