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    by Published on 11-25-2014 10:05 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter
    Article Preview

    Please enjoy this terrific article by member of the CA Community, Steven Rowan.

    In my 40 years plus of audiophile life, it's not often that I have discovered, listened to, purchased, and lived with a family of electronics, that have transformed my listening room as I thought only a multi thousand plus turntable, tone arm, and Koetsu cartridge could do. In my experience only a top rated analog system had the power, realism, and magic to enthrall one into believing they are at a live event instead of sitting in their listening room. Of course the digital siren had tried to dethrone my analog rig but couldn't quite succeed. Such contenders as Yamaha, Oppo, Theta, PS Audio and even the legendary Mark Levinson Reference Digital products were quite moving and enjoyable and had tried to supplant my record spinner but couldn't quite close the gap. Until now. And this is how it went down.

    Even though I loved my analog rig, I couldn't ...
    by Published on 10-06-2014 12:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Speakers,
    3. Wireless,
    4. USB Interface
    Article Preview

    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-˝ 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.

    by Published on 09-09-2014 10:01 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    4. AES/EBU Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface
    Article Preview

    Rarely do I hear a component that's truly a game changer, a component that's so good I can't stop listening through it, and a component that's so good it renders much of the competition irrelevant. I can't remember, off the top of my head, the last time I heard such a component. That is, before the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series arrived. The Alpha DAC RS, every bit a true game changer, blew me away from the first listen in my system. Since its arrival I've listened to more complete albums and heard more new sounds from old albums than any time in my life. The Alpha DAC RS is so good and such a game changer it may force consumers to reconsider their desire for high resolution music. Sure the Alpha DAC RS can reproduce high resolution music better than any DAC I've heard in my system, but its absolute magic can be heard with standard CD quality 16 bit / 44.1 kHz material. The Alpha DAC RS is without question the best DAC I've heard anywhere when it comes to 16/44.1 playback. I've never heard detail, delicacy, and transparency with my favorite music like I have when listening through this DAC. The Alpha DAC RS is so outstanding that I equate its presence in my system to that of a new pair of loudspeakers. That's correct; the Alpha DAC RS had an impact on my system equivalent to a new pair of loudspeakers. In fact, the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series is the most remarkable sounding product I've ever reviewed. ...
    by Published on 08-31-2014 04:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Wireless,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. AES/EBU Interface,
    6. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    7. UPnP / DLNA

    The Auralic Aries is perhaps the most talked about HiFi product in recent memory. The Computer Audiophile Community is probably more responsible for this chatter than most other outlets combined. It only makes sense that we would talk about, and hype, the Aries as the product is right up our alley. An Ethernet to digital audio interface, software driven and upgradeable, and an ambitious iOS application are items for which some computer audiophiles live. The Aries includes all three. I've had the Aries in my system since early July and it's time to deliver an update to the CA Community. In the early beta days I had my share of issues with the Aries and Lightning DS iOS application. I've used the Aries in combination with several UPnP servers, UPnP control points, and DACs since its arrival. Over the last few weeks the system has become increasingly stable and enjoyable to use for all my local and lossless streaming music needs. ...
    by Published on 08-20-2014 10:14 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Speakers,
    3. Music Hub / Controller,
    4. UPnP / DLNA

    My first exposure to a new Linn technology named Exakt was at the 2013 CEDIA Show in Denver. I didn't have a chance to listen to the system on display because the show floor was very noisy, but I talked to Linn's Managing Director Gilad Tiefenbrun about Exakt. I walked away from the conversation enthusiastic about the capabilities of Exakt and about the possibilities for better sound reproduction in home environments. I'm a big supporter of using technology, but only when it's appropriate. Linn's use of Exakt technology to send lossless digital data via CAT5/6/7 cables into the loudspeakers and keep that data in the digital domain, through the crossover and volume control, until just before the final amplification stage within the loudspeakers is what I call great use of technology. Less than one year after that CEDIA show I have an Akurate level Linn Exakt system in my listening room. I had reservations about setting aside my large analog equipment, state of the art digital to analog converter, and TAD CR1 loudspeakers in order to put the Exact system in place. There is no going in to this system half-way as it's fully active with amplification attached to the loudspeakers, digital to analog converters attached to the loudspeakers, and RJ45 ports rather than binding posts for receiving the incoming signal. I couldn't even use an Aurender music server if I wanted to with the Exakt system. None of this is good or bad in and of itself. It's just a fact of using any Exakt system. There's no hodgepodge of components to select, interconnect, and hope for a good synergy. Exakt works within its own ecosystem, and it just works. After the initial setup and two weeks of extensive listening I am very impressed with the Linn Exakt technology. In fact, the Akurate Exakt DSM and Exakt Akubarik loudspeakers comprise the best Linn system I've ever heard. Period. ...
    by Published on 07-28-2014 04:06 PM

    My job as an audio journalist requires that I attend trade shows and report back to the Computer Audiophile readers what I’ve seen and heard. Despite the luxury of listening to the best audio systems and making friends all over the world, audio trade shows can be grueling. Thus, on the last day of every show I have a free / fun day where I stroll the halls without any appointments or meetings. On my fun days I look for diamonds in the rough, new products that need and deserve attention, and products that are unique and new to me or the CA readers. This year at the Munich High End show I was strolling one of the main areas on my fun day and the Norma Audio booth caught my eye. I’d never seen nor heard of the brand even though it wasn’t a new company. The main reason the booth caught my eye is the impeccable internal product design. The board layout and look reminded me one of my favorite brands, Spectral Audio. The two reasons I spent five minutes talking to the Norma Audio team are its high speed, wide bandwidth designs (2 MHz range), and the company offers a very versatile Digital to Analog Converter (DAC). The similarities to Spectral with clean design and wide bandwidth impressed me without hearing a note. Fortunately Norma Audio offers a standalone DAC, unlike Spectral, and there was no way I would leave Germany without making plans to review such a product. I set in motion a review of the Norma Audio HS-DA1 (Pre), a DAC with built-in preamplifier and headphone amplifier. At the time I wasn’t sure if I had found a diamond or cubic zirconia. Without the ability to listen to the product at the show, I’d have to wait until I returned home to Minneapolis. ...

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