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    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 11-11-2016 11:02 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Books

    Over the last year or so, I frequently had these feelings and a desire to make something with my hands. I thought about getting into woodworking, even though I have less than zero skills with the craft. I didn't really understand these feelings, but they were very strong. I use the word feelings rather than the word thoughts because this was coming from inside me and I couldn't wrap my head around it. I had an innate desire for something real. It turns out, I had an analog itch that was screaming to be scratched.

    I put down my Canon 5d MKIII digital camera, picked up my Hasselblad fully manual analog camera and shot a few rolls of Fuji Velvia slide film. I shipped the exposed film off to be processed, scanned, and printed. The anticipation of seeing what I had created was delightful. I waited nearly two weeks for the results to arrive home. Upon receiving the prints, I had a realization. While the final images were nice, they weren't the main reason for my happiness, my new found enthusiasm for analog, and my sense of fulfillment. Nostalgia also had little to nothing to do with this feeling. It was all about being human and connecting with something real, something tangible, something analog. It was about using more of my senses and being more human, as opposed to the binary digital life I lead on most days. Smelling the film as I placed it into the camera. Hand-winding the film within the A12 camera back. Hearing the distinctive rear auxiliary shutter of the Hasselblad 503CW camera body as I depressed the metal shutter release button. And finally, seeing, touching, and smelling the finished 5x5 prints upon their delivery from the mailman. This was a physical human experience from beginning to end. ...
    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
    Article Preview


    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. ...

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