Echo Chamber: Room Acoustics Part 2 Apr21

Echo Chamber: Room Acoustics Part 2

In part one of this series, I mentioned that as soon as I walked into my new apartment, I knew I would have to put in some significant acoustic treatments for my system to sound good. How did I know that? One word: echo. You don’t have to be an acoustician to understand how echo works, and how it can completely ruin any possibility of good sound, even with a million dollars worth of equipment. Ever tried having a conversation with someone in a concrete garage? All of those hard, flat, highly reflective surfaces can allow a sound to bounce around for several seconds before it finally decays below the threshold of audibility, making the...

Vanatoo Wants You Apr07

Vanatoo Wants You

There are loads of active speakers out there promising to be your one stop shop to audio bliss, but one in particular stands out for its combination of features, build quality, sound, and price – Vanatoo’s Transparent One. Of course $500/pr is still a pretty significant chunk of change. What if Vanatoo could keep most of what made the T-One such a great buy, and cut the price nearly in half? Now that would be impressive. Well, that’s just what they’ve done with the new Transparent Zero. Of course some sacrifices had to be made to get the price down to $299/pr, but a lot less than you might think. The One’s 5.25” woofer and...

Echo Chamber: Room Acoustics Part 1 Mar22

Echo Chamber: Room Acoustics Part 1

At the very tail end of 2016, I decided it was time to leave my sleepy home in upstate NY and head west to Portland, OR. Rather than deal with shipping all of my audio gear out, I felt it was a better idea to use the opportunity to sell much of what I had and give my setup a major overhaul, and so I waved a fond farewell to my Naim Supernait, Lindemann DAC, and Silverline speakers. In their place are an Electrocompaniet AW-60FTT power amp and EC-4.7SE preamp, Simaudio Moon 380D DAC, and Audio Physic Virgo V speakers. All the new gear is great of course, but as soon as I first stepped foot in my Portland apartment, I knew that there would be...

Review: AudioQuest Dragonfly Red and Dragonfly Black Mar09

Review: AudioQuest Dragonfly Red and Dragonfly Black

Introduction The market for tiny, USB powered “dongle DACs” with built-in headphone amplifiers currently has a lot of entrants and is hotly contested, but this wasn’t the case back in 2012, when AudioQuest introduced their first portable USB DAC and headphone amp called the Dragonfly. AudioQuest got their start building audio cables back in 1980, and that’s still what they are most known for today, but the Dragonfly is hardly their first foray into the world outside of cables. In fact, only a few short years after the company’s founding, they released their first phono cartridge, called the AQ 404. They also sold several tonearm models for...

Vinyl Follow Up: In The Woods… – Pure

While I don’t worship at the altar of Omnio, I’ve long been an In The Woods… fan, and I was very pleased to see the band finally release a successor to 1999’s excellent Strange In Stereo with last year’s Pure. In The Woods… morphed over time from a black metal band through progressive and on to a mix of avant garde and the rather nebulous “dark metal” tag used for otherwise difficult to categorize music blending elements of gothic and doom metal, without really falling into either camp. Dark metal is probably the best descriptor for Pure, which is a much more conventional album than its not so immediate predecessor. If you were expecting...

Poly Rhythms Jan26

Poly Rhythms

Great Britain’s Chord, makers of some of the best sounding (and oddest looking) audio equipment around, had two big new introductions at this year’s CES: a follow up to their wildly popular Hugo, and a wireless streaming companion for the Mojo, which our very own Alex reviewed around this time last year. Though larger than the Mojo, the new Hugo 2 ($2300) is still quite portable, measuring 5.1” x 3.9” x 0.8” – noticeably tidier dimensions than its predecessor. Packed into its compact aluminum enclosure is the latest version of Chord’s custom coded Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA DAC chip, which is claimed to offer improved timing, noise, power...

Dave’s Top 10 Albums Of 2016 Jan06

Dave’s Top 10 Albums Of 2016

As John Oliver aptly put it, “Fuck 2016.” While I am very happy to bid the year a not so fond farewell, I was at least able to take some comfort in some really fantastic releases this year. Interestingly, while Alex and my best of the year lists are usually pretty different, (“Do you likes it? Then I hates it!” -Alex) this year there was a surprising amount of overlap. Too much really, and so some albums that would probably have made my list ended up on the cutting room floor just to keep things interesting, which of course isn’t to say that any of the following are undeserving. Dynamically, I’m afraid the industry is still...

Review: iFi Audio USB iPurifier2 and DC iPurifier Dec26

Review: iFi Audio USB iPurifier2 and DC iPurifier

Introduction At the very tail end of my review of Sonore’s microRendu, I talked about testing two of iFi Audio’s iPurifier products with my own DIY music server. In this review I’m going to go into a lot more detail about exactly what they do and how they do it, but before I get to all of that, I want to talk about the two major traditional digital audio connection formats: AES/EBU, and the Sony/Philips Digital Interface, more commonly referred to as “S/PDIF.” Professional studios often need very long cables, and for that type of environment, the 110 Ohm, balanced AES/EBU format was created to connect digital devices without the worry of...

KEF Cuts The Cord On The LS50 Dec12

KEF Cuts The Cord On The LS50

The Adobe Flash Player is required for video playback.Get the latest Flash Player or Watch this video on YouTube. KEF has been building speakers featuring their famous “Uni-Q” concentric driver for decades, but it was the LS50 monitor first introduced a few years ago to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary that really gained them widespread attention outside of the traditional high-end speaker market. The LS50, supposedly “inspired” by the classic BBC LS3/5 monitor, is anything but old fashioned. A wooden box was eschewed in favor of a state of the art cabinet design with a curved baffle designed to control both external resonance and...