Review: Audioengine D3 DAC and Headphone Amp Jun09

Review: Audioengine D3 DAC and Headphone Amp

Introduction As I wrote in my review of the two AudioQuest Dragonflies back in March, the market for “dongle DACs” (USB connector on one end, headphone jack on the other) is now fiercely contested, and one player looking to make a name for themselves in this space is Audioengine. If that name rings a bell, it’s probably the company’s powered desktop speakers that you’re thinking of, which Alex has covered on a few occasions. Speakers are definitely their primary focus, but AE has also produced a few DACs and headphone amps, and currently sells the B1 Bluetooth streamer, D1 desktop DAC/headphone amp, and the subject of this review, the D3...

Po-Nope! May12

Po-Nope!

I last wrote about Neil Young’s erstwhile Pono music store a little less than two years ago, when the SS Pono was already taking on water. Unsurprisingly, Pono has now found a new home in Davy Jones’ Locker. Let’s take a moment to consider the reasons why. When you are trying to enter the market as a disruptor, you need to actually do something different. The original iPhone is a great example of a market disruptor. Touch screen phones prior to the iPhone sucked, because nobody had thought to build a UI around the idea, and even if they had, plastic resistive screens would’ve been miserable to use anyway. In its earliest stages, Pono did...

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...