Review: Audeze iSINE 10/20 In-Ear Monitors Feb13

Review: Audeze iSINE 10/20 In-Ear Monitors

Introduction Over the last few years, Audeze has gotten a lot traction in the prosumer marketplace. It first started with the EL-8 series ($699), an open-back and closed headphone design that featured many of Audeze’s planar magnetic technologies all wrapped in a snazzy German designed package. Perhaps even more importantly though, the EL-8 also became the launching pad for the CIPHER, a 24-bit DAC with DSP Lightning cable that provides an end-to-end audiophile class solution for any iDevice. Then of course came the SINE ($449), the world’s first on-ear planar magnetic headphone and really the company’s first...

Review: iFi Audio’s Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier Feb09

Review: iFi Audio’s Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier

Introduction As I sure many of you are already acutely aware of, we’re big fans of iFi Audio. You see unlike a lot of vendors who treat their circuit designs as if they were highly classified secrets, iFi is very open and honest about all of their products. In fact, iFi is one of the few companies I know of that even freely shares high-resolution pictures of every circuit board they fabricate. Couple that with the fact that these Brits are very community focused, vetting feature and collecting feedback constantly, makes iFi, at least to our ears, one of the defacto leaders in the low- to mid-tier marketplace. So when iFi announced...

The Basic Schiit: Modi Multibit and Vali 2 Review Jan21

The Basic Schiit: Modi Multibit and Vali 2 Review

Introduction When I first reviewed Schiit Audio’s original Modi/Vali stack many moons ago, I walked away very impressed to say the least. Not only was it a cost effective solution for the budding audiophile, but it sounded better than a lot of other systems for a fraction of the price. However, Schiit’s entry level stack still had some major drawbacks. First, the number of inputs and outputs on the Modi were quite limited preventing it really from being a general purpose standalone DAC. Secondly, though the Vali offered up some very pleasant analog warmth through its novel use of miniature tubes, you couldn’t really roll...

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...

Review: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct Nov25

Review: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

A little context: I’m a big Metallica fan. I have been for over twenty years now. What’s funny is unlike most fans, I discovered Metallica through Megadeth in a sort of six degrees of Kevin Bacon moment; it took me three Megadeth records to finally arrive at Puppets. Sad but true. But the truth is I lost track of Metallica right after 1996’s Load, an album that completed their transition from being everyone’s favorite Bay Area thrash metal band to a full-fledged hard rock one, bifurcating their fanbase in the process. Since then these retired thrashers have fallen under hard times, with the band probably hitting rock...

Review: Sojourner – Empires of Ash Oct30

Review: Sojourner – Empires of Ash

Summoning. For the last two decades Summoning have not only been churning out some of the most epic black metal ever conceived by man, but their body of work has pretty much codified the genre. However, after 2001’s Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, their output had slowed down considerably, with new album release cycles measured in Valian years instead of solar ones (alright, not quite that long but still). Consequently, this has opened up the flood gates for others to show off their best Summoning idolatry and at the same time, pick up the slack. A prime example is Caladan Brood’s 2013 epic, Echoes of Battle, which executed...

Review: Sonore microRendu Oct06

Review: Sonore microRendu

Introduction For the past several years, I’ve been listening to all of my digital music via a home built, PC based music server initially running the VortexBox operating system, and more recently, Daphile. My server is a near twin of the original Computer Audiophile “C.A.P.S.” design, with the only real differences boiling down to the aforementioned headless Linux operating systems in place of Windows and JRiver Media Center, and initially a PPA Studio USB output card (now an UpTone Regen) in place of Chris’ recommended SoTM USB card. The advantages of the CAPS server are many. The upfront cost compared to traditional commercial music...

Review: Virvum – Illuminance Sep30

Review: Virvum – Illuminance

To describe the Swiss metal scene as “burgeoning” wouldn’t exactly be quite accurate since over the years the Swiss have been responsible for some of extreme metal’s most revered acts, including Coroner, Celtic Frost, and Samael to name just a few. However, the truth is that despite all of the scene’s great exports, the Swiss ironically really don’t do straight up death – and certainly not tech death. For tech death, I would normally point you in the direction of their German cousins to the north or their Italian neighbors to the south. But a small four piece collective called Virvum is trying to...

Vinyl Follow Up: Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts

I’m sure everyone has their favorite Katatonia album. For me, it’s 2006’s The Great Cold Distance that reigns above all others, with both album tracks like “Soil’s Song” and “July,” as well as B-sides “Unfurl,” “Code Against The Code,” and “Dissolving Bonds,” remaining not just some of my all time favorite Katatonia songs, but favorite songs full stop. I would also say that the latter are superior to any of the tracks on Night Is The New Day (That’s not saying much. -Alex). Happily, the band rebounded after that disappointment in 2012 with Dead End Kings, but I think it is this year’s release, The Fall Of Hearts, that is their...