Review: Havok – Conformicide Mar17

Review: Havok – Conformicide

Let me tell you how this review is suppose to go: First, I tell you that Havok is a Denver based collective whose main weapon of choice is the riff. I then explain how the band is one of the few that are still relevant today despite being unquestionably retro-thrash and proceed to point out that 2011’s Time Is Up is probably one of the strongest records to come out of said retro movement. I follow-up with a brief overview of their latest, entitled Conformicide, pointing out its various high points to underscore the fact that David Sanchez and Co. really do know how to throw down. Finally and disappointedly, I end with a Steely D...

Review: Audioengine HD3 Powered Speakers Mar15

Review: Audioengine HD3 Powered Speakers

Introduction One of the very first pieces of audio gear that I wanted to upgrade when I was a wee lad were my computer speakers. My first set came with a Dell desktop system my parents bought me when I was a senior in high school to prepare for college. They were small, rectangular, and sounded terrible – zero bass or treble to speak of with a really muddy midrange. And I loved them. When they finally died I decided to up my game by buying a complete 5.1 surround system made by Sound Blaster. I don’t remember the exact model but the two front satellites were actually bigger than my Dell’s, with the center channel placed on...

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...

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...