Digital Processor Reviews

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Herb Reichert  |  Oct 26, 2022  |  5 comments
Whenever I install a new, in-for-review DAC, after some amount of spaced-out not-listening listening I find myself just sitting there, being happy I got the damn thing working. Once I recover from the stress of installation, my brain begins, without prompting, to examine the character of sound coming out of my speakers.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 28, 2022  |  9 comments
My late father-in-law used to say that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the quicker it passes. I was reminded of that when I was asked to review Bel Canto's new e1X DAC/Control Preamplifier ($6800). It didn't seem that long ago that I favorably reviewed the Minnesota company's e.One DAC3, but Google told me that it was 15 years ago! "Other than the jitter performance via its USB input, the Bel Canto e.One DAC3 is the best-measuring digital component I have encountered," I wrote in November 2007 (footnote 1), adding that it "offers some impressive audio engineering in both the digital and analog domains."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 21, 2022  |  21 comments
The text, from Gary Bruestle, a speaker-positioning wizard at Definitive Audio in Seattle, left my mouth watering: "Have you heard the Apex version of a Rossini or Vivaldi yet? It's stunningly good. Addictive, even. ... I usually have a hard time relaxing and listening to music in the showroom, but the Rossini Apex DAC had me in its thrall for a few hours yesterday."
Alex Halberstadt  |  Jul 27, 2022  |  13 comments
My little corner of Brooklyn happens to have a terrific little record shop. I like it for the usual reasons: well-chosen merchandise, fair prices, fun music on the speakers while you browse. But I like it just as much because great record stores tend to resemble one another in more idiosyncratic ways, and this one has the earmarks of the great record stores of my youth.
John Atkinson  |  Jul 22, 2022  |  5 comments
Characteristically, the email from Kal Rubinson got straight to the point: "I have a WiiM Mini that I have played with, but I am not the right one to review this as I am not sufficiently interested in or knowledgeable about wireless streaming. It ... can handle uncompressed PCM via its DACs." "I'll review it," I replied, intrigued by a $99 D/A processor that can stream hi-rez audio via Wi-Fi and that also has an analog input so it can act as a preamplifier.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 20, 2022  |  0 comments
Three high-performance products were subjected to second opinions and/or measurements in recent issues: Channel D's Lino C 3.3 phono preamplifier, Mola Mola's Tambaqui D/A processor, and Pass Labs' XP-32 line preamplifier.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 03, 2022  |  4 comments
Music lovers (and reviewers) long for those listening moments when their entire being lights up with joy. For me, that divine spark surfaced unexpectedly one February afternoon when, late for an appointment, I dashed into the music room, searching for my keys. That's when I heard a bit of the 24/96 WAV files of this issue's Recording of the Month, conductor Andris Nelsons's mammoth survey of the complete orchestral works of Richard Strauss, which I'd cued up on repeat to help Meitner's MA3 integrated D/A converter ($10,500) settle in.
Kalman Rubinson  |  May 05, 2022  |  35 comments
The increasing prominence of Blu-ray explains why a device to extract audio from an HDMI stream has become necessary. At first, Blu-ray players had HDMI outputs for video and audio, but to speed their adoption, they also sported analog audio outputs to help users who had older AV receivers (AVRs). Bye the bye, those audio outputs were pared off.
Herb Reichert  |  May 03, 2022  |  15 comments
The week before Christmas, I invited my artist friend Joe to visit my studio to see my 2021 paintings. To spice the invitation, I told Joe that while he was looking he could audition the newest flagship DAC from Denafrips, the Terminator Plus.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 29, 2022  |  18 comments
Ah, domesticity. Just when I had the reference system sounding better than ever, the husband decided to relocate his electric keyboard and music stand, which had been positioned along the right wall of the detached music room, to the dining room in the main house. His reason was rational: While I did the reviewer thing in one space, he'd be free to practice keyboard and sing in another. But what was rational to him screwed with my reference sound and drove me to the brink of irrationality.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 23, 2022  |  10 comments
I start this review with a confession. I have consistently found that when I play CDs on a transport and feed the digital data via AES3 (AES/EBU) to a D/A processor, the music has more drive, particularly at low frequencies, than it does when I send the same 16/44.1 data to the same D/A processor via my network.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 21, 2022  |  0 comments
One reason Stereophile publishes a FollowUp is when the original review leaves an issue unresolved or where further thoughts would be useful. Such was the case with the magazine's March 2022 issue, which had followup reviews on the iFi ZEN CAN headphone amplifier and ZEN DAC Signature V2 D/A processor ($599/pair). the Pro-Ject Phono Box RS2 phono preamplifier ($1999), and the Canton Reference 7K loudspeaker ($6995/pair).
John Atkinson  |  Feb 04, 2022  |  19 comments
There are words that, for reasons I can't fathom, I cannot stand. One such is "dongle." So when Bluebird Music's PR rep emailed me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing a new dongle from Chinese company Questyle Audio, I shuddered. But I must admit that "dongle" rolls off the tongue a lot more readily than "portable USB D/A headphone amplifier." I put aside my grammatical quibble and agreed to a review.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 03, 2022  |  0 comments
The January and February 2022 issues of Stereophile feature followup reviews of three products: the darTZeel NHB-18NS Mk.2 preamplifier; the Sutherland Little Loco Mk.2 phono preamplifier; and the Mola Mola Tambaqui D/A processor.
Julie Mullins  |  Dec 31, 2021  |  17 comments
It had been a while since I'd done any serious, critical listening through headphones. That changed when Editor Jim Austin asked if I wanted to review the iFi Audio ZEN Signature Set ($599). Figuring I could use more Zen in my life, I agreed.

UK-based iFi Audio, which operates under the auspices of the Abbington Global Group, has released several compact products in its ZEN series: DACs, headphone amps, a Bluetooth receiver, and a network streamer.

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