Digital Processor Reviews

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Kalman Rubinson  |  Sep 22, 2021  |  15 comments
Adoption of DSP-based speaker-and-room correction in home theater—a parallel universe to audiophilia—is almost universal. It's easy to understand why. Home theater matured in the digital age. Its fans were expected to install several loudspeakers in a full-range setup that included at least one speaker—the subwoofer(s)—that functioned exclusively in the problematic bass region. Setup issues were intimidating.
Steven Stone  |  Aug 12, 2021  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1996  |  0 comments
Imagine an electronic magic wand you could wave at your listening room's acoustical problems to make them disappear. The Cambridge Signal Technologies SigTech TF 1120 may be just such an alchemical device. Its efficacy depends on the nature of the acoustical warts in your listening environment. Operating solely within the digital domain, the SigTech device can perform both drastic and subtle frequency-response and time-domain corrections that are beyond the scope of analog-based units. While the TF 1120 is expensive, in some situations it may still be the most cost-effective way of coping with acoustical gremlins. Is it the solution to your problems? Perhaps.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 30, 2021  |  34 comments
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

A great concept—sound enough to serve as the foundation for an independent democratic nation.

Yet what's sound in one sphere doesn't necessarily apply to sound in another, namely the rooms in which our systems reside. As much as we audiophiles may wish to declare our independence from room resonances, image smearing from first-order reflections, slap echo, and every other environmental and speaker-related factor that can handicap system performance, no mere declaration will make it so. Not all rooms—and not all components—are created equal.

John Atkinson  |  Jul 21, 2021  |  28 comments
I was aware that Canadian company Verity Audio, founded in 1995, made loudspeakers, like the Sarastro II that Fred Kaplan reviewed in May 2009. But when Jason Victor Serinus and I attended the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, we were both impressed by the sound of an all-Verity system that featured Verity's Monsalvat AMP-60 power amplifier. Jason Victor Serinus favorably reviewed the AMP-60 in May 2019; I didn't have to be asked twice, therefore, if I wanted to review Verity's Montsalvat DAC/PRE (see later).
Sasha Matson  |  Jun 21, 2021  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2021  |  4 comments
I have owned the SE version of the Bricasti M1 D/A converter for several years. It's my reference DAC. When, recently, I became aware of the availability of the factory-installed MDx Processor Board upgrade, I packed up the M1SE and sent it off to the Bricasti factory, which is in Shirley, Massachusetts, northwest of Boston. The factory-installed MDx upgrade costs $1000—a lot less than the $10,000 it costs today to buy a new M1SE with the MDx board.
Bill Sommerwerck  |  Jun 10, 2021  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  4 comments
As ALF would say, "There's more than one way to cook a cat." We've been so overwhelmed with linear pulse-code modulation (PCM) recording, we forget there are other ways to pass from the analog domain to the digital.

One of these is delta modulation. The Greek delta (which in its upper-case, block-letter form, looks like an equilateral triangle) is the mathematical symbol for the difference between two quantities; accordingly, in delta modulation, we record not the absolute value of a signal sample, but the difference between successive samples.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 09, 2021  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1982  |  4 comments
In 1978, when I reviewed Sony's first audiophile-type PCM-1 converter, I earned the undying scorn of a large segment of audiophilia by reporting that, on the basis of a rather short testing period (which did however include some live recording), I was unable to hear anything the matter with its sound. Four years later, but after substantially more testing, I am obliged to report the same thing about the PCM-l's son, the PCM-Fl.
John Atkinson  |  May 24, 2021  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2021  |  1 comments
The June 2021 issue of Stereophile included followup reviews of two recommended components, both which deserved further investigation of what they had to offer: the dCS Bartók D/A processor and the Schiit Audio Sol turntable.
Martin Colloms  |  May 06, 2021  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1987  |  3 comments
With the furor over the launch of DAT (digital audio tape), it is worth remembering that commercial digital recorders have been with us for some time now: it is now nearly a decade since studio PCM converters were first successfully used for audio recording in conjunction with a VCR (which uses a helical spiral recording via a spinning drum to achieve the high writing speed).
Kalman Rubinson  |  Apr 06, 2021  |  5 comments
I have reported on exaSound DACs since the introduction of the e18 in 2013, but those reports were in my Music in the Round column. This is Stereophile's first full review of an exaSound product and the first time one has spent time on JA's test bench.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 15, 2021  |  5 comments
When Stereophile publishes a followup review in the print magazine, we add it as a "child page" to the website reprint of the original coverage. We have recently done so with three significant products: the Magico M2 loudspeaker, the Linear Tube Audio Z10e tubed headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, and the Okto Research dac8 PRO multichannel D/A processor.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 26, 2021  |  27 comments
What I categorize as mainstream, dealer-based, fancy-pants streamers and big-speakers audio is actually only the gold-plated tip of a gigantic asteroid-like monolith that extends (underground) from New York to Hong Kong, from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 21, 2021  |  4 comments
For his review of the Pink Faun 2.16x music server in the December 2020 issue, Kal Rubinson needed to use a Linux-compatible multichannel D/A processor. A little Googling uncovered the 8-channel dac8 PRO from Okto Research in the Czech Republic, so Kal borrowed one from the manufacturer. He found it to be a great-sounding DAC with an intriguing feature set. He purchased the sample.
Robert Harley  |  Dec 09, 2020  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1992  |  6 comments
Though their first CD player featured a vacuum-tube output stage, California Audio Labs is recently known for making good-sounding, moderately priced solid-state CD players, like the Icon Mk.II that Jack English reviewed in July 1992 (Vol.15 No.7). The Sigma, a $695 tubed D/A converter, furthers their reputation in both areas.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Nov 30, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2020  |  7 comments
For a couple of years, I have been following Prague-based Okto Research. At first, Pavel Krasensky, the founder and hardware developer, offered audio design ideas and DIY modules that I found tantalizing. For example, there was a dandy-looking ESS 9038Pro Sabre–based output module and some appealing power supply modules—but to use those, the buyer had to manage inputs and integration on their own.

Then, finally, last year, Krasensky released the dac8 PRO, an 8-channel D/A processor with USB input and output, 8 channels of AES/EBU input, and 8 channels of balanced (XLR) analog output as well as a headphone output.

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