Digital Processor Reviews

Sort By:  Post Date TitlePublish Date
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.

Alex Halberstadt  |  Dec 22, 2021  |  13 comments
"Resolution can be a tricky thing when it comes to digital," my friend Michael Lavorgna recently told me. "Too much, and my focus shifts from music to sound; too little, and I become less engaged." Lavorgna, a visual artist and proprietor of the online audio-and-music publication Twittering Machines, is one of my favorite people to talk to about records, books, art, and hi-fi. We've been doing it for almost 20 years.
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 02, 2021  |  20 comments
Since the plague arrived, several of my closest audio friends have been chattering and bugging me constantly, not about masks, vaccines, Trump, or Biden but about Bruno Putzeys's digital-to-analog converter, the Mola Mola Tambaqui. They've been sending emails and texts like pesky kids:

"Herbie! Have you tried the Mola Mola? Come on man, what's taking you so long? Is Putzeys's DAC better than my MSB? Or the dCS Bartók? Or the HoloAudio May?"

John Atkinson  |  Nov 29, 2021  |  0 comments
Stereophile often subjects products that have been reviewed to further coverage: sometimes because there was an aspect of performance that needed further investigation; other times because there was a controversial finding. Three recent followups concerned the Ayre Acoustics EX-8 2.0 Integrated Hub amplifier that Ken Micallef reviewed in the November 2021 issue; the Accuphase DG-68 Digital Voicing Equalizer that Jason Victor Serinus reviewed in August 2021; and the Zesto Leto Ultra II line preamplifier that Ken Micallef reviewed in February 2021.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 24, 2021  |  10 comments
In the summer of 2021, MoFi Distribution's Jonathan Derda emailed me about the South Korean HiFi Rose brand. "This brand strikes me as being the spiritual successor to the original SlimDevices Transporter and Squeezebox Touch," he wrote. "We're all really excited about it."

Alex Halberstadt  |  Nov 05, 2021  |  7 comments
Playlists embody who we are. We use musical affinities to understand (or at least categorize) others, not only as evidence of their aesthetic discernment but also of their emotional and political affiliations, which amount to an entire worldview. In other words, the database of favorite music that we carry around in our brains is no laughing matter. So, one of the most unexpected—and rewarding—things that can happen in music fandom is a complete and sudden inversion of one's beliefs. Which brings me to the perennially touchy subject of Steely Dan, a band that cleaves the ranks of listeners like a gold-plated katana.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Sep 22, 2021  |  16 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  |  5 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.

Pages

X