Recommended Components Fall 2022 Edition Signal Processors

Signal Processors

A+

Chord Hugo M Scaler: $5650
The Chord Hugo M Scaler is a digital processor but not a digital-to-analog processor, its purpose being the upsampling—referred to in the UK as upscaling—of incoming data. When connected to a Chord DAC via BNC connectors, the M Scaler can upsample up to 705.6kHz or 768kHz, but with non-Chord DACs the upper limits become 176.4kHz and 192kHz. (In all cases, incoming DSD data is converted to PCM, with a 6dB reduction in level.) JA used the M Scaler with Chord's DAVE D/A processor, and with his own PS Audio and Mark Levinson DACs. In all cases, but especially with the DAVE, upsampling via the M Scaler offered such improvements as "more image depth, an increased sense of drive, and even more clarity." That said, owing to the fact that the M Scaler is "relatively expensive," JA recommends auditioning it with your DAC of choice "before getting out the credit card." (Vol.43 No.3 WWW)

A

AudioPraise VanityPRO HDMI audio extractor: $1595
The VanityPRO extracts a digital audio signal from the HDMI stream and offers several options for processing and outputting the extracted audio for playback on a high-quality audio system. KR appreciated the opportunity to apply DSP, channel-level adjustments, active crossovers, and room correction while playing discs, without redundant D/A–A/D conversion. "It's a pleasure to run DiracLive—to balance channels and compensate for room acoustics—not just with files but also while playing discs," he wrote. KR's review sample was fitted with four AES3 (XLR) stereo outputs supporting up to eight channels of audio. The multichannel version is also available with four electrical S/PDIF outputs with either RCA or BNC connectors. The stereo version, which costs the same, comes with AES3, S/PDIF over RCA, and TosLink—one of each. (Vol.45 No.5 WWW)

Accuphase DG-68 Digital Voicing Equalizer: $24,000
See "Digital Processors."

GeerFab Audio D.BOB: $999
"This unique device is a solution to a problem that previously couldn't be solved," wrote KR. The GeerFab D.BOB digital breakout box takes a universal player's HDMI output and with SACDs, extracts two-channel DSD data from the HDMI audio stream, and outputs DoP (DSD-over-PCM) via RCA and TosLink S/PDIF connectors. GeerFab assures users that this implementation is both legal and compatible with HDMI 1.4b and HDCP 1.4. JA's measurements confirmed that the D.BOB's output was bit-perfect—ie, the bits it outputs via S/PDIF are the same as those sent to it via HDMI. (Vol.43 No.5 WWW)

B

Denafrips Gaia D/D reclocker: $1822.89
The Gaia takes in digital signals through its USB, S/PDIF (including optical TosLink and RCA electrical), or AES3 inputs, buffers them, and reclocks them with the same OCXO clock used in the Terminator Plus. Perhaps because of this similarity, HR found that the Gaia gave only a small improvement when used with the Terminator Plus: "The Gaia's positive effect on the density and clarity of sound ... was smaller and less music-enhancing than I expected." With the Gaia inserted (USB in, coax out) between his Roon Nucleus+ and the Terminator Plus, he wrote that "clean and resolved" became a tiny bit more "grainless and sanitary." But that was all. (Vol.45 No.5 WWW)

Nordost Qnet Network Switch: $3199.99
See Jason Victor Serinus's review elsewhere in this issue. (Vol.45 No.10)

COMMENTS
Auditor's picture

The text under the J. Sikora Initial is the same as under the J. Sikora Reference, which is obviously a mistake.

John Atkinson's picture
Auditor wrote:
The text under the J. Sikora Initial is the same as under the J. Sikora Reference, which is obviously a mistake.

Fixed. Thank you.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

lesmarshall's picture

I was very surprised to read that the Benchmark DAC 3 is no longer a Recommended Component . In the earlier 2022 edition of Recommend Components , it was an A+ component . Your stated reason for the deletion was because it was not auditioned in a long while . Well why not audition it then ? Also, why is an audition necessary ? It measured as one of the best DACs ever . Why would its measurements change simply because you have not auditioned it recently ? I understand its your policy , but it seems rather unfair to Benchmark that you no longer recommend it for that reason . I believe a much fairer policy would be that a highly rated component should only fall off the recommended list if it is auditioned periodically and you determine that its current level of recommendation is no longer justified based on the factors that you use to include a component of the recommended list .

JRT's picture

Les, toward some light hearted amusement, consider a reductio ad absurdum.

The quoted material below was excerpted from the first version (published 01 May 1963) of Stereophile's recommended components, just the A,B,C rated amplifiers and preamplifiers:

Quote:

Preamplifier-Control Units
A: Marantz 7, McIntosh C-20
B, C: Dynaco PAS-2

Power Amplifiers
A: Marantz 8B, McIntosh MC-60 (footnote 5), Marantz 9A (footnote 5)
B, C: Dynaco Stereo 70

Footnote 5: mono amplifier.

Reductio ad Absurdum... Should the old gear listed above continue as currently recommended gear, or is it best left in its original context in the circa 1963 article? ...and why or why not? ...and is it a much too different set of cases for comparison? ...why? Would that old gear be good fodder for a listing of recommended vintage gear, and is that good subject matter for the current Stereophile readership? These are mostly rhetorical questions, but not all.

JRT's picture

Would you also include the essentially similar PAS-3, and then also the PAS-3X with updated tone controls, and then maybe also Frank van Alstine's improved Super PAS Three, etc.? The original short-list can grow large.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/recommended-components-1-0

https://www.stereophile.com/tubepreamps/1088vana/index.html

xtcfan80's picture

lesmarshall...a few years ago I believe it was the late Art Dudley who explained why gear drops off the RC list. Do a search and read it, explained in classic Art Dudley fashion. Cliffs Notes Version: GET OVER IT! A piece dropping off the list does not invalidate any past purchasing decision, only the ego of the complainer...

georgehifi's picture

It would be nice if the "title" of the piece recommended was clickable, so one could easily then read the full review of all these thousands of "recommended components" instead of searching like a ???

Just a thought??

Cheers George

liquidsun's picture

I must say I'm surprised to see Perlistens into Restricted Extreme LF category as I thought they were full range speakers.

Kal Rubinson's picture

For most, they will be full range but, as you can see from JA's Fig. 4, the FR is rolling off smoothly below 100HZ such that it will easily mate with a complementary subwoofer. I believe that was Perlisten's intent. That said, unless you are assessing the sound of low, low organ pedal tones, explosions or thunder, the bass from the s7t is clean, powerful and musically satisfying.

Robin Landseadel's picture

There's a lot of Dance Pop/Techno music that gives the lowest octave a workout. Managed to blow out the small bass driver from a Paradigm bookshelf speaker with a Sarah McLaughlan track---"I Love You" from the album "Surfacing"---a quiet ballad with a synth bottom without overtones, so there's pure, deep bass. Another good example would be the work of Bill Laswell, a producer/bass player.

Kal Rubinson's picture

OK but how is this relevant? On the one hand, I am not surprised that one can blow out the small bass driver in a bookshelf speaker. On the other, I doubt if it would do that to the Perlisten.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Blowing out the driver of a Paradigm Atom might not be meaningful save that I blew it out with a track that is low in level and undynamic. More to the point, it sounds like the speakers in question could use a sub. Of course, you pointed out that the speakers in question are designed to integrate well with subs. My Infinity 250 speakers, small floor-standing speakers, also requires a sub for deep bass.

What is meaningful is that there is more to the bottom octave than organ pedals and explosions. Lots of modern productions take advantage of digital recording/playback's ability to record/reproduce the lowest octaves of sound.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Yes, there is a lot more to the bottom end than I cared to mention but the distinction between the small Paradigm Atom and the s7t is that the former needs a sub (or a LP filter) merely to survive wide-band signals while the latter does not.

Did you read my comments about the Garage Door test? I doubt that either your Paradigm or your Infinity could compete with the Perlisten, with or without a sub.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Doubtless. My point was more about program material and really deep bass. In any case, my Infinity Primus 250s are aided by my Sonance Son of Sub. As the system is in a small room, it's probably as much bass as the room can take.

Anton's picture

I like to hit this issue and pretend all my Hi Fi gear is gone and I have to start over with my budget and this list.

Glotz's picture

Droooooool.. and I'm done FOREVER.

Soulution, MBL... heaven.

KEFLS50W's picture

It will be interesting to see if Stereophile catches up to the focus on active, integrated designs. The relevance of separates seems to be waning in comparison to these sexy and modern designs (many of which are good value to boot) from KEF, B&W, Q Acoustic, ATC, Dali, and others. LS50WII for example gives me access to high quality, high current class a/b amplification I would not have been able to afford with separates. On another note, why are REL subs not listed - they would floor the competition listed in terms of sonics and build quality. Sorry but SVS is a home theater product and KEF KC62 is for kids.

Apollo's picture

Focusing on the Class A Solid-state Two-channel Amplifiers for sake of my question, I am struggling with the broad price range, from about $1K at the low end of the range, to about $100K at the high end of the range.

At its simplest, my question is: why spend $100K for an amp, when one can get a similarly rated amp, and therefore a similarly good amp, for $1K?

I am asking without sarcasm, criticism, or prejudice. I want the best SQ. And I would rather spend the $ difference on something else.

What I find fascinating, is that more and more reviews across publications/websites conclude with the statement to the effect: "unless you want to spend more money, this piece of gear is perfect and all one needs".

So how can the $100K audio OEMs survive when similarly rated gears can be had for 100x less? What am I missing? Why spend $100K for an amp, when one can get a similarly rated amp for $1K?

xtcfan80's picture

"I am struggling" ...and maybe hifi isn't for you if you don't understand why some Class A gear costs 1K and some 100K...Be Happy and Listen!!!

X