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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

John Atkinson  |  Nov 16, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2020  |  3 comments
Three products are the subjects of lengthy followup reviews in the December issue of Stereophile: MBL's Noble Line N31 CD player-D/A processor, the GoldenEar BRX loudspeaker, and Alta Audio's Alyssa loudspeaker.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 12, 2020  |  0 comments
Two of the followup reviews that were published in the November 2020 issue of Stereophile have been posted to the magazine's website: Herb Reichert on the Yamaha A-S3200 integrated amplifier and the measurements of the Denafrips Ares II and Terminator D/A processors.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 14, 2020  |  2 comments
When Stereophile publishes followup reviews of various kinds in the print magazine, we add the followup as a "child page" to the full review. That means that they don't appear on the website's home page and might get missed. The October 2020 issue included three followups: of the Boulder 2108 phono preamplifier, the Weiss DAC502 D/A processor, and the IsoAcoustics Gaia loudspeaker isolation feet.
John Atkinson  |  Aug 28, 2020  |  53 comments
The email from Herb Reichert was intriguing. "I am, with great difficulty writing about HoloAudio's new two-chassis May DAC," he wrote. "It is death quiet and very natural. It makes every recording sound non-digital."

Once Herb had finished writing his review of the HoloAudio for the August issue's Gramophone Dreams column, I sped to his Bed-Stuy bothy and grabbed the May DAC, both to get it on my test bench and to take a listen for myself.

Herb Reichert  |  Aug 25, 2020  |  20 comments
I am fascinated by DACs and the shifting sands of today's digital-audio marketplace. This month, I am reporting on two more DACs, both made by Denafrips: the $4498 Terminator, until recently their flagship DAC, and the $768 Ares II, the company's least expensive model. Like the HoloAudio May DAC I described last month, both Denafrips converters employ R-2R conversion schemes, and both render recordings into direct, unprocessed sound.

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