Digital Processor Reviews

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Kalman Rubinson  |  May 05, 2022  |  31 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  |  14 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.

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  |  9 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.
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.

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