Robert Harley

Robert Harley  |  May 07, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1989  |  5 comments
One of the joys of reviewing audio reproduction equipment is discovering a little-known product that provides an extraordinary level of performance and musical satisfaction at an affordable price. These components, sometimes made in a garage, reflect the designer's single-minded zeal for musical accuracy, not the sometime corporate mentality of meeting a price point or catering to the latest fad.
Robert Harley  |  Jan 10, 2020  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1994  |  6 comments
At the 1992 Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Audio Research showed a line of reference products that represented the pinnacle of founder William Z. Johnson's life work as an amplifier designer. Although the all-tubed, fully balanced preamplifier and tubed monoblock power amplifiers were shown as works-in-progress, it was clear that these were products aimed at advancing the state of the amplifier art with no consideration for cost.
Robert Harley  |  Jan 09, 2020  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1994  |  36 comments
From the front, the LS5 looks identical to Audio Research's popular LS2: two knobs on either side of the Audio Research nameplate, and a row of toggle switches along the bottom. But that's where the similarities end; the LS5 is a completely different animal from the LS2, or even the balanced LS2B.
Robert Harley  |  Dec 13, 2019  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1995  |  7 comments
Making digital audio sound good appears to be a much more difficult job than its developers first realized. When digital audio was in its infancy, there was a tendency to think that digital either worked perfectly, or didn't work at all. This belief led the engineering community to devise ill-considered and flawed standards that affect the musical quality of digitally reproduced music today.
Robert Harley  |  Nov 08, 2019  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1992  |  10 comments
Looking at the Digital Link II's build quality and circuitry, it's hard to believe that it can sell for $499 at retail. The Digital Link II shares the same appearance as PS Audio's SuperLink and UltraLink processors, but has a 4"-shorter chassis. The ¼"-thick front panel uses PS Audio's familiar touch-sensitive switches that turn the unit on and select between coaxial and optical inputs. LEDs above these switches indicate when the unit is locked to the digital source. A third LED illuminates when power is applied.
Robert Harley  |  Sep 12, 2019  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1992  |  1 comments
The $799 Theorem was originally shown at the 1992 WCES in a very small chassis that prohibited adding features or upgrades. Sumo has since become more ambitious, putting the Theorem in a full-sized chassis and offering several upgrade options that would have been impossible in the truncated version.
Robert Harley  |  Sep 11, 2019  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1994  |  14 comments
One measure of a high-end product designer's talent is the musical success of his top-of-the-line product. This is his statement to the world of what he can accomplish—a kind of "personal best" that defines the upper limits of his talent. Because he knows of no way to make the product better, the component stands as the ultimate testimonial to his skill.
Robert Harley  |  Jul 11, 2019  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1993  |  2 comments
American audiophiles have long had a love-hate relationship with British integrated amplifiers. On one hand, they often provide superb musicality, sell for a moderate price, and don't take up much room. On the other, these British alternatives to Adcom or B&K separates often have low power output, nonstandard connectors, idiosyncratic appearance (footnote 1), and dictate the kind of speaker cable and interconnects you can use.
Robert Harley, Shannon Dickson  |  Jun 14, 2019  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1995  |  0 comments
Some high-end audio companies develop reputations for having a particular "sound." This reputation develops when every product the company makes has a similar sonic flavor. These products appeal to certain customers who like the company's sound, and who therefore tend to stay with that company's products year after year. Unfortunately, such an approach can limit a manufacturer's appeal to a broader audience.
Robert Harley  |  Jun 13, 2019  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1992  |  8 comments
His background may have been in tubed audio product design, but Theta Digital's Mike Moffat is now at the forefront of computer-based digital processor development. His Theta D/A processors are among a handful of products that use Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chips and custom filtering software instead of off-the-shelf filter chips (footnote 1). I recently visited Mike at the Theta factory to get his current ideas on digital audio reproduction and what goes into designing a good-sounding processor. I began by asking Mike if he had always been an audiophile.

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