Kalman Rubinson

Kalman Rubinson  |  Mar 14, 2024  |  5 comments
One thing that interested me about the StormAudio ISP Evo is that, despite its obvious hi-fi function, it's more like a computer than a typical "prepro." While it does offer a few "legacy" analog inputs, it is for the most part all-digital, input to output, including network connections on both ends. Consequently, it is less likely to leave sonic fingerprints on the music than devices that convert digital to/from analog or modulate their signals with active amplification or attenuation. It is notable that, despite its audio function, the Storm completely lacks traditional audio specifications—distortion, dynamic range, and so on.

Yes, that aspect of the product was appealing, but the real trigger for me was that when I began this review, the StormAudio ISP Evo was the only consumer device to fully incorporate the latest version of Dirac Live Active Room Treatment (ART).

Kalman Rubinson  |  Dec 20, 2023  |  45 comments
I've been running a 5.1 system for years. Recently, I expanded it to 5.3 with the addition of two more subwoofers. This system is manageable with one of my eight-channel DACs.

Even more recently, I dipped my toe into Dolby Atmos, which made it necessary to lash up at least four more channels. That was a big problem, since neither JRiver nor Roon can support and sync more than one output device at a time, and the multichannel DACs I already owned tap out at eight channels.

I turned to the Arvus H2-4D Renderer, which offers 16 channels of digital output over AES3 and 16 channels of balanced-analog output. This worked, but piping everything through the Arvus meant forswearing DSP, including DiracLive. I really needed a DAC with at least 12 channels.

The Merging+Hapi has been around for years...

Kalman Rubinson  |  Nov 24, 2023  |  6 comments
I've been watching Estelon since they came on the market in the US. Their striking appearance grabs the eye, but, preoccupied with other brands and reviews, I was able to deny them serious attention until now.

I had my reasons—especially price. The prices of those earlier Estelons were a poor fit for my budget. I was also troubled by the fact that, despite rhetoric about driver and component choice, advanced cabinet materials and construction, and fastidious engineering, Estelon has been stingy with details and specifications—not a complete disqualifier but rather a missed opportunity to appeal to objectivist proclivities.

What changed my mind? First, while Estelon is deservedly known for the elegance of its designs, the AURA is, to me, the cleanest design the company has yet achieved . . . Second, at $19,900/pair, the AURA is much less expensive than the earlier models, including the Forza reviewed by Michael Fremer and the XB Diamond Mk.2 reviewed by Jim Austin.

Kalman Rubinson  |  Aug 17, 2023  |  10 comments
When I got these new speakers for review, they were so new that, at the time I unpacked them, no official user manual was included or posted on the manufacturer's website, and the promised matching stands didn't exist. Yet, I have the abiding feeling that I am getting to the party long after it has started. The Mobile Fidelity SourcePoint 8 is the newer, smaller sibling of the SourcePoint 10 reviewed by John Atkinson in Stereophile's February 2023 issue, with a follow-up by Ken Micallef in June.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Jun 20, 2023  |  20 comments
Over a lifetime of involvement in audio, I have had standmount speakers—bookshelf speakers, as they were called back then—only twice. My very first loudspeaker was a vinyl-wrapped fiberboard bookshelf box with no name. It lasted barely a year and was replaced with a two-way system I built with a 12" RCA woofer in a floorstanding bass-reflex cabinet. My second bookshelf system was a Weathers "Book" speaker lashed up to a University dual-voice-coil woofer. I was determined to try that new thing, stereo.

Since then, I've had only floorstanders, home-made and manufactured, and I never seriously considered owning small speakers again except, perhaps, as part of a surround sound system. With that bias, why am I reviewing the B&W 705 S3?

Kalman Rubinson  |  May 09, 2023  |  22 comments
It has taken almost three years, but Dolby Atmos is now permeating the music-streaming sites; note that most of the recent Grammy winners are available in Atmos.

Up to now, access to Atmos has been largely restricted to HT hardware; its success for music will depend on wide availability and non-HT options for audiophile music lovers to stream and to play discs or files in Atmos, especially in lossless versions. Enter the Arvus H2-4D.

Kalman Rubinson  |  Feb 16, 2023  |  26 comments
Planned for KEF's 60th anniversary, much as the LS50 was planned for the company's 50th, the LS60 Wireless is a statement product that encompasses the premise of company founder Raymond Cooke that loudspeaker performance could be improved through the application of new materials and new technologies. Improvements in recent KEF designs include the refinement of the Uni-Q coaxial driver, Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), force-canceling Uni-Core woofers with P-Flex surrounds, cabinets shaped to reduce diffraction, and the configuration and arrangement of drivers to create what KEF calls a Single Apparent Source.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Dec 30, 2022  |  10 comments
The Topping DM7 DAC ($599.99) is a high-resolution, eight-channel DAC that supports PCM and DSD sources but will not handle any of the common Dolby/DTS codecs. It employs the highly capable and respected ES-9038PRO DAC chip, ESS's flagship. It has just one input, and it's USB. Its eight analog outputs are fully balanced, but they are TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) phone jacks, which are more widely used in pro audio; most audiophiles will require adapters.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Nov 04, 2022  |  56 comments
Back in 1999, while reviewing the Wazoo integrated amplifier from Bow Technologies, I learned that its designer and company founder, Bo Christensen, had previously founded another audio company. That's how I discovered Primare. Over the years, various products from Primare have appeared at audio shows but never grabbed my attention. In a recent EISA press presentation, however, Primare showcased an eight-channel amplifier that did, given my interest in multichannel audio. I was glad to be able to attend.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Aug 19, 2022  |  21 comments
It seems as if I have been waiting for these all my life. Not in any existential sense, but in a literal, practical way: The arrival of the Blade Two Meta is the culmination of a lifelong fascination with KEF. As a teenager, I was introduced to founder Raymond Cooke and his innovative "race-track" woofer, Mylar tweeter dome, and Bextrene cones in Bud Fried's IMF Newsletter.