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High-End Audio / Audiophile / Immersivephile Hi-Fi Equipment Reviews And Think Pieces

October 2021

 

High-End Audio & Music Industry News

Hi-Fi And Music Industry News
Essential high-end audio news you need to know.
Enjoy the Music.com posts audiophile news virtually every day.

 

 

SoundStage By Andrew Everard  --  HIFICRITIC Volume 15 Number 3 July / August / September 2021

SoundStage
Are we all too busy being serious about our systems to kick back and have fun with the music? A game of 'pass the Bluetooth' at a party has Andrew Everard wondering....
Article By Andrew Everard
Yes, our hi-fi systems are there to be refined, optimised and listened to with rapt attention paid to every nuance – but are we losing some of the fun of just enjoying the music? Andrew Everard's been wondering... As a hi-fi reviewer, I get used to the incredulous reaction when I tell people what I do for a living: 'What?' they almost invariably exclaim, 'You get paid to listen to music?' That one's a bit akin to the way some bristle a bit when I says I'm a journalist, then relax considerably when I explain what I write about: 'Oh, not a real journalist, then,' was the best response to that one. But for all that, doing what I do has treated me pretty well over the years; yes, I get to listen to great music played on usually fairly excellent equipment, and there's always something to pique the interest and lead to further explanations.
---> SoundStage article by Andrew Everard.

 

 

Are You Part Of The 80 Percent? Roger Skoff writes about performance measurement.

Are You Part Of The 80 Percent?
Roger Skoff writes about performance measurement.
Article By Roger Skoff
Just a few days ago, some guy wrote on one of the social media that he had come across some thousand dollar speakers that were eighty percent as good as ten thousand dollar ones. What does that mean? Do you know? Does he? Could it be that the less expensive speakers have only eighty percent of the frequency range of the more expensive ones? Or that their frequency response curve is only eighty (80) percent as "flat"? If so, which twenty (20) percent of the frequency ranges are being shorted? Bass, treble, mid-range? Can any of those be compromised and still have speakers that sound good? Maybe the difference is one of relative sensitivity. Maybe the thousand dollar ones are only 80 percent as loud per watt of input power as the ten thousand dollar ones.
---> Are you part of the 80 percent?

 

 

Amplifier Power Ratings From The Ground Up, Part 3

Amplifier Power Ratings From The Ground Up, Part 3
The final part of our series offers practical conclusions and key takeaways.
Article By Pat Brown Of SynAudCon
With this article, I wrap up a three-part series on amplifier power ratings. In Parts 1 and 2, I presented some relevant theory to understand what amplifier power ratings mean. In this final installment, I'll present some practical conclusions. A wave editor presents a graphical representation of the voltage amplitude of a waveform versus time (Figure 1). The voltage waveform originates from a microphone, recording, electronic musical instrument, PC, etc. The function of each stage of the signal chain is to modify this waveform. This might include gain, equalization, delay and a host of other signal processes. By the time it gets to the power-amplifier input, only one modification remains: gain. Some of these voltage modifications are to introduce compensations or corrections to the loudspeaker's response. That's why the amplifier must preserve the voltage fidelity.
---> Amplifier power ratings from the ground up, part 3.

 

 

ampsandsound Bryce Monos Amplifier Review

ampsandsound Bryce Monos Amplifier Review
Getting the most out of 12 Watts.
Review By Sam Rosen
Justin Weber, the owner of ampsandsound, has been on a roll lately. 2021 has been a big year for him. He introduced two new headphone amplifiers (The Rockwell, and the Agartha), had two of his products put on the 2021 Stereophile recommended component list, and introduced a new set of mono block speaker amplifiers known as the Bryce Monos. In today's review, we are going to talk about the Bryce Monos, which are in my opinion, the ultimate expression of Justin's single-ended work. In the headphone world, ampsandsound has built a niche as a high performance tube amp manufacturer. Its products, like the Bigger Ben and the Kenzie, are well known quantities in high end headphone circles. However, ampsandsound's best kept secret is its speaker amps.
---> ampsandsound Bryce Monos amplifier review.

 

 

Audeze LCD-5 Flagship Headphones Review

Audeze LCD-5 Flagship Headphones Review
As good as it gets!
Review By Gary Alan Barker
I have been a big fan of Audeze's headphones throughout the years. Since their initial release of the venerable LCD-2 over a decade ago, Audeze has become a world leader in planar magnetic technology and has produced some of the very best headphones on the planet. Well, never to let the grass grow under their feet, the engineers at Audeze have certainly been quite busy this past year with three significant new releases: LCD-R (ribbon-based headphones, and CRBN Electrostatic (their first foray into electro-static headphones), the LCD-5's round out this amazing trifecta of great new products. The original LCD-2's wowed the world of personal audio with truly some of the best performing headphones ever released a decade ago. Their relaxed and natural tone was a stark contrast to the many brighter sounding headphones previously released like the AKG K701, Beyerdynamic T1 and Sennheiser HD800.
---> Audeze LCD-5 flagship headphones review.

 

 

Topping D30Pro DAC & A30Pro Headphone Amplifier Review

Topping D30Pro DAC & A30Pro Headphone Amplifier Review
The desktop DAC/headphone amplifier category is getting very crowded and competitive.
Review By W. Jennings
Let's have a conversation about Topping. A quick Google search reveals a lot of strong opinions about the brand; most of them are quite positive but there's a lot more to the story. Topping have proven to be a formidable brand in the desktop audio category and products like the Topping D30Pro DAC and A30Pro Headphone Amplifier are selling faster than they can produce them. The brand has made some great products of late and seems to specialize in building DACs and amplifiers with ridiculously low noise levels. The measurements of recent models have been so impressive that most analyzers cannot directly measure the THD+N without using a secondary amplifier and dividing the results by the amplification factor of that secondary.
---> Topping D30Pro DAC & A30Pro Headphone Amplifier review.

 

 

Aavik Acoustics RIAA R-180 Phono Preamplifier Review

Aavik Acoustics RIAA R-180 Phono Preamplifier Review
Excellent transparency and musicality deliver musical bliss.
Review By Tom Lyle
In July of 2021, I reviewed Aavik Acoustics's I-180 integrated amplifier, D-180 DAC, and S-180 streamer / network player. In the review, I practically raved about the sonic quality of all three components, so it was no surprise that Aavik earned a hard-fought Enjoy the Music.com 2021 Blue Note Award within our September 2021 issue. The three Aavik components bestowed a 2021 Blue Note award are not cheap, but neither are they extravagantly priced at $7200 each. That is certainly reasonable for high-end audio components that I thought were some of the best I've ever heard within and above their price range. Not only that, but these three components took a surprisingly noticeable step up in their sonic performance when used together. I'm willing to admit that their good looks might have initially contributed to me liking them, especially when the three components were stacked on top of each other - an Aavik stack.
---> Aavik Acoustics RIAA R-180 phono preamplifier review.

 

 

Acme Audio Labs Silver Cryo Fuses Review

World Premiere Review!
Acme Audio Labs Silver Cryo Fuses Review

Is this the best $20 bucks you can spend?
Review By Rick Becker
They arrived in a Flat Rate envelope via US Postal Service. It took a while to get them. Patience is key. The fuse packaging was appropriate for such modestly priced product and very professional. The plastic and Mylar envelops had a tear-off top and were re-sealable. The fuses inside were further encapsulated in clear, snap-top plastic cylinders. A sticker on the Mylar side indicated the Silver Cryo Fuse inside and the value of each fuse was marked by hand. A list of Small 5x20, Large 6x32, Slow Blow T, Fast Blow F, and Special CFC Coating each had a small box that was manually checked off to identify the fuse contained within. This was an enormous help, not only because I had two sets of fuses to keep track of (with and without the CFC coating), but because with the matt-silver caps on these small fuses the engraved lettering was more difficult to read than on typical shinny end caps.
---> Acme Audio Labs Silver Cryo Fuses review.

 

 

Dan Clark Audio Stealth Planar Magnetic Headphone Review

Dan Clark Audio Stealth Planar Magnetic Headphone Review
Redefining a flagship headphone.
Review By Gary Alan Barker
I have related my history with Dan Clark Audio headphones ad nauseam so I will spare you the details this time, but there is a reason why three of my reference headphones are Dan Clark Audio products (MrSpeakers when I acquired them). While the ETHER2 is my preferred daily use headphone due to its comfort and extreme resolution, the ETHER C Flow 1.1 remains my choice for testing tonal balance and sub-bass response, and the AEON open is my budget headphone of choice, and of course, the VOCE remains my all-time favorite headphone period, well, up to today at least. Introducing the Dan Clark Audio Stealth Planar Magnetic Headphone. As I have mentioned many, many times before, with each new Planar Magnetic headphone Dan Clark makes a huge improvement over those that came before, reaching ever closer to that magic ideal personified in the Electrostatic headphone, with greater dynamics and deep bass response to boot.
---> Dan Clark Audio Stealth headphone review.

 

 

Octave V 70 Class A Integrated Amplifier Review

Octave V 70 Class A Int. Amplifier Review
Merging Class A sound with the performance of an AB circuit. 
Review By Michael Lang

Anyone who finds themselves exposed to the dry humor of Octave boss and mastermind Andreas Hofmann for the first time won't be ready for it – especially if not warned beforehand. It is likely that you'd be stunned at first by the mixture of short, dry verbal jabs and thoughtfully delivered oral punches. But don't worry, Hofmann is not a vicious cynic who aims to hurt or rant. The knowledge he has acquired over many years of developing tube amplifiers, and the worldwide recognition that comes with it, have however given him the healthy self-confidence to put his own work into the limelight when compared to the competition. This also entails him taking a small dig or two at the activities of his colleagues.
---> Octave V 70 Class A integrated amplifier review.

 

 

Sumiko Blue Point No. 3 MC Phono Cartridge Review

Sumiko Blue Point No. 3 MC Phono Cartridge Review
My graduation to moving coil.
Review By Eric Pye
Graduation. In my day job here in Alberta I'm a career and job search coach, and through the summer, graduation has been a big theme for current and former clients. June for university and high school students. July and August for law students completing articles and being called to the Bar. August for CPA Candidates learning whether they passed or failed their final accounting exams in May. Cause for celebrations. This summer I've also had a graduation of sorts. I finally got to experience the joys of a Moving Coil (MC) turntable cartridge. Cause for celebration? Read on and find out. Having only gotten back into vinyl in September of 2018, I'm now on turntables number three (Dual 701), four (Denon DP-1200) and five (Technics SL-DL1). All my cartridges have been Moving Magnet (MM), which is what you'll typically find on entry-level turntables. Can't say I've had any complaints but will say I've been curious about what an MC cart would bring to the party.
---> Sumiko Blue Point No. 3 MC phono cartridge review.

 

 

Capacitors And Inductors

Capacitors And Inductors
Article By Grey Rollins
You know that thing with metal balls hanging from strings? The one where you pull back a ball on one end, let go, and it hits the others, knocking the one on the opposite end loose? (It is called a Newton's Cradle if you want to Google up a picture.) Okay, now imagine slipping a piece of paper between the middle balls. That's actually a pretty good visualization of a capacitor at work. The paper represents the insulator between the plates and the balls are electrons. When an electron enters one side of the capacitor, one leaves the other side. If two enter on one side, two will leave on the other. After a period of time, the balls that left return, and an equal number of balls from first side leave. In the real world, the balls in a Newton's Cradle are obeying Newton's Laws of Motion. An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force and all that. In a real world capacitor the motivating force is electrostatic repulsion.
---> Capacitors and inductors.

 

 

The Intro By Art Dudley

The Intro
Editorial By Art Dudley
Passions run high among music lovers. We vilify "bad" musicians (the ones we dislike), and we elevate marginally functional savants with a couple of two-minute singles and some album filler under their belts. When it comes to more unique and productive figures like Phil Spector, Jimi Hendrix, Wilhelm Furtwängler, John Cage, or [insert your own heroes and villains here], music fans either revere them as gods or dismiss them as meaningless. Sometimes there are shades in between, but perspective is at a premium. This tendency to paint things black or white spills over to the equipment we use to play back our favorite recordings. i've seen the cognoscenti dismiss people on the basis of no more information than their choice of power amp, though I suspect few of us are quite so one-dimensional in truth. Anyone with an internet connection can publish broadsides proclaiming their love for equipment and music and aim verbal barrages at their musical "enemies."
---> The intro by Art Dudley.

 

 

Sound Practices Magazine Issue 1, Summer 1992

Voices From The Fringe?
Editorial By Joe Roberts
From Sound Practices Issue 1, Summer 1992
Audio today consists of a much wider range of practice than you'll find reported in the glossy mags. Some of the most interesting activity in the hobby takes place outside the borders that commercial producers of contemporary equipment accept as their playing field. There are vintage gear enthusiasts, modifiers of old and new gear, and people who build things that the manufacturers are wise to avoid - products with limited popular appeal or which are not economically viable to manufacture. Except for Audio Amateur/Glass Audio, there's no dedicated forum for do-it-yourself audio, one of the most rewarding facets of our hobby. Only a few decades ago DIY was an important part of the hobby for people as committed to it as we are. What happened?
---> Voices from the fringe?

 

 

Home Theater, 50% Style Article By Dan Schmalle

Home Theater, 50% Style
Article By Dan Schmalle
From VALVE Issue 6, July 1994
Well, you guys who missed the last meeting are really gonna kick yourselves. You missed Rick and Tina cutting a rug at our vintage disco. The meeting was obviously quite informal. I had managed to scrounge the proper parts to repair one damaged crossover in time for the meeting so we got to hear the A7's in stereo. Attendance was light so we pushed back the chairs and cranked 'em up and danced. Now I don't like horn speakers as a rule, but these A7's aren't bad. With the Stereo 70 the tweets seemed a bit harsh and throaty. I later adjusted the crossover for 6dB attenuation and they really smoothed out. The real surprise was how nice the triode amp I've been putting together sounded with them. I am now willing to concede that triodes and horns can sound very good. Thanks to Mike for inspiring me to try 'em.
---> Home theater, 50% style.

 

 

Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 Loudspeaker Review

Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 Speaker Review
A new and innovative design in speaker technology.
Review By Dr. Matthew Clott
You might have to stand on your head for this review because Zoltán Bay turned the concept of speaker production upside down and inside out when he created the Bay Radial Speaker (BRS) Tweeter. And when you see the absolutely unique and creative Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 speaker design ($60,000), you're not going to be able to figure out how to stand, so just have a seat and enjoy the read. Maybe have the computer or tablet read it to you while you listen to your favorite composition in the background.... Be sure to grab your favorite beverage and have that cute dog (or cat) of yours sit in your lap and snuggle in; this is gonna be good!
---> Bayz Audio Courante 2.0 speaker review.

 

 

Pass Laboratories XP-17 Phono Preamplifier & X250.8 Power Amplifier Review

Pass Labs XP-17 Phono Preamp &
Pass Labs X250.8 Power Amplifier Review
Impressive sound quality that we've come to expect from Pass Labs.
Review By Tom Lyle
For quite some time I've been using a Pass Laboratories power amplifier, phono stage, and headphone amplifier as references in my listening room. There were times I thought that some might think I was a spokesperson for this brand of equipment! I could see how some might get that idea, because not only do I use three Pass Labs components in my system, I also will tell anyone who will listen that I consider Pass Laboratories' high-end audio components the best in their respective price classes. Then again, those who have read my reviews of other brands of audio equipment will be able to tell that I approach each review with an open mind.
---> Pass Labs XP-17 phono preamplifier & X250.8 power amplifier review.

 

 

Legendary Performance Awards 2020  --  Enjoy the Music.com Celebrates Our 25th Aniiversary

Legendary Performance Awards 2020
Enjoy the Music.com celebrates our 25th Anniversary reviewing high-end audio gear.
Enjoy the Music.com's Legendary Performance Awards 2020 celebrates the incredible achievements by high-end audio manufacturers since we've been reviewing gear for over the past two decades. Unlike our annual Blue Note Awards, Enjoy the Music.com's Legendary Performance Awards is a once every 25-year event, so you know it is something very special indeed! We tasked our extensive staff in choosing products they felt earned an extra-special mention, which in turn shows the greatness of these legendary pieces of high-end audio equipment.
---> See Enjoy the Music.com's Legendary Performance Awards 2020.

 

 

We're All In This Together A bit of retrospective during Enjoy the Music.com's 25th Anniversary.

We're All In This Together
A bit of retrospective during Enjoy the Music.com's 25th Anniversary.
Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin
Without a doubt the familiar phrase "Hindsight is 2020" almost feels like it originated as a message from a future time traveler, which we have profoundly misunderstood (h/t Steve Hoffman). Looking back during the past 25 years, and ~9000(!) web pages ago, this site was originally launched as a way to easily answer the many questions he was receiving from others online. Back then, as best I recall, there were less than a single handful of audiophile sites online.
---> Read We're All In This Together.

 

 

 

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