equipment reviews
This Month's Featured Equipment Reviews
Tisbury Audio Mini Passive Review
Denon AVR-S700W& Envaya Bluetooth Speaker Reviews
CLONES Audio 25p Power Amplifier Review
Audioengine A2+ Desktop Speakers Review
Darwin Truth Silver Cable Review
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Wednesday, 27 August 2014 ,  Written by Andre Marc
Tisbury Audio Mini Passive Review
Tisbury Audio is a relatively new artisanal audio design firm located in London, England a few blocks away from the Wimbledon village, where the famed tennis championships are played. It is rather fitting. Wimbledon is about tradition, decorum, and getting things just right in an understated way. Tisbury makes handcrafted products it sells direct at miraculous prices. The two products on their web page currently are the Challenge Amp 1 headphone amplifier, and the Mini Passive volume controller. Both the Challenge Amp 1 and the Mini Passive are built with quality parts, have a small footprint, and are absolutely beautiful to look at. The Challenge amp sells for £350 GBP, and the Mini Passive for £135 GPD, or about $225 USD. Wes Young -- see the Bonus Interview at the review's conclusion -- of Tisbury Audio offered to send me ...
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 ,  Written by Andre Marc
Denon DA-300USB DAC Review
Denon has introduced a number of notable new products in the last year or so, including streamers, AV receivers, Blu-ray players, HiFi components, and headphones. I recently reviewed their very nice DHT-S514 Soundbar. Add to the list of hot new items: the Denon DA-300USB DSD DAC and headphone amplifier. It retails for $499. With the DA-300USB, Denon has entered the exciting and fiercely competitive market of sub-$1000 multi-function digital decoders. Denon has a long history with digital, and there is a lot of engineering muscle to call on. Their universal disc players were coveted in the time that SACD and DVD-A were making a push, and their AV Receivers have been top performers. Fast forward to 2014 and computer audio has now gone mainstream. Disc players have clearly taken a back seat, although they are still being ...
Monday, 03 February 2014 ,  Written by Andre Marc
Musical Fidelity V90 DAC Review
I'm no stranger to Britain's Musical Fidelity, having reviewed a number of their budget minded and mid tier products over the past few years. A few of the items that have come through my systems include the V-DAC II, V-Link 192, M1 CLiC, and the M1 CDT. All offered remarkable sound, even without considering their affordable prices. The V-DAC II and M1 CDT disc transport remain in my systems currently. Musical Fidelity’s founder and principal is known for updating the lines pretty consistently. On the plus side of that, the company seems to add improvements and offer higher levels of performance for slight premiums, and sometimes without price increases. The company also has a reputation for making very well constructed components, with legacy products being enjoyed for decades by long time customers. Musical Fidelity has also shown itself to be ...
Monday, 14 October 2013 ,  Written by Andre Marc
John Kenny Ciunas USB DAC Review
To say the USB market is saturated would be an understatement. To say the affordable USB DAC market is crowded, would be even more so. I define “affordable” as under $1000. There are a slew of new products under $300 that have flooded the market, but those are mostly, if not all, considered “portable” devices. Affordable USB DACs come in every conceivable size and shape, with varying resolution capabilities, power schemes, and build quality. Most offer a single USB input, since a computer is the assumed source, but others offer additional S/PDIF inputs as well.   USB DACs have taken high-end audio by storm due the popularity of using computers as digital source components. The optical disc player is going the way of the dinosaur according to those who claim to be ahead of the curve. This may be partly due ...
Thursday, 26 September 2013 ,  Written by Andre Marc
Channel Islands Audio PLC-1 MKII Remote Passive Controller Review
Channel Islands Audio, out of California, has been a favorite of mine since I bought their VDA-2 DAC, and an external power supply for my Squeezebox Touch. They are in the business of making handcrafted digital sources, Class D amplifiers, power supplies, and passive controllers for those who seek affordable components and great sound. CIAudio proves these two goals are not mutually exclusive.I recently heard CIAudio’s excellent new USB to SPDIF converter and stand alone DAC, the Transient MKII, and was very impressed. After a conversation with Dusty Vawter, the owner and lead designer of CIAudio, in which I discussed my growing appreciation for passive “preamps”, he offered the $899 PLC-1 MKII Passive Controller for review. CIAudio also makes the $299 VPC-3 Passive. They differ dramatically in feature set. The PLC-1 MK II has multiple inputs, can be controlled via ...
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