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Daniel Kumin Posted: Aug 11, 2015 3 comments

Zensor 5 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

VTF-1 MK2 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,244 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Neutral balance
Excellent center-L/R tonal match
Superb “small”-sub output and extension
Minus
Zensor 5 mini-towers are rather short

THE VERDICT
Combining DALI’s fine-performing, high-value two-way line with one of the best inexpensive 10-inch subwoofers available creates an affordable system that competes well with the many contenders in its price class.

DALI is a company that has nothing to do with surrealist art or Tibetan Buddhism. The acronym is for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries, which over some 30 years has grown from a home-market specialist to a respected international brand. Despite this success, I had never gotten up close and personal with any DALI designs (trade-show demos excepted) until they shipped us a representative selection of their new Zensor entry-level series. Since the Zensor-ship currently lacks a subwoofer, we tapped one of the best size- and price-appropriate designs we know, Hsu Research’s affordable VTF-1 MK2.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 27, 2015 0 comments
Sure, everybody knows Ludwig van Beethoven. But how about his slightly less famous baroque predecessor (Johann) Ludwig Krebs?
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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 14, 2015 1 comments

T3 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
SubSeries 300 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $11,855

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-class sound reproduction
Near-perfect center- channel matching
Versatile dipole/bipole/double-monopole surrounds
Excellent finish quality
A bargain—for high-end speakers
Minus
Surround-mode change requires rewiring
Cheap for high end—but not cheap

THE VERDICT
A superb loudspeaker system from top to bottom—surely one of the best affordable high-end options available.

When you hook up a PSB speaker—pretty much any PSB speaker—you have a very good idea of what you’re going to get. To wit: balanced octave-to-octave response that fits a tight decibel window from the design’s lower limit to its upper; off-axis curves that are similarly smooth and “well bundled,” rolling off higher frequencies progressively at more extreme angles but without sudden discontinuities; impressive-for-size low-end extension without any enhanced, bass-sweetening pre-rolloff response hump; a reasonably unchallenging impedance curve for easy-to-drive amp-friendliness, and coherent, strong stereo imaging promulgated by carefully derived driver locations and spacings and by a diffraction-free cabinet design.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 10, 2015 0 comments

PS Audio Sprout
Performance
Features
Value

Teac AI-301DA
Performance
Features
Value
PRICE PS Audio: $799/TEAC: $549

AT A GLANCE: PS Audio
Plus
Phono input
Line input and output
Warm, engaging sound
Minus
No remote control
No direct DSD decoding

AT A GLANCE: Teac
Plus
Six source inputs
Dedicated sub output
Remote control
Dynamic and transparent
Minus
No stereo line out

THE VERDICT
These compact, versatile, and affordable combos will drive good bookshelf speakers or headphones to audiophile heights, each with its own sense of style.

It’s certainly a thing. It may be a trend. Or possibly even a wave—a new-wave, high-res groundswell sweeping over the nation’s small but growing (we hope!) cadre of youthful audio fans.

I’m talking about ultra-compact integrated-amplifier/digital-to-analog converters: “ampDACs,” I’m calling them. The newly evolved species combines a two-channel integrated amplifier (usually of modest power), a headphone output (usually), and high-resolution audio digital-to-analog conversion, all engineered to meet audiophile expectations of quality, and all packaged into a single, paperback-sized unit conceived for versatility. (Most models, including the two under review here, add today’s ubiquitous Bluetooth wireless capability.)

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jun 29, 2015 1 comments
Do amplifiers really sound different? These do…
Daniel Kumin Posted: Jun 23, 2015 22 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dirac Live speaker/room EQ
Highly flexible setup and automation options
Division I sound quality
Async-USB DAC input for streaming playback
Minus
Only one Dirac curve-set at a time can be loaded
Requires personal computer for setup; no onboard auto calibration

THE VERDICT
A noteworthy addition to the high-end preamp/processor ranks, with Dirac Live a fascinating, must-hear plus.

Talar du svenska? Emotiva does. Enough Swedish, at any rate, for the Tennessee tenderer of direct-to-consumer A/V gear to bake Swedish firm Dirac’s speaker/room-correction DSP into its new preamp/processor, the long-awaited XMC-1.

If you’ll forgive a Miller analogy, Dirac is to Uppsala University as Audyssey is to USC: Dirac, too, evolved out of original academic electroacoustics research—although USC’s weather is better, and I’m pretty sure the Trojans could take the Swedes on the gridiron.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jun 08, 2015 2 comments
It’s a self-administered “quiz” on file-format and audio quality, with six music segments presented, each with three clickable, on-screen “Play” buttons…
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Daniel Kumin Posted: Apr 22, 2015 3 comments
How high is high-resolution? How stereo is stereo? How many bits are really dancing around inside your DAC?
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Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 30, 2015 4 comments
A new screen reinforces an old truth...
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Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 12, 2015 3 comments
Remember radio? You turned it on, tuned it in, and got music, for free. (Well, free-ish; of course there were ads.)

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