Daniel Kumin

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Feb 21, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, deep bass from a compact 10-inch box Elegant visual design Flexible, fully implemented two-way crossover
Minus
Expensive

THE VERDICT
A small, or at least smaller, subwoofer that goes truly low, loud, and clean—and looks sharp doing it.

What can you say about a subwoofer? It goes this low, that loud. It has these jacks, knobs, and features and is yea big and costs yon dollars. And really, that’s about it; almost all other discussion is so much verbiage.

Response “flatness” from a speaker covering barely two octaves is of little consideration unless a sub is horribly peaky (a few are), especially since room effects invariably dwarf such variations anyway.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 23, 2014 5 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful yet lightweight
Fast, HD onscreen menus
Built-in Wi-Fi
Minus
Limited audio streaming formats
Unfriendly DLNA streaming navigation
Surround-mode selection a bit clunky

THE VERDICT
A highly competitive audio and video performer in the kilobuck range, H/K’s AVR 3700 should do any home theater justice.

Harman/Kardon is among the quartet of major brands of American audio launched following World War II. (McIntosh, Marantz, and Sherwood are the others.) It’s further distinguished as the only one continuously retained by its owners as a U.S. company—though H/K today is just one brand of the sprawling Harman International empire. (History sidebar: During the Carter presidency, H/K was sold to Beatrice Foods while founder Sidney Harman served as Carter’s Under Secretary of Commerce; Harman then reacquired the company.)

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 02, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $7,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sonics from high-resolution digital sources
Substantial amplifier power
Unusual looks; fine finish quality
Minus
No headphone or other additional outputs
Un-ergonomic remote controller

THE VERDICT
Reference-quality sound from hi-rez music files made simple—at a reference-grade price.

What form will the Audiophile System of the Future take? It’s an open question, though it’s a pretty fair bet that the pallet-loads of tube power amps and skyscraper speakers of the high end’s golden age will not return any time soon. One proposed answer, from Wadia Digital, is the Intuition 01 power DAC, a swoopily formed oblong that incorporates very substantial two-channel amplification (190 watts x 2 into 8 ohms, rated), highly sophisticated digital-to-analog conversion facilities, and basic input-selection and volume controls.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 08, 2013 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fine performance and sound
Elegant looks
Clear value
Minus
No mute control
Limited detail in volume readout

THE VERDICT
As an integrated amplifier/DAC combo for serious listeners, the D 3020’s audio quality and value are unmistakable.

Audio types old enough to have viewed Chevy Chase’s pratfalls live rather than on demand may remember an unprepossessing integrated amplifier from an unfamiliar brand. The NAD 3020, despite a power rating laughably modest even in 1978 (20 watts per channel) and next to no features, gained notice because, as the lore went, “it sounded great.” And it did—thanks to intelligent amplifier design, a conservative power rating, and the value—widely underappreciated, then and now—of dynamic headroom.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 08, 2013 0 comments

British hi-fi used to be quirky. Anyone who remembers, say, Connoisseur turntables, Leak amps, or Quad speakers will know what I mean. Today’s Brit-fi, however — at least as exemplified by Cambridge Audio — has successfully transitioned from quirky to distinctive.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 02, 2013 0 comments

First, the obvious: The Astell&Kern AK100 is beautiful, both visually and in tactile terms, much the same way as the first iPod you ever saw was. Who cares what it is or what it does? You just want to hold it. And own it.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jun 06, 2013 2 comments

Physicists have long postulated that an ideal sound reproducer would behave as a pulsating sphere. Ever since, the wish being father to the thought, speaker designers have been cramming transducers into balls, as if making the cabinet round would somehow magically make the sound spherical.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jun 05, 2013 0 comments

How much would you pay for an A/V receiver? For a lot of people, the answer is “$899.” This upper-mid-price sweet spot has long marked the point at which AVR-manufacturers sell the most product. Consequently, it’s where they offer the most features, performance, and power for the lowest possible dollar amount.

Daniel Kumin Posted: May 24, 2013 1 comments

You can’t get much plainer than Outlaw’s new Model 975 preamp/processor. With its unadorned black chassis and fascia and plain white lettering, the 975’s un-cosmetics speak of a component conceived to do a job, completely and effectively, and to otherwise stay the hell out of the way.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 25, 2013 0 comments

Emotiva. The name sounds like the latest cure-all marketed by Big Pharma on the evening news programs. (Remember “restless leg?”) It is, in fact the consumer-audio brand of Tennessee’s Jade Designs. And Jade Designs, in turn, is the direct-to-consumer brand founded by a longtime veteran of the rough-and-tumble electronics OEM (original equipment manufacturing) world.

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