Daniel Kumin

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 15, 2021  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Generous power
First-class sound
High-quality fit and finish
Minus
Network connection doesn't support audio
Lacks Wi-Fi, AirPlay wireless streaming

THE VERDICT
Rotel's MKII version of its RA-1572 integrated amp delivers impressive power and transparent sound with digital and analog sources but lacks the comprehensive streaming features found on similar designs from other manufacturers.

True story. My very first hi-fi system featured a Rotel integrated amplifier—if memory serves, a model RA-20 of some 20 watts per channel. I bought it brand new for around $60 from K&L Sound in Watertown, Massachusetts, with money saved from my after-school job building shelves, sweeping floors, and punching holes in sheet- metal panels that would become the very first ARP synthesizers. (The late Alan R. Pearlman was my next-door neighbor and a lovely, kind, brilliant guy.)

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 30, 2021  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Highly compact form factor
Notable extension and output for size
Excellent control app
Minus
No auto-EQ/correction

THE VERDICT
The first micro model from sub specialist SVS features the company's well-regarded control app, and it delivers all the bass most people will need while not taking up much space.

Once upon a time, there were three bears, with three subwoofers. You probably can guess how this story ends.

Designing a subwoofer is simple: big box, big driver, powerful amplifier. You wind up with something the size of a small refrigerator, but it does the job. Designing a good miniature subwoofer is a bigger engineering challenge, but the recipe is also fairly well known: small box, very powerful amplifier, small drivers with lots and lots of excursion, or throw.

Daniel Kumin  |  May 12, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,500 (pair)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Serious all-in-one streaming solution
Remarkable tonal and dynamic range
Excellent ergonomics and app
Roon Ready Certified
Minus
High volume level slightly reduces resolution

THE VERDICT
KEF's wireless speaker package is an ergonomic marvel that delivers true audiophile performance—especially when paired with the company's complementary KC62 subwoofer.

We live now in wireless world, and the major loudspeaker makers have been quick to embrace it with serious-performance, near-full-range designs. But each seems to have a different idea of what a "wireless speaker" should entail. Some simply connect to an existing component stack via a supplied small wireless transmitter. Others incorporate the whole smart-speaker thang, with full multiroom audio system and Alexa-Google-Siri voice control integration.

Daniel Kumin  |  Apr 07, 2021  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid headphone-surround
Impressive Dolby Atmos, DTS:X effects
Long battery life
Minus
Substantial vocal tonality shifts
Uneven bass presentation

THE VERDICT
JVC’s Exofield XP-EXT1 delivers an impressive rendering of effects in immersive soundtracks, but it comes up short as an all- around wireless home theater headphones solution.

True surround sound from headphones has been an audio holy grail for decades, but with the ever-increasing power and value of digital signal processing, we're now getting closer to drinking from that particular chalice. JVC's latest effort is the XP-EXT1 Personal Home Theater System, a set of wireless over-the-ear cans with a slim processor/transmitter that uses the company's Exofield DSP processing to digitally rejigger surround-encoded soundtracks, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, for your in-head listening pleasure.

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 31, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $700/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superbly accurate tonal balance
Remarkable bass extension
Highly adaptable onboard EQ options
Onboard auto room correction
Minus
Finite output may not suit far-field listening
No auto on/off
No built-in sub integration option

THE VERDICT
IK Multimedia’s powered monitor is a great desktop audio option, and it also delivers sufficient output for far-field listening in small-size rooms.

With few of us straying far from home these days, or from our computer with its constant stream of information, entertainment, hope, and fear, desktop audio is having a moment.

For this reason, many are discovering a need for some- thing better than the crappy 2.1-channel "computer speaker" systems we bought back in the early 'aughts. What we need is an ultra-compact active monitor—like IK Multimedia's iLoud MTM.

Daniel Kumin  |  Feb 24, 2021  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Incredible extension from incredibly small design
Highly flexible controls and features
Wireless option
Elegant finish
Minus
Limited peak output
Pricey

THE VERDICT
KEF’s KC62 delivers impressively deep bass in an elegant, ultra-compact package, though its output is best suited for smaller rooms or listening at more moderate levels.

Mankind has sought to get more and deeper bass from smaller and smaller designs ever since the first Neolithic audiophile blew through a conch shell and thought, "Damn, I wish this went lower, louder!"

Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 23, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $700/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good bass extension
Excellent midrange balance and accuracy
Pluggable port yields flexible placement and performance
Impressive fit and finish
Minus
Slightly bright sound with some recordings

THE VERDICT
This anniversary edition Bowers & Wilkins compact bookshelf combines good looks with intelligently balanced sound.

There are quite literally hundreds of small, two-way loudspeakers you can buy priced from under $100 to well north of $10,000 per pair. To this throng British stalwart Bowers & Wilkins now adds the 607 S2 Anniversary Edition (the anniversary commemorated is the company's launch of its first 600 Series designs 25 years ago). Whether or not the world desperately needs another small two-way may be up for debate, but B&W's authority to add one is not: the ranks of fine small speakers marching forth from the south coast of the UK over the past half-century has been illustrious.

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 04, 2020  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-quality power and D-to-A conversion
Excellent on-board phono section
Onboard Dirac Live room correction
Minus
Coarse “app” volume control steps
No USB type-B port for computer connection
Occasionally wonky AirPlay 2 streaming

THE VERDICT
The M33 combines state-of-the- art sound, power, and broad functionality in an elegantly conceived package.

Boy, has NAD come a long way. Back in 1978, the Canadian/ American/Euro multinational's first product was an unassuming but great-sounding little 20-watt integrated amplifier in a plain gray sheetmetal box, with controls that had all the sophisticated feel of a Kenner Easy-Bake Oven.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 03, 2020  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,056 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Highly accurate sound
Impressive stereo image breadth
Solid center-channel reproduction
Well-controlled and moderately extended low end
Minus
Towers are sensitive to placement

THE VERDICT
A handsome system that sounds very good with just about everything, and with enough bass extension to satisfy most needs.

Tall, slim speakers are certainly in fashion, and it's hard to imagine many slimmer than Definitive Technology's new Demand Series D15 towers. Despite housing three 5.25-inch drivers (two carbon fiber woofers and a polypropylene midrange), a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter, and not one but two 8-inch side-firing passive radiators, the D15 measures just 6.5 inches wide and thus indeed requires its bolt-on aluminum bottom plinth to achieve stability.

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,195

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Generous power from a super-slim chassis
Bypass input for surround system integration
Flexible, analog-domain subwoofer filtering
Full-size, backlighted remote control
Minus
Digital conversion limited to 24/96 via USB
No built-in Bluetooth or other wireless features

THE VERDICT
An affordable integrated amplifier-DAC with substantial power, high-quality conversion, flexible inputs and outputs, and full-function remote. Bravo.

I like simple. Simple is good. Simple works. Simple makes my job easier and helps me sleep at night.

Parasound, a Bay Area maker with a half-century of success walking the parapet between high end audiophilia and value-engineering design, apparently concurs. The company's new NewClassic 200 Integrated is, as you might well guess, an integrated amplifier, with a high-quality onboard digital-to-analog converter section. The 200 Integrated was in fact derived by the simple expedient of sliding a class-D stereo power amp sourced from Danish class-D amp-module stalwart Pascal Audio into its otherwise-identical preamp stablemate. This slim, two-channel module delivers a claimed 110 watts per channel into either 4-ohm or 8-ohm loads with typical class-D efficiency, pulling only a modest 50 watts from the wall.

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