Product Reviews

Wilson Audio Alexia Loudspeaker Review

October 11, 2012
Wilson Audio Alexia Loudspeaker Review

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of spending the weekend with Peter McGrath and John Giolas of Wilson Audio as we swapped out the Alexandria X-2, Series 2 loudspeakers for Wilson’s new flagship Alexandria XLFs in the Ralston Listening Room at The University of the South. It was a transformative experience which you...
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Bob Carver ‘Black Magic’ VTA 20S Power Amplifier Review

October 10, 2012
Bob Carver ‘Black Magic’ VTA 20S Power Amplifier Review

Bob Carver has been a legend in the high-end audio world for four decades, beginning with his design of the Phase Linear 700 350 watt/channel amplifier in the 1970′s, his transfer function informed amplifiers mimicking the sound of other state of the art amplifiers (and fooling editors of The Audio Critic and Stereophile) marketed...
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Funk Tonstudiotechnik LAP-2.V3 Preamplifier Review

September 20, 2012
Funk Tonstudiotechnik LAP-2.V3 Preamplifier Review

A preamplifier: how quaint in today’s world of the ubiquitous computer connected to a USB DAC with digital volume control. And if digital audio files are your sole source of music, it is certainly an attractive option. But if you are like me and have multiple sources – two phono stages, a reel-to-reel tape...
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Music Hall MMF-5.1SE Turntable, Mojo Cartridge and Cruise Control Review

September 10, 2012
Music Hall MMF-5.1SE Turntable, Mojo Cartridge and Cruise Control Review

I have previously reviewed the VPI Scout with Dynvector 20X2 cartridge here. That combination runs around $2850, which, for someone interested in taking their first steps into vinyl, may sound extravagant. Actually, it is. I wanted to explore what was available at a significantly lower price point. Leland Leard of Music Hall suggested that...
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Halide Design DAC HD USB DAC Review

August 20, 2012
Halide Design DAC HD USB DAC Review

I recently reviewed the Halide Design Bridge USB to S/PDIF converter here. I think it is a terrific product if you already have a DAC and do not have or do not intend to play 176.4/24 and 192/24 downloads. It is particularly attractive because the converter circuitry is built into an Eichmann Bullet RCA...
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SOtM dx-USB HD USB to S/PDIF Converter Review

August 10, 2012
SOtM dx-USB HD USB to S/PDIF Converter Review

I have reviewed two asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converters – the Halide Design Bridge ($395) and the Audiophileo 2 ($579). Both worked as advertised. While the Halide Design Bridge is limited to sampling rates up to 96/24, the Audiophileo 2 adds compatibility with 176.4/24 and 192/24 files. With it, you also have the expense...
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PrimaLuna Prologue Premium Integrated Amplifier Review

July 20, 2012
PrimaLuna Prologue Premium Integrated Amplifier Review

I got into this hobby in the late 1960s and bought my first “serious” system in the early 1970s. Like today, I had a choice between tubes and transistors for my preamplifier and amplifier (and tuner). I listened to writers like Julian Hirsch of Stereo Review and went with transistors because of their superior...
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Magnepan MMG Loudspeaker Review

July 10, 2012
Magnepan MMG Loudspeaker Review

Magnepan began business in 1969, which was about the time I got interested in this hobby is a serious way. I remember reading about the Magnepan Tympani planar-magnetic loudspeakers in Stereophile and The Absolute Sound. Both JGH and HP had high praise for them, but they were not without their criticisms. Interesting, HP thought...
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Wadia 121 Decoding Computer Review

June 20, 2012
Wadia 121 Decoding Computer Review

I have reviewed several USB DACS – the High Resolution Technologies MusicStreamer II+ ($349), the Furutech ADL GT40 ($525), the Music Hall dac25.3 ($599), and the Benchmark DAC1 HDR ($1895). Each has its own unique feature set and comes in at a different price point. The Wadia 121 USB DAC ($1299), which is the...
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Benchmark DAC1 HDR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review

June 10, 2012
Benchmark DAC1 HDR USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review

With the rise in the dominance of music playback by way of computer, today’s entry-level system can be as minimalist as a laptop, a USB DAC, an integrated amplifier and speakers. You can later add a separate power amplifier, using the preamplifier outputs of the integrated amplifier for source selection and volume control. But...
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Acurus A2002 Stereo Power Amplifier Review

May 15, 2012
Acurus A2002 Stereo Power Amplifier Review

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a soft spot for Acurus amplifiers. When I first set up my home theater in 1996, I paired a Meridian 541 analog surround sound processor with a Forte FT-1 five channel amplifier. Unfortunately, the transformer in the FT-1 hummed so badly you could hear it across...
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Bowers & Wilkins 683 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review

April 20, 2012
Bowers & Wilkins 683 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review

It is a sad state of affairs, but there are fewer and fewer high end audio stores in most communities outside the largest major metropolitan areas. As I reported here, Nashville is down from a half a dozen stores a few years ago to a single store. If you no longer have a high-end...
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Belles Soloist 1 Integrated Amplifier Review

April 10, 2012
Belles Soloist 1 Integrated Amplifier Review

I have noticed Belles preamplifiers and amplifiers at most of the shows I have attended. They are most often used by loudspeaker manufacturers to demo their latest offerings. Yet Belles itself has, to my knowledge, never sponsored a room and has otherwise kept a low-profile. I wondered why. I was really knocked-out by the...
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Focal Chorus 807W Prestige Loudspeaker Review

March 20, 2012
Focal Chorus 807W Prestige Loudspeaker Review

After having initially reviewed a small bookshelf speaker (the Living Sound Audio LSA.5 ($799), and in the interim a couple of floorstanding speakers (the Definitive Technology BP-8060s ($1999) and DALI Ikon 6 MK2s ($1999), I thought I might see what was available on a $1500 budget in the form of a stand-mounted speaker. I...
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Cambridge Audio Azur 751BD Universal Blu-ray Player Review

March 10, 2012
Cambridge Audio Azur 751BD Universal Blu-ray Player Review

Regular readers will know that I advocate keeping a CD or SACD player in your system even if you have moved all of your CDs to a music server. The reasons for this are many, primary among them psychological. I believe you are more likely to actually listen to the music if you go...
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DALI Ikon 6 MK2 Loudspeaker Review

February 20, 2012
DALI Ikon 6 MK2 Loudspeaker Review

Review: DALI Ikon 6 MK2 Loudspeakers Having been impressed with both the DALI Helicon MK2 ($7000/pair) and Mentor Minuet ($1500/pair) loudspeakers at RMAF 2010, I thought the DALI Ikon 6 Mk2 ($2000/pair) would make excellent candidates for an entry-level system. I got in touch with Stephen Daniels at The Sound Organisation, DALI’s North American...
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High Resolution Technologies MusicStreamer II+ Review

February 10, 2012
High Resolution Technologies MusicStreamer II+ Review

If you are just getting into computer audio, the first question to address is how to get the digital audio files off your computer and into you stereo system. The simplest, but likely the least attractive, choice is to use the line output of your soundcard or your headphone jack into your preamplifier, integrated...
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Definitive Technology BP-8060ST Loudspeaker Review

January 15, 2012
Definitive Technology BP-8060ST Loudspeaker Review

To be perfectly candid, until recently I hadn’t really given Definitive Technology speakers much consideration, primarily because I have not been in the market for a pair of speakers retailing for under $2000, but also because the only place I had seen them had been at CEDIA, where they blended in with dozens of...
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Furutech ADL GT40 Phono Preamplifier and USB DAC Review

December 20, 2011
Furutech ADL GT40 Phono Preamplifier and USB DAC Review

In addition to the main listening room of the William Ralston Listening Library and Archive at the University of the South, which I described in my review of the VPI Scout turntable, there is an additional student listening room, equipped with headphone listening stations for playback of vinyl. The issue we faced was how...
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Soundsmith Monarch Monitor Loudspeaker Review

December 10, 2011
Soundsmith Monarch Monitor Loudspeaker Review

I was sitting around a library table with Tam Carlson discussing component and loudspeaker selection for the William Ralston Listening Room and Music Archive at the University of the South, which I reported on in connection with my review of the VPI Scout turntable, when he mentioned to me that he had just gotten...
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Audience adeptResponse aR2p Power Conditioner Review

December 1, 2011
Audience adeptResponse aR2p Power Conditioner Review

  I think I have a love/hate relationship with power conditioners. I began buying them in the mid-1990’s, starting with a couple of different models from Tice. Neither had clocks. Perhaps that was the problem with them. Then there was the API Power Wedge. I liked it because it had a big AC meter....
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Furutech DeStat II Review

November 20, 2011
Furutech DeStat II Review

Once you acquire a turntable, you’ll find yourself perusing vinyl equipment and media websites taking in the seemingly infinite number of turntable and record accessories. You can’t help it. It started off innocently enough for me. I put my first disc on the turntable, turned on the motor, and realized I didn’t have a...
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Spin-Clean Record Washer Mk II Review

November 10, 2011
Spin-Clean Record Washer Mk II Review

There are only three places I am aware of in Nashville where you can purchase LPs – Grimey’s New and Pre-loved Music, McKay’s Used Book Store and The Great Escape. Grimey’s sells new vinyl and has a pretty good selection of used pop and rock, though virtually no classical records. I have been over...
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VPI Scout Turntable and Dynavector 20X2 Cartridge Review

November 1, 2011
VPI Scout Turntable and Dynavector 20X2 Cartridge Review

It was 33⅓ years ago when the motor in my prized Dual 1218 conked-out on me. As an impoverished law student, fixing it was not in the cards. A new motor would have cost half a month’s rent. Replacing the brakes on my car the month before had wiped out my reserves, and at...
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Audiophilleo USB to S/PDIF ‘Transport’ Review

October 20, 2011
Audiophilleo USB to S/PDIF ‘Transport’ Review

  A few months ago, I auditioned the Halide Design USB to S/PDIF Bridge. You can read my review here. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at one of the popular alternatives. About the only thing the Halide Design Bridge and the Audiophilleo2 (hereafter, the “AP2”) have in common is...
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