Cables & Accessory Reviews

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Steven Plaskin Posted: Aug 27, 2015 8 comments
The Shunyata Research TRITON v2, HYDRA TYPHON, HYDRA DPC-6 v2, and ΞTRON Sigma AC Power Cables represent the state-of-the art offerings from this well-known company that specializes in signal and power transfer products. These no-compromise products are created by Shunyata’s owner and chief designer, Caelin Gabriel; a man who has been steadily improving his company’s products since his first power conditioner offering in 2001. Shunyata Research’s products have not only been embraced by audiophiles, but by commercial recording studios, orchestras, and other commercial audio designers. The word Shunyata is a Sanskrit word that means the stillness or emptiness from which all creation emanates.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 20, 2015 19 comments
Why did the chicken cross the road? To see if it was different on the other side.

Unholy Bits Batman!
Let's begin with the easy part; if you've read my reviews of the UpTone Audio USB REGEN (review), AudioQuest JitterBug (review), and Schiit Wyrd (review), you'll have read that I heard a difference when each device was in and out of my systems. Generally, I would describe those differences as an improvement which is all well and good but inquiring minds want to know which device is best and what happens when you put them together. Let's see.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 13, 2015 21 comments
Wyrd
Let's get this Schiit straight from the horse's mouth:
What does this thing really do?
It isolates your USB DAC from the noisy USB power coming from your computer, and provides a stable, precise oscillator to repeat the USB 2.0 packets.

Why would I want this?
Because some computers don’t play well with USB DACs, and make weird noises or have glitches. Or you believe this makes your system sound better.

Sonic benefits? That’s a lot of hoo-ha!
You’re right. There’s no reason this should make any system sound better. Although we can measure the difference in USB power supply noise, it really shouldn’t matter. Despite this, some listeners have said that there are sonic benefits from using Wyrd. Us, we remain Swiss on the matter—we don’t do the hard sell by promising sonic nirvana.

Seeing as it's the job of an audio reviewer to listen and report, at least that's my job, I have to be, well, less Swiss (more American?) when it comes to writing about the stuff I listen to.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 06, 2015 35 comments
REGENerator
Unlike the AudioQuest JitterBug we looked at last week (see review) that plugs into your computer, the USB REGEN is designed to be placed at the other end of your USB cable, between it and your DAC. Where the REGEN also differentiates itself from the JitterBug (and others) is the guys from UpTone Audio are completely REGENerateing the data, delivering a cleaned up impedance matched signal to your DAC.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 30, 2015 12 comments
Moving Beyond The Bits
While some people still want to argue that "bits are bits" when it comes to digital data transmission, other people are looking at real-world solutions to real-world problems. I have a number of devices in for review that take aim at cleaning up our USB connections. While each offers a different approach and even a different set of solutions to more than one problem, the JitterBug is a USB filter. What is it filtering? The company states, "JitterBug’s dual-circuitry measurably reduces unwanted noise currents and parasitic resonances. It also reduces jitter and packet errors (in some cases, packet errors are completely eliminated)."
Steven Plaskin Posted: May 26, 2015 59 comments
The Synergistic Research Grounding Block is a new accessory from Synergistic Research that allows one to make multiple ground connections to various products. More importantly, it applies Synergistic Research’s UEF (Uniform Energy Field) Technology to a grounding block for sonic enhancement. I decided to write a review on this product since it can be used with a number of Synergistic Research products I have previously reviewed that utilize ground plane connections. These include the Tranquility Base, FEQ (Frequency Equalizer), and the Atmosphere - Acoustic Wave Generator. What I found most exciting about these new products is that they can be successfully applied to most any component.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Apr 30, 2015 42 comments
The Shunyata Research Venom USB cable is the only USB cable offered by this high end manufacturer of cables, AC cords, power distribution centers, and audio accessories. Most other cable manufacturers offer a range of USB cables with enhanced features at increasing prices. Shunyata research has decided to offer only one model with everything that they feel is important in a USB cable design. Given the very reasonable price of $125 for a .75 meter length, I was curious to see just how the Venom USB cable would compare to the other high priced cables I have reviewed in the past for AudioStream. Knowing Shunyata Research’s well recognized product quality and dedication to superior audio performance, I truly wanted to see how this cable would perform in my system.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Mar 17, 2015 30 comments
WARNING: This review is written for audiophiles and true believers in the audiophile experience. Non-audiophile, bits are bits people, continue at your own risk!

The JCAT Reference USB cable is Marcin Ostapowicz and Josef Piri’s latest offering to the ever growing high end USB cable market. Both of these gentlemen are probably better known as the principles behind the popular Windows operating system software JPLAY. JCAT is the hardware division of JPLAY and offers a number of computer audio hardware products.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 19, 2015 4 comments
I Like Bluetooth
Audioengine makes a number of well-priced products that deliver their fair share of musical enjoyment. I favorably reviewed their A5+ speakers (see review) and we own two pairs of their original A2 speakers. Under inspection today is their B1 Bluetooth Music Receiver which adds Bluetooth connectivity to any hi-fi while also offering an internal DAC as well as a Toslink output if you already own a DAC you enjoy. What's the point of Bluetooth? Fun.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Dec 29, 2014 119 comments
The Synergistic Research Atmosphere is a room acoustic enhancement device that allows one to modify and improve the perceived soundstage as well as the quality of the sound from top to bottom of one’s system; all of this totally controlled by an iPad/iPhone app. What is even more remarkable is that this task is accomplished without a direct connection of any kind into one’s system components. At this point, I’m sure most of you will want to know what Atmosphere is actually doing to achieve this control of the sound of our systems.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Nov 04, 2014 5 comments
The PowerCell 10 UEF is the latest version of Synergistic Research’s PowerCell AC line conditioner first introduced in 2008. This version of the PowerCell is Synergistic Research’s most ambitious undertaking in dealing with AC line noise. The Power Cell 10 UEF not only adds Synergistic Research’s new UEF technology, but also allows one to employ the FEQ Equalizer first introduced in 2013 with the High Frequency Transducer (HFT) / Frequency Equalizer (FEQ) products.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Oct 23, 2014 19 comments
The Hydra DPC-6 Digital Power Distribution Center is the first power conditioner made by Shunyata Research designed specifically for digital media products. Components such as computers, digital servers, disc-arrays, and cable modems-routers present special problems in terms of noise that pollutes the AC line that is simultaneously serving other audio components adversely affecting the overall sonic performance of our systems. Inexpensive power supplies with their minimal filtration provided with our hard disc arrays and computers produce a significant amount of digital noise. The Hydra DPC-6 electrically isolates these digital devices and provides a firewall to prevent them from polluting and degrading the sonic performance of the audio components sharing the power line.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 31, 2014 137 comments
Synergistic Research’s latest implementation of their Uniform Energy Field Technology, better known as UEF, has resulted in a new product designed to balance close proximity electromagnetic fields in electronic circuits. The product is called the Electronic Circuit Transducer or ECT. These tiny devices, approximately the size of the previously reviewed HFT (High Frequency Transducer), are placed on D to A chips, fuses, near vacuum tubes, capacitors, transformers, op amps, and analog and digital cables. The ECTs can also be placed on the exterior of the chassis to improve the electromagnetic environment of the component. Synergistic Research states that high frequency noise is reduced with a resultant drop in the perceived noise floor. Compression of the sound is decreased with application of these devices on your electronic components. Improvements in clarity and definition, along with soundstage size and air, are claimed to improve with use of the ECTs. The ECTs convert ultra-high frequencies that are found with RFI-EMI circuit board component emissions to more musically consonant frequencies.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 22, 2014 21 comments
Introduction
The 3 products under review all deal with common issues encountered in USB computer audio. Most USB DACs require a 5 volt line (VBUS) in the USB cable to supply power to the USB controller in one’s DAC. Unfortunately, this power line from the computer brings with it noise that can contaminate the audio data leading to degradation of the sound one hears from the DAC. The idea behind the Schiit Wyrd USB Decrapifier is that supplying clean power to your USB DAC, or better-quality USB port power management, can result in improvements in sound and performance. Schiit believes that glitches and dropouts can be prevented using the Wyred USB Decrapifier.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 17, 2014 21 comments
Isolation
For my review of the Focal Alpha 50 active speakers, my contact sent along a pair of IsoAcoustics L8R155 speaker stands, "I don't do a single demo without it." A few readers alerted me to the IsoAcoustics stands in the past but at the time IsoAcoustics did not have a set small enough to accommodate my ADAM A3X speakers and it was only until this pair arrived for review that I see IsoAcoustics has the ISO-L8R130 to fit their small footprint. So the idea of trying a pair faded until I admit I forgot all about them. All that's changed now that I've heard 'em.

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