Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 28, 2014 14 comments
Popular music and the album. Two concepts that may have seen better days, at least if we try to connect to popular music that isn't from our youth. Perpetually renewed while we go about getting older, popular music can be hard to keep hold of over time. Beck's new album Morning Phase (Capitol) is a true album's worth of pop tunes that flow seamlessly from one to the next. At once emblematic and earthy, Morning Phase unfolds to reveal a slow growing intensity while remaining so easy to love it feels as if we've known each other for years.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 26, 2014 18 comments
PS Audio has just announced a new product - the DirectStream DAC ($5,995). In essence, the DirectStream DAC converts all incoming data including PCM to 1-bit DSD using their own code implemented in a Spartan VI FPGA. Chips need not apply. Of course PS Audio claims that this conversion to DSD improves the resultant sound quality of everything that passes through it, especially PCM. According to PS Audio:
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 25, 2014 5 comments
The QB-9 Upgrade
Ayre's original 24/96-capable QB-9 DAC caused quite a stir when it hit the market back in 2009 winning Stereophile's Product of the Year award. Wes Phillips of Stereophile sang its praises (see review) then, and Art Dudley followed up by adding his own thoughts to the upgraded 24/192 version in 2011 (see review). While that upgrade did not merit a name change, the new QB-9 DSD did with the addition of single rate DSD play back (DSD 128 capability and 24/384 are in the works). As is Ayre's way, owners of older 24/192-capable QB-9s can have theirs upgraded to DSD status for $500. But that's not the entire story. During the upgrade re-engineering phase, Charles Hansen, Ayre's founder and Designer, also made some changes to the QB-9 DSD that affects the sound of PCM playback and I sure am happy he did.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 24, 2014 1 comments
I know we've talked about NPR's First Listen before but the current selection strikes me as being particularly fertile.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 21, 2014 4 comments
"Stately, plump Buck Mulligan..." Some things are easier than others which makes some things more difficult than others. That's in no way a value judgement, it just is the way it is. Conquistador!, Cecily Taylor's second classic record on Blue Note, Unit Structures being the first, recorded in October 1966 (19 freakin' sixty six) may initially sound like music that's not very easy especially if we look at the top of the charts from that same year which included "Last Train to Clarksville" by The Monkees and "Born Free" by Roger Williams. I first listened to Conquistador! many years after its initial release, coming to it from trumpeter Bill Dixon's music who is part of Cecil Taylor's sextet here. In this context, Conquistador! is positively generous, with plenty of repeated themes to hold onto amid all of the beautiful clatter.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Feb 20, 2014 18 comments
Wyred 4 Sound is well known to many audiophiles as a company that builds quality high end audio products at reasonable prices. The company was started in in 2007 by E. J. Sarmento who previously worked at Cullen Circuits. The company has grown from its initial offering of the 200s amplifier to a complete line of preamps, power amps, DACs, and music servers. Wyred 4 Sound offers 6 DAC models with 3 versions of the DAC-2: DAC-2, DAC-2 DSD, and the DAC-2 DSDse.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 18, 2014 54 comments
MiND Reader
The Simaudio Moon MiND (MOON intelligent Network Device) is a UPnP/DLNA compatible renderer or more commonly a network player or streamer. In other words, the Moon MiND lets you play back your file-based music without a computer. Just add Network Attached Storage (NAS) and you'll be streaming your music in no time. A lot of people are also wondering—is the MiND an audiophile version of the popular and discontinued Squeezebox Touch? Let's find out.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 17, 2014 3 comments
My Ayre QB-9 DSD review is in the works. Included therein will be a comparison between the old QB-9 and the new QB-9 DSD. Should be interesting. Let the best Ayre win!
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 14, 2014 1 comments
Ryan Hunn is Illum Sphere and Ghosts Of Then And Now is his first full-length released on Ninja Tune. There's a lot of music out there that sounds like Ghosts Of Then & Now especially if you don't like to listen too closely. But if you decide to listen in, there are all kinds of rewards mixed in the mix, layers upon layers of sounds coming together and falling apart to reveal moments of beauty, I'm admittedly always on the lookout for moments of beauty, among the beats.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 13, 2014 15 comments
Wherever You Go...
Hugo. No, wherever Hu-go...Oh never mind. The Chord Hugo is a portable DAC/Headphone amp capable of passing up to 32/384 PCM, DXD, and DSD 128 data through its FPGA-based DAC to your headphones or hi-fi. There's a digitally controlled volume knob which you can bypass when running Hugo in DAC-mode, multiple crossfeed filter settings for enhanced headphone listening, micro USB, Coax and Toslink S/PDIF inputs, as well as A2DP aptX Bluetooth input so you can stream to the Hugo across the airwaves from iOS and Android devices. Everything is wrapped up in sparkly silver hard-anodised precision milled aircraft-grade aluminum with colored lights and level indicators shining through.


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