Steven Plaskin Posted: Dec 04, 2013 10 comments
The Benchmark Media Systems DAC2 HGC represents Benchmark’s most advanced and feature laden DAC offering. Despite its diminutive size, the DAC2 HGC is a full featured DAC with an asynchronous USB input that supports PCM up to 24/192 and native DSD 64 using the DoP 1.1 format. A remote controlled preamp is included with Benchmark’s Hybrid Gain Control system that utilizes a servo-driven volume control and 2 headphone jacks with a switch that automatically mutes the XLR and RCA outputs when using the headphone amplifier. A metal remote is included that controls the power, volume, polarity, input selection, mute, and dim controls of the DAC. Other features include a 12V Trigger I/O and Home Theatre Bypass.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 04, 2013 9 comments
Thanks to Charles Hansen for the heads up on this news—AlpineSoft has added DoP (DSD over PCM) functionality to their VinylStudio vinyl ripping software (v8.6). Now you can rip your records to DSD (or PCM up to 32/384 if you prefer) on the cheap as long as you have a DSD-capable analog-to-digital converter (the Ayre QA-9 and the PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter happen to be two such ADCs).
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 02, 2013 7 comments
Benchmark DAC2 HGC ($1,995)

Here's what's in-house or en-route to AudioStream for review.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 29, 2013 7 comments
I'll go out on a limb and suggest that most any ornithologist is a sweetie. Throw in some St. Francis of Assisi, chromesthesia or sound-to-color synesthesia, church organist, birdsong, modes of limited transposition, and Japanese music and you've got an unbeatable recipe for loveliness. I will also note that Olivier Messiaen held the position of Professor of Harmony at the Paris Conservatoire from 1941 until his retirement in 1978 and that is by far the loveliest job title I know of—Professor of Harmony. Olivier Messiaen also composed some pure lovely music and if you act within the next 3 days, you can get yourself a whole flock for a prix spécial pittance.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 27, 2013 16 comments
A Dragonfly Killer?
AudioQuest's original Dragonfly DAC (see review) seems to have inspired a number of similar products while igniting the whole 'micro-DAC' market. And for good reason. The original Dragonfly was small, portable, easy to use with hi-fi or headphones, and it sounded good. Putting it on AudioStream's Greatest Bits list was a no-brainer. Kicking it off of that list is also a no-brainer because AudioQuest have gone and done it. They've come out with a Dragonfly killer.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 26, 2013 1 comments
'Tis the season. Linn will once again be giving away "...a different free Studio Master track every day in December until Christmas Day". Head on over to to get yours.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 22, 2013 21 comments
Loki Loki! DSD for $149!
The guys at Schiit seem to look at the world of audiophiles somewhat askance while selling stuff that audiophiles want. It's an interesting stance, askance, and they seem to take a similar view of DSD while offering the Loki, their latest assault on the "high" in High End and what it is is a dedicated DSD DAC. That's right, the Loki won't convert PCM data so you'll have to take care of that elsewhere. The Loki will accept 64x single-rate DSD over the DSD over PCM protocol (DoP) and hand off an analog signal to your hi-fi. Or, um, lo-fi if you prefer.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 22, 2013 7 comments
The new single "Perfume" from Britney Spears forthcoming album Britney Jean on RCA Records is available from Quboz in Qualité Studio Masters (24 bits). Is HD going mainstream?
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 22, 2013 4 comments
Lydia can be described as a distant descendant of Captain Beefheart minus the stupendous creativity but making up for it with East Village elan and leather. Crunchy guitars, screaming sax, big band hootenanny, razzmatazz, a breezy cover of "Spooky", a gloomy cover of "Gloomy Sunday", and always that lovely lazy Lydia barely in key crooning over the top. Steamy. For an amazing story behind listening to Queen of Siam (at least it was amazing to us) and a much better description of its songs, check out my friend Stephen Mejias' post re: same over on Stereophile.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 21, 2013 5 comments
(left to right) Steve Silberman, Gordon Rankin, Charles Hansen. photo credit: Steve S. and Stereophile

During our first conversation with AudioQuest's Steve Silberman, Charlie Hansen of Ayre Acoustics and Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio we talked about the notion that "There's no such thing as digital" (see Part 1). In Part 2 we move on to ask, what can be done to address the problems of high-speed analog signals in a modern audio system?


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