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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 14, 2013 7 comments
Teac UD-501 Dual-Monarual PCM/DSD USB DAC ($849)
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 11, 2013 37 comments
Meridian Enters the Fray
The USB bus-powered Meridian Explorer is a small, portable 24/192-capable asynchronous USB DAC, headphone amp, and it can also function as a 24/96 USB to S/PDIF converter. There's a mini USB input on one side of its oval tubular extruded aluminum body and two 3.5mm outputs on the other. One of those outputs is fixed and is meant to connect to your hi-fi while also doubling as a 24/96 mini Toslink output. The other 3.5mm output is variable and meant for driving headphones. Based on listening impressions, I'd say the Meridian Explorer is damn well capable of driving you to musical distraction. And it does so for $299.00. Welcome to the beautiful and competitive world of computer audio.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 11, 2013 8 comments
Digital room correction. Or should we call it virtual room correction since we're not correcting the room, we're adapting the music's bits during playback to better suit the room. But in order to correct something, you first have to understand what, if anything, needs correcting. Of course you can perform room correction by ear and you very well may come away with a sound that suits your tastes. But to really understand what's going on with the sound in your room, you need to analyze. You need to abstract the musical information into forms that represent various aspects of sound. The Dirac Live Room Correction Suite not only shows you how your music looks, it also shows you how they feel it should look.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 08, 2013 2 comments
Burial's Kindred three-track EP was released in 2012 and I'm finally getting around to getting around in it. And man, is there a lot to get around within. Pounding, throbbing, gristle-y bass keeps things moving through layers upon layers of sound, scratch, pulse, and ethereally malformed vocals all adding up to one super sonic trip.
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Ariel Bitran Posted: Feb 04, 2013 0 comments
Jonathon Hollis (Takato14 on of Hamilton, Michigan is the happy winner of our AudioQuest DragonFly and Sydney Interconnect Sweepstakes. Hollis uses the DragonFly as a USB DAC with his Open Pandora PocketPC (pictured above). He doesn't go anywhere without it. Congrats Jon and thanks for participating!
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 04, 2013 0 comments
Thanks to reader Martin O. for pointing us to this, the first new album from My Bloody Valentine since 1991's Loveless. That's a long time. m b v sounds just like My Bloody Valentine (how could it not even if it didn't?) which is a good thing to my ears all heavy and somber and hook-laden. The other noteworthy thing about m b v is the way its being released—you can buy the CD ($22), LP ($30.50 includes the CD), or download ($16) which is not uncommon but what is and shouldn't be is the CD and LP come with a free download and you get to choose between 320kbps MP3, 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV, and 24-bit/96kHz WAV versions. If you opt for just the download, you still get to choose the format for the same price. Nice.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Feb 01, 2013 2 comments
Aaron Neville’s latest release, My True Story, is available as a hi res download from HDtracks (96/24, 192/24). Aaron is returning to his “roots” performing doo-wop rock ballads in this album. The recording also features Keith Richards on guitar with a great band. There are no lush strings behind Aaron’s smooth vocals; just a tight band with excellent backup singers including Eugene Pitt, Booby Jay, Dickie Harmon, and Joel Katz.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 01, 2013 1 comments
Congotronics from 2004 is the official debut release from Konono Nº1 who use electric likembé, a version of the thumb piano, and other instruments made from salvaged scrap found in their native Kinshasa, Congo along with group vocals and plenty of percussive drive for an intoxicating over-driven sound. From the Crammed Discs website:
The band was founded back in the 1960s by Mingiedi, a virtuoso of the likembé (a traditional instrument sometimes called "sanza" or "thumb piano", consisting of metal rods attached to a resonator). The band's line-up includes three electric likembés (bass, medium and treble), equipped with hand-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts, and plugged into amplifiers. There's also a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pans, pots and car parts), three singers, three dancers and a sound system featuring these famous megaphones.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 31, 2013 16 comments
Its Magic
People looking to play hard drive and Internet-based music without a computer have one choice—a network player. You could argue that a network player is a computer but that's missing the relevant point which is some people don't want to tie up their computer for use as a music server. They'd rather use a computer as a computer. So a dedicated device is their solution. The Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 gives you most everything you'd expect from a network player including the ability to play up to 24/96 music from Network Attached Storage (NAS), USB-based storage, the Internet, and it throws in a 24/192-capable USB DAC to boot.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 29, 2013 12 comments
The 99 dollar DAC
How low can we go? Schiit Audio has answered this question with the Modi USB DAC coming in under the $100 mark by an entire dollar. While I don't like to focus on price since performance is why we buy audio gear, there's no getting around the fact that the Modi is $99 and that number represents the least expensive DAC to come through AudioStream HQ so far. What's more, the Modi's outward appearance doesn't tip its low cost hand, at least to my eyes, with its custom steel chassis. So yea, Schiit have gone and done it, offering up what appears to be one heck of an audio bargain with the Modi USB DAC but let's look beyond prices and appearances and see what a Benjamin buys these days.


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