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Steven Plaskin Posted: Aug 25, 2016 61 comments
While USB DACs have been widely embraced by computer audiophiles for their ease of use and excellent sound, there has been a price to pay for the benefits associated with connecting one’s computer to these DACs. Noise, part and parcel of any all-purpose computer, is the enemy of music reproduction. The computer noise transmitted from the USB cable to the DAC steals from the user the ultimate sonic potential he could be enjoying.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 07, 2016 35 comments
image credit: Wyred 4 Sound

Wyred 4 Sound, E.J. Sarmento’s California Company, has jumped into the very competitive ring of USB enhancement devices with their new Recovery USB Reclocker.

Steven Plaskin Posted: Jun 16, 2016 14 comments
Andreas Koch, Founder, CEO, and Engineer along with Bert Gerlach, Engineer have recently released the new Playback Designs Sonoma Series that includes the Syrah Server, Merlot DAC, and OpBox conversion kit for the Oppo103 Blu-ray Disc Player. Another component in the Sonoma series is also slated for release called the Pinot that is an Analog Digital Convertor. I’m sure a number of you have noticed that the Sonoma Series has named the products after fine wines. Andreas previously worked for Sony developing the first native DSD recorder and workstation. Sony’s chairman at that time felt that DSD’s potential and performance was similar to a good wine; hence the name Sonoma for the workstation. Andreas’ view of musical experiences and fine wine:
Steven Plaskin Posted: May 19, 2016 20 comments
Standard Version (top) Industrial Version (bottom)

The Intona Technology USB 2.0 High-Speed Isolator is the product of a German firm that specializes in electronics engineering for professional signal processing solutions that are sold worldwide. Interestingly enough, the USB 2.0 High-Speed Isolator was not originally designed for the audiophile market, but for all applications requiring clean and stable USB connections with separate grounds.

Steven Plaskin Posted: Mar 24, 2016 14 comments
USB audio has become the most popular standard for computer audiophile DACs in recent years. Although most manufacturers have added circuits for isolation of computer noise as well as other methods of dealing with the shortcomings of USB audio, a number of innovative designers have come forward with accessories that they feel improve the audio performance of USB DACs. Gordon Rankin, John Swenson, and Thorsten Loesch are some of the best known designers to address the issues that degrade the performance of USB audio.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Feb 25, 2016 7 comments
The Synergistic Research Tranquility Base UEF represents a major upgrade for their popular Tranquility Base; a product I reviewed in 2012 for AudioStream. At that time, I was very impressed using the Tranquility Base with my computer and one under my DAC. The sonic improvements to both components were impressive enough to encourage me to continue to use the Tranquility Bases to this day. But if there is one thing I can say about Synergistic Research’s lead designer, Ted Denney III, is that he is constantly trying to apply new technologies to his products for improvements in their performance.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Feb 04, 2016 7 comments
The Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0 cable represents Wireworld’s application of their most advanced technology and materials to build their finest USB cable. I had the pleasure to review the older Platinum Starlight USB cable in my USB cable shootout of 2013 (see Shootout). At that time, I found the Platinum Starlight USB cable excelled in the way it handled transients with outstanding definition and resolution, but lacked warmth or richness to the sound.
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Michael Lavorgna Steven Plaskin Posted: Dec 31, 2015 0 comments
Why a Product of the Year? The easy answer is there always is one, in our minds, so why not share. This year was no exception, and while we are clearly living in a golden age of great music and playback abundance, a few things have stood out and above the rest. Without further ado, we give you AudioStream's Products of the Year 2015:
Steven Plaskin Posted: Dec 30, 2015 22 comments
The Ayre Acoustics Codex is the newest DAC to be released from this well known high end manufacturer located in Boulder, Colorado. Some might initially conclude that the Codex is a stripped-down version of the more expensive Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC, but they would be wrong. The Codex was derived from the design of the audio circuitry for the PonoPlayer that utilized Ayre’s best technology that would fit into a battery-operated device. But the Codex goes far beyond just being a DAC; it provides a first-class headphone amplifier that Ayre claims can drive most any headphone on the market. Also present is a front-panel volume control that operates in the digital domain and retains a full 24 bits of resolution (144 dB of dynamic range all the way down to an attenuation level of -60db).
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Michael Lavorgna Steven Plaskin Posted: Dec 02, 2015 6 comments
Tis the season to buy things so we've made a list, checked it twice, so you can choose to be naughty or nice.

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