Steven Plaskin

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Steven Plaskin Posted: Sep 04, 2014 12 comments
exaSound Audio Design has managed to carve out a conspicuous place in the high end audiophile DAC market since beginning business less than 4 years ago. Michael Lavorgna reviewed the e20 MK III DAC for AudioStream (see review) and found it to do a fine job on PCM and native DSD playback. The e22 DAC is exaSound’s recently introduced flagship 2 channel DAC having improved on the design of the e20 MKIII to provide a superior level of sound quality. exaSound also builds an e28 DAC that can deliver from 2 to 8 channels of PCM and DSD.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 31, 2014 135 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 19 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.
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Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 03, 2014 6 comments
Over the years, I have owned several Esoteric SACD players. I have always been impressed with the exceptional build quality and massive VRDS disc drives. The D-02 Dual Mono D/A Converter, second from the top in the Esoteric lineup, has an accompanying P-02 SACD transport with the VRDS-NEO drive mechanism. Being a computer audiophile, I have moved away from disc drives and have embraced a computer transport. Certainly, there are plusses and minuses to each type of transport, but for me, the ability to access my very large library with a remote control is essential. Esoteric has not been evading the use of computer transports, but does offer an Asynchronous USB Class 2.0 input for the D-02 DAC.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jun 10, 2014 76 comments
all photo credits: Synergistic Research unless otherwise noted

When I first heard that Synergistic Research was bringing out a new USB cable, a thought occurred to me. Just how much better could this cable be made considering that the Synergistic Research Active USB SE cable was recently upgraded with the new UEF Tuning Circuits? The Uniform Energy Field Technology Tuning Circuits consist of the gray and silver cylindrical devices that attach to the active shield of the Active USB SE cable and fine tune the sound of the cable. I have found that the UEF Tuning Circuits provide a smoother, more revealing sound with enhanced bloom. But after reading about the Galileo series of cables, I discovered that this series applies Synergistic Research technologies not found in the Active USB SE cable.

Steven Plaskin Posted: May 23, 2014 3 comments
I have always enjoyed the Linn Records’ recordings of the Dunedin Consort. The JS Bach Matthew Passion has been a particular favorite of mine.

This latest release from Linn features the Dunedin Consort, John Butt conductor and director, performing a reconstruction of the Mozart Requiem as it was performed in 1793. This recording also provides separate reconstruction of the first two movements of the Requiem as performed at Mozart’s funeral in 1791.

Steven Plaskin Posted: May 20, 2014 7 comments
Michael Lavorgna did an in-depth job reviewing Vincent Brient’s Totaldac d1-dual DAC (see review) and his Totaldac d1-server (see review) for AudioStream last September and December. Michael not only found the Totaldac d1-dual DAC to be one of the finest DACs he has experienced, but was very impressed with the clarity and abundant musical qualities of this DAC.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Apr 28, 2014 15 comments
Being an audio reviewer, I have the opportunity to evaluate many of the high end USB cables that are manufactured today. While most of these cables are very nice sounding, some of the cables really distinguish themselves sonically. The JCAT USB cable is just one of those very special USB cables that stand out from the large number of high-end USB cable offerings today.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Apr 14, 2014 11 comments
The Overdrive USB DAC/Pre is the creation of engineer-designer Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio. Empirical Audio was formed in 1994 and initially concentrated on the sales of patented cable products designed by Steve Nugent. Steve’s background included a degree in Electrical Engineering with 25 years of digital design experience. His resume included work for the Intel Corp. where he served as a design-team lead in the development of the Pentium II processor. Steve has also been a passionate audiophile for over 39 years and this interest lead him into the modification of other manufacturer’s audio products in 2002. His modifications not only included DACs, but preamps, power amps and CD players / transports. The modification of numerous designs gave Steve a wonderful opportunity to see what sounded best in audio and DAC design. During this time, Steve developed the Off Ramp Turbo USB Converter; a device that offered a USB interface to digital products. In 2009, Empirical Audio ceased equipment modification and concentrated on original computer audio product design.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Mar 10, 2014 14 comments
The Synergistic Research UEF (Uniform Energy Field) Technology Active Tuning Circuits are the new replacements for the Enigma Tuning Circuits (Bullets) provided with the Synergistic Research Element and Galileo Series cables and AC cords, Digital Power Tools, Tranquility Bases, PowerCell line conditioners, and older Tesla Series LE cables and AC cords. The Enigma Tuning Circuits or Bullets were used to fine tune the sound of the Active Shields in Synergistic Research cables, AC cords and active devices. I have previously described the action of the Enigma Tuning Circuits in my reviews of the Tranquility Base (see review), the USB Active SE cable (see review), and the Element C.T.S. Digital AC cord (see review).

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