Cables & Accessory Reviews

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Steven Plaskin  |  Jun 01, 2017  |  0 comments
Nikola photo credits: Fidelizer

When Keetakawee Punpeng sent me the Nimitra Computer Audio Server for evaluation, he told me that he was working on a linear power supply for the Nimitra. Given the numerous designs available for a linear power supply, Keetakawee spent a good deal of time building different prototypes until he found a design that he felt achieved the sonic performance he was looking for. The result was the Nikola Linear Power Supply; a power supply that was not only designed for the Nimitra, but also designed to work well with NUCs, media players, and other devices running up to 12VDC. Consider this mini-review a continuation of my Nimitra Computer Audio Server review.

Steven Plaskin  |  May 11, 2017  |  14 comments
photo credit: SOtM

USB performance improvement devices have proven to very popular with computer audiophiles over the last several years. It seems that before I can turn around, a new offering appears promising improved sonics from one’s USB DAC. Installation of what I like to refer to as USB enhancement devices is just a matter of connecting the device between your computer / server USB output to the USB input of your DAC. Perhaps it has been the simplicity of use without worrying about the installation of drivers or other complicating factors that has fueled the unending popularity of these products with users’ passionate expectations of improved sound. I can think of no less than 3 new devices that will be forthcoming from iFi Audio, UpTone Audio, and now from the Korean manufacturer, SOtM.

Steven Plaskin  |  Dec 07, 2016  |  50 comments
The Starlight Cat8 Ethernet Cable supports Category 8 transmission speeds in a flat design that also provides great flexibility and ease of use. The Starlight Cat8 has a patent pending Tite-Shield™ design that uses 23 gauge conductors and a triple-shield that is just a tenth of an inch thick. This new shield design has simplified the assembly with Wireworld’s shielded RJ-45 plugs.
Steven Plaskin  |  Nov 23, 2016  |  34 comments
Many computer audiophiles have been discovering that optimization of the operating system can lead to significant improvements in the sound of their music systems. I have previously reviewed Fidelizer Pro (see review); a program that I found made sonic improvements to the sound of music software utilizing the Windows Operating System. I have also reviewed the Playback Designs Syrah Server (see review) that employed a modified Windows 10 Pro that was stripped and configured so that it could only be used to play audio files and utilize network access.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 27, 2016  |  19 comments
Crowds and Power
"The world's first bank-switching, microprocessor-controller, ultracapacitor-based, ultra-low-noise external linear power supply has arrived!" I purchased the UpTone Audio UltraCap LPS-1 from the UpTone website and it arrived last week. While this is a review, it is unusual in those two regards; I bought one sight unheard, and I wrote this review after about 7 hours of listening time. Sometimes, that's the way I roll.
Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 29, 2016  |  20 comments
When Grant Samuelsen, Marketing and Sales Director at Shunyata Research, contacted me concerning the new Hydra Denali Series of Power Distributors, I assumed that that this would be a conversation discussing the repackaging of Shunyata’s previous efforts in a more affordably priced product. After an extended phone conversation with Grant, I realized that the Shunyata Denali Series represented a total rethinking by Caelin Gabriel, Designer and CEO of Shunyata Research, in the design of his power conditioners. A portion of the technology in the Denali Series resulted from Shunyata’s work in the new medical grade technology that has been successfully developed for electrophysiology labs and hospitals.
Steven Plaskin  |  Aug 25, 2016  |  64 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.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jul 21, 2016  |  127 comments
I've been thinking about this for years. Literally. I've had any number of people ask, "Have you tried using a Fiber Media Converter?" And I always said, "No, but I plan to." Now I can say, "Why yes, I have tried this and it works wonders."
Steven Plaskin  |  Jul 07, 2016  |  36 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  |  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  |  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  |  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  |  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.
Steven Plaskin  |  Oct 22, 2015  |  36 comments
When our AudioStream editor, Michael Lavorgna, asked me if I was interested in reviewing the Kubala-Sosna Realization USB cable, I was momentarily hesitant. I knew that some of our gentle readers would be shocked at a review of a $3500 USB cable given that the cost of this cable exceeds many fine DACs that have been reviewed at AudioStream. But my curiosity was tweaked if this cable exceeded the sonic performance of some of the excellent USB cables I have reviewed or discussed in my quest for ever-better sound from computer audio.
Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 22, 2015  |  37 comments
Michael Lavorgna recently did an excellent job reviewing the UpTone Audio USB REGEN and the AudioQuest JitterBug as well as comparing the sonic effects of these devices with each other (see Review). But due to the significant reader interest in these new products, our esteemed editor thought it would be a great idea to get a second take on these products. Given that Michael did all the heavy lifting describing the design of these devices, I was happy to jump right in describing my sonic impressions of these little USB add-ons that are designed to improve the sound of USB audio.

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