Integrated Amp/DAC Reviews

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 27, 2017 4 comments
Ace
Have you ever called someone "Ace"? And meant it?
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 13, 2017 1 comments
Hegel Walks The Walk
And that walk is decidedly, and refreshingly, their own. The Röst offers 75wpc into 8 Ohms, a DAC which supports PCM-only data and maxes out at 24/96 via USB and 24/192 via S/PDIF and the unit's network connection. Octuple-rate DSD lovers and 32-bit/384kHz hunters need not apply. The real question, with apologies to the company's name, being; does this walk take us down the high or low road toward musical nirvana or does it overcome this dualism?
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 09, 2017 2 comments
Ethernet In, Music Out
Look Ma, no DAC! The Lumin M1 takes your network-attached digital music files (up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD128 via DoP), converts them to 24/176.4 (PCM), which in turn gets converted to a pulse-width modulated (PWM) signal, and outputs 60wpc into 8 Ohms and 100wpc into 4. You can also connect USB storage devices (Flash or single-partition FAT32, NTFS and EXT2/3 only) to the unit's 2x USB Type A inputs. Open the Lumin app on your iOS device, point it to your network-attached music library or USB storage, Tidal, Qobuz, or TuneIn radio and play away. The analog part happens at your loudspeakers, so to speak.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 02, 2017 1 comments
Peachtree Audio 2.0
What's 2.0? The short answer—improvements (here's the longer answer). Late last year, David Solomon rejoined Peachtree and the company made some other (major) changes; a new engineering team was brought on board to create the new Nova line of amplifiers (nova150, nova300, and nova500) and manufacturing of the Nova line was brought back from China to Canada. The new nova300 is an integrated amplifier putting out 300wpc (into 8Ω/450wpc into 4Ω) of ICEpower, sports the ESS Sabre32 9018MKII Reference Sabre DAC, a phono amp, a headphone amp, and, when dressed in the Gloss Ebony Mocha, some super-fine curb appeal.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 09, 2015 4 comments
photo credit: April Music

All-In-One Music Center
If we look at the Aura Note's anatomy, we can conjure up a whole host of music playing possibilities. If we step back and look at the Aura Note's exterior, we see a device deigned for people who value such things as industrial design (I do). Taken as a whole, those looking for an attractive one-box solution may have found their ideal dancing partner.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 12, 2015 12 comments
Teac
The TEAC Corporation, a $1.2 billion manufacturing company headquartered in Japan, was founded in 1953. The TEAC division is in the "field of music and audio" and they've pioneered many a product for the studio and home. I was mightily impressed with their UD-501 Dual-Monaural PCM/DSD USB DAC (see review) and the new Teac AI-301DA, which wraps up 22 Watts (into 8 Ohms) of Class-D ICEpower (50ASX2-SE), a 32/192 and DSD 5.6MHz capable BurrBrown PCM 1795 D/A converter, aptX Bluetooth, and a headphone amp into a relatively small package, carries on this tradition.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 05, 2015 23 comments
The Sprout Vision
I see it, I hear it, I like it. Sprout plays vinyl and digital (up to 24/192), let's you stream to it via Bluetooth from your smartphone while pumping out 32 watts of Class D power per channel into 8 Ohms (50W into 4). It delivers all of this in a small, simple, attractive package and it costs $799. What more do you need to know?
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Nov 26, 2014 9 comments
Sonos
Do you watch TV? Sports maybe? If so, you've probably spotted one of the Sonos commercials. White immaculate rooms are suddenly filled with liquid color, with flowers, or with paint spatters until the rooms are transformed. By music. Cool. And its cool for a few reasons; the message, the presentation, and the fact that a hi-fi company can afford to advertise on network TV during high profile/price sporting events. I'd imagine that Sonos is the only company to come through AudioStream to be in a position to pull that off.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 25, 2014 3 comments
Cocktail Audio
Cocktail Audio is, to the best of my knowledge, a division of Novatron a Korean company specializing in the manufacture of "Multimedia Devices". I first came across the Cocktail Audio X30 at CES 2014 and I was intrigued by its all in oneness. The X30 incorporates a 50W digital amp, DAC, server, UPnP network player, and CD ripper all in one package. Just add speakers.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 12, 2014 13 comments
The Little Integrated Amplifier/DAC That Could
The Sony UDA-1 incorporates a 20W x 2 Class AB amplifier (into 4 ohms) and a 24/192 and single and double rate DSD capable DAC (Burr-Brown PCM1795) into a handsome black or silver aluminum covered chunky little chassis. 20 Watts isn't much power but if you have speakers that aren't very demanding, and my DeVore The Nines at 91db and 8 ohms aren't, you can get away with 20 Watts. As a matter of fact, the little UDA-1 from Sony drove The Nines to my sonic satisfaction. There are however some operational quirks you must contend with if you use a Mac to get the most of outta that DSD DAC.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 05, 2014 45 comments
photo credit: Devialet

Luxury Goods
It's funny how in hi-fi some people look at beautifully made gear with scorn. As if that beauty were worse than secondary to its main purpose of playing music. As if beauty was misplaced, as if it was just plain wrong. Of course we're talking about personal taste and nothing more. I happen to appreciate the way things look (and feel) and this pertains to hi-fi as much as anything else. And I find the Devialet kit to exhibit this love of design both in terms of how it looks and feels and of course how it plays music.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 26, 2014 4 comments
Three For All In One
The Naim SuperUniti combines elements from three of Naim's stand alone components; the amp borrows its 80W per channel into 8Ω of power from the SUPERNAIT integrated amplifier, the UPnP network player portion comes courtesy of the NDX network player, and the DAC takes its "innovative data buffering jitter removal process" from the aptly named Naim DAC. There's also an AM/FM/DAB tuner and a headphone output in the SuperUniti making it one all around all-in-one player.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 20, 2014 4 comments
All-In-One
The Cambridge Audio Minx Xi packs a 40 watt per channel (into 8 ohms) Class AB integrated amplifier, a network player, DAC, and headphone amp into one relatively small and sleek metal-wrapped high gloss white or black package. Throw in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the Cambridge Stream Magic app for iOS or Android devices, and you've got yourself one very good reason to never leave your couch. Except to dance.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 21, 2011 3 comments
I'll start by saying I've been a fan of 47 Labs designs from the first time I saw and heard the 4706 Gaincard and 4713 Flatfish. It helped that Herb Reichert wrote about the 47 Labs Gaincard (Listener, volume 5, number 2 Spring 1999) since he was a favorite writer on Hi-Fi and someone I felt I could relate to in ways that included non-Hi-Fi stuff (now that I've had an opportunity to meet Herb on a few occasions, I discovered I was righter than I knew). If a minimal design aesthetic appeals to you in a general sense, i.e. you enjoy the work of Ray and Charles Eames, Donald Judd, Ad Reinhardt, the Bauhaus, etc., then the design approach of Juni Kimura should tickle a similar fancy. Juni Kimura's quote, "Only the simplest can accomodate the most complex" adorns the 47 Labs US Distributor's home page.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 27, 2011 5 comments
I have a bunch of confessions to make the first being I used to frown on docks in amps. I viewed them as a blemish on the face of serious listening, an affront to our finer sensibilities. This impulse to look at things that make life easier with scorn (screw caps, auto-focus, stretch-waist jeans [actually, they deserve our scorn]) as we age is something we need to fight with all the force our gray hairs and beer bellies (I'm not saying you have one but I know I do) can muster. Listening to music is supposed to be fun, dammit!

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