Steven Plaskin

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Steven Plaskin  |  Apr 26, 2018  |  1 comments
As an audio reviewer, there are times I find it necessary to pull back from over-analyzing the sound of a product and get back to the fundamentals that drew me into this hobby in the first place. Engaging musicality can often be lost to one that is focusing on specifics such as soundstage, bass, dynamics, and resolution. The Métronome Technologie C5+ DAC, a DAC designed and manufactured in France, is a high-end product that helped me get back to the audio place that all of us are ultimately seeking.
Steven Plaskin  |  Mar 22, 2018  |  0 comments
Many audiophiles that I meet ask me about the necessity of using USB enhancement devices and suggest to me that a well-designed USB DAC has no need for these products. I have reviewed many well engineered DACs that have galvanic isolation and take considerable efforts to isolate their USB DAC from computer noise that degrades audio performance. I have found that most, if not all, benefit from the use of USB enhancement devices to a greater or lessor extent. I have had the pleasure to review iFi Audio's excellent micro iUSB3.0; a device that I found to significantly improve the sound of USB DACs driven directly by a computer. The iUSB3.0 delivered an improvement to the USB signal integrity in addition to the power supply function. The USB signal from the computer is completely re-constructed, re-clocked and re-balanced by the iUSB3.0 before being passed on to downstream devices for both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 DAC connections.
Steven Plaskin  |  Feb 14, 2018  |  16 comments
The Empirical Audio Overdrive SX Ethernet DAC/Pre represents Steve Nugent's most current thinking on DAC design. Steve, chief designer and owner of Empirical Audio, has been building Empirical Audio DACs since 2009. His engineering background and experience in digital design have served him well having come up with many original creations and unique approaches in DAC design. The Overdrive SX builds on the basic design of his Overdrive SE, a DAC I reviewed for AudioStream back in 2014.
Steven Plaskin  |  Dec 21, 2017  |  16 comments
A difficult task has been presented to me; sonic comparison of the Sonore Signature Rendu SE with the SOtM Triple Set that is composed of the sMS-200ultra, the tx-USBultra, and the sPS-500 power supply. It’s a difficult mission because these products have been previously reviewed here at AudioStream and all were found to be first-rate products. Michael Lavorgna did an excellent job reviewing the Sonore Signature Rendu SE and found it to be a "pure pleasure" to listen to. Likewise, I was very impressed with the performance of the SOtM sMS-200ultra, tx-USBultra, and the sPS-500 with silver Y DC cable in my reviews. It just so happens that I own both the Sonore Signature Rendu SE and SOtM Triple Set and have a burning desire to know which setup will sound best in my system. Will it be the Sonore Signature Rendu SE or the SOtM Triad that will bring me closer to the music, and ultimately, long term musical satisfaction?
Steven Plaskin  |  Oct 19, 2017  |  0 comments
photo credits: Shunyata

With Shunyata Research's release of the Denali Series power distributors last year, Shunyata had produced a power conditioner that had not only challenged other brands of AC conditioners, but their own top-of-the-line Hydra Triton v2 as well. While reviewing the Denali Series power distributors last September, I found that the Triton v2 was outperformed by the Denali in several areas including reproduction of the dynamic qualities of music.

Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 14, 2017  |  6 comments
It's hard to believe that over three years has passed since I last reviewed a Wyred 4 Sound DAC. At that time, I found the DAC-2 DSDse to have "flawless function and performance that was a joy to experience." I now found myself very curious to see what E.J. Sarmento has come up with for today's computer audiophile. For those of you that aren't acquainted with E. J. Sarmento's California company, Wyred 4 Sound not only builds DACs, but offers power amps, preamps, integrated amps, music servers, along with cables and numerous accessories for the audiophile marketplace. The DAC-2v2 SE is Wyred 4 Sound's latest design that builds on their DAC-2v2 by adding many improvements to the basic design.
Steven Plaskin  |  Aug 03, 2017  |  21 comments
The sMS-200ultra Mini Network Player
The Korean audio manufacturer SOtM (Soul of the Music™) has added a new mini network player to their stable of audio devices called the sMS-200ultra. Now some of you are going to ask just how the sMS-200ultra differs from the sMS-200 that I recently reviewed here at AudioStream...
Steven Plaskin  |  Jun 01, 2017  |  1 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  |  16 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.

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