Steven Plaskin

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Steven Plaskin  |  Dec 10, 2013  |  4 comments
Why the Need for a Specialized AC Cord?
The Digital AC-X cord is JPS Labs’ specialized cable for digital components designed to provide a “smoother, more analog environment for audio and video” components. JPS Labs is a manufacturer of a complete line of AC cords, interconnects, speaker cables and digital audio cables. They also manufacture the Abyss headphone, a state-of-the art design that is priced to match. JPS Labs has been in business since 1990 and manufactures their products in East Aurora, New York.
Steven Plaskin  |  Dec 04, 2013  |  10 comments
The Benchmark Media Systems DAC2 HGC represents Benchmark’s most advanced and feature laden DAC offering. Despite its diminutive size, the DAC2 HGC is a full featured DAC with an asynchronous USB input that supports PCM up to 24/192 and native DSD 64 using the DoP 1.1 format. A remote controlled preamp is included with Benchmark’s Hybrid Gain Control system that utilizes a servo-driven volume control and 2 headphone jacks with a switch that automatically mutes the XLR and RCA outputs when using the headphone amplifier. A metal remote is included that controls the power, volume, polarity, input selection, mute, and dim controls of the DAC. Other features include a 12V Trigger I/O and Home Theatre Bypass.
Steven Plaskin  |  Oct 21, 2013  |  41 comments
2013 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest Introduction
The Synergistic Research High Frequency Transducer (HFT) and Frequency Equalizer (FEQ) are two new products that were recently introduced at the 2013 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver (see show report). Synergistic Research decided to make a not-so-subtle point by using a Bose Wave Radio placed on a Tranquility Base to demonstrate these new products. Ted Denny III, Lead Designer at Synergistic Research, wanted no confusion that might occur using a high end audio system. Ted felt that if his new products could transform the sound of a Bose Wave Radio, a true high end audio system would experience even greater benefits from these products.
Steven Plaskin  |  Oct 11, 2013  |  1 comments
I have always enjoyed the music of Jimmy Webb. Going back to Richard Harris performing "MacArthur Park" and Glenn Campbell singing "Galveston" brings back many good memories.

Jimmy Webb’s new release Still Within The Sound Of My Voice, offered in 24/44.1 on HDtracks, presents new versions of these classic songs. As in his previous release, Just Across The River, Jimmy teams up with a stellar group of performers. Carly Simon, Lyle Lovett, The Jordanaires, Keith Urban, David Crosby and Graham Nash, Joe Cocker, Art Garfunkel, Amy Grant, Kriss Kristofferson, Marc Cohn, Rumer, and America. The song "MacArthur Park", sometimes ridiculed by reviewers, teamed up Brian Wilson singing in the background with Jimmy Webb. The song has withstood the test of time and is probably considered a classic Jimmy Webb tune.

Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 20, 2013  |  0 comments
Howard Hanson (1896-1981) was a conductor, composer, and director of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He was one of the most prominent American composers of musical Romanticism who believed that music should strive to preserve beauty, clarity and simplicity. You won’t find dissonance in Howard Hansen’s music.
Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 10, 2013  |  18 comments
There has been a movement in the design of high end DACs to reduce jitter to extremely low levels due to the emergence of extremely accurate oscillator-clocks. Recently, I reviewed the MSB Technology Analog DAC with its Femto clock and claims of extremely low jitter. Calyx Audio, a division of the Korean manufacturer Digital and Analog, have utilized an extremely accurate clock to decrease jitter from the standard picoseconds to femtoseconds ; in this case 500 femtoseconds. One femtosecond is one quadrillionth (0.000 000 000 000 001) of a second or 10−15. Calyx is obviously proud of their clock technology and named their flagship DAC Femto. Digital and Analog not only builds a line of DACs, but also Class D amplifiers and a powered speaker. They have specialized in building class D ICs and Full Digital ICs OEM since 1999. In 2008, Calyx Audio was formed to produce high end audio products.
Steven Plaskin  |  Aug 12, 2013  |  19 comments
The LightSpeed USB cable is Light Harmonic’s latest entry to an ever growing and somewhat crowded filed of audiophile USB cables. Light Harmonic, well known for their outstanding Da Vinci DAC that I previously reviewed last January (see review), has created what they feel is a USB cable that very few other manufacturers can match in terms of bandwidth. Light Harmonic claims that the LightSpeed with its Ultra-high speed differential pair provides 20 times the bandwidth of USB 2.0 high speed. With its 10 GB per second bandwidth, it offers performance that many other high end USB cables cannot come close to. In fact, Light Harmonic has measured many high end USB cables and found that they cannot meet the USB Audio 2.0 High Speed standard of 480mbps. The LightSpeed physically splits the line with separation of the 5V power supply to reduce noise and disturbances of the digital signal.
Steven Plaskin  |  Jul 31, 2013  |  2 comments
The Synergistic Research Element cable series represents Synergistic Research’s most current thinking on the art and science of cable design. The Element C.T.S. Digital AC cord resulted from the research and development that created the more expensive Galileo series of cables. The Element series provides many of the Galileo features at a more affordable price.
Steven Plaskin  |  Jul 16, 2013  |  3 comments
The Analog Power Base is a $2,995 upgrade power supply for the MSB Technology Analog DAC. My recent review of The Analog DAC (see review) was going to include the Analog Power Base, but MSB Technologies’ recent move to a new factory delayed this evaluation. The Analog DAC comes with an outboard Desktop Power Supply that is housed in an aluminum case with two transformers. This power supply is linear with separate supplies for digital processing and the analog circuits of The Analog DAC.
Steven Plaskin  |  Jul 09, 2013  |  18 comments
It was back in February 2008 that several of us took a drive to the Synergistic Research Factory in Irvine, CA. We had the good fortune to meet Ted Denney, lead designer at Synergistic Research who provided me with my first musical experience with Active Shielding. Ted came across as a very enthusiastic designer who enjoyed sharing his ideas about the new products he was developing; many of which have since come to fruition. Ted then took us to a large room with a terrific sounding system where he demonstrated Active Shielding with his cables by enabling it and then turning it off. Everything sounded much better with the Active Shielding enabled. I also remember him demonstrating a 2 tube Active Shielding power supply called the Enigma. It was fascinating to hear the sound change when Ted powered the cables with one tube and then the other. He also demonstrated a prototype of the PowerCell AC line conditioner. Suffice to say, I was very impressed with Synergistic Research’s implementation of Active Shielding with their cables.

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