Stereophile February 2021

Every month Stereophile magazine offers authoritative reviews, informed recommendations, helpful advice, and controversial opinions, all stemming from the revolutionary idea that audio components should be judged on how they reproduce music.

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United States
AVTech Media Americas, Inc.
US$ 7,99
US$ 9,99
12 Edições

nesta edição

12 minutos
volumio primo

Is this all there is to it? I had done some superficial investigations of Volumio online, after the Primo was suggested to me for review. I had learned that the Volumio player software is available for several hardware platforms including Windows, Mac, and Raspberry Pi, but I had not tried it before. I discovered Volumio’s reputation as an efficient, Linuxbased music player, installable with an SD card on minimal hardware and said to support virtually all music formats and resolutions including DSD and multichannel. But I had not experienced any of this for myself. When I unpacked the Primo, I was surprised to find such a small black box. Could such a small, lightweight device do all that and do it with adequate sound? There’s a precedent, but it’s 10 years old—ancient in…

7 minutos
manufacturers’ comments

DS Audio DS-E1 Musical Surroundings commends Michael Fremer for revisiting DS Audio optical phono cartridges and sharing his very positive experiences. We applaud his open-minded approach to new analog playback technologies. If you are in the market for a new $1200 phono cartridge and a similarly priced, perfectly matched phono stage, audition the DS-E1 set. The speed and resolution defies what we think is possible of a cartridge with an aluminum cantilever/elliptical stylus and this price range. Michael’s comparison to another cartridge using the same LPs “produced a sonic picture that was surprisingly similar in key ways.” It matched a $7500 front end including the DS-E1 with its companion phono stage ($2750) against 6 figures’ worth of turntable/tonearm/phono stage and a $7000 MC cartridge. Fremer’s description of the E1 actually applies to all…

17 minutos
analog corner

Phasemation, DS Audio, and an upgrade from Audio Research I feel compelled to repeat here an eerie occurrence I related a while back on AnalogPlanet. I reviewed, in the February 1999, Analog Corner column, the Cartridge Man’s Digital Stylus Force Gauge,1 which back then sold for $299. I still have it, but a decade ago, the battery stopped taking a charge. I put it aside, planning to replace the battery someday. One late October afternoon, I looked over at the device and decided it was time to resurrect it. I opened it up and inside found an odd-looking soldered-in battery. I emailed Len Gregory, aka the Cartridge Man, and asked how he was all these years later. Then I inquired about the battery. Instead of waiting for a reply, I took the device further…

6 minutos

I measured the Volumio Primo with my Audio Precision SYS2722 system (see the January 2008 “As We See It”1). I used test-tone WAV and AIFF files on a USB stick inserted into one of the four USB Type A ports on the Primo’s rear. I selected the appropriate directory on that stick with the Volumio Settings page that appeared on my iPad mini after I logged on to the Volumio Wi-Fi network. The Primo is specified as being able to decode PCM data with sample rates up to 768kHz. I don’t have any test tones encoded at that sample rate, but the Primo worked correctly with files with sample rates up to 384kHz that I did have. As I didn’t have access to something like the GeerFab D-BOB format converter that…

16 minutos
benchmark hpa4

I am certain the quality of life I live is determined by two factors: who and what I give my attentions to, and my ability to observe all that I encounter with an open mind. This approach to living has served me well—especially during this review of the Benchmark Media Systems HPA4 headphone amplifier ($2999). Unboxing While removing the Benchmark HPA4 headphone amp from its simple-but-effective packaging, I noticed three things. First, I noticed that the amp had shipped from Syracuse, NY, where it was made. Second, one whole side of the box said “Benchmark… the measure of excellence!™” As I cut the clear tape with my boxcutter, I noticed the “THX Technology” logo printed on it and wondered why it was there. After sliding it out of the box, I held the…

8 minutos

I measured the Okto dac8 Stereo with my Audio Precision SYS2722 system (see the January 2008 “As We See It”1). Apple’s USB Prober utility identified the Okto as “dac8STEREO” from “OKTO RESEARCH” with the serial number string “000000.” The USB port operated in the optimal isochronous asynchronous mode, and Apple’s AudioMIDI utility revealed that the dac8 Stereo accepted 16- and 24-bit integer data sampled at all rates from 44.1kHz to 384kHz. The AES/EBU and coaxial S/PDIF inputs accepted data sampled at rates up to 192kHz. The TosLink inputs were limited to sample rates of 96kHz and below. The dac8 Stereo’s maximum output level at 1kHz with the balanced outputs or the headphone outputs feeding a high 100k ohm load was 4.22V. The processor preserved absolute polarity (ie, was noninverting) from all…