Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Tube Research Labs Modified Sony 595 CD Player

Tube Research Labs Modified Sony 595 CD Player

Tube Research Labs logoThe last decade has seen the emergence of a new cottage industry. Up until recently most audio enthusiasts were limited to the stock configuration of a component, unless they possessed the skills necessary to DIY their own equipment. Now there are dozens of companies that offer upgrades and modifications for a wide array of consumer electronics. All an audio enthusiast has to do is ship off a piece of hardware to a modifier, and within a few weeks receive a rejuvenated component back in the mail. Today there are modification companies for every product category in audio, and all a person has to do is spend an evening searching the net in order to find a company capable of working on their proposed project. read more…

Waves 360° Surround Toolkit

Waves 360° Surround Toolkit

Designed exclusively for Digidesign’s Pro Tools HD and Mix Systems, Waves LTD recently released their 360° Surround Tool kit for the Mac platform. Covering a wide variety of multichannel needs, the Toolkit consists of seven separate software elements: Surround Reverb, Limiter, Manager, Imager, Panner, Compressor, and Mixdown plug-in, plus a few extras. read more…

Dolby LM100. A new way to measure television loudness.

Dolby LM100. A new way to measure television loudness.

OK, everyone’s experienced this scenario multiple times each time they’ve watched TV. The commercials always seem way louder than the program so you reach for the remote to turn down the level, then back up again when the program resumes. Even worse is when the level between programs varies in level (ever notice how quiet South Park is compared to everything else?). And now with the 100 or more different channels available to us thanks to satellite and cable, we’re presented with yet another problem as the level varies substantially as we switch between channels.
If you think the consumer is the only one frustrated by this, rest assured that so are broadcasters. But before you can normalize the level between programs, commercials, and channels so they’re all relatively the same, you’ve got to have some way of accurately measuring these levels. Enter the Dolby Labs LM100, the first measurement device specifically designed to accurately and consistently measure television loudness. More specifically, it measures the loudness of dialog. Why is this important? Research has shown that as listeners tune across different television services with varying sound levels (including going into and out of commercials) they make adjustments to the volume control in order to normalize the level of dialog. This important fact is often overlooked as broadcasters and program producers assess the level of their programming. read more…

JBL LSR4328P Studio Monitors

JBL LSR4328P Studio Monitors

The new JBL LSR4328P powered studio monitors are designed for critical stereo and multichannel audio production applications that require exceptional spectral accuracy and high SPL capability. Since so much of today’s music production is completed in acoustically untreated rooms, the LSR4300 Series was developed to compensate for those environments. It is the first professional monitor that combines JBL’s Linear Spatial Reference technology and automated RMC (Room Mode Correction), an onboard system that automatically compensates for low frequency anomalies measured at the mix position. read more…

Inside-Out: Yamaha C45 Preamplifier

Inside-Out: Yamaha C45 Preamplifier

Yamaha is one of the long-standing greats of the audio world, producing some of the most sought-after components made while also keeping a good selection of gear priced for the man of average means. The model C-45 stereo preamplifier is representative of this high-quality but affordable philosophy of design. read more…

NeoSpeak Tetra Loudspeaker – Follow Up Impressions

NeoSpeak Tetra Loudspeaker – Follow Up Impressions

“And now for something completely different”

Last month I reported on my disappointing experience with NeoSpeak’s bookshelf model, the Tetra. At the last “moment” (literally hours after I submitted the preliminary findings, I switched the polarity of the tweeter. I did this remembering that Andrew Kim, NeoSpeak’s president, had written me telling me that the crossover was asymmetric, 3rd order for the tweeter section, and 2nd order for the woofer section. Someplace in the back annals of my mind I recalled that 3rd order crossovers and tweeters create a tilt of some 15E, sometimes used to “phase correct” the offset of loudspeakers on a baffle. I tore into the Tetras and jury-rigged the tweeters so that I could interchange the leads to them. read more…

Aperion Audio S8-APR Powered Subwoofer

Aperion Audio S8-APR Powered Subwoofer

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 13″ x 12.25″ x 12.5″ Weight: 27.5 lbs.
  • Amp Power (Continuous): 150 Watts Amp Power (Maximum): 240 Watts Frequency Response: 35 Hz to 180 Hz
  • Low Pass Crossover: Variable from 40-180 Hz Phase Adjustment:, Switchable 0 or 180 degrees Enclosure Type: Sealed with two passive radiators Warranty: 10 Years/ 3Year on Subwoofer Amplifier Price: $399

No piece of audio equipment suffers from a love-hate relationship between owner and spouse more than a subwoofer. The ability to deliver a quality low end thrills the audio fan, yet the substantial box it comes in irritates the spouse’s visual desire for appropriate décor. Various companies have tried to make the box less obtrusive, mostly to the detriment of sound quality. A few companies have tried to change the equation by looking at shrinking the size of the cabinet by first reducing the driver size. For small rooms, the smaller footprint worked, but some would argue that it limited the response characteristics. What to do, what to do….? read more…

Totem Beaks

Totem Beaks

Tweaking by definition is a quest to find the absolute final missing increment of quality sound that can be wrung out of any component. The first tweek I ever bought was the Monster Cable Discus that acted like a weight on top of a cd while inside of a player. All I ever got out of it was a thinner wallet and a repair bill to fix the grabbing mechanism on my HK HD500 player. Therefore, it is with significant suspicion when I look into any tweaking product.

This past spring I received an email from a reader asking my opinion of the Totem Acoustic Beaks. Being rather ignorant of the conical cylinders I decided to search thru the forum archives of AudioKarma. Sure enough, there were several posts regarding the general concept of conical sound improvement. It wasn’t a heated debate, instead it was closer to an honest examination of the potential benefits. read more…

HeadRoom Total BitHead

HeadRoom Total BitHead


Play the tape machine, make the toast and tea When I’m mobile

Well, I can lay in bed with only highway ahead When I’m mobile

Keep me moving

…or so sang Pete Townshend 35 years ago on The Who’s 1971 classic, Who’s Next. Today, the ubiquity of cell phones, laptop computers and portable audio devices hasn’t so much changed the world as given us what we’ve wanted all along: the ability to move around freely while taking the comforts of home along with us. What of these comforts do audiophiles dream about more than any other? I’ve got two: 1.) To carry my entire record collection in my shirt pocket; and 2.) to listen to it anywhere with the same high fidelity I enjoy in my listening chair at home. #1 is covered…my iPod has more than a solid week’s worth of music, all ripped at the highest bit rate possible, and it’s only half-full. But what about the “high fidelity” part?

This month I took a look at one of HeadRoom’s entry level offerings, the newlyre designed Total BitHead. read more…

Classic Restoration: Parmeko LSU/10 BBC Studio Monitors

Classic Restoration: Parmeko LSU/10 BBC Studio Monitors

It seems as if I have been interested in music, and the equipment that reproduces it, for as long as I can remember. It’s all the fault of the good people who produced the Radio Shack catalogs of the mid 1970’s. Fast-forwarding to today…audio, especially vintage and DIY audio, has become a borderline obsession. Still, I know nothing really explains why I bought a pair of fifty-year old 400 lb. speakers, sound unheard, and flew them across the Atlantic to New England. It’s funny; you know it never occurred to me not to. read more…

Transcendent Sound Grounded Grid Preamplifier

Transcendent Sound Grounded Grid Preamplifier

Specifications:

  • Harmonic Distortion: Less than .02% at 2 volts RMS out.
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: Greater than 93 dB. Bandwidth: 1 dB down from 5 Hz to 300 kHz. Gain: 12 dB.
  • Max Signal Out: 20 volts RMS. Output Impedance: 200 ohms. Input Impedance: 50 k Ohms.
  • Inputs: 3, Outputs: 1, all single-ended, RCA Controls: Input Selector, Volume, Power Tube Compliment: 3-12AU7
  • Dimensions Overall: 15’W by 11’D by 4 1/4’H. Weight: 10 pounds.

I first heard about Transcendent Sound’s Grounded Grid preamplifier through an amplifier designer from another company. I had been in the market for a new power amplifier and had a model on loan from Henry Ho, chief designer for and owner of H2O Audio. The H2O Audio amplifier had far surpassed the sound of my Bryston 4B-ST, but my tube preamplifier was not designed to drive an amplifier with a low input impedance. The input impedance of the H2O Audio amplifier is quite low, and the match had caused a receded soundstage and lack of dynamics. I told Henry of the problem, and he recommended that I might try one of two reasonably priced preamplifiers to solve the problem: the Adcom GFP-750 based on a Nelson Pass design, and the Transcendent Sound Grounded Grid designed by Bruce Rosenblit, holder of the Transcendent Patent of the Output-Transformer Less tube amplification output stage. read more…

From Catfish to Caviar: Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitors

From Catfish to Caviar: Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitors

If you want to know the build quality of an automobile, you don’t kick the tires, as the old adage suggests. Instead, you look under the hood. The same is true in audio – great sound begins with great parts. Sure, a Rolls Royce and a Hyundai both serve the same purpose, but if you want to ride in style, you’ll probably choose the better-built vehicle.

Specifications:

  • 44-20k
  • 8 ohm
  • 88db
  • 25-150 watts
  • 9 x 10.5 x 18
  • 32 lbs ea.
  • List Price: $2,450pr. Factory Direct: $1,825pr.

read more…

Measuring Room Response with TrueRTA Freeware

Measuring Room Response with TrueRTA Freeware

True RTA is a real time audio spectrum analyzer for the PC. It is a useful and inexpensive tool that can give a good picture of speaker response at the listening position. The software package can aid in positioning speakers for the smoothest response, or when used in conjunction with a digital equalizer such as the Behringer DEQ2496, can give quick feedback on needed frequency adjustments and their overall effectiveness. read more…

NeoSpeak NeoTetra Bookshelf  Speakers

NeoSpeak NeoTetra Bookshelf Speakers

  • Description : 2 way 2 speakers vented box
  • Impedance : 8 ohms nominal Woofer : One 6.5 inch Kevlar cone Tweeter : one 1 inch aluminum dome Sensitivity : 87 dB/w/m
  • Frequency range : 55Hz ~ 20kHz
  • Rated power : 80 w
  • Connection : single-wire binding post
  • Finish : Beech, Cherry
  • Dimensions: 17 3/8in H X 10 5/8 D X 8 5/6 W, Weight 19.2 lbs

Well, here’s something a little different for me. I actually get to review a new piece of equipment! The NeoSpeak Tetras are their smallest offering (they currently have 2, the other a “reference” product at near $3000 USD). Not really small either, their physical dimensions fitting with a fullsize monitor. The cabinets are made of 3/4in” MDF, except for the front raised baffle that adds an additional 1/4” of thickness. The cabinet is covered with a fairly nice looking vinyl wrap. Single binding posts are on the rear of the enclosures as is a 2″ port. Pretty similar to a lot of other over achievers out there, such as my old Musical Fidelity MC2s and my Castle Durham 900s. read more…

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