Category Archives: REVIEWS

PhantomFocus System Studio Monitors Review

PhantomFocus PFM UHD-1000 monitor
PhantomFocus PFM UHD-1000 monitor

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more passionate about audio than Carl Tatz. Not only is he serious about it, he knows it inside out. I got to know him before Recording Arts, his legendary Nashville studio, wound up in the hands of Sheryl Crow nearly two decades ago. Even in those days, more than anything else, Recording Arts was known for its exceptional monitoring. The fundamentals of the PhantomFocus System (PFS) were developed during Tatz’s Recording Arts tenure. That system has evolved into a portfolio of both physical studio designs and products that hold their ground against anything in the world today. The number of top engineers around the world who use Tatz’s talents to ensure their mixes accurately translate anywhere—be it streaming, on television or in movie theaters—continues to grow every year.

While Tatz often designs recording studios from the ground up, the PFS branding includes various pieces of hardware that are configured and “tuned” by his process, which combines physical properties, hardware design and system settings. Tatz can be hired to build a PFS studio from the ground up, but an existing studio can also bring him in to transform the facility into a PFS space through the integration of specific hardware that he configures via a combination of physics, software and his golden ears.

While the PFS process can be applied to any high-performance studio loudspeakers, Tatz had historically gravitated his clients toward the now-discontinued Dynaudio M1s because of their sound quality and their adaptability to the PFS process. The M1s were never perfect, but Tatz was convinced that they were the closest thing to perfection available on the market at the time.

Never one to settle for the status quo, Tatz began developing his own monitors. After finessing his dream over the years, the PFM UHD-1000 and PFM HD-1000 Professional Reference Monitors and PFM ICE Cube-12 Subwoofer are finally ready for public consumption. Tatz boasts that the monitors’ accelerated response times, phase linearity and tightly controlled mid-bass response result in high confidence, better and faster mixes, and increased enjoyment. My own extensive listening supports my assertion that this isn’t hype.

The Carl Tatz Interview, by Russ Long, Feb. 11, 2015

Carl Tatz Design PhantomFocus Monitor Optimization System (PFS), by Russ Long, Oct. 21, 2011

PhantomFocus PFM HD-1000 monitor
PhantomFocus PFM HD-1000 monitor

Both monitor models are passive and share nearly identical 8.2 x 17.8 x 12.2-inch cabinets with a built-in custom integrated IsoAcoustics pistonic decoupling system with a studio black luster finish. The UHD version, which is designed to be biamplified and features upgraded low-frequency drivers, weighs 24.1 pounds. The HD version is offered in two configurations: the PFM HD-1000A is actively biamped, requiring two channels of amplification per monitor, and the PFM HD-1000P features an internal Straight Wire passive crossover, requiring one channel of amplification per monitor.

The PFM ICE Cube-12 subwoofer is a 15.75-inch cube weighing 55 pounds. It incorporates a 700-watt amp that provides 120 dB maximum continuous SPL. It includes typical subwoofer functions including 40–140 Hz LPF with LFE Bypass and 0–180 Phase Switch. It’s important to note that both the PFM HD-1000 and UHD-1000 monitors are part of the PFS turnkey precision monitoring instrument ensemble and can only be purchased with the installation of a PhantomFocus System using the proprietary PFS tuning process.

I’ve spent a lot of time in PhantomFocus rooms around Nashville and my only complaint had been the rapid degradation of sound quality as you move away from the sweet spot. When you’re in the sweet spot, you’ll likely be experiencing the best monitoring situation of your career, but once you begin sliding one direction or another, the sound quickly deteriorates. I had always attributed this to PFS processing, but after spending time listening at The Upper Deck, one of the first studios to install PFM HD-1000 monitors, my tune has changed. The sweet spot of that room is still precise, but as you move in and out of the sweet spot, the transition is smooth, natural and subtle—an entirely different experience than listening in other PFS rooms with other monitor models.

The Ultimate Home Studio? Upper Deck Hits It Out of the Park, by Steve Harvey, Nov. 29, 2018

PhantomFocus PFM ICE Cube-12 Subwoofer
PhantomFocus PFM ICE Cube-12 Subwoofer

This was confirmed when I spent time listening at Doug Sarrett’s Uno Mas studio. Sarrett was an early adopter of the PhantomFocus System, and he updated the Tannoy Super Gold monitors that he’d been using for over two decades to the premium PFM UHD-1000 monitors; the results were stunning. The complete system has excellent imaging, pristine depth of field and accurate, extended low-frequency response regardless of monitoring volume. As is always the case with a PFS implementation, the speakers magically disappear, leaving a detailed sonic landscape. While the difference was subtle, the upgrade to the UHD version of the PFM monitor that I auditioned at Uno Mas in comparison to the HD version that I listened to at The Upper Deck was a definite improvement in both depth and clarity.

The new PhantomFocus monitors and subwoofer elevate monitoring accuracy to yet another level. Regardless of whether you are upgrading a current room or planning to build a space from the ground up, PFS along with PFM monitors and subwoofers should receive top consideration.

Carl Tatz Design •

Original Resource is

Gold Note CD1000 MkII CD player/DAC

Even though there is a wealth of streaming options available to music lovers, the CD is quietly making a bit of a comeback. Not everyone wants to be an IT person, and some really enjoy the simplicity of putting a disc in and pushing play. Not to mention, there are some great deals to be had in the used CD bins.

Over the last several years, vinyl’s comeback reinvigorated the love for turntables. Following on the footsteps of this old-school resurgence CDs are experiencing a surprise comeback too. Embracing this trend, Italy’s Gold Note seeks to bring together the best of CD playback and streaming into a single package with the CD-1000 player and DAC. Indeed, the CD-1000 performs admirably in extracting the most from CDs. However, it also features a USB input so the internal DAC can deliver double-duty in decoding high-resolution PCM files. While Gold Note player cannot decode SACD or DVD-A disks, DSD, or MQA files, listeners will enjoy its prowess with a vast majority of their music collection.

Behold gold

After unpacking the CD1000, it’s evident that Italy’s Gold Note puts a lot of effort into the aesthetics of their products to complement the equally-beautiful sound.

The player comes in a variety of finishes. In addition to the gold anodizing reflecting the company’s namesake, Gold Note offers black and silver options to match other downstream components. While some manufacturers anodize only the thick aluminum faceplate to save production cost, the CD-1000 surfaces all reflect the owner’s color choice. Atop the CD-1000, even the ventilation slits prove attractive. It also features a custom-made aluminum CD drawer rather than the cheap plastic ones used in most players. The unit’s heft also reflects serious build quality. The player weighs in at 33 pounds (15kg) with external dimensions of 17 inches wide, 14.75 inches deep, and 5.3 inches tall (430mm X 375mm X 135mm).

The front panel controls offer the expected options for a CD player. Eject, play/pause, track skipping or scanning, stop, and standby buttons integrate gracefully into the faceplate. A digital display showcases the CD track number and elapsed time. There is no button to choose the input selections, however. For that, one needs to use the included plastic remote control.

Owners have a choice of RCA or AES/EBU (XLR) analog outputs. They can also use the S/PDIF coax output to use the CD-1000 as a transport to an external DAC. However, it would take an exceptional DAC to expect an improvement over the one built into the Gold Note.

Input wise, those using the player as a standalone DAC can connect to it from other sources via Toslink, S/PDIF, or USB. Regardless of input choice, the player’s excellent Burr-Brown PCM1796 dual-mono chip takes the reins for decoding digital information.

Designed for upgrades

Gold Note employs a modular design for the CD player. While the internal dual-mono power supply does a marvelous job on its own, an owner can upgrade the player with a choice of two external Class A tube Output Stage Buffers, the TUBE-1012 taps the aid of twelve 6N1P triode tubes, while the smaller TUBE-1006 sibling uses six. Besides are also available two external inductive power supply the 9 transformers PSU-1250 and the 5 transformers PSU-1000.  According to Gold Note, either power supply bests the internal version. These upgrades don’t come cheap, retailing around $7,000 or $4,000, respectively for both TUBE and PSU. Adding that to the $5,000 cost of the player itself represents a substantial investment.

We’ll need to take Gold Note’s word for the sound improvements these power supplies offer since we did not have either on hand from which to base a comparison. For those CD-1000 owners who seek to unveil every sonic nuance from their CD-1000, the upgrade may prove worthwhile. CD-1000 owners who choose to go that route can acquire new-production Sovtek 6N1P tubes for about $12 each. Necessary re-tubing down the road won’t break the bank.


The Gold Note features a similar sonic voice, whether enjoying a CD or using the DAC for streamed content. However, CD playback is where it truly excels. The sound is exceptionally immersive and it’s easy to get swept up in the music rather than scrutinizing it.

The CD-1000 MkII digs out bass notes in a tight, defined, and concise way. Those who crave heavy bass emphasis may find the player’s voicing a touch polite for their taste. Low frequency, dub-steppy elements heard in Billie Eilish’s “you should see me in a crown” renders with ample punch, though. Listeners pairing the CD-1000 with preamps and amps that excel at low-frequency delivery may find the Gold Note an excellent match.

The Gold Note offers a beautiful midrange portrayal. Vocals seem to take a step toward the listener, exceeding the physical speaker placement. Similarly-impressive is the player’s broad and deep soundstage. Instruments sometimes offer a surprise by appearing to wrap around the edges of the listening space.

On the top end, high-frequency information translates with oodles of detail. The player retrieves nuances that help frame the ambiance around vocalists and various instruments. It layers them in the soundstage deftly. However, that marvelous capability is a double-edged sword at times. When mated with similarly-voiced downstream components, the DAC can introduce a touch of stridency. For example, “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones comes with a bit of hard edge during her vocal crescendos. For sonic comparison between the DAC and CD functionality, we played the same track using the CD-1000MkII’s DAC only, and then the CD player. The Redbook CD playback sounded a little more rounded, even in comparison with a streamed 24-bit/192KHz native file.

I expect the power supply upgrades for the CD-1000 would enhance all the player’s strengths and diminish the few quibbles. Even without the upgrades though, the Gold Note’s voice is lovely and it’s easy to get immersed in rummaging through old CDs to see what the CD-1000 can extract from them. Those seeking more detail and “life” in their stereo system’s digital playback prowess may find the CD-1000 a great option.

Summing up

The Gold Note CD-100 MkII is an exceptional performer and a marvelous choice for those with an extensive CD collection. However, keep in mind that the player decodes streamed music too. Dividing that cost among the player and DAC capabilities justifies the future-proofed investment. Plus, Gold Note’s various power supplies give a prospective owner an upgrade path. If this review whets your appetite for a new CD player, be sure to audition a CD-1000 MkII and see if it’s the solution you’ve been seeking to complement your other system components.

Gold Note CD1000 MkII CD Player and DAC

MSRP:  $5,000


Digital Sources Roon Nucleus, Simaudio MOON 780D DAC, Oppo BDP-103, Synology DiskStation 415 Play, Tidal and Qobuz streaming services.

Amplification Conrad-Johnson ART150

Preamplification Coffman Labs G1-B

Speakers GamuT RS3i

Cables Jena Labs

Power Torus AVR 15 Plus, RSA Mongoose, and Cardas power cords

Accessories ASC tube traps, Cathedral Sound Room Dampening Panels, Mapleshade Samson audio racks, Coffman Labs Equipment Footers

Original article: Gold Note CD1000 MkII CD player/DAC

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The McIntosh MAC7200 Receiver

In today’s world, and its accelerated pace, so few things are constant anymore. For this audio enthusiast, there is something soothing, about the big, blue meters that adorn nearly every component from McIntosh Laboratory, Inc.

They are an assurance of a number of things: quality – made in America quality, by a group of great people that have been doing this for decades. If you’re 40 or older, chances are some of these people made your parents McIntosh. If you’re my age, chances are some of these people made your Grandparent’s McIntosh. That’s longevity.

This generational thing with McIntosh also perpetuates a consistency in sound and aesthetic. The Mac you buy today will fit right in with the Mac gear you already own and work well, whether just recently purchased, or decades old. Finally, the sound. McIntosh has always stood for great sound, and over the years, their engineering team continues to refine their products for better sound and even better reliability. Other than a few exceptional legacy products (the MC30s immediately come to mind) today’s Mac sounds better than ever.

Our younger readers may remember their parents having a receiver. That ubiquitous audio box that did everything, handling all the formats back then; a turntable, a tape deck (or two) and a glorious FM tuning dial. Keeping with ongoing march of progress, McIntosh has replaced the tuning dial on their receivers of years past with a pair of those big, blue, awesome meters, adding a digital to analog converter that handles everything up to DSD 256.

They’ve also added a moving coil phono section to the phono stage, with its own separate input, so that you can actually run two turntables with your MAC7200 if you’re so inclined, along with an FM tuner for those of you that still have decent radio stations. And the MAC7200s built in tuner sounds lovely, just like vintage tuners from Mac’s past.

Is there anything the MAC7200 doesn’t do?

Not really, and now, it’s even a Roon tested device, so you can use it in the Roon streaming environment.

Where the MAC7200 shines, is it’s engaging, but ever so slightly relaxed tonal rendition. The MAC7200 has more than enough audiophile cred, yet those craving the last molecules of fine detail will probably go elsewhere. That’s not the point, and that’s never been the McIntosh ethos. What really makes the MAC7200 standout is the magic it brings to every recording you own. And for the other 99.99% of us that aren’t fussy audiophiles, this is what it’s all about.

Plenty of power

200 watts per channel assures you can drive anything with the MAC7200. This was the stuff of dreams back in the 70s when the war of the massive receivers reached its peak. Just to make sure I wasn’t just an old guy reminiscing, I managed to borrow a perfect vintage Pioneer SX-1980 (rated at 270 watts per channel) from a collector for an impromptu shootout. While the Mac did not have the tuning dial and tuning meters, it blew the vintage receiver out of the water in every way imaginable.

For those wondering why we might make this comparison, vintage Japanese receivers like the SX-1980 and the Marantz 2325 are starting to pass the $5,000 – $10,000 mark these days and they are 40 years old. Unless you absolutely have to have that cool 70s receiver, the $7,500 MAC7200 is a killer value and has a five-year warranty. Considering McIntosh’s reputation for build quality, and the fact that they still repair 40 – year old components at the factory, this is a major bargain. Not to mention, you’ll be able to hand the MAC7200 down to your kids in a couple of decades.

Utilizing the Autoformer technology that McIntosh has hung their hat on forever, the MAC7200 can drive even two-ohm speaker loads with ease. The output transformer keeps a constant load on the output stage, and the amplifier within comfortable parameters at all times. The result – consistent sound and better durability long term.

Most speakers will work well with the 4 or 8 ohm tap. We found the recent Sonus faber Guareris achieved optimum power transfer with the 4-ohm tap, while the Focal Sopra no.3s and Graham LS5/9s gave their best performance with the 8-ohm tap. Magnepan fans are going to appreciate that 2-ohm tap, making these speakers a lot easier to drive. Again, the MAC7200 offers crazy versatility.

Digital diversity, and no static at all

In addition to the plethora of digital inputs, the MAC7200 also features their proprietary MCT input, so those owning one of their current transports can hear their SACDs in full glory. Rather than converting to PCM, the direct DSD bitstream comes through. We didn’t have one of these for our review, but a few readers that own both pieces have reported it’s a pretty sweet combination.

Here in Portland we still have a few radio stations with decent programming and sound quality. If you are equally blessed, you’re going to appreciate the FM tuner section. Moving through the stations brings back great memories. Taking into account what a vintage Mac tuner hails these days, again you can have an entire system, that won’t need a refurb.

Should you need it, the MAC7200 even receives AM signals. Curiosity got the best of me, since I haven’t listened to AM in decades, going back to WOKY in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a kid. The pickings are sparse these days (at least in Portland) but again, the fidelity is exceptional, considering the limited bandwidth and frequency response the AM band allows.

Lacking the multiple band graphic equalizer of a few of the McIntosh preamplifiers, the bass and treble controls offered on the MAC7200 are still more than welcome, with recordings new and old. Some recordings just sound flat, and if you can get out of the audiophile box, it’s amazing what goosing the bass or treble a touch does for your listening session. Again, McIntosh is the master of flexibility.

Satisfies your inner DJ

Whether you have a turntable with two tonearms, or are rocking a pair of Technics 1200s, the ability to connect more than one table is a major bonus for hard core vinyl lovers. Having the new Technics SL1200G (with Ortofon Cadenza Bronze MC mounted) and a 1200GR sporting a classic Shure M44, I was able to put the MAC7200s phonostage through all of its paces.

The phono section in the MAC7200 is top notch, which led to stepping up the phono game somewhat. Sticking with a known American classic just felt right, so A VPI Prime with with Kieseki Purple Heart cartridge proves the MAC7200’s phonostage is of serious quality. It possesses more than enough resolution to discern a major difference between budget and serious cartridges, so you can grow with it as your vinyl enthusiasm increases. Its super quiet output along with 50, 100, 200, 400, and 1k Ohm loading on the MC side, with 60db of gain puts all but the lowest output cartridges at your disposal.

If you want a single box solution that does nearly everything, the McIntosh MAC7200 is certainly one of our favorite choices. Whether this is your first Mac, or one in a line of many, you’re going to dig this one. McIntosh has produced a new classic.

The McIntosh MAC7200 Reciever


Original article: The McIntosh MAC7200 Receiver

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Bryston’s 28B Cubed Power Amplifiers

Not wanting to waste the first half of the review with a history lesson, we’ll keep it short and to the point. It’s important to tell you why a product is worth the asking price, rather than leaving it to an unanswered question at the end of the review. So just a little bit about Bryston for those of you that aren’t familiar is an important part of their back story.

Bryston components are hand made in Canada to pro audio standards, and that’s not a bad thing. They are one of the few companies that sell in both arenas, and both camps benefit. The pro-audio customer gets additional value from Bryston’s audiophile side, making for fantastic sound, used in studios around the world, while the audiophile users benefit from rock-solid reliability.

Ever had a friend with a Bryston amp complain about it being broken? Me neither, and I’ve been buying hifi gear for a long time. Bryston offers the best warranty in the business because they make incredibly dependable products, and that’s a huge part of the value proposition here, especially when you’re thinking about buying a $25,000 pair of monoblocks. You can look at them as a lifetime investment, or if you’re a fickle audiophile, they will work flawlessly for the next three owners. But once you get to 1000 watt per channel monoblocks, where do you go?

Let’s get the clichés out of the way

All of the well-worn audiophile clichés apply to the 28B Cubed monoblocks. So, we’ll skip that, eh? In addition to the high reliability/build quality of these fairly dense amplifiers (they weigh 90 lbs. each, but feel heavier, thanks to their compact form), it’s all about the power.

Many audio enthusiasts subscribe to the first watt theory, that if the first watt of power doesn’t sound great, the next 999 don’t matter. To a certain point, that is true, but once that goal is achieved, to really feel like you are living the music instead of just listening to it, a vast power reserve is vital to feeling there.

While you may listen at low volumes, even when doing so, and with small speakers, I might add (in this case the excellent Falcon LS3/5as) the added level of control and dynamics offered by this amplifier rule the day. All too often, we think of dynamics as the ability to handle large, quick musical transients. I maintain that the ebb is just as important as the flow, and the 28B Cubed amplifiers have a fantastic ability to fade back to zero just as quickly as they can accelerate to 100%. This ability to breathe, if you will, is what allows you to hear fingers slide across a guitar fretboard and feel the textural difference when you listen to Stanley Clarke (or whoever your favorite bass players are) go from acoustic bass to an electric. Small amplifiers just can’t do this as easily.

The colossal power supply in each one of the 28B Cubed chassis offers up a level of dynamics and control that very few amplifiers can match. This level of effortlessness brings yet another level of clarity to your system’s presentation. For the internet pundits claiming that the source is everything and that power doesn’t matter, I think a day with the big Bryston monos will make them believers.

Power is good

In the course of this review, I made it a point to use the 28Bs with about a dozen different pairs of speakers. The Falcons, a pair of ProAc Tablettes, the ever-popular KEF LS-50, and even my old Spica TC-50s got pressed into service. Every one of them delivered better performances than they ever have, with more bass offered up than I ever dreamed any of these tiny contenders were able to provide. If you’ve ever noticed, clever speaker manufacturers with the “best sound at shows” often use massive amplifiers in their rooms, even with small speakers and low volume levels.

Moving up the range, a couple of torturous, tough to drive speakers were brought into play: the Quad 2812s, some vintage Acoustats, and some Magnepans all were driven with ease. Extreme ease, actually. It might seem to go past what you know, but more often than not, I’ve achieved much bigger, broader sound with ESLs usually thought of as just needing a polite, little tube amp with a giant solid-state amplifier. It’s that devil control again because ESLs are pretty much like hooking your amp up to a big capacitor and calling it a day. That bottomless power supply inside the Bryston amplifiers is rock solid and unaffected by any of this. I must admit, though, that because the 28Bs were so clean in their presentation, I was a little scared I might just melt the Quads into a puddle. Fortunately, no speakers were harmed in the production of this review.

Finally, pairing the Bryston monos with the Focal Sopra 3s, the Focal Stella Utopia EM, and my Sonus faber Stradivaris proves these amplifiers are worthy in the highest of high-end systems too. A couple of status-oriented audio buddies were shocked to know that these amplifiers were “only” 25 thousand dollars a pair, so it’s all relative. Seriously, putting the 28Bs into a system with some top-shelf gear proves they are more than worthy.

Down to the sound

Everyone likes a different sound or tuning on their system. If your taste falls more to the overly warm, ultra-romantic sound of certain tube amplifiers, the Brystons will probably not be your cup of awesomeness. Those liking a neutral/natural tonal balance to one only a few clicks to the warm/romantic/tonally saturated side can quickly achieve that. Bryston’s flagship preamplifier or any number of others offering that voice will work wonders. Again, if you’d like a bit of warmth combined with the massive power and low-frequency control, this too is easy to accomplish with the 28Bs.

These are fully balanced amplifiers, yet they offer single-ended RCA inputs as well. I had an ample slice of heaven using a vintage (yet updated) Conrad-Johnson PV12 preamplifier, an equal helping of loveliness with my reference Pass XS Pre (slightly warm), and just as nice, but different rendering with the new Boulder 1166 preamplifier. (spot-on neutral, much like the Bryston gear).

Thanks to their natural character, they will be an excellent match with a wide range of tastes. And, you’ll never be hunting tubes down on a weekend when you want to get some serious listening done. Turn your 28Bs on and just enjoy.

Whatever music you enjoy will be reproduced faithfully with the 28Bs. Their vast power reserves make them equally adept at capturing the full-scale dynamics of the heaviest metal band, or the biggest orchestra at your fingertips. Their sheer nimble speed will appeal to those that enjoy acoustic instruments, and vocal performances. There was nothing we found lacking, or less than enjoyable, though again I must admit playing some of my favorite rock, hip – hop, and EDM tracks are so much fun with these amplifiers. Their massive power reserves bring this music more to life than modestly powered amplifiers can.

You don’t realize just how awesome these amplifiers are until you go back to your favorite 60 watt per channel amp. It just feels small. For everyone that’s said you need big speakers to play music on a big scale, you need big amps too. And these are some pretty damn cool amps.

I haven’t mentioned it up till now, but for my music-loving friends that enjoy achieving concert hall sound pressure levels, you will not be disappointed with these amplifiers in the least. Because they can produce so much power, with such tremendous ease, I highly suggest getting a sound pressure meter or app for your phone. Unlike those distorted amps you hear in a live concert performance, the Brystons are so clean you might finding yourself inching that volume control up, up, up to the point of hurting yourself. You’ve been warned.

Even when listening to my favorite live rock recordings, I couldn’t make these amplifiers clip, and if you have even modestly sensitive speakers, your hearing will give out before they do. One final warning, with this much power at your disposal, be sure that if you aren’t using a Bryston preamplifier, that yours does not make any kind of transient pops, etc., should you turn it off first. This much power will harm your speakers. Always be sure to shut the 28Bs off first if you are using a tube preamplifier to avoid problems.

Setup, break-in and such

Other than lifting your 28Bs into place, they are incredibly easy to use and operate. With 15A AC inputs, you should be able to plug them in anywhere. The rear panel claims that they draw 1790 watts at full power, so those who like to really rock should think about dedicated lines. To that effect, while we could never make these amplifiers clip, when they were both plugged into a single 15A AC line, we were able to take the circuit breaker out at the wall.

We suggest having dedicated 15A lines for your 28Bs, and if you’re starting from scratch, a pair of 20A lines isn’t a bad idea. All of our testing, aside from the initial investigation was done with dedicated 20A power lines for each monoblock. While not a huge difference, the dedicated lines to offer that last bit of ease that these amplifiers are capable of delivering.

The 28Bs come out of the box sounding great, and after a couple of days fare even better. I suspect this is just as much due to thermal stabilization as it is “component break-in.” I am a true believer in this phenomenon; however, it seems to be a more profound thing with tube amplifiers possessing a large number of giant Teflon capacitors. None of that is going on here to impede your progress, so you can enjoy your 28Bs straight away. Because they are class AB amplifiers, they do not get terribly warm either, another plus.

Finally, the 28Bs are available with 17 inch or 19-inch front panels, in silver or black. I love the silver, and it’s worth calling attention to the fantastic job Bryston has done in the machine work on these cubed amplifiers. It’s a tremendous aesthetic combination – paying homage to the massive power contained within, yet not overdone in the least. The only decision is whether to get the front handles or not. They look great without, yet are so much easier to handle with, and both models have the rear mounted handles.

Honestly, that’s the biggest decision you face. When we did our initial look at the 28B Cubed monoblocks last year, we gave them one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2019. Yes, $25k is not an idle purchase, but you won’t find a $100k pair of amplifiers that best these. Considering the build quality, Bryston’s dedication to their customers and dealer network, and the top-level performance, if that doesn’t say exceptional value, I don’t know what does. These amplifiers were an absolute pleasure to use.

The Bryston 28B Cubed Monoblocks


Preamplifier Pass Labs XSPre

Digital Source dCS Vivaldi One

Analog Source GrandPrixAudio Parabolica Turntable/TriPlanar Arm Koetsu Jade Platinum

Speakers Sonus faber Stradivari (35th anniv. edition), six pack REL no. 25 subwoofers

Cable Cardas Clear, Tellurium Q Reference

Original article: Bryston’s 28B Cubed Power Amplifiers

Please note that all TONE Audio copy and photography is © 2005–2018 TONE Magazine LLC. This RSS feed is provided for personal, non-commercial use only.

If you are not reading this content in your news aggregator, RSS reader, or direct, then the site you are looking at may be guilty of copyright infringement. If you locate this anywhere, please contact [email protected] so we can take action immediately.

TONEAudio MAGAZINE. All Rights Reserved.

Original Resource is TONEAudio MAGAZINE » TONEAudio MAGAZINE

Behringer Model D Analog Synthesizer Review

Behringer Model D analog synthesizer

Behringer has started releasing classic true-analog synth designs at a rapid rate; the first one I encountered—and immediately purchased—was the Model D Analog Synthesizer. As an owner of an original Minimoog from the 1970s, I can attest that the Model D is for the most part a dead ringer, with some extra features above and beyond the original. It is, however, more like the Moog Minimoog reissue from 2016, with the inclusion of a low-frequency oscillator and a filter EG modulation source.

On a basic level, it features three voltage-controlled oscillators, filter selectable lowpass or highpass, classic 24 dB voltage-controlled filter with Emphasis, an overdrive circuit, USB-MIDI plus 5-pin DIN In and Thru, Low and High output 1/4-inch outs, and CV connectivity. The classic layout and simple signal path help make this the best bang for the buck I’ve encountered in this new era of inexpensive clones of the classic synths. The CV (control voltage) ins and outs that integrate with Eurorack and vintage synths is what really gives this compact unit a winning profile. Even the Minimoog sound charts book that was shipped with the old Moog Model Ds will fully translate and quickly allow you to get those classic sounds.

Music, Etc.: Craig Leon, by Jacques Sonyieux, May 23, 2019

The firmware updates that have been released throughout its short lifecycle have also been welcome. For me, pitch-bend range was the most useful, in order to closely emulate the original’s bend range. You can set the pitch bend range up to the amount of semitones you desire, including the common +2 default with most synths. True waveforms and noise sources, including the noise mod source, are fully implemented.

Real-World Review: Roland SE-02 Analog Synthesizer, by Bruce MacPherson, Nov. 1, 2019

The filter EG as a pitch modulation source is wonderful to see, and, of course, the ability to blend the sources simultaneously give this synth its incredible power. A High pass filter is included, as well as a hardwired “output to input” feedback circuit, which help adds cool harmonic distortion and saturation. The trusty, old A=440 sound source makes it easy to tune your three oscillators to unison with a slow, smooth phasing sound and big fat detuned unison, or to tune to intervals for parallel chords.

The Model D is a great educational tool that not only sounds great, but will give you a solid foundation for subtractive synthesis without breaking the bank.

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Techno giants, Ilian Tape and Surgeon kick off 2020 with three gems

Artist: Surgeon
Title: The Golden Sea
Label: Ilian Tape
Cat No: IT043
Released: Out Now!
Genre: Techno

If Ilian Tape hadn’t already cemented its place as one of the leading techno labels today, adding Surgeon to their already impressive list of artists doesn’t hurt the argument. For this author, the 2 seem like a good fit. They both produce and provide the world with a diverse blend of techno and electronica, and both can be as unpredictable as the other. There are moments on this Ep that sounds nothing like Surgeon, let alone anything you would expect to hear on Ilian Tape. Feeling more like US House sometimes than Birmingham or German techno.

With its fat, bouncing kick drums, mischievous basslines and warped acid hooks; sonically The Golden Sea EP feels like the logical evolution from the styles and sounds propagated in 2019’s, Rax Trax; a series of releases on Surgeons own, Dynamic Tension label and also from his 2018 full length, Luminosity Device.

The title track, ‘The Golden Sea’ bursts onto the scene with a thumping kick and a funky, darting bassline. Some warm, floating synth-action keeps everything relatively subdued; evoking more spring afternoon vibes than winter nights. This is not UK techno. In the end, a quality jacking number that lands somewhere in between Dan Curtin and Derrick Carter. Again on ‘Aqua Marina’, the energy feels more like tweaked, jacking acid house. With its Landstrumm style, burnt-out acid loop, splashy hats and choppy snares. With just alone, stark light of synth to guide your path. Tune! ‘Hostages of the Deep’ is the most straight-up techno track on offer, even harking back to Tony’s Force + Form days. Masterfully maintain tension with a very clean, clear and precise sonic arrangement. Shuffling itself into a pleasant state of organized chaos.

Either way, it’s a solid start to 2020 for both Surgeon and Ilian Tape.

The post Techno giants, Ilian Tape and Surgeon kick off 2020 with three gems appeared first on Decoded Magazine.

Original Resource is Decoded Magazine

Sonus Faber Olympica Nova III Loudspeaker Review

In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian hammered the Bahamas. That historic storm wrought a catastrophic death toll and an untold amount of suffering. I can only wish the survivors the speediest of recoveries for what was (hopefully) a once in a generation disaster. If you can afford to, please donate funds to any of the entities [...]

Original Resource is NOVO Audio and Technology Magazine

NORDOST QRT Power Products Review. Part 2 of 3: QKORE Ground Unit and QKORE Wires

Perhaps you have been waiting for this second installment in my Nordost QRT Power Products Series review. Yes, this is Part 2 but who says sequels can’t be just as exciting? Afterall, there was Aliens and The Empire Strikes Back, not to forget The Dark Knight. Anyone disagree…? And, now it’s time for our second [...]

Original Resource is NOVO Audio and Technology Magazine

The Luxman P-750u

Breezing through George Benson’s “This Masquerade,” via the Focal Utopia, Audeze LCD-2, and Abyss Diana Phi phones, (thanks to three headphone outlets on the front panel of the Luxman P-750u) it’s easy to make quick comparisons.

It’s even easier to get lost in the clarity that these premium phones produce via this incredible headphone amplifier. A lot of talk goes on when setting speakers up in a room, with one of the main goals being to make them disappear in the room. Achieving a VTA setting that is close to perfection with a tonearm and cartridge makes the turntable get out of the way of the reproduction chain and let the music flow. A great audio system, set up to the best of its potential goes a long way to help you concentrate on the music and forget about the gear. At least if that is the experience you are predisposed to.

If you are a music lover that enjoys not thinking about your gear, I hope you will agree that a great headphone system is the same way. Even the finest headphones played through a mediocre or overly colored headphone amplifier still feel like you do have cans on your head. A high quality headphone amplifier makes it easy to forget you are wearing headphones, and the Luxman P-750u is one of the best.

Sans cans (and tubes)

We’ve had the good fortune to listen to a lot of great headphone amplifiers from a number of manufacturers over the last year or two. Many high-performance audio enthusiasts are enthralled with vinyl, but the upper end of personal listening has grown as much, if not more. Five years ago we had precious few four figure (and even five figure) headphones or amplifiers – today it’s commonplace.

Luxman’s P-750u goes out the door for $4,995. By no means inexpensive, but nothing like some of the examples we’ve seen. Much like their class-A integrated amplifiers, the overall sound is slightly saturated tonally, very dynamic and extremely quiet. The P-750u is all solid-state, so in addition to being silent, you will never have to chase or roll tubes. Considering that a number of the world’s finest headphone amplifiers feature tubes, factoring never having to replace tubes makes the P-750u an even better long-term value proposition. If you listen to your headphones a lot during the day, this can get costly in a hurry.

Thanks in part to the massive power supply and resulting current reserve, the sheer dynamic ability of the P-750u not only goes a long way to make your favorite phones disappear, it does so with a wider range of phones than anything we’ve yet taken for a test drive.

If you’ve ever been at a hifi dealer or show, where they’ve used a massive power amplifier to drive relatively inexpensive speakers (with tremendous result) the P-750u performs the same miracle. Connecting my vintage Grado SR60s is a revelation through the P-750u – they sound like $1,500 phones now, and the big Grados have lost their harshness. This adds a degree of versatility to your headphone choices that few amplifiers offer.

Powerful feature set

You can get all the fine details and specs from the Luxman site here:

However, the P-750us ability to drive any headphones you can connect really makes this headphone amplifier a pleasure to use. With your choice of a standard ¼-inch output jack, a stereo balanced output, and individual L/R balanced outputs and three sensitivity settings, it’s a breeze to completely tailor the amp to your phones. Much like trying multiple output taps on a tube power amplifier, if you have the cables, give balanced a try to your standard phones, you might be surprised.

Around back, there are two sets of balanced XLR inputs and one set of RCA inputs too, so you can easily connect a DAC, phono stage and maybe a tape deck. This leads to the only complaint with the P-750u – at this price, a set of variable level outputs would be incredibly nice so that it could be used as a two-channel linestage too. That might make it easier to justify the cost to some buyers, and is becoming more and more popular in higher end headphone amplifiers.

Especially considering how much of the standard design and build features that go into Luxman’s top components are all present here, from the huge power supplies, premium individual components and the fine casework. And it begs being mentioned again to those unfamiliar with Luxman components – even the packaging is fantastic. This amplifier is built and boxed with extreme care.

Casework is typical Luxman, with the best front panel screen printing in the industry, combined with a level of machining that would be right at home on a fine wristwatch. Even the cast iron feet on the bottom of the chassis are produced with the same level of excellence, as is the inside of the chassis. This is industrial art at its finest.

More listening please

The P-750u is almost hallucinogenic in its delivery of musical information, yet not overdone. Whether sitting at a desk working, or lounging, the soundfield generated is large in all three dimensions and comes the closest to sounding like a pair of great monitors somewhat nearfield as anything I’ve yet used. A few of the top (i.e. 5-figure) headphone amplifiers have painted larger pictures, but it’s always felt unrealistic. If you’ve ever had the chance to experience a pair of the 9 foot tall Sound Labs electrostatic speakers, it’s incredible, but the sense of scale is overblown. The Luxman amp gets it just right, and the wider range of other headphone amps you’ve heard, the more you’ll appreciate this one.

A similar experience is had with vocal heavy tracks. Often, even with the finest headphone amplifiers, certain vocal tracks can sound as if the singer is performing right inside the middle of your head, instead of sounding in the middle of your speakers. This was another area that the P-750u really excelled at: preserving the sense of scale and placement of vocalists within the soundfield.

The beauty of this amplifier is in the details, the fine details to be exact. Listening to whatever your favorite bass heavy tracks are, the extension offered, combined with a level of LF texture that you won’t notice until you go back to what you were listening to, is uncannily good. And the top end presentation is detailed, refined, and controlled. The Grado P2000s and the Utopia phones both can get strident with the wrong amplifier, yet the lack of harshness through the P-750u is the best I’ve heard on these phones.

Best of the best

Much as I despise that word, especially in the context of reviewing gear, the Luxman P-750u is one of the finest headphone amplifiers I’ve had the pleasure to experience. It reveals as much music as any of the five figure amplifiers we’ve auditioned here, and for most that would be more than enough. When you add the versatility and level of sheer craftsmanship to the mix, it’s easy to see why this one is such a favorite.

Original article: The Luxman P-750u

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Dynamique Audio Shadow 2 Interconnects, Power Cords, & Speaker Cables Review

Dynamique Audio’s Shadow 2 Cable Review The game of cable one-upmanship seems to be never ending. Perceived value for money in anything is, of course, a personal thing. While some drooling audio dorks might see a power cable with a $20K USD price as a “bargain”, for most audiophiles, spending $100,000 USD on a cable [...]

Original Resource is NOVO Audio and Technology Magazine