Monday, November 25, 2013

Audioengine Portable DAC/Headphone amp sounding sweet

I've been tempted of late to improve the sound of music I listen to via 'phones on my Mac so when Audioengine announced their new D3, a $189  headphone amp/DAC, I jumped at the chance to listen. The D3 streams 24/96 audio in a plug and play package that is small and elegantly presented in a tidy aluminum drive that can be carried anywhere.

Set up is as easy as promised, at least on my Mac. Just plug in, go to your sound settings to select it as the output, connect 'phones and brace yourself. Music, music, music. I had to carefully match volume between D3 and normal jack to be sure I was comparing fairly but really, there was no difficulty hearing the improvement wrought by the D3. Air, decay, timbre, detail, all improved to the point that even with my mid-fi Sennheiser 350s which I'd given my son for long-term loan in his gaming pursuits, the sound was excellent. I am hearing stuff on old familiars that put the sonics far closer to my reference rig, and maybe even revealing a bit more in some cases, such is the nature of headphone listening. Bass, always a bit warm with the Senns, is tighter and more resolved than I thought possible with these cans.  I can't compare the D3 to the much-lauded (and recently price-reduced) Audioquest Dragonfly, but I don't feel the need to do so right now -- I'm having too much fun. This has opened my ears (literally) to the possibilities of portable listening, so much so that  I am going to start looking for some serious phones.

You can buy direct from Audioengine for $189, with free shipping and 30 day return privileges. I don't care for 'Best of the Year' awards but if pushed, I'd have to give this one for most value. You won't get an improvement like this for less. Sweet deal.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New gear inbound!

Just as I thought it was getting quiet on the review front (Minus-K platform up next in Dec issue), I land a couple of beauties. First, Bryston offered me their Mini T speakers (mini in name only, I saw these at RMAF and if that's their idea of 'bookshelf' I'm reading some odd books!). Was impressed with what I heard in Denver so am keen to try these out at home. Should be here next week. Second, the new little mono amps from Digital Amp Co, the Maraschino, a pair are coming soon for review. Was very impressed with the Cherry stereo amp a couple of years back so am intrigued to know what Tommy O'Brien and co have come up with in the intervening years. Stay tuned. Have suggestions for what you'd like us to review? Let me know. I can't promise any manufacturer will want to play but if we can report that readers asked for their gear, it can make it easier to get to 'yes'.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Take over a record store?

You can do it -- if you have a few hundre thousand dollars to spare. Ebay is listing the "On the Beat" record store in London for close to $500k. For this, you get 25,000 records, including some rare Beatles, CDs and some vintage tables inside your own cramped space near Soho. No living quarters, and details on the lease or actual ownership are sparse but as the owner says, it's a great oppotunity for someone who wants to live the 'High Fidelity' life. Check out the Daily Mail story.

Tim Derbyshire, Owner of One Beat Record, has put the shop up for sale on eBay after struggling to turn a profit

Owner Tim Derbyshire reports that he's tired and it's hard to make ends meet, despite the vinyl revival, which is hardly the pitch of a master saleseman but you have to admit, a small part of you fancies taking this on. Watch the listing here