Daniel Kumin

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 03, 2020  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,056 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Highly accurate sound
Impressive stereo image breadth
Solid center-channel reproduction
Well-controlled and moderately extended low end
Minus
Towers are sensitive to placement

THE VERDICT
A handsome system that sounds very good with just about everything, and with enough bass extension to satisfy most needs.

Tall, slim speakers are certainly in fashion, and it's hard to imagine many slimmer than Definitive Technology's new Demand Series D15 towers. Despite housing three 5.25-inch drivers (two carbon fiber woofers and a polypropylene midrange), a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter, and not one but two 8-inch side-firing passive radiators, the D15 measures just 6.5 inches wide and thus indeed requires its bolt-on aluminum bottom plinth to achieve stability.

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,195

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Generous power from a super-slim chassis
Bypass input for surround system integration
Flexible, analog-domain subwoofer filtering
Full-size, backlighted remote control
Minus
Digital conversion limited to 24/96 via USB
No built-in Bluetooth or other wireless features

THE VERDICT
An affordable integrated amplifier-DAC with substantial power, high-quality conversion, flexible inputs and outputs, and full-function remote. Bravo.

I like simple. Simple is good. Simple works. Simple makes my job easier and helps me sleep at night.

Parasound, a Bay Area maker with a half-century of success walking the parapet between high end audiophilia and value-engineering design, apparently concurs. The company's new NewClassic 200 Integrated is, as you might well guess, an integrated amplifier, with a high-quality onboard digital-to-analog converter section. The 200 Integrated was in fact derived by the simple expedient of sliding a class-D stereo power amp sourced from Danish class-D amp-module stalwart Pascal Audio into its otherwise-identical preamp stablemate. This slim, two-channel module delivers a claimed 110 watts per channel into either 4-ohm or 8-ohm loads with typical class-D efficiency, pulling only a modest 50 watts from the wall.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 22, 2020  |  1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fine amplifier power and sonics
Subwoofer output
Full-sized, full-function remote control
Bluetooth streaming
Minus
No USB type-B input for computer connection
No onboard Wi-Fi
Limited ergonomics

THE VERDICT
Cambridge Audio's stereo receiver may be simple, but it features an excellent amplifier, solid DAC performance, and a useful FM tuner.

They still make stereo receivers? Who knew! But seriously, folks—I'm here all week. Stale humor aside, there will always be a sure market for high-quality audio playback, with access to terrestrial-broadcast radio, AKA good old FM, and a basic feature set for hooking up outboard components. And Cambridge Audio's AXR100 is one of a small but growing cadre of current-day stereo receivers aiming to satisfy it.

Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 04, 2019  |  1 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,546 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Balanced sound with effortless treble
Solid bass extension
Impressive performance from compact subwoofer
Minus
Center speaker can sound slightly chesty when listening off-axis

THE VERDICT
DALI joins the pantheon of excellent compact, affordable 5.1 speaker packages with this system based around the overachieving Oberon 1.

Over the past 25 years, the Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries company has grown from a small and relatively obscure maker (in the U.S. market, at least) to a much more major player in the world's crowded loudspeaker arena. The Danes' latest move toward the broader marketplace is the Oberon series, an affordable range consisting of two towers, two bookshelf/standmount models, one on-wall, and one center- channel—all two-way, vented- enclosure designs.

Daniel Kumin  |  Oct 08, 2019  |  13 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding sound from compact solution
Ample dynamics for a broad range of headphones
Minus
96kHz maximum PCM sampling rate
Requires extra-cost adapter for use with Apple Lightning devices

THE VERDICT
AudioQuest's Headphone amp/DAC-on-a-stick offers sonics to rival standard-size components.

Listeners tend to consider an external digital-to-analog converter as either completely unnecessary or absolutely essential. If you believe bits is bits, you're probably perfectly happy with the converter inside your smartphone, tablet, or computer. If you don't, you likely have auditioned many a converter component with a seriously gimlet ear. Both tribes, however, can agree that the headphone amps in most smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops leave a lot to be desired when it comes to peak output, dynamics, and inherent sonic quality.

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 25, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $799/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Remarkable bass extension and output
All-in-one solution including phono input
Noteworthy treble clarity and definition
Minus
Soundstage depth less dramatic than some designs
Tiny input labeling

THE VERDICT
With analog, digital, wireless Bluetooth, turntable, and USB computer connections, Kanto's great-sounding TUK powered bookshelf speaker is ready to rock right out of the box.

Kanto is a Canadian firm barely a decade old that specializes in powered loudspeakers. The company has established substantial cred for its active desktop and bookshelf speaker lines, both of which deliver high value and widely noted performance. Now, with a new model called TUK, the company is moving up-range in market-segment, size, and price. Also, utility: TUK is an all-in-one powered-speaker solution, with a phono-preamp, an asynchronous USB DAC, a headphone amp, preamp controls, a subwoofer crossover, and amplification all built right in.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jul 10, 2019  |  1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,600/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate and dynamic sound
Excellent imaging depth of field
Impressive bass extension and weight
Minus
Bass balance may be less amenable to some rooms or placements

THE VERDICT
The latest tower from SVS is a top value/performance contender for full-range loudspeakers.

Certain geographies have long-held associations with loudspeaker design. Maidstone, Kent or Steyning, Sussex in Britain (KEF and Bowers & Wilkins, respectively) for example. Or Cambridge, Massachusetts (Acoustic Research/KLH/ Advent) and Los Angeles, California (JBL) here in the United States.

And Youngstown, Ohio?

Daniel Kumin  |  May 29, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unimpeachable sound quality
Impressive power and dynamic ability
Chromecast built-in, AirPlay, and Spotify Connect support
Minus
No phono input or headphone output
No native streaming (requires smartphone, tablet or similar)

THE VERDICT
Flexible streaming options enhance the appeal of this sleek-looking integrated amplifier/DAC with serious audiophile pedigree and performance.

Primare is a small audio component manufacturer in Sweden founded by an industrial designer from Denmark. The Malmö-based firm's quirky high-end electronics have found favor among in-the-know audiophiles for nearly thirty years. Recently, a new line of streaming-centric components was introduced that appear custom-made to broaden Primare's appeal, and if the entry-level Prisma I15 integrated amplifier/DAC ("streamplifier," as I like to call them) they've supplied us for review here is any indication, the move will succeed.

Daniel Kumin  |  May 23, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Top-tier tonal accuracy and dynamic ability
Amazingly compact for performance level
On-board EQ offers flexible placement options
Minus
Relatively tight sweet spot
No on-board streaming, digital inputs, or DSP

THE VERDICT
Elac's powered-speaker is highly compact, yet capable enough to satisfy serious listeners.

Active loudspeakers, or speakers with built-in amplification, have long been box-office poison in the U.S. market. That's because we Americans like our big receivers, choosing them based on power ratings, and then hooking them up to conventional, passive speakers using garden-hose speaker wire. When you add up the market segments that simply won't consider active speakers, including owners of receivers lacking preamp outputs and those who simply cannot get their heads around the whole powered-speaker concept, the issue becomes a non-starter.

Daniel Kumin  |  Feb 27, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive power and sonics from a sub-compact design
Dynamic enough to handle a wide range of speakers
Useful Bass EQ/subwoofer filter options
Minus
Digital conversion does not extend to 32-bit/384kHz

THE VERDICT
The D 3045 is a surprisingly powerful compact integrated amplifier with an eminently capable onboard DAC that's equally at home on the desktop or component rack.

Five years ago, when I examined NAD's $399 D 3020, the progenitor of the D 3045 before us here, I liked it—a lot. The D 3020 was among the first of what I've come to call DAC-lifiers: small-ish integrated amps with onboard digital-to-analog facilities intended for audio-streaming or computer sources and projecting at least some level of audiophile sophistication.

Pages

X