Articles, Reviews and Measurements of Audio Products (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

Pioneer SC-1222 AVR Review

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This a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater Audio/Video Receiver. It is on kind loan from a member. The SC-1222 is discontinued. I see one on sale on Amazon for US $540.

The SC-1222 came out in a series of AVRs from Pioneer with class-D amplifiers, running much cooler than competing class AB units of the time:

Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR Audio Review.jpg

I had an SC series which I retired due to a bad TI DSP IC that fails and causes loss of audio. So if you are going after then in used market, be very careful.

Being class D, the AVR ran very cool in my tests and never shut down or go into protection. As I note later though, at or near max power there is a loud mechanical buzz/hum from the transformer that is proportional to power level. Likely you won't hear it because the sound it produces will also be loud but it is something that should not be there.

Testing was performed after a factory reset and disabling subwoofer.

AVR DAC Audio...

JBL HDI-1600 Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the JBL HDI-1600 two-way bookshelf speaker. They were purchased new and drop shipped to me for testing. The HDI-1600 costs US $900 for one.

Note: my company Madrona Digital is a dealer for Harman products such as JBL line (although we hardly sell any audio gear of this type). And I am personally friends with key people in the company. So feel free to read as much bias as you like in this review.

There is some style to the HDI-1600 but overuse of plastic degrades the image of having bought anything expensive:

JBL HDI-1600 Speaker Audio Review.jpg


Back panel binding posts are OK but the bi-wire shunt is thin and flimsy (does the job though):

JBL HDI-1600 Speaker binding posts biwire biamp Audio Review.jpg


Product is made in China.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that...

Infinity RC263 Center Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Infinity RC263 center home theater speaker. It is on kind loan from a member. The RC263 costs US $268 on Amazon including Prime shipping.

The RC263 is too large for my photo booth so you have to settle for where I test speakers for listening:

Inifniity RC263 Center speaker Home Theater Review.jpg


As you see the RC263 is a 3-way which is a recommended configuration for horizontal center speakers (two-way "MTM" designs tend to have poor horizontal direcitivty). Inclusion of two mid-woofers should help with power handling which is critical for center speakers as in movies most of the energy is directed at it (due to anchoring the screen). We will see this in measurements to follow.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able...

Meridian G68ADV: were AV Processor Ever Good?

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Any avid reader of Audio Science Review knows that we are disappointed with the objective measurements of today's home theater receivers and surround processors. They generally rank in the third performance tier and often below a $9 phone dongle in distortion and noise. Today's players are almost all mass market companies as the advent of HDMI AV standard killed all the high-end audio companies that were producing AV processors. Reason is that their volume was too small for the HDMI transceiver IC companies to support them so they had no choice but to exist the market. But did they ever produce good products? A member loaned me the Meridian G68 processor to answer that question.

The G68ADV feels quite elegant compared to the generic look we have in AV products:

Meridian G68 Surround Processor Audio Review.jpg

The interface is very easy to navigate with a number of hard buttons to select input (and "more" button which shows another row).

I see the G68ADV costing about $1000 in...

Verdant Audio Bambusa MG 1 Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Verdant Audio Bambusa MG 1 Bookshelf speaker. It is on kind loan from the company. The MG 1 costs US $4999 for a pair.

As the model number implies, the MG 1 cabinet is made out of laminated Bamboo which I like:

Bambusa MG 1 Bookshelf Speaker Audio Review.jpg


The back panel is shows nice quality binding posts that are easy to manipulate:

Bambusa MG 1 Bookshelf Speaker Back Panel Binding Posts Audio Review.jpg


When the owner contacted me to send me the speaker I cautioned him that if measurements don't look good, I would still be publishing them. To my pleasant surprise he said he had no issue with that whatsoever.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't...

Silent Angel Bonn N8 Audio Grade Ethernet Switch

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Silent Angel (Thunder Data) Bonn N8 8-port gigabite audiophile Ethernet switch. It is on kind loan from a member. It seems to cost US $399. As a way of comparison, a brand name switch without the "audio grade" designation costs US $35 so about ten times cheaper.

From outside, the Bonn N8 looks like the most generic switches:

Silent Angle Bonn N8  Audiophile Ethernet Switch Audio Review.jpg

Look at the cheap labeling underneath:

Silent Angle Bonn N8  Audiophile Ethernet Switch Bottom Made in China Audio Review.jpg
The external power supply from respected Mean Well company is a bit step above what you get with these cheap switches.

Company advertises better clock, better power supply filtering and better PCB layout as the improvements. Some generic eye pattern and noise improvement graphs are shown by the company but of course, no graphs showing the improvement out of any audio streamer. Unless you listen to digital bits from Ethernet cable, I am not sure what is behind this common and...

Infinity R162 Bookshelf Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Infinity R162 bookshelf speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $270 from Amazon including Prime shipping.

Despite its budget price, the R162 looks good and weighs a good bit:

Inifinity R162 Bookshelf Home Theater Speaker Review.jpg

The back side shows the typical, too close together binding posts:

Inifinity R162 Bookshelf Home Theater Speaker Back Panel Binding Posts Review.jpg

If you care about country of manufacture and can't read it above, it is China.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of...

RME Babyface Pro FS Portable Interface Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the RME Babyface Pro FS Portable professional audio interface (ADC, DAC, headphone and digital I/O). It was kindly sent to me by the company. The Babyface Pro FS Costs US $899. It is an upgrade to the non-FS version of the same product.

The Babyface Pro FS makes a hugely positive impression the minute you take it out of its nice hard case:

RME Babyface Pro FS 24 channel bus powered professional portable sound interface review.jpg

Machined out of a solid chunk of aluminum, it is quite heavy and sits still even with heavy XLR cables pulling on it.

The LED displays are bright and cheery and hard buttons are easy to figure out (I did not even bother with the manual).

The side panel has provision for external power but it is not needed. Despite all of its functionality and LED bar graph, the Babyface Pro FS is entirely "bus powered" via USB 2.0:

RME Babyface Pro FS 24 channel bus powered professional portable sound interface power and mid...jpg

The only reason to use an external power supply is for stand-alone operation or...

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the JBL Studio 530 bookshelf speaker. They normally cost US $600 but routinely go on sale. That is how I purchased mine for US $280 direct from JBL.

The 530 has a very unique style of its own:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Audio Review.jpg

I normally take speaker grills off for measurements but because this one only covers the woofer, and it looks darn ugly without it :), I tested it as you see pictured.

While the outside is nicely finished for a budget speaker, I was taken back by the rough bottom of it. Some cost cutting was done there but I guess on the plus side, it is not slippery.

The back panel shows dual set of connections for bi-wire/bi-amping. Personally I would rather see a single set that is spaced farther apart:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Back Panel binding posts Audio Review.png
If you care about country of manufacture and can't read it above, it is China.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the...

Devialet Expert 200 Amplifier, DAC and Streamer Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Devialet Expert 200 Amplifier, DAC, Phono premaplifier and wired streamer. It seems to be a generation behind the current products offered by Devialet. The Expert 200 cost US $9,650.

The Devialet line of amplifiers made quite a buzz when originally announced given its unique, lifestyle packaging which has not changed yet:

Devialet Expert 200 Amplifier DAC Audio Review.jpg

A combination of class A amplifier and class D current source is used to keep the size down, and efficiency up.

Innovative for its time was inclusion of an SD card and online configurator to change the operation of the unit including re-purposing the back RCA connectors:

Devialet Expert 200 Amplifier DAC Back Panel Inputs and Outputs Audio Review.jpg

The thin package creates real compromises here with the exclusion of balanced analog inputs or preamp outputs.

Usability suffers quite a bit as well with the display being on top of the unit which simply is not visible from afar. There is...

Revel M22 Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Revel M22 Stand-mount speaker. It is on kind loan from a member who I think was the second person to send me a speaker. The M22 is long discontinued. It cost I think US $2,000 when new but I see it on used market for around US $600. As such, it may make an alternative to buying something new now at $600 price point.

The M22 enclosure is extremely solid and finished well:

Revel M22 Standmount Speaker Review.jpg

While the grill was a bit frayed, the rest of the speaker has endured the years very well, something that you may not be able to say about a vinyl wrapped budget speaker you buy today.

The back panel shows not only the binding posts but also a set of useful controls (if you don't use electronic EQ):

Revel M22 Standmount Speaker Back Panel Connectors Review.jpg

I measured the unit as seen. For listening tests however, I also used the tweeter control (see later in this review).

Love the fact that the binding posts are far apart...

iFi Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the iFi Pro iCAN headphone amplifier and preamp. It is on kind loan from a member. The iCAN costs US $1,799 from Amazon including Prime shipping so quite expensive.

There are more selectors and controls than any headphone amplifier:

ifi Pro ICAN Preamplifier Headphone Amp Solid State Tube Audio Review.jpg

The labels are clear in the picture but I had a heck of a time reading them in my typical workstation environment. Type is small and against silver background with too little contrast.

The headphone outputs are a mess. There is no standard 1/4 inch headphone out. Yes, there are two of those but they are for balanced headphones that have two 1/4 inch headphone jacks. There is a 3.5mm headphone socket but that seems to have huge attenuation, making it unable to drive any non-IEM headphone. Then there is 3.5mm balanced socket which is not common. The only common connector is the 4-pin connector. This is a mess in general in the industry but ifi takes it...

Elac Debut Reference DBR-62 Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Elac Debut Reference DBR-62 bookshelf speaker. It was kindly purchased new and drop shipped to me for testing. The DBR-62 costs US $600 a pair from multiple sources/dealers.

The DBR-62 comes in black and walnut finish or the distressed Oak and white which is what I received:

Elac Debut Reference DBR-62 Bookshelf Speaker Review.jpg

I really like the baffle, the slot port and woofer. The grill on the tweeter is a bit out of place in my mind but not overly so. Overall, it is a very modern take on speaker design which I like. It comes with a gray patterned grill which can hide the drivers if you like.

So far my reviews of other Andrew Jones speakers has not resulted in any star performers. Some have actually been disappointing. Will the DBR-62 be an exception? Let's find out.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel...

Vincent PHO-8 Phono Stage Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Vincent PHO-8 Phono stage/preamplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. The PHO-8 costs US $249 on Amazon with free shipping.

The PHO-8 comes in a two-box configuration with separate linear power supply which I did not expect to see in this price range:
Vincent Pho-8 Phono preamplifier stage Cartridge Moving Magnet Movie Coil Audio Review.jpg

The package has an elegant, albeit small, presence that you don't usually find in budget audio components.

There is only one control for moving magnet and moving coil gain setting.

The back panel is as you would expect:

Vincent Pho-8 Phono preamplifier stage Cartridge Moving Magnet Movie Coil Back Panel Connector...jpg

There is even a timed delay turn on in the phono stage with a relay activation after which the LED lights.

Everything here feels like a $500 device. That is with the exception of that likely phony "QC Passed" sticker.

Phono Stage Audio Measurements
Let's start with 5 millivolt, 1 kHz signal fed to the unit with RIAA reverse equalization in moving magnet...

Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 USB DAC. It was kindly sent to me by a member. Despite having been announced back in 2012, the DacMagic 100 seems to still be a current product, available on Amazon costing US $199 including Prime shipping.

While it won't be mistaken for a high-end audio products, the DacMagic 100 nevertheless differentiates itself from budget DACs with its enclosure and design:

Cambridge DacMagic 100 USB DAC Audio Review.jpg

The back panel also shows some differentiation:
Cambridge DacMagic 100 USB DAC Back Panel Inputs Audio Review.jpg

Notice the dual S/PDIF coax inputs. And a ground lift for USB input which may solve nasty ground loop issues (no guarantees though).

An external adapter, double the size of typical phone charger, powers the unit.

Overall, the box makes a positive impression.

DAC Audio Measurements
As usual, we start with our dashboard of 1 kHz tone and see what we get:

Cambridge DacMagic 100 USB DAC Audio Measurement.png


Nice to...

Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 Center Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 Center speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $399 on Amazon including Prime shipping. It is the matching speaker to Pioneer SP-EBS73-LR bookshelf Atmos which I just reviewed.

This is a 3-way speaker with a coaxial mid and tweeter in the middle, a bass driver and passive radiator:

Pioneer SP-EC73 Elite Center Speaker Audio Review.jpg

As such it is NOT the common MTM configuration which has directivity issues and causes side reflections to be dissimilar to direct ones.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics...

Pioneer Elite SP-EBS73-LR Atmos Speaker Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer SP-EBS73-LR bookshelf Atmos enabled speaker. It is on kind loan from a local member. They cost US $749 for a pair. That may seem high for a bookshelf speaker but you are getting two speakers in one. An up firing two-way coaxial driver that is driven by its own terminals. And a front facing 3-way speaker with the same coaxial driver mated with a small "woofer."

Here is what it looks like:

Pioneer Elite SP-EB73LR Atmos Bookshelf Speaker Audio Review.jpg

These are introduced back in 2014 and Dolby Atmos was all the rage (news, not delivery). Realizing getting people to stick speakers in their ceiling is hard, Dolby announced this upfiring scheme at the same time as the surround sound technology. They proceed to license a fancy crossover for it which cost a lot. I don't know if that is what is used here or not.

Overall, the speaker feels quite a bit more hefty substantial than the...

Replace resistor by low-inductance resistor - Is it audible?

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Since it is often claimed here in the forum that replacing cheap sand-cast resistors with low-inductance resistors would lead to clearly audible improvements, and since it's no use pointing out that the sound change (unless it's completely imagined) is very likely due to slight deviations in the resistance values, I'm now so annoyed that I want to get to the bottom of it ;)

UPDATE: Also check out "Capacitor upgrade in crossover - Is it audible?".

Considered are a 20W sand-cast resistor with about 3.28 Ohm and a low induction 4W metal oxide resistor with about 3.29 Ohm - - I could not find a better pairing among my resistors.
1584804264085.png
1584804276771.png

The resistance measurement results:
1584804909181.png

As expected the measurement curves of the two resistors are practically identical.

UPDATE: The 20W sand-cast...

SMSL Sanskrit 10th MK II DAC Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the SMSL Sanskrit 10th MK II. It has been upgraded from AKM AK4490 to AK4493 DAC chip. It was kindly sent to me by the company a few weeks ago. I see it on Amazon for US 109 with free but not Prime shipping. I will be calling it SK10 from here on.

The SK10 has the familiar SMSL look with a small LED display:

Sanskrit 10th MK Ⅱ USB DAC Audio Review.jpg

A remote control is provided which makes navigation easy although you still have to deal with "In1" and such for input names as opposed to "USB," etc. It is workable though.

The back panel also follows previous SMSL small DAC products:

Sanskrit 10th MK Ⅱ USB DAC Back Panel Audio Review.jpg
I am not a big fan of the micro-USB connectors but they work. When I tested the Toslink input, my cable got stuck there and took fair amount of force to pull it out. So there is a bit of tolerance issue there.

Really, I am nitpicking here as these products are easy to use and you can adapt to their...

Rythmik L12 Subwoofer Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Rythmik L12 subwoofer. It is kindly purchased by a member and drop shipped to me. The L12 costs US $559 in two colors (black oak and matte) and US $619 (gloss white). If you buy a white one to stick in your home theater, you and I will never get along. :)

The sub is still on the measurement gear stand at 5 feet and I am in no mood to take it down by myself to take a picture. So you have to settle for a stock photo:

1584683912992.png


Not much to look at. I did take a picture of the back though so you can see the numerous settings and configuration as tested:

Rythmic L12 subwoofer Audio Review.jpg


Note that most of the switches are three-way which makes it hard to understand at first. For example, the power button as off, auto, and always on. The way it is labeled it seems that it only has off and Audio On.

A single parametric EQ is provided which is hugely better than none. Typically though you have at least two...
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