Articles, Reviews and Measurements of Audio Products

Fluid Audio Image 2 Review (Monitor Speaker)

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This is a review and detailed measurements of an early sample of just announced Fluid Audio Image 2 reference monitor. Company asked me to measure it in private last year but today gave me green light to publish.
Fluid Audio Image 2 Measurements reference studio monitor.jpg

This is a crowded field so I was very pleased when I saw the built-in sub with dual opposing 8 inch drivers. The main weakness I find in most active monitors is lack of power/response when in deep bass and this remedies that. Back panel shows the functionality you expect in this class including a foot switch to silence the sub:

Fluid Audio Image 2 Measurements back panel reference studio monitor.jpg


I am told the production version has reduced noise/hiss by 17 dB and has some fine tuning (although substantially the same as what I measured). It costs US $1,899 / 1799€.

Note: I was paid a fee to perform this...

Solupeak RC-11 Review (Passive Volume Control)

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the SOLUPEAK RC-11 passive volume control. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs US $17.
RCA Audio Volume Controller, line Volume Control Box, Mini attenuator knob -RC11 Review.jpg

As you see, this comes in a nice little aluminum enclosure as opposed to the typical plastic post. This should help with interference. Being passive, the back just has the requisite RCA jacks:

RCA Audio Volume Controller, line Volume Control Box, Mini attenuator knob -RC11 RCA Review.jpg


SOLUPEAK RC-11 Measurements
I fed the unit 2 volts and set its volume to max:
RCA Audio Volume Controller, line Volume Control Box, Mini attenuator knob -RC11 Measurements.png


This is the same performance as not having the unit. So if you don't attenuate, it is transparent. I dropped the level by 10 dB and performance hovered around 112 dB so even then, results are very good.

I was pleasantly surprised that...

Nan-6 Planar Headphone Review

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Nan-6 Planar Magnetic headphone. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs S$999 (US $750).
Nan-6 Planar Measurement Response Headphone.jpg

Other than the cheesy logo and rough finish of the metal parts, the headphone "looks the part" as our British friends would say. It is exceptionally comfortable and fit on my head nicely. A pair of velour pads and what looks to be half a dozen filters also come with it. I stuck with the unit as shipped (as shown above). There is no documentation with the unit so I don't know what the filters do (if anything different).

A high-end looking balanced cable comes with the unit.

The claim to fame of this headphone is that it is supposed to be clone or close to Hifiman Susvara/HE-6 at a much cheaper price.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a...

NAD Wireless USB DAC 2 Review

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This is the review and detailed measurements of the NAD Wireless USB 2 stereo DAC. It is on kind loan from a member and costs around $250.
NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Review Analog Coax SPDIF Out stereo.jpg


The unit is smaller than it looks in NAD pictures. The transmitter is tiny and not much bigger than a USB charger. It is self powered over USB and gets warm. The receiver looks fine and sports both RCA analog out and Coax S/PDIF digital:

NAD wireless USB DAC 2 Review Transmitter Receiver Stereo Analog Coax SPDIF Out stereo.jpg


As you see there are three independent RF channels so you can have three such devices in your household.

The longest RCA cable I had allowed me to separate the receiver by about 12 to 15 feet (3 to 4 meters) and performance remained the same. Company spec is 40 meters.

NAD Wireless DAC 2 Measurements
Let's start with digital Coax output out of the unit and see the...

Elac Carina BS243.4 Review (Bookshelf Speaker)

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Elac Carina BS243.4 stand-mount speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and sells for US $999.
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Review Bookshelf stand-mount.jpg

Even though this is a speaker designed by Andrew Jones, it is a continuation of the line traditionally designed in Germany with much higher sales price and it shows. The cabinet and hardware is way above budget class. It feels extremely solid and well put together. This is the first time Andrew has designed a speaker with folded tweeter (AMT).

Back panel sports some of the fanciest, nicest, largest binding posts I have seen on such a small speaker (hard to see in the picture):
Elac Carina BS243.4 Speaker Review Back Panel Bookshelf stand-mount.jpg


As you can see, there is a cut out to allow the port to exhaust. This a compromise that allows the speaker to be placed close to the wall yet...

Burson Soloist 3XP Review (Headphone Amp)

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Burson Soloist 3X Performance balanced headphone amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,200.
Burson 3X Performance Review JRC5532 Opamp balanced 3XP Stereo Headphone Amplifier.jpg


The overall package feels heavy and solid but I am not a fan of lack alignment of all the connectors, holes, etc. Volume control is digital but controls a Muse IC volume control. The microprocessor managing it is very fast and responsive but alas, there is no acceleration. If the volume is too loud -- which can very well be with this powerful amp -- good luck in turning it down quickly! We are talking many turns to go from 99 to zero. Very strange how many companies miss implementing this useful feature.

Back to volume control, there is a glitch between volume level 35 and 36. It is a minor tick but otherwise it is silent as it adjusts its volume.

A switch on the right puts you in the...

SMSL HO100 Review (Headphone Amp)

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the SMSL HO100 balanced (input) stereo headphone amplifier. It was sent to me by Aoshida Audio and costs US $149.
SMSL HO100 Review stereo Headphone Amplifier.jpg


The HO100 matches its companion DO100 DAC. Switches feel nice and so does the volume control. While 4.4mm penticon connector is provided, its output is no more than 1/4 HP jack (so it is for convenience, not power).

What is unusual and welcome at this price point is inclusion of AC adapter and XLR inputs:

SMSL HO100 Review stereo XLR In Headphone Amplifier.jpg


As with other SMSL products I have tested, it comes with regulator and safety certification:

SMSL HO100 Review stereo FCC CE Headphone Amplifier.jpg


SMSL HO100 Measurements
As usual we start with 4 volts in (for XLR input) and adjust the output to get 4 volts out. This meant using medium...

SMSL DO100 Review (Stereo DAC)

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the SMSL DO100 stereo balanced DAC with Bluetooth. It was sent to me by Aoshida Audio and costs US 239.
SMSL DO100 DAC Review Stereo Balanced USB DAC.jpg


Sorry about the fuzzy front panel picture. It looks better in person. The rotary control makes it nice to adjust volume. Back panel is the usual affair but with USB-C connector instead of the usual Type B:

SMSL DO100 DAC Review Stereo Backk Panel Bluetooth Balanced USB DAC.jpg


Nice that AC adapter is built into the unit so you don't have to worry about a dongle. The usual SMSL remote control is provided.

SMSL DO100 Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard using XLR balanced out:
SMSL DO100 DAC Measurements Stereo XLR Balanced USB DAC.png

This is superb performance especially at this price, landing the DO100 nicely in our top 20 list of best DACs ever measured:

Top 20 DAC Review 2022 stereo.png


RCA output is just slightly worse:
SMSL DO100 DAC Measurements Stereo Balanced USB DAC.png
...

UWAYKEY: Can an $18 Amplifier Be Any Good?

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A member asked me a while ago to test the ultra cheap ($18) UWAYKEY Mini Bluetooth Amplifier on Amazon. To make the clickbait title work :), I omitted the cost of the external power supply you need to bring yourself. What you get is a three board assembly:
UWAYKEY Mini Bluetooth Amplifier Review.jpg

UWAYKEY Mini Bluetooth Amplifier Review Boards.jpg


It took less than 5 minutes to put the heatsink on the main class D amp chip and sandwich the main board with the top and bottom. The chip used must be for smart speakers as it has voice prompts when you change inputs. Speaking of that, it has Bluetooth (which I did not test), analog and USB in. The little heatsink has no air flow and in testing, it got quite hot to touch at times.

For testing, I used my lab power supply and set the output voltage to 24 volts (max spec). The supply has 3 Amps max current. Amplifier is rated for dual 50 watts at...
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