Soundstage ultra

10.11.2020 By Fenrikree

Review Summary Sound "Clean, with plenty of detail. The sound was open and for headphone listening spacious. You can place the power supply somewhere other than your rack like the floor to keep space demands at a minimum. However, crossfeed trades off some spaciousness for center fill, and I preferred the sound with it switched off.

Besides tethering you to a headphone amplifier or digital player, they make your ears sweat!

soundstage ultra

Well, there's portability. There are also other people to consider. Maybe you want to listen to music without disturbing your neighbors or family. Think thin apartment walls or late-night listening sessions. Headphones let you rock out without disturbing the people around you.

Finally, there is sound quality. Some will disagree, but I believe headphones make it possible to achieve really good reproduction without spending huge sums of money. Taking room acoustics out of the equation makes for very direct sound. Even extremely expensive headphones and headphone amps are pretty reasonable compared to high-end speakers and power amps.

Although most headphones are quite sensitive, serious headphone listeners generally agree that you need a dedicated headphone amplifier to get the best sound.

When choosing the ideal headphone amp, one consideration is how big it is. In a portable system, the need for a small amp is obvious. But even in a desktop system, size matters. For this reason, I appreciate small headphone amplifiers. But there are some important differences. Fortunately, AKG included such an adapter with my K headphones. Another casualty of the shrinkage is the print on the front panel.

soundstage ultra

There are two versions of the Micro Amp: the standard version and the upscale Ultra Micro reviewed here. The already excellent Texas Instruments OPA op-amp of the standard Micro Amp is replaced throughout by the simply astronomically expensive and well worth it! Burr-Brown OPA, plus all resistors and caps are of extraordinary reference-grade audio quality as well.

Possibly as a result of its class-A circuit, the Ultra Micro runs somewhat warm. Even with no signal, the case is warm to the touch. The power supply is in a separate enclosure, and has a captive power cord. The Ultra Micro has an input impedance of 70k ohms, which should be easy for any source, tube or solid state, to drive.

Equipment Reviews

Some amps with input impedances of 10k ohms or lower are not compatible with many tube source components. The rubber flanges on the case of both units have indentations and protrusions that allow them to be stacked.

With the Ultra Micro DAC, you can use your computer to build your own music server, and do so for a lot less money than most commercial units. HeadRoom said the Ultra Micro needed about 50 hours break-in time, so to be on the safe side I gave it Then the upgraded Astrodyne power supply arrived see sidebar.

During that period, the amp got rather warm, but the power supplies ran much cooler. I also liked the sound of a similarly configured Zu Cable Pivot. Headphones were AKG Ks, still my favorite reasonably priced cans.Legacy link: This new site was launched in July Visit the older site to access previous articles by clicking above. My colleagues at SoundStage!

soundstage ultra

By any reasonable standard, my speakers have always been heavy, and so have the amplifiers that have driven them. For the most part, heavy gear is just a fact of life in ultra-high-end audio. The upper-end speaker models from Magico, Rockport, Wilson, et al. Same goes for amps -- the Boulders, Gryphons, Soulutions, etc. With these companies, I always knew that the fact that they made their products with heavier materials and parts was a good thing: lots of bracing inside speaker cabinets, and big power supplies inside amps, were what we were told made great sound possible.

The other day a fellow writer and I were talking about the issue of value in audio gear. All of this brings me to Dynaudio. So imagine my surprise when the Dynaudio Contour 60 loudspeakers showed up at my garage door with a shipping weight of pounds each.

On the surface, at least, there was great potential for the ratio of stuff per dollar. With the help of a hand truck and my always-game wife, I hauled the Contour 60s upstairs to my listening room, the Music Vault, and got to unboxing.

Each speaker itself, including grille and feet, measures Yes, that means that the shipping materials are pretty heavy at 77 pounds per speaker -- nonetheless, the Contour 60 is one substantial speaker. I was surprised to find that the two woofers in each Contour 60 are specified as being 9. Dynaudio uses no exotic materials in their drivers -- the cones are made of magnesium silicate polymer MSPand the tweeter is fabric.

In this case, the crossover components that distribute the audio signals three ways among the four drivers are high-quality devices made by Mundorf of Germany, whose products find their way into some of the best speakers on the planet. In this case, the crossover frequencies are and Hz, with second-order slopes.

When you see the Contour 60s in person, you might think the aluminum looks a little thin, but that look is misleading.

This attention to robust cabinetry adds up to a structure that, subjected to the knuckle-rap test, proved impressively inert. This speaker should stand the test of time. Optional finishes carry a percent upcharge.

Most audiophiles believe that speakers that require painstaking setup are inherently better. Good off-axis performance -- and remember, Dynaudio has its own anechoic chamber -- means that soundwaves reflected off the walls will be similar to the sounds coming directly from the drivers, so that when those soundwaves combine at the listening position you hear a pretty close approximation of what the designer intended you to hear, which hopefully also means what the musicians intended you to hear.

But having set up close to a hundred pairs of speakers in the Music Vault over the years, I know the space pretty well, and the positions the Dynaudios ended up in were pretty close to where I first tried them. The Contour 60s sounded good in those first positions, which is where speakers usually work well in the Vault; their sound improved only marginally as I made some micro-adjustments.

My electronics included a newly acquired, vintage Coda Model 11 stereo amplifier that outputs Wpc in class-A. Cables were Explorer-series models from Siltech. When I first fired up the Contour 60s in my room, I expected big bass. So I started listening, and, um. A few days after first firing up the Dynaudios, I was watching the Blu-ray edition of King Arthur: Legend of the Swordand in one of the action scenes it happened: a rumble of super-deep bass and the shaking of the Music Vault.

The Contour 60s were capable of deep, solid bass response that could energize my room after all. Deep bass should just happen, but only when the music or the film soundtrack calls for it. So I pulled out some bass-heavy cuts to hear precisely how the Contour 60 stacked up in the lows. This type of sound reproduction -- deep bass and all other aspects of the sound, all intact and clean -- is the special province of big three-way speakers: speakers like the Dynaudio Contour The foundation of the music was solidly formed, with the rest of the audioband built firmly atop it.KEF R Loudspeakers.

KEF Reference 1 Loudspeakers. Focal Sopra No2 Loudspeakers. Cocktail Audio X40 Music Server. Klipsch Reference RF Loudspeakers. KEF R11 Loudspeakers. Focal Spectral 40th Loudspeakers. Paradigm Premier F Loudspeakers. GoldenEar Technology Triton One. R Loudspeakers. Focal Kanta No1 Loudspeakers.

Focal Sopra No1 Loudspeakers. Lab12 Integre4 Integrated Amplifier. Wadia came into being in Minnesota, inbecause several engineers who then worked for 3M were unhappy with the quality of the sound of early digital audio and CD players. Within the McIntosh Group, Wadia is the newer-technology brand, proffering more recently developed methods of sound reproduction, such as the class-D amplifier technology on which the a is based.

Ultra by Jeff Fritz. At the left, a large, paraboloid-shaped depression contains the Wadia logo in white, replacing the sharply machined notch and engraved logo of years past. The rear and side panels match the front in style and silver color, and are joined to the front with rounded corner pieces that curve downward along the bottom edge to form small, rubber-bottomed feet.

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The nearly uniform styling of all four sides gives the a a more finished appearance than do the cases of most amplifiers, with their strictly utilitarian backsides. When the a is powered on, both this name and the logo on the front panel are backlit.

No screws or connectors are visible from the top, front, or sides to detract from this extremely attractive design. The fit and finish are excellent. All connections are made within a long, shallow, black recess nicely framed by the styled silver of the surrounding rear panel. These include, on the left, an IEC-compatible power-cord inlet and four easy-to-use, gold-plated, five-way speaker binding posts.

Toward the right are single trigger in and out ports, as well as gold-plated left- and right-channel pairs of balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA inputs. There are also intuitively labeled control switches for selecting balanced BAL or unbalanced UNBAL operation, and to enable ENA or disable DIS the power-save circuit, which automatically returns the a to standby mode if an audio signal is not detected for about 30 minutes.

The efficiency of its class-D design means that the a consumes much less power than the norm.Legacy link: This new site was launched in July Visit the older site to access previous articles by clicking above. The realization that resonances can affect the sonic performance of audio equipment is an audiophile rite of passage.

Determining how to control resonances so as to not only change but improve what we hear is a bit more challenging. Yes, you can try to understand the often-conflicting technical claims made by manufacturers of isolation devices. However, the conversation can quickly get very complex, particularly if you lack an advanced degree in engineering. Just look at the materials isolation devices are made of.

Some manufacturers claim that resonances are best tamed by such common woods as oak, birch, or Canadian maple.

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Others assert that only a certain exotic wood will do; e. In light of the foregoing, my guess would be that many audiophiles take a scattershot approach to isolation, as I have. Setting up its feet, particularly for components that tend to be lifted off the rack by unwieldy power cords, can be a major pain in the keister.

As I wrote in an article for SoundStage! Among many other things, SRA designs and makes isolation systems for nuclear submarines and advanced fighter jets. It even makes systems for the early detection of earthquakes. Also, SRA uses what they call Component Specific Design: each unit is custom-built to support a specific audio component.

As company owner Kevin Tellekamp notes, the suspension system of a pound sports car is very different from that of an pound SUV. As explained below, rather than rely on a design based on any of the aforementioned hard materials, the VR fp units utilize a unique chemical-based solution.

The exterior or skin of a VR fp isoBASE is coated with a catalyzed blend of rubber and cyclonically exploded glass, which is used to help limit static electricity, electromagnetic interference EMIand radio frequency interference RFI. These modules provide the unit with six degrees of free motion: forward, backward, left, right, up, down. Incredibly, each module contains 80 internal parts.

At the center of each module is a proprietary copolymer compound. According to Tellekamp, resonances travel from a component into a module, where friction occurs, producing heat within the compound.

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I found this pretty interesting. Although a number of products are claimed to convert resonances into sonically harmless low-level heat, SRA is the only company I know of that uses the heat to change the physical state of the materials the platform is made of. The entire assembly process for the VR fp units is performed in a nitrogen tent so that impurities in the air do not make their way into the modules.

The feet give the isoBASE enough space to dissipate the heat created as a result of the aforementioned chemical reaction. Floor-based VR fp units are fitted with slightly taller feet.JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser.

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If you can handle basic around-the-house-DIY projects, you can handle this. Other than a few tools check the installation guide you need nothing else! Have a question that's not answered here? Try our General FAQ.

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Ask Us and we'll get you an answer lickity-split. No, and you wouldn't want us to. Click here to read our white paper on the evils of rear speakers. We do not sell just the enclosure. Click here to read about why. Availability : Pre-Order. Select Vehicle Model:. Factory Audio System.

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Add to Cart. Find an Installer near you: Looking for a qualified professional to handle installation for you? Do it yourself: Prefer to do it yourself? Do you replace the rear speakers? Skip to the end of the images gallery. Skip to the beginning of the images gallery.Doug Schneider, the SoundStage! Read more Shortly thereafter, January 16 was confirmed as the date of my visit.

As it turns out, I had no idea just how interesting my visit would be. All prices are in US dollars. Is there any product genre that has more diverse offerings than loudspeakers? Florida Audio Expo saw a dizzying array of models of all configurations, sizes, and shapes -- and at all price points. Integration is still a thing. We saw lots of products that combine functions that are typically handled by standalone components in separates-based systems. What has always occurred to me is that some functions should be combined -- for convenience, yes, but perhaps also for performance.

As a prime example. I know the spiel about sound at shows. Blah blah blah. But then you already knew that. Call it a pleasant surprise. Here is a selection of the most interesting pieces that I saw. No one knew what the show would be like, but we all had an inkling that the weather would be much nicer in Tampa in February than where we were coming from. Little did we know that the first Florida Audio Expo would turn out as well as it did. Thanks to an introduction made by Canadian distributor Audio Alliance, Accuphase Laboratory was the first stop on my January trip to Japan.

Shortly before the beginning ofSoundstage! As I have written beforethe Chelsea Wine Vault mixes a gorgeous retail wine store with high-end audio. High-end systems are everywhere! Vivid Audio has a new loudspeaker coming -- the S In my report on speakersI mentioned that new hi-fi electronics are much easier to find at TIAS than speakers are.

Right now, one US dollar is equivalent to Japanese audiophiles still love physical media for music playback.Legacy link: This new site was launched in July Visit the older site to access previous articles by clicking above. It is not, however, the audio equivalent of a Rolex watch -- it lacks enough visual bling. The latter are more distinctive. The Soulution measures Soulution is clear about the advantages of these power-supply upgrades, and not shy about showing their measurable benefits.

The is much quieter. Some other bits: The has 14 power transistors per channel. A high performance correction amplifier is then used to capture and correct any deviations in the signal, very quickly and very precisely. There is no main power switch on the rear panel. Once plugged in, the needs only a touch of the Power button on its front panel to begin its turn-on cycle.

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There are also controls for adjusting the brightness of the front-panel display, and for switching between the balanced and unbalanced inputs. An RS interface rounds out the rear panel. My setup has changed over the past year.

The Comet has increasingly impressed me over the past few months. The system was connected with original Nordost Valhalla interconnects and speaker cables.

soundstage ultra

My experience of their amplifiers shifted my paradigm of what a great amp could do, and drove my search for different products that might offer some of the same sonic attributes with more system-setup flexibility. Hum and high-fidelity sound do not go together. Which makes the unique in my experience -- I can always hear something going on inside an amp. Not with the You can argue that a slight hum would be inaudible with music playing. But I believe that any noise will, on some level, affect the music.

Besides, a dead-silent amp gives me greater confidence in the design itself. I was made aware of Jasmine Thompson by my ten-year-old daughter. I know, that makes me seem really old. Thompson is a year-old, Chinese-English singer-songwriter who lives in the UK. Her popularity was fueled primarily by her YouTube channel, which has over 1.