Saturday 27 February 2021

MEASUREMENTS: Emotiva Airmotiv B1+ bookshelf speakers. A comment about Andrew Robinson's Fluance Reference XL8S video review and "Do measurements ultimately matter?".

Emotiva Airmotiv B1+: Comes with small manual, and some stick-on rubber footers in the plastic bag. Fabric covers in background.

Since mid-2020, I've been on a quest to find some replacement speakers for my computer desktop. Along the path, I've listened to and measured speakers like my old AudioEngine A2, the active Edifier S2000 MkIII, borrowed the Tannoy REVEAL 501a, the passive Fluance Reference XL8S, and of course tried the KEF LS50.

For this post, let's look at the Emotiva Airmotiv B1+ 2-way bookshelf speakers (US$229/pair), released in early 2020. Externally, these look like their predecessor, the Airmotiv B1 that first came out in 2016. I bought this pair direct from Emotiva in late 2020, arriving a little before Christmas.

Saturday 20 February 2021

REVIEW / MEASUREMENTS: HiFiBerry DSP Add-On with the DAC2 HD. A quick Roon 1.8 network/endpoint issue and remote access request.

This post is in many ways a continuation of the HiFiBerry DAC2 HD measurements presented last time with the devices sent to me by Doug Gardner for testing. For some background, this DSP Add-on is related to the BeoCreate project which was documented in this 2018 thesis in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen. The idea was to create an open-source system to allow consumers to build or update their own loudspeakers to be active devices. It looks like this DSP Add-On board leverages that software to do its magic.

As you can see in the thesis, the final BeoCreate product was a board which included 4-channel amplified outputs, digital S/PDIF input and output, DAC, and of course the programmable DSP subsystem. A Raspberry Pi could be added to provide network streaming capabilities.

For completeness, I want to mention that this DSP Add-On is also compatible with HiFiBerry's DAC2 Pro (~US$50-60) board. Notice that the DAC2 Pro is a less expensive DAC than the DAC2 HD and sports headphone out. The converter chip seems to be the TI PCM5122 (same as previous gen DAC+ Pro) based on what's listed in the specs sheet but I have not seen confirmation that is indeed the case.

Saturday 13 February 2021


It has been awhile since I've measured any of the Raspberry Pi DAC HAT boards. In fact, it was back in 2016 that I got the HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro which I still use for basic streaming in the living room these days. Thanks to blog reader Doug Gardner, he sent me both his HiFiBerry DAC2 HD (~US$100) and DSP add-on (~US$60) boards you see above for testing. Doug was also very helpful in providing some background information and discussions on subjective impressions.

The DAC2 HD was released last year (around June 2020) and is based on the TI/Burr-Brown PCM1796 "Advanced Segment" DAC chip, an upgrade from the TI/BB PCM5122 found in the DAC+ Pro board. With the majority of my DAC measurements recently being ESS and AKM products, it's good to have a listen and look again at a TI/Burr-Brown-based product. Note that the PCM1796 is not a new component by a long shot! It has been available since 2004 I think (earliest specs sheet Dec 2003). My TEAC UD-501 and ASUS Xonar Essence One from 2013 were both based on dual PCM1795, a close sibling.

While I will be looking at the DSP add-on daughterboard (version 1.1, dated April 2020) more next time, for now, suffice it to say that this is based on the Analog Devices ADAU1452 chip, a 32-bit, 295MHz DSP.

Saturday 6 February 2021

RETRO-MEASURE: Spendor SA1 (1976) monitor bookshelf speakers (The foam tweeter ring tweak!? And on "Listen For Yourself!".)


For this week's blog post, let's have a look at another "retro-measure"! This time, I had the opportunity to listen and test out the early-version Spendor SA1 speaker which hails from 1976. Remember that over the years, Spendor has released newer versions of this "classic"; most recently around 2009 as reviewed here in Stereophile.

This is another speaker I borrowed from my friend linnrd and I spoke about it back in late 2019 when I visited his place. This time, let's have a proper listen with measurements and compare the performance objectively and subjectively!

The "Spendor Mini Monitor Type SA1" came out just before the classic BBC LS3/5A design around 1975. Like the LS3/5A, these monitors were designed to be used in mobile recording vehicles.