Saturday 30 March 2024

Expensive Audio & Medical Quackery: Mark Levinson promoting Daniel Hertz "C Wave Technology". And the Maria amps. [Including company response.]

While perusing news updates the other day over Spring Break on my Google news feed, there was a suggestion to check out this YouTube video of an interview with Mark Levinson; apparently Levinson had something to say about "Let's Fix PCM Audio".

Clearly, this should be a fascinatingly insightful video, right? After all, we have one of the most well-known names in the high-end audio industry, and who doesn't want PCM "fixed" if indeed there is something to be done to improve the experience from decades worth of music!

Boy, was I disappointed by this "iconic" name in the audiophile world... Anyhow, grab a drink, have a seat. Let's talk about the many interconnections between technology, health, consumer psychology, and truth-in-advertising with this name and company.

Saturday 23 March 2024

EARLY LOOK (Part II): E1DA #9039S USB Balanced DAC dongle/headphone amp - DSD and performance under load. A few more words on the "need" for higher DAC fidelity!

Last week, I published Part I of the review/measurements on the upcoming E1DA #9039S USB dongle DAC/headphone amplifier. Already, we've seen that this ESS ES9039Q2M-based balanced DAC produces very clean, high-resolution sound.

As we continue, let's delve deeper into the performance of this little device. We'll have a look at some features like DSD performance and more importantly, let's examine the balanced amplifier output when subjected to headphone-like loads to see how well it performs.

Saturday 16 March 2024

EARLY LOOK (Part I): E1DA #9039S USB Balanced DAC/headphone amp - Super Hi-Res, Tiny Package! Also, let's tweak...

Hey everyone, it's time to have another look at a product from the engineering workshop of Ivan Khlyupin (IVX) at E1DA - the E1DA #9039S:

Notice balanced 2.5mm TRRS phono output.

As you can see, it's a prototype/preproduction (depending on whether the circuit could still change) unit with pen markings on the box for the number "9" to make sure the correct product was sent my way. 🙂

This is the latest iteration of E1DA's line of USB2.0 dongle DACs which includes the E1DA #9038D6K I had a look/listen to in late 2022. As you likely surmised, this update is based on the next generation of ESS Sabre DACs - the low-power, 2-channel, ES9039Q2M, using their sigma-delta Hyperstream IV modulator. The chip specifications list 130dB of dynamic range, -126dB THD and -120dB THD+N. We'll see in a little bit what Ivan has been able to "cook up" in his lab including some performance results. Back in 2022 with the #9038D6K DAC, he had already achieved -120dB THD+N (120dB SINAD) with single-ended output. How much better does it get!?*

As I sometimes do, due to time limitations, I'll split this write-up into 2 portions to present different roles/functions of the device. For today's Part I, let's just focus on the usual look-and-feel as well as using this device as a straight, unloaded balanced DAC. This will give us an idea of the performance capabilities of the ES9039Q2M in the hands of an experienced engineer. Next time we'll examine this device as a headphone amp.

The current anticipated price for this USB DAC/amp is presumably going to be less than US$150; I believe the exact number is still being crunched.

[* Asking how much better in terms of THD+N is of course a different question from "How much resolution does a person need for excellent high-fidelity reproduction?"!]

Saturday 2 March 2024

Home Audio Fidelity's (HAF) X-talk Shaper DSP. And is crosstalk correction/cancellation (XTC) just an "effect"?

See video and plug-in info at Home Audio Fidelity site.

Let's spend some time talking about X-talk Shaper in this post, a new DSP plug-in that will allow speaker system listeners enjoy crosstalk cancellation.

For those who have not read much about this, perhaps review the post from last year written with STC on crosstalk cancellation (XTC) and Ambiophonics. There's also the reposted article written by Ralph Glasgal that discusses some of the rationale for Ambiophonics you might find interesting and I hope provides good background for the 'hows' and 'whys' of this technique.