Head Gear Reviews by project86
  1. Violectric V590

    5.00 star(s)
    At this point, I don't feel the need to make long-winded introductions about the Violectric brand. I've written extensively about their gear over the past decade, along with their more studio oriented Lake People gear and now the ultra-high-end Niimbus imprint. Most readers have a good handle on the history and pedigree involved, so I'll cut right to the chase on this one. The V590 is Violectric's latest flagship. It's a true all-in-one DAC, headphone amp, and preamplifier, with equal attention given to all three aspects. This deviates from prior...
  2. Euphony Summus Music Server / Streamer

    5.00 star(s)
    I've been using the Euphony PTS music server for a few years now. It's a simple, compact, silent source which does everything I could ask from a device like this. To get the most out of it, I pair it with a Keces Audio P8 linear power supply, and the resulting performance holds its own with far more costly devices I've owned or auditioned. The secret sauce to the PTS is the Euphony OS, which is a dedicated audiophile platform based on Linux. I won't go into the technical bits here, but I'm convinced of its efficacy based on what I hear. They also...
  3. Kennerton Thekk

    4.50 star(s)
    Kennerton Audio is the upscale division of Fischer Audio, which - although perhaps still not so well known in some circles - has been around for quite a while by now. I remember first using the Fischer FA-003 about a decade ago, and that same pair is still going strong after being gifted it to a friend who uses them daily. While I always felt Fischer made high-value gear, Kennerton is significantly more upscale - with pricing to match. Kennerton is not just throwing together fancy looking headphones and charging a bundle for them. The company is...
  4. Lear LCM-Skyline

    4.00 star(s)
    Custom IEMs tend to be expensive, and there's a good reason for that. Even when dipping into the murky waters of no-name IEM brands from overseas (I'm based in the USA) - where admittedly there are occasional gems to be found - I generally prefer sticking with universal designs. Customs require a level of care and customer interaction that doesn't really lend itself to language barriers or unproven operations. This translates to entry level customs from 64 Audio and Ultimate Ears starting at $499, whilst Noble Audio, Empire Ears, and JH Audio charge...
  5. Drop x THX Panda wireless headphones

    4.50 star(s)
    Long story short: Oppo Digital used to be a player in the audio market. They had some of the best universal Disc spinners around, which were very highly regarded both for their audio and video performance. They also had an excellent line of planar magnetic headphones - the most popular of which seemed to be the PM-3 ($399). It's been nearly 2 years since Oppo left the market, and many of us still miss their contributions. I regularly use the Oppo UDP-205 player (with ModWright upgrades, though the original was great too) and wish I had purchased a...
  6. AME Custom Radioso

    5.00 star(s)
    It's been well over a decade since I started reviewing audio gear. As you can imagine, I've ended up on the mailing lists of quite a few audio companies and PR firms since then. I get solicited for reviews on a regular basis but unfortunately only have time to accept a very small fraction of the offers. This means the item in question must be fairly compelling - maybe a new product from a well-established firm, or an item that has lots of buzz on the forums, or perhaps a new technology that I find interesting... something to stand out from the many...
  7. Yulong DA10

    4.50 star(s)
    My first experience with Yulong Audio was covering their D100 DAC way back in 2010. At the time, nobody had really heard of the brand apart from perhaps the local enthusiasts in Shenzhen. The D100 offered features and sound quality typically found on devices costing several times the price - very impressive for a small upstart audio firm. 9 years and many products later, Yulong no longer needs any introduction. While still not what I'd call "mainstream", the brand is quite well known across a wide range of forums including headphone and speaker...
  8. Resonessence Labs Fluvius

    5.00 star(s)
    Resonessence Labs has always specialized in DACs. From the original Invicta which put them on the map back in 2011, to the diminutive Herus DAC/headphone amp, the Concero series, their superb Veritas, and the latest flagship Signature edition of the Mirus Pro - when people think Resonessence Labs they think D/A conversion. That changes with the recent launch of the Fluvius, a streaming audio device designed with the same attention to detail as the rest of the Resonessence lineup. Fluvius sells for $1750 and is a perfect aesthetic match for the...
  9. Cayin HA300

    5.00 star(s)
    Cayin has been around for quite some time, but within the last few years have really made a push into the personal audio space. Their iDAC-6 D/A converter, iDAP-6 file-player, and iHA-6 headphone amplifier make a brilliant stack. Their HA-1A mk2 delivers sumptuous tube goodness. And their numerous portable audio players have something to offer at almost every budget. Having offered some extremely high-value designs for the headphone crowd, Cayin recently moved upmarket to try their hand at an extremely high end desktop amp. This resulted in the...
  10. Audio Art HPX-1SE

    5.00 star(s)
    Confession time: I don't really like reviewing cables. It's a controversial topic that can often be more trouble than it's worth. And even when dealing with a crowd of cable enthusiasts, most would generally agree that cable upgrades represent a much smaller change in sound compared to swapping headphones, DACs, or amplifiers. I tend to think of cable upgrades as a "last few percent" type thing - squeezing the absolute best performance out of the system I already love. With this in mind, I actually have done the occasional cable review, such as when...
  11. iFi Audio iSilencer 3.0

    2.50 star(s)
    Quick note - this is part two of a series covering various tweaks from iFi Audio. Part one focused on the Gemini3.0 dual head USB cable while the next post will cover the DC iPurifier2. The focus of this installment is the iSilencer3.0, which is a $49 "USB Noise Eliminator". iFi promises the device will cancel noise via their "Active Noise Cancellation+" technology, as well as reduce jitter and "re align" the USB signal via their "RE Balance" feature. As with all iFi gear, I've learned to not get overwhelmed by the marketing terms and just listen...
  12. iFi Audio Gemini3.0 USB Cable

    5.00 star(s)
    iFi Gemini3.0 Dual Head USB Cable Dual head USB cables have always struck me as interesting and fairly clever. Rather than a standard single-cable, source-to-DAC link, they split the power and signal connections into completely separate portions - which then combine at the DAC input. The result is a "Y" shaped cable offering a total decoupling of potentially dirty USB power from the source device. Users are free to instead use a high-quality supply on the power leg for the cleanest possible power. If the USB stage of your DAC draws power over...
  13. Asustor AS6404T

    4.50 star(s)
    I've been using a dedicated network attached storage, aka NAS, device for about 8 years now. I originally wanted one in order to easily share files between several different computers on my home network. Prior to that I had just used an external hard drive attached to my wireless router, but that wasn't a very robust or speedy solution for my needs. Once I got the NAS all set up, I discovered a myriad of uses which I hadn't even thought of before. Now I can't imagine living without it. At the time I went with a Synology unit, only to discover it was...
  14. Niimbus Audio US4+

    5.00 star(s)
    Who makes better cars - Toyota or Lexus? How about Honda versus Acura, or Nissan against Infiniti? Of course, these are silly comparisons, as Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti are simply the luxury divisions of their respective manufacturers. The cars themselves often share a basic platform, with the luxury version shooting for more style, features, and brand cache. This succeeds or fails on a case by case basis but I can clearly see the point of it - the "Lexus" marquis allows Toyota to sell LS-series sedans for $75K+ when nobody would accept a...
  15. Cayin iDAP-6

    5.00 star(s)
    What do you use for a transport? Could you do better without spending a fortune? I bring this up because I'm continually surprised at how little attention some people give to this aspect. I've met quite a few enthusiasts who go all-out on exceptional amplification, quality D/A conversion, precise speaker placement and/or top-class headphones (often with custom cables), signal reclockers, linear power supplies, and so on. And yet when I ask about their transport, the answer seems out of place; it's often just a standard PC or MacBook, or occasionally...
  16. Keces Audio P8

    5.00 star(s)
    Full review can be seen HERE In summary, this an amazing upgrade for many devices that benefit from cleaner power. It can be configured a number of ways, including dual outputs at different voltages.
  17. Matrix X-SPDIF 2

    5.00 star(s)
    Full review available HERE Quick summary to satisfy the minimum character requirement: The Matrix X-SPDIF 2 is a fearsome competitor to the popular Singxer SU-1. Matrix matches the Singxer when run straight from USB, and can surpass it when using an external linear power supply.
  18. Euphony PTS Music Server

    5.00 star(s)
    Review available HERE - I will just say a few words here to fill the minimum character requirement. The Euphony PTS silent server is an extremely high quality music server. It's not priced like a high-end server, as those often start around three times as much and rapidly increase from there.
  19. Yulong DA9

    5.00 star(s)
    A few months back, I had an interesting discussion with a forum friend. While chatting about the general state of all things audio, he congratulated me for my recent debut at Digital Audio Review, and mentioned how often he agrees with my gear assessments. According to him, most people find me "fair and balanced" (with no political reference intended). How nice! I was actually feeling pretty full of myself. Then he added "Shame about Yulong though..." as if to point out that my record isn't completely sterling. "What do you mean?" I inquired...
  20. Resonessence Labs Veritas

    5.00 star(s)
    Veritas. Latin for Truth. In a perfect world, this describes the ideal source component for quality audio reproduction. Convert those ones and zeros faithfully, making an honest representation of the original source material, and send that resulting analog signal out to a gain stage. Simple, right? And yet here, in the real world, it doesn't seem to be quite so easy. Take a look at the many hundreds of current designs, using different and often contradictory approaches to achieve the same goal. That number balloons much higher if we include...