• SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - GoldenEar Technology's Anechoic Chamber (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - PSB's M4U 4 Earphones (April 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - GoldenEar Technology's Triton Two+ and Three+ Loudspeakers (March 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- KEF's LS50 (February 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio's Platinum II Series (January 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Pryma 0|1 Headphones (December 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF's Blade Two Loudspeaker (November 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF and the Uni-Q (October 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio Acoustics & Aesthetics (August 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- PSB's Imagine T3 Loudspeaker (June 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Hegel's H160 Integrated Amplifier-DAC (April 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- MartinLogan's Neolith Loudspeaker (February 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Prestige Series (December 2014)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Vivid Audio's Giya Series (October 2014)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Totem Acoustic's Torrent Technology (August 2014)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Axiom Audio's M100 v4 Loudspeaker (May 2014)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Muraudio's Domain Omni Series (March 2014)

Recently, iFi Audio, a companion company to British ultra-high-end equipment provider Abbingdon Music Research (AMR), has made a name for itself with lines of affordable DACs, headphone amps, small music systems, and the subject of this review: the Micro iPhono2 phono stage ($499 USD). But its utility extends far beyond simply adding phono capability to an amplifier.

Reviewers' ChoiceAlong with Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, and Yamaha, Onkyo has been one of the mainstay Japanese consumer-electronics companies building home-theater receivers. Integra is the more upscale sister company of Onkyo. Since 1999, it has been available mainly through specialty A/V integrators, rather than the typical retail channels that carry Onkyo products.

Note: Measurements can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceThe M32 DirectDigital DAC and integrated amplifier ($3999 USD) is the newest offering in the second generation of NAD’s Masters Series, following the M22 stereo amplifier ($2999), M27 seven-channel amplifier ($3999), M17 A/V processor ($5499), M12 DAC-preamplifier ($3499), M50.2 digital music player ($3999), and M51 DirectDigital DAC ($1999). The M32 is also NAD’s second-generation DirectDigital integrated amp.

Outlaw Audio Ultra-X13 subwoofer measurements can be found by clicking this link.

The Outlaw Audio Ultra-X13 is more significant than its generic black enclosure might suggest. It’s the first subwoofer created under a new program in which original design manufacturer (ODM) Claridy Audio builds THX-certified speakers and subwoofers for brands that lack the resources to get a THX license and pay for the product testing. This could produce a mini-resurgence in new THX-certified speakers and subs, of which few have been introduced in the last decade or so. I think that’s great -- from what I know of the THX Ultra spec, it seems to force manufacturers into safe, sane designs that work well in all sorts of rooms.

Pro-Ject Audio Systems knows its customers well -- the Debut Carbon turntable ($399 USD), while not quite plug-and-play, comes with everything the aspiring vinyl-loving audiophile needs. And while not quite an exit-level turntable, its build quality tells me that Pro-Ject cares about the entry level of the market.

When I consider upgrade options for newbie audiophiles, a name that instantly comes to mind is Rotel. Like many, I bought my first hi-fi as a teen, at a store that, along with audio gear, sold major appliances: dishwashers, air conditioners, washing machines. Later, when I began browsing specialty audio shops, it was components from Rotel and NAD that caught my attention, mostly because they looked cool -- and I could afford them.

Today, selecting the right universal player isn’t always as simple as driving down to your local Best Buy and opting for the disc spinner with the highest number of codec badges or the hottest video engine under its hood. For many, particularly those of us who have a single system comprising components for both high-end music listening and watching movies, this decision is often one of the most multifaceted, complicated decisions we are forced to contend with. Consider the requirements: universal players must not only perform such basic chores as playing the DVDs -V and -A, BDs, CDs, and SACDs -- they must also be able to process, or at least pass along, 3D and 4K signals; decode the latest object-based 3D audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D; offer myriad connectivity options enabling both computer- and network-based streaming; and possess circuitry sophisticated enough to minimize the inherent problems associated with each of these demands. Additionally, universal players are also expected to provide satisfying levels of sound, video, and build quality, while offering efficient ergonomics.

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceDynaudio takes a lot of pride in the fact that it makes its own components, including its drivers, crossovers, and cabinets, and manufactures its loudspeakers in its various facilities in Denmark. But when I think of Dynaudio, cutting-edge industrial design is not the first thing that springs to mind. Their more affordable offerings of the past 15 years, such as their DM and Excite product lines, are unmistakable: simple, modest boxes with bolt-through drivers, including the company’s signature soft-dome tweeter. The drivers’ mounting bolts remain visible, despite most of Dynaudio’s competitors making efforts to shroud this unsightly and inelegant aspect of hand-built speakers.

Mad Scientist Audio came to my attention when fellow SoundStage! Network reviewer Howard Kneller told me I had to request free samples of the company’s BlackDiscuses. Made from a formula described, tongue in cheek, as being part science and part voodoo, the BlackDiscus is a little thing in the shape of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that, when placed on a connector, interconnect, or speaker cable, makes it sound better -- or so Mad Scientist claims. I’ve found that they so improve the sound of my system that I now don’t have a power cord, interconnect, or speaker cable that I haven’t equipped with one. What’s more, they not only work great but are silly inexpensive, their various sizes ranging in price from $10 USD per pair to $49.95 each. An audio tweak that doesn’t cost a lot and clearly and immediately benefits the sound is as rare as . . . well, an audio tweak that doesn’t cost a lot and clearly and immediately benefits the sound.

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Anyone with more than a passing interest in hi-fi should be familiar with Bowers & Wilkins, aka B&W. Founded in 1966, the British manufacturer has been making speakers for 50 years. Its flagship speaker models are staples of recording studios, where they are used as monitors. Its lifestyle products, including headphones and Zeppelin all-in-one wireless systems, are staples of electronics stores. Filling the gap between is a range of speaker lines, the venerable 600 Series representing the company’s entry-level offerings.