HQ Audio HQ reference DAC ES9018S review


From Italy (and of Vietnamese origin) came another highly attractive DAC offering, in a rather cool and stylish outfit. Based on the ESS ES9018 Sabre chip which is quite popular and could be found in many DACs but of course, the DAC chip is only one part of the whole story, the surrounding circuitry, the power supply and other components are highly important as well. There is some controversy in regard to importance of the DAC chip and many believe there are other things that play a bigger role in the sound of a DAC.

The ESS ES9018 Sabre chip uses the patented 32-bit Hyperstream™ DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator and the additional list of features goes like this:

 - PIC Microcontroller to remap DAC and share I2S connection with DSD signals
 - Amanero module integrated to have USB input 
 - Support 44,88,96,192,352,384KHz PCM and DSD to play SACD ISO
 - Full ground isolation from USB module
 - On board reference 100MHz Crystek oscillator with a jitter of 0.5psec
 - Ultra fast oscillator buffer
 - 4 inputs: USB, Spdif coax on BNC, AES/EBU Professional on XLR, Optical Toslink.
 - the output stage uses LL1684 transformers and two Clarity Caps (ESA series)
 - Simple firmware upgrade 
 - Large dB volume display
 - Top performance linear pre-regulator LT1963
 - Separated fast shunt for any digital section
 - Separated fast shunt for any analog channel
 - Remote volume control 
 - Remote mute control
 - Remote input control 
 - Digital filter control
 - Optional passive I/V

The real magic of the high end


I just witnesses again something that clearly reminded me about why I like and love high quality reproduction of the music so much. Having a privilege of spinning some vinyl during the show gives a great opportunity to meet different people. During one of the listening mid aged couple set down and enjoyed highly Nat King Cole and Getz Gilberto playing on vinyl to the full satisfaction. Seeing how music affected them positively lighted my fir to the best possible plane. This is what we're forgetting to often in high end audio. Musical reproduction carry an emotional and such grand cultural impact and sharing great music with others is in a way an altruistic endeavor of the utmost importance. If we can by our sharing invite people to the wonderful and endless universe of music and touch their inner core I do believe we're actually doing something very important and of great value on the scale of humanistic dealings. Music and high quality musical reproduction carry way more potency and importance that we're giving it most of the time.

Kaiser Acoustics Audio Video Show Praha 2015 live


Kaiser Acoustics and Thrax at Audio Video Show Praha 2015. Nice sounding setup with components I know very well. 

Vivid Audio at Audio Video Show Praha 2015


Vivid Audio speakers at Audio Video Show Praha 2015.

WE Audio systems turntable NEW


Return of the legendary German manufacturer from Black Forest. More info coming soon...

Audio Video Show Praha 2015


Arrived at the Audio Video Show Praha. With more then 65 rooms, there will be a lot to grasp. I've seen yesterday that most of the established brands are participating ‎as well as numerous domestic ones…

Interview with Robert Koch of Robert Koda


This took quite some time to finalise, but its finally ready. Matej Isak interviews Robert Koch of Robert Koda about the Robert Koda Takumi K-15 preamplifier and his brand. Enjoy…

It passed some time since our last public corespondency. What happened in between at Robert Koda?

We moved to a quiet village location in the Izu Peninsular. When the wind doesn’t blow it is quite beautiful. I am on the second reform of the listening room and there has been strong interest coming in on the Robert Koda brand. In between all of that I have been trying to spend time with my quickly growing son.

Curtis Knight & The Squires Feat. Jimi Hendrix - You Can't Use My Name


This special compilation presents Hendrix's 1965-1967 sessions with Curtis Knight & The Squires prior to his international fame leading the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

150-gram LP plated and pressed at Quality Record Pressings! Audio completely mixed and re-mastered under the direction of Jimi’s long time sound engineer, Eddie Kramer. Includes the previously unreleased 1966 recording, “Station Break”

Includes dialogue between Hendrix and producer Ed Chalpin. Best known as the bandleader with whom Jimi Hendrix developed his skills, Curtis Knight moved to California from Kansas in the '50s. He relocated again to New York in the '60s after appearing in the film "Pop Girl." While leading the Squires he and Hendrix joined forces in 1965. Though Hendrix wasn't in the group very long, he was featured on over 60 songs, 26 studio and 35 live recordings.


ENIGMAcoustics Dharma D1000 Headphone and Athena A1 Headphone Amplifier


ENIGMAcoustics, a company known for its patented SBESL™ (Self-Biased Electrostatic) technology, announced today the launch of its first two products in the high-end headphone category, the Dharma D1000 Hybrid Electrostatic Headphone and the Athena A1 Triode Vacuum Tube Hybrid Headphone Amplifier.

Dharma D1000

As a hybrid electrostatic design, the Dharma D1000 headphone takes full advantage of SBESL™ (Self-Biased Electrostatic) technology, offering electrostatic transparency, focus, and inner detail without the need for an external energizer to provide a polarizing voltage. Instead, the bias voltage is derived from the signal itself in a proprietary manner, making Dharma an easy to use, convenient, and with its light weight, very comfortable headphone. Bass and mid-bass are handled by a unique and proprietary Wagami paper-based dynamic membrane, with stiffness, mass, and internal damping optimized for use with an electrostatic HF driver. Transition between the two is seamlessly accomplished via a phase coherent first order crossover employing precision audio grade, tight tolerance components.

Dharma’s availability is scheduled for May 2015, at a suggested retail of $ 1,190.

Athena A1

The Athena A1 vacuum tube headphone amplifier represents what company officials term “a no compromise approach to design–an integration of solid engineering and a true appreciation of music.” As a single-ended triode / hybrid amplifier, its vacuum tube front-end is biased Pure Class-A, and exhibits extremely low noise, while its low impedance Class-A MOS/BJT hybrid output stage and its high voltage swings ensure compatibility both with low and high impedance headphones, and is equally adept at driving both. Athena’s design eliminates any concern about interfacing it with any load, high or low impedance, or any headphone–even the most demanding.