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Audio by Van Alstine SET 120 Control Amplifier | REVIEW

by Eric Franklin Shook™ in Components

This is a story about that time I joined a cult (or two). In this review I stand to gain nothing and lose everything by telling you how staggeringly capable the Audio by Van Alstine SET 120 Control Amplifier is at delivering all of the musical goods. I am here to confess a rare and simple truth—that true high-end sound does not have to be a luxury. The mere utterance of this truth could shatter the system and render all of our phony-baloney writing jobs into the bin of oblivion. Words and [...]

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  • “What are those light bulb things?” My roommate asked that as he bent over the Manley Labs Snapper Monoblock Amplifiers with his camera in hand. The downtown Los Angeles skyline tinted the sky charcoal grey and I had to admit, even in the depths of my current obsession with the Naked and the Bauhas architectures, this scenery made a romantic backdrop for the Snappers. Tubes glowing—delightful, tubes glowing against the evening backdrop of America’s westernmost Art Deco capital. [...]
  • McGary Audio SA2 Power Amplifier | REVIEW

    July 31, 2020 // 4 Comments

    When I first set eyes on the attractive McGary Audio SA2 vacuum tube amplifier, the first thought that entered my head was “stingray.” Anyone who has observed this sea creature will know immediately what I mean: just one look at that front panel tells the story. Anyway, I can’t use that moniker, as it’s been assigned already to Manley Laboratories’ iconic product of the same name. When I was a kid, I greatly enjoyed watching a particular type of ray termed the cownose ray for the [...]
  • Valve Amplification Company Sigma 170i Integrated Amplifier Review by Lee Shelley (Disclaimer: I’m a photographer by profession and I have many clients in the high end audio industry. I have shot for Valve Amplification Company in the past. My impressions and conclusions in the following Valve Amplification Company Sigma 170i Integrated Amplifier review are unaffected by this, but I felt you should know.)  At the 2018 Capital Audiofest, there was a huge buzz about the new $150,000 Statement [...]
  • TIDAL Audio Prisma Preamplifier | REVIEW

    July 24, 2020 // 0 Comments

    Is the absence of any coloration its own signature coloration? During my time with the TIDAL Audio Prisma preamplifier, I found myself asking that very question. People like me who listen to music for a living (including lots of audiophiles I know) have developed a familiarity with the various sonic signatures that any piece of audio electronics contributes to the music passing through it. Whether I’m using certain pieces of gear to master music in my studio or swapping out stuff in my home [...]
  • When Mark Sossa of Well Pleased AV called about dropping off a pair of the excellent QLN Prestige Three speakers for me to review a few months back, he casually mentioned he might also bring along the new Audio Hungary Qualiton APX 200. Sure, I love hearing any audio gear that I’m not yet hip to. A tube amp? Hell yeah, bring that sucker! Words and Photos by Dave McNair Whether you’re a pro audio engineer, audiophile (I like the old school term hifi enthusiast), or most definitely an audio [...]
  • Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last couple of years, you’re probably aware that Vinnie Rossi has been shaking up the world of high-end audio shows with his tremendous L2 amplification line. I’ve always been a fan of Vinnie’s designs, going back more than a dozen years when I listened to one of his battery-powered Red Wine Audio amps. I used it to review a wonderful pair of WLM loudspeakers from Austria, which Vinnie used to import into the US. Over the last year or so [...]
  • “These ‘uns are a little bit different,” Scot Hull told me in that almost impenetrable Northern Maryland drawl of his. It was almost a warning—he knew I loved the Linear Tube Audio Z10 integrated so much that I gave it an Editor’s Choice Award, and that the LTA ZOTL40 power amplifier and microZOTL preamplifier were cut from a slightly different cloth when it came to the overall sound. The Z10 was agile and exceptionally light on its feet, and Scot believed—after spending some time [...]
  • My Mactone (website) adventure started last year at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, when I went to visit my good friend Bob Clarke of Profundo. He brought a pair of Trenner & Friedl Osiris loudspeakers, perhaps the only T&F design I hadn’t heard up to that point, to a room hosted by NYC high-end audio dealer In Living Stereo. The system included a Clearaudio turntable with a Hana ML cartridge, and some gorgeous Japanese amplifiers from a brand named I’d never heard of, so Bob [...]
  • Pass Labs INT-250 Integrated Amplifier | REVIEW

    February 9, 2020 // 2 Comments

    In the quirky (to put it kindly) universe of high-end audio, the epithet “Lifestyle Product” is a bit of a put-down — even for an amplifier as imposing as the Pass Labs INT-250. According to the high-end stereotype, a “lifestyle” product is one that combines luxurious, living-room friendly aesthetics and operational simplicity and convenience, but with suspect sound quality. A “lifestyle product” doesn’t sully your living room with graceless industrial [...]
  • I originally intended for this review of the Linear Tube Audio Z10 integrated amplifier to be sort of a mini-review in conjunction with the Fern & Roby Raven loudspeakers since I was scheduled to only have it on hand for a few short weeks. Since my time with this amazing $4950 integrated amp was extended, and because I was so impressed with it, I’m giving it a more thorough evaluation. Christopher Hildebrand of Fern & Roby wanted me to try the Z10 Integrated with the Ravens for an [...]
  • In this review, Rick takes a good look at the Merrill Audio Christine preamplifier and the Merrill Audio Element 118 monoblock amplifiers. Back of the Class? Ever since their introduction in 1958, Class D amplifiers have been loved by many for their efficiency versus traditional Class A, AB or B circuitries. Theoretically, Class D circuits are capable of achieving 90-98% efficiency, whereas Class B operates at approximately 75% and Class A at 20-50%. This difference gives Class D significant [...]
  • Sparkler Audio Spiral, Ether | Review

    August 11, 2019 // 8 Comments

    A Box of Sparklers My introduction to the wares of Sparkler Audio (website) was through the 2017 and 2018 Capital Audiofest shows. There, I’d made note of Sparker’s quirky Spiral compact disc player, which had been featured in both the Charney Audio and VK Music rooms. Given that I had really enjoyed the sound in these rooms at both shows, I was determined to put Sparker Audio on my “to do” radar. That little CD player just kept tugging at me, as I had been considering getting a disc [...]
  • Vitus Audio RS101 and RL102 | Review

    July 7, 2019 // 3 Comments

    Looking at the Vitus Audio RS101 amplifier, or the matching Vitus Audio RL102 linestage (updates to the line that included the RS100 and RD100, which we reviewed a few years ago), it’s hard to dispute that Hans Ole Vitus is a no-compromise kind of guy. According to his brief online biography, the Danish-born designer cut his teeth early on high-end audio, having taken apart, re-built and modified his share of components as a youngster. This interest led to a degree in electronic [...]
  • Vinnie Rossi LIO | Review

    June 16, 2019 // 3 Comments

      by Steve Folberg The Vinnie Rossi LIO I couldn’t be more pleased about once again reviewing an integrated amplifier for Part-Time Audiophile, especially since I’m currently searching for an integrated amp for my own system. If you want to know why I’m set on an integrated rather than separates, my PTA review of the Luxman L-550AX II, a physically gorgeous amplifier that made some impressively beautiful music in my system. I was, in fact, quite reluctant to pack that baby up and [...]
  • Rowen Absolute MONO | Mini-Review

    February 15, 2019 // 3 Comments

    Who is Rowen? Every dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying, worldly audiophile knows of all the significant audio companies coming out of that highly regarded Alpine nation, right? Well, maybe not. Not only is Rowen a major player (website) in the Swiss audio market, it also boasts a 47-year unbroken heritage, successfully passing the flame from one generation to the next. Rowen is uncommon in that they manufacture high-end amps and speakers. This advantages them in knowing the demands both impose on [...]
  • Naim Uniti Atom All-In-One Audio System | Review

    January 20, 2019 // 2 Comments

    Introducing the Naim Uniti Atom “All in one, and one for all!” Wait, what? Ha! You’ve just been introduced to my new tagline for Naim Audio’s nifty combined audio system, the Uniti Atom. It’s an all-in-one audio system, as in high-end meets lifestyle. As in “I want this thing, and so should everyone else.” So let me explain… I’ve dealt with combined audio systems before. I suppose I’m a bit biased against them, but for no good reason. Audiophile purist snobbery perhaps? [...]
  • Dan D’Agostino’s new reference Relentless Monoblock amplifier (website) weighs in at a record 570 pounds, can dance beautifully at 1 watt and will party all the way 6000 watts into 2 ohms when driven by a 220v electrical circuit. Although it takes 4 strong dudes to drop it in place, once warmed up and you’re past the dent in the checking account, I don’t think you’ll ever want to move it once you power it up. Two years in the making, Dan D’Agostino describes the development as a [...]
  • Do I really need an excuse to ditch Rochester just before the first major snowstorm of the season just to head down to San Diego? As excuses go, I can think on none more sublime than visiting a high-end audio dealer to evaluate a couple of state-of-the-art designs that have just been introduced. Alma Audio is nestled in the Kearney Mesa area of the city, not far from the airport. It’s a fairly new enterprise, opened in 2015 by partners Alexandre Siufy and Fabio Storelli. Along with Adrienne [...]
  • Peachtree Audio Nova300 | REVIEW

    November 24, 2018 // 2 Comments

    Words and Photos by Eric Franklin Shook Another amplifier is aiming right at the balls of the established order of high-end consumer electronics. Out of the gate that last statement might seem a little crass, but by the end of this I hope to (at least partly) justify it. Peachtree Audio (website) has been looking to exploit the high-end audio market’s major weaknesses for over a decade. Many of the long heralded brands we have come to know and love have been slow to adapt to the changing [...]
  • Auris Audio (website) is a somewhat new addition to the rich high-end audio tradition of the central European country of Serbia. If that strikes you as odd, let me assure you that yes, they’ve got a robust market for high-end audio manufacturing there! There are some wonderful and well-established companies from that part of the world doing some truly amazing things in the High-End corner of our hobby. A couple of the of better-known ones immediately come to mind. One is Dayens, which has [...]
  • McGary Audio SA-1