Letters to the editor – Weeks #21 & #22, 2021

  • Ed writes…

    I greatly appreciate the ongoing thoughtful and nuanced content you create! Thank-you!

    I just stumbled upon the Brennan B2, which seems to be an interesting “niche” audio device at an affordable price point.

    It evidently now allows for the playing of Spotify Premium, a feature that pushes the usefulness of such a device up a few points IMHO. Hope you might endeavor to review it at some point. I’m currently streaming w/ Chrome Audio plugged via Toslink into my integrated amp with DAC. (Low-end hi-fi). It would be a nice bonus to get my modest CD collection ripped with easy playback access and the B2 looks interesting as a possible device to do just that (as well as stream a Spotify subscription). I just read about the Brennan B2 for the first time today and went to search your site for information about it. Not seeing “Brennan” listed, I thought I’d give a mention of it to you.

    Thanks for your kind attention and consideration.

    Wolf writes…

    So appreciative of your perspectives and attitude to hifi, I wanted to share a request and on what you’ve touched on before: hifi aesthetics and physical style. Your place in Berlin is so well put together, distinct and really blends harmoniously with your hifi tech and set up and part of your connecting to and showing your environments is integral to your reviews. Other than exceptional video production, I also believe it is what sets you apart from others reviewing hi-fi. Beyond functionality, performance and entertainment and into form, I hope you might consider doing a video about your view on hi-fi aesthetics; what it reveals about the manufacturer and designer and its potential impact on the holistic listening experience, as well as it being a personal expression of ones taste and vibe if you will. Like so many others, vinyl and hardcover books are a key environmental aesthetic for me so I thought that perhaps, a deep dive into hifi aesthetics could be entertaining and insightful. Regardless, thanks for reading this and speaking to those of us who like artists like Dry Cleaning and Pye Corner Audio and who aspire to greater heights of music listening pleasure.

    Tom writes…

    I have the Berlin Phil’s Digital Concert Hall app running on my iPhone and my Apple TVs.

    For the iPhone, I employ a DragonFly Black to which I connect either my Grado 325e’s or my Shure SE215.

    The Apple TV is connected to my Denon AV amp via HDMI and drives Totem Sttaf’s.

    I also used AirPlay to feed my Bluesound Node 2i which is a source to my best system. This is a Quad 405 / Quad 34 system driving PSB speakers.

    When I switch between their standard stereo setting and their high-resolution stereo setting I do discern slightly more detail and openness in the sound through all of the above. However, the only device which indicates the type of source is the DragonFly Black which is lit green, which of course is CD quality.

    Given the Berlin Phil’s proven ability to deliver high-resolution downloads from very high-quality source recording material, the fact that they are delivering CD-quality causes me to wonder why this limit. Is this a limit of their streaming provider’s system (Internet Initiative Japan Inc)? Is this a self-imposed limit based upon assumptions of the average listener’s system? Or, is this initial included HiRes CD-level a first step in a future series of enhancements that will use FLAC to deliver even higher levels of HiRes?

    John, I really appreciate the effort you put into all of your channels. You speak to us in a familiar, friendly, and personal way and treat us like adults and not kids. Your publication and production quality is excellent.

    Yours is one of three go-to YouTube channels for me. The other two are not competitors of yours, rather they are similar in style and quality in the areas of astrophotography (Astrobackyard) and watches (Watchfinder UK), my two other passions.

    Jim writes…

    Hi John

    I enjoyed your most recent videos where you’ve added a subwoofer to your playback system. As many have discovered, one doesn’t need to be a ‘bass-head’ to enjoy a subwoofer. A sub at a low volume is barely noticeable until it is turned off.

    You mentioned in the “My First Subwoofer” video the Kef KW1 device that allows you to connect the KC62 to your system wirelessly. I’ve been using an older version of the Outlaw OAW to wirelessly connect my much older sub to my system. I use it to hide the sub between the back wall and the sofa as it’s the only location that my wife approves of. Not ideal sonically, but it sounds much better than one might think.

    Thanks for all the effort you put into your website and youtube channel.

    Kenneth writes…

    Hi John,

    Try this hack and get way better sound quality from the BlueSound POWERNODE and the Powernode 2i.

    1) Go to the BlueOS App (that is connected to your POWERNODE)
    2) Go to “Player”
    3) Go to “Sound”
    4) Go to “Tone control” and turn it off

    The POWERNODE sounds way better this way and is a lot more dynamic and transparent.

    Raphael writes…

    Dear John,

    I go directly to the point. Without the playlists, I feel something is lacking. I believe the playlists are a great way to make the reviews more immersive, transparent, and interactive, as I can also listen to the same songs on my system. I think one of your biggest assets is your music knowledge and I think people are interested in that. I for one, find myself listening to more and more electronic music thanks to you.

    Look, I completely understand the move to Patreon. I don’t mind waiting longer for the videos so you can prioritize your patrons. However, maybe reconsider releasing the playlists with the videos, and if I could ask, even a couple of days before the videos go online.

    I really enjoy the channel, your humility and down-to-earth attitude towards audio.

    Me: You get to view my YouTube videos for the price of being served an ad. I think that’s more than fair. My team and I put in seven days of work into each video so I’d say you were already getting a pretty good deal. If you want more than that, Patreon is the way to go. I don’t publish content on my Patreon before it goes live elsewhere. Instead, it is based on fully exclusive content: videos, playlists plus giveaways. I think that’s fair too.

    Matt writes…

    Dear John, I missed the boat on commenting on your brilliant KC62 review but wanted to share what I wrote anyway, for no other motive than my own passion, experience and appreciation of your work…

    Yet another wonderfully thoughtful, diligent and articulate review Mr Darko. Been there, felt the absurdity. It also compelled me to mention a unit that you’ve written about before in the context of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of streaming but not, as far as I’m aware, tested. Caveat: I have no connection to this company; I’m just a recent convert. And while this is marginally off-topic, I do think it is very relevant to anyone considering a 2.1 setup like this. To put it simply, the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 is the single most complete piece of hi-fi I’ve ever owned, and it delivers on all the things that you’ve discovered you like to date (how did you live without full range for so long!) minus the painful setup.

    In a nutshell:

    1) RoomPerfect removes the effects of the room on your speakers AND sub, without fundamentally altering their character. You can set the high pass and low pass filters in the web / mobile apps (default is 80hz) and even the shape of the filters to your taste. But the big sell for me is that with just 20 minutes of easily taken mic measurements and using the default settings via LFE (letting the amp manage the crossovers, gain, phase etc.) I achieved what was the best integrated, best amplified sound I’ve ever heard via my KEF + Rythmik 2.1 system, coming from a history of Arcam amps + Dirac. Speaker/sub positioning becomes almost irrelevant (within reason).

    2) You can apply preset / custom digital EQ on top to taste if you’re not a fan of the ‘neutral’ default
    3) Golden Triangle streaming
    4) Super intuitive UI
    5) A wonderfully speaker-friendly, clean but seriously musical flavour of pure digital amplification
    6) Power enough for most domestic applications

    I honestly don’t understand why these guys don’t get more love from the hi-fi press in general, and while I feel slightly guilty even bringing this up after all your crawling, I really think this tech deserves to be the de facto standard at the price, especially for demanding but lazy listeners like me. I have a gut feeling you might feel the same if you ever get the chance to test, and that RoomPerfect might take you even closer to full range perfection, assuming you get on with the amplification vs the likes of Hegel. Either way, I’m sure it would make a fantastic partner for the KEF LS50 + KC62.

    Keep up the great work!


    Me: I have never lived without full range. That’s what headphones are for! 😉 And yes, that Lyngdorf is very much on my radar for the reasons that you mention. I just have to find the time to work it into my already-fit-to-burst review schedule.

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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