Lyngdorf Audio MXA-8400 Multichannel Amplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click here.

Reviewers' ChoiceIn the last few years I have reviewed the two integrated amplifiers currently on offer from Lyngdorf Audio: the TDAI-3400 and TDAI-1120. I have always admired Lyngdorf’s integrated amplifiers for their fantastic sound and excellent user interface, and these two amps were no exception: they performed wonderfully in my system. I was especially impressed by the room-correction system built into these amps, Lyngdorf’s proprietary RoomPerfect software.

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Amphion Argon7LS Loudspeaker

Reviewers' ChoiceIn Greek mythology, Amphion, the son of Zeus and Antiope, was a gifted musician; so much so that when he played his lyre, he caused great stones to move and form themselves into the city walls of Thebes. Anssi Hyvönen, the founder of Amphion Loudspeakers, may not expect his speakers to move stones, but he seeks to make them a pathway through which music can move the soul. Many other companies espouse the same goal, but the Amphion philosophy is that this is best accomplished if the loudspeaker acts as a neutral conduit for the music, rather than adding its own “musicality.” In a nod to this ambition of neutrality, all of Amphion’s home-audio speaker models are named after noble gases—elements that do not react with substances with which they come in contact.

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GoldenEar T66 Loudspeaker

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

Reviewers' ChoiceSome brands are so distinctive they become synonymous with a specific product or feature in the minds of consumers. Subaru designs all-wheel-drive vehicles, Nike makes Air Jordans, and Nintendo has Mario and Luigi. Audio is no different. McIntosh Laboratory brings blue VU meters and glowing green tubes to mind. Vivid Audio conjures thoughts of graceful, highly sculpted speaker cabinets, and Linn is known for suspended turntables. In the case of GoldenEar, the association I make is tower speakers with built-in powered subwoofers.

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Estelon Aura Loudspeaker

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

Reviewers' ChoiceWhen I received a pair of Estelon Aura loudspeakers for review in the middle of last year, I proceeded to cover them in my “System One” column confident it would be sufficient for all I’d need to say. That writeup, which was published last November, earned the Aura a 2023 Product of the Year award for Aesthetics and Sound. After the article was published and the award presented, however, I had some misgivings. I felt that the Aura deserved a fuller, traditional equipment review that focused less on the speaker’s appearance and more on its technical details, measurements, and, most important, its sound. There’s far more to this accomplished loudspeaker than my original article presented.

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Magnetar UDP900 4K Ultra HD Universal Blu-ray Disc Player–DAC

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click here.

I have reviewed some excellent optical disc players recently, including the Technics Grand Class SL-G700M2 streaming SACD player–DAC ($3499.95, all prices USD) and the Rotel Diamond DT-6000 CD player–DAC ($2299.99), a recipient of a 2023 SoundStage! Network Product of the Year award in the Exceptional Value category. While I loved the sound of both of these players, neither has video-playback capability. This won’t be a showstopper for most audiophiles, but video playback is a welcome feature for those of us who have multiuse A/V systems.

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Ferrum Audio Wandla Digital-to-Analog Converter and Hypsos Power Supply

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click here.

Ferrum Audio CEO Marcin Hamerla is evidently fond of wordplay. The Wandla DAC gets its name from Wandler, a word meaning “converter” in German—a language Hamerla speaks in addition to English and his native Polish. The Hypsos power supply is likewise cleverly named, drawing its moniker dually from the Grecian term for the sublime and from the device’s function as a hybrid power-supply system. The company’s name is inspired by the large deposits of iron ore found near its headquarters on the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland. But these are just words. What’s in a name, after all?

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Arendal Sound 1723 Tower S Loudspeaker

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

“They’re the SVS of Norway.” Such was my introduction to Arendal Sound in November 2023, when Doug Schneider dropped off a pair of their 1723 Tower S speakers at my home. The similarity to the Ohio-based SVS can be seen in the type, price, and quality of speakers from the two companies but also in their business model: both sell directly to customers (as do Canada’s Axiom Audio and Denmark’s Buchardt Audio, among others). This, of course, reduces overhead costs and allows the manufacturer to pass savings to the consumer.

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Meitner Audio PRE Preamplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click here.

When contemplating the very best in digital audio, Canada’s EMM Labs, along with dCS and certain other brand names, comes to mind. EMM Labs is equally adept at analog electronics, to be sure—the company’s founder, Ed Meitner, has long been involved in both analog and digital electronics—it just may not be the first company you think of in the vast analog domain. Ed Meitner’s most recent exploits include developing the EMM Labs DS-EQ1 optical phono equalizer for the DS Audio line of optical cartridges. The current EMM Labs range also includes the PRE analog preamplifier, the MTRX and MTRX2 monoblock amplifiers, the MTRS stereo amplifier, the NS1 streamer, and two DACs: the variable output DV2 and the fixed output DA2 V2. These highly regarded products are designed for maximum performance rather than being built to hit a particular price.

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Darlington Labs MP-7 Phono Preamplifier and SU-7 Step-Up Amplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click here.

Keen-eyed readers of my previous reviews and blog articles have by now picked up on my preference for DIY gear and relatively simple, class-A circuitry, usually based on discrete components. And it’s true, I generally eschew complex designs, integrated circuits, and high part counts in my preferred equipment.

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Simaudio Moon 791 Streaming Preamplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click here.

Reviewers' ChoiceTen years ago to the day, my review of Simaudio’s Moon Evolution 740P preamplifier was published on this site. I was so impressed with the 740P that I’ve kept it in my system after the audition period until earlier this year. What better time, I thought, to review its recently released successor, the Moon 791 preamplifier, part of the company’s new North Collection. For a complete picture, though, a brief overview of the 740P is in order.

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