reviews

Benz-Micro LP Moving Coil Phono Cartridge and Tri-Planar VII Tonearm

Good old Benz-Micro cartridges. They have been around for so long that we take them for granted. As Rodney Dangerfield might have said, they get no respect. After living with the Benz “Ebony” LP moving coil phono cartridge for more than a year, I suggest that this is a mistake. Let’s see if we can elevate the awareness of and respect for the Benz-Micro brand.

Benz-Micro LP-S and Gullwing SLR Moving-coil Phono Cartridges

Gullwing SLR Moving-coil Phono Cartridges

Time marches slowly in the world of high-end audio. We rarely see new products that can be called “revolutionary”. While there are certainly new ideas, new materials, and new circuits developed by creative audio engineers, the vast majority of products are updates and refinements to previously released components. We have two of these under review here.

Berkeley Alpha DAC Series 2 and KingRex UC384 USB-to-S/PDIF Converter

I do not want to make the brave new world of digital music appear more complicated than it is already, but this investigation into the audio quality of the Berkeley Alpha DAC Series 2, from Berkeley Audio Design, LLC, highlights the uncertainty that should be attributed to almost any conclusions for almost any digital component from almost any source.

Bob’s Devices CineMag 1131 Blue Step Up Transformer

I can sum up this review right now: Turn it up! Loud has never sounded so good!

Bob’s Devices Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer

The idea of using a step up transformer between a moving coil phono cartridge and an active phono preamplifier seems like an ideal solution for boosting the tiny voltage from the cartridge. A step up provides needed gain for the microvolts produced by a phono cartridge, and also provides the proper load for the cartridge’s impedance.

BRAINWAVZ M2 In-Ear Monitors

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this review. Actually it was a good thing. I wrote several reviews with the Brainwavz M2 In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) playing music from my iPhone at a low volume. The volume had to be low because if it was at a normal listening level, the music was too distracting to concentrate on writing the reviews.

Bryston 2.5B Cubed Power Amplifier

The new Bryston 2.5B3 "Cubed" power amplifier continues the evolution of the well-received line of power amplifiers from Bryston, Ltd., of Ontario, Canada. The 2.5B3 is the lowest power model in the current Bryston power amplifier lineup. If more power is needed, there are Cubed models with 200 WPC, 300 WPC, 600 WPC, and 1000 WPC.

Bryston 3B SST Stereo Power Amplifier

This has been one of the easiest products to review. Installation was very simple due to the excellent labeling on the connectors and switches, there were no sharp edges to be careful of on the nicely finished heatsinks, and the amplifier worked perfectly from the moment it was first turned on.

Bryston 3B SST2, 4B SST2 and 7B SST2 Power Amplifiers

The 10Audio review of the Bryston 3B SST, which appeared in July, 2003, concluded with the statement, “The 3B SST is a very listenable amplifier with no significant faults, tremendous drive and cohesion to the real message of the music, all in a very easy-to-live-with package at a bargain price.” A couple of sonic issues were noted, including “…a

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