The Biz: Asahi-Kasei and ESSTech go to war over mobile superiority

There’s no question that, over the past three years, ESSTech has completely dominated the premium portable digital audio segment. The fab-less circuit design firm kicked things off in 2014 with the introduction of the now-ubiquitous ES9018-2M, a mobile-minded DAC chip designed as a two-channel die shrink of the venerated 8-channel ES9018S (itself the evolved production…

Op-Ed: Embrace the Jack-less revolution!

With the next generation Apple iPhone 7 set to be announced imminently, many people have bemoaned Apple’s decision (not 100% confirmed, but essentially a foregone conclusion, based on the substantial and numerous rumors) to remove the 3.5 mm analog jack from the phone. Not only have highly influential e-zines such as The Verge have come…

iFi Audio’s iUSB 3.0: Next Generation Power

Editor’s Note: We thank iFi Audio and the Evergeneral Trading Corporation for their immense patience and coordination. We held onto the review loaner unit of the iUSB 3.0 for way longer than we’d originally intended, and their patience is much appreciated!  We reviewed the original iUSBPower by iFi Audio about two years ago (review link) and…

Celsus Sound: Trailblazing Wireless Freedom

Editor’s Note: Another incredibly late article — apologies to everyone all around! We’re extremely limited on time! Last year, I had the good fortune of meeting with Jason Lim, co-founder and former CEO of Nuforce. Since leaving Nuforce (the company is now a subsidiary of Optoma), Mr. Lim has been busy. He founded Heap Venture,…

In Pictures: TEAC HA-P90SD

We didn’t get to listen to it at all, as the operating system froze and crashed repeatedly; turning the power knob to the ‘OFF’ setting couldn’t even turn it off — we had to wait until the battery drained. A very bad sign indeed. The build quality feels similar to that of the lower cost…

John Franks’ & Rob Watts’ baby, the Chord Hugo

It’s been a busy few weeks for me lately, but I managed to sneak a few hours away from work to attend a local presentation by CHORD Electronics’ head honcho John Franks and lead designer Rob Watts. By now, most people fixated on the high-end of portable audio have heard of the Hugo. When it…

The Biz: Show Report – TAA International Hi-End Hi-Fi Show

The TAA International Hi-End Hi-Fi Show is a large annual audiophile exhibit organized by the Taiwan Audio Association. Held this past weekend at the Grand Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan, the show is hi-fi heavy in the traditional sense, so it’s mostly about the KEFs, the Focals, and the Magicos of the world. However, for the…

Rapid Reaction: Calyx M

Everyone wants in on the DAP game these days, and the supply chain for lower power, high quality D/A conversion is easier than ever to tap into, and it seems like every hi-fi equipment manufacturer in China and Korea is releasing something within the next 18 months, setting high-end portable audio ablaze. With so many…

Beyerdynamic A200p: Portable Digital Amplifier

Editor’s Note: The Beyerdynamic A200p is a product adapted from and very similar to the Astell&Kern AK10. The two share very similar functionality and outward appearance. Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Beyerdynamic for loaning me the A200p for review.  The sample will be returned to Beyerdynamic following evaluation. The Beyerdynamic A200p is a very small DAC/Amp combo…

DSD & Resonessence Labs’ Herus

Editor’s Note: When Mr. T reviewed the Resonessence Labs Concero HP last year (review here), he was thoroughly impressed by its robust build and superlative sound quality, along with Resonessence’s impressive technical service attributes. However, the Concero HP, being the size of a removable optical drive, was merely a transportable device, rather than a truly…

Rapid Rant: Hey, It Fits Well In Your Hand…

What. The. F**k. $250 for the AK S02 charging stand. Really? So the zillion percent profit margin isn’t enough? Please tell me that the leather case came from a kosher slaughter.