Been an interesting year or three. Neither of us have done much writing simply because not much in audio interested either of us. The pandemic, health and personal issues, life... but also other things that were positive diversions to both our time and spirit. Audio took a back seat to so much that we just kind of stepped away from reviewing. As such, we did not have awards for 2020 or 2021.
But then 2022 brought a trip to Seattle for the Pacific AudioFest and not only did we see many friends but we also saw some interesting products. Now, Carol and I are pretty focused on what products we will review. They either are something that we are interested in and will better our system and musical enjoyment... or not. Not saying that what we review will end up as an addition to the system, but for sure they tend to fall into something that we see as something that certainly could.
Why? Neither of us are just not interested in reviewing whatever. We were years ago, but now after reviewing some 30 years... yeah, no thanks. Been there, done that, and just don't have the interest anymore.
So if we get it here, it has to be good. Has to be special. Has to be worth our time to review it. And it more than likely will stay here.
So where does that lead us in terms of awards for this year? To the following few products we spent time with and found to be impossible to live without. I am not going to go into detail here about the why and what as you can simply read the review for all that.
Results? Audible and not subtle in the least. Big immediate differences.
Greater transparency. More music. Blacker blacks. Less crap getting in the way of whatever it is that is going from A to B. Simply hearing your music as never before. Literally. Like listening to a different mix of whatever we were playing. Remastered. Not just to remaster though like we see so often… not so much better, just different, but with the A2, yeah… our music sounds like a killer remaster. Fresh.
Greater separation, greater localization… instruments took on way more a dimensional presence. Crazy. Strummed guitars take on a so realistic and an "it is there thing." Now it is not going to make bad recordings better, actually perhaps the opposite. You will hear more. Meaning more of what is wrong is now even more readily apparent. But so is opposite is going to happen. The better the recording the better it now sounds. You will appreciate these even more than before. Better, results in WAY better.
Damn. This also took the music further into that realm of being new… being different. Different-ly better though. Like someone had gone back in the studio and cleaned up the mixes resulting in greater clarity, definition… all that audiophile stuff we clamber over.
ery palpable and present—the music flows with such engagement that it is hard to go off and do something else. Meaning less time in the studio and more time listening to music. Yes, we are listening to more and more music and yes, we are not listening to the bits, or is that bytes? We are listening to the music as "whole." Now I am not saying that the cable has a sound per se, but that the music emanating from our speakers sounds different with this cable.
I would consider this to be a reference and a USB cable that is here to stay.
Yeah, the one Synergistic Research Black Box Acoustic Treatment is doing what it does (reviewed HERE and still in use)… kind of thinking it is doing what the EchoBusters were doing, letting the room breathe more—why the sound has opened up—and it is pretty unobtrusive. What if we got another one and try it where the other two Busters were behind us. Did. One behind the couch and the room… make that music sounds even better. Again, it is more open. Less damped?
No App, no settings, is small and can be placed pretty much anywhere. Set ours to Purple and have yet to look back. It improves the sound… no... make that room… no... make that the environment… no... make that they improve our listening experience.
We connected one of the network cables (Cardas Clear) to the input and another to the output—these going from the Integrita C4 NAS from Certon (input) to the SOtM switch (output) and damn if the music did not take on a more dimensional quality. More air or space around the music while being more there. Not dramatic, but not really subtle. We both heard it. Now this is with the I/O set to High. On the low setting I found the music a bit brighter, more detailed perhaps, but not as engaging. When I say "not as engaging" what I mean is that there was now a sense of added details that were not part of the whole, but more of now being there; more apart from the whole. You can get more "detail" or resolution by either taking away whatever was clouding or obstructing things or by simply boosting something to make it more evident. No idea what the I/O was actually doing here.
And then we plug in just one, that is right just one Puron (distributed here in the States by Vera-Fi). At $250 I can't think of a better way to spend a couple of hundred on such a simple and yet so effective device. The noise floor drops even further as it works to reduce the noise at the wall outlet. Man, resolution at lower volumes is considerably better than ever before. Makes listening with the volume down a real pleasure—like when people are over and there is a need to talk to like… people in person. Nothing is hyped or augmented… just more music and less stuff in the way. Whatever we are playing is so much more articulate and yet so very natural. Any sense of grain or harshness… gone. Clarity without etch or analytical neutrality. What I mean by "analytical neutrality"… cold and void of soul. There is life to the music.
And yes, the Puron works wonderfully in a video/home theater system where we are seeing such detail in images that it makes us forget about whatever struggles are pulling at our emotions when watching whatever. So, life like. Stunning.