Review: Arcam rPAC is a quality headphone amp and USB DAC at a nice price
Posted 08 February 2013 - 12:06 PM
Since it is a product category that's unfamiliar to a lot of people, I wanted to explain it thoroughly. Plus it's sufficiently specialized and expensive that I wanted to provide thorough buying advice. And issues of audio quality can be tough to explain briefly.
I'm also naturally verbose. It makes me thankful I was writing for the web rather than print!
Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:32 PM
I like the notion of audio "momentum" - not sure, but I think I know what it means... I would probably say "presence" or "weight"... Is that coming close?
In any event, if there were more articles like this on macworld I'd visit more often... nicely done, and well appreciated!
Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:17 PM
Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:11 PM
Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:24 PM
Thanks for the kind words! I actually like graphs, but measurement systems are expensive.
As far as momentum, I think it's certainly related to the things you mention, and I think the cause has to do with things like phase alignment and transient response. But I notice it manifest most in my perception of tempo. If music seems to be higher tempo than usual, that's good; if it's slow and ponderous, that's bad.
As far as "more like this", I review personal audio gear here once or twice a month. Keep coming back!
Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:24 PM
The Mac's volume controls affect the volume of the signal sent to the rPAC, and the the rPAC's volume controls affect its headphone output (the rPAC's RCA outputs are line-level only). But ideally you want the full volume output from the Mac, and then use the rPAC to adjust headphone volume.
I haven't had a chance to check out the HRT microStreamer yet. I'd like to check out their headStreamer, though.
Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:32 PM
Interesting—why do you think there's a difference between speakers and headphones here?
Posted 13 August 2013 - 06:05 PM
I had the same question. My experience is that one can get a revealing, musical listening experience with headphones for much less money than it would cost to get the same thing with speakers. I have Sennheiser HD580's and a Total Bithead, and love the sound I get from Apple Lossless files. (Pure Music software makes an astounding difference, also, for very little money). I spent many thousands of dollars trying to get great sound with speakers, amp, preamp, D/A convertor, etc., and didn't enjoy the sound nearly as much as I do that of my current system. (It also helps that I can listen to whatever I want whenever I want, without worrying about my wife's reaction or sleep schedule!).
BTW, Matt, have you listened to Pure Music by Chanel D? If not, you really should. For $129, I've never heard anything that makes as big a difference in my enjoyment of music. (I'm not related to the company in any way - just a big fan.)