Chord Blu Mk. 2 M Scaler CD Transport Review – Digital Dressed in Analog
I’ll be honest, I rarely touch physical discs. My entire collection was stolen from my car years ago and I never went back. That said, I was able to pick out a few familiar albums from Brook Berdan’s stash.
Shota Osabe Piano Trio – Willow Weep for Me
The bass plucks during the intro were so palpable and tactile. I didn’t know how good this recording was until I heard it on the BluDAVE.
With just the DAVE, the bass plucks just aren’t as organic or convincing. Leading edges of the piano also aren’t as clear. With the BluDAVE, you could almost imagine the fingers hitting the keys.
The BluDAVE was beautifully rhythmic, smooth, delicate, and every nuance is easily perceived. It truly sounds like a live performance.
Natalie Merchant – The Letter
The BluDAVE is more dynamic and expansive. There are much more roundness and deliberation in her voice.
Piano just sounds absolutely superb on the BluDAVE.
Metallica – …and Just for All
Solo DAVE sounds a bit crowded and smeared. BluDAVE breaks apart the players and provides a very coherent and headbanging inducing experience. You’re able to hear the speed and force of the guitar.
Jimi Hendrix – Ultimate Experience – All Along the Watchtower
His guitar riffs just float across the room
Smooth, engaging, infinite depth, and ridiculous imaging
His voice sounds as smooth and real as ever
With the solo DAVE…it’s just not a Jimi Hendrix Experience. 🙁
This FPGA-based upsampling CD transport will take your CDs into another realm. It’s startling how lifelike these recordings sound. These filtering and upscaling algorithms are working some crazy magic on those bits. Everything just sounds more open and inviting.
Anette Askvik – Liberty
Effortless, supreme layering, especially the first 15 seconds, all that nuanced sound,
If the creaking door sound in the beginning of the track doesn’t startle you, you ain’t listening to a BluDAVE.
Her voice has gradations and dynamics cues I’ve never heard on any system. Palpable and sweet.
Makes me think “Are these really TIDAL streams over Wi-Fi?”
The background is naturally black. Some digital devices reduce the noise floor in an artificial way. I don’t get this with the BluDAVE.
There’s so much individualism with all the tidbits coming in and out of this song, her voice maintains composure on the Blu MK2. Every knock, exertion from the saxophone, her voice can’t get any smoother.
tip of the tongue. extension, dynamics, elevation is smooth. have to listen to the whole song. The harmony between two vocals and piano entry is just seamless. The saxophone has a natural incisiveness to the sound.
Lacks a bit of tonal density and an enormous amount of depth.
The door creak doesn’t extend forward and back at nearly the same amount.
It’s sonically connected: there isn’t good individualism between the acoustic tidbits and her voice. Worse of all, her voice doesn’t have that same presence and body and air. Not to mention detail.
Saxophone falls flat, dynamics are lacking across the board. There’s this digital overlay over the entire sound. Just not as engaging.
There’s a lot more sonic smearing especially when the two voices overlap.
The background isn’t quiet, the tidbits get mixed in with music.
BluDAVE has much meat around the brass. Cymbals are in a tighter space and don’t shine naturally.
The solo DAVE loses control towards the end with the drum and sax, while the BluDAVE keeps things in line and remains musical throughout.
The DAVE dynamically hits a wall far in front of you but the BluDAVE has infinite acoustic headroom. The speakers and room disappear.
Marian Hill – Same Thing
I actually heard this song on a high-end vinyl rig. I’ve never heard a digital source reproduce her voice so smoothly and found it to be just as convincing as that rig.
That “ring” has this detail I didn’t know existed (perhaps…it doesn’t exist). This is interesting because a lot of these notes are synthesized via a keyboard but the Blu2, at this point, seems to be generating artificial elements. Notwithstanding this, it sounds incredible and made this track a lot more fun to listen to.
The BluDAVE takes what we think as “coherence” to another level. It takes it to the realm of reality.
I get no hints of digital with the BluDAVE. The snapping sounds eerily real.
The bass hits hard with a definition I didn’t know was in the recording (once again, might’ve been artificially generated).
I didn’t know the intro had this much depth and low-end detail. More mid-bass presence, better gradation, a realistically lingering decay. Is this artificial or real? I don’t know.
Piano decays never interfere with her vocals with the BluDAVE. It’s always in control. Solo DAVE loses its grip and sounds loose in comparison.
I’ve seen them live and yearn for some of that organic sound. With solo DAVE, it’s not quite there. With BluDAVE, I don’t think it could be any more analog sounding than that.
There’s low-end detail in the beginning that doesn’t even come close to that of the BluDAVE. Whether this was detail intended by the artist or not, it sounded great.
Vocals are a bit more forward on the solo DAVE.
Solo DAVE is flatter, fuzzier, narrower, and doesn’t have blacks as deep as the BluDAVE.
Eva Cassidy – People Get Ready
You could clearly hear the drummer’s position in the back with the guitarist towards the front. With DAVE, this isn’t at all apparent. BluDAVE adds an finite number of layers to the music.
There are a calmness and smoothness to the BluDAVE. An easy, effortless, and enjoyable listening experience.
Excellent individualism and separation. There’s no clashing between the players.
Tonally correct. Perfect timbre.
Floor to ceiling and front to back wall, BluDAVE just fills out the listening space in a natural and enveloping way.
She just sounds real, like a person standing there and not a recording.
Her emotion is conveyed in a very physical way. You could almost visualize her exertion.
Bass extension is much deeper and weightier.
Much less depth. Compressed dynamics.
When the climactic drums come in towards the end of the track (2:50), it doesn’t pull you in with just the DAVE. With the BluDAVE, you’re wide-eyed from the impact.
Her extension isn’t fully realized on the DAVE, It sounds like it gets attenuated and rolled off.
A bit of digital grain. The dips in her voice and minute gradations just don’t exist with solo DAVE.
Bass is extremely well controlled and detailed. Doesn’t sound like the same source vs DAVE.
Cannonball Adderley – You’re a Weaver of Dreams
Infinite depth and extension.
Bass plucks are very well defined. Just sounds real.
Realistic notes carry and decay properly into the acoustic space
Cymbals are lifelike. As real as it freakin’ gets.
Much more gradation, fast transients, quick and effortless. Streamed music benefits greatly from this technology.
The saxophone doesn’t extend its reach into the room. Stops short.
The BluDAVE warms up the sound of the DAVE, which was much-needed IMO.
DAVE tries to be real but BluDAVE embodies it by giving each player substance and a visceral physical presence.
DAVE doesn’t breathe nearly as freely as the BluDAVE
The tone and timbre of the sax are much better with BluDAVE. I didn’t even notice the piano in the back with the DAVE.
The imaging capability of the BluDAVE is so good…it sounds like a different recording on the DAVE.
Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E’s In Love
Sonic smearing and fattier sound.
There’s a calmness, smoothness, lifelike nature of the BluDAVE
Recording vs lifelike to another level. It’s undeniable.
More congested while the BluDAVE is unequivocally unrestrained in all directions.
Candela – Buena Vista Club (live)
The crowd, in the beginning of the track, sounded so real.
Bass is very loose and bloaty.
Vocals have a bit of digital edge to them.
Thurman Green – Minor blue
Every pluck of the bass is distinct and tactile
Fantastic timbre and tone.
Bass plucks, transitions, all coherent and seamless. You could hear the way the air comes out of the instruments and the physical effort made by the musicians.
Out the gate it lacks the roundness, body, and depth. The pieces of the sound disappear too quickly.
In comparison, it’s like a flat image vs something 3-dimensional.
Less dynamic, just doesn’t sound as lifelike.
O-Zone Percussions – Jazz Variants
Drums are quick and convincing
Reverb and decays are so accurate. It’s amazing.
Very rhythmic and clean with life-like articulation.
The individual metal jingles of the tambourine could be heard. I know it sounds crazy but…it is.
Come Fly With Me (Live at Sands) – Frank Sinatra
Never heard the reverb from the announcer before. Extends across a much larger space than I realized.
Coherence and tonal shadings are at a completely different and analog world.
Sounds like a real live performance.
Egyptian Fantasy – Bria Skonberg
All brass just breathes freely in articulate and musical fashion.
Bass plucks are extremely well delineated and realistically defined.
Doesn’t come close to the level of layering or depth, timbre, or articulation.
DAVE sounds quite compacted in comparison.
DAVE doesn’t give the instruments its own space to breathe.
Gregory Porter – God Bless the Child – Be Good
Talk about being in the acoustic space. The DAVE falls flat but BluDAVE paints an entire picture of recording. Those reverbs don’t really exist on the DAVE while the BluDAVE trails so realistically.
There’s more critical musical information, nuance, and micro-details. You could hear how Gregory carries his voice with a smoothness and intricate detail that is otherworldly.
You’re able to visualize Gregory there from the sonorous sound of his voice.
Mozart & Beethoven: Violin Sonatas – Ji Young Lim – No. 21 in E Minor, K 304 II Tempo di Menuetto 6:11
The addictiveness of the accurate and deeper tonal density cannot be denied. All instruments have weight and balance. Piano notes are delicate and clean while the violin articulates with proper weight and vigor.
It’s really difficult for most systems to relay in this amount of layering.
Takeshi Inomata – Alone Together
Cymbals have so much presence and natural timbre and speed.
Sax is dead center, piano between far left and left forward on the right side. The imaging on the BluDAVE is incredible.
Repeated piano notes are coherent, delicate, and beautiful.
Drums have an unintrusive punch that doesn’t disturb the other instruments.
So much articulation and weight, density. detail, and speed.
Lamet – Youn Sun Nah
Drum smacks are delicate but carry intent and force. Sounds like something Bruce Lee would say.
Vocal exertion (seems to be the theme of the BluDAVE) is fully perceived. You could visualize her throwing her chest out while she belts out some of those notes.
The differences are stark. With just the DAVE, it sounds fine but less meaty and colored. Dave is flatter in the intro, but once her voice comes in, it’s a bit of a hot mess. Layering just isn’t there, lyrics aren’t comprehensible and there’s lots of bleeding across instruments. (sigh)
Her voice has obviously much less gradation and body. It’s not as coherent or separated. When the other instruments come in, her voice gets a little lost, and so do the details.
BluDAVE never loses control, although the difference in layering isn’t apparent until A/B. Mid-bass and lows are just more compelling.
Drums in the intro have a lot more snap, definition, and impact. It’s punchier and more granularly defined. One sounds perfect (BluDAVE), the other sounds like it needs help (DAVE). Topped with truly analog vocals and you have something extraordinary.
Chris Botti – When I Fall in Love
Having just heard him at the Hollywood Bowl, the BluDAVE reaffirms its capabilities with this track. You are teleported to the Boston Symphony Hall. The entire acoustic space is revealed and the amount of layering and air just blows the DAVE away. Listen to this track with the BluDAVE if you ever get the chance.
Mr. Audio Bacon himself. An open-minded electrical engineer and software developer by trade. I have an obsession with the enjoyment of all things media - specifically in the realm of music and film. So much heart and soul (and money) go into the creation of this artistry. My aim is to find out which products get me closer to what the musicians and directors intended.