We reviewed the Audio4Soul Extrem 16 digital amp/DAC a while ago  and the company ref2011have just contacted us to tell us of a new breed of eeference amplifiers, that has been designed on the basis of ultimate performance.
 
Simplicity in design Philosophy, minimal signal path and top quality materials, guarantee ultra hi-end performance, while backed-up by an ultra low-noise power supply, as well as a dead-quiet chassis.
 
With a  paying scheme of “Pay What You Need”, you can now build the amplifier you need/can afford, without having to pay for features you will never use.
You can now, add or remove input or features (like the optional battery PSU)at will, keeping your amplifier up to date with the latest technology available!
The new amplifier is available over 300 colours, while two different front covers -fully configurable- will give more flexibility and more freedom of choice!!
 
The first model in the new line is Reference 20, followed up by Reference 50 (by the end of April) and Reference 120 (by the end of August). The company say the Reference 50/120, are the perfect pairing for speakers that are very demanding, like electrostatics, magnetostatics and some of the most demanding electrodynamic speakers available.
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We reviewed the Tellurium Q Ultra Black speaker cables a good while ago and so when we were TQ_Ultrablac_rca_recasked to take a listen to the company’s matching interconnects we thought it would be a great idea.

The first impression I had of the UB (Ultra Black) was how strong and focused the central focus was, how projected the vocals were and how clean the midrange was as a whole.

Bass notes are very full, a tad dry and with a great amount of weight. Bass extension rolls out separately to the punch, a beat can be heard and before you think “is that it” all of a sudden a rolling wave of extension spreads out across the room.

Read Danny Worth’s full review of the Tellurium Q Ultra Black Interconnects.

 

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The PrimaLuna Prologue Premier is a Valve Integrated Amplifier that is flexible in which valves it can PLPrologueuse and has a modern contemporary look to it. Danny Worth puts the £2300 amplifier through its paces in his review.

“The first thing apparent when switching the PrimaLuna on is its cleanliness in the top end. It has a wonderfully sparkly and airy treble which blends down into a clean upper midrange. Details are prominent and easily depicted even when listening to large crescendos and larger orchestral pieces. Dynamics in this portion of the frequency range are not overly strong, they are however far from subdued or mellow and they are a little more energetic and cleaner than natural”.

Read the full review of the PrimaLuna Prologue Premier Valve Integrated Amplifier

 

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The KEF X300A Loudspeakers are have an on board amplifier and DAC and are designed primarily KEFX300A_FIfor use on a desktop – simply plug them into the mains, attach them to the computer via a USB cable and away you go. We’d heard the speakers briefly at Munich and so were delighted when KEF contacted us with a view to reviewing them.

In this review both Stuart Smith and teen son Harry take a listen to the KEF X300A loudspeakers and comment on how they worked with respect to their own very different needs.

“Essentially what you have here is a nearfield monitor that has been designed specifically for the home market. I had a play with Ableton Live mixing some of my own tunes and they’re really rather good in that role and I suppose a good few people will use them as both desk top monitors for music making and for listening to tunes in a more conventional sense. It’s a long time since I’ve listened to professional monitors if truth be known and so I can’t really compare on this front to what’s available today…and besides I don’t think this is where KEF sees its market for these loudspeakers being.”

Read the full review of the KEF X300A Loudspeakers.

 

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Linn has extended its Exakt platform into its Akurate range and the Akubarik loudspeaker is the LinnAUKUBARIKlatest product to benefit from this new technology.

“Exakt eliminates the sources of loss inherent in the traditional analogue hi-fi chain by transferring the lossless digital signal all the way to the speaker. This means that a Studio Master file, or any other music source, is now transmitted perfectly into the speaker” says the Linn press release.

Using Exakt technology, launched in Linn’s flagship Klimax Exakt System in September last year, the Akurate Exakt System comprises an Akurate Exakt DSM and Exakt Akubarik loudspeakers.

Inside Exakt loudspeakers is a digital platform that enables a range of “performance-enhancing capabilities” and the ability for a Linn Specialist to optimise the system to the customer’s home. “This ensures the best possible sound no matter the unique characteristics of the customer’s room or their preferred speaker positioning.Exakt eliminates magnitude and phase distortion that is inherent in traditional passive crossovers. So what you hear is a more faithful reproduction of the music as it was recorded” the release continued”.

Exakt Link

In order to deliver the digital signal “losslessly” to the speaker, Linn has developed a new protocol — Exakt Link. “Exakt Link achieves what no existing standard could: accuracy of data transmission with the ability to losslessly transmit 8 channels of 24-bit 192 kHz Studio Master; exceptionally low jitter to ensure perfect musical timing; and extreme precision synchronisation between speakers”.

Up to thirteen sources can be connected to the system via the Akurate Exakt DSM with inputs including HDMI, Toslink, S/PDIF, XLR and RCA phono available. Linn commented “Even vinyl sounds better – there’s no better way to preserve the signal from an LP12 than Exakt. New ADC technology converts the delicate analogue signal digitally and sends it losslessly to the speaker”.

The six-channel amp module houses the Exakt capability alongside Akurate quality DACs and Linn’s patented Chakra ‘silent power’ amplification, all mounted within a “special and effective passive cooling chimney” which draws the warm air up and out of the electronics without requiring a fan. Great care has also been taken to isolate the electronics from the cabinet to minimise microphony. 

Finished by hand, Exakt Akubarik is available in a range of stunning finishes, including six high-grade real wood veneers in standard or high gloss options. A stunning range of 200 bespoke, high gloss colour finishes are also available.  Exakt Akubarik can be further personalised through the choice of polished chrome or black finishes for the chassis of the 3K array.

Available to audition from late April at Linn Specialists nationwide, the Akurate Exakt System will be priced at £25,500. Upgrade options are also available for existing Akubarik owners.

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D&M Holdings, a global operating company in the consumer and professional audio and video DT_MythosST_2pairbusiness, has announced that it has entered into a partnership with US-based Sound United for the distribution of its Polk and Definitive Technology audio products in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria and the Benelux countries. 

“Polk and Definitive Technology are leading the U.S. loudspeaker market with a combined share of more than 30 percent,” said Terry O’Connell, President Sales and Marketing, D&M Europe. “Both brands will perfectly complement our Denon and Marantz portfolios to deliver the best in music and home theatre for the demanding consumer in Europe.”

“We are excited to work with D+M, as the company is a great fit for distributing our audio products to the European market with proven success,” said Kevin Duffy, President of Sound United. “With its robust portfolio of brands and distribution expertise, we look forward to building a long-term partnership with D+M as we continue to expand our business internationally.”

D&M will start distributing selected Polk and Definitive Technology products in Europe beginning in May.

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Teufel Audio’s recent collaboration with hülsta has given us an interesting concept that we at Hifi teufel_hulstaPig thought was rather cool in its design and concept.  Basically this is nice looking furniture that has the audio already built in to it.  The new designs are called Scopia and Xelo.

“Our cooperation already began in the product design phase,“ explained Teufel CEO Edgar von Velzen. “The Teufel components were custom-designed for the hülsta furniture units and imperceptibly integrated without acoustic compromise.” 

“When developing the furniture, we took the acoustic and technical requirements into consideration and worked them into the design without compromising the overall look,” hülsta’s managing director Heiner Goossens added. “In this way, the inherent qualities of both hülsta furniture and Teufel sound were mutually promoted.” 

The complete sound system in the SCOPIA and XELO media lowboards are concealed behind a fabric front. So while you won’t see the audio technology within, you’ll hear a “true-to-source, natural sound with movies and music”.

All of the high-end micro speakers are positioned in such a way that they create a perfect sound image at the listening position. A compact, high-performance subwoofer brings “amazing precision and dynamics” to the lower range. An integrated control unit for a Blu-ray player, game console, or other playback device has been mounted on tracks so that the user can easily access a total of nine connections. With contemporary features for 3D video and high-resolution audio formats, the control unit makes the system compatible with all standard playback devices and future-proofs it against new developments.

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Swiss high end manufacturer Soulution has announced that they will be launching their new 560 Soulution _560DAC at High-End Munich 2014.

The 560 from Soulution will have five digital inputs including AES/EBU, SPDIF, Optical, USB and LAN which makes it a pretty versatile box of tricks. The USB is of an asynchronous design based around a high performance DSP.

Soulution’s new DAC is clocked by a precision device that is not powered by USB but by what the company are calling “ultra stable power supplies”. The LAN connection has a separate and dedicated DSP which manages the communication to the network but does not buffer or decode the incoming signals.

Soulutions 560 will accept PCM (16bit/32kHz to 24bit/192kHz), DXD (34bit/352.8 kHz) and DSD (1bit/2.82MHz and double DSD (1 bit/5.62Mhz).

The 560 DAC improves on the company’s previous converters with a more powerful DSP (32bit floating point) for upsampling which the company says “allows for much higher precision of the polynomial upsampling calculation process, the integration od a state of the art apodizing digital filter and has still enough computation headroom for Soulution’s innovative Zero-Phase-Technology.

The Zero-Phase-Technology (Zerojtech) essentially allows the phase error of the analogue output to remain below 1 degree, 20Hz-100kHz.

Despite the High-end Munich launch production of the new Soulution 560 will not be until September 2014 when it will have an expected price of 23 000 CHF (around £15, 500).

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Diesis Audio has announced its participation at the HiFi DeLuxe show in Munich May 15th to May 17thnoname as well as the High-End Munich show which takes place 15th to18th of the same month.
They will have their entire range of speakers (Caput Mundi, Aura, Ludos) and their integrated amp, Evento 20-11 on show and for demo and listening sessions.

Diesis Audio was founded in Italy in 1993 and after years of development created their first product, the Caput Mundi which was the first loudspeaker in the world with a dipole load in the low frequencies and a coaxial compression driver horn loaded for the midrange and high frequencies.

They will be in the Linderhof room (Studio 5) at the HiFi Deluxe show and Hall 3 Stand J 14 at Munich.

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UK based semiconductor company XMOS today announces that its xCORE high-definition USB xmosaudio solutions are in use in a range of award-winning audio-visual products from OPPO Digital.

“Consumers are becoming more discerning about sound quality; artists and the music business are ready to deliver; and the technology is here to make it happen. We believe that the next few years will be an exciting time for this sector.” said the company.

“OPPO products such as the BDP-105D Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-Ray Disc Player use xCORE technology to deliver the bit-perfect digital audio demanded by today’s discerning consumers. The BDP-105D turns any computer into a high performing multi-media source by converting advanced digital signals, transmitted via USB, to analogue audio”. It supports DSD in standard rate (DSD64) or double rate (DSD128 or DSD 2x) via its dedicated USB DAC input, with asynchronous audio clocking enabled by xCORE technology. “The result is jitter-free operation and outstanding sound quality”.

The BDP-105D supports a wide variety of audio content formats, including lossless FLAC and WAV files: if a computer can play it, the BDP-105D can convert it to analogue.

“The entertainment industry is at one of its periodic tipping points,” said Nigel Toon, XMOS President and CEO. “Consumers are becoming more discerning about sound quality; artists and the music business are ready to deliver; and the technology is here to make it happen. We believe that the next few years will be an exciting time for this sector.”

“The xCORE USB audio solution from XMOS is proven to deliver the highest quality USB audio,” said Jason Liao, VP Product Development of OPPO Digital. “Providing bit-perfect, jitter-free audio allows us to deliver on our promise to deliver products that truly ‘speak for themselves’. We look forward to working with XMOS on future generations of A/V products aimed at discerning consumers and audiophiles around the world.”

 

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LH Labs, a division of Light Harmonic and the people behind the Geek Pulse and Geek Out geekwaveproducts is announcing a new product aimed at improving smartphone audio quality.

Geek Wave is in the final stages of development and the company are want to hear from audiophiles or more casual listeners with regards what additional features they’d like to see on the new product.
Geek Wave is designed to act as an audio enhancer and a battery backup and storage device.

A common complaint from smartphone users using their phones to play music is a lack of bass and volume and that they can’t play at high-resolution and Geek Wave aims to address these issues with Geek Wave being built on a high performance DAC and technology found on their much higher-end products. Light Harmonic’s “Duet Engine” is used to improve the digital signal of MP3 music or streamed music and Geek Wave will have both 256Gb of storage and a high capacity battery that can charge the smartphone’s battery twice in half the time of other chargers on the market. Geek Wave is expected to sell at $399.

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Evolution Acoustics has launched the MMTwo and MMThree loudspeakers which they say will MMTwo-Exact-Tight“transport you into the breathtaking realm of natural music”.

Evolution Acoustics’ MM series loudspeakers are designed and built around a philosophy of Maximum Modularity which essentially means that upgrading is easily accomplished by the addition of another module.

The MMExact, an acronym for External X-over Acoustic Compensation Technology, is designed, engineered, handcrafted, and assembled in the USA.

The midrange and tweeter achieve the same output characteristics as the MMSeven (the company’s flagship loudspeaker) and they say the woofers receive increased smoothness and definition.

The external filter does not degrade the performance of the loudspeaker’s  internal Constant Voltage Crossover Network say the company and looking at the quality of parts and the attention to detail it all looks very impressive.

The MMExact filter network is housed in the same acoustic cabinetry as the loudspeakers, which uses multiple layer construction which “helps reduce unwanted micro-phonic vibrations”.

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New from Nordost is the QKOIL QK1. The new product is a load resonating coil (LRC) which Nordost QKOLIsay generates a passive electronic field that has a “beneficial sonic effect on the AC current”.

The QKOIL QK1 from Nordost uses LFR along with Nordost’s “patented Micro Mono-Filament technology” which they say in a loading application “prevents time delay and distortion of the transmitted signal, making the AC current that much closer to the desired distortionless condition”.

QKOIL QK1 is the entry level product and is housed in a “mechanically tuned carbon-fiber body”. It comes with either a US (NEMA) or Eu (Schuko) connector (though can be used with a AUS or UK adapter) and is said to be compatible with voltages from 110V to 240V.

Operation is a simple case of plugging into a spare socket.

 

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