Has Icon Audio founder David Shaw designed the ultimate push-pull triode amplifier? Asks the latest press release Icon Audio MB81from this well known British manufacturer.

For much of the last year, Icon Audio founder David Shaw has, in his own words, been building his own birthday present.  After discovering a quantity of ‘new old stock’ Russian GU81 transmitter valves, Shaw began to work on a prototype amplifier that would achieve a long-held personal goal: to effectively drive any modern low-efficiency high-end speaker to realistic levels.

Shaw has long been a fan of triode operation, being the purest form of valve circuit. But triodes have a downside: limited power output.  After many months of designing and listening, Shaw has produced what is, in essence, the final pre-production prototype of the Icon Audio MB81: a triode monoblock which can deliver 200 watts RMS into even the most demanding of loads.

At 260mm tall, 100mm in diameter and weighing 1kg each, the GU81 is a truly majestic valve. Although the GU81 still in production, Shaw has used ‘new old stock’ valves in the MB81, hand-chosen for their combination of fine resolution, enthralling musicality and immense power.  Always keen to break boundaries and set trends, Icon Audio believe the MB81 to be the world’s first ever push-pull GU81 amplifier.

These massive amps are around 50% bigger than the current Icon flagship MB845MkIIm and weigh around 100kg per pair.

While the MB81 was developed as a personal gift for Shaw himself, he plans to produce a limited number for sale, with an estimated price of £12,500 per pair.

The MB81 will be demonstrated at this week’s National Audio Show at Whittlebury Hall.  Visitors will be the first to witness the life-like scale of the stunning new prototypes from Leicester-based Icon Audio.

  • Pure Class A triode front end.
  • Triode GU81 push-pull output stage.
  • The four GU81s can be user-calibrated using Icon Audio’s built-in ‘Easy Bias’ meter.
  • All hand wired with silver plated pure copper PTFE audio cable to optimise sound and reliability.
  • Low distortion quaternary wound output transformers, potted to reduce noise.

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Naim have got a new look website which as well as looking really cool is much more user friendly and easy to navigateNaim_new_website than their previous site.

As well as easy to find page links to Naim’s entire product list there’s also an interesting “Our Story” section, Find a Stockist, Customer Support, information about the Naim Label and their partnership with Bentley.
It’s a very visual site with the inclusion of videos and lots and lots of large pictures which Naim says will bring users a more dynamic experience. Certainly looks like a job well done from here.


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Slovenian company Erzetich got in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us all about their new high-end headphone Deimos_headphone_amplifieramplifier, the Deimos .

“Despite the rough, 19th century industrial look, with an aged linden wood faceplate and milled thick aluminum parts, there’s a gentle soul inside. This 6.5-kg-headpone amplifier sounds balanced and precise and makes an important visual statement on your desk – no wonder it was a great success among visitors at this year’s Munich High End Hi-Fi show” says the company’s press release with the company’s CEO and founder Blaž Erzetič commenting
“I’ve rediscovered the music with Deimos, This is a supercar among headphone amplifiers. Every album I listen to on it is a spectacle on its own. Visually, we studied a lot the exterior, too, to make this machine not only an ear-, but also an eye-candy”;

Due to the complexity of manufacture, Erzetich plans a very limited yearly production of this completely hand crafted, headphone amplifier;

·  dual mono class-A

  • three separate power supplies (two for analog, one for digital)
  • 43000 uF smoothing capacitors per channel
  • digitally controlled 64-steps relay-based volume attenuator
  • gain boost switch
  • RCA and XLR inputs
  • superior quality RCA connectors
  • Neutrik gold plated XLR connectors
  • chassis made of steel, aluminum, wood and acrylic

Deimos will be available at the beginning of 2015 for around 4,000 EUR but Erzetich will start accepting preorders with a special discount in late September.


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Brought to the UK by Absolute Sounds ­­the oBravo HAMT-1 is a “luxurious pair of high-end headphones with a unique oBravotwo-way driver configuration delivering game-changing sound” says the press release we’ve just received at Hifi Pig.

The oBravo are the world’s first coaxial two-way headphones featuring AMT driver technology which is unique and fully patented.

Each earpiece contains two separate drivers sharing a common axis: a 40mm AMT tweeter and a dynamic Neodymium bass/mid driver, radiating sound from the same point. This driver configuration is said to deliver an “exceptionally rich, detailed and immersive listening experience, with astonishing clarity in the midrange and effortless extension at frequency extremes”.

The headphones’ outer construction combines aluminium, wood and hand-stitched leather for distinguished styling and comfort.

About AMT Drivers

An AMT (Air Motion Transformer) loudspeaker driver moves air using a folded diaphragm, structured around a series of aluminium struts within a high-intensity magnetic field. When signal current passes through the struts, the diaphragm pushes back and forth from itself in a physical motion similar to that of an accordion when pushed and pulled to pump air though the reed chambers, albeit over a far smaller motion range. The result is a dipole driver with an extraordinarily rapid response rate, enabled by the extremely low mass of the diaphragm and the much smaller distance it travels on each ‘swing’ compared to a dynamic driver with a traditional cone.

The discernible motion of each diaphragm flexure is very small, but because of the folded structure, more air is moved than would be by a conventional cone of the same plotted surface area. As a matter of surface comparison, a standard 25mm AMT strip has a functional driver area comparable to an 200mm circular dynamic cone. The folded driver design, combined with the small motion range, means the AMT acts like a point source version of a larger driver, resulting in lower distortion. As a result of its motion pattern, the AMT ‘spits’ the air out in a way similar to the action of shooting a watermelon seed from your hand by squeezing it between thumb and forefinger. The speed of the air as it leaves the diaphragm is approximately five times faster than the speed of the actual driver structure, hence the name, Air Motion Transformer. AMT drivers are rare to find in full-size loudspeakers, and rarer still in headphones.

The oBravo HAMT-1 is priced at £1,499 inc. VAT


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AwoX has announced the acquisition of 100% of the shares of French company Cabasse from the Canon Group.slide4-prod

Created in 1950, Cabasse is a global technological leader in electroacoustic that is primarily known for its range of high-end acoustic loudspeakers, home integrated sound systems and connected high-fidelity speakers.

The acquisition marks close to five years of collaboration between the two companies, during which time AwoX has supplied Cabasse with connectivity solutions (electronic modules and iOS and Android software) and worked with it in the development of numerous audio products, including the AwoX StriimSOUND – a high-fidelity Wi-Fi speaker with sound engineering by Cabasse that was released during the first quarter of 2014.

This acquisition will enable AwoX to enhance its offer of Smart Home connected audio solutions with the

extensive range of audio products and systems produced by Cabasse.

In turn, Cabasse will benefit from AwoX’s expertise in Wi-Fi connectivity technologies to cement its foothold as a brand in audio streaming. It will also benefit from AwoX’s proven industrialization, manufacturing and sourcing infrastructure. Lastly, AwoX will assist with the sales and marketing of Cabasse products on a global scale, and particularly in North America and the Asia-Pacific region.


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Tokyo-based ADL by Furutech bagged an armful of awards for the excellent X1 portable USB DAC/headphone ADL_A1amplifier, and now they have introduced a new sister product, the A1, aimed at bringing all of the benefits of the X1 to the Android user, and with DSD capability.

The A1 is a high-resolution portable DAC and headphone amplifier that can be used with Android devices. It is also DSD-capable when used with either Mac or PC.


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Jade Audio have been in touch to tell us about their new Moon Tails, the Ultimate MoontailsUltimateMoontails

“The Ultimate MoonTails build on the strengths of the original MoonTails. With an already perfect recipe some extra ingredients were thrown into the mix and a whole different dish is being presented. The icing on the cake are the fabulous Majestic RCA connectors from Bocchino Audio Technologies of Australia. They give the MoonTails an aesthetic boost while the sound approaches that of Jade Audio’s top of the range cables. These interconnects rightly deserve their place on the upper echelons of affordable high-end” says the company’s press release.


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If ‘content is king’, Monitor Audio’s new website proves the maxim they tell us about their newly launched website. “TheMAWEBSITE most complete site upgrade has delivered a fabulous blend of style and functionality, reflecting the brand’s world-famous qualities. Equipped with an extremely powerful colour-coded search engine, the new site gives our dealers and customers the most intuitive and informative introduction to our wide and expanding product range” says Monitor Audio’s press release.

The top menu is spit into four simple categories: Home Audio, Streaming Products, Custom Install and Support, with access to ‘Where to Buy’, Search and a global dealer map alongside.

From the product categories visitors will find an view of all the range options, supported by instant feature pop-ups. A search menu to the side allows them to filter by review, range, application and finish and re-prioritise the search with a new category order. On each range page a concise overview is followed by invitations to investigate individual product pages, which are come with an array of feature icons and video where appropriate. Then there’s the image gallery, window-driven guides to the technology and relevant downloads is too; together with easy-to-read displays of specs, reviews, user reviews and related product suggestions. There’s also the opportunity for owners to add their own comments. From any page position, all resources are immediately available through an ever-present side menu.

Commenting Monitor Audio International Marketing Manager Nick Banning said “the new website illuminates the spirit of Monitor Audio like never before with a fresh, logical, easy-to-navigate design packed with product insight and more ways to interact with the brand. We’re sure the Monitor Audio community worldwide will find that it communicates our core values beautifully, and by being innovative, enlightening and dynamic, we hope that it will attract new customers to the brand.”


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Marantz have announced they’ve launched a dedicated headphone amplifier, the HD-DAC which uses Current L_hddac1_n_sg_34Feedback amplification technologies from their’ high-end Premium 11 Series.

The HD-DAC1 can drive high-impedance headphones of up to 600 ohm and incorporates three-level gain control, Marantz HDAM modules, a high current DAC (CS4398), and its fixed and variable RCA outputs.

There’s inputs for optical and coaxial digital inputs as well as a USB-B port enable you to stream music directly from your PC or MAC. iDevices can also be connected via the USB port on the front. There’s an analogue input included too. The USB-B works in asynchronous mode to support not only 192 kHz / 24bits high-resolution audio but also the DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz.

To safeguard quality when connected to a computer, Marantz have built in extended isolation around the USB-B input to “eliminate the chance of high frequency noise generated by the computer entering the HD-DAC1”. Then there’s a jitter remover and Dual Clock for accuracy.


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This year marks the 45th anniversary of Manger, which is something of a milestone and as part of their ongoing Manger_rebrand_logocelebrations the German loudspeaker manufacturer has announced a new look and design for their brand. The company has also recently updated and rebuilt their website too.

Writing in the company’s blog Daniela Manger wrote “This new website will give us the chance to tie in the topics that matter to us, and talk about the things that are important to us and our business. We hope that you feel at home on the new website and that you will come back often. Your feedback and patronage means everything to us and we hope that the new website will even bring us closer online”.

The new branding includes a new logo which will be at the forefront of their communications her on in.

Changing our design has been a well considered step, and while we have thought about it in the past, we felt that now is the right time. Over the past 45 years, you’ve seen our products become more elegant as well, even winning prestigious product design awards.

Daniela continued “We are proud of our heritage and proud of the revolutionary loudspeaker systems that Josef W. Manger started many decades ago. And what drove him 45 years ago still drives us today: or promise “precision in sound” that we have always carried with us and will continue to do so in our claim.”

Hifi Pig and the team wish Manger continued success.



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The Chord Company will be showing a number of cables at the forthcoming National Audio Show 2014 (Whittlebury chordwhit20145Hall) courtesy of Chord Company dealer Ortons Audio Visual who will be demonstrating Chord’s flagship Sarum range.

Ortons will be hosting a ‘hear the difference’ cable demonstration, showcasing The Chord Company’s proprietary Tuned ARAY cable technology.  The presentation will give attendees the chance to hear The Chord Company’s latest range of digital and analogue cables, including the Signature range and the flagship Sarum Tuned ARAY line.

“Orton’s demonstration will allow visitors to understand the significant improvements that The Chord Company’s analogue and digital cables can make, while experiencing a hi-fi system that’s unrestrained and uncoloured by its partnering cables” says the company’s press release.


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Sound Fowndations got in touch with us to tell us what they are up to at the NAS at Whittlebury Hall.Master Innovation & TT1i

Sound Fowndations will be demonstrating a high-end analogue system with some items making their UK debut. The kit on demonstration will be:

Clearaudio Master Innovation turntable
Clearaudio TT1i tonearm (making its UK debut)
Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge
Clearaudio Absolute Phono (phonostage with headshell-mounted input)
Clearaudio Everest equipment rack (UK debut).

This will be feeding a Gamut system comprising:

D3i preamp
4 x M250i mono power amps (first time four of these will be in one place in the UK)
RS7 speakers (also making their UK debut)

In total a system value of around £150,000 and should be a bit tasty to say the least!

Alongside this system Sound Fowndations will also have every Clearaudio turntable in the current range (with the exception of the Statement) on display / demo.

Powering the system will be the new IsoTek EVO3 Syncro Special edition (which removes DC offset), feeding an EVO3 Titan mains conditioner.

The LP collection will be filed using the Kate Koeppel Design record dividers that Hifi Pig reported on a while ago. SF are in negotiation to become the UK distributor of these rather natty dividers.

There will also be stuff from ADSL, Furutech and Canor but the main attraction will undoubtedly be the big system.


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Following the recent announcement that KEF was to expand the Blade speaker range with the introduction of the KEF Blade Two, the new model is set to be showcased at this year’s National Audio Show – the first demonstration anywhere in the UK.

Available in five specially selected finishes chosen to complement Blade’s sculptural contours, Blade kef_blade_twoTwo is both smaller in height and depth than Blade. Its size has been configured to retain the integrity of the iconic visual design and the acoustic prowess, yet on a practical level provides greater ease of positioning and placement within smaller environments where space is at a premium and where Blade’s bass extension would be superfluous.

At the heart of KEF Blade Two is the inspired Single Apparent Source technology. The Single Apparent Source technology is an extension of the latest, fully pistonic KEF Uni-Q® MF/HF array, which brings the bass drivers into the picture for the first time.

Four 6.5” (165mm), newly developed bass drivers deliver the KEF Blade’s low frequency response. The engineering principle behind their configuration is simple – let the forces of each moving cone cancel each other out by arranging them in opposed, symmetrical pairs – but its effective implementation is fraught with engineering obstacles. The force produced by the bass drivers is so strong that the massive rear magnets have had to be bonded directly to each other to obtain the full benefit of this technology. They are side firing so their acoustic centre coincides with those of the all new, latest generation Uni-Q midrange driver and tweeter – this is the Single Apparent Source technology. The result means that the entire frequency range is radiated from one point in space. “It is impossible to determine where one driver stops working and the next begins, meaning that the resulting sound-field is astonishingly convincing”.

All this technology is housed within a rigid and heavy cabinet made from ultra-high density polyurethane. The parabolic curvature of the enclosure increases cabinet rigidity even further and the drivers are fully decoupled, meaning that sound is only generated from driver movement and not from the cabinet.


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Chord Electronics contacted Hifi Pig to tell us they will be exhibiting at the National Audio Show 2014 Chord DSX 1000_stack on WHT(Whittlebury Hall show) courtesy of Chord dealers Fanthorpes Hi-Fi and Hi-Fi Lounge. Two distinct systems will be on display at the show: Fanthorpes Hi-Fi will have a full Standard system (pictured) and Hi-Fi Lounge will have a dedicated Hugo area with three units.

The Fanthorpes Hi-Fi system will comprise a DSX1000 Reference streamer, a CPA5000 Reference preamp, SPM1200MkII stereo power amp and PMC loudspeakers for an all-British system of extraordinary capability.

Hi-Fi Lounge will have three Hugo DAC/headphone amps on display, complete with a selection of headphones and source material. Chord Electronics’ sales representatives will be joining both Fanthorpes Hi-Fi and Audio Lounge on the Saturday, to meet show visitors, help with the demonstrations and give free system set-up advice.

The National Audio Show 2014 is held at Whittlebury Hall on 20th and the 21st September


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The new X3 from Kudos uses the same tweeter as its ‘baby brother’ the X2, but marries it with a Kudos X3 closeup.jpegnew 18cm main driver. The main driver’s cone is made from a mixture of paper and reed fibres, which Kudos say “combines inherent stiffness and natural damping with light weight and improves transient and dynamic response, as well as overall clarity”. The driver has a copper-clad aluminium voice coil and copper shorting ring which they say will “further enhance transients and dynamics and reduce distortion, increasing transparency”.

Both drive units are manufactured exclusively for Kudos by Norwegian specialists SEAS and specifically designed for the Kudos loudspeaker range.

Integration between the two drive units allows the use of a low order crossover and all internal wiring features The Chord Company’s Sarsen loudspeaker cable.

The X3’s cabinet is constructed from 18mm high density MDF with the reflex port situated on the bottom of the cabinet so that the plinth then provides a fixed boundary gap for the port to work optimally, as well as providing additional stability.

“The X3 was purposely created in response to customer demand for a slightly larger, more dynamic and even more exciting version of the X2 miniature floorstander”, says Kudos’ designer Derek Gilligan. “Using ideas first implemented in our flagship ‘Titan’ and ‘Super’ models, we developed the X3 to be easy to drive and to position within a room, and to bring out the best in a wide variety of music – delivering the energy, exuberance and life within a piece of music whatever its genre”.

Technical specifications

Main driver: Kudos 18cm unit with cast chassis, paper/reed cone, 39mm voice coil and copper shorting ring

Tweeter: 25mm Kudos soft dome

Sensitivity: 88dB

Impedance: 8 ohms

Frequency response: 30Hz – 25kHz “AIRR” (average in-room response)

Dimensions: 845mm (h) x 190mm (w) x 250mm (d)

Pricing and availability

• The Kudos X3 is available now.
• Finishes available: cherry, walnut, rosenut, oak, black and satin white.
• Priced at £2,145 (including VAT).


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Russ Andrews Accessories has introduced the X4 Block and X6 Block mains extensions with built X414s1_webin Silencer technology, complementing their X2 Block and incorporating the company’s UltraSocket mains sockets and aiming to provide a secure and quiet mains supply connection for up to four or six pieces of equipment respectively.

The new blocks are anufactured from impact and fire resistant ABS plastic and internally wired with Kimber TCX mains cabling. Ultra Sockets with DCT treated nickel-plated high pressure contacts, originally specified for the company’s top of the range Ultra PurifierBlock, are fitted throughout the X Block.

Each block is fitted with the Russ Andrews SuperClamp surge protection technology and Silencer mains filter.

A 10A IEC input socket provides flexibility for the user to specify the type and length of mains cable to connect the X Block to the wall socket.

Chairman of the company, Russ Andrews, says, “When we launched the X2 Block a few years ago the purpose was to provide a high quality extension and connection for people who only have a simple hi-fi system with two components, for example an amplifier and CD player and who didn’t need larger blocks. Such was the reaction to the improvements in sound quality that we were repeatedly asked for ‘more of the same please’.” He continues, “By adding the new X4 and X6 Blocks to the range we have brought the high performance benefits of the X2 Block to a much wider audience, while at the same time maintaining an attractive price.”

X2 Block with Silencer £169
NEW X4 Block with Silencer £259
NEW X6 Block with Silencer £349


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Simple Audio and Qobuz have announced a new partnership, originating from the shared ambition Qobuz-New-Releases-on-SA-Roomplayer-WEBto deliver premium sound to music lovers in the home through innovative and high-end solutions. Qobuz brings the high quality music and Simple Audio brings its high resolution music streamers to the party.

“After so many years in which MP3 compressed music became the standard, Qobuz and Simple Audio want to change things. Qobuz brings music lovers a new high-end listening experience, with more than 18 million tracks available for streaming and downloading in True CD Quality, as well as over 20,000 albums available for download in Studio Masters quality. Add to the mix, high resolution music streamers, notably the Simple Audio Roomplayer+ and Roomplayer+ with Amp and the reasons for the partnership become clear. Simple Audio Roomplayers are equipped with a DAC capable of playing any file up to 24-bit/192 kHz around the home. The result is true high end music streaming” says the companies’ shared press statement.

In addition Simple Audio has released an updated app which now makes the new music service available to all Roomplayer+ owners.

Commenting on the partnership, Qobuz General Manager, Alexandre Leforestier said: “Connected devices; carefully designed, versatile and 24-bit compatible: we are proud that the Qobuz HiFi offers are now available across the entire Simple Audio range.”

Ruben Mookerjee, VP General Manager of Simple Audio said: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Qobuz. Our customers can now enjoy all the benefits offered by music services (any music, anytime) but now in True CD and Studio Masters quality. Superb sound meets modern music streaming.”


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The new wallmount speaker from Wilson, the Alida, incorporates the same anti-jitter crossover Alida Press Release Page 4technology that underlies the full-size Wilson loudspeakers. “The greatest challenge for any wall-mount loudspeaker is accounting for the deleterious interaction with the wall and ceiling, as well as degradation caused by the mount itself. Alida minimizes wall/ceiling resonant interactions through thoroughly re-engineered mounting system” says the company’s press release. The Alida is mounted to its bracket via a new individually machined, aircraft-grade aluminum mechanism which Wilson say will reduce wall-born interactions and resonances.

Where the outgoing Wilson Wallmount could be rotated up to 10 degrees, Alida’s new mount provides up to 30 degrees of rotation.

For those clients upgrading from the Wallmount Series 2 to the Alida, Wilson has made the task of swapping the two loudspeakers relatively straightforward by providing compatible mount locations on the X-material wall bracket. Simply remove the old bracket and replace it with the Alida bracket. For an additional fee, Wilson will paint the X-material bracket to match the wall or the Alida itself.
Using materials technology first developed for the Alexandria XLF and the Sasha W/P, Wilson have been able to “reduce the resonant signature of the Alida enclosure to vanishing levels”. A rear-wave diffuser, similar to the technology found in Wilson’s larger speakers, Is employed to “reduce time-domain distortion inside the cabinet”.

The new Wilson CST tweeter, first found a home in the Alexandria XLF is used In the Alida and uses a new silk dome design. This version of the CST features a bespoke rear-wave chamber, designed specifically for the Alida platform. Additionally, Wilson will offer a custom version with the its modified titanium dome tweeter for those customers replacing the outgoing Surround, who still use front speakers with this tweeter.

The grill frames on the Alida are built entirely from its proprietary composite X-Material which Wilson say converts unwanted vibrations into heat. Sponsorship button