Here’s the latest news from High End Munich 2015. Looks like it’s going to be an excellent show and if you see Linette and myself do say hello and claim your Hifi Pig Loves You sticker of which we have a limited number.
Anyway, here’s the news:
Hifi News, Hifi Reviews
Here’s the latest news from High End Munich 2015. Looks like it’s going to be an excellent show and if you see Linette and myself do say hello and claim your Hifi Pig Loves You sticker of which we have a limited number.
Anyway, here’s the news:
Launched in 2011, the Reference Series is the pinnacle of Acoustic Energy’s loudspeaker engineering and expertise. With a clear lineage that extends back to the original AE1, brought right up to date with cutting edge materials and production techniques, Reference models have only been previously available in Piano Ebony finish.
Following demand from AE customers from around the globe, three new contemporary finishes have been added to this flagship range for 2015; Piano High Gloss Black across the range and Piano High Gloss White plus the ultra-modern Satin White on the Reference 1. The high-tech finishes offer an eye-catching style that complements the aluminium driver and metal trim profiles.
Reference 1: Piano High Gloss Ebony, Black, White and Satin White
Reference 2: Piano High Gloss Ebony and Black
Reference 3: Piano High Gloss Ebony and Black
To complement the Reference 1 and Reference 2, the matching Reference Stands are also available with a matching centre panel.
To celebrate the re-launch of Reference for 2015 with these new cabinet finishes and matching stands, Acoustic Energy is offering special package prices on loudspeakers and matching stands:
Reference 1 / stands: £1,600.00 (saving £275)
Reference 2 / stands: £2,150.00 (saving £275)
Currently being released is the 2010S2-D, an upgraded version of the 2010S2 integrated amplifier. Like its predecessor, the new 2010S2-D comes with six line level inputs. However, one of these is now a direct AV input with fixed gain, to enable integration within a surround sound system.
Special high-quality capacitors are used in the signal path and the circuit topology has been mapped with a view to keeping signal and power supply paths short.
The power supply in the 2010S2-D an entirely bespoke 200 Watt toroidal power transformer which feeds two large reservoir capacitors to provide ample power. To ensure excellent performance in all situations, Cascode circuitry improves immunity to noise and ripple on the power supply rails.
A preamp output allows for tagging-on of a separate power amplifier, in case you want to bi-amp your system. Speaker terminals are doubled to allow bi-wiring.
Finally, there is also the option to fit a moving magnet or moving coil phonostage inside the 2010S2-D, enabling a one-box amplifier solution for vinyl playback.
The Exposure 2010S2-D integrated amplifier is available now in silver or black, priced at £1,020. The optional MM or MC phono boards are priced at £110.
High End Munich 2015 is almost upon us and we at Hifi Pig are busy bringing you all the latest news as we get it.
Here is an update of the previous weeks news and a couple of articles about things to do and see in Munich other than High End.
More news will be added as and when we get it and don’t forget to look out for our comprehensive show reports.
If you are going to High End Munich this year then don’t forget to say hello to us!
California-based Musical Surroundings is widely known is its home country as a hi-fi distributor (with inbound brands including Germany’s AMG and Clearaudio) as well as a manufacturer of a small range of phonostages and DACs.
Musical Surroundings’ products are designed by audio engineer Michael Yee, who has put a great deal of thought into the concept of why we listen. “Many conversations about high-end audio focus on the nuances of accurately reproduced sound,” says Yee, “but our design philosophy goes beyond being accurate. Body, texture, and the overall beauty of the sounds are important considerations.”
To that end, Yee applies the concepts of tonal imaging and harmonic integrity, which are at the heart of Musical Surroundings’ technology. Tonal imaging is a set of techniques allowing for objective evaluation of the different components of sound, while harmonic integrity relates to the accurate placement and balance of sound within a listening field.
At the same time, the brand is equally committed to delivering high fidelity at a reasonable cost and so Musical Surroundings’ Phenomena II, Nova II and Supernova II phonostages, as well as the MYDAC II, are all fully adjustable audiophile-grade components with a surprisingly mid-range price tag.
World-class audio engineer Jim Fosgate is the vision and expertise behind the Fosgate brand. His award-winning Fozgometer has developed something of a cult status in the USA. Hailed as a breakthrough for azimuth adjustment, the Fozgometer is a small portable battery powered unit that is used in conjunction with a test record. It measures channel separation over a wide range of signal levels, channel balance and signal direction quickly and accurately. Readings are taken without needing to touch the unit, leaving your hands free to work with the tonearm.
Chris Green, Sound Fowndations’ Managing Director, said, “I suspect that the Fozgometer’s popularity in the USA could soon be mirrored here in the UK. Our first order went in, and then the products went straight out again. And deservedly so, this is a brilliant piece of kit.”
Meanwhile, the Fosgate Signature Tube Headphone Amplifier has also been making waves. It uses unique and patented circuit topologies that aim to elevate the headphone listening experience and which were reviewed by CNET’s Steve Guttenberg as “one of the very best-sounding amps I’ve ever used”.
Flare Audio is planning to take its technology to the listening public, with the launch of a campaign on Kickstarter to raise awareness of its consumer headphones. The campaign launched this week (May 5th) and runs until June 3rd 2015.
The Kickstarter campaign enables investors to purchase one of three in-ear R2 models, and the R1 Mk2 over ear model, all at an introductory campaign price that will revert to full SRP following the end of the campaign. Hifi Pig recently reviewed the R1.
“The Reference R2 in-ear phones provide listeners with an ‘in the room’ experience, and takes Flare’s innovation in distortion-free sound to the micro level. The R2’s innovative design offers unrivalled purity of sound in a small, lightweight package, while its enclosures are precision-milled so that the pressures on both sides of the driver are balanced. The sound is channelled to minimise internal reflections as it travels into the ear” says the recent press release we received..
The R2 earphones will be available in the following options:
The Reference R1 Mk2 over-ear headphones follow the soft launch of the R1s earlier this year. These have been designed for the pro audio market and provide distortion-free sound using Flare’s patent-pending Space™ and Vortex™ technologies to remove loudspeaker ‘noise’, keeping the audio signal true to the artist’s original sound. They’re serious kit for those who are serious about sound, and the longer you listen the more the ears ‘adjust’ to hearing ‘pure sound’, as it was created as source.
Options for backers range from pre-ordering one headphone models for delivery this summer, including Flare’s ‘want list’ R2 titanium grade 5 model. In addition, to celebrate the unique Flare Audio relationship with Olympic Studios, the company is offering Kickstarter investors a limited edition of their Reference R2 earphones, anodised in Olympic Studios red in limited edition Olympic branded carry bag.
Leicester-based Icon Audio have launched their second CD player, the CDX2. Replacing Icon’s earlier, more expensive CDX1, the CDX2 has been specifically designed to deliver comparable sonics but at a lower, mid-range price.
The aim, says Icon’s founder and chief designer David Shaw, was “to craft a CD player with real warmth and dexterity. With that magical ‘vinyl sound’, in other words.”
The CDX2 features 192kHz 24bit upsampling technology but more than this, Shaw has focused a keen eye on the product’s all-important output stage in order to avoid what he refers to as the “mechanical and soulless presentation” that some CD players have.
“I wanted a more musical presentation, with more warmth and colour. Something incredible easy to listen to,” he adds.
To that end, the CDX2 uses an all triode valve class A output stage using T J Full Music or original Mullard valves. The digital and analogue circuitry is hand-wired using full sized high quality components.
Externally, the CDX2 features a top-loading mechanism, avoiding the usual slide-out drawer. A heavier alloy clamp also acts as a flywheel to increase rotational stability during playback.
In keeping with Icon’s ‘built to last’ philosophy, everything in the CDX2 is serviceable and replaceable and, as with all Icon products, the company is keeps an extensive bank of spare parts, ensuring a reliable product with a long life.
As each CD player is finished in the UK, Icon can offer a range of ‘David Shaw Signature’ upgrades including Jensen copper foil oil-in-paper capacitors and ‘new old stock’ valves.
Icon Audio CDX2 key features
No ‘surface mount’ parts used.
Sanyo CD transport mechanism.
Class A, all triode valve output stage.
Latest 192kHz 24bit upsampling technology.
Coaxial digital output.
Gold-plated RCA sockets.
‘David Shaw Signature’ upgrade options including Jensen copper foil oil-in-paper capacitors and premium ‘new old stock’ valves.
Parts easily maintained and upgraded (valves, capacitors, resistors, etc).
The Icon Audio CDX2 is available now, priced at £995
The new headphones include the M400 portable on-ear headphones and the M100 in-ear headphones. In addition, the M500s are also being re-launched for 2015 in two new all-white and all-black finishes.
“The M400s are designed for today’s mobile, connected consumer who wants sonic performance, too” says KEF’s recent press release. Made from a compact, cast aluminium frame, the M400s use a “race-track” supra aural ear shell, which follows the contour of the human ear for a comfortable fit, as well as a tight acoustic seal for improved noise-isolation.
The M100 Earphones’ “race-track” casing is machined from solid aluminium, with diamond-cut, chamfered edges.
Each earpiece in the M100s contains a full-range 10mm neodymium driver. The sound passes a tuned driver baffle before passing through a “unique, angled acoustic chamber whose size, shape and thickness, along with those of the meticulously-designed nozzle, are engineered to ensure a well-balanced sound”.
As well as launching the M100 earphones, KEF has announced the launch of two brand new finishes for the M500 on-ear headphones which are now available in Racing Blue, Sunset Orange, Deep Black and Champagne White
The latest micro hi-fi system features improved connectivity options, including two digital optical inputs to hook up a TV, set-top box or other digital sources.
The D-M40’s USB port is capable of playing MP3 and WMA files, lossless FLAC, WAV and AAC formats. The system also provides a digitally transmitted play function for iDevices. The new D-M40 also boasts an upgraded headphone amplifier section with dedicated Gain Control.
Measuring just 210mm in width and 310mm in depth, the compact D-M40 can easily fit on a bookshelf, in a bedroom or in the home office while several colour combinations means it can blend seamlessly into different interior designs.
The D-M40 system has an SRP of £349 and will be available from June onwards, with the RCD-M40 CD receiver available in black or silver finish, and the SC-M40 speakers available in black or cherry wood. In selected countries, there will be DAB/DAB+ tuner versions available in store.
First issued in the 1960s, the reintroduced C22 preamp maintains the retro McIntosh design but has been modernised to deliver performance equal to any other McIntosh pre. The 2015 C22 features electromagnetic input-switching to provide a reliable, noiseless and distortion-free operation: distortion levels of all types are typically less than 0.08%.
The C22 boasts 10 inputs, including two balanced and six unbalanced, plus Moving Coil and Moving Magnet phono inputs; the latter offering selectable resistance and capacitive loading to enable a wide range of cartridge and turntable combinations.
The C22’s outputs comprise one set of balanced and three sets of unbalanced connections, while further features include (bypassable) bass and treble controls, plus a power control, enabling a complete McIntosh system to power up/down using the front panel or remote.
Originally launched in 1970, the reintroduced MC75 mono vacuum tube power amplifier delivers modern performance standards in a classic design.
At the MC75’s heart lies McIntosh’s patented Unity Coupled Circuit design, which provides “low distortion, an extended frequency response and long tube life”.
Balanced and unbalanced inputs combined with power control, allow seamless matching with all contemporary McIntosh preamps and processors and a Sentry Monitor tube protection circuit ensures the MC75 will have a long and trouble-free operating life. The MC75 offers 75 watts into a 2, 4 or 8 Ohm speaker with less than 0.5% distortion.
The C22 is priced at USD $6,000; the MC75 is USD $3,750. Both are available in non-EU regions now. The C22 and MC75 will not be available in the European Union due to current power management and standby power requirements.
“The Hybrid Valve Headphone Amplifier gives us back the warm rich quality sound that was lost when valves when transistors took over from valves. Plug it in between your phone or MP3 player and your headphones. Your music now passes though real glass tubes valves resulting in vastly improved sound quality. It will also boost the volume so you’ll now have enough power to drive your headphones” exclaims the Kickstarter campaign for The Hybrid Valve Headphone Amplifier out of New Zealand.
The amplifier is about the profile of an iphone 4, and smaller than many new phones. It has a long life rechargable Lithium battery and use the Raytheon 6418 valves, Bur Brown series OPA2134 amplifier and comes in a snazzy case milled from a solid block of aluminium with laser engraved graphics.
The company behind The Hybrid Valve Headphone Amplifier are looking to raise 50 000 NZ Dollars and there’s an early bird pledge starting at 155$.
Looks an interesting concept and we at Hifi Pig wish them well.
Following its world launch at International CES 2015 in January, Chord Electronics’ latest proprietary DAC, the 2Qute, is now shipping globally. Now in full production at Chord’s riverside headquarters in Kent, the hand-made 2Qute is arriving in dealerships around the world.
2Qute advances the Qute EX into 2015 with the latest Hugo DAC specification. It brings the latest technology into a ‘pure’ DAC (no amp), which contains the same Spartan 6 FPGA used in Hugo. The 2Qute also boasts low distortion levels of 0.0003%.
The 2Qute offers support for up to 32-bit/384kHz audio via coax and USB, and 24- bit/192kHz over optical. DSD64 is supported on all inputs and DSD128 is supported via coax or USB (all via DoP). The new DAC also gains a switch to easily move between coax, optical and USB digital inputs.
The device features a Class 2 USB input which, because of the 2Qute’s home-system orientation compared to Hugo’s more mobile aspirations, has been galvanically isolated. This has been achieved using a novel technique which allows for data rates of up to 384kHz; the input is driverless on Apple and Android devices, with (ASIO included) drivers for Windows devices.
“The progression of the Qute, a 10,000 digital-tap-length series of DACs started with the original product just four years ago, with the original 192kHz-capable Qute. It was followed a year later with the HD suffix when we gave the Qute full 384kHz capability, and the EX suffix followed when DSD capability and double-DSD (64 and 128) was added.
“All of these units famously used the same discrete pulse-array DAC board and it’s well known that Chord Electronics chose not to use industry-standard off-the-shelf chips sets. The development of these ground-breaking DAC designs gave Rob Watts, our design consultant, the proving ground for a totally new and holistic type of DAC design which was to become the mobile and desktop DAC, Hugo.
“Hugo has since become the benchmark by which all other DACs are judged and has just shy of 40 recommendations in the press; Hugo’s sonic credentials are undeniable. However, this gave Chord a problem: some customers were less keen on a mobile-orientated product in their home systems and felt Hugo had too many superfluous features for home use. They loved the idea of a simpler and ostensibly lower-cost DAC, but wanted the award-winning sound quality that only Hugo, with its digital tap-length of 26,000, can achieve.
“Rob Watts completely redesigned the Qute’s circuit board in order for it to contain Hugo performance levels without the mobile features, such as the volume control and batteries. Because the redesign was so extensive, we felt the Qute had to have a MkII designation, but 2Qute sounded undeniably better, so the name stuck!”
2Qute key features
The new 2Qute DAC is available now Price: £995
The Pangea Audio HP201 combines Class A solid state circuitry featuring MOSFET output devices with a vacuum tube.
The Pangea engineering team, led by engineer/designer Jay Victor, selected MOSFETS rather than more affordable op-amp devices because of their performance advantages. “I tested a variety of solid state output devices and vacuum tubes in the design process of the HP201, selecting the combination I thought delivered the best performance despite their substantially higher cost,” reported Victor. The 12AX7 vacuum tube is protected by an easily removable shield, making it a simple task to swap in compatible tubes from different manufacturers for enthusiasts interested in experimenting with the sound..
The output stage of the HP201 is compatible with a wide range of headphone makes and models, and the analogue stereo outputs can be connected directly to a power amplifier and controlled using the large, aluminum volume control if desired. The HP201 also features a pair of auxiliary RCA inputs. The internal linear power supply features an upgradeable rear panel IEC connector, enabling the use of a premium Pangea power cable.
The HP201 is also a USB DAC. The 24/48/96/192kHz compatible input lets you play high-resolution digital audio files directly from your Windows or Mac computer. Conversion is managed by the Cirrus Logic CS4344 24-bit/192-kHz DAC chipset.
Despite costing £399, the new AK Jr shares many features with its big brothers.
Its aluminium case, machined controls and performance immediately set it above sub-£500 rivals says the company’s recent press release.
24bit/192hKz high-resolution audio playback
Widest range of music file format support – including DSD
High-quality Wolfson DAC
Premium aluminium casing and textured aluminium volume wheel
Ultra-slim design – 6.9mm at slimmest point; 8.9mm at largest
Weighs just 93g
3.1in touch screen display
64GB of internal memory, expandable to 128GB via 64GB microSD card (multiple cards can be used if you want to carry more music).
Bluetooth 4.0 support: wirelessly stream to headphones/speakers.
Powerful, 1.95V RMS headphone output – drives headphones more effectively than smartphones or rival portables; no need for separate headphone amp.
The Astell&Kern AK Jr will make its European debut at the Munich High End show on 14th May. It will be in shops later in May, at a suggested price of £399.
adidas and Monster join forces again to unleash the adidas Sport by Monster in-ear headphones for athletes. The first models to hit the street are the adidas Sport Response™ by Monster and adidas Sport Supernova™ by Monster. Both models make their international debuts at the London and Boston Marathons at the end of April 2015.
The Supernova model offers total noise isolation, while the Response model has a non-isolating design that enables users to hear outside sound during activities such as running on roads or through urban environments.
Each model features Monster’s patented SportClip™ for a comfortable non-slip fit, as well as a 100% sweat-proof design with anti-microbial eartips. Calls can be taken with ControlTalk™ on-cable mics for hands-free control.
The adidas Sport Response by Monster and adidas Sport Supernova by Monster in-ear headphones will be available from May.
Hifi Pig will of course be reporting extensively from this year’s Munich High End show but we are also keeping all our readers up to date with a daily update of the latest news from High End Munich 2015.
This week we have brought you news from the High End Society themselves and their new app plus what German Physiks, Wilson Benesch, CH Precision, Trinnov and TechDAS will be up to at Munich.
We’ve also news from Illusonic who will be sharing a room with Klangwerk, Avantgarde who always put on a good show at Munich, English manufacturer Talk Electronics and also what Italian company Portento Audio will be displaying at this years High End.
Please click on the following links for specific news items or here ot get all the news from the Munich show.
Available in May, the MF200B headphones and V90-BHA amplifier will be available individually for £250 each and as a pair for a special price of £450.
Based on the recently launched MF200 (Hifi Pig review is imminent), the MF200B has the same choice of design and materials plus the same micro vented, inert enclosure, specially selected and paired 40mm drivers and powerful neodymium magnets of the original model.
The MF200B has also been specifically modified for balanced audio with separate wired inputs into each ear cup, a thicker insulated cable, and a 4-pin locking, balanced connector.
The V90-BHA is a tiny package measuring just 117 X 47 X 70mm WXHXD.
The V90-BHA offers a high input impedance and low output impedance allowing connection to most sources and the ability to easily drive the vast majority of headphones (from 10 ohms to 600 ohms).
Distortion is typically less than 0.005% across the audio band. The V90BHA also delivers a signal to noise ratio of better than 109 dB (‘A’ weighted). The frequency response is 20 Hz to 80 kHz (-1dB).
Inputs include both balanced XLR and single-ended RCA while outputs include a dedicated four pin Mini XLR balanced connector and a 3.5mm headphone jack output, making the V90-BHA.
Hifi Pig becomes the latest media member of The Clarity Alliance.
The Clarity Alliance, the UK hi-fi industry’s trade body, is pleased to announce that Hifi Pig, the rapidly growing online hi-fi magazine, is the latest member of the media to join the Alliance. The membership of Hifi Pig further strengthens the communications abilities of Clarity as it works to spread the word about quality hi-fi and home entertainment to consumers.
Founded by longtime hi-fi and music enthusiast Stuart Smith, Hifi Pig is fast becoming a very popular destination for hi-fi fans across the UK and further afield. Based in north west France, Stuart and his wife, Linette Smith, run the magazine with a number of freelance reviewers who are all hi-fi enthusiasts and audiophiles with a great deal of experience across all branches of the industry.
Hifi Pig’s ethos has always been to be inclusive and, whilst its writing is often focused on “high-end” audio, the magazine is keen to engage with lovers of music who do not have vast sums to spend on equipment. An approach which is reflected in the breadth of news coverage and reviews and is in keeping with Clarity’s mission to make hi-fi exciting and available to all consumers.
Laurence Armstrong, chairman of Clarity, commenting on the membership of Hifi Pig says, “The media is hugely important to the ongoing development of The Clarity Alliance and the UK hi-fi sector through its role as the supportive voice of the industry. By working closely with all the media outlets we are able to collectively get our message out to the people we need to be hearing it.” He continues, “I am very pleased to welcome Hifi Pig into the Alliance as one of the new breed of dynamic media organisations routed in the very heart of our industry and look forward to working with Stuart and Linette for mutual advantage.”
Stuart Smith, owner and editor of Hifi Pig adds, “Hifi Pig is delighted to have been asked to take up membership of Clarity and we look forward to working closely with the Alliance in the coming months and years. Hifi Pig is only three years old, but it is clear that we have been recognised as a fresh and enthusiastic voice in the hifi world and our invitation to join Clarity further endorses this.”