Kimberly Wyatt of Pussycat Dolls fame was recently announced as the face for the Monster iSport FREEDOM Headphones so we thought the best person to review them was Linette (with a useful addition by Harry our 16 year old and fairly active son) as clearly the other reviewers for Hifi Pig don’t really fall into the target market for this particular headphone.
“Headphone manufacturers seem to have cottoned on to the fact that it’s not just performance focused audiophiles that will be buying their products, the whole Head-Fi market is opening up the world of high-fidelity sound to a broader spectrum of people, people that want the feeling of luxury and quality in every aspect of their purchase.”
Read the full review of the Monster iSport FREEDOM Headphones.
Audioengine has launched two new products clearly aimed at lovers of computer-based music.
First up is the Audioengine D3, a 24-bit USB DAC and headphone amp. It slots into the USB socket of any Mac or PC and “instantly improve the audio output to headphones, powered speakers or any music system”. No additional power supply, cables or software required.
Key D3 features:
• Stream bit-perfect native 24/96 HD audio
• Headphone amp
• Plug-and-play: no drivers or software to install
• Durable, aluminium case
• 3.5-6.3mm headphone adapter included
The Audioengine D3 is available now for £165.
Next up is an update to Audioengine’s A2 speakers. They’ve added a USB DAC, new power supply and other enhancements. There’s also an optional W3 adapter which allows the A2+ to become wireless stereo speakers – without the audio compression of Bluetooth.
Key A2 + features:
• Built-in USB DAC
• 30W per channel amplification
• Work with all computers, phones & tablets – and anything with an audio output
• All cables included
• Wireless with an Audioengine W3 adapter or by adding an AirPort Express for AirPlay.
The Audioengine A2+ comes in satin black or high-gloss white finishes. The speakers are available priced £215. The optional W3 audio adapter is £125.
The Chord Company’s Epic loudspeaker cable, has been upgraded with the release of Epic Reference. The new upgraded version is said to bring “even greater accuracy across a wider bandwidth than the original and brings all the performance benefits of separately shielded conductor construction”.
Epic Reference is based on 2×12 AWG 19-strand silver-plated oxygen-free copper conductors (in twisted-pair configuration), with each conductor set enjoying its own shield. The Chord Company strongly believes that to obtain the most neutral tonal characteristic from silver-plated conductors it is vital to use PTFE insulation. A PVC spacer jacket is then applied to correctly space the conductor in relation to the dual-layer shielding, which comprises a high-density braid and overlapped foil. The external jacket is PVC.
“Epic Reference is particularly good at helping systems sound coherent and musical. It has been comprehensively tested during the development phase and has been carefully designed to help reveal the true potential of high-quality systems and loudspeakers.” say the company, adding “Epic Reference’s ability to carry audio signals with a high degree of accuracy makes it particularly ideal for wide-bandwidth floor standing loudspeakers: one of the major benefits of shielded speaker cable is the definition and control brought to bass, which is not only useful in a multitude of musical performances, but really helps produce properly coherent rhythm – illustrating just how close the relationship is between a drummer and the a bass-player in an conventional band set-up, for example”.
Conductors: 2x 12 AWG 19-strand silver-plated oxygen-free copper
Conductor insulation: PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene)
Internal conductor surround: PVC spacer jacket
Shielding: dual-layer, high-density braid and overlapped foil
External jacket: PVC
Diameter: 2x 7.3mm
Colour: Translucent brown
Terminations: Chord 24-karat gold-plated banana plugs; direct gold plated-copper spade connectors, plus BFA Camcon connectors
Single metres: £125
2 metre pair: £500
3 metre pair: £750
5 metre pair: £1,250
Hifi Pig will have a 3m pair of the Chord Epic Reference loudspeaker cable to give away in our next magazine published January 1st. Subscribe now to be reminded of the next issue’s launch date.
Akiko Audio, whose Tuning Sticks Danny reviewed last month, have introduced a new power block called the Powerbase Quattro. It’s built from high quality aluminium and stabilised with block connections, whereby the Furutech inlets are firmly anchored to the base.
Akiko’s Aerostar wires made from eight runs of silver plated copper wire and isolated by air and PTFE with a shielding for the ground is used throughout but Akiko also add their own tuning in the form of a black resin that is designed to stabilise and prevent vibrations.
Audio cables in Hifi often split the audiophile community into believers and non-believers camps and so with no further ado here’s what Jerry thought about the Isotek EVO3 Premier mains cables.
“At £95 or so for a 1.5m length, reasonably flexible and looking very well made and presented, this cable is by no means expensive as such things go.
It’s available in any configuration of plugs you care to think of, including high current, Schuko, Figure-8, UK 3-pin, US 2-pin etc ….”
Read the full review of the Isotek EVO3 Premier mains cables.
Van de Leur are a young and innovative Dutch company with just two products to their name for the moment. We had a look at and listen to their 002 preamplifier and the 402 power amplifier.
“We first bumped into Pim Van de Leur on the last day of the Munich High end show, but we never got more than a cursory listen in less than ideal conditions to what looked like very interesting first products from a young, vital and funky Dutch company. You only need to take a look at the company’s website to see they’re setting themselves apart from the often straight-laced high-end branding that is prevalent.”
Read the full review of the Van de Leur amplifier and preamplifier
VPI Industries have announced the introduction of the Nomad vinyl playback system.
The Nomad is comprised of a 10-inch aluminum tonearm, and 20-pound plinth and platter assembly borrowed from VPI’s Traveler turntable, a pair of Grado headphones and a pre-installed Ortofon 2M Red phono cartridge.The Nomad also has an onboard phono pre-amplifier and headphone amplifier which VPI say are designed to maximize both the sound quality and modular design of the upgradeable system.
Designed to work with existing systems that might not otherwise have a turntable and phono pre-amplifier, The Nomad is designed for people whose primary system is a home theater A/V receiver, sound bar or a tabletop wireless system with a pair of analog inputs.
Mat Weisfeld, President of VPI Industries noted: “The Nomad is a direct response to the double-digit sales growth over the past five years of new vinyl in both the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. The tonearm takes advantage of the technology in our award-winning Traveler turntable and its gimbaled tonearm.”
“The Nomad is a radical departure for VPI — even with the success of our entry-level Traveler turntable that opened our eyes to the demand for affordable high-end turntables among the 25-35 year-old demographic. The explosive growth of personal audio and the growing demand among consumers for premium headphones, convinced us that there was a need for a portable high-quality entry-level analog playback system that could work easily in college dorms, apartments, offices, and even vacation homes.”
The Nomad Vinyl Playback System will be available for sale in Q1 2014 and with a MSRP: $995.00
In his first review for Hifi Pig Richard Joyce takes a listen to the interesting looking and cleverly designed Pluto Ultimate loudspeakers.
“The finish on the speakers is impeccable, and the gloss lacquer flawless. Their bases are made from a single piece of aluminium, machined from billet into which the adjustable floor spikes are screwed. Setting up, and having them working, is but a matter of a few short minutes’ work – no more than any other conventional amp/speaker combination in fact.”
Read the full review of the Pluto Ultimate loudspeakers.
After making its debut at RMAF and the Tokyo Headphone Festival, the nano iDSD from ifi is now almost ready for shipping.
The portable battery powered DAC (with headphone amp) plays ALL hi-rez formats including PCM (44.1-384kHz, DSD (5.6/6.2MHz) and DXD (352.8/384kHz) on pretty much any pad, iphone or computer operating system you can mention.
“Its 1400mAh lithium-polymer battery and powerful headphone outputs transform Smartphones as well as computers into fully-fledged, high end digital sources in a palm sized package” say ifi.
It has a digital output (PCM only, up to 192kHz), a pair of audio outputs and a 3.5mm headphone output.
Price is $189 (ex tax) or €189/£165 (including VAT)
We got a message from Surrey based Magna Audio to tell Hifi Pig they are now offering a range of bespoke products and services.
Their range of services includes making Tannoy GRF-R and GRF-R reduced footprint version replica speaker cabinets from top quality Scandanavian ply with choices of finish and with crossover customisations being available too.
For those of you looking to upgrade your Technics 1200 turntables Magna Audio also make made to measure solid ebony tonearm boards custom-built to your specific tonearm’s fixing. They are also offering custom tonearm counterweights in either brass or Tungsten Copper with Steve from the company saying they can accommodate even the heaviest of cartridges.
If you’re looking for a multi-way horn speaker system then Magna will source drivers, build and install them and to take things really low they’ll also build you tapped horn sub bass loudspeakers that will go down to 20Hz +/- 0dB.
Many of our readers will have seen and perhaps seen these beautiful looking loudspeakers made from glass at the various hifi shows around the world and were really pleased when we were asked to review them for French manufacturer Waterfall.
“Perhaps not surprisingly, both the design and the manufacturing process for Waterfall Audio’s range of superbly finished glass chassised loudspeakers took quite some time to work out, and it was after 3 years of speaker design work and manufacture prototyping that Waterfall Audio started trading in 1999. They are based in Provence, in the South of France.”
read the full review of the Waterfall Audio ‘Victoria Evo’ Loudspeakers.
Hifi Pig is immensely pleased to welcome our newest reviewer to the team, Richard Joyce.
Richard often says that he started to learn to read music before he could read the written word, and whilst at Infant School took up the Clarinet, aged 6 and then Piano when aged 9. In 1979, aged 13, he won the coveted Mayor’s Cup for the finest soloist performance at the Cambridge Festival and 2 years later attained a Professional Performer’s Diploma (Clt) from the Royal College of Music. He had a change of heart when leaving school at 18, and instead of doing the ‘normal’ thing and going on to Music College, he joined the Royal Air Force as a Direct Entry musician. During his long career in the RAF, he was Principal Clarinettist of the Central Band for 21 years and now holds a Professional Diploma in Music Directorship/Conducting from the Royal College of Music.
He has performed as a soloist in some of the finest concert halls in the country, namely Symphony Hall Birmingham, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall amongst many others. He’s also worked with such names as Brian May, Ron Goodwin, Frank Renton, Donald Hunsberger, Frederick Fennell, Kenneth Alwyn and performed for the BBC as a soloist on Radio 3 and played with the BBC Concert Orchestra. He also has a huge amount of recording experience, working in some of the finest studios in the UK including CTS Wembley, Air Studios, BBC Maida Vale, Angel Studios, and live recordings for radio at BBC Golders Green. Since leaving the RAF he has received requests for solo work, and teaches Clarinet at home in Lincolnshire.
His interest in hifi began at a very early age (approx aged 6 he thinks) when his father bought the first ‘proper’ hifi system into the house. This consisted of a Lenco L75, Sugden A21 and Celestion Ditton 15. Richard couldn’t believe the sound a pair of boxes could make, so got hooked on the whole idea of ‘music in the home’ and hasn’t shaken the habit since!
his first review for Hifi Pig will be live very soon.
For two days Custom Cable of New Malden, Surrey will feature a “Sennheiser Headphone Circle” where five models from Sennheiser, including the range topping HD800 and popular Momentum models will be available for you to try. Connected to the company’s HDVD800 headphone amplifier and playing high-resolution music from computer or audio CDs, this will be a rare opportunity to audition multiple models under identical circumstances.
The event takes place on 6th (11:00 – 21:00) and 7th December (10:00 – 17:00)