Well, this was a review experience with a shock at the end.
Epiphany Acoustics sent me a pair to review on behalf of Hifi Pig. I did some extensive listening, lots of musical genres. Good points, bad points – yup, in extremis, as it were. Only then did I look at the price on their website – and I laughed out loud in amazement, I really did. No, not because Epiphany are asking multi-£k for these cables, but because these just might be the bargain of the decade at a very real world price, if (and only if!) they suit your musical tastes and preferences. More »
Jim Goulding, the guy that owns Diffraction Begone has been touting his wares on the various hifi forums for a good few years now and I’ve read with interest about these little compressed wool baffles that fit over your tweeters with interest, but never thought of contacting him until fairly recently.
Jim is based in the US and is a nice guy to chew the fat with. He is passionate about his product, but not evangelical, and is happy for you to make up your own mind as to its merits.
After a couple of conversations I asked Jim if he would be willing to let me review the baffles for Hifi Pig. He asked for a photograph of my speakers and a couple of measurements he also requested were duly sent. Unfortunately my loudspeakers of the moment are ancient Victor SX7s which are a large 3 way “bookshelf” design and, according to Jim, unsuitable for the Diffraction Begone treatment. More »
Founded in June 2010 by audio industry “old dogs” Jason Stoddard (former engineering lead at Sumo) and Mike Moffat (Founder of Theta, Theta Digital and Angstrom), Schiit Audio has a simple, if somewhat crazy, mission: “to bring superior performance, design, and quality to audio products at near-Chinese prices, while manufacturing in the USA”.
Schiit Audio has today released information on its first balanced products, the Mjolnir balanced headphone amplifier and Gungnir balanced DAC. Both products are designed to offer “end game performance at mid-level prices, significantly enhancing the price/performance ratio in balanced gear”. In addition, the Gungnir DAC is modular and fully upgradable, for what Schiit say is “virtually future-proof performance”. More »
G Point Audio will be offering a carefully selected portfolio of artisan hifi products from Poland to the British audiophile. The products in their collection are designed and crafted for the “most sophisticated and enjoyable musical experience possible” and are made by people passionate about music and audio reproduction.
Greg Drygala the owner of G Point Audio says that the artisans he is working with are “passionate about music, they are fanatical about sound and they refuse to bring compromise of any kind to their creations” and It is this attention to detail that he believes will help set the G Point Audio collection apart from others. Having spoken to Greg on a number of occasions it is clear that he shares this passion and will bring this to the business.
G Point Audio are confident that the products and brands they carry will become “beloved items with which you will share many intimate moments of listening pleasure and they will become part of your home as would a work of art” and looking at some of the really superb looking speakers in particular, Hifi Pig can see why he should think this.
In these times of financial uncertainty it is great to to see the launch of a new hifi dealer for the UK and we at Hifi PIg wish Greg and his team all the very best for the future.
Hungarian manufacturer Human Audio, who have previously released loudspeakers and electronics encased in bamboo, have announced a new, more conventional looking black box called the Muto which is a Latin word and means: transform, exchange.
The Muto is an internal battery powered HD DAC up to 24bit / 192kHz with two selectable digital (S/PDIF) inputs which are configurable to 75 ohm BNC-BNC, BNC-RCA or RCA-RCA. More »
Living Voice, the specialist high-end audio company based in Derbyshire, England will be well known to many on Hifi Pig we’re sure. Established in 1987 Living Voice manufactures specialist, high performance, hand-built loudspeaker systems of uncompromised performance and uncompromised quality. “Designs of imagination, vision and innovation are created for discerning music lovers”. Brainchild of Kevin Scott, Living Voice was born of a passion for music and is driven by a passion for absolute excellence and this can be seen in the flagship Vox Olympian.
The Vox Olympian is unique in both concept and execution: “a synthesis of fine furniture making, fine art, and cutting edge acoustic science.” More »
This is the second album by Leo Kottke and one that possibly contains a few of his better known tracks too.
The album features (as the title suggests) a number of 6 and 12 string guitar solos, which are for the most part pretty engaging and upbeat in the American Folk Guitar style. In fact the whole album consists of some pretty hard driven guitar plucking show-casing Kottke’s style and talent. The pick of the album for me has to be “Vaselene Machine Gun”. Here, we hear Kottke at his best. This is a very complex, hard charging and hugely rhythmical guitar piece played with energy and rare talent. Every note is perfect, and the use of a guitar slider adds atmosphere and a hint of Southern Blues to the playing. It starts slow, but with intent, then picks up the pace with some great 12 string guitar action played at lightning speed. No better than Jack Fig or Coolidge Rising which are also on the album, just a more memorable tune perhaps.
Unlike some of Kottke’s later albums, there’s no lyrical accompaniment on this album, indeed the album notes contain Leo’s famous apology for his voice sounding ” like geese farts on a muggy day”! as an excuse just to concentrate on playing his guitar through some fast tempo’d music which has a very distinctive tonality. Kottke was to pay for his playing style and frequency of practice as in later years he developed tendinitis, forcing a change in his later playing style. Thankfully, he didn’t suffer from this when recording this album.
Some of the pieces you will recognise, such as Kottke’s take on Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, here played with delicacy yet with a hint of Kottke’s style, just enough to make the piece his own. Other pieces have a fusion like quality that is almost indefinable…hints of Sitar come and go, making you wonder where the inspiration came from. But that’s the point, it’s music that engages the thoughts as well as the emotions. If hard paced steel string acoustics isn’t your bag, then this isn’t for you. If you like Blues or Folk steel string styles with a hint of turbo-charging, then it most definitely is.
Musical Interest 6
Sound Quality 7
You have a hifi plan right? A map, an idea of where you’re headed. You know how you want your music to sound and carefully plotted purchases bring you closer to that sonic ideal. Most fellow enthusiasts I speak to do and I certainly have, with my journey treading a single ended path through valves and high efficiency speakers to midrange nirvana once I’d seen the glowing bottled light.
So the purchase of a pair of Totem Acoustics Forest speakers might be seen as a bit of a departure from that route. Yet there they are, sat either side of the fireplace in the spaces usually occupied by my beloved Audio Note AN-es. I’ve been devouring reviews and they’re here on a promise. A promise of big speaker performance from small, front room friendly towers. A promise of unrivalled soundstaging and imaging, of immense low end reproduction. They’re also here out of curiosity. If I’m being completely honest I’d got rather used to Peter Qs superb boxes and found myself wondering what another speaker might bring to the party. Canadian Vince Bruzzese’s Totem brand has a dedicated following, with innocuous looks hiding the lock mitered monocoque chassis, hard wired crossover and Borosilicate damping that sets them apart from other loudspeaker designs. Intrigued, this SET convert bought some. I’m not even sure I have an amplifier that will power them. More »
Hifi Pig is partial to a bit of studio type kit used in domestic settings and thought the latest offerings from Adam, due out in October of 2012, looked quite interesting. Consisting of two nearfield monitors and a dedicated subwoofer, the F Series is designed in the tradition of ADAM professional monitors. The aim is to focus on the essence of ADAM speakers at a new, lower price point.
The F5 and F7 near field monitors feature a newly designed version of the ADAM proprietary Accelerating Ribbon Technology. These tweeters are said to reproduce the higher frequencies with “the very airiness, clarity, and detail ADAM is famous for” and the high performance woofers are designed to seamlessly integrate with the tweeters performance.
Wherever deeper and more powerful bass response is required, the Sub F subwoofer will be available. It has been specifically designed to match the F monitors and will perfectly complement them in any set up.
Could be just the ticket for a desktop system.
…. & a quick look at ‘Fidelity Io’ Cables as well!
“What? Blatantly biased!”, I hear the pundits scream. Well, no, that’s not my job – I’m here to give Hifi Pig’s readers a fair and honest assessment of the equipment and music I review, and that is exactly what I will do. In fact, I suspect I will be rather harder on the RFC cables than would otherwise be the case – overcompensating, as it were.
I had an interesting session the other day, playing compare & contrast with the RFC Reference Mercury (£165 for a 1m pair) and the lower cost RFC Fidelity Io cables (£75 for a 1m pair). Somewhat surprisingly, the more costly Mercury didn’t have it all its own way!
The Mercury is the mid-price of three in RFC’s top of the line Reference series of cables. More »
Despite the title of the press release reminding me of a particular Not the Nine o’Colock news sketch, this new turntable really caught Hifi Pig’s eye. The beast in question is from Hartvig Audio and they have launched “a new high-end gramophone” handcrafted in Denmark and which will get its will get its first outing at the High End show in May at Munich 2012. Hartvig say the new turntable will bring “recorded music alive – it is pure sound with soul.”
After many years of passion for hi-fi, Danish Soeren Hartvig set his heart on building a first quality turntable. “I dreamed about a turntable which would bring recorded music alive in my own living room.” More »
Hifi in the last twenty or so years seems to be being dragged in two completely disparate directions. On the one hand we have the hifi enthusiast (audiophile) who will go to almost any lengths to achieve the very best audio reproduction in the home and on the other we have a largely disinterested public who are more than happy to plug in their ipod and earbuds and listen to Mp3s they have downloaded.
In short the man in the street has stopped buying hifi and the market is becoming more and more polarised between very expensive hifi and nofi.
I’ve written about this before in my “Dream Hifi” article, but when I was a teenager I lusted after a good quality budget system and the magazines of the day championed budget hifi for those starting out on their hifi buying career. For those of you who were teenagers in the 80s I’m sure you remember the system – Dual turntable, Nad or Marantz amplifier and a pair of Kef or Wharfedale loudspeakers – a system that was not cheap, but was attainable for many.
Where are those champions now and where is the good quality budget hifi they were once promoting? How do we as an industry get Joe Public and in particular teenage Joe Public, interested in Hifi again?
Hifi manufacturers need to realise that offering a high quality, affordable hifi system is good economics – once a teenager realises that they can get a much better sound in their bedroom then they are much more likely to buy into the upgrade concept and in later years spend serious money on their music reproduction electronics. Good quality, budget hifi is a stepping stone drug that will eventually lead to a much harder addiction! More »
I’d like to bet that at some point in your hifi journey, you’ve moved house and the hifi that sounded so great in one room now sounds pretty awful in its new environment. Another example is having reviewed loudspeakers at a dealers, you’ve taken the plunge only to find they sound totally different in your own room. This can be a huge source of frustration for music enthusiasts but thankfully there is a way to improve things and that’s by considering and treating listening room acoustics. More »
Red Wine Audio, manufacturer of battery-powered purist hi-fi products, has announced their first battery-powered high output amplifier which has been designed to drive even the most demanding speakers with ease.
Red Wine have received past accolades from reviewers and customers alike for their battery powered and somewhat minimalist designs but the praise often comes with a caveat – the moderate output of their amplifiers has not been ideal in driving inefficient loudspeakers or driving conventional loudspeakers to high volumes in large rooms.
Output from the Liliana is rated at 115wpc RMS into 8-ohms (230wpc RMS into 4-ohms)
“My goal in designing Liliana was to take full advantage of our premium LiFePO4 battery technology,” says Vinnie Rossi, President of Red Wine Audio. Adding, “With 8 FETs implemented in the Class AB output stage, Liliana allows for some serious “dc-direct” current delivery.” More »
Blue Horizon has unveiled its new phono preamplifier, the Profono. The Profono has been in development for the past two years and is the result of “painstaking design and engineering to deliver a high-quality yet affordable solution for anyone wanting to make the most of their record collection”.
The Profono is said to be a “great step-up option to replace budget phono preamps that “simply don’t cut the sonic mustard.”
Blue Horizon say that the Profono is “designed and built to be a genuinely high-end phono preamplifier delivered at a highly competitive price point, able to compete with – and even outperform – models at twice the cost”.
An interesting feature of the Profono is that, Instead of the the cheap ‘dip switches’ found in many phono stages, they are replaced by a series of shunt resistors to set cartridge impedance.
The Profono is compact in size and looks sturdily built. Casework looks of good quality for this price point and claims to serve to reject sonically deleterious RFI and keep the unit solidly in position when heavy cables are connected – something that cannot be said of all phonostages! More »
BD Audio, the Malvern based hifi dealer and Ming Da specialist, has announced that they will be adding to their portfolio of manufacturers and offering products from VPI technologies. Products will include turntables, record cleaning machines and a range of accessories.
The VPI Classic One turntable and the VPI HW-16.5 record cleaning machine will be available for demonstration very shortly.
Jack Durant, the owner of BD Audio, also recently announced a professional service to install dedicated mains power supplies for audiophiles, something that we at Hifi Pig will prove to be very popular indeed.
Taking place on Saturday April 21
Public Image Limited (PiL) frontman John Lydon kicked off the countdown to Record Store Day 2012 with a secret gig and launch event in London’s Shoreditch and a DJ set from Orbital a couple of days ago.
It is just four weeks to go to the annual celebrations taking place this year on Saturday April 21 and already a record 206 stores have signed up – 197 in the UK and nine in Ireland.
The initial list of over 350 exclusive Record Store Day releases was also unveiled at the event.
The Record Store Day concept of exclusive releases sold only for one day through indie record shops was brought to the UK four years ago. Last year around 180 stores took part and there were around 250 exclusive releases only available in participating stores, more than double the previous year’s and more than 200 artists and bands played in record stores around the country. More »
Epiphany Acoustics is a small British company owned by Olivier Freeborn and are very much of the thought that high-end hifi should not be the preserve of the very wealthy.
The EHP-O2 has been designed from the ground up to offer the very best head-fi performance whilst maintaining its portability. All the components used in this diminutive headphone amplifier have been “exhaustively selected and tested to offer the user true audiophile quality” and result in a THD of just 0.0017% and a noise floor of -105dB.
With the two lightweight rechargeable batteries the unit can be used for up to 8 hours and with the included AC adaptor/charger it becomes a very capable and compact desktop amplifier to boot.
The amplifier can be optimised to almost any headphone you choose using the on board gain switch and connection to your source and headphones is made with the 3.5mm jacks to keep the weight and form factor to an absolute minimum. More »
MBL have introduced the C15 Mono Power Amplifier to their Corona Line of high-end audio components. It offers a mighty 500-watt (4-ohm) and so should be capable of driving pretty much any loudspeaker with ease. MBL claim that implementation of their LASA-technology (Linear Analog Switching Amplifier) results in a “homogeneous characteristic of THD throughout the frequency range” and that the frequency response is independent of loudspeaker load.
German precision design and execution are evident in the inner-workings of the mbl C15 with all power supplies and transformers not only being screened off by magnetically shielded partitions encapsulated in MU metal, but also electrically isolated. The Amplifier offers both balanced and unbalanced inputs whilst loudspeakers can be wired in Single or Bi-Wired format. The nifty MBL SmartLink network enables other Corona devices to talk with each other via standard Ethernet cables and software updates can be uploaded via the integrated SD card reader.
The MBL C15 is available like all other Corona products from MBL in white or black with a choice of finish options and will retail at 9600€
Is is it a bit sad to have a dream hifi? It probably is you know, but I bet a pound to a penny that the vast majority of folk reading this have dreamed of owning a particular set up. Well perhaps they haven’t physically dreamed it as that would be a bit wrong, but you get my point I’m sure. More »
The new Yamamoto YDA-02 is a digital to analogue converter that is designed to connect straight to the USB socket of your computer.
Once connected, the DAC will automatically install the drivers needed, rendering this beautiful looking if diminutive box of tricks pretty much plug and play.
The unit converts to 24bit/88.2kHz, 24bit/94kHz outputting to a standard analogue stereo line out or to the onboard wide-range headphone amplifier.
There is a volume control which controls both the line out and the headphone output meaning that, armed only with the YDA-02, a laptop and a quality pair of headphones, the audiophile on the move can enjoy high definition audio wherever they find themselves.
The little Yamamoto weighs in at just 262g, will work with Windows or Mac operating systems and costs 28 000Yen (£210)
I remember as a youngster seeing my first Dansette record player which my uncle used to spin up Elvis singles and thought it was the bees knees! That’s what really got me into vinyl, the diverse range of albums that relatives owned and regularly played. It just left an indelible impression that music over the airwaves didn’t seem to capture as well for me. I vowed on day to own a Dansette!
Time moved on, and no I never got to own a Dansette (although the historical interest means I may yet search one out!). Of the record decks that have been through my hands, three have stuck out for me as defining moments in my hifi journey. I’ll say, before I start, that these are not meant to be a comparison with other decks, but are quite personal to me for reasons I’ll go on to explain.
I stared out with a Dual 505-2 and whilst an inoffensive and pretty decent starter deck, it was nothing special and I never really minded selling it on. Following a brief affair with a Thorens TD260 which as ok too, I bought what I considered to be my first quality hifi deck which was the Rega Planar P25 in a Rosewood plinth surround. The attraction with this deck, was that it was and still is (for me) quite a statement. It was Rega saying “we’ve been around 25 years now and this little gem proves we can do quality at a sensible price”. That it was. Very nicely finished, the P25 filled the gap between the P3 and P9 decks. The platter may have been taken from the P3 but the plinth was more like the upmarket version used on the P9. The big upgrades over the P2 and P3 decks, besides the RB600 arm included the motor where the twin pots were hand adjusted to reduce resonance and the mounting was better isolated than the P3. The arm had improved bearing tolerances over the P3, was finished in anodised silver and used the same wiring as the P9, with klotz cable and Neutrik Profi RCA’s. All in all, it was a pretty remarkable deck for the princely some paid of £485. More »
Price £159 (£204 with optional Class A PSU)
It makes sense to me. It works. I buy a CD, I rip it to a NAS hidden in a cupboard and then access the file through either my Sonos network or a ‘stealth’ spec laptop modded to run as quietly as possible. The CD goes onto a shelf (in alphabetical order of course) and the whole shooting match is controlled by my iPhone or iPad. I had some set up teething problems but the advantages far outweighed the odd technical hitch. All my tracks in one place, on one screen. I won’t miss collecting up all those silver discs with a hangover after an impromptu back to mine on a Friday night and PC audio was the key to the hallowed gates of high resolution audio, with files encoded at 24/192 as opposed to the Cd Redbook industry standard 16/44. Potentially a big deal. More »
Groningen, The Netherlands, March 2012. “A preamp, a DAC and a power amplifier” is the rather business-like opening gambit of Mola-Mola, a new Dutch high-end company. This would ordinarily guarantee exactly no excitement at all in the sty, were it not for the people behind the new name: Bruno Putzeys and Jan-Peter van Amerongen.
Putzeys is probably best known for the UcD and Ncore class D amplifiers and Van Amerongen is the entrepreneur who made these amps ubiquitous under the Hypex brand. They have now got togeher to build audiophile kit which will make its first appearance at the Munich High End show in May 2012. More »