This weekend Hifi Pig took itself to Paris and the Paris Hifi Home Cinema Show 2012.

Here’s the first part of our coverage of the show.

Part 2 is here

Part 3 is here

Don’t forget to let us know what you think by submitting your comments.

 

And so to Gay Paris and the ‘Salon Hifi and Home Cinema and Interior Technologies’. I’ll say one thing for the French and that’s that they certainly know how to come up with a snappy title for an event!

First up came the DEA International room who had an impressive array of kit on show that would be enough to get many audiophiles drooling. More »

Speaker manufacturer PMC have announced that anyone buying any loudspeaker from their Twenty series between October 1st and December 31st of this year in the UK will receive a free Audio Quest Dragonfly USB DAC/headphone amplifier.

Customers will need to simply register their purchase on the PMC website and then make a decision of whether to have the nifty little dongle posted to them, or to collect it from their dealer.

The Dragonfly plays all music files from MP3 to 24 bit/192kHz, has a variable output to drive powered speakers, drives headphones directly and has two clocks onboard.

 

UK based Custom Cable, has launched an online headphone comparator service, to enable customers to identify the models they are interested in and make side by side comparisons.

The new function enables visitors to categorise and select headphones by manufacturer, type, price, colour, impedance, frequency response and cable length. The user can then select different products and add them to a Compare List to view side-by-side and quickly identify the features of each model.

Phil Wannell, business manager, said, “We’ve seen an explosion in the sales of headphones over the past few years, largely driven by the phenomenal growth of the iPod, iPhone and other portable music players. This has resulted in the choice of headphones – the different styles, shapes and colours available – becoming much larger and therefore far more confusing.”

Hifi Pig gave it a whirl and it seemed to work pretty well at narrowing down your choices.

Huw Brandt, out man from Uppsala takes a visit to Prague and the old TESLA factory in which KR Audio, the manufacturers of the Kronzilla amplifier and tubes now find themselves housed.

On the outskirts of Prague lay the remains of the giant electronic producer TESLA. Enormous old factory buildings that once housed the production of tubes in all shapes and forms. Today KR AUDIO is housed partly in these facilities and since then been producing high quality audio tubes. More »

Don’t forget to check out our coverage of the National Audio Show 2012 ( Whittlebury). We have lots of pictures of high end audio from some of the biggest names and some less well known names in hifi and audio.

National Audio Show 2012 – Show Report Part 1

National Audio Show 2012 – Show Report Part 2

National Audio Show 2012 – Show Report Part 3

Whittlebury 2012 in Pictures

National Audio Show 2012 – Paul’s Top Six Rooms

 

Parts 1 and 2 of the National Audio Show 2012 report can be found here and here

Here’s the 3rd and final part of my adventures at the Show.  There’s lots of great kit still to tell you about!  Read on …

More »

National Audio Show 2012 – Show Report Part 2

Part 1 of the National Audio Show 2012 – Show report can be found here.

OK, then … continuing my adventures at the Show, I’ll start with one of the very top highlights of the show for me, and a big surprise from a name completely unknown to me before now – Analogue Alchemy.

Wowzer! – my eyes were out on stalks when I entered this room.  Just take a look at this lot …. More »

Norwegian High end Audsio company Electrocompaniet announce a new product to their range called ECI 6DS. The ECI 6DS is an all-in-one music-system that streams music from your network, wired or wireless. Blu-ray players, CD players and even satellite television tuners can also be connected and everything is controlled by the simple to use remote control.
The ECI 6DS has an on-board DAC and boasts a 2 x 125 Watt integrated amplifier. Your analogue sources can be connected by balanced (XLR) and phono (RCA) inputs.
Key facts:
• Music streaming from W iFi/LAN
• Internet Radio
• USB playback
• Modern DAC with USB, Coax and Toslink inputs
• Powerful 2 x 125 Watts integrated amplifier
• 1 balanced(XLR) and 3 phono(RCA) inputs
• Balanced(XLR) and phono(RCA) outputs
All functions are fully controllable by the graphical remote control
Weight 21 kgs
The estimated RRP of € 5.320 / £4.315 and is available from October.

 

Onkyo announce the release of the new DS-A5 iPod/iPhone/iPad Dock, adding AirPlay functionality to Onkyo A/V receiver models and other selected audio products from within its range.With a DS-A5, owners of current-model Onkyo A/V receivers – as well as older models lacking a USB port or an ethernet connection – can enjoy AirPlay wireless streaming as well as a digital-to-digital docking connection to iOS devices.

As well as streaming from portable iOS devices, AirPlay also enables high fidelity wireless streaming of audio files from iTunes-equipped personal computers.

When the device is docked, a digital audio output can be employed to deliver signals directly to the receiver’s DACs and a composite video output allows viewing of photos and video on the big screen with cinema sound.

When the DS-A5 is linked to an Onkyo A/V or stereo receiver via the supplied RI (Remote Interactive) cable, the user may power up the system ‘from cold’ by selecting content on their iOS device, and tapping the AirPlay icon. RI has the added advantage of incorporating DS-A5 functionality into the main system remote controller.

The unit can be used to add AirPlay capability to non-Onkyo hi-fi and AV systems, standalone DACs etc minus, of course, the above stated benefits of RI connectivity.

Price £150.

 

Box Designs by Pro-Ject Audio Systems, have announced the launch of a new Apple and Android compatible control application for use with a variety of their products. The new “Box Control” App
Box Control is a special development undertaken by Pro-Ject Audio that offers users full control of Box Design network audio players. It communicates with the new Stream Box DS net over a proprietary NetAPI interfacing protocol, allowing for a “quick and engaging” user-experience. With a few touches of the finger on the user interface, you can access and play music from media servers, internet radio stations, connected USB Hard Drives and Apple iPod devices (depending on how your system is set-up)
In addition to offering remote functions over Pro-Ject streamers, Box Control also has the ability to communicate with the forthcoming ‘Remote Box’ from Pro-Ject Audio to offer convenient control functionality over any other device in your listening room that has an IR receiver!
Because of the NetAPI software that Box Control works on, Pro-Ject have also announced a new updated version of the Stream Box DS. The Stream Box DS net offers the same build and operating system as the original DS, but it now comes compliant with the Box Control application out of the box. The Stream Box DS net also introduces Apple Lossless file support over home networks.

 

The high-end VIRTU “Masters Reference” Mono PreAmplifier  from Swiss manufacturer DaVinciAudio Labs is an interesting looking piece of hifi with its outsized controls and funky back plate.
The preamplifier is “designed without any cost constraint” and with “fanatic attention to detail and unconventional circuit design” which the company says separates them from the mainstream.
DaVinciAudio Labs claim that the VIRTU is a worldwide unique design, being single ended, transformer coupled and class A. This PreAmplifier is totally transformer coupled and is powered by an external PowerSupply.

The VIRTU sports 3 RCA and 2 XLR inputs and 2 switchable XLR/RCA outputs.

Key Design points (taken from the company’s press release)
1. Carefully selected components
2. Particular components for these amplifiers are single ended solid state design
3. All class A operating point
4. Own creation of transformer coupled circuit design
5. Output transformer potentiometer
6. Each stage has its own special hand made transformer, developed by DaVinciAudio in Bern
7. Chassis are milled from solid aluminum block

A few photographs of the National Audio Show 2012 at Whittlebury.

More »

Paul’s personal views on his top six rooms at this years Whittlebury Hifi Show.

For those with ears to listen, one thing stood out at Whittlebury despite not all rooms being taken this year and that was the up-beat vibes and feedback from the traders, big and small. I spoke to many of them and all had a similar message, and that’s the continued enthusiasm from the public and the support for the industry has been great considering the world recession.  People haven’t lost their love of music and continue to strive for ever more refined systems, for value and for quality.  All three of these virtues were on display this weekend.

Top 6 systems for me: More »

Henley Designs have announced a new agency agreement with Tivoli Audio for their range of radios and music systems.  Managing Director, Laurence Armstrong, said of the new agreement:
“We’re delighted to be supporting Tivoli Audio’s re-introduction into some of the UK’s finest retailers. Tivoli is a brand we’ve known and respected for a long time; they have a reputation for superior design and sound characteristics and the current range of models are a step above everything else out there at the moment. We believe that together we can have a long and successful relationship.”
Peta Austin, Tivoli Audio General Manager UK, added:
“I am delighted to announce Tivoli Audio’s partnership with Henley Designs, and this new agreement supports retail initiatives we have established in the UK over the past year. Furthermore, Henley Designs is the first UK distributor to benefit from our new, and vast, Netherlands-based stock centre. Consequently, Laurence and his team will have 24/7 access to the entire Tivoli Audio range, including colours and finishes never previously brought into the UK.”
From September 2012, Henley Designs will be offering the whole Tivoli Audio range to an exclusive selection of hi-fi outlets that are committed to supporting the impressive variety of equipment.

 

The National Audio Show organised by the Chester Group seems to have settled comfortably into its current home at the Whittlebury Hall in beautiful rural Northamptonshire, England.

Quite a few of the mainstream brands and distributors were absent this year, but to be honest that just seemed to make room for other offerings that may well even have been more interesting and unusual!  The diversity of audio offerings at the Show was very wide and fascinating, and some excellent sounds were to be heard. More »

KEF has announced that is to continue its 50th year celebration promotions – so consumers have another chance to take advantage of their trade-in offer.

Commencing on 21st September customers have the chance to trade-in any speaker against a KEF Q Series range speaker and receive a 20% discount on their purchase.

The new promotion, which ends on 15th November, is supported by all of KEF’s authorised Q Series UK retailers.

 

Toronto-based exaSound Audio Design has introduced the new, e20 DXD/DSD DAC a stereo asynchronous USB interface supporting 384kHz/32bit PCM, and 2822.4/5644.8 MHz DSD.

George Klissarov, founder of exaSound explained: “The e20 DAC takes to the next level the remarkable bit-perfect, low-jitter accuracy of the e18 DAC. It is refined for the perfect stereo experience, has even lower distortion and noise levels, improved headphone amplifier, balanced outputs and DSD support. The e20 DAC enables the leading edge audiophile to play DXD and DSD master files in their native format, without any conversion or down-sampling, offering a perfect reproduction of the recorded material. e20 delivers recording-studio precision and realism – nothing added, nothing taken away.”

Features of the exaSound e20 DAC include:

  • Based on the ES9018 Sabre32 reference DAC chip.
  • e20 operates in asynchronous USB transfer mode.
  • Galvanic isolation between the USB and the DAC eliminates ground loops noise, and blocks computer-originated interferences.
  • Jitter minimization is achieved by using three precision quartz oscillators (0.13ps master clock).
  • Seventeen internal power cleaning stages.
  • Second generation high-fidelity headphone amplifier, capable of driving the most demanding headphones.
  • Simultaneously driven, gold-plated unbalanced (XLR) and balanced (RCA) outputs.
  • Two S/PDIF inputs provide jitter reduction and superb D/A conversion when used with CD transports.
  • Automatic sampling rate switching, up to 384 kHz software up-sampling.

Price is $2 499