As we’ve mentioned in the introductory blurb to this series of articles, beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder when it comes to Hifi equipment, but we think that the Avantgarde Trios will appeal to pretty much anyone with a passing interest in hifi and, dare we suggest, will also score highly on the WAF scale too. OK, they do look a little bit like something from another planet and they certainly don’t conform to the minimalist approach to high-end loudspeaker design, but then we think they look all the better for this.

The Avantgarde Trio is a three way spherical horn ‘satellite’ which is then complimented below 100Hz with active subwoofers or by 2 to 6 Basshorn modules.

Low- mid Frequencies on the Trio are handled by the 38” horn, which is driven by an 8” driver, the midrange (down to 600Hz) is dealt with by a 23” horn and the top end by a 7” horn. With only 4 passive crossover components the system delivers a very healthy 109dB sensitivity.

The Trio, even without the Basshorn modules, is certainly no shrinking violet and stands a full 1.67m in height and 95cm in width. Each unit is also 83cm deep and so whilst the Trios are big, they aren’t huge, though they do weigh in at an impressive 56Kg each.

The Basshorn is an active bass system with a frequency response of 18 to 250 Hz. Each Basshorn is driven by two 12 inch long excursion drivers with 600 watts RMS. The mouth area of each Basshorn module is 9 ft squared. With six Basshorns in the system this offers a colossal 54 ft squared.

Whatever of the specifications and measurements (that’s not what this article series is about) the Avantgarde Trios certainly strike an impressive and impactful visual statement and they undoubtedly don’t try to hide themselves away from passing glances. With the full compliment of 6 Basshorn modules the Trios will certainly dominate any room in which the lucky owner chooses to place them, but we feel there is a certain stunning beauty about the ensemble.

Eleven standard colours are available to further enhance the appearance of the already striking loudspeaker – from ‘Turmaline Vivid Black’ to ‘Ruby Brilliant Red’. The look of the Trios is certainly very contemporary, but we think that whether in an ultra-modern and minimalist apartment, or a more traditional living space, they are a statement piece that will get your visitors talking.

Now, there are options and the trio is available in either the standard ‘one-on-top-of-the-other arrangement’, or the curved ‘Trio Classico’ curved frame… though this is a $2400 option atop the, already not insubstantial, $68 000 for the standard Trio with the standard subs. Add the full compliment of six Basshorn modules and, let’s face it who wouldn’t want to do this, you get the price up to a bank-balance-busting $163 000…plus another $6000 if you want a customised colour. These are luxury items and luxury hifi comes at a price. Would they be on my short list if I had the money…oh yes!


There is the saying that there is no accounting for taste and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are clearly some designs that stand out from the crowd. They may not be to everyone’s own personal taste but a great deal of thought will have gone into the aesthetics of the piece.

Obviously many audiophiles will say that the purpose of a Hifi is that it sounds good above all else (and we at Hifi Pig would agree) but there are some of us in Hifi-Land that have to consider how a piece of high-end equipment looks too…yes the dreaded WAF!

In this series of articles Hifi Pig will be showcasing audio kit that we consider looks stunning and with high WAF. If you have any suggestions then do let us know either by contacting us on our ‘Contact Us’ page or by leaving a comment on this post.

These are not recommendations by the Hifi Pig team and we make no claims about the sonic attributes of the bits of high-end audio kit we feature…all we are saying is that it looks (in our opinion) stunning.

Stunning Loudspeakers

Stunning Turntables, Cartridges and Tonearms

Stunning CD Players

Stunning Amplifiers

Other Stunning Pieces of Hifi

Chinese manufacturer AURALiC launches VEGA, which they are calling “the next generation digital audio processor developed with the goal of seeking non-compromised sound”

With a Sanctuary Audio Processor at its heart, AURALiC introduces several “new and cutting edge technologies” with VEGA: ‘Megahertz upsampling’ algorithm processes all PCM music to 1.5MHz in 32bit; ‘Femto Master Clock’ provides “ultimate clock precision” with jitter of only 82 femtoseconds(0.082 picoseconds).
VEGA supports all high resolution music formats including DXD(352.8KS/s, 384KS/s in 32bit) as well as DSD stream at 2.8224MHz and 5.6448MHz. Five digital inputs include AES/EBU, Coaxial(set of two), Toslink and USB. The balanced and single-ended analog outputs can connect to a power amplifier directly, adjusting volume digitally and without dynamic loss. VEGA has six built-in filter modes allows users to customize according to different music formats and personal preference.
Suggested retail price: $3,499/ €3,299(incl. VAT)

Sanders sound electrostatics now in UK

High-End dealer Scott Nangle Audio have announced that they are now stocking and have on demo, the Sanders Sound Model 10c Electrostatic loudspeakers.

The 10c loudspeakers are 94dB sensitive and so should be an excellent match for lower powered valve amplification or the company’s Sanders Magtech amplifiers.

The bass of the Sanders Sound 10c is handles by a 10inch driver in a transmission line arrangement and are said to be flat down to 22Hz. Crossovers are external digital affairs and are designed specifically with bi-amping in mind. They come with 2 pairs of 12 feet Sanders loudspeaker cable, a Magtech stereo power amplifier rated at 500w for the bass and a useful remote control.

The loudspeakers come with a lifetime warranty and are made in the US where Sanders have been building electrostatic loudspeakers for the last 30 years.

Price £ 8,200


If you are paying large sums of money for a piece of high-end hifi then it is perfectly reasonable to assume that some thought has gone into the way that the kit performs on an aesthetic level as well as, of course, into its audio performance. More »

Cary Audio of North Carolina have announced the new Constellation tube preamplifier from Audio Electronics by Cary Audio. The Constellation uses the 6SN7 tube running in Class-A triode mode which is coupled to a fully-regulated power and heater supply.  The transformer is a custom R-core power device designed to Cary’s own specifications. The preamplifier was built with as a simple signal path with sonic purity in mind.

The Constellation preamplifier is currently available for purchase through Audio Electronics by Cary Audio’s online store or through your local Cary Audio dealer.

Weight: 22 lbs.

Dimensions: 13” L x 14.25” W x 7.5” H

Retail price: $1,495


Van de Leur Audio is a Dutch company who hand built high-end audio products and as from today, their website is  open for visits in the English language.

Since the introduction of the Van de Leur Audio 002 tube preamplifier and their Audio 402 Class-D dual mono amplifier the company has received high praise and their high end audio products have been well received in the Dutch media.

Only the two products are in the range at the moment but we are assured a new product is very close to announcement.

Hifi Pig will hopefully have the amp and matching pre for review very soon.





The CA Electronics (whose Ceramic Isolating Feet we reviewed) have today announced the Ceramic Cable Clamp which they say is “designed to Absorb vibrations from your cables and minimize the Microphonic effect.”
The clamps are said to be easily fitted and suited  for a wide range of cables. Simply unscrew and lead the cable through the Clamp, then hand-tighten and enjoy.



Roth Audio announces the Roth OLi POWA-5, its debut active monitor.

Simply plug the powered speaker into the Mains, now connect it – using the supplied speaker cable – to its passive partner and you’re ready to go. The POWA-5 has 80 watts and connectivity includes 1 x pair RCA analogue connecters (e.g. CD player), 1 x 3.5mm stereo jack input (e.g. MP3 player), 2 x optical inputs (e.g. Sky box, and DVD player), and a built-in Bluetooth receiver. In addition there are two USB outputs to provide power to mobile devices.
You can hook-up a subwoofer via the OLi POWA-5’s subwoofer output.

The Roth OLi POWA-5 launches on 12 th November 2012. RRP including VAT is £249.99 (per pair).


Cary Audio have announced the creation of a new website dedicated to Audio Electronics by Cary Audio. The site will include product information, reviews, industry events and ordering information, along with other regularly updated items of interest.

Audio Electronics is Cary Audio’s subsidiary, originally created in 1993 and now re-launched and positioned to reach a new generation of music fans with a smaller, sleeker design suited for the urban environment.

Audio Electronics products will be available through this online store or at Cary Audio dealers.



Touchstone Audio have informed us of an innovative addition to the High-end audio events calendar which will take place on Saturday November 3rd and Sunday November 4th at the Moat House Hotel near Reading in Berkshire from 9.30 ’til “late” on the Saturday and 10am through to 4pm on the Sunday.

Three Hi-fi distributors and retailers have come together as a collective force to present a unique occasion where you will have the opportunity to experience first hand some highly regarded audio components and accessories.

Touchstone Audio, Air Audio and Acoustic Brands Limited consider that the “UK Hi-fi market needs a bit of life injecting into it” and this is what they hope to achieve with this exciting event. They believe that the music loving public deserve to be given a choice in the hi-fidelity equipment they listen to and the brands that they carry echo this collected conviction.

As well as the opportunity to listen to brands already well known in audiophile circles such as the UK’s Astin Trew, there will also be a chance to hear more esoteric marques from manufacturers such as Fonel Audio, ELAC Loudspeakers and Octave from Germany and Struss from Poland who will be demonstrating the world’s most powerful integrated amplifier. From Switzerland, Holborne Swiss Audio Instruments will demonstrate the “finesse and precision that has become synonymous with the country’s meticulousness attention to detail”

As well as the products themselves, representatives from the manufacturers will be on hand to guide you and answer any questions you may have.

Utilising four large rooms the event will give audiophiles and music lovers the chance to discover a selection of audio equipment and what’s more you can do this in a comfortable and relaxed environment, where you can listen and enjoy the equipment on offer without the demands usually associated with a more conventional hi-fi show.

HiFi Network will present:

Elac Loudspeakers, EAT, Vertere and Opalum.

Acoustic Brands Limited will present:

Fonel Audio, Aurelia Loudspeakers, Struss and Rogoz, Holborne, Davone, Boenicke and Mumax panels.

Air Audio will present:

Astin Trew, Acoustic Signature, VOVOX Cables, DSS, Octave and Trichord Research.

Should be good fun!




Hagerman Audio Labs is a small manufacturer based in Honolulu and has recently announced the introduction of the valve phonostage, The Violin.

Offering both Moving Magnet and Moving Coil stages The Violin allows for fine tuning of gain, eq, polarity and operates in Class A with no feedback.

The front-end MC gain uses low-noise matched JFETs to boost up to MM levels, where the vacuum tubes take over providing all gain, equalization and output buffering.

– Gain: 44dB (MM) / 54dB, 60dB, 63dB, 65dB (MC)
– Input Impedance: 50k (MM) / 955, 305, 170, 122, 84, 70, 59, 52 (MC)
– Output Impedance: 600 ohms
– RIAA Response: +/-0.5dB from 20Hz to 20kHz
– Bandwidth: 6Hz to 500kHz
– Distortion: <0.5% @1kHz
– Noise: 82dBA (MM) / 74dBA (MC)
– Size: 17″ x 8″ x 6.5″
– Weight: 12 lbs.
– Power: 120Vac/240Vac 35W
– Tube Compliment: 12AX7 x 2, 12AU7 x 2, 5AR4 x 1


The good people at Deco Audio, the Aylesbury based hi-fi outlet will be holding their “Headonism” 2012 event on Saturday 27th October between 10:30 and 17:30.

They will have a wide range of headphones and headphone amplifiers for you to try out from the more affordable end of the scale to the much more high-end.

Headphones on the day will be from:

Sennheiser, ( HD500 series up to and including the top of the range HD700 and HD800 headphones and the new Momentum headphones, as will the top of the range wireless RS220 system.) Stax, Hi-fi Man, Grado and Audio Technica.

Headphone amplifiers on demonstration will include models from Rega, Edwards Audio, Project, Hi-Fi Man, Lehmann and others, some of which will be shown for the first time within the UK.

Free refreshments will be available throughout the day and there will be representatives from various manufacturers on hand to answer any questions you may have and even better Deco Audio are encouraging yu to bring along your own CDs, LPs and iPods.

Please feel very welcome to bring along your own CDs, LPs and iPods (etc).





Not a great deal of information about this very pretty little headphone amplifier from New Yorks based Woo Audio, other than it is the company’s smallest product and has a 32/192 USB DAC built in.

It’s imaginatively called the WA7, operates in pure class A and was launched at the Rocky Mountain audio Fest.

More news as soon as we have it.




Etalon announces Duosono Plus which is an evolution of the company’s Duosono broad-band loudspeaker.

The Duosono Plus is a floor-standing loudspeaker equipped with two bass/midrange made from an aluminum, magnesium/titanium alloy used in the company’s Duosono, to which Etalon have added the tweeter used in their Minisono whose membrane consists of the same alloy.

The extreme rigidity of these membranes, due to their exceptional lightness, gives the Duosono Plus an impulse response that is said to “perfectly reproduce the attack of instruments”.
The Duosono Plus will have its world premiere at show High Fidelity Show, which runs from 2 to 3 November in Paris.


Power Handling: 60W
Impedance: 4Ohm
Type: Bass Reflex
Sensitivity: 91dB/W/M
Resonant Frequency: 39Hz
Frequency cut: 3.2kHz to 12bb/octave

Dimensions: 1260 mm * 420 mm * 240 mm


Hifi PIg will be speaking to Etalon and hope to bring you a review soon.


Korean manufacturer of the iRiver DAP have announced that they will launch the Astell and Kern AK100 DAP to Japanese markets on 27th October. This is a high end audio player aimed squarely at the audiophile user. It comes with 32GB of internal memory and a dual MicroSDHC which can expand the units memory up to 96GB.

As well as having a well finished case the Astin and Kern AK100 will be fully compatible with 24bit/192kHz FLAC and WAV file, plus of course the usual MP3/OGG etc support. The neat little unit will also boast a dua optical in/out which will allow the DAP to be plugged into other hifi components without loss in sound quality.

The AK100 will have a 2.4″ colour screen, bluetooth and a twelve hour battery life. cost will be 54,800Yen (£437).


Hifi Lounge, based in Millow near Dunton in Bedfordshire (UK) has been announced as the latest retail outlet for PMC loudspeakers. The outlet will have allow audiophiles and music lovers alike access to the full range of PMC hifi products as well as Bryston electronics.

Hifi Lounge is housed in a converted grain barn and owned by Paul and Wendy Clark and will sell only those products the owners feel passionate about themselves.

The grand opening of the premises will take place on the weekend of the 27th and 28th October.

Hifi Lounge will stock other brands including Naim, Rega, Rel, Grado, Spendor and Atlas.



Photographs of the TAVES 2012 event


Photographs of the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES) 2012.

More »

Fine Sounds SpA of Milan, Italy, owner of Sonus Faber, Audio Research Corporation, Wadia Digital and Sumiko, has acquired 100% of McIntosh Laboratory, America’s formidable producer of hi-fi systems.  Fine Sounds is owned by Quadrivio, an Investment Management Company also based in Milan, Italy.  The acquisition of McIntosh, a Binghamton, NY based company which had been previously owned by D+M Group, represents a marquee investment for the group, whose strategic direction is to offer products that are “the best in the world in their category”.

McIntosh rose to power in the ’50s, ’60s and 70’s as the rock & roll movement emerged as the defining musical genre in America and throughout the world.  Beginning with the Beatles’ Shea Stadium performance in 1965, countless rock & roll acts became so popular that only huge stadiums could handle the crowds.  It was McIntosh that ultimately pioneered systems capable of delivering clean, high-quality sound that could stand up to these vast arenas of screaming fans.  The first was the system assembled for Woodstock in 1969, where the rock festival’s organizers were forced to develop a system capable of reaching to hundreds of thousands of fans.  Five years later, the Grateful Dead – who would become the premier American touring band for a generation – unveiled its “Wall of Sound” on March 24, 1974, and set new standards for live performances with arguably the greatest PA system of all times.  McIntosh amps drove both of those legendary systems.

Fine Sounds and McIntosh believe the acquisition will deliver important benefits to McIntosh’s customers, sales partners and employees by providing opportunities for building on Fine Sounds Group’s product development capabilities, distribution synergies and financial resources. With Fine Sounds’ support, McIntosh is now poised to elevate its brand to higher acclaim, expand its distribution as well as its reach into new international markets.  “We are thrilled to welcome McIntosh, one of the industry’s most illustrious brands, into our portfolio,” says Mauro Grange, CEO of Fine Sounds Group. “McIntosh is dedicated to the highest caliber of high-end audio and is a perfect fit with our own culture and vision.  We will treasure and protect the legacy of McIntosh as well as its people and reputation.”

The acquisition of McIntosh is an important one for Fine Sounds.  “McIntosh will help strategically strengthen our brand portfolio, allowing us to have a broader product offering, covering more categories, offering customers a complete solution.  It does not compete with any of the other brands we hold – it is positioned quite differently – and offers opportunities for great synergies which we can leverage,” added Grange.



Cary Audio will be exhibiting at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. The 2012 edition of this show, America’s largest consumer presentation of high-performance audio systems, will be held at the Denver Tech Center Marriott from October 12-14. Cary Audio will have two rooms with full systems on display as well as hosting a booth in the Marketplace to display Audio Electronics by Cary Audio products, our subsidiary line of lower cost gear.

Cary Audio will partner with German loudspeaker manufacturer Adam Audio in Tower Room 8025 to present two live systems on demo. The main system will feature Cary Audio’s signature SLP-05 tube preamplifier, a pair of SA-500.1 monoblock amplifiers, and a CD-303T SACD/CD/DAC playing discs and operating as a DAC for high-resolution music files from a computer. Adam Audio’s new Gamma Mk2 from its Tensor range will be the primary speakers, with a pair of Classic Columns too. These speakers all feature Adam Audio’s proprietary take on the folded Air Motion Transformer tweeter and midrange, and HexaCone woofers. This main system will also be powered by cables by Claru.

A second smaller system will also be available for listening, comprising a pair of Adam Audio Classic Compact monitors driven by the new Audio Electronics Constellation preamplifier and Hercules power amplifier. These new tube products will be making their American public debut here at RMAF. The source for this system will be an iPod in a Wadia digital dock, playing lossless music files. It will also drive the new Cary Audio HH-1 hybrid and Audio Electronics Nighthawk solid-state headphone amplifiers, with a pair of AKG K702 headphones for listening.


Resonessence Labs, whose Invacta Dac we previously reviewed, have announced they will introduce its latest product, CONCERO at this years RMAF in Denver 12th-14th October, just 12 months after releasing its award winning INVICTA product.
The CONCERO is the processing engine from the INVICTA DAC, packaged to be used with your existing high end
audio components. Capable of operating in three distinct modes, you may use CONCERO as a USB, 24bit/192kHz
Asynchronous DAC, an SPDIF DAC, or as a USB to SPDIF bridge. CONCERO reponds to the standard Apple IR
remote controller too.
In the USB DAC and SPDIF DAC modes, CONCERO provides ESS Sabre DAC analog output to the pre-amplifier
input of the user’s existing audio configuration. The new unit offers a choice of multiple up-sampling filters, including the Resonessence designed Apodizing and IIR filters, 44.1kS/s and 48kS/s.
In its third mode of operation CONCERO may be configured to run as a USB to SPDIF bridge and delivers ultra-low
jitter, 24bit SPDIF output.
Designed and manufactured in Canada, the unit is crafted out of an all Aluminum chassis and incorporates components such as the ESS SABRE 24bit, two channel DAC and the Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA. Priced at $599US we
believe that CONCERO offers exceptional value.


Today Wilson Benesch unveil their most ambitious product to date – The Cardinal Loudspeaker is the most advanced loudspeaker ever developed by Wilson Benesch – Carbon fibre based and advanced composite systems enable a shell structure with a massive air volume. These curved elements give the cabinet a complex internal geometry to counter standing waves and ensure signal to noise ratio that is “second to none”.

The Cardinal’s form and geometry is instantly recognisable as a Wilson Benesch design incorporating accents that have evolved from many predecessors including the A.C.T. One, The Bishop and The Chimera. The Cardinal’s footprint is more than twice that of the Chimera, standing 12-inches (1-ft) higher, affording the Cardinal a 65% larger air volume.

Like the rest of the Geometry Series, The Cardinal is fitted with proprietary Tactic-II Drive units and the Semisphere Tweeter. Eighteen drive units in total deliver wide bandwidth sound from 25Hz to 35KHz.

Mid-range frequencies are handled by two highly optimized upper and lower mid-range Tactic-II Drive Units. Meanwhile, the Isobaric Tactic formation makes a return in the Cardinal with four Tactic-II Drive Units deployed to achieve a “new benchmark in dynamics and transient response”.


To say that ProJect were well represented at the Paris Hifi show in 2012 would be a bit of an understatement. As well as the dozens of turntables on display (see our Paris Hifi Show Report part 2) there was even more.I like the simple form and sleek, minimal design of the StereoBox DS Integrated amplifier and the StreamBox DS Net, Nice and elgant solutions in a diminutive package. Sadly we were unable to listen to either when we were in the room. More »

Gato Audio, the Danish high end audio manufacturer has just announced the PM-6 floorstanding loudspeaker in real wood walnut veneer. The “carefully selected walnut veneer is applied to our heavy duty cabinet construction and lacquered in a delicate – yet strong – satin finish.”

High frequencies are dealt with by a 38mm ring radiator, mids and lows by a 170mm paper cone and likewise the low frequencies are handled by another 170mm paper cone.

Techy Stuff

Frequency response –  34Hz to 25kHz (-6dB)

Sensitivity – 90dB

Impedence – 4ohm


Who would believe that the CD player is now 30 years old…almost to the day! Who out there sold all their vinyl collection and slowly started replacing it with easy to store shiny silver discs…I for one did just that! It seems a lifetime ago and if truth be known I only really bought my first CD player 5 or so years later in the late 80s.

Remember the whole hype behind CDs when they first came out and they being the ultimate in high end audio? I distinctly recall seeing a Tomorrows World presenter smear a gloopy helping of marmalade over one of the new fangled discs and marvelling at it being washed off and then being played as if nothing had happened. I also recall the radio station, where I worked as a DJ, having a sign declaring that “Hand Acid Kills CDs”.

So what the future of the CD?  If the rumour mill is to be believed it’s a format that is on the way out, but I think it will be around for a good while yet and whilst ever there are second-hand items to be had, I know it’s a format that I’ll continue to use.

The first CD I bought? “Maters of Reality” by Masters of Reality… what was yours?


Tortuga Audio, the South Florida based manufacturer has launched its website/store highlighting its new LDR6 Passive Preamplifier. The US designed and manufactured LDR6 is the first of several high end audio products that Tortuga Audio plans on releasing over the next year geared towards discriminating music lovers interested in high performance 2-channel stereo audio.
The LDR6 is designed around the use of audio grade light dependent resistors (LDRs) that are used both as analogue switches and as digitally controlled analogue attenuators for volume control.The LDR6 accommodates 6 line stage inputs in a simple, functional, and distinctive enclosure with premium materials and components.

“When we first started working with light dependent resistors, we quickly became impressed with the exceptionally open, natural and transparent audio sound that LDRs can deliver compared to even the best potentiometers or stepped attenuators. We immediately started working on designs, testing protocols, and tools needed to deliver consistent and balanced high performance from these uniquely nonlinear components. We’re very pleased with the results so far and after 2 years of reliable operation of various prototype designs we decided it was time to introduce Tortuga Audio and our final design, the LDR6 Passive Preamplifier, to the community of audio enthusiasts,” said Morten Sissener, founder and President of Tortuga Audio.


Now this was an interesting room and a big room to boot, but the diminutive loudspeakers filling the room with a huge sound were a complete surprise to me! The speakers in question were the out of the ordinary looking Leedh E loudspeakers and they are nothing if not unusual. More »