Kitchens of Distinction formed as a band in 1986 releasing just four studio albums, as well as a few singles and EPs on the One Little Indian label, before disbanding in 1996.

Lead vocalist Patrick Fitzgerald explains the gestation of their first album in 19 years, “Folly”:

“These songs came together over a two-year period which began in June 2011 and finished during April 2013. As with all songs by Kitchens of Distinction, new and old, they began with the musical structure first, the tune and lyrics coming later. With these songs I wrote the initial music, with KOD guitarist Julian Swales shaping them, suggesting tempo changes, structure changes, and providing the trademark sonic embellishments of his galactic guitar cascades. Dan Goodwin, original KOD drummer, added percussion and rhythm programming support. They were recorded in my studio in Derbyshire and at Julian’s studio in Brighton. The songs were mixed with Pascal Gabriel in April 2013 when I was recovering from a nephrectomy and winter would not leave us.” More »

Acoustic Sounds, the online music store, has announced it will be offering mainstream albums from leading labels in the SHR_Logo_orbDSD format – used to master SACDs.

Initially 46 albums will be available in the DSD format including Counting Crows’ ”August and Everything After”, Rickie Lee Jones’ “Traffic From Paradise”, Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” and John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”.

Prices start at $24.99 per download.

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Parasound has announced the addition of a new 2.1 channel preamplifier to its Halo product line( Jerry reviewed the Parasound_p5_preamplifier_front_backHalo A21 amp some time ago giving it a Recommended award). The new Halo P 5 replaces the Halo P 3 preamplifier adding a DAC with coaxial, optical and USB inputs. Also included is a subwoofer output, home theatre bypass, phonostage and a motorised volume pot.

Inputs include one pair of balanced XLRs, phono, five stereo RCA inputs and a 3.5mm mini jack on the front panel so you can plug in your iPod or mobile phone.  Outputs are balanced XLR, unbalanced RCA and a choice of balanced/unbalanced subwoofer outputs.

The onboard phonostage will cope with moving magnet cartridges and pretty much all moving coil cartridges with a 100ohm/47 ohm switch for impedance matching.

Available in September the price will be $950 which would appear to be a good price for such a well loaded product.

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Ok, so a few of you may be familiar with Mr Cat (Stephen Bruner to his friends), either from his recent role as bassist in LA superpunks Suicidal Tendencies or his collaborations with Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus.  If it’s the former, this album will really come flying out of leftfield for you, but those comfortably familiar with the R&B stylings of Erykah and the space-tronica of Flying Lotus…well you’ll be in your element here. More »

“Sometimes I wish you were here….weather permitting…”

Well, the weather apparently does permit because Scotland’s Franz Ferdinand are back with their fourth full length album.  The band has been plying their trade of innocuous but eminently danceable indie rock for over a decade  now and have achieved some pretty massive success, most notably from the ubiquitously overplayed singles “Take Me Out and “Do You Want To”.  If you’ve never heard them, well you must have been living under an FM radio-proof rock for the last ten years….and that actually sound like a pretty cool spot, I must come visit sometime and we can sternly listen to radio national together… More »

Roksan have announced the launch of their K2 BT 150 amplifier which takes elements of the previous K2 model but Roksan_K2BT150_newsimproves connectivity, flexibility and sonics.

The power rating is increased from 120W to 150W per channel whilst high frequency noise has been radically reduced in both the pre section and the power amplifier section.

The new K2BT comes with a Bluetooth aptX module with CD standard (16-bit/44.1kHz audio bandwidth) allowing connectivity to a host of devices.

Roksan say the improvements made on the K2 BT make for better imaging, soundstaging, transparency and dynamic range.

Specifications

Inputs – 5 line level inputs, Moving Magnet phono, Bluetooth AptX

Outputs – Loudspeakers, Preamplifier, Headphone

Output Power – 150 W (8 Ohms), 300 W (4 Ohms)

Power Supply – 550VA Ultra LowNoise ToroidalTransformer

Frequencyresponse – (-3dB), <3Hz– >100kHz

Gain37.3dB Overall(Pre& Power)

HarmonicDistortion<0.005%1kHz-8Ω

Dimension432 x 380 x 90(W x D x H) mm

Weigth15 Kg

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Featuring the new ATC designed and built 25mm soft dome tweeter, updated bass/mid drivers and crossovers housed ATC_SCM_7in a curved, laminated cabinet, the first of a new range of ATC closed-box passive loudspeakers has been announced. The third generation SCM7 and second gen. SCM11 are the first to employ ATC’s landmark SH25-76 tweeter, developed to satisfy the company’s long-established rigour in drive unit engineering.

SH25-76 tweeter

Sharing technology with the renowned ATC soft domed mid-range drive unit, the new tweeter employs a dual suspension system designed to suppress rocking modes even at high power output levels. The ATC configuration of a short edge-wound voice coil in a long, narrow magnetic gap is said to ensure low distortion throughout its operating band and remove the need for ferrofluids.

A 5.5mm rigid alloy waveguide provides optimum dispersion, a flat on-axis frequency response and resonance-free operation.

New cabinets and systems

Establishing what is to be a new style for ATC’s most competitively priced range of loudspeakers, the new SCM7 and 11 have a curved cabinet construction. Braced and laminated for high rigidity and damping, the curved enclosures are available in real cherry or black ash veneer.                                                                                                     

Each new model exhibits an impedance curve free from low values, presenting an easy load for amplifiers of 75 to 300 watts. The SCM7 and SCM11 are designed for optimum performance without the grille – although a full-length perforated metal grille, finished in anthracite grey to match the drive unit face plates, is supplied. According to ATC tradition, each model number represents internal cabinet volume in litres.

Third generation SCM7

ATC’s SH25-76 soft dome tweeter is joined by the company’s highly linear 125mm mid/bass driver. It features a 45mm soft dome a huge 3.5kg high-energy magnet system, which includes a 45mm flat wire voice coil, milled and formed by ATC. The magnet system and a doped fabric cone assembly contribute to the SCM7’s wide bandwidth, wide dynamic range and “convincing bass output” – from a seven litre cabinet.

Second generation SCM11

The new SCM11 features ATC’s SH25-76 with an ATC CLD 150mm mid-bass driver incorporating a 45mm soft dome. Constrained Layer Damping is a driver cone technology exclusive to ATC and has claimed advantages of reduced harmonic distortion between 300Hz and 3 kHz, an extended frequency response that eases constraints on the crossover filter slope, and improved off-axis response.    

Available in Speptember the UK pricing is £810 for the SCM7 and £1200 for the SCM11.

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Bryston, has announced the introduction of a new series of loudspeakers designed to complement their Model T Bryston_floorstanding_speakeroffering introduced at CES 2013. The Model A series has the same design principals as the Model T, with a focus toward minimizing distortion and compression during music and home theater playback.

The new Model A series relies upon an array of newly designed drivers including a 6.5-inch woofer rather than the 8-inch version used in the Model T series. The Bryston Model A lineup will initially launch with a bookshelf speaker called the Mini A as well as three floor-standing towers called the Model A1 Tower, Model A2 Tower and Model A3 Tower. These four loudspeakers will become available through authorized Bryston dealers beginning Q4, 2013. Bryston will be adding a matching Model A Center Channel, Model A Surrounds and matching Model A powered Subwoofer in the coming months. The new Mini A bookshelf speaker features a 6.5 woofer, a 3-inch midrange driver and 1-inch tweeter in a three-way configuration.

USA/Canadian suggested list prices (per pair) are $3,250 for Model A1 Tower, $2,395 for Model A2 Tower and $1,995 for Model A3 Tower. The Mini A bookshelf speaker will have an MSRP of $1200 per pair. “After a strong launch of our first series of loudspeakers resulting in outstanding feedback from both reviewers and our customers earlier this year, it became clear that consumers need high performance loudspeaker options in a full range of sizes,” explained Bryston sales VP James Tanner. “The Model A lineup addresses that need, delivering the sonic realism of our larger Model T speakers from smaller enclosures,” added Tanner.

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Whilst I enjoyed the Polyphonic Spree’s first album “The Beginning Stages of…” they were never really a band that I explored further than that one album and perhaps this has been a mistake on my part given how much I loved “Yes, It’s True”.

The first album was a gloriously positive and uplifting offering from the boys and girls in white robes and “Yes, It’s True” has Tim De Laughter and his throng continuing this theme…though the robes are a little more colourful these days it would appear.

If you’ve not come across Polyphonic Spree before then imagine a psychedelic, indie cult of twenty odd individuals that listened to “Pet Sounds” (a lot) then decided to take to the stage and studio and you’ll not be too far away. More »

This is not a new album having been released in 2004 but it looked interesting and so I thought I’d give it a whirl anyway. It’s a collaboration between Jim Lampi and the German producer Zeus B Held (what a fabulous name that is!) with input from Australian musicians including Craig T and Damian Armstrong from the rap-metal band NoKTuRNL. Digital Dreaming is an album inspired by the Australian outback and has vocals provided by Frank Yamma who is perhaps Australia’s leading aboriginal musician and sings in his native language Pitjantjatara as well as English. Percussion is provided by Olaf Tzschoppe from Les Percussions de Strasbourg and reggae singer Silvalox adds improvised vocal textures and “body rhythms” to the album. More »

Quadral have contacted us to tell us about a new range of loudspeakers soon to be introduced. ARGENTUM Group 2013

First up is he quadral Rondo active desktop monitor which comes with a 115mm polypropylene woofer and a titanium RiCOm tweeter. Rondo will have an aoutput in excess of 100 Watts, has Bluetooth (aptX), USB and soundcard connectivity. It has a separate sub output and comes in high-gloss black or white.

Next up comes the Ferrum which is a AV set up and intended for use with the companies new Qube 7 subwoofer. The set is available as a whole or you can simply purchase the front two (Ferrum 700) speakers. The Qube 7 has 100 Watt power a 220 mm long-throw woofer in a compact bass reflex housing.

Quadral have also announced an upgrade to their Argentum (Pictured) range which will consist of two shelf speakers, two upright speakers and a single centre. They sport aluminium coated polypropylene membranes for the woofer and midrange, a newly developed silk tweeter and will be available in black or white.

Finally there is the Magique which is essentially a soundbar. It’s an active 3-way TV speaker with 2 x 19 mm silk domes, 4 x 65 mm midrangers and 2 150 mm woofers. It comes with remote control, Bluetooth, coax and optical digital inputs and can support a maximum load of 40 kg.

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Guy from Pure Sound contacted Hifi Pig to let us know about the UK arrival of the STST Motus II turntable and Vertex Vertex 10tonearm.

STST are a German Hi-Fi manufacturer founded by Stefan Strohmetz in 1985 and they make two turntables called Motus and Motus II which both utilise an ‘in house’ designed direct drive motor. The Motus is a ‘fixed’ design whereas the Motus II has the motor & tonearm base mounted on a separate sub-chassis which is carried on a fully sprung suspension system.

Both models can be supplied in a variety of wood veneered plinths with a choice of matching or contrasting top plates. Each is supplied with a separate small power supply which feeds 18V to the turntable. On board electronics make 33.33 and 45 RPM available via a small switch located beneath the front edge of the plinth and the turntables come with a 10 year guarantee.

STST also manufactures a tonearm called Vertex which is available at 9, 10 or 12” length. The Motus turntable can be supplied in a larger plinth in order to accommodate 12” tonearms whereas the Motus II is generally supplied to take 9 and 10” tonearms.

Motus    £3599.95

Motus II   £4999.95

Vertex tonearm 9″, 10″ or 12″   £2799.95

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The guys at Akiko got in touch to tell us all about there new website launched this weeks that they seem pretty proud of. ts acThey have eight new products and a fully stocked webshop so you can purchase stuff direct.

“It feels like a new start,” said co-owner Sander van Berlo, who started along with his father producing ‘handmade’ audio accessories and distributing them from the Netherlands in 2011.

The company manufacture an interesting power strip called the Quattro, some newly designed power cables and something called the Tuning Stick (pictured) which is designed to “Cleanse the earth of the mains”.

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OK, before you read this review of Hawkwind’s “Warrior on the Edge of Time” Three Disc Expanded Edition, you ought to know that I’m a bit of a fanboy of Mr Brock and his cohorts. However, having replaced most of my (stupidly sold vinyl) Hawkwind collection with CDs (and Vinyl) Warrior was one of the discs I’d omitted to restore for some unknown reason. How such an oversight could have happened I have absolutely no idea, suffice to say that when Mrs Hifi Pig and the piglets clubbed together and bought me this edition for my recent birthday I was somewhat over the moon.

For those that don’t know Warrior at the Edge of Time was Hawkwind’s fifth studio album and was released in the spring of 1975 on United Artists. It’s a bit of a concept album, this was the 70s after all, and many of the lyrics are provided by sci-fi author Michael Moorcock with whom the band have collaborated several times. More »

Audio Research has announced the new SP20 vacuum-tube preamplifier which the company say is influenced by AR_SP20some of their classic SP preamplifiers but with performance that is only achievable their best LS- and PH-series.

The front panel has a new 4.3″ LCD touchscreen, with two large rotary knobs on either side. For the first time ever on an Audio Research preamp, there is a ¼” headphone jack

Through the touchscreen you can change inputs, select stereo or mono, Mute, adjust Phase, adjust left-right balance, and adjust the phono input Load (50, 100, 500, 1000 or 47k Ohms). Through a Settings menu, you can customize other items. When the tube hour meter reaches 4,000 hours, the settings icon will turn red to warn the owner it is time to change the tubes.

In addition to the Phono input, there are four other single-ended inputs, two balanced inputs, separate Monitor-in and Record-out, and two pairs of balanced outputs. There is also an RS-232 port, IR-input, 12V trigger, and a 15A IEC connector. The SE4 input can be configured as a home theater pass-through.

The SP20 is fully balanced, pure Class-A with zero feedback. There are seven levels of voltage regulation, a large power supply, and a very low-noise R-core power transformer. Both the line and phono stages feature low-noise JFET inputs and 6H30 (2 per section) outputs.

Units with natural front panels, knobs and buttons will begin to ship in early September whereas units with black front panels will be available around mid October.

Price will be $9000

 

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New Zealand based manufacturer, Plinius Audio, has announced it is introducing the Tiki network media player and pliniusToko digital media player.

Tiki is essentially a network capable digital to analogue converter, it connects to a home network via Ethernet to retrieve music files stored on a server or NAS. The Tiki prioritises the treatment of the sensitive audio signals and avoids additional sources of noise and for this reason the Tiki does not support wireless connectivity.

Playback of FLAC, AIFF, LPCM and MP3 files up to 24 bit, 192kHz is controlled by the use of a DLNA media controller or UPnP smartphone app such as the Plinius Arataki app (available from the Apple App Store).

The Toko offers all the same features as Tiki but is also supplied with a built in slot loading CD transport mechanism for playback of an existing CD collection.

Brian Whilloughby, Plinius’ managing director, commenting on the introduction of Tiki and Toko says, “As digitally stored files are becoming the medium of choice we are seeing music lovers’ desire to have digital music reproduction perform to a higher level and so it is a requirement that they can do so through Plinius equipment at each stage of the signal handling.” He continues, “The Tiki and Toko are a new direction for us. These network capable, digital to analogue converters and media renderers focus on performance playback through a robust design implementation that lives up to the Plinius promise of getting you to the heart of music.”

 

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When we heard that Chord had introduced a new range of affordable interconnects we just had to get a set and see if Chord_cobrathey passed muster.

The new range consists of the Crimson Vee 3 (£55 per stereo metre), the Cobra Vee 3 (£95 per stereo metre) and the Chameleon Vee 3 (£135 per stereo metre) and all use Chord’s new Vee 3 RCA plugs.

Dan had a few weeks with the cables and you can read the full report of the new entry level interconnects here

“There are clear differences between the progression of the cables throughout this budget range. From a wonderfully musically Crimson to the wider bandwidth and quieter background in the Cobra which can retrieve more final details to the fantastically coherent, well balanced, detailed attributes that the Chameleon just grabs the listener with.”

 

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Following a ballot of the members of The Clarity Alliance (an alliance of the best of the audio and video industries in the UK), Laurence Armstrong, managing director of Henley Designs, has been elected as the next chairman of the Alliance.
Laurence_Armstrong_Clarity

In order for the Alliance to be successful in its objective of raising the profile of the UK hi-fi and home cinema sector, it is essential that members of the industry come together and work on a common plan for growth. Laurence was extremely enthusiastic about this necessity when the plans for consumer facing campaigns were presented to him and pledged to offer Henley Designs’ help in whatever way it can assist.

Laurence succeeds Alan Sircom, as chairman of the Alliance. Alan took on the role during the formation and initial launch stages of Clarity, driving the creation of its constitution, planning its training and qualifications and overseeing the development of the first consumer facing campaigns. Alan will continue to serve on the board of directors in an ex-officio capacity during Laurence’s chairmanship.

Commenting on his new role, Laurence says, “I’m delighted to of been voted as the new head of the Clarity board. Having been involved in the hi-fi industry for many years, I’m proud to be a part of something that is designed to keep us all together, moving forward to a better, more successful future.  I believe an industry body that represents all sectors of our community and promotes a symbiotic relationship between all parties is the key to a stable future.”

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The Chord Company has launched Reference versions of its three most popular mid-priced interconnects. Identified Cadenza Chorus Anthem compby the new ‘Reference’ suffix, the redesigned Cadenza Reference and all-new Chorus Reference and Anthem Reference, replace the existing models.

The three-strong range of Reference-level interconnects features the new VEE 3 plug, first seen in the new Crimson, Cobra and Chameleon cables launched in July, and the Chorus Reference and Anthem Reference are the first cables in the portfolio to use the company’s ARAY technology, developed for their flagship Sarum Tuned ARAY series.

Cadenza Reference

0.5m pair £195; 1m £220; per extra metre £60

Chorus Reference

0.5m pair £260; 1m £350; per extra metre £190

Anthem Reference

0.5m pair £330; 1m £450; per extra metre £240

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