Iso Tek has unveiled its successor to the award-winning GII Sigmas: the EVO3 Sigmas. isotekEVO111
Like the GII Sigmas, the new EVO3 version is a six-way mains conditioning unit.
The EVO3 Sigmas’ two high-current outlets feature IsoTek’s Direct-Coupled© technology, which provides high-current low impedance filtering whilst its four medium-current outlets feature an increased 10A capacity. This, along with IsoTek’s  Adaptive Gating© technology which auto-senses and adapts to the current draw of the load, enables the use of a wider range of electronic devices, from audiophile components to home cinema plasma screens, projectors and media centres.
A further new addition for the EVO3 is KERP© (Kirchoff’s Equal Resistance Path), a technology developed for IsoTek’s EVO3 generation of products. KERP ensures equal resistance and equal power delivery to all outlets.
The EVO3 Sigmas’ internal wiring has been upgraded to IsoTek’s newly-developed UP-OCC (Ultra Pure Ohno Continuous Cast) high purity copper solid core  wire, which is silver plated before being insulated with Teflon. A fine Teflon strand is wound helically around the wire before a secondary Teflon tube is extruded over the top, creating an air gap between wire and insulating tube and forming an air dielectric which has virtually no capacitance. The printed circuit board features 24-carat gold-plated 2oz copper for improved reliability and signal transfer.

IsoTek EVO3 Sigmas key features

Removes both common mode and differential mode mains noise.
RFI (radio frequency interference) reduction 75dB.
108,000A of instantaneous protection.
Two high-current outlets incorporate IsoTek’s Direct-Coupled© circuit to deliver low impedance power with a maximum continuous output of 3,680W.
Four medium-current outlets, rated at 10A, feature IsoTek’s unique Adaptive Gating© circuit, which auto-senses the connected electronics and provides the optimal level of conditioning required at a maximum 2,300W of continuous power.
Six unique conditioning stages ensure optimal isolation between each outlet, eliminating differential mode cross-contamination.
KERP© (Kirchoff’s Equal Resistance Path) technology ensures equal resistance and equal power delivery to all outlets, with no interference from one socket to the next.
Internal wiring: solid core silver-plated UP-OCC (Ultra Pure Ohno Continuous Cast) wire with Teflon VAD (virtual air dielectric) technology.
Available with UK, EU, US, Australian, Swiss and South African sockets.

The EVO3 Sigmas is available from March 2014, available in silver or black and priced at £2,295 (including VAT).


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McIntosh Laboratory has launched a new CD/SACD player, the MCD550. The new player has been designed to MCD550+Front+Top-1offer exemplary playback of both CD and SACD discs and “transform the audio quality of digitally connected devices”, thanks to its three-input internal DAC.

At the MCD550’s heart lies an eight-channel, 32-bit/192kHz PCM/DSD digital to analogue converter that operates in quad-balanced mode, utilising four DAC paths per audio channel. The three-strong digital input suite in the McIntosh Digital Engine includes a coaxial and optical input, plus a dedicated asynchronous USB 2.0 input (operating at up to 24-bit) which allows for the direct transfer of digitally stored music at up to 192kHz resolution.

The MCD550 benefits from both coaxial and optical outputs, for use with a digital preamp or home theatre processor, plus both (fixed and variable) balanced and unbalanced outputs, giving the new player a vast range of connectivity options including direct connection to a power amplifier.

The MCD550 has a new transport section with a premium die-cast aluminium tray plus the latest in advanced digital servo technology for “faster, quieter and more accurate operation; the disc’s audio data is read at twice the normal rate, ensuring better disc-tracking and error-correction processing”.

The MCD550’s front panel display indicates the current disc’s playback status, digital input status and the variable audio output volume level. Also featured on the fascia is dial-based level control, allowing simple volume adjustment for headphone use, volume-matching with other source components when the player is used in a system, and for volume control when using a direct connection to a power amplifier. A dial control is also employed for track selection.

A dual-layer chassis is employed, plus an advanced linear power supply, which has a R-Core power transformer, along with multiple regulators, to ensure stable and noise-free operation.

MCD550 specifications

Channels: 2

Analogue outputs: balanced/unbalanced stereo, fixed and variable

Fixed output level: 2.0Vrms unbalanced; 4.0vrms balanced

Variable output level: 0 – 8.0Vrms unbalanced; 0 – 16.0Vrms balanced

Output impedance: 600 ohms unbalanced and balanced

Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz, +0.5, -2dB (SACD); 4Hz to 20kHz, ±0.5db (CD)

Signal to noise ratio: better than 110dB (A-weighted)

Dynamic range: better than 100dB

Total harmonic distortion: 0.002% @ 1000Hz (SACD); 0.002% @ 1000Hz (CD)

Channel separation: better than 98dB (1,000Hz)

Headphone output impedance: 47 ohms

Digital audio specifications

Coaxial sample rate: 16, 24-bit/96kHz

Optical sample rate: 16, 24-bit/192kHz

USB sample rate: 16, 24-bit/192kHz

Digital coaxial input: 0.5v p-p/75 ohms

Digital optical input: -15dbm to -21dbm

Digital USB input: USB type B connector

Digital output sample rate: up to 24-bit/192kHz

Digital coaxial output: 0.5V p-p/75 ohms

Digital optical output: -15dbm to -21dbm


Fixed outputs: unbalanced 1 stereo

Fixed outputs: balanced 1 stereo

Variable outputs: unbalanced 1 stereo

Variable outputs: balanced 1 stereo

Digital coaxial input: 1

Digital optical input: 1

Digital USB input: 1

Digital coaxial output: 1

Digital optical output: 1

 The MCD550 sells for £6,395 and is available in February.

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Funjoe at Clones Audio whose little 25 Watt amplifier Hifi Pig reviewed a while ago got in touch to tell us about clones_sheva_DAChis latest product to his rapidly expanding range of audio kit, the Sheva DAC.

Special features:
• DSD 64/128 and DXD (384KHz 24bit PCM) compatible
• Ultra-Low Phase Noise Femto Master Clock
• Remarkable power supply has separate torroidal transformers for Analog and Digital section.
• Digital Inputs: AES/EBU, S/PDIF, BNC,Toslink, I2S and USB
• 2 stereo analog outputs, one on XLR one on RCA
• 100steps fine setting via rotary encoder (digital domain) control main output.

 Price is $1799

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Decent Audio in the UK got in touch to tell Hifi Pig about the launch of two new products from Audeze: the open LCD-X & LCD-XC whitereference LCD-X and closed-back LCD-XC.The Audeze LCD-X and LCX-XC will be officially launched in the UK at Sound & Vision 2014, Bristol, 21st – 23rd February 2014.

As regular readers will know Audeze (pronounced Odyssey) headphones feature planar magnetic drive units that use ultra-thin uniformly driven diaphragms which Audeze say produce outstanding levels of transparency, detail and power.

The new headphones benefit from a completely redesigned planar magnetic driver featuring a newly-developed and processed transducer made of a thinner and lighter material with new Fazor technology. Audeze’s patent-pending Fazor elements are unique to the LCD-X and LCD-XC and help guide and manage the flow of sound in the headphone. The result is sid to be improved phase response, greater frequency extension, smoother frequency response and 3D holographic imaging. The transducer is specifically designed to work with a wide variety of driving sources.

The LCD-XC is Audeze’s first ever closed back design and has been several years in the making. Audeze customers began asking for a closed-back design back in 2010 when the open LCD-2 headphone was introduced. While the company was more than happy to provideit wanted to get it right. “After much research and various design prototypes we finally developed the materials and supporting structure that produces our unprecedented Audeze sound,” said Sankar Thiagasamudram, Chief Operating Officer at Audeze. “We’re excited to finally release the LCD-XC.”

“For the purest, most discerning audiophile listening sessions, open headphones remain the favored choice,” say the company, “but our closed-back LCD-XC is the best enclosed headphone experience you’ll find.”

Both new headphones are available in either lambskin leather or leather-free microsuede, and the LCD-XC features wood enclosure caps.

Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC features:

  • A completely redesigned planar magnetic driver.
  • A newly-developed and processed transducer made of a thinner and lighter material with new patent-pending Fazor technology.
  • Specifically designed to work with a wide variety of driving sources, from portable players to studio use.
  • Earcups made from polished anodized aluminum (LCD-X)
  • Wood cups in hand-worked Bubinga and enclosures made from precision-crafted anodized aluminum.
  • Comfortable sloped earpads in either premium lambskin leather or a leather-free super-suede microfibre. The earpads are designed with specially-crafted foam offering the proper firmness and the right acoustic balance.

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LessLoss Audio are an American/Lithuanian based company headed by Louis Motek and make a wide range of audioll4300jpg cables including interconnects, digital cables, speaker cables plus conditioners and soon a direct drive SD player. Here Danny Worth takes a listen to their $1152 DFPC Signature Power cables.

“Playing Loreena McKennits ‘Raglan Road’ it was immediately clear that the midrange of the Signatures were highly developed, her vocal sits back in the soundstage and has a strong projection of width which can be localised from it’s source point in the performance. Her tones were very liquid and silky and the upper registers had a quality of control that gripped me into the performance. The album is of a live performance and the atmospheric presence of the stage could be felt – airy and spacious”


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Read the full review of the LessLoss DFPC Signature Power Cables

Well this is certainly a good deal of music for your money with Dusty Kid’s third album coming in at round about the two hours mark spread over two CDs which are limited to just 1000 copies on the Isolade label.

III is interestingly mixed with the use of vintage consoles and everything being recorded on to reel-to reel tape to give the finished product a distinctly dirty and lo-fi feel to it and this is apparent from the off with the opening track “Crepuscolaris” where a grimy and distorted kick lay the foundations for more deformed sonic shapes thrown over the top. It’s dark and menacing but the strings over the top lift it a little – as if there is hope rising from the burned ashes of a destroyed future city. More »

Gato have announced that they will release the latest addition to their DIA range from next month. The new addition gatojanwill be a preamplifier and DAC with the name PRD-3. The preamplifier will be based on the company’s DIA integrated amplifier and will include the DAC circuits from their DIA-250 and DIA-400.

Price will be around $2500

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Dynaudio have announced their new Sub, the 250 II which will retail at £750.DYN_Sub 250_livingroom

It’s an active subwoofer with an integrated 200W amplifier and ustilising a 24cm long-throw woofer which has a 100mm voice coil. The enclosure is sealed and it will be available in four finishes.

Interestingly the woofer’s coil and cone are made from Dynaudio’s own MSP material (Magnesium Silicate Polymer).

The amplifier circuit has variable gain setting, a variable low pass filter (50Hz – 150 Hz) and a selectable phase switch. The audio signal can be fed from an AV receiver’s Subwoofer/LFE output into the RCA LFE input, or from a stereo amp’s pre out into the SUB input (2 RCAs). A selectable high-pass filter (Flat, 60Hz or 80Hz) enables the SAT output (2 x RCAs) to facilitate crossover integration between the Sub 250II and the main speakers.

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B.M.C. Audio (Balanced Music Concept) has introduced the new PureVox speaker. The PureVox is B.M.C.’s bmcentry-level speaker and the cpmpany claime a number of innovations for the speaker.

Most conventional  speakers have good depth of  image in the centre of the sound-stage, but much less so at the sides.  Responsible for this lack of realism are the distorted frequency responses outside of the speaker axis say BMC. The PureVox’ quasi-bi-polar design is said to “dramatically improve the  sound-stage’s depth impression at the sides, making the sound- stage more complete and realistic”.

The body of the PureVox’s cabinet is made of a single piece of extruded aluminum, with a varying thickness to reduce internal resonances. Several inside layers of a “molten-in” damping material and stabilization bars at the remaining resonance points are included to “make the cabinet perfectly quiet”.
This was quite a challenge for the manufacturing process since a 1200 ton pressure is required for such big body extrusion!
The cabinet is sealed, “eliminating the bass-reflex resonance that can sound like blowing air into an empty bottle. The power of the drivers and the cabinet’s low energy loss more than compensate for any loss of oomph in the sound.”
The PureVox is a quasi-balanced speaker, which means the same driver set is on the front as is on the 45-degree angled rear of the top. This includes two 6.9-inch Kevlar / fibreglass bass / midrange drivers in a quasi-bipolar configuration. The PureVox’s configuration also includes two powerful AMT tweeters, with strong motor / weight ratio.
Depending on the country the PureVox will be available from March from authorized B.M.C. Audio dealers at a suggested price of EUR 4500 or USD 6,400 per pair.


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Recorded in 1963 and released in July of the same year on the Verve label (and then later in 97 where there were extra tracks) this is Ella Fitzgerald and the Count Basie Orchestra with Quincey Jones being responsible for the arrangements (Fitzgerald later worked with Jones on the 1989 “Back on the Block”) and with production credits going to Norman Granz . Ella and Basie had worked together previously on just one occasion on the 1957 record “On the Sunny Side of the Street”.

Let me say that the first thing I thought when listening to this hi-rez version from High Res Audio was how spot on and modern the recording was and I’m becoming a bit of a convert of this digital format it has to be said…there’s a real opening up of the sound and soundstage for me.

I’m sure many will know this album and many of the tunes therein. It kicks off with a the Fats Waller/Andy Razaf tune “Honeysuckle Rose” with an absolutely glorious arrangement and Ella’s scat style adding a great touch to the tune. This is big band jazz and whilst it may well be from 1963 it doesn’t seem at all dated and that is indeed true for the rest of the album. More »

Empyrean Isles was recorded in 1964, released on the Blue Note label, established Hancock as a serious artist and is now available on hi rez format (this copy came from HighRes Audio in Germany)

The album contains two of Hancock’s most famous compositions –  “One Finger Snap” and the brilliant “Cantaloupe Island” which is one of my favourite tunes of all time.

Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, players on the album are Herbie Hancock on piano, Freddie Hubbard on cornet, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums and all push themselves to their limits. More »

Out 27th January on the Kompakt label Pop ambient 2014 is the 14th instalment of this series of albums presided over by label head honcho Wolfgang Voigt.

Pop Ambient kicks off with “The God of Pads” Ulf Lohmann who’s had a six year hiatus and it would appear he’s back in fine form with the wonderfully dreamy “Sicht” and the tune that finishes off the record PCC. Both are majestic offerings that carry you along on a wave of lush pads and are an apt pairing to open and close this album.

Mikkel Metal’s “Patience” introduces percussion and beats of sorts with slightly disturbing noisescapes over the top – this is a little reminiscent of a lite version of Ben Frosts “By the Throat” album in that it explores similar territories only in a less menacing way. More »

As the title may suggest the Concord USB is a powered USB cable from Astintrew and Danny Worth has been concord2300listening to one for the last few weeks.

“Tones were nice and relaxed and unforced, there was an ease to the sound, a silky flow to the music and, most importantly, the nasty upper bass hump that the Mac has was smoothed out beautifully giving a far better balance to the sound overall.”

Read the full review of the Astintrew Powered USB


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UK Distribution company Henley designs contacted Hifi Pig to tell us about the new Quintet Series of Moving Coil Bronzequintetortofon(MC) phono pick-up cartridges from Ortofon. The all-new range of cartridges includes 5 models to offer a range that ties in nicely with Ortofon’s existing Cadenza Series of premium MC cartridges, and their 2M range of Moving Magnet designs. The Quintet Mono, Quintet Red, Quintet Blue, Quintet Bronze and Quintet Black will be available from late-January 2014.
An ABS (Acrylonitrile / Butadiene / Styrene) thermoplastic material is used to manufacture each Quintet body. This light-weight, impact-resistant material is well-suited to injection moulding, and provides a very durable, scratch-resistant surface. Internally, neodymium magnets are employed to allow the cartridge to achieve an optimal output, while the low internal impedance design ensures the cartridge is less sensitive to load; meaning any Quintet Series cartridge can be easily partnered with a wide range of phono stages and transformers.
The ½” mounting design allows for easy set-up with most tonearm / headshell combinations. The aluminium top-plate has threaded mounting holes and easily accommodates the two sets of screws supplied (5mm and 7mm).
The Quintet Red is £199, Blue £325, Bronze £499, Black £649 and the Mono is £325.


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Thomas at TSAE, whose Evince loudspeakers we reviewed, got in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us that NuNu EvinceDistribution has been appointed the official UK and US distributor for their products.

Anthony Sallis at Nu Nu Distribution said “At NuNu we are admirers of the different and the bold innovators in musical reproduction. Thomas has a great passion for music and its reproduction in a correct and natural manner. Using his talent he has created the stunning Evince and Etalon speakers.”

Having heard the Evince loudspeakers and thoroughly enjoying them we can only wish this new pairing every success for the future.

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Denon has announced its first standalone USB Digital to Analogue Converter, the new £329 DA-300USB DAC denon_usb_dacwhich boasts the same Advanced AL32 Processing and 32-bit, 192kHz digital to analogue conversion technologies of Denon’s flagship CD/SACD players. It is scheduled to hit stores in February 2014. 

The DAC can be connected via USB-B or the additional coaxial and optical digital inputs.When connected by USB the computer recognises the DA-300USB as an external soundcard, completely bypassing its own audio electronics. Any digital audio format that can be played from the computer’s own media player can be processed by the DA-300USB – including MP3/MP4, AAC, ALAC, WAV and FLAC HD (up to 24-bit, 192kHz) and DSD (the native file format for SACD; in 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz resolution). Transmission of the digital audio stream from the computer to the DA-300USB is in bit-transparent, asynchronous mode, to ensure a bit-perfect data stream for high definition Advanced AL32 Processing and High-Precision digital to analogue conversion.

The DA-300USB is an attractively styled, ultra compact unit. Measuring 17 x 17 x 5.5 cm, it can be positioned either horizontally or vertically (using the supplied clip-on stand). The minimalist front panel sports a power button, headphone output and volume control, a touch input selector switch, and an OLED display which shows the selected input, headphone volume and input signal resolution. Orientation of the display changes with horizontal or vertical positioning of the unit.

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When this diminutive Bluetooth loudspeaker arrived just before Christmas we thought that the best person to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAreview it would be our sixteen year old son Harry as he’s potentially the target market and he’s the one with Bluetooth enabled kit.

“The sound quality is very good, the bass is surprisingly rich and the high notes are pretty clear too.

More importantly for what it is, this speaker is loud and can easily fill a medium/small room. It surprised me the first time I used it, as I didn’t expect such good sound reproduction from such a small compact design…it really was a ‘wow’ moment when I first played Deadmau5 on it and this was in one of the largest rooms in our house.  When I moved to a smaller room, my bedroom, the Go really filled the space with music.”

Read the full review of the Simple Audio Go Bluetooth Loudspeaker.

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Like me, the name Leon Haywood may well be a new one to you but don’t let that stop you from reading further because this one is a bit of a hidden gem. Haywood is best known for his crossover hit “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” from 1975 which has been sampled by Public Enemy, Dr Dre, Redman, Aaliyah, 50 Cent, Mariah Carey and others.

He was born in Houston, Texas and he’s had a pretty wide and varied musical career including him accompanying Guitar Slim on piano when he was still a teenager, playing keyboards in Sam Cooke’s band and playing on a number of one hit wonder bands’ tunes. His first solo hit on Decca records was “It’s Got To Be Mellow” which reached the giddy heights of #21 in 1967.

So from an artist that I’d heard nothing about previously I was a little taken aback to hear that Naturally was actually his ninth studio album, was originally released in 1980 on the Century Fox label and was at the time his most successful release reaching #22 in the R&B charts. More »

Charo, or Maria del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza as her parents would have known her, is a Spanish-American singer, actress, comedienne and  flamenco guitarist well known back in the day for her somewhat flamboyant style and her catchphrase “Cuchi-Cuchi” (‘Cuchi’ is a Spanish slang term for a woman’s genitals. However, Spanish speaking countries often have local dialect for the term. In Venezuela, it refers to something pleasing to the eye.” Thanks She’s done films, television (she was a regular on The Love Boat by all accounts but that was all before my time)… and she was voted Best Flamenco Guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine…TWICE! More »

Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the last 35 years or so you must have heard either some of Loleatta Holloway’s disco charged tunes or at the very least one of the many tunes that sample her …”Love Sensation” anyone?

“Queen of the Night” was first released in ’78 on Gold Mind/Salsoul records and was Holloway’s follow up to her ’76 breakthrough album for the label “Loleatta”. Here we find it re-released on Big Break Records with a trio of extra mixes (the 12” Disco and Disco Madness mixes of the album’s opening tune “Catch Me on the Rebound” and the 12” disco mix of “I May Not Be There When You Want Me (But I’m Right On Time). More »

British manufacturer Arcam of Cambridge, used CES to unveil the new FMJ A49, a 200 Watts per Arcamfmjamplifierchannel stereo integrated amplifier, hand-crafted at the company facility in Rochester New York.

Arcam say this is the best and most powerful amplifier they have ever made with its 200 watts per channel Class G constant power into 8 ohms and 400 watts into 4 ohms. The amp will deliver upto 50 wpc in Pure Class A, has a massive toroidal transformer and is fully balanced throughout. The new amplifier has a MM/MC phono stage built in plus an onboard power supply for Arcam’s rSeries of wired and wireless DACs.

The FMJ A49 will begin shipping late March 2014 and will cost £3250/$5000

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The Airplay™ enabled A100 is a network-ready, 50w Class A/B amplifier that combines wireless streaming MA_A100_Network_amptechnologies with  audio system design to bridge the divide between a world of digital music and your hi-fi speakers so that it will play your music wherever you store it – on computer, smartphone, NAS drive or the cloud, or streamed directly from Internet radio stations.

After connecting to the Wi-Fi network, you’ll be able to navigate your music collections on your Mac or PC, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and stream uncompressed audio to your speakers in any room.  Away from a WiFi router, you can still play to the A100 from your iOS device using Airstream Direct.

The A100 also supports DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) streaming, allowing any third party DLNA app for iOS, Android and windows mobile to be used.

Front panel controls and the A100’s remote provide switching between all input sources whilst a front-mounted USB connection gives you easy for charging your mobile device and provides Wi-Fi sharing setup feature.
Multi-Zone wire-less integrated stereo amplifier
Compatible with Apple Airplay™
Airstream™ direct (connect directly to iOS devices without a router)
USB input for charging and Wi-Fi set up.
Simple connection to Wi-Fi network using Wi-Fi sharing
2 x 50W  Class A/B amplifiers
Totally silent operation
High resolution DAC
Software upgrades over Internet via Wi-Fi
IR remote control handset
Stereo RCA analogue inputs
Stereo RCA pre/ sub-woofer outputs
S/PDIF (Digital) optical input
DLNA compatible
Vertical or horizontal orientation – Stand included
White or black finish options with contrasting glass side trims
Price £400


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Italian high-end manufacturer Eam Lab built contacted Hifi Pig to tell us a little about their HA 360.2 amplifier.  HA360_2

The Eam Lab 360.2, say the company, is an amplifier that “we have enclosed all the know-how gained in recent years and we were able to produce an extremely reliable amplifier with an exceptional price”.

The amp will deliver 360 Watts per channel into 4ohms with a THD of 0.005%. The amp contains proprietary protection circuits already used in some of the company’s other amplifiers.

 “The novelty is that the circuit HDCA, owned Eam Lab, is essentially a signal booster that processes the balanced signals and single-ended inputs and then amplifies the current signal”. Eam Lab say that with this circuit the amplifier will not have any problems interfacing with other sources, and is also able to linearize the frequency response and hold it within values ​​of + / – 0.5 dB up to 1Mhz.

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Arcam got in touch to tell Hifi Pig about their new affordable Bluetooth micro-DAC, the miniBlink. miniBlink

Basically it allows music streaming for Android, Apple, PC, Mac, iPad, Tablet, Phone etc and builds on the reputation of the company’s rBlink. The miniBlink is the first in the new Arcam “mini” range of digital micro-components at affordable prices for mass and online distribution.

The mini uses the technology from Arcam’s High-Definition Bluetooth DAC, the £150 / $300 rBlink, but has been carefully re-engineered to lower the price by 50%.

It uses a high-density moulded enclosure shaped like a pebble, with an internal aerial and a 3.5 mm output jack. It is powered by a micro-sized USB power supply from the mains or from a USB socket on a computer.

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Clones Audio, whose 25i amp we reviewed in April 2013, contacted Hifi Pig to tell us about there latest mono power clones50pmamplifier, the 55pm.

The Clones Audio 55pm comes with a separate casing and power supply which they say “provides cleaner imaging and more extension on both ends of the audio spectrum as your speakers have the power they need to reproduce demanding frequencies and dynamic range”.

The amp offers 55W into 8ohms and 100W into 4ohms with an input impedance of 22k (unbalanced only). The units weigh 4.5kg each and come with a 5 year warranty.


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HiFiMan launched their smallest, lightest and cheapest portable audio player. The HM-700 features a balanced Hifiman_HM_700output which HiFiMan say will deliver a wide and lifelike soundstage and comes with a balanced version of the company’s RE-400 in ear monitors. The new player will play most of the most well known formats and it has 32GB of storage. Price will be $249 with the RE-400 IEMs or $499 with the company’s flagship RE-600 IEMs.

HiFiMan say the user interface is intuitive and easy to use and that the screen and controls are “disguised” to give an uncluttered feel to the unit.

The Lithium battery should provide up to fifteen hours of playback and recharging is done via the USB port being connected to a PC.

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Black Pearls whose integrated amplifier Hifi Pig reviewed last year have announced the introduction of their first Black_pearls_CDP_VirgoCD player, the Virgo.

Virgo is a top loader CD player equipped with a USB audio interface. It features the Philips CD PRO 2 module, two PCM1794A in dual-mono configuration to convert the digital signal to analogue and a CS8421 upsampler to convert the 44.1KHz sampling rate of the audio CD to 96KHz before feeding it to the DAC chips.

Besides the sampling conversion Black Pearls say the upsampler “minimizes the jitter contained in the digital signal, resulting in a more detailed and open sound”.

The dual-mono design is also applied in the power supply section, where separate toroidal windings and voltage stabilizer circuits are used.

The USB audio interface is asynchronous and supports up to 192KHz/24 bits sampling rates.

Virgo will have both RCA and XLR (balanced) outputs.


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Krell will introduce what they are calling the most revolutionary design in its history at CES 2014. Called the iBias the CESnew tech’ will allow Class A operation but without the associated energy loss and heat.

The new range of amplifiers includes seven models with each being 3U high and having removable rack mounting ears with the model number of each amp indicating their power per channel into 8 ohms.

There are two mono amps (solo 550 and 375), two stereo amps (Duo 175 and 275) and a three channel amp (Trio 275). As well as the more traditional 2 channel fare Krell will also have the five channel Chorus 5200 and the seven channel Chorus 7200.

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German based MBL whose 116F Radialstrahler loudspeakers we reviewed in 2012, have announced their latest mlnobleline“Noble Line” electronics at this years CES in Las Vegas.The range will include amps and digital products.

The New range of amps feature the second generation of the company’s Linear Analogue Switching Amplifier (LASA) technology which is independent of speaker load and “guarantees a low distortion signal that is independent of the frequency” –this basically means that the new amps can deliver up to 36 amps into any loudspeaker. They also contain Unity gain which effectively reduces the amplification by 8dB which MBL say decreases noise and distortion but increases dynamics and resolution.

The digital side of the Noble Line of products come with a wide array of inputs including DSD capability, a redesigned USB port that is optically insulated and self powered – asynchronous signals transmit at up to 24Bit/192kHz.

Like all MBL products the Noble Line will be made at the company’s facility just outside Berlin.

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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chord Electronics’ DAC 64, the company  has launched Chord_hugo_Ces_2014Hugo at CES 2014 – Hifi Pig reported the imminent launch and gave a sneaky peek in late November.

Chord say  Hugo is the world’s most advanced headphone amp/DAC, offering five digital inputs including A2DP aptX Bluetooth, plus advanced 384kHz PCM and DSD 128 playback for today’s high-resolution DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) music files.

The new Hugo, which can be used as both a portable headphone amp/DAC as well as a source component in a static system, brings the digital audio expertise of Rob Watts and Chord Electronics to headphone listening.

Hugo is ready to take advantage of today’s advanced studio-master-quality (DXD) music files and can decode sample rates ranging from 44.1kHz to 384kHz (PCM). Hugo also benefits from two advanced USB inputs: one driverless input for legacy USB devices and one asynchronous high- definition USB port for operation up to 384kHz. It also has two additional digital inputs, coaxial and optical.

The new Hugo also has A2DP Bluetooth capability and uses a custom-made module with the aptX codec to feed a digital signal directly into the DAC circuitry and in addition to 384kHz PCM files, the Hugo can also process DSD 128 data using the latest DSD-over-PCM standard (DoP). Whether using Mac OS or Windows OS, Chord Electronics’ own proprietary driver software is provided.

Hugo has a built-in battery-charging circuit, with a full charge reached in approximately two hours. Hugo takes no power over its USB input and only takes signal data, therefore, it is fully compatible with all iPhone, iPad and Android devices.


  • Optical TOSLink 24-bit/192kHz-capable
  • RCA coaxial input 24-bit/384kHz-capable
  • Driverless USB input 16-bit/48kHz-capable (designed for tablets/phones)
  • HD USB input 32-bit/384KHz and DSD128-capable (for computer/laptop playback; requires driver installation on Windows, others TBC)
  • A2DP Bluetooth link

Price: UK £1,200

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The Mark Levinson № 585 integrated amplifier combines 200 watts per channel power output (into 8 ohms, 350 CESwatts into 4 ohms) and offers six digital inputs including USB, optical, coaxial and AES/EBU XLR, to accommodate a wide variety of digital music sources, including 32-bit/192kHz computer audio and DSD over PCM via USB. The № 585 incorporates exclusive HARMAN Signal Doctor processing, which employs proprietary signal-enhancement techniques to provide the best-possible sound quality from compressed digital audio sources.

“Our new № 585 integrated amplifier is created for audiophiles and music lovers who desire an all in one component that delivers musical performance equal to the finest separate components yet is space-saving and easy to use,” said Jim Garrett, Director of Marketing and Product Management, HARMAN Luxury Audio Group and Loudspeakers. “Recognizing that a growing number of listeners are using computer-based audio and music servers as primary music sources, the №  585 offers a broad array of digital as well as analogue connections and includes a built-in 32-bit/192kHz D/A converter to provide high-resolution digital audio playback.”

The № 585 provides a subwoofer output with a selectable 80Hz high-pass filter and includes Ethernet, RS-232, IR and 12V trigger ports to facilitate its use in audio/video installations with integrated systems control.

Its high-current Class AB power amplifier section utilizes a 900VA custom toroidal analogue power supply and SMPS digital power supply.

The Mark Levinson № 585 Integrated Amplifier will be available in Summer 2014 at a suggested retail price of $12,000.

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Absolute Sounds, UK importer and distributor of hi-fi and home cinema equipment, got in touch with Hifi Pig to CESlet us know what the brands they represent will be doing at this year’s CES.
Audio Research
The American company unveil their latest entry-level CD player, the CD6, which also serves as an outboard DAC. This will be demonstrated alongside their SP20 preamp and Reference 75 power amp, with speakers provided by Sonus faber (the Olympica III).
Constellation Audio
This recently formed audio electronics brand will demonstrate The Argo, Constellation’s first integrated amplifier together with the Cygnus media player.
Crystal Cable
Dutch company Crystal Cable, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2014. CES sees a special preview of forthcoming Crystal Cable products, including the Minissimo standmount speaker and The Cube, a compact integrated amp featuring the Light Drive system developed by sister company Siltech. Cables on show include the Absolute Dream, the world’s first 100 per cent monocrystal cable range.
Dan D’Agostino
Dan D’Agostino will launch the first integrated amp under his own name, the  Momentum Integrated,complete with D’Agsotino’s signature front-mounted meter – inspired by the styling of fine Swiss watches.
The only audio manufacturer permitted to use the prestigious ‘Swiss Made’ mark, darTZeel will unveil their LHC-208, described as a ‘danalogue’ integrated amplifier.
New at CES 2014 is the flagship Devialet 500 combining two Devialet 240s in an intelligent dual-mono or bi-amp configuration, coupled together with proprietary software.
Legendary American high-end brand Krell is remaining secretive about the new products it’s set to unveil at CES, but you can bet your bottom dollar that something on the power amplifier front will be unveiled.
The latest member of the much-lauded Magico family of speakers is the S3 a midsize floorstander that slots between the entry-level S1 and their S5.
Best known in the UK for its  hybrid electrostatic speakers, Kansas-based MartinLogan continues to expand its range with a tabletop speaker called Crescendo, which supports both Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth wireless streaming. Elsewhere, the company’s Motion Series of dynamic speakers continues to expand with the addition of the Motion 60 – the largest floorstander in the range, complete with MartinLogan’s Folded Motion Tweeter. Sonus faber
The full Olympica range is on show at CES 2014, alongside Sonus faber’s other speaker lines, while the new Homage Vox centre speaker takes part in a home cinema demo alongside the Amati Futura and Guarneri Evolution loudspeakers.
Designed and built in Japan, the TechDAS Air Force One turntable has a platter that floats on an air bearing, while adjustable air suspension “ensures a complete absence of interference from air- and floor-borne vibration”. A silent outboard vacuum pump clamps records flat against the platter, and there’s the facility to mount two different tonearms. TechDAS is unveiling the Air Force Two at CES, a more affordable deck forged upon the same engineering principals as Air Force One.
Theta Digital
US-based Theta Digital is showing off the latest Casablanca IV Music and Cinema Controller– a multichannel preamp/processor. A host of advanced features include a new 192kHz post processing board, Dirac Live 96K digital room correction and Theta’s proprietary Jitter Jail II anti-jitter technology.
Wilson Audio
Utah’s Wilson Audio is demonstrating the forthcoming Sasha Series 2 – the latest descendant of the legendary WATT/Puppy – in its suite at the Mirage Hotel. Among the other speakers on show are the new Mezzo CS, a low-profile design that’s the aimed at being the centre channel partner for the Sasha Series 2 in a home cinema context, together with the Duette Series 2 standmount speaker.

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Audio-Technica began in Tokyo in 1962 and now they are debuting their new SonicFuel headphones at CES CES2014.

“The Solid Bass range cranks up the bass so you get powerful sound for pop, rock and hip-hop while the SonicPro range is designed for ultimate audio performance in the recording studio, behind the decks or on the go. SonicSport headphones are designed for all sports, indoor or outdoor, rain or shine. They’re IPX5 lab certified waterproof and deliver a rugged, secure fit for music on the go or at the gym. With a comfortable design, the SonicSport range delivers audio excellence under pressure.

Finally, for the most demanding audiophiles, the High-Fidelity range of professional headphones will satisfy users of vinyl, high resolution music downloads and the latest high-definition music systems”.  Says the company’s press release.

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The Zodiac Platinum, features a 256X upsampling mode where DSD64 and DSD128 are upsampled to DSD256Antelope_zodiac_image which Antelope say will deliver new standards in accuracy, transparency, imaging, and dynamics. The new DSD DAC ships with an entirely new, second-generation Voltikus power supply and an aluminum remote control.

“We have created an algorithm that we believe is the best sounding and most authentic in reconstructing the wave using the DSD,” says Igor Levin (Antelope Audio CEO). “And the precision with which we are carrying this out is three times higher than what is typically done on the DAC chip. It is a more accurate calculation, and this is what makes the difference when you are computing the missing points.”

“Even in cases where the original material was not recorded at higher rates, we can still use the same mathematics that we use in the upsampling with the PCM in order to produce higher sample rate DSD – and that is going to make a big difference when the DSD is reconstructed,” he added. “So in a way, I would go so far as to say that we’ve created the best DSD that’s ever been built by improving it through this upsampling process.”

In addition to the custom-built USB chip capable of carrying DSD128 and up 24-bit, 384 kHz PCM files, the Zodiac Platinum boasts a wide range of connectivity options, including AES/EBU and  S/PDIF I/O, a couple of TOSLINK inputs (PCM only), a set of balanced and unbalanced analog outs, as well as an unbalanced RCA input.

The Platinum is complimented with two audiophile grade headphone outputs fed by dual-stage drivers and controlled by a precision stepped relay attenuator, coming as a welcome addition to those that prefer to be immersed in a more intimate high-end audio appreciation.

Finally, the device features Antelope’s 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking and is also equipped with a 10MHz input for Antelope’s 10M Rubidium atomic clock.

The Zodiac Platinum, which ships with Voltikus power supply, is priced at US $5,500 / EUR 5,500, UK £4,250.


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Naim Audio has announced a preview of it new Reference pre and power amplifiers at CES Las Vegas today. naimrefThey are Statement NAC S1 preamplifier and NAP S1 mono power amplifiers. The NAP S1 mono power amplifiers are each rated at 746 watts into 8 ohms, 1450 watts into 4 ohms and over 9000 watts burst power into 1 ohm.

Statement will commence shipping in July 2014. Prices are not yet confirmed but are expected to start at approximately $200,000.

Steve Sells (Naim Electronic Design Director) said “I’ve had the ambition to create the ultimate amplifier ever since I can remember. It’s a rare opportunity to start from scratch and design without compromise.”

Steve was given the green light for Statement in 2010 and since then has worked tirelessly with Naim R&D to make it a reality. “It’s a massive project. To really push the boundaries of what we could achieve has required the efforts of teams from across Naim. Electronic, mechanical and industrial design engineers with combined experience totaling well over a hundred years have contributed to this project.”


NAC S1 Preamplifier

Inputs: 3 X DIN, 3 X RCA, 2 X Balanced
Output: 1 X Balanced, 2 X Unbalanced
Weight: 61.5kg
Dimensions (mm): 940 x 270 x 412

NAP S1 Mono Power Amplifier

Inputs: 1 x XLR (each)
Outputs: binding posts for spade & 4mm banana
Weight: 101kg (each)
Dimensions (mm): 940 x 256 x 383 (each)

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Germany‘s T+A, announced the launch of five new products at CES in Las Vegas. 7377_ta_hv_a3000_front-kopie

P 3000 HV – UK SRP £9,500 – is an analogue pre–amplifier that features include HV (High Voltage) design, 7 x unbalanced / 4 x balanced inputs, identical ‘double-mono’ circuit construction, significant internal shielding with each section housed within its own compartment, complete discrete design with no op-amps, totally linear and interference-free power supply with totally separate analogue and digital supplies (each with their own power input!), high-end headphone amplifier.

A 3000 HV – UK SRP £11,900 (Pictured) – is a Stereo/Mono Amplifier with more than 500 Watts output power per channel and an enormous ability to deliver current. Features include HV (High Voltage) design, single-ended or balanced input, identical ‘double-mono’ circuit construction, 10mm thick internal shielding between power supply and amplification circuitry to prevent interaction, 1000 Watts torroidal transformer sealed in an aluminium enclosure, zero-feedback design, Class A large signal stage, fully symmetrical current amplifier stage (fitted with MOSFET drivers and the latest “thermal tracking” bi-polar output transistors).

PS 3000 HV – UK SRP £7,900 – An additional power supply unit for A 3000 HV to increase output power and current capability.

Criterion TCD 610 W SE subwoofer – UK SRP £3,770 – The updated version of the TCD 610 W, the SE features 2 x new 26cm (10″) drive units. Powered by a new 1000 Watt amplifier with digital processing, the TCD 610 W SE can be automatically calibrated to any room using the included microphone.

CARUSO Blu – UK SRP £2,990 – The CARUSO Blu is an all–in–one complete stereo system in a compact form.  Compatible with BluRay, CD, DVD, Internet radio, Network music servers, USB storage media, Bluetooth music transfer from mobile devices, DAB+ andVHF radio, the CARUSO Blu can be used as either a stand alone audio system using its internal speakers or, via its pre-amplifier outputs, connected to active speakers.

British audio company, Damson, today announced their Headbones™, the company’s first offering in the wireless 3212_Headbonesheadphone category. They will also be on show at CES 2014.

The patent-pending Headbones™ is radically new design in that rather than blocking the ear canal with the standard in-ear buds, Damson’s Headbones™ rest on the temporal bone behind or in front of the ear, where they send audio vibrations through the skull to the cochlea. They avoid the use of a traditional “cone speaker” by replacing the magnetic coil with teeth (or incisors), allowing the sound to radiate through the surface the speaker is placed on.

These look ideal if you need to be aware of the sounds around you as well as being able to hear your tunes.

The advantage of the unique technology that Damson utilises also has serious positive implications for the hearing-impaired. By utilising IDF to send vibrations through the skull to the cochlea, Headbones™ bypass the outer ear, which allows people with some hearing impairments to be able to listen to music, by delivering the sounds directly to the inner ear.

Damson Headbones™ are compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and users can expect up to eight hours of music-listening enjoyment from a single charge. When not in use, Headbones™ can be charged via a Micro USB. One version of the Headbones™ has the speaker sitting in front of the ear, while another, more discreet version, rests the speaker just behind the ear.

Price TBC

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2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of Meridian’s first digital loudspeaker, the D600, in 1989. At CESCES 2014 Meridian will display some of their iconic products showing the development of their digital loudspeaker technology from the D600 to the present day.

Summary of Meridian Products on Show at CES 2014

Special Edition (SE) Loudspeakers – 2014 will see Meridian launch a new Special Edition series of DSP Digital Active Loudspeakers, featuring a beryllium domed tweeter, new electronics and driver clamp rings to deliver what they say will be the highest-performing Meridian DSP Digital Active Loudspeaker available. Meridian will be previewing the new models at CES and Special Edition DSP8000, DSP7200 and DSP5200 (all on display) will be announced.

G55 and G57 Power Amplifiers – to extend the flexibility of Meridian Digital Theatre and stereo components, Meridian is re-introducing 5- and 2-channel amplifiers, enabling their surround controllers like the new G65 (which will also be on show) to drive third-party passive loudspeakers. The G65 is specifically designed to operate with the HD621 HDMI Processor, which separates out high-definition video and audio, “increasing the quality of both”. The launch of the G65 marks the 20th anniversary of the Meridian 565, the world’s first Digital Surround Controller.

Personal Audio Products – Meridian will be exhibiting the latest in its expanding line of personal audio products, including the recently-launched Prime Headphone Amplifier and new Prime Power Supply.

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Air Audio Distribution contacted Hifi Pig to tell us they’ve been appointed sole UK and Ireland Distributors by MS 328r_01HD Power to offer their range of electrical components and products.

MS HD Power specialise in mains power products and accessories for the audio market, Air Audio Distribution are launching their range of UK 13A mains plugs and IEC plugs, patented designs that have been sold into the Hong Kong and Singapore markets for some years.

The UK 13A plug has been designed specifically to offer a great solution for use with audio/visual products and will accept cables up to 16mm dia. whilst the wire clamps internally accept up to 4mm dia. The IEC plugs are designed with the same cable size specifications.

Both plug types have a wire clamping design that ensures a secure and air tight joint between plug pin and wire, are manufactured from a nylon material and all UK plug products are compliant with BS-1363.

The plug electrical parts are manufactured from high quality copper and high spring rate phosphor bronze materials and the plugs can be bought with polished un-plated pins, or (all electrical parts) plated with silver, 24K Gold or Rhodium over silver. 

The polished un-plated plugs retail at £29.95, the Rhodium plated plugs (pictured) being the most expensive at £59.95.  

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Focal got in touch with Hifi Pig to let us know what they’ll be doing at CES 2014. CES

Dimension: Focal will be revealing its Dimension sound bar. With five patented ultra-flat speaker drivers covering a very wide bandwidth. Being less than 3in depth (65mm), Dimension can be placed in front of the screen or mounted to a wall. When combined with Dimension Sub, the optional ultra-flat subwoofer on which your screen can stand, Dimension delivers 5.1 sound over six channels with a total power of 450W. Recommended retail price: Dimension ($1399) / Dimension Sub ($499) / Dimension + Dimension Sub ($1699) – Available third quarter of 2014

Grande Utopia EM: This third generation of the iconic loudspeaker launched in 2008 will be exhibited at CES this year. Recommended retail price (pair): $200000

Stella Utopia EM: The little sister of Grande Utopia EM, Stella Utopia EM measures 61in (1.55m) and weighs 584lbs (165kg). During the CES 2014, Focal will be demonstrated with brand New Naim electronics. Recommended retail price: $100 000

Aria and Easya: Various models of the Aria 900 range will be showcased at the CES in Las Vegas for the first time. The Aria range uses ecological Flax cones, made in France. Recommended retail price: from $3000 (Aria 906) to $10 000 (Aria 948). Easya loudspeakers are a “post-docking” product providing wireless audio thanks to the 2.5 way floor-standing amplified loudspeakers (85W RMS). Recommended retail price: £2 799.