Following AURALiC’s CES 2014 introduction of its Lightning Streaming technology, the industry’s aurali_ariesfirst whole-house, high-resolution streaming solution that supports both Double-Rate DSD and DXD, the company is now debuting its first product in the Lightning family — ARIES — here at the Munich High-End show..

The ARIES serves as a “bridge” between music files on network storage or high quality online streaming services and the consumers’ DAC — enabling DACs to stream high-resolution music quickly and wirelessly in virtually any sampling rate, including DSD, Double-Rate DSD and DXD.
ARIES is powered by AURALiC’s proprietary Telsa hardware platform that includes a Quad-Core ARM Coretex-A9 processor running at 1GHz, 1GB DDR3 onboard memory and 4GB internal storage. The Telsa platform has a calculation ability of 25,000 MIPS, more than enough to decode a vast spectrum of audio formats, including AAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, DIFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WV and WMA.
The inputs of ARIES include Dual-Band high-speed WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 port. The outputs are USB audio host buffered by AURALiC’s patented ActiveUSB™ technology; low jitter digital audio outputs: AES/EBU, Coaxial and TOSLINK. The USB audio host can deliver PCM from 44.1 to 384 KHz at 16-, 24- and 32-bit resolutions as well as DSD, Double-Rate DSD for compatible USB DAC. The other digital outputs are limited to 192 KHz at 24-bit in maximum according to S/PDIF standard.

ARIES is bundled with AURALiC’s Lightning DS App. The App has the capability to fully control ARIES to browse your music libraries on your network-attached storage (NAS), to steam high quality music content from service providers like Qobuz and WiMP, to control the playback and to select the hardware settings such as output channel and WiFi network, etc. The App also supports Songcast, a music distribution service that allows users to map computer’s sound to any Lightning-equipped system and to map sound between different Lightning systems in the house and streaming sound though Apple AirPlay.

“ARIES will begin a new era in the Hi-Fi industry,” said Xuanqian Wang, the President and CEO of AURALIC LIMITED. “We intentionally set the retail price starting at $999, an extremely affordable entry point, to offer everyone an opportunity to get onboard and enjoy the convenience and high quality music that modern technology can bring to all. AURALiC has invested and budgeted more than $1,000,000 to develop the Lightning Streaming system. We are committed to providing continuous, free online upgrades to improve the performance and compatibility for our solution, as well as to add new exciting functions support in the near future such as local storage playback, DSD upsampling, room acoustics correction and multi-channel.”

The ARIES Streamer Bridge will be available in two models, with shipments starting in June:

ARIES LE: The standard model with low-phase noise crystal and standard external PSU. [$999/€999]

ARIES: The set-up model with two individual Femto Clocks for both USB audio host and digital outputs, low noise internal design to eliminate jitter and AURALiC Purer-Power™ based 10uV low noise external linear PSU. [$1,599/€1,499]

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IsoTek has unveiled its successor to the multi award-winningGII Titan power conditioner: the “radically updated” EVO3 Titan.

Designed to deliver clean power for power-hungry amplifiers, mono-blocks, active loudspeakers and subwoofers, IsoTek’s original GII Titan was built to provide optimum high current filtering in a compact design.

The new EVO3 version retains the same bijou size, but manages to pack in a raft of “technological enhancements”. Several of these have trickled directly down from the extensive research that went into the Titan’s ‘big brother’, IsoTek’s flagship Super Titan. The new EVO3 Titan takes the circuit from the Super Titan and reconfigures it into a more compact form.

The Titan’s proprietary Direct-Coupled© circuit topology has also been upgraded in two subtle but significant ways. The first is a doubling of the copper component (to a weight of 2oz) before 24-ct gold plating.

Secondly, the circuit design is a fully optimised ‘KERP’ equal resistance path. KERP© (Kirchoff’s Equal Resistance Path) is a technology specifically developed for IsoTek’s EVO3 generation of products. KERP ensures equal resistance and equal power delivery to all outlets.

The EVO3 Titan’s internal wiring has also been upgraded to IsoTek’s newly-developed UP-OCC IsoTek EVO3 Titan(Ultra Pure Ohno Continuous Cast) high purity copper solid core internal 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 a virtual air dielectric (VAD) which has virtually no capacitance.

“When we launched the original GII Titan in 2005, it was designed to be the very best high current power conditioner we could make, and was a huge improvement on our earlier isolation transformer based designs,” says Keith Martin, IsoTek’s founder and managing director. “We then went all out and pushed the boundaries still further with the flagship Super Titan. We’ve now given our original Titan a radical update using technology from the Super Titan to deliver the new EVO3 Titan. For us, it’s a revelation. It delivers cutting edge ultra-low impedance high current power conditioning – but still in a beautifully compact form.”

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Peter Stanton-Ife attended the launch of a new product from Naim at the Vinyl Factory in Soho, naim_musi_1London.  As already covered in HiFi Pig, the Muso  is an all-in-one wireless music system so there is no need to repeat the detail here.

Seeing and hearing it in the flesh, I was impressed at the quality of the beautiful casework. I was told the unit weighs a whopping 13kgs. It is being made in China, which is a first for this Salisbury-based company. But it is apparently the only way to enable Naim to price the Muso so competitively – recommended retail price at £895.

It will have its own app for both Android and Apple, but nStream will still be available for those who prefer it.  The Muso’s touch sensitive volume knob is inspired by the flagship Statement amplifier, and looks the part.  So there is no need to shell out the full £140,000 for that part of the Statement experience!

The launch event in London’s Soho also featured the company’s Statement amplifier that sat glowering menacingly in a corner.

Naim also lost no time in highlighting its contribution to Naim for Bentley, with two cars on-site for a muso_bentlytest listening (but sadly not a test drive).

I was pondering as I walked around the Vinyl Factory how far Naim has come with these clean (dare I say, architectural?) designs from the rather ratty boxes beloved of the diehard stereotypical beards and sandals supporters of the seventies and early eighties. A stunning amp costing as much as a house in many parts of the country and the music for the Rooney chariot, forsooth! The good news is that the music still sounds good.

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“A perfect blend of a legend, a freak, a beast and a wookie.” –  Troy Sanders.

A strange thing happened today: unusually I was stumped at an appropriate way to start this particular review  and was mutely & vacantly staring at a blank document, but the  Mastodon frontman and Killer Be Killed protagonist has provided a fitting rubric for me… thanks Troy.  On paper at least, the prospect of this debut album from KBK is surely one of the most tantalizing of any metal supergroup ever and has metal fans worldwide practically slavering over its imminent release… with very good reason.  Allow me to introduce the participants: More »

The Chord Company has added a new high-speed HDMI cable to its collection.Picture 861

The Active Resolution HDMI V2 has a new high-performance chipset designed to bring improvements to both picture and sound quality when used in good-quality audio/visual systems. Key to the new cable’s design is an improved conductor: the Active Resolution HDMI V2 now features heavier gauge conductors for all critical signal paths, employing high-quality silver-plated oxygen-free copper 26 AWG conductors.

The Active Resolution HDMI V2 is fitted with a die-cast gold-plated HDMI plug with a metal body to improve shielding.

Further features include low-loss gas-foamed polyethylene insulation, with all critical signal conductors protected with high-frequency-effective shielding.

Active Resolution HDMI V2 is now available in lengths of: 0.75m; 1.5m; 2m; 3m; 5m; 8m; 10m; 15m and 20m. Prices start at £150 for the 0.75m version.

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Andrea at Architettura Sonora got in touch with Hifi Pig to let us know that they will be exhibiting their archson2unique and very interesting “architectural sonic modules”  and amplifiers at this years Munich High End show in May.

As well as attending Munich High End the company also mentioned they will be in New York as they’ve won the Architizer award in their category.

They’ll be in Hall 2, stand C13

Pictured is the company’s Shark subwoofer.

 

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JoSound returns to the High End show in Munich with their Ra (currently in for review with Hifi Pig) JOSOUND at Munich 2013 Ra Loudspeakersand Cartouche AC1.5 stereo loudspeakers on 15 to 18 May 2014 at the M.O.C.

Fronting their loudspeakers will be a system comprising:

Tranquil PC Media One (Media PC)
Abbingdon Music Research CD-777 (CD Transport)
Abbingdon Music Research DP-777 (DAC)
Arte Forma Audio – Thalia (Pre-Amp)
Arte Forma Audio – Due Volte (Mono Blocks)
O2A interconnects and power cables

Their room is Atrium 4.2 Room E206 they’ll be happy to play any style of music you wish to hear – we had them playing banging techno in the past and thoroughly enjoyed it. Certainly one of the rooms not to be missed.

 

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Analogue Seduction, UK retailer established in 2005 and dedicated to two-channel hi-fi, is the first DYN_Evidence_Platinum_bordeauxshowroom in the UK to have Dynaudio’s new flagship Evidence Platinum loudspeakers on demonstration.

Dynaudio has developed and manufactured its new flagship loudspeaker: Evidence Platinum. Which they say offers a level of sound quality never before experienced, armed with an array of state-of-the-art proprietary Dynaudio technology, the eye-catching £58,500 Evidence Platinum loudspeakers are the zenith of the company’s audiophile experience.

After almost seven years of continuous development, the Evidence Platinum concept was first shown in 2012 at the world’s preeminent audio exhibition, the Munich High End Show. After receiving tremendous feedback from visitors, distributors, and dealers Dynaudio decided to turn the concept into reality.

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Following on from the success of their original GT2 USB cable, Japanese cable manufacturers Furutech GT2-ProFurutech now introduce their higher specified GT2 Pro.

Featuring 24k gold-plated non-magnetic USB 2.0 connectors and Furutech’s new  Alpha* OCC (Ohno Continuous Cast) silver-copper alloy conductor, the GT2 Pro has been designed with the audiophile in mind.

Furutech’s GT2 Pro USB cable is formed around special Alpha* OCC silver copper alloy conductors with high-density polyethylene insulation/dielectric. It features three-layer shielding and specially engineered 24k gold-plated USB 2.0 connectors with a 24k gold-plated copper alloy EMI shield incorporated into the connector. “The cable wrap includes excellent damping and insulating materials, selected to deliver improved frequency extension and tonal balance. A carefully engineered clamp improves grip and keeps both mechanical and electrical distortion at bay” says the Furutech press release.

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1.2m is £180 but other lengths are available.

As we reported recently on Hifi Pig, McIntosh Laboratory has launched a dedicated headphone amplifier for MC_MHA100_1the first time in its history. Here’s a bit more information.

The new MHA100 headphone amplifier has four digital inputs, remote control,  and was first unveiled in January at CES 2014, Las Vegas – it’s now available in the UK from Jordan Acoustics, McIntosh’s UK distributor.

The MHA100 employs a new adaptation of McIntosh’s unique autoformer technology which offers three selectable headphone impedance ranges: 8-40; 40-150 and 150-600 ohms. T.

It also features McIntosh’s new Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) technology, which allows high-quality recordings played through headphones to image like conventional speakers. “HXD improves the sound localisation for headphone listening and restores the directionality component of the spatial sound stage normally experienced with loudspeaker listening” says the company’s pres release.

The internal McIntosh Digital Engine, offers four digital inputs (coaxial, optical, balanced digital AES/EBU and USB), allowing decoding at up to 32-bit/ 192kHz resolution and upsamples digital signals to 192kHz with 32-bit resolution, before the D/A process begins. Two analogue inputs (including balanced) have also been appointed.

Electronic input switching is also included. The preamplifier uses logic circuits controlling electromagnetic switches on all inputs and operating functions.

The MHA100 is also perfectly suited to computer-based systems and desktop working say McIntosh and compared to McIntosh’s other amplifiers, the MHA100 is considerably more compact and fits neatly on a desk or anywhere else in the home.

The MHA100 is more than just a headphone amplifier, too: 50-watt stereo speaker outputs (with less than 0.005% distortion) are included for use with loudspeakers.

The power amplifier uses ThermalTrak1 output transistors for lower distortion and cool operation and McIntosh’s patented gold-plated output terminals deliver high current output and accept large-diameter wire and spade lugs. Loudspeaker listening is automatically switched off when headphones are connected.

The MHA100 also benefits from four forms of protection. McIntosh Sentry Monitor power output stage protection circuits. The Sentry Monitor also protects headphones in the event of an impedance mismatch. Built-in thermal protection circuits guard against overheating, and direct current detection and protection is provided for both headphones and loudspeakers.MCO_MHA100_2

Further features include tone controls plus McIntosh’s Power Guard® technology: a waveform comparison circuit that continuously monitors both input and output signals, dynamically adjusting them when necessary, in order to avoid potentially damaging clipping.

The MHA100’s multifunction OLED display indicates source selection, volume levels, trim settings and set-up functions and the famous illuminated power output meters are peak-responding, indicating the output level. A remote control is also included.

Specifications

Headphone power output: (high) 1W; (normal) 250mW

Headphone output impedance: 8-40; 40-50; 150-600 Ohms

Power output per channel: 50 watts

Speaker impedance: 8 Ohms

Rated power band: 20Hz to 20kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.005%

Dynamic headroom: 1.5db

Frequency response: +0,-0.5dB 20Hz to 20kHz; +0, -3dB 10Hz to 100kHz

Sensitivity (unbalanced): 300mV

Sensitivity (balanced): 600mV

Input impedance (balanced/unbalanced): 25K/25K

Damping factor: >150

Preamp output: 3V (8V max)

Preamp output impedance: 500 Ohms

Voltage gain: 36.5dB

Power Guard: <2% THD with up to 16dB overdrive at 1kHz

Digital audio specifications

Coax input sample rate: 16-bit, 24-bit  32kHz to 192kHz

Optical sample rate: 16-bit, 24-bit  32kHz to 192kHz

AES/EBU sample rate: 16-bit, 24-bit  32kHz to 192kHz

USB sample rate: 16-bit, 24-bit  32kHz to 192kHz

Connectivity

Headphone output: 1x ¼”

High level inputs unbalanced: 1 stereo

High level inputs balanced: 1 stereo

Digital USB input: 1

Digital coaxial input: 1

Digital optical input: 1

Digital AES/EBU input: 1

Preamp output: 1 stereo

General specifications

Tone control: five-step bass boost control: 0 to +12.5dB (in 2.5dB steps) @ 40Hz

Power control in/out: Yes/Yes

Dual-layer chassis and output meters

Output autoformer (headphones)

Standby power requirement: <0.25 watts

Dimensions (WxHxD): (29.2cm) x (14.1cm) x (45.7cm)

Weight: 12kg

Price and availability

The MHA sells for £4,995 and is available now.

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Graham Slee contacted Hifi Pig to tell us about a series of road shows they’ll be putting on. proprius-ff-449“Because few demonstration facilities of Graham Slee products exist in dealers shops, we decided to take our own demo facilities on the road to be nearer to you”. Said Graham Slee.

This first ever Road Show is at “The Academy” Holiday Inn in Weston Turville, Aylesbury on May 29th where there will be two demo rooms: the Olivier Suite and the Christie Suite with the rooms being intentionally small to be in keeping with the room sizes you may have in your own home.

In the Olivier Suite you can hear music played through a pair of Stirling LS3/5A V2’s and the company’s own products and in the Christie Suite there’ll be the company’s range of headphone amps on demo using a number of stereo sources.

They say you can bring along your own headphones, a CD, a vinyl record or USB file-based music but the number of places is limited with admittance by pre-booked pass only… so you need to book your place in advance. There will be four one and a half hour sessions in the Olivier Suite and the event starts at 10am and finishes at 5pm.

 

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Cyrus Audio’s bespoke control app has been released for use on Android with their all-in-one Lyric Now_Playing_UPnP_framedSeries products. Cadence was previously only available for Apple devices, so this launch allows a huge swathe of Cyrus customers to access the app for controlling their Cyrus products.

Initially only for the Cyrus’s Lyric Series, Cadence will be rolled out for the company’s second generation music streamers in June this year.

Cadence allows the user to control all of the inputs of their Cyrus streaming device. Full playback control allows the user to completely replace a remote control with the app.  Cadence also allows users to save music in Favourites lists.

Lyric series products will need a small firmware update in order to work with the new Android app.

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Naim announced yesterday their long expected and awaited home music system, Muso. Muso is a naim_musi_1wireless music system “designed to transform your music into incredible sonic experiences” say the British company who have recently won the Queen’s Award for Export.

“The product brief was simple: the system, then codenamed ‘Project Eagle’, had to offer incredible, class-leading sound quality whilst being beautiful and elegant, using premium quality materials. It was to be simple to install and control whilst creating the intense and emotive musical experiences on which Naim has built its reputation. After an intensive development period drawing on all the expertise and experience of Naim’s award-winning engineering and design team, Muso was born” the company continued.

Muso has six 75 watt digital amplifiers driving six custom-designed Naim speaker drivers. It’s an integrated wireless music system and can deliver music from a variety of sources including USB sticks, mobile phones and MP3 players. It can work as a stand-alone system or be part of a Naim or AirPlay multiroom system.

Muso can be controlled via the supplied remote control, the touch panel volume control or via a Muso control app for iPad, iPhone, iPod and Android.

Muso will be available in September 2014 and will retail at £895 inc VAT.

 

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We reviewed the Audio4Soul Extrem 16 digital amp/DAC a while ago  and the company ref2011have just contacted us to tell us of a new breed of eeference amplifiers, that has been designed on the basis of ultimate performance.
 
Simplicity in design Philosophy, minimal signal path and top quality materials, guarantee ultra hi-end performance, while backed-up by an ultra low-noise power supply, as well as a dead-quiet chassis.
 
With a  paying scheme of “Pay What You Need”, you can now build the amplifier you need/can afford, without having to pay for features you will never use.
You can now, add or remove input or features (like the optional battery PSU)at will, keeping your amplifier up to date with the latest technology available!
The new amplifier is available over 300 colours, while two different front covers -fully configurable- will give more flexibility and more freedom of choice!!
 
The first model in the new line is Reference 20, followed up by Reference 50 (by the end of April) and Reference 120 (by the end of August). The company say the Reference 50/120, are the perfect pairing for speakers that are very demanding, like electrostatics, magnetostatics and some of the most demanding electrodynamic speakers available.
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We reviewed the Tellurium Q Ultra Black speaker cables a good while ago and so when we were TQ_Ultrablac_rca_recasked to take a listen to the company’s matching interconnects we thought it would be a great idea.

The first impression I had of the UB (Ultra Black) was how strong and focused the central focus was, how projected the vocals were and how clean the midrange was as a whole.

Bass notes are very full, a tad dry and with a great amount of weight. Bass extension rolls out separately to the punch, a beat can be heard and before you think “is that it” all of a sudden a rolling wave of extension spreads out across the room.

Read Danny Worth’s full review of the Tellurium Q Ultra Black Interconnects.

 

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The PrimaLuna Prologue Premier is a Valve Integrated Amplifier that is flexible in which valves it can PLPrologueuse and has a modern contemporary look to it. Danny Worth puts the £2300 amplifier through its paces in his review.

“The first thing apparent when switching the PrimaLuna on is its cleanliness in the top end. It has a wonderfully sparkly and airy treble which blends down into a clean upper midrange. Details are prominent and easily depicted even when listening to large crescendos and larger orchestral pieces. Dynamics in this portion of the frequency range are not overly strong, they are however far from subdued or mellow and they are a little more energetic and cleaner than natural”.

Read the full review of the PrimaLuna Prologue Premier Valve Integrated Amplifier

 

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The KEF X300A Loudspeakers are have an on board amplifier and DAC and are designed primarily KEFX300A_FIfor use on a desktop – simply plug them into the mains, attach them to the computer via a USB cable and away you go. We’d heard the speakers briefly at Munich and so were delighted when KEF contacted us with a view to reviewing them.

In this review both Stuart Smith and teen son Harry take a listen to the KEF X300A loudspeakers and comment on how they worked with respect to their own very different needs.

“Essentially what you have here is a nearfield monitor that has been designed specifically for the home market. I had a play with Ableton Live mixing some of my own tunes and they’re really rather good in that role and I suppose a good few people will use them as both desk top monitors for music making and for listening to tunes in a more conventional sense. It’s a long time since I’ve listened to professional monitors if truth be known and so I can’t really compare on this front to what’s available today…and besides I don’t think this is where KEF sees its market for these loudspeakers being.”

Read the full review of the KEF X300A Loudspeakers.

 

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Linn has extended its Exakt platform into its Akurate range and the Akubarik loudspeaker is the LinnAUKUBARIKlatest product to benefit from this new technology.

“Exakt eliminates the sources of loss inherent in the traditional analogue hi-fi chain by transferring the lossless digital signal all the way to the speaker. This means that a Studio Master file, or any other music source, is now transmitted perfectly into the speaker” says the Linn press release.

Using Exakt technology, launched in Linn’s flagship Klimax Exakt System in September last year, the Akurate Exakt System comprises an Akurate Exakt DSM and Exakt Akubarik loudspeakers.

Inside Exakt loudspeakers is a digital platform that enables a range of “performance-enhancing capabilities” and the ability for a Linn Specialist to optimise the system to the customer’s home. “This ensures the best possible sound no matter the unique characteristics of the customer’s room or their preferred speaker positioning.Exakt eliminates magnitude and phase distortion that is inherent in traditional passive crossovers. So what you hear is a more faithful reproduction of the music as it was recorded” the release continued”.

Exakt Link

In order to deliver the digital signal “losslessly” to the speaker, Linn has developed a new protocol — Exakt Link. “Exakt Link achieves what no existing standard could: accuracy of data transmission with the ability to losslessly transmit 8 channels of 24-bit 192 kHz Studio Master; exceptionally low jitter to ensure perfect musical timing; and extreme precision synchronisation between speakers”.

Up to thirteen sources can be connected to the system via the Akurate Exakt DSM with inputs including HDMI, Toslink, S/PDIF, XLR and RCA phono available. Linn commented “Even vinyl sounds better – there’s no better way to preserve the signal from an LP12 than Exakt. New ADC technology converts the delicate analogue signal digitally and sends it losslessly to the speaker”.

The six-channel amp module houses the Exakt capability alongside Akurate quality DACs and Linn’s patented Chakra ‘silent power’ amplification, all mounted within a “special and effective passive cooling chimney” which draws the warm air up and out of the electronics without requiring a fan. Great care has also been taken to isolate the electronics from the cabinet to minimise microphony. 

Finished by hand, Exakt Akubarik is available in a range of stunning finishes, including six high-grade real wood veneers in standard or high gloss options. A stunning range of 200 bespoke, high gloss colour finishes are also available.  Exakt Akubarik can be further personalised through the choice of polished chrome or black finishes for the chassis of the 3K array.

Available to audition from late April at Linn Specialists nationwide, the Akurate Exakt System will be priced at £25,500. Upgrade options are also available for existing Akubarik owners.

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