I must confess that I missed out on the first wave of punk, but I do distinctly remember seeing a copy of the Sniffin’ Glue fanzine, for which Alternative TVs Mark P was the founding editor, brought into school by one of the cool kids. I also had a couple of Sex Pistol records. Mark P (Perry) left Sniffin’ Glue on the cusp of it possibly going mega to concentrate on his own band and had he followed the herd down the tried and somewhat tested punk formula he’d have made it big. As it was he went down a different path. More »
This is the company’s first high street shop in addition to its listening rooms in nearby Ticehurst.
Opening is at 10 am on the 4th October and you can find the shop at 4 Ely Court.
KEF Announces Week of Exciting International CelebrationFollowing on from the success of last years ‘National KEF Week’, 2014 sees KEF continuing the successful celebratory campaign, not just in the UK but internationally – into all major KEF markets worldwide – with International KEF Week.
Taking place over the anniversary week of KEF’s founding in 1961, International KEF Week will now become an annual event to celebrate all things KEF. This year, the Q Series will be taking centre-stage, with all Q Series retailers becoming destination stores for a weeks’ worth of activities, including expert demonstrations, consumer competitions and product promotions. KEF sales staff along with KEF Acoustic Engineers will also be on hand at selected stores across the country to help, alongside shop staff, deliver expert demonstrations, answer any questions and assist in making the events even more special.
Commenting on the event, Managing Director, Steve Halsall said, ‘National KEF Week was a great success in the UK last year. It was excellent to see the enthusiasm from the retail partners. Also, consumers got to experience expert KEF system demonstrations and take advantage of special promotions. International KEF Week will be even bigger and better, with a wide-reaching flavour, centralised around one of our most popular speaker ranges, the Q Series, but with lots of other demos and competitions as well, including the ‘must hear’ Blade flagship. We are very excited about it indeed and hope it’ll be even more successful!’
International KEF Week is on from the 30th September – 7th October.
The iClub will give invited members the opportunity to participate in the product design phase of the company’s products, Beta testing for upcoming products, regular iCLUB meets 5for example the RMAF dinner), freebies, special offers and more.
Looks to us like this a great idea of involving the buying public and a model that we’re sure will be copied in the near future.
McIntosh Laboratory has launched a new media streamer – the MB100 Media Bridge. The new streamer takes full advantage of the latest McIntosh technologies and gives users access to web-based music plus digital files from its 1TB hard drive.
The MB100 has four USB inputs, plus an eSata port for the direct connection of external drives. Its high-speed network port offers direct connection to online streaming services including: Pandora®; SiriusXM®; Spotify®; Rhapsody and TuneIn (where available, subscriptions may be required); while additional streaming services may be added in the future. Internet radio stations can also be added as presets.
For integration into existing home audio systems, the MB100 has two analogue and two digital outputs, plus it can be connected via USB to other McIntosh USB-enabled products. Users can also create two independent audio zones when using the USB connection in combination with either the analogue or digital outputs.
The MB100 will automatically synchronise content stored on networked computers and when connected to a monitor or panel, slideshow playback of stored photos is also possible during music replay. Digital content can be backed up to Amazon Cloud Drive or Apple iCloud allowing music to be synchronised across multiple homes or locations. The MB100 can also be configured so that new music purchases from either cloud service can be automatically added to the device’s library.
The MB100 utilises the same eight-channel 32-bit/192kHz DAC as the D100 digital preamp, which is isolated from the motherboard. The operating system and music player are housed on a solid-state hard drive for fast response times, quiet operation and durability. The MB100 can be controlled via an iOS or Android app, a web browser, or a remote control with TV interface.
Frequency response: ±1dB from 2Hz to 22kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.005%
Rated output voltage: 2.0Vrms unbalanced; 4.0Vrms balanced
4x USB (2 USB 2.0/2 USB 3.0)
1x Network (10/100/1000)
2x Analogue (1x balanced, 1x unbalanced)
1x USB audio (compatible only with McIntosh products that accept USB audio)
1x HDMI (for GUI only)
1x DVI (for GUI only)
1TB internal hard drive (external hard drives connected via USB and eSata)
Embedded Streaming Services:
Pandora®, SiriusXM®, Spotify®, Rhapsody and TuneIn (where available, subscriptions may be required)
44.54cm x 9.8cm x 40.64cm
Weight: 6.1 kg
The MB100 sells for £5,995 and is available now.
Hifi Pig recently reviewed the really addictive Jazz album The Turn by Jerome Sabbagh which we downloaded from HIGHRESAUDIO. You gotta hear the guitar on some of the tracks…I say “you’d be forgiven that you weren’t listening to one of the great rock guitarists helping the jazzsters out whilst his band were off the road.”
Jerome has just personally contacted the Hifi PIg office to let us know that he has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the album pressed onto vinyl that will be limited to 500 copies, mastered by Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab and pressed at Quality Records Pressings in the US.
Now, we don’t normally share links in news items other than for charity, but I was so blown away with this album that I thought it deserved it and so here it is.
Peter Lederman, the designer of these new cartridges has made them to perform with preamps that use a 48dB to 54dB gain.
The designs are based on Peter’s previous Moving Iron designs Hyperion, Sussurro (pictured), Paua, The Voice and Aida with them having the “same level of performance as their high and low output siblings”.
The Helios features the unique “cactus spine” cantilever and OC-CL stylus and costs $7 500;
The Mezzo is based on the Sussurro and costs $4 800.
The Nautilus is a moderate output version of Soundsmith’s Paua with a natural seashell detail and costs $3 800.
Sotto Voce is based on The Voice cartridge and costs $2 800.
The Norma is the sister cartridge to the Aida and costs $1 800
Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC has announced the Jens Phono stage pre-amplifiers, which they say is “certain to set a new standard for Phono stage Preamplifiers”. Prices at $15,449, the Jens Phono stage preamplifier.
Built specifically for Low Output Moving Coil Cartridges the Jens Phono Preamp allows for load setting from 25 Ohms to 5 kOhms , 70dB gain with better than 0.1dB RIAA equalization with the aim for it to be very fast and is ultra quiet.
Jens Phono stage was in development for 7 years, including 3 years of listening tests with veteran vinyl experts. The unit is hand built in the USA and build features include external power supply, steel chassis for maximum EMI/RFI shielding, Stillpoints Ultramini riser footers for isolation, Furutech pure copper Rhodium plated RCA, Double fused AC lines, silver plated Teflon sleeved pure copper wires, hand matched high tolerance components, hand routed circuit board designs, multi-stage power supply filtering and proprietary circuits.
The Exakt Akudorik shares the same technology as its bigger brother the Exakt Akubarik.
The power supply and four channels of 100w Linn Chakra amplification is housed in the central column stand for the speakers and is mounted in a suspension module to minimise vibration. The connection between the amps and the loudspeaker is via a recessed 8-way connector which caries the analogue signal from the amps to the drive units with the connection being completely invisible so no cables are visible.
The cabinet of the Exakt Akudorik has a rear ported, four-way design featuring a 6 ½” bass driver and Linns3K array housing the ½” super-tweeter and 3” mid range units.
The bass driver uses a doped paper cone with a symmetrically balanced motor assembly.
The Exakt Akudorik is constructed using similar methods to the Akubarik using a composite construction of steam moulded layers of MDF and birchwood. The speakers are finished by hand in a range of finishes including 6 real wood vebeers in standard or high gloss options or more than 200 high gloss colours.
The Akurate Exakt system featuring the Exakt Akudorik loudspeaker is priced at £17 500 with the Exakt Akudorik loudspeaker being available separately for £13 500.
Linn has announced the launch of the Akurate Exaktbox which is available for Linn loudspeakers and now for other manufacturers’ loudspeakers with the launch of support for the Bowers and Wilkins’ Nautilus.
In a system using Akurate Exaktbox, the loudspeakers are run actively, with separate amplifiers for each drive unit. The original analogue crossover in the loudspeaker is bypassed and instead, the Akurate Exaktbox performs the crossover digitally, while applying Linn’s Exakt technology to “eliminate distortion, correct for drive unit variation and optimise the loudspeaker’s performance for the room”.
In order to deliver the digital signal losslessly to the loudspeaker, Linn developed a new protocol — Exakt Link. Exakt Link transmits losslessly 8 channels of 24-bit/192 kHz Studio Master with exceptionally low jitter and “extreme precision synchronisation between loudspeakers”.
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.
Upgrading to Exakt requires a Klimax or Akurate DSM partnered with a Klimax or Akurate Exaktbox.
Available to audition from 23rd September at Linn Specialists nationwide, the Akurate Exaktbox is £4,000.
The Klimax Exaktbox is currently available and priced at £10,000.
There’s a fantastic amount of great electronic music coming out of South America at the moment and here we’ve got Brazilian Gui Boratto, once a member of the band Sect, adding to that output with his album Abaporu.
The opening lines of the first track immediately put me in mind of William Orbit and this is no bad thing, but the tune soon becomes its own distinctive groove which sets the scene for the rest of the record. More »
There is something I really love about the annual National Audio Show in Whittlebury, Northamptonshire, UK. It could be the lovely scenic route there, or the free parking, or maybe the sound of racing cars screeching around nearby Silverstone. The smiles of Roy Bird, the Chester Group chairman of the annual event, now in its sixth year, walking around the plethora of corridors, and the facial expressions from would-be hi-fi millionaires ogling at and listening to a Fingle’s Cave of equipment make this a really popular event, even if some (and I stress just some) of the old fashioned paper magazine mafia boycott this event for their own personal issues. Grow up. Rant over now, so let’s start talking about the equipment, which us why you are reading this. More »
Not so much a review as an overview and thoughts of a new piece of ripping software. More »
Mass Fidelity Inc., creator of ‘The Relay’ Bluetooth DAC, has announced The Core wireless speaker system, designed to be the “centre of users’ musical universe” and powered by an internal 120W digital amplifier.
“The Core uses a number of innovative acoustic technologies to create a stunning sound that mimics the experience of two separated Hi-Fi speakers, yet comes from a beautiful box that fits in ‘the palm of your hand” the company’s press release says.
“What makes the Core truly revolutionary is the use of innovative Wave Field Synthesis technology,” said Ben Webster, CEO and Co-Founder of Mass Fidelity. “Wave Field Synthesis is an entirely new way of rendering audio where a sound image is produced by recreating that sound in space – similar to a hologram. This astonishing sound image can be ‘viewed’ from anywhere in the room. It is purer and sounds better than traditional stereo, because it does not rely on the listener’s position or on ‘tricking the brain’ with psychoacoustics.”
In explaining the technology the company comments “Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) is an audio rendering technique that produces a sonic image that sounds like two widely placed Hi-Fi speakers. Wave Field Synthesis causes sound to emanate from virtual starting points (in this case, ‘The Core’) and continue to move along pathways, creating a lifelike sound image as each of the waveforms collide at a point in space. Unlike conventional stereo that is designed to trick the brain with clever psychoacoustic processes, WFS reconstructs the sound field physically, making it the purest and cleanest audio representation. It is a technology that has been touted as the obvious next step in acoustic rendering since the late 80’s but because of its demanding computing requirements, hadn’t been viable to implement as a high quality solution in a consumer product – until now”.
Users of The Core can access and play music however and wherever they want – streaming straight from a smartphone or tablet or via digital and analogue sources using a wired connection. Without having to download apps or configure networking equipment, users can instantly connect up to nine units to create a multi-room music experience with the touch of a single button.
The Core will be priced at £499 in the UK market.
Norwegian-based manufacturer Henry Audio (previously QNKTC) has announced the arrival of the upgraded USB DAC 128 mkII – Hifi Pig reviewed the mk I here. The new and improved DAC adds more punch and sonic clarity to the very well received USB DAC 128 say the company.
The USB DAC 128 mkII enables playback of music stored on a computer or streamed through one. It works with Hi-Res up to 192ksps on Windows, Linux and Mac. With it, the inferior analogue output of the computer is completely bypassed.
The mkII has improved mechanics, better RCA connectors and rubber feet.
Like its predecessors (including the QNKTC AB-1.2) the Henry Audio USB DAC 128 mkII stays true to its Open Source foundations in the Audio Widget project. The electronic schematics and source code for firmware and Windows ASIO driver remain open source and publicly available. The USB DAC 128 mkII is designed in such a way that tinkerers can easily modify it and learn from its construction though the company say that the vast majority of buyers have no intention – and absolutely no need – to ever modify the DAC.
The analogue section of the DAC design puts equal focus on three areas with fundamental influence on audio quality. The AKM4430 DAC chip comes from Asahi Kasai, the clock is made from two precision crystal oscillators from Golledge and the power supply uses low-noise regulators from Analog Devices. The improved sound quality of the mkII is primarily achieved by the addition of more and better capacitors in the power supply. Some, but not all, of these can be retrofitted to the USB DAC 128.
The Henry Audio USB DAC 128 mkII uses an asynchronous USB protocol. This minimizes jitter errors and further improves on the sound quality by making the DAC the timing reference. Asynchronous USB is available in both USB Audio Class 1 and 2.
Henry Audio is founded and operated by Børge Strand-Bergesen, a Norwegian national and an expert on electronics filter design, circuit board layout and design for manufacturing. He believes the circuit board design contributes greatly to the sound quality of the DAC. Critical analogue signals are kept on short tracks and away from the digital section. The board design has an obsessive focus on controlled return currents and builds on Strand-Bergesen’s experience with radio frequency electronics and analogue ASIC layout.
The USB DAC 128 mkII can be purchased online in various currencies. All shipments to EU countries are sent from within the EU. Shipments to all other locations (including Norway) are sent from Norway. Price is £210/270 USD/260 EUR.
We ran a news article a good while ago about the HeadStand, an inexpensive and neat solution for storing headphones that incorporated a nifty wire management system. Today BrandsWalk contacted us to tell us that there is now a limited edition of the stand available in rose gold.
Only 499 of these will be produced and the price is five cents shy of $50 in the US.
As Zeus gave birth to Apollo, Triangle Art’s Zeus Cartridge gave birth to the Stone body Apollo – the god of Music (and light/sun/healing)!
The Apollo MC cartridge is crafted with onyx stone and uses “some of the best parts in the World, with each component of this cartridge being fine-tuned and tweaked to deliver the performance worthy of carrying the Triangle Art Logo” says the recent press release from Triangle Art.
There have been some proprietary design changes in the Apollo to yield a “much improved sound quality”.
A natural high quality diamond (V V S 1 grade or more) is used in the design to control the resonance along with silver wiring and gold plated pin.
As with Triangle Art’s Zeus cartridge, there is a philosophy of combining speed and detail without sacrificing musicality and this is what the company say they have achieved with the Apollo – “more details, more transparency, more finesse, more air and more musical”.
From the pictures we’ve been sent it certainly looks to be quite a special bit of kit.
The UltraDAC delivers a digital to analogue converter in reference quality says the company’s press release. It combines its DAC with a balanced preamplifier, a balanced headphone amplifier, and B.M.C.’s exclusive Digital Intelligent Gain Management (DIGM), a volume and amplification control system that “calibrates gain without dividing or downgrading the input signal”.
The UltraDAC’s balanced preamp is integrated with the DAC’s current-to-voltage converter, which converts and filters the DAC’s current, eliminating the need for an extra stage. The Preamp and headphone amp both employ B.M.C.’s exclusive Load Effect Free (LEF) technology that handles current demand separately from the voltage demand, and “naturally avoids distortions increasing the preamp and amp’s quality of its audio reproduction”.
The UltraDAC also has separate volume controls for the preamp and the headphone, an asynchronous USB interface, digital AES/EBU, Toslink and coaxial inputs, balanced analog outputs, RCA output jacks, and a special B.M.C. link for connecting directly to a B.M.C. amplifier. It’s balanced output is ideally compatible with amplifiers featuring B.M.C.’s exclusive Current Injection (CI) technology, which enhances signal purity and the musical presence of theUltraDAC’s audio reproduction.
- Digital/Analog Converter withCurrent Injection current-to-voltage (I/V) conversion
- Asynchronous USB interface up to 32bit/384kHz
- USB PCM: 16…32bit; 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384kHz.
- DXD support without FIR filtering.
- USB DSD: DSD64, DSD128.
- ASIO driver for Windows; Linux and Mac compatible
- AES/EBU, coaxial and Toslink digital inputs up to 24bit / 192kHz
- Balanced, headphone amplifier withdigital/analog power convertion (DAPC), load-effect free (LEF) technology, 15A bipolar Voltage output devices combined with MOSFET current sources, a super-low impedance LEF output stage, and lossless Digital Intelligent Gain Management (DIGM) volume control.
- Balanced LEF, CI-compatible preampthat optionally operates in B.M.C. Mode, with DIGM and bipolar voltage source combines with a DMOS current source and LEF-balanced output stage.
- Separate volumecontrols for the line and headphone sections (the line volume position 59 represents a DAC standard output level)
- Second-generation DIGMwith optimized gain distribution between power amps and internal and DIGM volume levels
- Optical B.M.C. Link forconnecting with B.M.C. amps like the PureAmp
The second new product B.M.C have announced is the PureAmpStereo Integrated Amplifier. More »
The Turn by Jerome Sabbagh was recorded live by James Farber at Sear Sound, New York City on June 6th 2013 to analogue tape and on this Bee Jazz release from HIGHRESAUDIO it really shows. This is a really fantastic recording in the true tradition of jazz music. There is spontaneity and freedom within the constraints of the song structure and the musicians are laid bare. More »
For much of the last year, Icon Audio founder David Shaw has, in his own words, been building his own birthday present. After discovering a quantity of ‘new old stock’ Russian GU81 transmitter valves, Shaw began to work on a prototype amplifier that would achieve a long-held personal goal: to effectively drive any modern low-efficiency high-end speaker to realistic levels.
Shaw has long been a fan of triode operation, being the purest form of valve circuit. But triodes have a downside: limited power output. After many months of designing and listening, Shaw has produced what is, in essence, the final pre-production prototype of the Icon Audio MB81: a triode monoblock which can deliver 200 watts RMS into even the most demanding of loads.
At 260mm tall, 100mm in diameter and weighing 1kg each, the GU81 is a truly majestic valve. Although the GU81 still in production, Shaw has used ‘new old stock’ valves in the MB81, hand-chosen for their combination of fine resolution, enthralling musicality and immense power. Always keen to break boundaries and set trends, Icon Audio believe the MB81 to be the world’s first ever push-pull GU81 amplifier.
These massive amps are around 50% bigger than the current Icon flagship MB845MkIIm and weigh around 100kg per pair.
While the MB81 was developed as a personal gift for Shaw himself, he plans to produce a limited number for sale, with an estimated price of £12,500 per pair.
The MB81 will be demonstrated at this week’s National Audio Show at Whittlebury Hall. Visitors will be the first to witness the life-like scale of the stunning new prototypes from Leicester-based Icon Audio.
- Pure Class A triode front end.
- Triode GU81 push-pull output stage.
- The four GU81s can be user-calibrated using Icon Audio’s built-in ‘Easy Bias’ meter.
- All hand wired with silver plated pure copper PTFE audio cable to optimise sound and reliability.
- Low distortion quaternary wound output transformers, potted to reduce noise.
As well as easy to find page links to Naim’s entire product list there’s also an interesting “Our Story” section, Find a Stockist, Customer Support, information about the Naim Label and their partnership with Bentley.
It’s a very visual site with the inclusion of videos and lots and lots of large pictures which Naim says will bring users a more dynamic experience. Certainly looks like a job well done from here.
“Despite the rough, 19th century industrial look, with an aged linden wood faceplate and milled thick aluminum parts, there’s a gentle soul inside. This 6.5-kg-headpone amplifier sounds balanced and precise and makes an important visual statement on your desk – no wonder it was a great success among visitors at this year’s Munich High End Hi-Fi show” says the company’s press release with the company’s CEO and founder Blaž Erzetič commenting
“I’ve rediscovered the music with Deimos, This is a supercar among headphone amplifiers. Every album I listen to on it is a spectacle on its own. Visually, we studied a lot the exterior, too, to make this machine not only an ear-, but also an eye-candy”;
Due to the complexity of manufacture, Erzetich plans a very limited yearly production of this completely hand crafted, headphone amplifier;
· dual mono class-A
- three separate power supplies (two for analog, one for digital)
- 43000 uF smoothing capacitors per channel
- digitally controlled 64-steps relay-based volume attenuator
- gain boost switch
- RCA and XLR inputs
- superior quality RCA connectors
- Neutrik gold plated XLR connectors
- chassis made of steel, aluminum, wood and acrylic
Deimos will be available at the beginning of 2015 for around 4,000 EUR but Erzetich will start accepting preorders with a special discount in late September.
Brought to the UK by Absolute Sounds the oBravo HAMT-1 is a “luxurious pair of high-end headphones with a unique two-way driver configuration delivering game-changing sound” says the press release we’ve just received at Hifi Pig.
The oBravo are the world’s first coaxial two-way headphones featuring AMT driver technology which is unique and fully patented.
Each earpiece contains two separate drivers sharing a common axis: a 40mm AMT tweeter and a dynamic Neodymium bass/mid driver, radiating sound from the same point. This driver configuration is said to deliver an “exceptionally rich, detailed and immersive listening experience, with astonishing clarity in the midrange and effortless extension at frequency extremes”.
The headphones’ outer construction combines aluminium, wood and hand-stitched leather for distinguished styling and comfort.
About AMT Drivers
An AMT (Air Motion Transformer) loudspeaker driver moves air using a folded diaphragm, structured around a series of aluminium struts within a high-intensity magnetic field. When signal current passes through the struts, the diaphragm pushes back and forth from itself in a physical motion similar to that of an accordion when pushed and pulled to pump air though the reed chambers, albeit over a far smaller motion range. The result is a dipole driver with an extraordinarily rapid response rate, enabled by the extremely low mass of the diaphragm and the much smaller distance it travels on each ‘swing’ compared to a dynamic driver with a traditional cone.
The discernible motion of each diaphragm flexure is very small, but because of the folded structure, more air is moved than would be by a conventional cone of the same plotted surface area. As a matter of surface comparison, a standard 25mm AMT strip has a functional driver area comparable to an 200mm circular dynamic cone. The folded driver design, combined with the small motion range, means the AMT acts like a point source version of a larger driver, resulting in lower distortion. As a result of its motion pattern, the AMT ‘spits’ the air out in a way similar to the action of shooting a watermelon seed from your hand by squeezing it between thumb and forefinger. The speed of the air as it leaves the diaphragm is approximately five times faster than the speed of the actual driver structure, hence the name, Air Motion Transformer. AMT drivers are rare to find in full-size loudspeakers, and rarer still in headphones.
The oBravo HAMT-1 is priced at ￡1,499 inc. VAT
AwoX has announced the acquisition of 100% of the shares of French company Cabasse from the Canon Group.
Created in 1950, Cabasse is a global technological leader in electroacoustic that is primarily known for its range of high-end acoustic loudspeakers, home integrated sound systems and connected high-fidelity speakers.
The acquisition marks close to five years of collaboration between the two companies, during which time AwoX has supplied Cabasse with connectivity solutions (electronic modules and iOS and Android software) and worked with it in the development of numerous audio products, including the AwoX StriimSOUND – a high-fidelity Wi-Fi speaker with sound engineering by Cabasse that was released during the first quarter of 2014.
This acquisition will enable AwoX to enhance its offer of Smart Home connected audio solutions with the
extensive range of audio products and systems produced by Cabasse.
In turn, Cabasse will benefit from AwoX’s expertise in Wi-Fi connectivity technologies to cement its foothold as a brand in audio streaming. It will also benefit from AwoX’s proven industrialization, manufacturing and sourcing infrastructure. Lastly, AwoX will assist with the sales and marketing of Cabasse products on a global scale, and particularly in North America and the Asia-Pacific region.
Tokyo-based ADL by Furutech bagged an armful of awards for the excellent X1 portable USB DAC/headphone amplifier, and now they have introduced a new sister product, the A1, aimed at bringing all of the benefits of the X1 to the Android user, and with DSD capability.
The A1 is a high-resolution portable DAC and headphone amplifier that can be used with Android devices. It is also DSD-capable when used with either Mac or PC.
“The Ultimate MoonTails build on the strengths of the original MoonTails. With an already perfect recipe some extra ingredients were thrown into the mix and a whole different dish is being presented. The icing on the cake are the fabulous Majestic RCA connectors from Bocchino Audio Technologies of Australia. They give the MoonTails an aesthetic boost while the sound approaches that of Jade Audio’s top of the range cables. These interconnects rightly deserve their place on the upper echelons of affordable high-end” says the company’s press release.
If ‘content is king’, Monitor Audio’s new website proves the maxim they tell us about their newly launched website. “The most complete site upgrade has delivered a fabulous blend of style and functionality, reflecting the brand’s world-famous qualities. Equipped with an extremely powerful colour-coded search engine, the new site gives our dealers and customers the most intuitive and informative introduction to our wide and expanding product range” says Monitor Audio’s press release.
The top menu is spit into four simple categories: Home Audio, Streaming Products, Custom Install and Support, with access to ‘Where to Buy’, Search and a global dealer map alongside.
From the product categories visitors will find an view of all the range options, supported by instant feature pop-ups. A search menu to the side allows them to filter by review, range, application and finish and re-prioritise the search with a new category order. On each range page a concise overview is followed by invitations to investigate individual product pages, which are come with an array of feature icons and video where appropriate. Then there’s the image gallery, window-driven guides to the technology and relevant downloads is too; together with easy-to-read displays of specs, reviews, user reviews and related product suggestions. There’s also the opportunity for owners to add their own comments. From any page position, all resources are immediately available through an ever-present side menu.
Commenting Monitor Audio International Marketing Manager Nick Banning said “the new website illuminates the spirit of Monitor Audio like never before with a fresh, logical, easy-to-navigate design packed with product insight and more ways to interact with the brand. We’re sure the Monitor Audio community worldwide will find that it communicates our core values beautifully, and by being innovative, enlightening and dynamic, we hope that it will attract new customers to the brand.”
Born in Durban, South Africa in 1974 the violinist Daniel Hope moved to London as a child as his parents escaped the apartheid regime, and this is sort of the starting point for Escape To Paradise (released 18th August). More »
The HD-DAC1 can drive high-impedance headphones of up to 600 ohm and incorporates three-level gain control, Marantz HDAM modules, a high current DAC (CS4398), and its fixed and variable RCA outputs.
There’s inputs for optical and coaxial digital inputs as well as a USB-B port enable you to stream music directly from your PC or MAC. iDevices can also be connected via the USB port on the front. There’s an analogue input included too. The USB-B works in asynchronous mode to support not only 192 kHz / 24bits high-resolution audio but also the DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz.
To safeguard quality when connected to a computer, Marantz have built in extended isolation around the USB-B input to “eliminate the chance of high frequency noise generated by the computer entering the HD-DAC1”. Then there’s a jitter remover and Dual Clock for accuracy.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of Manger, which is something of a milestone and as part of their ongoing celebrations the German loudspeaker manufacturer has announced a new look and design for their brand. The company has also recently updated and rebuilt their website too.
Writing in the company’s blog Daniela Manger wrote “This new website will give us the chance to tie in the topics that matter to us, and talk about the things that are important to us and our business. We hope that you feel at home on the new website and that you will come back often. Your feedback and patronage means everything to us and we hope that the new website will even bring us closer online”.
The new branding includes a new logo which will be at the forefront of their communications her on in.
Hifi Pig and the team wish Manger continued success.
The Chord Company will be showing a number of cables at the forthcoming National Audio Show 2014 (Whittlebury Hall) courtesy of Chord Company dealer Ortons Audio Visual who will be demonstrating Chord’s flagship Sarum range.
Ortons will be hosting a ‘hear the difference’ cable demonstration, showcasing The Chord Company’s proprietary Tuned ARAY cable technology. The presentation will give attendees the chance to hear The Chord Company’s latest range of digital and analogue cables, including the Signature range and the flagship Sarum Tuned ARAY line.
“Orton’s demonstration will allow visitors to understand the significant improvements that The Chord Company’s analogue and digital cables can make, while experiencing a hi-fi system that’s unrestrained and uncoloured by its partnering cables” says the company’s press release.
Sound Fowndations will be demonstrating a high-end analogue system with some items making their UK debut. The kit on demonstration will be:
Clearaudio Master Innovation turntable
Clearaudio TT1i tonearm (making its UK debut)
Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement cartridge
Clearaudio Absolute Phono (phonostage with headshell-mounted input)
Clearaudio Everest equipment rack (UK debut).
This will be feeding a Gamut system comprising:
4 x M250i mono power amps (first time four of these will be in one place in the UK)
RS7 speakers (also making their UK debut)
In total a system value of around £150,000 and should be a bit tasty to say the least!
Alongside this system Sound Fowndations will also have every Clearaudio turntable in the current range (with the exception of the Statement) on display / demo.
Powering the system will be the new IsoTek EVO3 Syncro Special edition (which removes DC offset), feeding an EVO3 Titan mains conditioner.
The LP collection will be filed using the Kate Koeppel Design record dividers that Hifi Pig reported on a while ago. SF are in negotiation to become the UK distributor of these rather natty dividers.
There will also be stuff from ADSL, Furutech and Canor but the main attraction will undoubtedly be the big system.
Following the recent announcement that KEF was to expand the Blade speaker range with the introduction of the KEF Blade Two, the new model is set to be showcased at this year’s National Audio Show – the first demonstration anywhere in the UK.
Available in five specially selected finishes chosen to complement Blade’s sculptural contours, Blade Two is both smaller in height and depth than Blade. Its size has been configured to retain the integrity of the iconic visual design and the acoustic prowess, yet on a practical level provides greater ease of positioning and placement within smaller environments where space is at a premium and where Blade’s bass extension would be superfluous.
At the heart of KEF Blade Two is the inspired Single Apparent Source technology. The Single Apparent Source technology is an extension of the latest, fully pistonic KEF Uni-Q® MF/HF array, which brings the bass drivers into the picture for the first time.
Four 6.5” (165mm), newly developed bass drivers deliver the KEF Blade’s low frequency response. The engineering principle behind their configuration is simple – let the forces of each moving cone cancel each other out by arranging them in opposed, symmetrical pairs – but its effective implementation is fraught with engineering obstacles. The force produced by the bass drivers is so strong that the massive rear magnets have had to be bonded directly to each other to obtain the full benefit of this technology. They are side firing so their acoustic centre coincides with those of the all new, latest generation Uni-Q midrange driver and tweeter – this is the Single Apparent Source technology. The result means that the entire frequency range is radiated from one point in space. “It is impossible to determine where one driver stops working and the next begins, meaning that the resulting sound-field is astonishingly convincing”.
All this technology is housed within a rigid and heavy cabinet made from ultra-high density polyurethane. The parabolic curvature of the enclosure increases cabinet rigidity even further and the drivers are fully decoupled, meaning that sound is only generated from driver movement and not from the cabinet.
Chord Electronics contacted Hifi Pig to tell us they will be exhibiting at the National Audio Show 2014 (Whittlebury Hall show) courtesy of Chord dealers Fanthorpes Hi-Fi and Hi-Fi Lounge. Two distinct systems will be on display at the show: Fanthorpes Hi-Fi will have a full Standard system (pictured) and Hi-Fi Lounge will have a dedicated Hugo area with three units.
The Fanthorpes Hi-Fi system will comprise a DSX1000 Reference streamer, a CPA5000 Reference preamp, SPM1200MkII stereo power amp and PMC loudspeakers for an all-British system of extraordinary capability.
Hi-Fi Lounge will have three Hugo DAC/headphone amps on display, complete with a selection of headphones and source material. Chord Electronics’ sales representatives will be joining both Fanthorpes Hi-Fi and Audio Lounge on the Saturday, to meet show visitors, help with the demonstrations and give free system set-up advice.
The National Audio Show 2014 is held at Whittlebury Hall on 20th and the 21st September
The new X3 from Kudos uses the same tweeter as its ‘baby brother’ the X2, but marries it with a new 18cm main driver. The main driver’s cone is made from a mixture of paper and reed fibres, which Kudos say “combines inherent stiffness and natural damping with light weight and improves transient and dynamic response, as well as overall clarity”. The driver has a copper-clad aluminium voice coil and copper shorting ring which they say will “further enhance transients and dynamics and reduce distortion, increasing transparency”.
Both drive units are manufactured exclusively for Kudos by Norwegian specialists SEAS and specifically designed for the Kudos loudspeaker range.
Integration between the two drive units allows the use of a low order crossover and all internal wiring features The Chord Company’s Sarsen loudspeaker cable.
The X3’s cabinet is constructed from 18mm high density MDF with the reflex port situated on the bottom of the cabinet so that the plinth then provides a fixed boundary gap for the port to work optimally, as well as providing additional stability.
“The X3 was purposely created in response to customer demand for a slightly larger, more dynamic and even more exciting version of the X2 miniature floorstander”, says Kudos’ designer Derek Gilligan. “Using ideas first implemented in our flagship ‘Titan’ and ‘Super’ models, we developed the X3 to be easy to drive and to position within a room, and to bring out the best in a wide variety of music – delivering the energy, exuberance and life within a piece of music whatever its genre”.
Main driver: Kudos 18cm unit with cast chassis, paper/reed cone, 39mm voice coil and copper shorting ring
Tweeter: 25mm Kudos soft dome
Impedance: 8 ohms
Frequency response: 30Hz – 25kHz “AIRR” (average in-room response)
Dimensions: 845mm (h) x 190mm (w) x 250mm (d)
Pricing and availability
• The Kudos X3 is available now.
• Finishes available: cherry, walnut, rosenut, oak, black and satin white.
• Priced at £2,145 (including VAT).
Russ Andrews Accessories has introduced the X4 Block and X6 Block mains extensions with built in Silencer technology, complementing their X2 Block and incorporating the company’s UltraSocket mains sockets and aiming to provide a secure and quiet mains supply connection for up to four or six pieces of equipment respectively.
The new blocks are anufactured from impact and fire resistant ABS plastic and internally wired with Kimber TCX mains cabling. Ultra Sockets with DCT treated nickel-plated high pressure contacts, originally specified for the company’s top of the range Ultra PurifierBlock, are fitted throughout the X Block.
Each block is fitted with the Russ Andrews SuperClamp surge protection technology and Silencer mains filter.
A 10A IEC input socket provides flexibility for the user to specify the type and length of mains cable to connect the X Block to the wall socket.
Chairman of the company, Russ Andrews, says, “When we launched the X2 Block a few years ago the purpose was to provide a high quality extension and connection for people who only have a simple hi-fi system with two components, for example an amplifier and CD player and who didn’t need larger blocks. Such was the reaction to the improvements in sound quality that we were repeatedly asked for ‘more of the same please’.” He continues, “By adding the new X4 and X6 Blocks to the range we have brought the high performance benefits of the X2 Block to a much wider audience, while at the same time maintaining an attractive price.”
X2 Block with Silencer £169
NEW X4 Block with Silencer £259
NEW X6 Block with Silencer £349
Simple Audio and Qobuz have announced a new partnership, originating from the shared ambition to deliver premium sound to music lovers in the home through innovative and high-end solutions. Qobuz brings the high quality music and Simple Audio brings its high resolution music streamers to the party.
“After so many years in which MP3 compressed music became the standard, Qobuz and Simple Audio want to change things. Qobuz brings music lovers a new high-end listening experience, with more than 18 million tracks available for streaming and downloading in True CD Quality, as well as over 20,000 albums available for download in Studio Masters quality. Add to the mix, high resolution music streamers, notably the Simple Audio Roomplayer+ and Roomplayer+ with Amp and the reasons for the partnership become clear. Simple Audio Roomplayers are equipped with a DAC capable of playing any file up to 24-bit/192 kHz around the home. The result is true high end music streaming” says the companies’ shared press statement.
In addition Simple Audio has released an updated app which now makes the new music service available to all Roomplayer+ owners.
Commenting on the partnership, Qobuz General Manager, Alexandre Leforestier said: “Connected devices; carefully designed, versatile and 24-bit compatible: we are proud that the Qobuz HiFi offers are now available across the entire Simple Audio range.”
Ruben Mookerjee, VP General Manager of Simple Audio said: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Qobuz. Our customers can now enjoy all the benefits offered by music services (any music, anytime) but now in True CD and Studio Masters quality. Superb sound meets modern music streaming.”
The new wallmount speaker from Wilson, the Alida, incorporates the same anti-jitter crossover technology that underlies the full-size Wilson loudspeakers. “The greatest challenge for any wall-mount loudspeaker is accounting for the deleterious interaction with the wall and ceiling, as well as degradation caused by the mount itself. Alida minimizes wall/ceiling resonant interactions through thoroughly re-engineered mounting system” says the company’s press release. The Alida is mounted to its bracket via a new individually machined, aircraft-grade aluminum mechanism which Wilson say will reduce wall-born interactions and resonances.
Where the outgoing Wilson Wallmount could be rotated up to 10 degrees, Alida’s new mount provides up to 30 degrees of rotation.
For those clients upgrading from the Wallmount Series 2 to the Alida, Wilson has made the task of swapping the two loudspeakers relatively straightforward by providing compatible mount locations on the X-material wall bracket. Simply remove the old bracket and replace it with the Alida bracket. For an additional fee, Wilson will paint the X-material bracket to match the wall or the Alida itself.
Using materials technology first developed for the Alexandria XLF and the Sasha W/P, Wilson have been able to “reduce the resonant signature of the Alida enclosure to vanishing levels”. A rear-wave diffuser, similar to the technology found in Wilson’s larger speakers, Is employed to “reduce time-domain distortion inside the cabinet”.
The new Wilson CST tweeter, first found a home in the Alexandria XLF is used In the Alida and uses a new silk dome design. This version of the CST features a bespoke rear-wave chamber, designed specifically for the Alida platform. Additionally, Wilson will offer a custom version with the its modified titanium dome tweeter for those customers replacing the outgoing Surround, who still use front speakers with this tweeter.
Chord Electronics’ Hugo has quickly established itself in the marketplace and now Hugo owners can protect their device and house a digital audio player or cell phone, in the new Hugo Leather Case (£99).
The Hugo Leather Case is, as its name would suggest, made from leather and has been designed to allow full access to Hugo’s controls, in/outputs and LED indicators. Full provision has been made for source components, too: the Hugo Leather Case uses a quad system of durable elasticated webbing straps with Velcro terminations, to securely hold phones and digital audio players to the case. The design allows direct access to touchscreens and controls, and offers several fastening options.
A thumb-loop at the top of the case provides a secondary element of security when the Hugo is hand-held, and Velcro-tipped leather latches at each end of the case provide both protection and (at the input end), a useful cavity to store small connection leads.
Available in both black and natural tan real leather, the new case is available from Chord Electronics retailers now priced at £99.
Classé has announced the availability of a new series of components called Sigma, featuring a 7.1 channel Surround Sound Preamp/Processor, called Sigma SSP and two amplifiers, the AMP2 and AMP5, rated at 2x200W and 5x200W into 8 ohms respectively.
“High-end is about passion, discovery, experience and technical exploration. It’s not just who can make the most expensive things.” said Dave Nauber, President of Classé. “Making more affordable products that are truly high-end is a greater challenge, which is why there is a gap in the market between offerings from the mass-market CE companies and the high-end brands. We chose to exploit our cost advantage as part of the B&W Group to fill this void with some exceptional new products.”
The Sigma SSP has been optimized as a high-performance stereo preamp/processor with video switching, multichannel processing and bass management included. Connections for USB and Ethernet streaming augment the basic HDMI, coax and optical digital inputs. Balanced and single-ended analogue inputs, including an optional phono stage, make the Sigma SSP a versatile looking preamp/processor.
According to Classé, the amplifier models are derived from their Delta series CA-D200; a Class D topology that addresses the problem of dead-band-time—the time when both halves of the amplifier are off—once thought to be the Achilles’ heel of Class D designs. The Classé solution achieves a 3 nanosecond dead-band-time, which they say will “dramatically lower distortion and enable numerous other design advantages”.
“Our goals in designing the Sigma series were to deliver true, high performance for the audiophile, offer versatile connectivity to accommodate a wide range of sources, bundle it with a host of performance-oriented features and package it in a compact and affordable chassis.” said Nauber. “We have done all that and more. With their efficient use of power, the Sigma series designs generate less heat and are more eco-friendly than other conventional designs.”
The Classé Sigma series is available in October.
Sigma SSP $5,000 USD
AMP5 $5,000 USD
AMP2 $3,500 USD