Judith Owen describes her latest album, her 10th studio release, as “a love letter to Laurel Canyon”. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles was home to several members of the Californian rock music community. Joni Mitchell lived there and David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash first met in her living room. The area played host to names such as J.D. Souther, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Carole King. The Canyon, along with LA’s Troubadour club, became a crucible for the Seventies singer-songwriter scene. More »

Dave Pen and Mike Bird formed BirdPen while sharing a flat in their hometown of Southampton. Self-releasing a handful of well-received EPs, the duo went on to release their debut Album On/Off/Safety/Danger in 2009. Evolving and honing their sound, new album In The Company Of Imaginary Friends, their third, harnesses subtle melodies to evoke widescreen emotions. More »

Pro-Ject are set to take their own traditional design, and completely revolutionise it to accommodate the ever-growing number of vinyl listeners.Project_digital_turntable

The Essential II DIGITAL aims to be the first hi-fi specified turntable that can be connected – out-of- the-box – to any modern home entertainment system. The brand new internal phono stage gives customers the option between an analogue Line Level output, or a 24-bit/96kHz digital Optical output.

The analogue portion of the output stage uses a phono stage based upon Pro-Ject’s Phono Box design. The Line output allows for easy connection to any Line-Level (Auxiliary) input. The 24-bit/96kHz Optical output uses a high-performance Analogue-Digital Converter (ADC) to send a clean, uninterrupted signal to your digital hub. So whether you currently listen to music through a soundbar, an AV receiver, a DAC, a TV, a digital pre-amplifier or a multi- room system with external input options – the Essential II DIGITAL should fit right in.

 

The Essential II DIGITAL has a high-gloss paint finishe, and the “Digital” logo emblazoned on the plinth. It also boasts all the pre-existing features that have made the Essential II an international award winner. The 8.6” aluminium tonearm, heavy MDF platter and low-voltage motor with perimeter belt drive system make a winning combination; while the Ortofon OM5E is the perfect cartridge to get instant gratification from your record collection. The turntable is available in black or white finish, and is supplied with a dust-cover in the box.

With the ever-growing success of the vinyl format, Pro-Ject aim to produce a range of products that give any customer the tools they need to integrate a high-quality turntable into their listening system. The Essential II DIGITAL expands the potential for digital audio fans to revisit the fabled black wax, without fundamentally changing their current system.

SRP £309.00

The Pro-Ject Essential II DIGITAL will be available in the UK from June 2015.

 

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Duo Inga Calstrom and Leck Fischer were discovered by producer Mike Mason in a club in the small Swedish town of Sveg. Unimpressed by the entertainment on offer, Mason was on his way out. “A monstrous bass line rabbit punched me in the back of the head and a voice made me weak at the knees” he said later. He was stopped in his tracks and witnessed “The best performance I’d seen in years”. Returning home to Oxfordshire, Mason lost no time in flying Calstrom and Fischer over to record their first album American Teeth. More »

Rather than bringing out a single pair of Bluetooth in ear monitors, Noble Audio the California based IEMNoble BTS_Side specialists have come up with a clever little gizmo called a Bluetooth Solution (BTS). It’s a tiny clip-on device that turns headphones and IEMs wireless using Bluetooth. Barely bigger than an AA battery and weighing just 10 grams, the BTS system plugs into headphones and pairs with phones, tablets and compatible devices up to 10m away. It charges in 2 hours and plays back music for 7. The BTS system features the latest Bluetooth 4.0 and aptX CODEC technologies, as well as an omnidirectional microphone with push-button controls, giving users complete flexibility with partnering devices.

Following its pre-order launch in April, the Noble Audio BTS is available now direct from Noble Audio.

 

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Akiko Audio think that the importance of a good power supply cannot be stressed enough.Aerostar_FI50

“That’s why we took another critical look at, and where possible improved, the top range of our power cables: the Aerostar.” Says Marc van Berlo, co-owner of this Dutch company. The quality of the silver plating has been improved, together with the ‘filament’ system to achieve maximum isolation. The biggest and most eye catching improvement is the use of Furutech FI-50 connectors.

The Akiko Audio Powercord Aerostar FI-50 is sold with an international 14 day money back guarantee.

 

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Voxtok, a Frano-American company with their R&D team based in the South of France, announces the launchvoxtok_news of AudioCapsule, an audiophile-grade player and a music server, controlled from your smartphone, tablet or Smart TV. Combining a premium quality player, a multi-room music service, and a CD-ripping feature, AudioCapsule also comes with a high-capacity internal storage, and provides access to cloud-based services.

AudioCapsule can be pre-ordered from today at an early bird retail price of 1199€, with a one-year subscription to related services included.

Voxtok has also launched its Accelerator Program. Users are invited to share their opinions and ideas, and to play a vital role in designing upcoming features of AudioCapsule.

AudioCapsule will be available from November 16th 2015, full price will be 1999€.

 

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PureAudioProject make some very interesting open baffle loudspeakers that we first encountered on the NewcomersTrio15TB ALU_PureAudioProject Stand at High End Munich 2013.

Their self-assembly speakers now have the option of the new Trio15, three piece, all aluminium frame, which has been engineered for  better vibration control, stability and aesthetics and is compatible with their WTW and WWT models.

It is currently being offered at a special pre-order price of US$ 1,499 excl. VAT, shaving 300$ off the catalogue price. This pre-order offer is time and quantity limited and the planned shipping date is the beginning of July.

 

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Theta Digital are now shipping the new Dreadnaught D modular main amplifier, designed and built in their Montebello,Theta_Digital_Dreadnaught_D_Silver_Three_Quarters_View California manufacturing facility.

Designed to accommodate up to 8 channels of amplification, the Dreadnaught D has a built-in power supply using dual power cords, power switches and toroidal transformers plus 4 slots designed to receive proprietary Theta Digital amplifier modules.

There are three modules available for the Dreadnaught D, all based on the Hypex N-Core class D amplifier circuitry.The stereo amplifier module is rated at 225W RMS per channel at 8 ohms and 400W at 4 ohms with no more than 0.05% THD from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. One of the two single-channel modules has identical performance.The other bridges the two modules to deliver over 500W RMS at 8 ohms with over 800 W RMS at 4 ohms.

The Dreadnaught D is available in platinum or black, in standard or rack-mount chassis with either 117V or 230V power supplies.

Pricing depends on the chosen configuration, for example MSRP for 225W x 7 is $9,995.00; 400W x 3 plus 225W x 2 is $10,695.00. Stereo amplifiers are available with 225W x 2 at $6,149.95 and 500W x 2 at $7,445.00.

 

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The NuPrime IDA-8 Integrated Amplifier, a single-chassis, integrated stereo amplifier with a DAC capable of decodingNuPrime_1DA8 USB PCM 384 and DSD256 in addition to a 100Wx2 power amplifier in a 8.5” wide chassis.

NuPrime tell us that the IDA-8 is packed with innovative features including:

– NuPrime power amplifier design breakthrough technology Ultra Linear Class A Module (ULCAM) to achieve high-end Class A sound signature with Class D efficiency

– State-of-the-art DAC supporting USB PCM 384 and DSD256, that is also capable of decoding DoP formats via coaxial and optical inputs

– NuPrime SRC IC chip provides FPGA processing with ultra-low jitter and distortion

– NuPrime vibration-free isolation feet (patent pending)

– Analogue line-out (Sub Out), with 3X the standard output power, provides impressive lows and a wide sound stage specifically designed for subwoofers

– Four digital inputs and one stereo input for complete system flexibility

– Extension port for Bluetooth dongle and WiFi audio streaming (optional)

The NuPrime IDA-8 is available worldwide for a suggested retail price of US$995 and shipping in mid-June.

 

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Woozy Summer days. The French TV version of Robinson Crusoe. Sky Ray ice lollies. If these things could have a sound, it would be the sound of Sarah Cracknell’s new album. An album that the words “pastoral” and “sun-kissed” were made for.

Sarah Cracknell is, of course, the singer with Saint Etienne; a band that have always embraced the sounds of the sixties and seventies. These influences remain on this, her second solo album. More »

Geneva have just launched their AeroSphère music system.Geneva_Lab_1

Controlled via App or handset, AeroSphère is a stylish looking and versatile multi-source, multi-room music system comprising wireless active speakers in two sizes, for table top, shelf or floor stand, together with an optional network-connected entertainment module, the AeroSphère Base, which adds CD, DAB/DAB+, FM radio and a further line-in to the setup.

Adding to their Wi-Fi and wireless connectivity, both AeroSphère speakers offer a stereo mini-jack line input for local analogue audio sources.

Available from UK stockists this month.

AeroSphère Small – £349

AeroSphère Large – £649

Dedicated Floor Stands – £149

AeroSphère Base – £449

 

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I first became aware of Tidal in October last year. At that time it was being quietly marketed as a high quality streaming service with the emphasis on its lossless, CD-quality sound. Sound quality has virtually become an irrelevance in the mass market; the received wisdom that it it impossible to hear the difference between a 320 Mbps MP3 file and a 24 bit 192 high resolution file has been happily accepted as truth, mostly by people who have never heard a high resolution file. The result of this was that Tidal found itself targeting a niche market of audiophiles for whom sound quality was still a vital consideration and who had either already discovered the benefits of streaming music from their own computer-based audio set ups or were increasingly curious about doing so.

More »

Ruark Audio is a family-owned British firm that has made well reputed loudspeakers for over thirty years. Today it hasRuark_R1_OL applied the same principles to design and engineer a new generation of compact tabletop music systems.

Ruark’s R1 Mk3 and MR1 models are now available in the U.S. Pre-order now from Ruark for delivery in early July.

R1 Mk3 – $299.95

Elegantly styled and simple to use, with Bluetooth technology, the new R1 is a complete compact tabletop music system.

Limited Edition Osborne & Little R1 Mk3 – $349.95

In collaboration with British designers Osborne & Little Ruark have introduced a limited edition of our new R1 wrapped in one of O&L’s latest fabrics called ‘Melo’.

MR1 – $499.95

The new MR1 Bluetooth speaker system was created to partner modern music sources, such as laptops, smartphones, flat panel TVs and iPads.

Both the R1 Mk3 and the MR1 are available in real wood Rich Walnut, Soft Black or Soft White.

 

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NuNu Distribution in UK got in touch to tell us about the  new Chromium Style range of speakers from quadral that consists of 4 products: Style 8, Style 6, Style 2 and Style 1 (Base). This newQuadral_chromium_pr range has:

  • The new “genuine” ribbon tweeter with an aluminium membrane  which the company say “guarantees exceptionally low distortion ratings and produces fascinating fine reproductions”. Using extremely powerful neodymium magnets and a transducer with a sintered, high current ferrite core
  • 6 inch (155mm) woofer
  • Available in a high gloss varnish of black or white
  • White speakers come with a white front grill
  • Premium gold plated stereo connection terminals
  • Titanium coated membrane
  • Covers are held secure by magnets

                                                                      

                                                     STYLE 8                     STYLE 6                 STYLE 2                   STYLE 1

Type                                            3-way                          2-way                      2-way                       3-way

Principle                                     Bass reflex                  Bass reflex              Base reflex              closed

Nom/Music power (W)             140/200                       110/170                   60/90                       100/150

Frequency response (Hz)       32…55.000                  35…55.000              48…55.000             55…55.000

Crossover frequency (Hz)      340/3.400                    3.400                        3.400                        300/3.400

Efficiency (dB/1W/1m)             89                                 88                             86                               86

Tweeter (ribbon)                       aluminium                     aluminium                aluminium                  aluminium

Midrange Titanium-PP            155mm                          2x155mm                 155mm                       155mm

 

 

 

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Back in November 2013 I reviewed Bird Radio’s first outing “The Boy and The Audience” and said ” Bird Radio is like a demented Pied Piper cum Cat Weasel character for the Ableton Live generation – fail to listen at your peril!” and he’s just released is his Oh, Happy England album.

Oh, Happy England is a collection of poems by Walter de la Mare, an English poet born 1873, set to music. I must confess to being completely unaware of de la Mare but you live and learn. Bird Radio (Mikey Kirkpatrick) says about de la Mare “When you enter into a poem by Walter de la Mare, you are never certain of the boundaries between reality and dreams. His poetry covers a broad spectrum of textures and emotions from moments of realisation and self recognition as in The Englishman to dark, isolated and nightmarish scenes such as Drugged and reveries such as Time Passes”.  More »

Known as the French Elvis, Johnny Hallyday is a bit of an iconic figure here in France and he still manages to draw huge audiences. Eighty or nine years ago he headlined the Vieilles Charrues festival a few minutes up the road from where we live and folk travelled from all over the country to catch a glimpse of this living legend. So beloved is Johnny that in 1997 Jacques Chirac awarded him the Legion Of Honour medal. Personally I’ve always seen him as a bit of a caricature, but then I’d never taken the time to listen to his music, though he’s had 33 number one singles and sold over 110 Million records in his time…perhaps this was a bit remiss of me.  More »

I used to hammer “Laughing Gas” by Juno Reactor  on the Nova Mute label back in the day (1993 if memory serves)…I can still remember the yellow and blue cover, but the 12″ is long gone sadly and since then I’ve not really taken much notice of his output. This may have been a mistake and a bit of an oversight on my part I must confess…

The “label” here is Psy-Trance, but I reckon Ben Watkins (for it is he) goes far beyond what I would expect of the usual formulaic stuff churned out under this banner. Juno Reactor are apparently huge in Australia, Japan and pretty much everywhere but the UK and I can see why… the Juno Reactor live experience is by all accounts a bit of a spectacle with loads of musicians, singers, percussionists and dancers taking to the stage. This album certainly feels like a bit of an epic that would be really something at a huge festival whilst in an enhanced state! More »