London’s headroom show (January 29th-30th 2016 ) will debut the world’s first noise-isolating electrostatic earphone system from SHURE, the new KSE 1500 which combines a Sound-Isolating™ electrostatic earphone with a matched high-res SHURE USB amp/DAC.kse1500_application_10_cols

Electrostatic technology, which until now has never been applied to earphones, provides the fastest, most accurate transient response available the company says. The Sound-Isolating™ electrostatic earphone and matching amp/DAC provide a unique system that operates “holistically, giving unmatched clarity and detail with extremely high fidelity”.

Each earphone features a virtually weightless, massless diaphragm surrounded by an electrostatic field generated by back-plates that manage charge-oscillation. The earphones connect to a rechargeable amplifier using an advanced Kevlar cable, specifically engineered to work with the electrostatic diaphragm and provide the correct operating bias.

The 24/192 USB amp/DAC is compatible with Mac, PC, iOS and Android devices, with all navigation and control performed via a single wheel. A colour screen gives source, EQ, volume information and more, plus each KSE 1500 is supplied with a comprehensive accessory pack.

headroom is a unique two-day experience that brings together the world’s leading portable audio manufacturers and showcases the latest products, technology and trends within an exclusive environment: Europe’s foremost recording, mastering and production studios, Metropolis.

 

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Constellation Audio, manufacturer of solid-state electronics, announces that at CES 2016 they will be demonstrating their Reference Series Altair II preamplifier and Hercules II monobloc amplifiers.

The recent press release from the company states that “The Constellation Audio dream team has applied their rigorous design and engineering research to create the Altair II and Hercules II as worthy successors to their original namesakes, products which by every parameter significantly raise the performance bar from their previous benchmark standards. The new Reference Series products redefine transparency and resolution on the preamplifier side while combining these virtues with the ultimate in both finesse and control on the amplifier side. The net result is a system that delivers uncompromised performance and musicality.”

The Altair II has separate triple-transformer power supply which is itself shielded by a machined aluminum chassis. Construction of the completely dual-mono control centre is highlighted by the use of a machined solid aluminum enclosure (called a raft) which is constructed with 8.2mm-thick walls. The raft is secured to a platform incorporating an isolating polymer sheet between sheets of stainless steel, and this platform is in turn mounted on an elastomeric suspension. The net result is complete mechanical and electromagnetic isolation. There’s the inclusion of a home-theater bypass mode and the addition of a DB-9 connector for.Constellation1_CES2016

Hercules II monoblocs use two 3,000-Watt transformers housed in their own shielded, suspended enclosure. The shielding and suspension prevents electromagnetic noise or mechanical vibration from entering into the system. Using the 125-Watt fully balanced building block modules that have become a signature of Constellation Audio amplifier designs; the Hercules is configured using multiple modules in a single chassis to deliver 1,000 Watts into each mono chassis. Connection between the Altair II and Hercules II is via the Constellation Direct interface which eliminates an extra gain stage in the signal path. However, for those users of other preamplifiers, Hercules II is also equipped with balanced and single-ended inputs.
Source components at CES 2016 will include the Constellation Audio Cygnus Media Server/DAC and a turntable paired with a Constellation Audio phono stage with Martin-Logan Neoliths.Constellation2_CES2016

The Constellation Audio Reference System will be on display in The Venetian, Suite 34-210.

 

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In the last of his Fidelity Matters articles for 2015, Ian Ringstead celebrates innovation wherever it comes from and applauds all the people in the hifi industry who make this wonderful kit possible.  More »

John Scott throws a log on the fire, pours himself a wee dram and puts on his copy of Mike Oldfield’s Ommadawn as part of his Classic Albums series of reviews.   More »

Last month Ansuz Acoustics announced their new ultra high-end series, d·tc. Now, Ansuz Acoustics is ready with their new addition to the d·tc series: the d·tc cables.

The Ansuz Acoustics d·tc series will cover a full cable loom containing mains and loudspeaker cables and a complete selection of interconnect cables. Ansuz Acoustics will be introducing the new d·tc series at the 2016 CES in Las Vegas.anzuscables-CES2016

“Ansuz Acoustics has incorporated all their unique technologies in the de- velopment of the d·tc cables: DGC (Direct Ground Connector technology), DIHC (Double Inverted Helix Coil technology) and NSC (Noise Suppressing Coil technology) together with new groundbreaking technologies such as dynamically charged dielectric material and active tesla coil” says the Danish company’s latest press release.

 

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Last year, Aavik Acoustics released their very first amplifier, the integrated amplifier Aavik U-300 and now the Danish company is to introduce two new amplifiers to the 300 series: the Aavik P-300 power amplifier and the Aavik C-300 preamplifier.

The two new Aavik Acoustics amplifiers will be introduced at the 2016 CES in Las Vegas.

The Aavik P-300 power amplifier devices never stop conducting current. This means that the amplifier circuitry never has to deal with residuals such as switching spikes and device “latchings”.Aavik-P300_front_white_bg

The Aavik P-300 has an ultra short and simple signal circuit design, where all gain and feedback is performed by a single transistor pair. This short signal path gives the Aavik P-300 a gain structure with extremely low distortion and a more than 90-degree phase margin for amplifier stability.Aavik-P300-rearpanel_white_bg

The Aavik P-300 has four 600 W power factor corrected resonant mode power supplies. The in total 2400 W power supply combined with the extremely large electrolytic power banks allow the Aavik P-300 to deliver peak currents in excess of 80 A.

The Aavik C-300 preamplifier

The Aavik C-300 is equipped with two built-in DACs (PCM and DSD) and a phono section. It also comes with three line inputs: two single-ended and one balanced, and an RCA and an XLR output.aavik_front_whitebg

The virtual ground circuits eliminate the possibility of injecting dirty ground noise into the delicate audio circuits.Aavik-C300-rear_white_bg

Design

Aavik Acoustics’ inspiration from Scandinavian design traditions is easily found in the Aavik P-300 and C-300 amplifiers with their simplistic functionality and their beautiful minimalistic design. All chassis in the 300 series are made of anodized aluminium.

 

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Dave and Daryl Wilson discuss the new Alexx, its new technologies and architecture—and its relationship both to the speakers that precede it, as well as the upcoming WAMM.

Alexx is the fourth all-new loudspeaker from Wilson in as many years so sit back and enjoy.

 

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Thiel Audio will be showcasing the latest generation SmartSub™ 1.12 at CES 2016 in Venetian suite 30-110

The latest generation SmartSub from Thiel will feature sophisticated app-based control and advanced room correction, paired with a Thiel long excursion 12-inch driver and DSP-controlled 1250 watt amplifier.Thiel_sub_CES_2016

Features 

  • Connects to your Wi-Fi network for phone/tablet app-based control
  • Six User-accessible Sound Mode Presets
  • SmartSub XT Processing, a sophisticated acoustic correction algorithm to precisely adjust onboard parametric equalization to help the SmartSub overcome complex acoustic challenges defined by the dimensions of the room
  • A long-excursion 12-inch woofer featuring a rigid cast frame and an aluminium cone
  • An energy efficient DSP-controlled switching amplifier, capable of delivering 1250 watts of continuous power.
  • PC control software, enabling access to control of advanced settings such as low and high-pass filter adjustments, phase adjustments, 5-Band Parametric EQ and SmartSub™ XT Auto EQ parameters in the SmartSub app.
  • The most commonly used features of the subwoofer are available to all users via a basic infrared (IR) remote control (included). The IR remote provides control of system power, volume, muting, input source, and sound mode

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Located in the heart of Nashville’s music scene, Aurora merges the heritage of Thiel Audio with the vibrant legacy of Music City. As an “ultra-high definition” live streaming music venue, Aurora is one of the few places in the country where fans can unite with their favourite musicians and emerging artists live and in ultra-high definition video and lossless audio which all sounds very cool indeed.Thiel-Logo-2014

Aurora houses a live performance stage, designed with musicians and industry tastemakers in mind. “It is the perfect venue for intimate concerts, artist showcases, record release parties, film screenings and industry related events. It is also the perfect setting to experience Thiel Audio’s refined loudspeakers” says Thiel Audio’s press release . The state of the art, acoustically correct listening room, complete with 4k video, enables guests to play music, view converts or movies, go online and even access social media.

“We have created this beautifully appointed space so that our guests might Live inside the Music – the true essence of the Thiel experience,” says Thiel Audio Chief Brand Officer Rebecca Abrahams.

“This immersive, fully interactive space combines 40 years of dedication to acoustic excellence while reaching out to a new generation of luxury brand consumers, looking for next generation high performance audio products,” she adds.

Why Aurora? Thiel says the creation of an entertainment division was a natural progression. In a world of device- driven music on demand, the company wanted to follow luxury brand consumers who are on-the-go, connected to content via phones and tablets across devices while simultaneously showcasing Music City to a worldwide audience – live and in ultra-high definition.  A sophisticated HD streaming venue, it also helps solve another problem for our record label neighbours in Nashville – vanishing CD sales.

Aurora is scheduled to open March 2016.

 

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Cary Audio will show several new products at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in the Venetian Towers Suite 30-308 on January 6-9, 2016. “This year’s CES will prove to be a game changer for Cary Audio as we expand into new segments of the consumer electronics industry” says the company’s latest press release.CES_Logo_sm

Lifestyle Series

AiOS (All-in-One System) will be the first product in Cary Audio’s Lifestyle series with the company saying that “AiOS is designed for a new age of music listening and enjoyment. One where simplicity, compactness, and aesthetics take precedent. One where enjoying music isn’t an end-all be-all serious critiquing matter, but rather something to sing and dance to, sway your head or tap your foot as you listen or go about other activities”.

AiOS is designed to blend into your lifestyle and décor with five colours of switchable illumination and switchable matching colour side panels plus a small curved aesthetic and affordable price point.

AiOS features include network audio streaming, internet music streaming, direct playback from USB hard drives, thumb drives, SD Cards, aptX® transmit and receive Bluetooth (transmit for listening with wireless BT headphones or speakers), Class AB 50 watts x 2 amplifier, analogue and digital inputs, subwoofer output and more!

SI-300.2d Integrated Amplifier

Cary Audio will introduce a new powerhouse integrated amplifier, the NEW SI-300.2d, a Class AB 300 x2 integrated amplifier with XLR and RCA analogue inputs, cinema bypass, as well as Cary’s own digital section. The digital section includes XMOS USB inputs, Coaxial (x2), optical, AES/EBU, and aptX® Bluetooth combined with their 128 Bit DSP Engine for their TruBit© selectable upsampling technology, AKM 4490EQ DACs and premium digital circuitry top off the digital section. The front panel includes a VFD display, centre mounted volume control and a pair of blue VU meters.

DMS-500 Network Audio Player

The DMS-500 is both a wired or wireless (Wi-Fi) network client and renderer usable with  their custom iOS or Android app or any third-party UPnP/DLNA app, or computer media player. If you prefers “computer-less” direct playback, the DMS-500 includes three USB Type-A inputs for USB hard drives or thumb drives, as well as SD Card inputs. From any network, USB or SD source, the DMS-500 can natively stream PCM 32 bit /384 kHz, and DSD 64, 128, 256, and 512. DAC inputs include coaxial (x2), Optical, AES/EBU, and aptX© Bluetooth.  The DMS-500 can convert any PCM signal to DSD, as well as selectively upsample any PCM or DSD signal up to 768 kHz in PCM or up to DSD 256.  In addition to aptX© Bluetooth, it also includes AirPlay, and phoneshare making Wi-Fi playback from any iOS or Android device simple. Other features include internet music streaming services, a five inch full colour HD display, IR remote, IR triggers and seamless internet updates for new features and firmware, as they become available.

 

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The gordian from Lab 12 is hand built in Greece and is a multifunction power distributor/conditioner with a host of functions to measure the quality of your power supply. It costs 1398€ and Stuart Smith bought a special Hifi Pig edition for this review. gordian_fr

“One of the main criticisms of units that claim to “condition” the power being supplied to your system is that dynamics are affected, but I can categorically state that this is just not the case with gordian. The system still feels as fast and lithe as it always has and nothing in the frequency spectrum feels constrained or limited.”

 

Read the full review of the Lab 12 gordian Power Distributor/Conditioner

 

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Stuart Smith looks at the year that was 2015 and hints at a few things you can expect to see in the coming year from Hifi Pig.  More »

At just under £20 000 the Polish Zeta Zero Venus Picolla are a substantial investment, but they are gorgeously built and something of a work of art Janine Elliot thinks? How do they sound?zetalifes

“The sound was very large, covering the soundstage with mighty detail and with smoothness only ribbons can do. Vocals were precise and inviting and all sounds carried a good depth in front and behind, and a reasonable width. Some people see in colours and for me the colour was a healthy green; not red or yellow brightness or a dull or boring blue or grey. This was exact, just as it should sound.”

Read the full review of the Zeta Zero Venus Picolla Loudspeakers

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Dominic Marsh gets puzzled over the differences people hear with identical products and explains how he goes about evaluating and listening to new kit. More »

Janine Elliot takes another look at retro audio kit, this time focusing on the rare Tefifon. More »

French based Cabasse make the renowned Sphère loudspeaker system, but they also produce more modestly priced items.Here Dominic Marsh takes a listen to the Stream 100 amplifier (£499) and Surf loudspeakers (£379)

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“Paired with the Surf speakers they produced a powerful and pleasing sound that I could not really level any criticism at, save a slight rolling off at the extreme top end and I do mean extreme, which shouldn’t perturb the average listener. ”

Read the full review of the Cabasse Stream 100 amplifier and Surf Loudspeakers

 

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London’s headroom show, which offers music lovers the chance to try the largest range of demonstrable headphones in the UK, will be showing Questyle’s new QP1R high-resolution digital audio player (£699) 23145826179_ee04e4fc1b_z

Questyle Audio’s new high-performance QP1R high-resolution digital audio player will be available to demonstrate at the headroom show (January 29th-30th 2016 ). Headroom is a unique two-day experience that brings together the world’s leading portable audio manufacturers and showcases the latest products, technology and trends within an exclusive environment: Europe’s foremost recording, mastering and production studios, Metropolis.

The new QP1R is a high-performance, high-resolution portable music player (DAP). Designed to provide on-the-go music lovers and audiophiles the same hi-fi listening experience as they’d get at home, the QP1R, with its impressive arc body and twin steering wheel design, supports DSD128 and 24/192kHz PCM playback and uses a pure Class A headphone amplifier with discrete transistors and components.

 

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McIntosh Laboratory has launched a new feature-packed processor. The new MX160 replaces the existing MX151 and brings the McIntosh sound and build quality to home cinema connoisseurs everywhere.

The new MX160 supports RoomPerfect™ room-correction technology, which adjusts the audio to the specific acoustics of the room. It also supports new object-based 3D audio formats, including Dolby® Atmos and Auro-3D®

There’s support for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio™ and, of course, other popular legacy formats including DVD and Blu-ray™. All audio is processed according to the McIntosh sound and performance standards, not found in any other home cinema processor.

There’s full support for 4K Ultra HD native sources, plus up-conversion to 4K Ultra HD for the best possible picture quality from 1080P, 720P and 576P/480P inputs. The MX160 offers an incredible eight HDMI inputs and four outputs for current and future TV compatibility, plus offers a 3D video pass-through feature. An HDBaseT output is also included to provide degradation-free, uncompressed digital video and audio, over long cable runs between the MX160 and projectors or televisions.

The MX160 features balanced outputs for 11.1 (also known as 7.1.4) audio channels, plus four auxiliary channels for use in bi-amping speakers or driving additional subwoofers. For digital audio sources, the MX160 features four optical and three coaxial inputs, one USB (up to 24-bit/192kHz data), plus an XLR connector. For analogue audio, there are two sets of stereo balanced inputs, four sets of stereo unbalanced inputs, a dedicated phono input, plus a set of 7.1 multichannel unbalanced inputs.

All analogue and digital connections can be custom-named for simplified system operation and matched in volume level for a smooth transition between sources. Bass and treble controls offer further audio fine-tuning.

The classic black glass front panel, knobs, illuminated logo and custom-machined brushed- aluminium end-caps make the MX160 a rousing addition to any home cinema system. It can be paired with a variety of McIntosh amplifiers and speakers for a complete home cinema system; UK distributor Jordan Acoustics is happy to advise.

Like all its products, the MX160 is handcrafted in the Binghamton factory (NY) and boasts classic 1950s styling with contemporary features and performance.

The MX160 sells for £13,995 and is available to order now from Jordan Acoustics in the UK

Martin Logan make the fabulous (and massive) Neolith electrostatic loudspeaker and it is electrostatics they are best known for, but they also produce a wide range of smaller and more accessible loudspeakers and here Dan Worth takes a listen to the company’s £899 Motion 15 standmounter.

Motionartys

 

“They won’t ever get caught in a speed trap, but the top-end has great pace and the bottom-end doesn’t lag behind or ever seem slow, balancing nicely for a more natural presentation.”

Read the full review of the Martin Logan Motion 15 Standmount Loudspeakers

 

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Keeping your records in pristine condition is vital to their longevity and the lifespan of your cartridge. Stuart Smith cleans up his act with the Clearaudio Smart Matrix Record Cleaning Machine at £775.  

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” If you have really filthy records spin the platter more times and repeat the whole process including vacuuming – I buy a lot of my records second hand from brocantes and car boot fairs and most are filthier than a very filthy thing…use your imagination.”

Read the full review of the Clearaudio Smart Matrix Record Cleaning Machine

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