The PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP Integrated Amplifier at £2,998 is billed as a fit an forget valve amplifier that avoids many of the OUTSTANDING PRODUCTboxredheadaches traditionally associated with valve amp ownership. Ian Ringstead takes one for a spin.  More »

This month John Scott continues his Classic Album series and takes a look back at David Bowie’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. What else?  More »

Many readers may think the life of your average hifi reviewer is a non-stop round of high-end luxury, champagne breakfasts, fast cars and supermodel baubles. Think again says Dominic Marsh as he tells it like it really is.  More »

From 4th February, Meridian customers will have access to the necessary updates to enable MQA playback—offering listeners for the first time in their own home, the opportunity to experience “the full, intricate detail of a live performance for the first time in the history of recorded music”.

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Commenting on the announcement, John Buchanan, CEO at Meridian Audio said, “The commercial availability of MQA heralds an exciting time for Meridian and our customers. We are proud to be the first to offer MQA playback at the highest level in a pure digital signal path straight from the studio to your home or pocket. Meridian has been a pioneer in the digital audio revolution for decades, and we are thrilled to add MQA as the next evolution to our reference level feature set – establishing a new benchmark in superior audio performance.”

Barry Sheldrick, Director of Sales at Meridian stated, “From the work that MQA has been undertaking with recording studios we know that many artists have been using the Explorer2 to sign off their master recordings, which makes the fact that this product is available to buy for under £200 in the UK even more remarkable.”

Firmware updates for the personal audio products will be available for download from the support pages on the Meridian web site, while updates for Reference Series products and loudspeakers will be handled directly by Meridian dealers and Meridian Customer Support.

 

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Graham Slee has just released a new flagship phono stage (we’ve been using their Elevator EXP MC Step-up Amplifier and Reflex XM phono stage to excellent effect for some time). Called the Accession, it’s a moving magnet sensitivity device with a new take on equalisation and many useful features for the serious vinyl enthusiast.

Equalisation

Firstly it doesn’t do RIAA equalisation like any other phono stage – it does it quite differently. It recognises that magnetic cartridges have what’s called a constant velocity output. In other words their output isn’t flat like most people think – it rises at 6db per octave – and so the cartridge plays its own frequency response as well as playing the record’s frequency response.accession-black-front

The Accession does the RIAA EQ by first equalising the cartridge, then equalising the record, which makes sense seeing these two things came about at different times. Part of the EQ is being caused at the very moment the record is in play (by the cartridge). The other part of the EQ happened at the cutting lathe (many years before??).

Over 99% of phono stages work by equalising the combination of both curves as if the record was recorded with that. No matter how it’s achieved it leads to some interaction of filter slopes requiring “empirical tuning”. With the Accession there is no interaction – calculated values result in the correct response.

It also means that the records own EQ can be switched off using its “Flat/CA” switch to give a constant amplitude response, and so the user can use software EQ reconstruction when digitising via a digital to analogue converter. It also means that acoustic records will be reproduced as flat as they were cut.

Not only that, but as well as having RIAA record equalisation, it also has two other EQ settings: “British” for FFRR LPs and EPs; and “American” for NAB equalised records – great for older mono vinyls. Two front panel switches provide these functions and a third front panel switch selects stereo or mono (left-right sum).

Volume Control & Two Outputs

There are two outputs, one which is fixed level and the other which is via the Accession’s volume (or level) control.

This gives the user the ability to record or digitise (via an ADC) from one output whilst listening on the other. The volume control can be used to set just the right level for an ADC to prevent clipping, or to adjust the signal on quiet records.accession-black-rear

But its other use could be for a frugal vinyl only system where the Accession will oblige by driving a power amp straight from its volume controlled output. The fixed level output can be used to supply a headphone amplifier. Graham Slee HiFi System Components can also supply suitable power amps: the Proprius monoblocks; and has a choice of headphone amplifiers.

But this isn’t all. Four capacitive load settings allow for fine tuning so you can extract the best quality sound from your cartridge.

Combine the Accession with Graham Slee’s Elevator EXP step up amplifier and all of its features are available to moving coil cartridges. The Accession is only supplied with Graham Slee’s best power supply, the PSU1, so it automatically performs to the maximum.

The Accession costs £800 and is available with either black or silver casing from Graham Slee whose ads you will find on this site.

Secifications

Item Measurement
Input and output connectors 360° shielded RCA/phono sockets, hard gold plated
Input sensitivity range 1.6mV to 7.2mV (recommended)
Output range (for above inputs) 190mV to 857mV
Maximum input 35mV rms
Maximum output 5.2V rms
Gain 41.5dB (119) at 1kHz
Input impedance 47k Ohms plus: 100pF / 220pf / 320pf / out
Output impedance (driving impedance) 750 Ohm fixed / 470 Ohm variable (will drive 10k Ohms and above)
Noise at output -66dB Quasi-peak 20Hz to 20kHz
Distortion typically 0.01% 20Hz to 20kHz
RIAA accuracy ± 0.3dB
Frequency response <20Hz – 45kHz (-3dB corrected to RIAA)
Channel balance 0.2dB
Channel separation 60dB
Power supply remotely powered using PSU1 linear power supply
Size (approx.) W: 107 x H: 50 x D: 195 (mm) inc. jacks

 

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The Chord Company has chosen headroom to reveal a number of new cables designed to exploit the full potential of today’s high-performance desktop audio and headphone-based systems.headphone-cable-prototypes-001-2000px

Chord’s headroom stand will introduce new high-performance USB and digital cables, plus the Tuned ARAY prototype headphone cable. The new headphone cable will be available in two terminations at the show: miniature XLRs for use with Audeze systems, plus 3.5mm mono plugs – a full range of terminations will be revealed at launch later in 2016.

The headphone cables uses a new version of Chord’s proprietary Tuned ARAY conductor technology and gives show-goers the chance to experience Chord’s Tuned ARAY construction techniques for headphones for the first time.

The Chord Company will also be showing a range of streaming and USB cables, alongside a range of UK-made analogue and digital cables. Chord will also be arranging a trio of demonstrations using high-quality partnering equipment to highlight the performance benefits of Chord’s no-compromise approach to cable design and construction.

Demonstration 1

The Chord Company’s USB cable range using Chord Electronics’ Hugo TT with Melco and laptop sources. Chord will demonstrate all its current USB cables from the USB Silver Plus right up to the flagship Sarum Super ARAY USB, as well as a new prototype USB cable. This system will also be showcasing the prototype Tuned ARAY headphone cables.

Demonstration 2

Chord’s analogue cable range will be presented using an Arcam source component and a Meridian Prime headphone amplifier. The demonstration will contrast the acclaimed entry-level C-line right up to the flagship models, including two unseen Tuned ARAY cables.

Both the Arcam and Chord Electronics systems will be used to demonstrate Chord’s latest digital cables, which will include new prototypes, plus the recently released Chord Clearway Digital and the flagship Sarum Super ARAY.

Demonstration 3

This demonstration features Chord’s range of streaming cables using a Melco source plus a Chord Electronics streamer. Cables on demonstration will include the C-stream, Anthem, Signature and Sarum streaming cables.

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Valves or solid-state? Solid-state or valves? The question that is always getting brought up in audio circles. Ian Ringstead looks at a bit of the history and some of his preferences. More »

Following last year’s launch of their Reference Amplifiers, AVID have announced their complimenting range of Reference loudspeakers, which will officially launch at this year’s Munich High End Show 2016.Avid Reference Range

Made up of one stand-mounted design and two floor-standing models, they have massive black aluminium enclosures and trademark AVID design touches.

The three models start with the stand-mount Reference Three through the Reference Two and finishing with the range-topping Reference One. Prices are expected to be £35K to £120K.

Mike Twomey continues his monthly look at the hifi and audio business from the perspective of the dealer. This month he focuses on that all important, but oft’ forgotten aspect of the business that is customer service and why it is so important to the industryMore »

All things headfi and portable audio will be on show this Friday and Saturday at headroom in London.
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New product launches include:
  • Sennheiser HD 800 S reference-level headphone (£1,200)
  • Audiolab M-DAC+ (£799.95)
  • SHURE KSE 1500 isolating electrostatic earphone (£2,199)
  • Questyle QP1R high-res portable music player DAP (£699)
  • Quad VA-One headphone amp (£1,399.95)
  • Arcam MusicBOOST headphone amp/DAC for iPhone (£120)
  • FOSTEX HP-A4 BL DAC/headphone amp (£379)
Plus Grammy award-winning engineers and hi-fi luminaries will be hosting presentations throughout the weekend and what’s more it’s all being held at Metropolis Studios, the most successful independent recording, mastering, creative and production facility in Europe. Metropolis’ stunning Grade II ‘Power House’ complex has been the recording home to Michael Jackson; the Rolling Stones; Amy Winehouse; U2; The Clash; Madonna and so many more.
Look out for Hifi Pig and GadgetyNews coverage after the event!
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I first became aware of the film Whiplash when Mr and Mrs Pig both raved about it on Facebook so I was delighted when my son’s girlfriend arrived home one evening with the DVD. Whiplash is indeed a terrific film.  I won’t give away too much about the story but basically a talented young jazz drummer is driven almost to breaking point by his music college teacher.  It’s a bit like a jazz version of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.  Full Metal Jazz Cat maybe.  Or maybe not.  More »

Pure Hell, very much a punk band in the original form, hail from Philadelphia and were active in New York from 74 to 78 along with the likes of New York Dolls. Their sound is inspired, as many bands of this time were, by The Stooges and The MC5.

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The title of Darlene Love’s latest album is of course ironic.  Darlene had her first hit in 1962 with He’s A Rebel as the lead singer of The Blossoms, although the single was credited to the better-known Crystals who were out on tour and were unavailable to record the song at the time.  He’s A Rebel, Today I Met The Boy I’m Going To Marry and Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), all recorded under the direction of Phil Spector, have ensured Love’s immortality in the pop firmament.  With Introducing Darlene Love, she shows signs of perhaps actually being immortal – this is a  74 year old woman  belting out songs with the vigour of someone half her age.  More »

High-End audio and why people buy into the whole concept is a complex subject…Stuart Smith talks about very expensive cars instead. View_MFA_Spons More »

Apple could be considering making a flexible OLED iPhone but this comes with a caveat.

This might come as a shock to some but Apple is not the biggest risk taker out there. Now, before I start getting hate mail from Apple fans stating “iPhone was a risk – first touchscreen phone!” that accolade belongs to the IBM Simon. Don’t even mention the iPad.

Get the whole story at GadgetyNews.

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More famed for its Strats, Teles, Jazz and Precisions, now comes the Fender in-ear monitor range.

The American guitar cobbler is unleashing its first ever range of pro in-ear monitors (IEMs). I say “pro” as these aren’t meant to be straight replacements for those free earbuds you get with your iPhone – some Fender in-ear monitors could hit you up for around 500 bucks a pair.

Get the whole story at GadgetyNews.

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The Linksys X6200 has just been announced as the company’s new modem router. It is also the introduction of DD-WRT support for its iconic WRT range.

The new modem router provides a cable modem or DSL modem and a router all-in-one for a seamless wireless broadband networking experience – a crucial requirement for people wanting to make the most of their premium broadband services.

Get the full story at GadgetyNews.

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The Garmin Quatix 3 smartwatch could well be proof that there is room in the wearable market for niche devices as this tech is aimed at seafarers and anglers.

The water-loving Garmin Quatix 3 has those general fitness functions covered but this Android and iOS-compatible timepiece aims to reel in the buyers (sorry) thanks to its smart maritime features.

Get the full story at GadgetyNews.

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Linette Smith takes a look into her crystal ball and see’s if she can pluck out some trends for 2016 out of the swirling mists. 

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James Loudspeaker, designers and manufacturers of décor-friendly entertainment products for both residential and commercial applications, has announced the introduction of the W-Series loudspeakers designed for specialised boundary applications, such as integration into a 90-degree corner where walls and ceilings converge. James Loudspeaker say “The visually unobtrusive wedge-shaped form factor is ideal for the latest immersive 3D audio technologies (Atmos, Auro3D and DTS:X) as well as other applications and can be used in both indoor and outdoor environments”.53QW

The initial launch of the W-Series includes two models; the 52QW (single 5.25-inch woofer/quad tweeter) and the 53QW (dual 5.25-inch woofers/quad tweeter). Each speaker features proprietary high-excursion woofers matched to the quad-array aluminium dome tweeter that has become a signature of the James Loudspeaker brand.

The 52QW and 53QW are constructed entirely of aircraft-grade aluminium for strength, sonic performance and durability and feature an aluminium perforated grille. A unique mounting system makes W-Series speakers easy to install using an innovative corner bracket that suspends the speaker securely via setscrews. Standard colours are Gloss White and Satin Black, however custom colours are available to suit any décor. Specially equipped versions of each model are available for outdoor/marine applications. James Loudspeaker W-Series loudspeakers are available now only through authorised integrators. The 52QW MSRP is $1000 (each) and 53QW MSRP is $1300 (each).

James Loudspeaker architectural loudspeakers are engineered and manufactured in Napa, CA USA.

 

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Astell&Kern has launched a limited Copper edition of its AK380 flagship high-resolution music player.AK380 Copper_three ways_med

Each AK380 casing is milled from a solid, 1.7Kg block of copperwhich is then hand finished and coated in a four-stage process that prevents oxidization and produces a brushed-metal finish. The player is completed by a carbon-fibre backing, and comes with a V1 leather case.

Only 500 units of the AK380 Copper will be available worldwide, at a price of £3299 each. The UK’s allocation will be available from select audio stockists, and Astell&Kern’s Amazon UK page, from late January.

The AK380 offers the same spec as the standard AK380 player, including dual 32bit DACs, advanced jitter reduction and native DSD playback. The AK380 Copper can also be used with the range of AK380 accessories, including the headphone amp module that neatly slides onto the player.

Key Features

  • VCXO Clock reduces jitter to 0.2 picoseconds
  • 32bit/384kHz Dual-DAC design; Bit to Bit playback
  • Native DSD playback
  • Balanced Output.
  • 256GB of internal memory plus microSD for further expansion (384GB+)
  • Wi-fi connectivity enables easy network streaming: wirelessly stream to and from player
  • Download music direct to player via wi-fi; firmware updates via wi-fi.
  • Use AK380 as ‘remote control’ for AK500 system
  • 4in touch screen
  • Higher-capacity battery
  • Genuine copper casing with carbon-fibre back
  • Comes with bespoke V1 Leather case
  • Optional headphone amp module; CD ripper and desktop dock

 

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