The PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP Integrated Amplifier at £2,998 is billed as a fit an forget valve amplifier that avoids many of the headaches 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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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)|
|Power supply||remotely powered using PSU1 linear power supply|
|Size (approx.)||W: 107 x H: 50 x D: 195 (mm) inc. jacks|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 industry. More »
- 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)
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
- 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
Dominic Marsh takes this €4790, chrome plated integrated amplifier from German manufacturer High End GmbH for a whirl to see if its sonic attributes live up to the amps good looks. More »
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM10 has been announced and will take over from where the previous Android-based digital phone camera, the Lumix CM1, left off.
If you recall, the Lumix CM1 was a phone shoved in to camera, rather than how most smartphones are made: a camera fitted to a phone.
The Vodafone Tab speed 6 is the network’s latest Android tablet and was announced today.
Vodafone has just launched the new Tab speed 6 – a compact tablet with 8 inch display for just £125 Pay as you go.
ORSTO, the British horology atelier aims to make a huge splash with is new collection featuring 16 beautifully designed analogue models. The ORSTO Contemporary 100 range.
After a successful equity investment crowdfunding campaign the company has secured 88 international venture capitalists, including founder Paul Gill. It has used this capital to develop and launch a quartet of collections that exemplify iconic British design within the smartwatch arena.
A full size integrated amplifier with phonostage, plus a CD player that is also a streamer for just shy of £1200 seems like a good deal. Stuart Smith investigates. More »
Audiophiles might cringe at the thought of shoving a JBL Bluetooth speaker inside an LED light bulb but for ‘normal’ folks this solution may be a slice of genius. Well, that’s what Sengled is hoping.
Russell Kauffman’s Russell K company make just two models of loudspeaker. Here Dominic Marsh takes a listen to the bigger Red 100 standmounters costing £1784 in the piano gloss finish and with grilles, though less pricey options are available. More »
Pro-Ject Audio Systems announces the release of a new, extremely powerful, wet record cleaning machine that removes dirt and dust from your valuable vinyl.
Pro-Ject say that the new record cleaning machine is super powerful and cleans a record in 1 to 2 rotations with the best results come from 1 turn forward, 1 turn backward. It turns the record very fast (2 seconds per rotation) “about 3 times faster than other cleaning machines do”.
- A robust easy-to-use metal arm with mechanically stable fixing that doesn´t use springs.
- A new type of clamp protects the record label from the cleaning fluid and avoids damage of the label. Because the record does not touch the platter, it will not have direct contact with dirty surfaces.
- A big container (2.5 litre) for used fluid which shows fill capacity and guarantees no spillage of used cleaning fluid. Discharging used fluid is extremely easy.
- Newly developed vinyl cleaning concentrate ´Wash it´ for vinyl and ´Wash it 78´ for shellac records.´ Note: ´Wash it´ is optimised for cleaning standard vinyl records. It is not usable with 78 rpm shellacs. For shellacs, Pro-Ject offer the optional special fluid ´Wash it 78´.
Conventional cleaning machines consist of the rotational platter (we do not have one) and vacuum arm with a vacuum cleaner motor. The record can rotate very fast in both directions. Cleaning liquid is applied to the record and consequently spread out by brush. Then the cleaning liquid with all the dissolved impurities is evacuated by the vacuum arm. The vacuum arm is connected to an air/water separator tank. This tank protects the vacuum cleaner motor against the residue of the cleaning liquid and dry air is blown out. The vacuum arm is equipped with two brushes which are self adhesively stacked beside the groove in the vacuum arm. When vacuum suction is applied, the record attaches to these brushes.
Vinyl Cleaner VC-S SRP € 449 (includes accessory kit)
Space Rock, I LOVE Space Rock and Spirit’s Burning are a bit of a who’s who of the genre. The albums are put together from a disparate group of over 45 musicians all overseen at a distance by American producer Don Falcone.
London’s headroom show will see many of the world’s leading audio manufacturers launch brand new products for 2016 .
Headroom will introduce a number of brand new headphones and portable audio devices to consumers in 2016. The biggest brands, including Sennheiser, SHURE, Audiolab and Quad have chosen headroom, which runs from Friday 29th to Saturday 30th January, to launch a number of brand new products, all inside the world’s largest independent professional recording complex, Metropolis Studios, Chiswick.
NEW LAUNCH: Sennheiser HD 800 S reference-level headphone (£1,200)
The HD 800 S is Sennheiser’s new reference-level headphone. Precision-built in Germany the HD 800 S offers high-precision connectivity with a 6.3mm connector, plus an XLR-4 balanced cable to maximise sound quality from sources with balanced outputs. The headband and headphone mounting utilises advanced materials developed for the aerospace industry, giving high strength with minimal weight.
NEW LAUNCH: Audiolab M-DAC+ (£799.95)
Audiolab’s highly anticipated M-DAC+ enhances the performance of its M-DAC sibling to include 32-bit/384kHz resolution for the USB input. The M-DAC+ can also link directly to Apple devices to access stored music via USB-A. DSD audio is also catered for with the
M-DAC+ offering four different DSD and seven different PCM filters. Further features include redefined circuitry with a new internal power supply.
NEW LAUNCH: SHURE KSE 1500 isolating electrostatic earphone (£2,199)
The KSE 1500 combines a Sound-Isolating™ electrostatic earphone with a matched high-res SHURE USB amp/DAC, providing a unique system giving unmatched clarity and detail with extremely high fidelity. The high-res 24/192 USB amp/DAC is compatible with Mac, PC, iOS and Android devices, with navigation and control performed via a single wheel.
NEW LAUNCH: Questyle QP1R high-res portable music player DAP (£699)
The new QP1R high-performance portable music player (DAP) supports DSD128 and 24/192kHz PCM playback and uses a pure Class A headphone amplifier with discrete transistors and components. File support is included for ALAC, APE, FLAC, AIFF, WAV, WMA Lossless up to 24bit/192kHz and high-res audio files such as DSD128 and DSD64. Questyle’s proprietary Current Mode Amplification technology is included, which was developed from its amplifiers, to drive virtually any headphone with ultra-low distortion, wide bandwidth and pure Class A operation – a rare feat among portable devices.
NEW LAUNCH: Quad VA-One headphone amp (£1,399.95)
The new VA-One integrated amplifier from Quad follows founder Peter Walker’s approach to sound quality, using carefully selected hi-fi amplifier valves to drive life-like excitement into music. It includes both analogue and digital inputs, with RCA, optical and coaxial options, plus a 6.3mm headphone jack output on the front panel. Its USB-B and Bluetooth inputs (aptX) enable simple connectivity to PCs, tablets and smartphones.
NEW LAUNCH: Arcam MusicBOOST headphone amp/DAC for iPhone (£120)
The Arcam MusicBOOST is a genuine new-category product, a portable headphone amplifier with a high-precision DAC and powerful battery pack for the Apple iPhone 6, all in one sleek protective sleeve case weighing just 100 gms. MusicBOOST is an ideal travel product, able to be easily swapped in/out depending on usage and totally ends battery anxiety when boarding passes are kept on phones!
NEW LAUNCH: FOSTEX HP-A4 BL DAC/headphone amp (£379)
Headroom marks the first appearance for the newly released Fostex HP-A4 BL USB- powered DAC and headphone amp, which now offers a balanced headphone output. Based on the original HP-A4, the new version maintains support for DSD128 and PCM192, with a simple-to-use layout and great portability.
“A blackstar need not have an event horizon, and may or may not be a transitional phase between a collapsing star and a singularity.” More »
We ran an in-depth announcement of the latest loudspeakers to come from Wilson Audio, The Alexx, a few weeks ago, but we’re now pleased to be able to announce that the speakers, which will sit between Alexia and the flagship £200 000 per pair Alexandria XLF, will be available in the UK through Absolute Sounds in the Spring with a price of around £90 000.
Wikipedia has this to say about the genre that is Shoegaze “Shoegaze is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s and reached peak popularity in the early 1990s. The style is typified by significant use of distortion, feedback, obscured vocals and the blurring of component musical parts into indistinguishable “walls of sound”. More »
Last Weeks news from our partners over at GadgetyNews
Audiolab launches the premium version of the M-DAC this month. The new M-DAC+ will sell alongside the classic M-DAC, sporting a number of enhancements both inside and out in return for an additional £200.
Like the M-DAC, the new M-DAC+ is a high-performance, multipurpose audio DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter) for home use, designed to sit on a desk or table, or integrate into a hi-fi system. It incorporates an audiophile-quality digital preamp and Class A output stage for connection to a power amp and speakers (the output can be fixed for use with an existing preamp or integrated amp). A high-quality headphone output is also provided.
The new M-DAC+ is based firmly on the classic M-DAC, with carefully targeted improvements in key areas – a logical move, given the original model’s sustained popularity over the last four years. Like the M-DAC, the M-DAC+ is built around the ESS Sabre32 9018, a 32-bit DAC chipset. There’s a proprietary, discrete master clock to minimise jitter, coupled with extensive time domain isolation and there’s a A JFET Class A output stage.
Compared to the classic M-DAC, the most immediately obvious change is to the aluminium case and control scheme. The M-DAC+ features a new chassis, with the OLED display window now centrally positioned and rounded at the sides, in keeping with Audiolab’s recently launched 8300 Series components. The display is flanked by two rotary controls, one to adjust volume and the other to select settings, replacing the buttons found on the classic M-DAC.
Under the hood lie a number of performance-related enhancements. The M-DAC+ now processes audio data up to 32-bit/384kHz via USB; this is a far higher specification than that required by current hi-res music formats, ensuring this new addition to the M-DAC family is fully equipped for future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound.
The USB input now also supports DSD files (the digital audio system originally developed for Super Audio CD), offering compatibility with DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256. This is a significant addition, as DSD has an important role to play in the developing high-resolution downloading and streaming scene.
Like the classic M-DAC, the M-DAC+ features user-selectable filters for optimal listening and measurement modes, in addition to more conventional types for easy comparison.
These filter settings allow the user to tune performance to suit his or her preference, depending on system configuration, digital file quality and musical taste. The M-DAC+ inherits seven filter settings from the M-DAC for PCM files and adds four more for DSD playback, allowing the user to optimise the noise floor to suit the performance of the source file and the bandwidth of associated equipment such as amps and speakers.
Another important change relates to the power supply, which has been upgraded and is now fully incorporated within the M-DAC+’s chassis (hence its slightly taller and deeper case compared to the classic M-DAC). A precision-wound toroidal transformer uses multiple windings to feed separate analogue and digital rectification stages. From there, multiple power supply sections feed the necessary voltages to each area of the DAC, keeping any crossover interference to a minimum.
Around the back, digital input options have been expanded with an AES/EBU socket and an additional USB Type A input – ideal for connecting Apple devices – alongside the existing USB Type B connection. These join a full complement of inputs/outputs retained from the classic M-DAC: 2x coaxial digital inputs; 2x optical digital inputs; 1x coaxial digital output; 1x optical digital output; single-ended RCA and balanced XLR analogue outputs; 12V trigger loop.
The Audiolab M-DAC+ comes with a redesigned remote control and is available in black or silver from late-January 2016, at an RRP of £799.95. The classic M-DAC continues at £599.95.
As audiophiles and music lovers around the world continue to debate whether hi-res digital actually makes an appreciable difference, one thing remains clear: the analogue resurgence is going from strength to strength. Vinyl sales are now growing faster than any other format and turntable sales shot through the roof in 2015.
Austria-based Horch House say it is excited to announce the initiation of ‘PROJECT R2R’: the development of the world’s only brand new reel-to-reel tape deck.
Launched in 2012, the Horch House brand has already developed a reputation for capturing the magic of original analogue master tapes and delivering faithful (and fully licensed and approved) copies on reel-to-reel tape, vinyl records and in various digital formats. Now, the company is also turning its attention to bringing the once essential reel-to-reel deck from its current vintage status back to centre stage.
In developing their processes for creating high quality copies of original analogue master tapes, Horch House’s team of sound engineers undertook meticulous research and development, calling in input from some of the world’s leading specialists (think of folks whose client lists include Sir Paul McCartney, Sony and Abbey Road Studios and you get a sense of the level of know-how involved).
This same high level of input will be applied to PROJECT R2R. The aim? “To achieve the best sound quality, bar none,” says Horch House’s joint owner and project leader, Volker Lange, whose excitement about the project is palpable. “My passion for audiophile tape machines goes way, way back,” he explains. “This will be the realisation of a lifelong ambition. And it’s an absolute honour and privilege to be working with a team of this calibre”.
In fact the team is already hard at work and hopes to be in a position to show a prototype of the new deck at Munich’s High-End Show this coming May.
Reel-to-reel tape recorders and players have been around for a long time, with the earliest models emerging in the late 1800s. Their popularity surged in the 1940s and 1950s, when the process of manufacturing magnetic tape was more or less perfected; from then until fairly recently in the history of audio recording, they were the music industry standard for making master recordings. From the 1950s until as late as the early 1980s, reel-to-reel tape decks were a big part, if not the centrepiece, of most home entertainment setups. But then the 1980s saw a rapid advancement in portable tape recording and playing, as well the advent of digital recording and playback, and so the reel-to-reel deck became a ‘vintage’ item, much like the humble vinyl record.
Fast forward to 2016 and there is currently no company in the world that manufactures reel-to-reel decks, whether consumer or studio machines. Meanwhile, the resale market of vintage machines is seeing strong and steady growth.
There is a small but growing handful of audio companies who are currently working to reissue original analogue recordings on reel-to-reel tape, among which Horch House is one.
“Our current catalogue is just the beginning,” says music producer Thilo Berg, joint owner of Horch House alongside Lange. “I’m keen to speak to any and every music publisher in the business with a view to delivering the widest possible portfolio of high quality analogue master tape copies to as many people as we can”.
Previewed at last year’s Bristol Show and officially launched at The National Audio Show and Hi-Fi Show Live 2015, the long-awaited new Titan 808 flagship loudspeaker from Kudos Audio is now shipping to audiophiles worldwide.
The Titan 808 has deliberately taken its time to come to market. Not only because of the considerable investment in research and re-engineering, but also because Kudos were keen test and refine prototypes extensively with a wide range of expert listeners.
“At Kudos, we use music as our primary tool in designing and assessing loudspeakers,” says designer Derek Gilligan. During his many years as a live sound engineer, Gilligan discovered that technical measurements, while extremely useful, don’t reflect everything that we hear. “There’s no substitute for extensive critical listening in a variety of scenarios,” he says.
As the new flagship of the Kudos range, the Titan 808 takes the place of the original Titan 88. But while the two may share a name, the new Titan 808 is a completely unique design. Only the two isobaric bass drivers remain the same as those in the original T88. The mid-bass driver, tweeter and crossover have all been advanced and refined, while the all-new and even more complex cabinet features a stunningly avant-garde design.
The Titan 808’s drive units are crafted exclusively for Kudos by Norwegian specialists SEAS. The two companies have worked closely together to further advance SEAS’ Crescendo K2 fabric dome tweeter exclusively for Kudos. An improved magnet system incorporating copper shorting rings, a completely new resonance chamber and a new face plate profile all combine to deliver an even “cleaner, faster and more musically detailed performance”.
The mid/bass driver, also exclusive to the Titan 808, has been similarly re-engineered to further enhance its match with the new tweeter and hence to produce seamless integration and response over the frequency range.
The twin bass drivers feature hard paper cones, double-coated to ensure excellent stiffness while retaining the natural damping properties of paper. A long voice coil and injection-moulded alloy framework maximise the linear excursion of the drive cone.
Kudos’ obsession with seamlessly matched drive units is driven by designer Derek Gilligan’s firm belief that one of the keys to a truly musical performance from a loudspeaker is a minimalist, low order crossover. No expense has been spared in reworking the Titan 808’s crossover, which features even higher-spec hand-matched Mundorf componentry, as well as now having the ability to be completely by-passed in order to facilitate ‘Aktiv’ operation using Linn Exakt technology (more on this below). The 808’s minimal crossover is a two-and-a-half-way design, where the bass section in the lower cabinet is rolled off early in the frequency range; the mid/bass driver and tweeter are then operated as a two-way design. A slow roll-off from all the drivers ensures optimal coherence though the crossover regions.
Each speaker consists of an independent upper and lower cabinet, separated by precision-machined spacers and a port resonance guide. The upper cabinet houses the tweeter and mid/bass drive unit while the lower cabinet houses the two bass drivers. These are positioned in an isobaric arrangement, where the second driver is placed internally back-to-back with the first.
Considerable investment has been made in controlling panel resonance with a minimum of damping. The cabinets are made from a combination of high-density fibreboard laminates of different thicknesses. A triple laminate front baffle, profiled to improve dispersion, provides a solid mounting platform for the drive units to further eliminate vibration. Both cabinet sections are port-loaded into the gap between them and are controlled by the port resonance guide. Venting the ports into a shared and controlled fixed boundary gap reduces port resonance and minimises phase error, producing a beautifully natural and life-like sound free from the usual issues associated with reflex designs. The lower cabinet is attached to the plinth via a membrane to control energy transfer. The plinth itself provides the best possible grounding interface with very high-density fibreboard being combined with damping compound and a 5mm steel plate, into which precision-milled stainless steel spikes are fitted.
Internal wiring from The Chord Company has been carefully selected for its high quality musicality and resistance to the effects of vibration. In addition, Chord Company cables link the two cabinets, which are also fitted with WBT Nextgen binding posts to ensure a superb connection.
Kudos Audio have been working with Linn to bring the performance of Linn Exakt to the Kudos range of loudspeakers. Launched by Linn in 2013, Exakt allows the loudspeaker to be an intelligent, connected, software upgradeable product. Exakt enables a wide range of performance and personalisation-enhancing capabilities in design, in manufacture and in-home. In a system using a Linn Exaktbox, the original analogue crossover in the loudspeaker is bypassed and instead, the Exaktbox performs the crossover digitally, while applying Linn’s Exakt technology to eliminate distortion, correct for drive unit variation and optimise the loudspeakers’ performance for the room.
Kudos three top-of-range speakers, the Titan 808, Super 20 and Super 10 are all Linn Exakt-enabled.
|Type:||2.5-way isobaric bass reflex|
|Recommended power:||25W – 300W|
|Sensitivity:||91dB / @1W / 1m|
|Nominal impedance:||8 ohms|
|Frequency range:||20 Hz – 30kHz “AIRR” (average in-room response)|
|Tweeter:||SEAS–Kudos Crescendo K2 29mm fabric dome|
|Mid bass driver:||SEAS–Kudos 220mm Nextel coated paper cone with 39mm voice coil|
|Bass driver:||SEAS–Kudos 220mm double coated hard paper cone with 39mm voice coil (x 2)|
|Dimensions:||1115mm (h) x 275mm (w) x 370mm (d)|
|Finishes:||Tineo veneer (high gloss paint finishes available to special order)|
The Titan 808 is available now priced at £21,250 per pair (including VAT).
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Janine Elliot continues her series of articles for Hifi Pig highlighting classic hifi from yesteryear. This month, given that Sennheiser have recently announced a new $55 000 Orpheus, she turns her attention to the original Sennheiser Orpheus, first released in 1991. More »
Parasound has expanded its ZoneMaster custom installation amplifier line with the introduction of three new models. The six-channel Parasound ZoneMaster 650, four- channel ZoneMaster 450, and two-channel ZoneMaster 250 use the same 50-watt bridgeable amplifier circuits, offer the same quality sound, and deliver the same high levels of dependability as the company’s ZoneMaster1250 Universal 12-channel amplifier, which was introduced at CEDIA last year.
“Custom installers are very specific about amplifiers,” said Richard Schram, president and founder of Parasound. “They want reliability, easy installation, impeccable sound quality, and no service calls.The better installers like to use high-performance in- ceiling and in-wall speakers that are more demanding of amplifiers. The rugged, high- current amplifier circuits we use in this line have proven exceptionally reliable in our ZoneMaster 1250, while delivering the same outstanding sound quality which has made Parasound a favourite of audiophiles for over 30 years.”
Every ZoneMaster model uses the same Parasound-designed discrete Class AB input stage and specially selected Class D power stage to achieve sonic performance consistent with Parasound’s audiophile heritage, while meeting industry demand for absolute dependability.
Each 2-ohm stable, high-current channel pair is rated at 50 watts per channel into 8 ohms, and 90 watts into 4 ohms; bridged mode can deliver 160 watts RMS into 8 ohms and 200 watts RMS into 4 ohms.
Each channel pair has an independent oversized power supply for exceptional high- current capabilities.
This combination of high power and low-impedance stability enables each channel to drive multiple speakers. Detachable Phoenix-style speaker connectors accept up to 12-gauge wire, with separate connections for two speakers per channel; up to 24 in the case of the ZoneMaster 1250.The three new models are 1U (1 rack space) high and the 1250 is 2U high. Models 250 and 450 are one-half rack space wide, while the 650 and 1250 are full rack width.
In addition to full-range applications, the ZoneMaster 250 can also be configured to drive in-wall and passive subwoofers thanks to its built-in 18dB/octave low-pass crossover.
All ZoneMaster amplifiers include independent level controls for each channel as well as a speaker-level input making them compatible with any receiver or existing audio system. Installers can choose between a 12-volt turn-on trigger or audio- detection trigger for each zone independent. The 650 and 1250 also include bus inputs with loop outputs. All ZoneMaster models offer exceptionally “green” power consumption with minimal standby power consumption meeting Energy Star and European Union specifications.
All three models are now in stock at AV Distributors European warehouse.
The Parasound ZoneMaster Model 650 has an MSRP of Eu1699. The ZoneMaster 450 and 250 have MSRPs of Eu999 and Eu699 respectively.
The previously-introduced ZoneMaster 1250 has an MSRP of Eu2999.
The Chord Company
When we were initially discussing this review by Dave Robson with The Chord Company we wanted to see what the company’s ‘loom’ would bring to the table ‘off the shelf’ and “untailored” to the specific system being used. Chord offer a service they call The Cable Doctor in which they tailor a combination of cables specifically to what they feel your system would benefit the most from. However, we wanted this first of two reviews to set a benchmark and in the coming weeks we will be conducting a second review using cables supplied by Chord after us using the Cable Doctor service. This will allow us to compare and contrast the bog standard, ‘of the shelf’ cables with a more bespoke set up. More »