The Intimate Audio DS-108 back loaded horn loudspeaker is UK built and uses the four-inch Fostex FE108EZ driver. Ian Ringstead puts these £1595 standmounters through their paces for Hifi Pig. More »
McIntosh has just announced three new products: the C2600 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier, the MP100 Phono Preamplifier and the MVP901 Audio Video Player.
C2600 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
Building upon the C2300 and C2500, the C2600 incorporates the best of the previous models while adding McIntosh’s advanced digital audio section and upgraded tube circuitry design. The C2600 is a versatile preamplifier with 16 inputs to connect virtually all analogue or digital music sources. Analogue inputs include 3 balanced, 4 unbalanced plus 1 each dedicated Moving Magnet and Moving Coil phono inputs. Digital inputs consist of 3 optical, 2 coax, 1 USB and 1 McIntosh exclusive MCT connection. Three sets of balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs connect the C2600 to the rest of the system. The C2600 features a 32-bit/384kHz, DSD digital-to-analog-converter (DAC) and is capable of decoding and playing DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 plus DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. For headphone listening, there is the addition of Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®). Home Theater Pass Thru allows for seamless integration into a multi-channel home theatre system.
MP100 Phono Preamplifier
The MP100 is the first dedicated phono preamplifier from McIntosh and is designed to help both new and experienced vinyl lovers get the most fidelity, performance and – most importantly – enjoyment from their albums. Like all McIntosh products, the MP100 is packed with features including: Moving Coil and Moving Magnet inputs; Moving Coil and Moving Magnet adjustable loading (6 settings each); balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs; optical, coax and USB digital outputs; and a Mono switch for when playing mono records to decrease noise and play the signal correctly. There are many ways to integrate the MP100 into an audio system. If someone is just building their system, it can become the main part of the setup. For someone who already has a system with an older but working preamp, the MP100 is a way to add modern phono features. For home theatre systems where a turntable is desired, the MP100 is an easy way to add full phono preamp capabilities without having to get a full-sized stereo preamp that would undoubtedly duplicate many of the home theatre processor’s features. When used with a properly configured conversion program, the MP100 can “rip” the records to a computer via USB to produce high quality digital files. The digital outputs are fixed at 24-bit/96kHz to capture the full dynamic range of a record while optimising digital file size. If an album has a very loud section, the digital output clipping protection prevents harsh sounding and speaker damaging distortion from being recorded to the file. Compact in size at just 3” tall, it shares the same 11.5” narrow chassis design as the MXA70 Integrated Audio System, MHA100 Headphone Amp and MB50 Streaming Audio Player to help build a cohesive system. It can also easily be added to a system comprised of standard, wider width chassis.
MVP901 Audio Video Player
With its ability to upsample 1080P and lower resolutions to 4K Ultra HD, McIntosh MVP901 can breathe new life into a vast movie library and is a perfect complement to the 4K compatible McIntosh MX122 or MX160 home theatre processor. Built in decoding of Dolby® True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ plus the MVP901 can also pass the latest object-based 3D audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X™ and Auro-3D® to the compatible processor, it fully supports 3D Blu-ray discs while state of the art processing power allows for ultra-fast playback start speeds. A variety of advanced adjustments can be made to colour, image detail and video performance to improve picture quality. Not limited to just movies, the MVP901 can be also used for listening to music. CDs, SACDs and DVD-Audio discs can be enjoyed via an 8-channel, 32-bit/192kHz DAC that’s used in stereo quad balanced mode to produce high fidelity audio. The HDMI output can be used for multi-channel music playback. A triple laser optical pickup uses one objective lens for the different wavelengths and is optimised for various disc types. Three USB ports allow playback of audio and video files from flash drives. Network streaming and BD-Live is available through the ethernet connection.
Pricing* and Availability
Orders will be accepted soon for all three products with shipping anticipated in August. Target retail price for each (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded):
C2600: $7,000 USD
MP100: $2,000 USD
MVP901: $5,500 USD
*Pricing subject to change.
In this month’s Birds Eye View Linette discusses audiophiles and their cats. Yep…cats! We fully expect this to break the internet! More »
Marc E. Smith’s The Fall divide opinion perhaps like no other band I can think of. On the one hand you have a devoted to the point of obsession fanboys, whilst on the other you have folk that just don’t get them. I fall (no pun intended) somewhere in the middle which is a bit of a cop out some may say. I do sort of understand the attraction of the band that formed in Manchester in 1976 and whose sole constant member is Smith, but then I buy their records and then think…why?
Leema Acoustics has launched a range of high-performance analogue and digital cables designed to complement its Welsh-built electronics. The new Reference 1 and Reference 2 ranges, comprise speaker cables plus several digital and analogue interconnects, all carefully built to specification. The range has been designed to ‘deliver incredible performance while offering striking value for money’. The cable configurations have been carefully specified by the ex-BBC sound engineers behind Leema Acoustics: Lee Taylor and Mallory Nicholls. Features include advanced continuously cast mono-crystal 6N-purity copper conductors, Teflon-insulation and Beryllium-copper plugs. The range includes the Reference 1 and Reference 2 interconnects, which comprise analogue cables in RCA and XLR terminations, digital cables in RCA, TOSLINK and USB configuration and loudspeaker cables.
All cables are available now, pricing in £ as follows:
Reference I interconnects
50 cm RCA-RCA 249.00
1m RCA-RCA 295.00
50cm XLR-XLR 295.00
1m XLR-XLR 345.00
Digital Optical 1m 175.00
50 cm Digital RCA 125.00
1m Digital RCA 150.00
USB cable 1m 145.00
Reference I speaker cable
3m pair terminated 445.00
5m pair terminated 549.00
Extra 1m (pair) 90.00
Reference II interconnects
50cm RCA 449.00
1m RCA 495.00
50cm XLR 495.00
1m XLR 549.00
USB cable 1m 485.00
Reference II speaker cable
3m pair terminated 900.00
5m pair terminated 1,500.00
Extra 1m (pair) 280.00
Continuing what has been a particularly cosmopolitan set of review CDs this month we have this album from the él stable. Nope, I’ve not come across the singer before and this is part of the reason I love él; never afraid to dig out the obscure and interesting and release it on the unsuspecting music loving public. More »
On Thursday, June 16th, Avantgarde Acoustic CEO Holger Fromme received the German Brand Award Gold statue from the hands of Lutz Dietzold, CEO of the German Design Council. The award ceremony was held in the DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin, and was attended by leading figures from such world renowned companies like Deutsche Telekom, ERCO Lighting, Kärcher, Kaldewei, NOMOS by Glashütte, Porsche, Siemens, Mercedes-AMG etc.
The jury of the German Design Council was very impressed by ‘an excellent brand management of Avantgarde Acoustic based on two principle factors: uncompromising high tech technologies with true qualities driven by the aim to set new benchmarks in leading edge performance; secondly the jury honours that all this is combined with a stringent and lean design of the products and the communication tools to perfectly convey the puristic and powerful aesthetics of the brand’.
The German Design Council is an independent and internationally active institution that supports companies in efficiently communicating design expertise and also seeks to strengthen the broader general public’s understanding of design. In 2013, the German Design Council celebrated its 60th anniversary. It was originally founded by decree of the first German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag, which had called for a committee of this nature to be set up to ensure the competitiveness of German industry and secure the best possible quality of German products.
Hifi Pig would like to congratulate Holger and the whole team at Avantgarde Acoustic.
KEF has introduced a selection of four ‘Launch Edition’ colour-gradient finishes for its award-winning MUO Bluetooth speaker. Based on a set of 100 one-of-a-kind samples, originally created for display at the London Design festival, where the MUO was originally launched, the four stunning new finishes are colour-gradient designs, in which one colour smoothly segues into another across the length of the speaker’s anodised aluminium chassis. With a limited run of only 300 pieces in total worldwide, each MUO Ross Lovegrove Limited Edition is printed with Ross Lovegrove’s signature, along with a number indicating its unique place in the 300.
The new colour designs have been created, like the original MUO, by world-renowned industrial designer Ross Lovegrove. Lovegrove has previously worked with KEF designing the legendary Muon loudspeakers – costing £140,000 per pair. Lovegrove commented, ‘My studio and I worked with Alex Rasmussen at Neal Feay to investigate the possibility of multi-variant coloured casings. There were five batches of 20 variants resulting in 100 individual products. Now, I’ve hand-selected four of these variations, which I feel offer the most striking and beautiful aesthetic, as well as optimising and celebrating the use of pure aluminium and its art value in the field of volume production.’
The four Launch Edition finishes are: Ocean (Blue to Green), Orchid (Purple to Pink), Meadow (Green to Yellow) and Sunrise (Pink to Orange).
Available now. Price: £349.95
This has been an absolutely huge record in France achieving the highest week one sales in fourteen years and going Double Platinum in its first week of sales. I wasn’t expecting this to land on my desk and when youngest son saw it he declared it rubbish…though I strongly suspect he’s only heard snippets, or none at all. More »
Watch the new Wilson Audio video, for an introduction to Yvette, which Wilson say is their ‘most technically advanced single-enclosure, compact loudspeaker’ and draws on their WATT/Puppy which has ‘long been touted as the most commercially successful loudspeaker over $10,000 in the history of audio’.
Between 1980 and 1985 Britain was experiencing a bit of a psychedelic revival and Another Splash Of Colour expands on the original album A Splash Of Colour issued in’82 and highlights many of the bands of the Nu Psych scene from that era. All the tracks from the original album are present and correct and appear here on CD for the first time ever. If you weren’t privy to the scene then many of the names herein will be new to you…as some are to me. Mood Six, High Tide, Miles Over Matter, The Barracudas and The Times are all included.
French brand, Devialet, are obviously in an Olympic mood and have given their ‘plug and play audiophile experience’ Phantom (whose launch we attended at High End Munich 2015) a 22 carat rose gold make-over. Not just a change in the finish though, they have beefed up the Phantom’s insides too.
Devialet claim the new Gold Phantom is ‘more powerful, more exhilarating and more refined’ than its predecessor. It boasts 4,500 W of power and 108 dB of ‘sound impact’. This makes Gold Phantom 8 times more powerful than Phantom. A new pure Titanium Tweeter gives ‘crystal clear’ high frequencies (27 kHz) plus Gold Phantom gives ‘The lowest frequencies ever emitted’ (14Hz) and also has a new patented ADH processor.
Price: 2.590€ TTC
Submitted for review to Hifi Pig we have this MS HD Power MS-EO2 SS, Star Wired mains block with surge protection and external earth point unit costing £369. Dominic Marsh takes a listen. More »
Hifi is an odd bod. We get great ideas, and then go backwards in sound quality before going forwards again. I mean, look at the resurgence of the LP, or the backwards philosophy of MP3. Most will say the CD was a bit of a white elephant. Of course we all remember the cassette tape, and some will be pleased that one hasn’t come back, although a new “ReVox” reel2reel based on the Studer B-676 is on its way back soon as ¼ inch tape begins a mini revival. Hurray. More »
Focal, the French loudspeaker manufacturer renowned for its speaker driver technology, is unveiling three new models of headphones. They bring ‘major innovation in acoustic components and mechanical design’. Initiated four years ago, this huge project has now given life to Listen, Elear and Utopia. This month also sees the inauguration of Focal’s new production line at its site in Saint-Etienne, (which Hifi Pig visited a while ago) France which will be entirely dedicated to manufacturing Elear and Utopia headphones.
Utopia and Elear headphones are the result of a rather risky challenge: to offer an audio experience worthy of the brand’s high-fidelity loudspeakers through two new products. In order to achieve this, Focal approached the design of the various components in these headphones very differently to other players in the market. Focal’s desire was to bring the sound and feeling of listening to its high-end Utopia loudspeakers to headphones. The next step for Focal’s mechanical engineers and designers was to improve the comfort of the headphones. There are still many high-end headphones which no doubt offer excellent performance, but comfort is a difficult issue over long periods. So, Focal focused on designing a headband with a constant bend, regardless of the size of the user’s head size. This spreads the weight of the headphones evenly over the head to avoid the feeling of pressure on the head or ears. As part of the project, Focal designed the very first voice coil without former (patent pending) that also features a monolayer coating to make it even lighter. The result is a voice coil measuring 25mm in diameter by 4.4mm in height which is actually lighter than voice coils measuring 15mm x 1.5mm used in other high- end headphones on the market. The goal is to have excellent mechanical coupling to the dome considering its diameter, and to ensure the voice coil is always controlled by the magnet’s magnetic field regardless of the excursion of the moving part.
Utopia is Focal’s flagship product. Focal say ‘The sound quality is striking in terms of realism, neutrality, dynamics and clarity. The user will forget the headphones are even there, and the reproduction of the audio signal is of unrivalled clarity.’ They feature a Beryllium “M” dome, carbon fibre yoke and New Zealand lambskin leather. Supplied with a 4m OFC cable, including a Neutrik® 6.35mm (1/4“) stereo plug and two shielded Lemo® connectors with self-locking bayonet system.
Elear are the brand’s audiophile headphones. In essence, they are the same as Utopia headphones when it comes to the loudspeaker design and the mechanics. They feature a solid aluminium yoke and microfibre ear cushions, the key difference being an Aluminium/Magnesium alloy dome. Supplied with a 4m OFC cable, a 6.35mm (1/4“) stereo Jack and two 3.5mm (0.14“) Jacks with self-locking system.
Listen are premium mobile headphones and like all of Focal’s other headphones, they are designed in France. They provide excellent noise isolation and feature heat-sensitive, very high density memory foam and a 40mm driver. A Mylar cone has been used on the entire driver, and the dome has been given a titanium coating. Listen also benefits from all the research that went into designing Utopia and Elear headphones with the aim of keeping the shape of the headband constant, regardless of the size of the user’s head. Listen are supplied with supplied with a flexible carrying case and an aircraft adaptor. A 1.4m cable is also provided with a 3.5mm jack and a bayonet connector locking device, an in-line omnidirectional microphone and a large remote control with just one button.
Available: September/October 2016
For music, movies and gaming, AEGO sub-sat series combines miniature high-clarity satellite speakers with a powerful matching subwoofer. The subwoofer houses comprehensive wired and wireless connectivity plus high-output amplifiers for all three channels. This next generation model will be available in two versions. The traditional subwoofer plus stereo satellite package is now joined by a new subwoofer plus single-speaker stereo soundbar version known as the AEGO Sound3ar. Thanks to keeping the electronics and connectivity in the subwoofer the new AEGO Sound3ar is one of the smallest, soundbars available. Both formats share the same subwoofer module featuring a suite of input connections including optical digital, analogue and Bluetooth aptX wireless for instant music streaming from any Bluetooth enabled smart device.
Both the stereo loudspeaker and soundbar systems benefit from AE’s audio performance and the AEGO series’ metal-bodied satellite speakers. The aluminium alloy housing offers a rigid enclosure for acoustic performance as well as looking stylish. On the desktop, the AEGO3 satellite speakers’ brushed aluminium will complement a wide range of modern PCs. The AEGO Sound3ar, with its thin bevel and dark grille, pairs well with many TVs. Over three years in development, the new AEGO3 subwoofer is a compact hub of the AEGO3 system. Housing the input connectivity, amplifiers and LED status, volume and bass level indicators, only the subwoofer need be connected to the mains and your input devices. This simplifies connectivity to the AEGO3 satellites or Sound3ar with just the dedicated RCA to RCA AEGO speaker cables supplied.
AEGO3 £199.99 Available Now
AEGO Sound3ar £199.99 Available Now
Exposure Electronics has just announced an upgrade to the 2010S2 DAC, enabling the latter to handle DSD music files.
The new upgraded edition, available now, is able to handle single-rate DSD (DSD x64 or DSD 2.8mHz) through the USB input, as well as PCM support up to 24-bit / 192kHz.
There are also three coaxial and two optical inputs, all capable of handling files up to 192kHz. The former are of the BNC variety.
Further key features include:
Multiple stages of regulation for SPDIF input receiver, USB input, clock oscillator, DAC and output stage for accurate output.
Very clean master clock to SPDIF input receiver and USB input to ensure low jitter operation.
Discrete filter and output stage for optimum performance (no op-amp ICs).
Digital output can be switched ‘on’ or ‘off’ (and is re-timed) to reduce the jitter level as compared to SPDIF input. This function can also be used to convert USB input to SPDIF output.
Available in either titanium or black, the 2010S2 DSD DAC features all-aluminium casework.
|Inputs||USB2 XMOS, coaxial (3), optical (2)|
|Supported sample rates / bit depth||PCM 44.1kHz to 192kHz @ 24-bits
DSD over DOP x64 (2.8mHz) using XMOS solution
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz ± 0.2dB|
|Total harmonic distortion||<0.005% at 2V RMS @ 1kHz|
|Signal to noise ratio||>110dB ref 2V RMS output @ 1kHz|
|Channel separation||>60dB @ 20Hz – 20kHz|
|Mains supply||110/120V or 220/240V, 50/60Hz (factory set)|
|Dimensions||90mm (h) x 440mm (w) x 310mm (d)|
|Net weight (unpacked)||5kg|
|Gross weight (packed)||7kg|
The Exposure 2010S2 DSD DAC is available now priced at £920 (including VAT).
Current owners of the existing 2010S2 DAC can upgrade to the new DSD version at a cost of £400 (including VAT and return shipping).
More piff and waffle from Stuart after a bit of a bar room psychology lesson courtesy of Auntie Beeb.
Fearing that the world is heading to hell in a handcart, John Scott takes refuge in T Rex’s Electric Warrior. More »
Dan Worth has a listen to the £3000 Chord Hugo TT for Hifi Pig. More »
VANA, Ltd. has announced that the European Audio Team C-Major turntable, the company’s first complete analogue playback solution, is available now through a carefully selected network of US dealers. The C-Major turntable has been engineered and manufactured in Prague to deliver superb performance with a sleek “super-flat” industrial design and comes ready to play right out of the box—complete with tonearm, cartridge, record clamp and dust cover. US MSRP is $2495. Hifi Pig’s Janine reviewed it here.
The foundation of the C-Major turntable is a low-profile floating chassis made from carbon fiber laminated MDF, which gives the C-Major it’s slender profile. The chassis rests on a conical TPE (thermo-plastic elastomer) suspension system along with damped adjustable feet that together provide superior isolation. The tonearm and platter are mounted on a separate suspended carbon fiber/MDF platform, with the platter spinning on a hardened bronze bearing mated to a Teflon® plated, polished brass housing. The C-Major utilizes a proprietary ultra-low noise AC motor and high precision power supply for speed stability. The platter and sub-platter are made from a rigid aluminum/magnesium alloy.
The C-Major employs a light yet rigid carbon alloy 9-inch C-Note Tonearm with a hybrid Cardan/Unipivot design that combines extremely low bearing friction. This configuration is not prone to wobble like many Unipivot designs, and there is almost no measurable bearing play in the lateral plane. Adjusting and maintaining consistent cartridge azimuth and anti-skate settings is an easy task based on this design. All key features for cartridge alignment and adjustability are available on the tonearm, including VTA/SRA, VTF, azimuth, anti-skate and a slotted headshell for overhang and offset angle optimization. In addition to the C-Note Tonearm, the C-Major comes equipped with the highly regarded Ortofon Quintet Blue cartridge along with premium-grade gold plated RCA outputs.
“The C-Major is really a turntable for vinyl enthusiasts who want a superb high-performance product that comes with everything you need,” explained Vana Director of Business Development Stephen DeFuria. “Each component of the C-Major was chosen specifically so that the sum of its parts outperform everything in this price category. As an example, the 9-inch C-Note Tonearm is a smaller version of the arm found on E.A.T.’s $8500 model. This is an all-inclusive truly high-performance turntable that is ready to play your most cherished vinyl collection right out of the box,” DeFuria said.
. This consists of TOP-1 and BASS-1, which combine to create a high quality 3-way speaker, and CONTROL-1: A 6-channel amplifier, pre-amp and DSP crossover unit rolled into one box.
Following the success of his talk about vinyl at last year’s show, Dean Brissett – record Guru – will be presenting his Top 10 records of all time at this year’s North West Audio Show taking place on the Sunday 26th June 2016 at Cranage Hall AND Wychwood Park Cheshire.
The presentation will take place in Baird 2 (Cranage Hall) at 2pm.
Definitely one not to miss.
NuNu Distribution Ltd and Optoma launch a new partnership today to expand the NuForce audio range across the UK.
Anne Duhig-Reader, Managing Director of NuNu Distribution said: “We pride ourselves on supplying only the best audio brands and Optoma NuForce has a great reputation borne out by the glowing reviews the products receive. Combining our expertise of the UK audio industry with these high quality NuForce products is what makes this partnership such a great fit.”
Optoma NuForce is well-known, particularly in the US, for engineering stylish, high quality and reliable audio products. Its audio range comprises three main categories: home cinema, home stereo and mobile. This includes DACs, amplifiers, headphone amplifiers, in-ear headphones – with more products planned for later this year.
NuNu works closely with its network of UK dealers and offers a portfolio of carefully chosen brands. It provides an after-sales technical support service covering repairs, updates to existing equipment and refurbishment of older products up to original specification.
Justin Halls, Head of Product Marketing at Optoma, said: “Sound is such an important part of the home entertainment experience. A cinema-sized image from a projector coupled with great sound can transform any living space.”
The Nēo ACE from Moon is “A Complete Experience of musical ecstasy” says the company’s press release. The all-in-one ACE is an integrated amplifier and streaming DAC music player so all you need do is simply hook up a pair of speakers, connect to the internet and play. The ACE features Moon’s MiND* control system which provides a full graphic interface allowing access to a digital music library or streaming service.
The ACE features all-new advanced setup software and will decode DSD up to DSD256 and 32- bit/384kHz PCM. The ACE also features a moving magnet phono preamplifier and has RS-232 and IR ports for use in custom-install environments.
RRP £2,800, though on offer at £2500 until July 1st
MOON NEO ACE FEATURES
- Three line-level inputs including a front-mounted 1/8” mini-jack for personal media
- Headphone output on 1/4” TRS jack located on the front
- Seamless integration with MOON’s MiND
- Eight (8) digital inputs include USB (hi-res audio), SPDIF (2), Optical (2), aptX® Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi and Ethernet
- The first MOON product using an OLED type screen – provides more detailed information.
- Simple MiND setup via on-board software
- Moving magnet phono preamplifier
- Analogue inputs are configurable to “pass-through” mode, which bypasses the gain stage to accommodate components like a home-theatre processor
- Output Power at 8Ω: 50 Watts per channel
- Input Sensitivity: 370mV – 3.0V RMS
- Input Impedance : 11,000Ω
- Gain: 37dB
- Signal-to-noise ratio: 100dB @ full power
- Frequency response (full range): 10Hz – 60kHz +0/-3dB
- Crosstalk: 90dB
THD (20Hz – 20kHz @ 1 watt/50 watts): 0.015% / 0.02%
- Intermodulation distortion: 05%
- PCM Bit-depth range/sampling rates: 16-32bits / 1-384kHz
- DSD sample rates: DSD64, DSD128 & DSD256
- Shipping weight: 24 lbs / 11 Kgs
- Dimensions (width x height x depth): 42.9 x 8.9 x 36.6
DISCO is big at Hifi Pig Towers and many a Saturday night is spent strutting our stuff around the listening room…there’s even talk of us getting a mirror-ball. So what better than this album by all girl three piece that had a huge hits in ’79 with Strut Your Funky Stuff (you’ll know it of course!) and their follow up “Getting Serious”. More »
Out on the 29th July I’m A Freak Baby is really going to appeal to a certain kind of person…and I count myself in with this lot. As a teen I had hair down my back, wore an Afghan coat, stank of patchouli oil and listened to psych rock and heavy rock from the late 60s and early 70s, so when this landed on my desk I was a bit giddy with nostalgia and keen to give it a play. More »
sMS-200 has a dedicated ARM processor board that has been developed for only audio. SOtM developed the product just for audio sound performance, getting rid of all unnecessary features concentrating on the high quality sound at a reasonable price.
are also available. More functions can be added by software downloads.
The web GUI allows users to choose the desired audio function, setup and control playing music file through Apps on users’ smart devices.
Music Player Daemon(MPD)
Logitech Media Server(LMS)
PCM 32bit/384KHz max, DSDx64, DSDx128, DSDx256
Ultra Low Jitter Clock
Ultra Low Noise Regulator
Active Noise canceller
High-End audio grade USB port x 1
USB 2.0 port x 2
At £14500 for the pair, the Grandinote Proemio preamp and Silva power amplifier are far from bargain basement fodder, but do they warrant such a price-tag? Stuart Smith finds out. More »
You may have recently read about two girls from Norfolk who look uncannily similar but are, in fact, unrelated. Rosa and Jenny are both 17, met when they were 4 years’ old and have been inseparable ever since. Together, they make music under the moniker Let’s Eat Grandma. Whether or not you enjoy their debut album really comes down to whether you like their mixture of darkness and light. Oh, and their voices. More »
UK based Veracity Audio’s Mystra is a dual mono design with dual DAC architecture. The dedicated 24bit dual mono, multi-bit conversion handles PCM files without sample rate change and the stand-alone ∆Σ DAC/reconstruction filter offers playback of DSD64 and DSD128 natively without digital processing. The DAC features auto-switching with incoming signal file format, directing DSD to the DSD reconstruction filter and PCM to the parallel PCM only DAC. Both engines share only the SE triode valve analogue stage on a ‘one-at-a-time’ basis.
To match the output of the DAC to any pre or integrated amplifier the DAC is equipped with an analogue volume control designed with non-inductive resistors controlled by relays, with only two resistors in the signal path at any level and R2R shunt operation. For digital-only systems, this volume control can facilitate direct connection to power amplifiers. Volume control and input selector operation can be remote controlled with the custom, handmade handset.
A jitter rejection system for SPDIF inputs is employed with a quad differential receiver for use with a CD transport and any other compatible signal source.
Line preamplifier function is offered for external analogue source to directly use the DACs triode valve stage as an active preamplifier with R2R volume control. Analogue input is via a pair of RCAs whilst output is via RCA and XLR.
Mystra features a Headphone output for 32Ω – 300Ω headphones.
The valve analogue output stage operates in pure Class A. It is a single ended triode design without negative feedback.
Low impedance, high current drive audio outputs are connected directly from the valves through Jensen Copper foil audio capacitors to a stereo pair of RCA single-ended and a pair of XLR passively balanced analogue outputs. Both output types are coherent with any amplifier input with RCA`s 209Ω and XLR`s 600Ω output impedance.
The valve stage consists of a pair of 6SN7 signal drivers, a pair of ECC82 output drivers and a pair of CV574 full-wave valve rectifiers.
Veracity Audio has separated out the digital and analogue power supplies and also the left and right channels. Strictly linear, ultra low noise power supplies were designed, each for the specific application including internal power supply for the USB interface. All power supplies are capable of high current delivery and feature separate power rails with dedicated decoupling for each individual power consumer. Multiple choke filters system and ultra low impedance film and organic polymer capacitors are used to provide the purest power flow possible. The DAC also features a built-in, selected Schurter mains filter.
Mystra DAC is equipped with Soft start, giving the time for the valves to warm-up. During this warm-up time signal outputs are muted with the Audio comes-on automatically after 70 seconds.
We at Hifi Pig recently bought and absolutely raved about the half speed master version of the John Martyn album Solid Air released on vinyl by Abbey Road. Miles Showell is the mastering engineer behind the project and Hifi Pig caught up with him for a chat.
Hifi Pig’s coverage of the Munich High End show is now available for FREE download. There’s over 140 pages of comment, photographs, inerviews and reports in this bumper edition that has been sponsored by Tellurium Q.
As well as all the great content one lucky reader will have the chance to win a Hifi Pig Special Edition pair of loudspeakers kindly given by Kralk Audio and a pair of Tellurium Q speaker cables to connect the speakers to your rig.
Download your copy now!
The long-awaited DAC/valve headphone amp and preamp from the Danish brand Copland has arrived in the UK courtesy of Absolute Sounds.
The heart of the DA215 is a D/A converter with multiple S/PDIF inputs, PCM, and DSD capabilities using the ES9018 Reference 32-bit DAC in quad-mono configuration, 8 mono to 2 stereo configuration. The company’s press release has the following to say “Combining four in-phase and four opposite-phase converters per channel, the statistical properties of the signals are taken to advantage; the signal power of the phases correlate and add-up in constructive addition, whereas the noise power of the phases are de-correlated, improving the signal to noise ratio of the resulting analogue waveform”.
The class-A buffering technology of the analogue filtering sections is borrowed from the Copland CD-players and composed by discrete transistors.
The DA215 incorporates an asynchronous USB input, three S/PDIF digital inputs, an analogue input, two analogue outputs (fixed and variable) and a complete pre-amplifier with analogue volume control and front panel headphone output featuring vacuum tube gain stages.
You can use the DAC215 for headphones playback. However, you can also use it as a high-end pre-amplifier with volume control, using the amplifier RCA outputs. The volume control and pre-amplifier functionality can be bypassed for pure DAC mode.
The DA215 USB features USB 2.0 PCM 24/32 bit data transfer to 384 kHz, including native DSD64 and high resolution DSD128. The input is converted to i2s and it is connected directly to the DAC chip. Once connected, the computer recognizes the DAC and routes the digital audio data to it, bypassing the source device’s internal audio circuitry. The asynchronous USB-B port connects to the computer’s USB-A port. No power is taken from the computer. The regulated power supply for the USB input section has its own winding of the power transformer and the noisy computer line is completely interrupted by the use of digital Isolators.
UK RRP: £1998; available with black or silver fascia
Engineered to deliver a substantial 400W into 8 ohms and 800W into 4 ohms, the № 536 will drive demanding loudspeaker loads to generous volume levels even in larger rooms. It is designed for exceptional sonic purity, stability, consistency and reliability, blending discrete class AB amplifier topology with Class A voltage gain and driver stages. No integrated circuits are used in the signal path.
The Mark Levinson № 536 includes an XLR balanced and an RCA unbalanced input, and provides two pairs of heavy-duty speaker binding posts fitted with Mark Levinson’s characteristic hurricane wings to facilitate secure speaker-cable tightening without tools.
The № 536 also includes Ethernet, RS-232 and 12V trigger inputs and outputs for integration with Mark Levinson preamplifiers, networked installations and control systems. EuP-compliant the amplifier will go into low-power standby mode when not in operation.
In keeping with all Mark Levinson audio components, the № 536 has a distinctively elegant appearance. Its unmistakable black and silver industrial design blends iconic Mark Levinson aesthetic elements with an angular, modern contemporary look. More details here.
Mark Levinson No 536 Monaural Power Amplifier typical retail price inc VAT: £14000.00 each and are available in July. Hifi Pig heard this and it’s matching preamplifier at Munich High-End and it is really something!
Focal have announced their new high-end line of headphones equipped with exclusive innovations they say offer “remarkable sound performance and an unrivalled audiophile experience true to the brand’s core values”.
Utopia are the reference high-fidelity headphones manufactured in France by Focal. Equipped with exclusive technology, they offer striking realism, neutrality, dynamics and clarity, for sound with unrivalled purity say the company. Utopia are unique they are the world’s first audiophile headphones to be equipped with totally open-backed full-range speaker drivers with pure Beryllium ’M’-shaped domes.
Elear are inspired by the technology and acoustic research that went into designing Utopia, Focal’s flagship headphones. The mechanical design provides remarkably smooth and seamless style due to the solid aluminium yoke say the company. They also feature memory foam ear cushions and exclusive speaker drivers with their aluminium/magnesium ‘M’-shaped domes.
Listen combine all the advantages of premium portable headphones, have excellent noise isolation with the closed-back design and by the large ear cushions which preserve the headphones’ acoustic qualities, even in noisy environments. The heat-sensitive, very high-density memory foam ear-pieces offer maximum comfort for the listener. Finally, at the source of Listen’s acoustic qualities are the innovative 1¾″ (40mm) drivers.
More news when we get it.
Flamingo Audio have quite a line up for The North West Audio Show….take a look.
JK ACOUSTICS Reference CD Transport
The JK Reference is a high end CD Transport made in the Netherlands, priced just under £4K. It utilizes a Philips CDM12 Pro transport mechanism installed on a 15mm thick aluminium plate suspended on 4 massive legs
which form the chassis outer corners and is optimally decoupled by silicone rubbers of low resonance.
BEYOND FRONTIERS AUDIO
TULIP Hybrid Integrated Amplifier SRPP – 2x180W/8 Ohm – Built-in 24/192kHz Cirrus Logic & Burr-Brown DAC – VDF display by Noritake – Shunt Relay Volume Control by Takamishawa,
Zellaton is a specialist loudspeaker manufacturer using a unique diaphragm technology by Emil Podszus dating back to the 1930s: lightweight, torsionally stiff rigid-foam diaphragm with ideal unit pulse response.
They are painstankingly made in-house in Germany, from start to finish by a third-generation family member, Manuel Podszus. Each diaphragm takes several weeks to manufacture, in order to ensure optimum
cell structure integrity and maximum rigidity paired with minimal weight. The magnet systems are computer-optimized with a largely linear field along the entire height of the pole plate.
High temperature coils on titanium films are used to guarantee optimal unit pulse response. Every single driver is subjected to multiple control measurements and fine adjustments. Each frequency response
is logged and documented. Documentation of all drivers shipped guarantees years-long service. The crossovers are made with no compromise Dueland Coherent Audio components.
The cabinets are of very intricate design featuring proprietary, calibrated wooden materials with wall thicknesses up to 68mm. Handmade cabinet coating, painting and polishing process takes up to months –
to ensure a perfect finish. The Legacy is a 2-Way Reference Monitor System (on dedicated stands)which never fails to surprise with the very high level of performance is capable of delivering. Price £19,950.
TSAKIRIDIS DEVICES Theseus
The THESEUS valve integrated amplifier is an exciting new model with many interesting features.
It is compatible with EL34, KT88/6550, KT120, KT150 valves and operates in Class A. Pentode, or Triode operation and normal, or Low Feedback can be selected by easily accessible toggle switches.
It provides 3xLine, MM, USB inputs and a transformer headphone output with high/low impedance selection. The volume is controlled by a motorized blue Alps potensiometer.
Danish Scansonic may be the sister brand of Raidho, but its affordable ‘HD’ range of loudspeakers is starting to make waves in its own right as we found out recently when we reviewed a pair of their standmounter M-5s. Now, it enters the Bluetooth arena with the new wireless active M BTL-series.
Scansonic is owned by Dantax, the same parent company as Raidho and the brand’s loudspeakers are designed by Michael Børresen, creator of the Raidho range. As a result, they have much of the Raidho family DNA and pedigree but at a fraction of the cost.
Børresen’s initial designs for Scansonic’s HD range were the first models in the MB-series (named with his own initials), closely followed by the astoundingly affordable M-series.
The new active M BTL-series, comprising a standmount and two floorstanders, features wired analogue, digital and wireless aptX Bluetooth audio connections.
One of each pair of speakers features a built-in amplifier stage – but not the class D design that one might expect in this price range, since this has never been the Scansonic way (keep in mind the Raidho connection). Each of the three models in the M BTL-series sports a powerful class A-B amplifier: 50W in the 2-way M-5 BTL standmount, 60W in the 2.5-way M-6 BTL floorstander and 80W in the 3-way M-9 BTL.
All three models are designed around the same ultra-light ribbon planar tweeter as used in the Raidho-inspired MB-series. Its membrane is formed by a kapton-aluminum sandwich just 20μm thick and with an extremely low mass – approximately 50 times less than any conventional textile, ceramic, beryllium or diamond dome.
The tweeter is partnered with a paper-polypropylene coned 4.5-inch mid/bass driver (one in the M-5 BTL standmount and two in the M-6 BTL and M-9 BTL floorstanders) with underhung magnet system. The M-9 BTL floorstander adds an 8-inch side-mount bass driver.
The cabinets feature a heavily braced, ventilated box design with front-loaded port, and the system also comes with a learning remote control.
|M-5 BTL||M-6 BTL||M-9 BTL|
|Type||2-way wireless active stand-mount||2.5-way wireless active compact floorstander||3-way wireless active floorstander|
|Enclosure||Heavily braced, ventilated box design with front loaded port|
|Inputs||Wireless: 2.4GHz aptX
Wired digital: 1 x optical (Toslink) & 1 x RCA
Wired analogue: RCA line-level
|Tweeter||1 x sealed ribbon tweeter with kapton/aluminum sandwich membrane|
|Mid/bass driver||1 x paper-polypropylene coned 4.5” bass/mid driver with underhung magnet system||2 x paper-polypropylene coned 4.5” bass/mid driver with underhung magnet system|
|Woofer||–||–||1 x 8” woofer|
|Crossover||3.5kHz 2nd order acoustic slope||3.5kHz 2nd order acoustic slope;
300 Hz 1st order
|Amplification||50W Class A-B||60W Class A-B||80W Class A-B|
|Frequency response||55Hz – 30kHz||50Hz – 30kHz||40Hz – 30kHz|
|Impedance||> 6 ohm||> 4 ohm||> 6 ohm|
(w x h x d)
|151 x 265 x 151||151 x 900 x 198||151 x 900 x 298|
Pricing and availability
The Scansonic HD M-BTL series is available now, priced as follows (incl VAT). All models are available in a choice of two finishes: black-piano or white-piano.
M-5 BTL 2-way wireless active standmount £599
M-6 BTL 2.5-way wireless active compact floorstander £1,199
M-9 3-way wireless active floorstander £1,799
Audio Research has announced the introduction of their Foundation Series. From the same engineering and design team responsible for the Reference Series, “the Foundation family of vacuum tube components has been created to provide incredible musical experiences”.
The first three components include the LS28 line stage preamplifier, the PH9 phono stage, and the DAC9 digital- to-analog converter. A new amplifier will follow, with other products to complete the series. All models will be available in both black and natural anodized aluminium finishes. Each unit comes with its own custom metal remote control.
All products at Audio Research follow the exact same path from concept to production, regardless of the series or model. The Foundation Series shares the same lineage, build quality, and many design characteristics found in the more costly Reference Series.
Many of the parts in an Audio Research product are proprietary, while some are designed for a singular model. This attention to detail is inherent to all processes at Audio Research – from the hand-soldering of every circuit board, to the final listening test which is conducted by the same person who helped guide the design. Our commitment at Audio Research is to deliver the most musically satisfying experience at every level.
The LS28 line stage is a flexible preamplifier. Four balanced and four single-ended inputs, and two sets of both balanced and single-ended outputs, allow maximum connectivity. The straightforward menu allows control of numerous parameters, including input naming, tube hours, auto shutdown, and home theater passthrough. Phase invert and mono are also standard functions. At the heart of the LS28 are four 6H30 vacuum tubes in the analogue circuit.
The PH9 phono preamplifier is a great pairing with most cartridge and turntable combinations. A trio of 6H30 vacuum tubes are at the core of a simple and clear signal path to provide the most transparent preamplification possible. Five different impedance settings allow for cartridge loading, which can be changed on the fly with the included metal remote. Cartridge impedance, tube hours, auto shutdown, and other features are included in the menu system. Shipping to begin in July.
The DAC9 digital-to-analog converter decodes most current formats with state-of-the-art vacuum tube technology. Five digital connections – USB, RCA, BNC, AES/EBU, and Toslink – provide connectivity to all of your digital sources. Quad DAC architecture provides a balanced digital signal, wide dynamic range, and decoding resolutions from red book CD up to 384 kHz and native DSD sampling rates.
A pair of 6H30v vacuum tubes are the heart of the analog circuit. Both balanced and single-ended connectors are provided for output connectivity. Native-rate upsampling and selectable digital filters allow customisation of the digital signal. Shipping to begin in August.
The MQ-300 is a new generation of vacuum tube stereo amplifiers from LUXMAN that “uses the most thoroughly selected parts and circuits to maximise the performance and tonal quality of the latest direct heated triode – the TA-300B”. Following in the design footsteps of the MB-300 released 31 years ago, the MQ-300 combines traditional design with cutting edge technology.
Since the foundation of the company 90 years ago, and the subsequent release of the MB-300, LUXMAN has pursued certain core principles for sound generation. These principles are embodied in the MQ-300 as ‘honest and natural sound quality, feeling the sound field without exaggeration’, ‘feeling the unity of sound with sufficient data for the whole audio band’ and to achieve ‘fatigue free listening enjoyment’. Expressing the original sound whilst bringing the spirit of each disk to life are qualities intrinsic to the MQ-300 and those principles.
The MQ-300 is based on the cosmetic design and circuit configuration of the MB-300, the renowned vacuum tube monaural power amplifier released by LUXMAN in 1984. The elements of traditional design and elegant tonal quality that is unique to the performance of the TA-300B, a direct heated triode, have been maximised in the MQ-300.
- Rated Power Output: 8W + 8W (4Ω, 8Ω, 16Ω)
- Input Sensitivity: 490mV (8W) 240kΩ
- THD: 1% (1kHz / 8Ω / 1W)
- S/N Ratio (IHF-A): 105dB
- Input: 1 x Direct, 1 x Variable
- Output: Large speaker terminal x 1 set (4,8,16Ω independent)
- Power Consumption: 160W
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 460 × 273 × 340 (mm)
- Net Weight: 29.0kg
The MQ-300 is arriving in the UK later this month, with an RRP of ￡15,000.
As you may have seen before, we like to give an award, to express our love for what Hifi Pig sees as our favourite room of the show. Now, this is not strictly for the ‘Best Sound’ at the show, though that is definitely a factor, we take other things into consideration. We pick rooms that sound great, have attentive (but not pushy) staff who are friendly and knowledgeable. The room has to look really nice and have a style about it…effort has to have gone into how it looks and feels to be in the room, as well as how it sounds. More »
“The audio cable that enjoys a little teasing” is how this new British cable manufacturer opens their press release. The company in question is Wire On Wire and they hand build their cables in the UK.
With its REDpurl™ variable geometry (UK patent pending), the company’s Experience 680 interconnect permits the user to alter its wire spacing, allowing the sound character of the interconnect to be tuned to the user’s preference.
“The REDpurl™ geometry allows the user to vary the relationship between conductors”, says Wire on Wire’s founder and designer Chris Bell, “so altering the cable’s physics and helping it adapt to their system and musical taste. I was looking for something that could adapt to the individual and the result many years later is a cable full of potential tweaks.”
The Experience680 uses carefully chosen silver-plated copper conductors of different diameter, insulated with PTFE. Capacitance is kept low thanks to the REDpurl™ variable geometry.
Wire on Wire will be exhibiting at the North West Audio Show later this month.