Westminster Lab makes no claims as to how good it is, rather just invite you to enter into their ‘new dimension’ of music experience. According to them words are totally futile. But that would make for a short review, so, not known for keeping quiet, Janine Elliot wanted to tell readers about this unique amp costing £32 000. More »
Chord Electronics is showing its new TToby power amp for the first time in the UK at The Indulgence Show (14-16th October). The new TToby is a 100-watt stereo power amplifier and has been designed to complement the Hugo TT DAC/headphone amplifier.
Hand-built by ATC in the UK, the P2 class A/B stereo power amplifier is designed to complement the brand’s range of hifi preamplifiers aesthetically and operationally. Rated at 300W continuous power per channel and developed in tandem with the P2-Pro studio amplifier, the ATC P2 is a Dual Mono design, keeping the power supplies, signal and return paths discreet. This approach ensures that the amplifier will achieve the maximum signal separation with minimal crosstalk, and that inter-modulation between channels via the power supplies is reduced to an absolute minimum across a frequency range of 400kHz. It also means that the power delivery from one channel cannot affect the specified power available from the other.
Cyrus Audio is throwing a party that will bring out the wild side of the visitors at The Indulgence Show, when it launches its “Party Animal” promotional campaign for the new Cyrus ONE amplifier.
Wyred 4 Sound will present their new SX-1000R Monoblock Amplifier and PS-1 Modular Linear Power Supply at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.The SX-1000R has an all-new input board, which, say Wyred 4 Sound makes ‘the sound of the SX-1000R more natural, refined and engaging than its predecessor, the multi-award-winning SX-1000. Yet the SX-1000R retains the same incredible power to effortlessly produce thunderous bass, exquisite highs and boundless headroom and dynamics, even with demanding loads. All at a price thousands less than you’d expect for this level of performance’.
With the recent Olympic and Paralympic games still fresh in my mind I got to thinking how incredible as a nation the United Kingdom is. The fact we came second in the medal tables for both games, coming just behind the USA in the Olympics and China in the Paralympics was amazing. The Chinese in particular couldn’t believe how a nation of our size could do so well given their population is about 1.4 billion and ours is roughly 60 million. More »
Stefan Ruuth, Sales Manager at ETAL, said, “In terms of size-performance, the Anaview ALA is unmatched, delivering amazingly clean and room-filling sound from a very small module. We’ve already seen a lot of interest from designers of networked audio devices, portable audio devices, docking stations, audio receivers, powered speakers and residential audio systems. It’s perfect for applications that need great sound but where space and/or power are limited.”
With overall dimensions of just 68mm x 33mm x 18mm, the ETAL Anaview ALA Series delivers 2 x 45Wrms into 6 Ω. It is designed for board to board mounting and can be powered by a single voltage of 12-25V DC making it easy to integrate. The Anaview ALA has an 80kHz load independent frequency range (-3dB) and a 115dB dynamic range with low Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) throughout. Features include an entirely differential patented Adaptive Pole Control (APC) amplifier technology.
The Anaview ALA can be supplied from a simple single voltage AC/DC power supply, commonly available at low-cost, alleviates end-product UL-certification. Alternatively, the low power draw and single-sided supply means that the module is also compatible with Power–over-Ethernet (PoE) for commercial network audio applications where audio and power are provided on a single Cat-5 cable. Equally, it can be easily integrated into battery–powered and rechargeable products.
Taga Harmony of Poland have launched two new amplifiers. The TA-400MIC is a CI A/B speaker stereo amplifier with MIC mixing with 2 x 60W RMS @ 8ohm and 2 x 90W RMS @ 4ohm. Power is delivered by an oversized, audiophile grade toroidal transformer. It has a built-in headphone output plus a built-in microphone input with a mixing and echo control. There is a USB input to quickly and easily play music from USB flash drives (supports MP3 / WMA / WAV / APE files) for almost endless playback and connection of smartphones, tablets and laptops is possible via MP3 (3.5mm stereo jack) input on the front panel. Two RCA stereo inputs at the rear to hook additional equipment like a CD player, radio tuner or other analogue devices and it features an REC output for an external recording device (e.g. Tape or CD recorder). It also comes with two speaker outputs (A and B).
The TA-25Mini is a 2 x 25W 8ohm, Class D, CI mini stereo amplifier with a frequency response of 30Hz – 18kHz.
Creek Audio Systems have recently introduced their Evolution 100 range and here we have two of the line-up for review – namely the Evolution 100CD (£1350) and the 100P (£1350) which Lionel Payne will review for Hifi Pig. More »
At £900 for the amplifier and £995 for the CD player these two units from Audiolab are relatively inexpensive but well specified. Ian Ringstead plumbs them into his system and rather likes what he hears. More »
The £5500 Audio Music AM RT-1 active TVC single ended valve preamplifier is made and designed by Mr A M Fang in Guangdong Province in China. It comes with a fine pedigree, but will it cut the mustard with Dan Worth. More »
TRINNOV Audio is introducing the new Amplitude8 power amplifier at CEDIA 2016.
With two large, linear power supplies, each with its own toroidal transformer and dedicated power cord, each of the eight channels of the Amplitude8 can deliver up to 500 watts rms at 2Ω. Perhaps more importantly, any single channel associated with either power supply can deliver 1200 watts peak power to handle transients.
The amplification stage of the Amplitude8 features the industry’s lowest-distortion and noise specifications say the company, and what little noise there is remains frequency independent with a s/n ratio of -125 dB..
As you might expect, the Amplitude8 integrates seamlessly with the Altitude32 AV preamp which was launched back in June and supports Dolby Atmos®, Auro-3D® , DTS:X® and has just been selected the Best Product 2016-2017 in the High-End Home Theater category by the European Imaging and Sound Association.
A full 32-channel system including the AV preamp and all amplification requires less than 20U of rack space, yet delivers almost 10,000 watts of power at 8Ω.
The Amplitude8 is made in America and available now. MSRP is $13,500.
Pioneer today announces the release of three new Network CD Receiver Systems with speakers – X-HM76, X-HM76D and X-HM86D. As well as the playback of existing CD libraries, each model supports various music streaming services combined with stylish design and support for high-resolution audio sources.
The X-HM76, X-HM76D and X-HM86D Network CD Receiver Systems support an extensive range of network streaming services including TuneIn, Spotify®, TIDAL and DEEZER. Furthermore, each system supports Google Cast, allowing the user to access the variety of streaming services Google Cast supports. The fascia-mounted 3.5” LCD screen can show album art along with a wide range of information to enable intuitive operation. Each model also includes Wi-Fi functionality including AirPlay. The playback of high-resolution audio files is also supported (FLAC/AIFF/WAV up to 192 kHz/24-bit) along with Apple Lossless and DSD up to 11.2 MHz.
The X-HM76 (SRP – £429.99), X-HM76D (SRP – £469.99) and X-HM86D (£649.99) will all be available during September 2016.
*The X-HM86D is also available without speakers (XC-HM86D) from select retailers for an SRP of £399.99.
Chord Electronics’ new SPM 1050 MkII power amplifier, first unveiled at High End 2016, Munich, is now available worldwide. The new MkII version directly replaces the original and introduces the latest Chord amplifier technology, plus some key aesthetic improvements.
The latest-spec MkII model offers reduced output distortion plus improvements to capacitance for cleaner power delivery. The second-generation version also includes enhanced isolation on the mains transformer to reduce interference. In keeping with the original, the SPM 1050 MkII uses Chord’s low-distortion amplifier circuitry and features four proprietary lateral-structure dual-die MOSFETs per channel (eight in total).
The SPM 1050 MkII offers both balanced XLR and RCA phono inputs, plus two pairs of loudspeaker outputs with gold-plated connections. A single power button offers operational simplicity from stand-by mode and the amplifier’s status is indicated on the faceplate by a simple two-LED sequence showing power and relay functions.
Aesthetically, the MkII version includes a new vented aluminium lid, akin to the DSX1000 streamer, plus a new piano-black acrylic side-panel option giving the power amp a fresh, contemporary look. Additional options include a choice of finish for the established Integra leg system supports, these include: nickel, satin-black anodised and aluminium.
As with all Chord Electronics amplifiers, the new SPM 1050 Mk II features Chord’s proprietary 2KW high-frequency switch-mode power supply, which was originally developed for use in aerospace, telecommunications and data processing, where quality and power is needed in a very space-efficient design. The technology allows instantaneous power to be taken from both power rails simultaneously when the audio track demands.
The technology is complemented by a large bank of energy storage capacitors that are ‘recharged’ by the power supply many thousands of times a second, giving the amplifier huge reserves, plus the ability to react effortlessly to any signal. This configuration gives increased voltage swing, greater dynamic range, plus the ability to cope with even the most demanding loudspeaker loads. Unobtrusive protection circuitry constantly monitors the amplifier status and magnetic current-sensing will shut down the SPM 1050 MkII in the event of a short circuit, or DC overload.
The Ultra High Frequency power supply is a self-contained, self-monitoring module, which is common to all Chord amplifiers and is fundamental to their exceptional performance. A sophisticated mains input filter ensures that the power supply is exceptionally well shielded from disturbed mains input, and more significantly, the mains itself is completely untouched by emissions from the amplifier.
- OUTPUT POWER: 200W RMS per channel @ 0.05% distortion into 8Ω; 350W RM per channel @ 0.05% distortion into 4Ω
- DYNAMIC HEADROOM: 300W RMS per channel into 8Ω; 400W rms per channel into 4Ω; 1 kHz, 20 cycles on, 480 cycles off. Channel peak into 2Ω.
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE (8 ohms): -1dB, 0.2Hz to 46KHz; -3dB, 0.1Hz to 77KHz
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE (4 OHMS): -1dB, 0.2Hz to 39KHz; -3dB, 0.1Hz to 75KHz
- SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO: Better than -103dB; ‘A’ weighted two-thirds power
- CHANNEL SEPARATION: Better than 95dB
- PRE-AMPLIFIER INPUT CONNECTION: 2x gold-plated, fully balanced XLR sockets; 2 x gold-plated custom phono sockets, unbalanced
- INPUT IMPEDANCE: 100kΩ, unbalanced/balanced
- INPUT CAPACITANCE: <30pf
- OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: 0.02Ω
- OUTPUT INDUCTANCE: 2.6mH
- OUTPUT CONNECTIONS: 4x touch-proof-gold plated binding posts
- SLEW RATE: 70V per mS 1KHz 20V square wave
- GAIN: 30dB
- STABILITY: unconditional
- DIMENSIONS (Standard): 420mm (W) x 355mm (D) x 133mm (H)
- WEIGHT: 15Kg
The SPM 1050 MkII is available now priced at £4,950
The NS-6170, equipped with Google Cast, AirPlay, Spotify, Wi-Fi, and HDD-ready USB input, is based on a twin-monaural L/R channel layout with separate power supply paths, discrete custom capacitors for each channel, and dual-differential 768 kHz/32-bit AK4490 DACs to decode the positive and negative halves of the signal waveform.
Developed by Onkyo’s R&D team after years of exploratory research into Hi-Res Audio, a new wideband DIDRC Filter replaces the standard DAC output filter, eliminating ultra-high-frequency distortion inevitably generated as a result of the digital-to-analogue conversion process, says the company’s recent press release.
For music lovers looking to update an existing Hi-Fi system with audio casting and USB-HDD playback, the NS-6130 retains features with flagship AK4490 768 kHz/32-bit DAC, symmetrical L/R-channel circuitry, and VLSC digital pulse-noise filtering.
Both the NS-6170 and NS-incorporate HDD audio via rear USB input. A new control app simplifies selection within a user-friendly interface that displays album art and song information, together with on-demand music from TIDAL, TuneIn, and Deezer. Users can stream directly from the Spotify app or cast audio from any smartphone or PC application that supports Google Cast or AirPlay.
Prices (available in September, in black or silver)
NS-6170 Network Audio Streamer – £699
NS-6130 Network Audio Streamer – £449
In addition to the network streamers, Onkyo has also announced the launch of a compact system and CD player which they say is a “solution for music lovers who seek pristine sound from an elegant and unobtrusive Hifii separates package, the R-N855 receiver forms the centerpiece of Onkyo’s new CS-N1075 Compact Hifi System”.
CS-N1075 Compact Hifii System – £1049
Specialist UK Distributor Sound Design Distribution Ltd has signed a UK distribution deal with Mola-Mola. Mola-Mola is the brainchild of Bruno Putzeys, “he wunderkind of Class-D technology” originator of Universal class-D (UcD) in 2001 while at Phillips and as chief tech guru at Hypex, responsible for the development of its game-changing NCore Class-D amplifier technology.
Presented in strikingly distinctive rippled all-aluminium enclosures the ‘Makua’ Control Amplifier, complete with modular DAC and phono options, and ‘Kaluga’ Monoblock power amplifiers will be the first Mola-Mola designs to be made available to UK audiophiles through Sound Design Distribution Ltd.
The Makua is a fully balanced gain stage and routing matrix, accommodating optional DAC and phono stage modules and programmable via a dedicated App through USB or Bluetooth to access any combination of channel, processing and routing. Via the phono stage option for instance, vinyl-lovers can connect up to five turntables and program the settings individually for each. All five inputs are switchable between XLR and floating RCA connections, and all can be assigned as either phono or line.
All stages in the Makua employ discrete amplifier modules using a little known topology called “single-ended driven differential”, which prevents noise from propagating all the way through to the outputs (paralleled for bi-amping). The relay-based volume control directly controls the gain of the output stage.
- 5 balanced and 5 unbalanced inputs, all routable through optional processor boards like the phono stage and DAC
- 2 parallel outputs for bi-amping
- 4 programmable trigger outputs
- Distortion at maximum signal level (THD, IMD): negligible – estimated around -150dB
- Bandwidth >200 kHz
- Dimensions: 420mm(W) x 110mm (H) x 345mm (D). Depth includes volume knob and connectors
- Weight: 11kg
Based on Bruno Putzeys’ Ncore technology the Kaluga amplifier uses a circuit from Mola-Mola derived from the Hypex NC1200 amplifier, featuring an audiophile layout of short, isolated signal paths and eliminating board-to-board connectors in favour of star-quad cables soldered directly to the circuit board. The input stage on a separate circuit board uses the same discrete buffers as those found in the Makua pre-amplifier. The redesigned output filter uses monolithic capacitors.
- Output power: 400 W/8 ohm; 700W/4 ohm; 1200W/2 ohm
- Unweighted Signal/Noise Ratio: 128 dB
- Distortion (THD, IMD): <0.003 % (all frequencies and power levels)
- Bandwidth: >50 kHz
- Balanced and unbalanced input
- 2 pairs of Furutech binding posts, bi-wired directly to the amplifier PCB using Kubala·Sosna cable
- Dimensions: 200mm (W) x 110mm (H) x 335mm (D). Depth includes speaker terminals
- Weight: 7kg
The DAC from Moma-Mola has been designed from the ground up using circuits and digital algorithms developed entirely in house. The converter is a three board stack that fits in one of the option slots in the MAKUA preamp. On the first board, all incoming digital audio is upsampled to 3.125MHz/32 bits and converted to noise shaped PWM. The two remaining boards are mono DACs, in which a discrete 32-stage FIR DAC and a single-stage 4th order filtering I/V converter convert the PWM into analogue with a 140dB SNR. This is near the theoretical limit for 24-bit files and far beyond that of even quad-speed DSD.
- Inputs: XLR, Optical, USB and Bluetooth (A2DP)
- Supported formats: PCM up to 384 kHz /32 bits (>192 kHz and >24 bits only via USB); DSD up to quad speed (DDSD and up only via USB)
- Performance: Signal to Noise Ratio: 140 dB (standalone version), 130dB (preamp option board); THD, IMD: negligible – estimated around -150dB.
- Bandwidth: Up to 80 kHz. Choice of sharp or slow upsampling filters, minimum or linear phase.
- Integrated jitter: <1 ps from 10 Hz upwards, <300 fs from 1 kHz upwards.
- Jitter rejection: >80 dB at 1 Hz after 20 seconds of lock.
A standalone version of the Mola-Mola DAC is in the final stages of development
The RIAA add-on for the MAKUA Preamp has MC/MM input stages are optimised for current noise and voltage noise respectively.
Unlike the more common arrangement of MC head-amp feeding the MM stage, the two stages are fully independent, realising an equally short signal path for both. Input gain is switchable in 5dB steps over a 40dB range. Input resistance and capacitance are individually switchable. Available EQ settings cover practically all known cutting curves ever used, including most 78RPM.
UK retail price (inc VAT):
Makua – £7,299; Kaluga (each) – £4,999; DAC board for Makua – £3,999; Phono stage for Makua – £1,699
Availability: September 2016
Now in its 81st year, Quad has been making valve amplifiers for home use since the late 1940s. The company’s latest model, the VA-One, brings the concept bang up to date; a compact integrated amplifier that fuses Quad’s traditional valve-based audio expertise with modern digital audio streaming.
With a footprint measuring just 18x33cm, the VA-One is very compact for a stereo valve amp – sufficiently small to sit comfortably on a desk.
Three digital audio inputs – optical, coaxial and asynchronous USB – support data up to 24-bit/192kHz, and an RCA-phono input gives the option to connect an analogue source like a CD player or a turntable (when used with a suitable phono stage). In addition, those who enjoy the freedom of wireless connectivity can pair smartphones, tablets and computers via Bluetooth, with support for the sonically superior aptX codec.
The preamp section incorporates an ECC83 high-impedance triode, feeding an ECC82 twin triode driver and phase splitter stage. The output stage uses two EL84 pentodes per channel in push-pull configuration, delivering 2x15W.
External styling is classically Quad, finished in traditional ‘Lancaster Grey’. The amp’s front panel sports a smooth-acting volume control incorporating a motorised potentiometer, allowing adjustment via the supplied remote control, together with a headphone output and controls for input selection and Bluetooth pairing.
The Quad VA-One integrated valve amplifier is available from mid-August, priced at £1299.95 (RRP). It joins the similarly styled PA-One headphone amp in Quad’s expanding ‘One’ range of valve-based amplifiers with integrated DAC circuitry.
First Watt’s new F7 power amplifier (MSRP: $3,000) is a very unique power amplifier says the company’s press release that’s just landed at Hifi Pig. It’s a two-stage push-pull JFET (input)/MOSFET (output) topology with fewer parts than any First Watt amplifier to date. The new F7 has been created as an updated version of the earlier F5 amplifier. Conceived in 2007, the F5 was a push-pull Class A amplifier employing eight semiconductors and 23 resistors to achieve 25 watts output with good specifications and good sound.
According to Nelson Pass: “The F7 bests the earlier F5, comprising even better sound and even simpler circuitry.”
Like all First Watt designs, it is a relatively low power (25W/channel into 8-ohms) simple Class A circuit, designed with an unusually low parts count. It is the 19th product from First Watt, since its founding in 1998 as Nelson Pass’ “personal laboratory”.
Explaining First Watt, Nelson Pass says: “I spend a lot of time building and evaluating basic amplifier concepts with an eye toward producing the highest quality sound with elegantly simple circuits.
“There is no such thing as a perfect amplifier, but there is a best amplifier for each type of speaker, music, and listener. Each First Watt model is a unique design and is ‘best’ in some particular way. They look alike because they all use the same basic chassis and power transformer. On the up side, it makes it easy for me to test ideas and compare different designs with the hardware being a fixed constant.
“Looking for tomorrow’s faceplate with yesterday’s circuits? You’re in the wrong place.”
The desire for a simpler circuit is self-explanatory – apart from the aesthetic, Nelson Pass believes that that simpler circuits tend to sound better: “In such a simple circuit, there are opportunities for improving performance by careful choice of transistors, resistor values, voltage and current values and precise matching of parts.”
The F7 has most of what was on his Wish List:
Very wide bandwidth
Low distortion and noise
Large Class A operating region
No degeneration in the output stage
Very low thermal distortion and drift
No capacitors or transformers (apart from the power supply)
Uniquely, it incorporates a very innovative balance of very low Negative Voltage Feedback and a small amount of Positive Current Feedback to give an “astonishing measure of control over reactive loudspeaker” loads.
Modest amounts of Negative Feedback are balanced in counterpoint to a small amount of Positive Current Feedback, creating an equilibrium where the output impedance approaches zero, improving transient and frequency response. “Of course you can achieve a similar effect with tons of negative feedback, but I think this is more elegant and sounds better. For brevity, I call it ‘PCF’,” explains Pass.
“Also, I put more capacitance in the power supply and found a clever way to further reduce the effect of high frequency DAC noise and environmental RF. This is a different amplifier. The diversity of audio taste being what it is, not everyone will prefer it. I presume that a certain segment of audiophiles will like it.”
MSRP Price: $3,000
Dimensions: 17W x 15D x 5.5H
Weight: 30 lbs.
Warranty: Parts and labour for 3 years, not covering shipping costs or consequential damages.
The £3785 Naim Superuniti is an all in one box streamer, DAC and amplifier, but is it a Jack of all trades and master of none? John Scott finds out for Hifi Pig. More »
“The SI-300.2d integrated amplifier is yet another milestone as Cary Audio forges deeper into the new era of sought after premium audio systems” the North Carolina company says in its latest press release.
The SI-300.2d mates a 300 watts per channel stereo Class A/B power amplifier with analogue RCA and XLR inputs to a Class A analogue preamplifier gain stage. The amplifier itself is biased to run Class A for an extended portion of the power output. The digital section is a chip off Cary’s reference products thereby including technologies like their proprietary TruBit™ Upsampling and OSO™ reclocking features.
Digital inputs include; XMOS USB capable of True native DSD up to 256 and PCM/DXD up to 32 Bit / 384kHz, as well as Coaxial (2), Optical, AES/EBU, and aptX® Bluetooth inputs. All SPDIF and Bluetooth digital sources offer 10 TruBit™ selectable upsampling or PCM to DSD conversion options. On the analogue side, the SI-300.2d includes 4 analogue inputs (2-balanced XLR, 2-RCA), with one each of the XLR and RCA inputs offering true Cinema Bypass features.
Additional features include: a pre/subwoofer output, coaxial and optical digital outputs, IR hand held remote, trigger out, IR sensor input, and Ethernet and Wi-Fi for controlling the SI-300.2d with free iOS and Android apps.
Weight: 52 lbs.
Dimensions: 6″ H x 17.25″ W x 18 ” D
Retail Price: $5,995
The SI-300.2d is now shipping
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
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 »
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!
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.
Mitchell and Johnson’s trio of CD Player, Amplifier and Streamer cost a total of £947 which puts them very much in the budget category but can they satisfy sonically? Dominic Marsh finds out for Hifi Pig. More »
Introducing Billie, the stereo amplifier that combines the precision of digital with the warmth of analogue sound in a Nordic minimalist aesthetic. An objet d’art designed with attention to detail inside and out, Billie brings back the transcendent ritual of listening, say the company launching it on Kickstarter.
“Our goal is to go beyond soundbars and bluetooth speakers, back to how music was meant to be experienced.” says Itai Azerad, Heaven 11 cofounder and designer. “We believe that the stereo system is still the best way to experience that ‘live in the room’ feeling. We’re not about ‘multi-room’, we’re about ‘in the room’.”
“We designed something for the pragmatic audiophile because we couldn’t find it out there. We built an affordable high-caliber amp that plays all of your music collection – be it vinyl, Hi-Res digital, line or wireless.”
Combining the detailed soundstaging of digital to the round, analogue smoothness of tubes, Billie features ICEpower amplification by Bang & Olufsen (120W/4Ω), 32bit/384Kh DAC, AptX Bluetooth, RCA, vinyl and Toslink inputs. It comes with a custom-built tube preamp and a powerful headphone amp. The amp is to be manufactured in Montreal, Canada.
Moving away from the current trend of generic design and disposable materials, Billie’s shell is made of thick, machined aluminium. The cool minimalist casing details are balanced by warm, crafted hardwood knobs.
“Design is not just aesthetics, it’s how we use an object, what the object communicates to us and about us. I believe a stereo’s design ought to be closer to an electric guitar than a cable box -what most stereos look like these days. An electric guitar is quite a functional tool, -not too many useless knobs on there- but it’s also such an intimate object, there’s a mystery about it, you gotta feel a connection, you gotta want to touch it.”
Billie is to be launched on Kickstarter mid-July at the special price of $595 US. After the campaign, the price will be $895/$995 US.
Roksan Audio is adding the blak series of components to its portfolio. The blak series is being introduced as an entirely new design for Roksan – both in terms of sound performance and visual appeal. Featuring a robust, industrial design the blak series is the audiophile solution for those seeking “superlative performance and features within a ‘statement product’ aesthetic, but without the esoteric high-end audio price tag” say the London company’s recent press release.
Handmade in the UK and at a specialised facility in Germany, the range is initially launching with an integrated amplifier and a CD player. These will be followed over time a comprehensive range of products that will offer the same performance-for-cost ratio.
Like the K3 range before it, all blak products will be available in three finishes – Anthracite, Charcoal and Opium – and all will be supplied with a stylish and intuitive system remote.
blak Integrated Amplifier
The amplifier section of the blak Integrated Amplifier uses hand- selected audiophile components throughout its circuitry, including high- quality relays. The chosen transformers are also tuned to ensure the best sound quality and current power available. This sophisticated internal design allows the amplifier to deliver > 150W (8Ω) output.
The blak Integrated Amplifier boasts sufficient inputs to cater for almost any high-end audio system. Alongside three RCA pairs, there’s also a balanced XLR pair input for superior source devices. There’s also a Moving Magnet-compatible phono stage inside.
For ease of use, the blak Integrated Amplifier supports wireless music playback via its built-in aptX® Bluetooth module. This allows for up-to CD-quality wireless streaming from compatible laptops and smart devices. For more advanced digital media, the amplifier also boasts a USB (Type-B) digital input for playback from a computer or laptop. The DAC allows for playback of audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz (PCM) or DSD128, offering an exceptional high-resolution performance.
Finally, whereas many other products include headphone inputs as an “extra”, Roksan have gone one step further with blak. Here the headphone amplifier sits within its own dedicated section, with an independent power supply and toggle switch.
Operation of the blak Integrated Amplifier is effortlessly simple either via the supplied system remote or through the front panel. The large, clear to read (yet dimmable) LED display shows the selected input and the over-sized volume knob has a visual indicator around its circumference to indicate the volume level.
blak CD Player
Internally the blak CD Player uses a totally isolated disc mechanism to eliminate vibration. Once extracted from the disc, the digital signal is managed by a DAC chip-set for bit-perfect conversion and an advanced digital clock for optimal performance.
For connecting to an external DAC there are three digital outputs available (S/PDIF, Optical or AES/EBU), or for connecting straight to an amplifier – like the blak Integrated Amplifier – there’s the choice of either unbalanced RCA or balanced XLR outputs. Once connected, the whole player is controlled with the supplied system remote or via the front panel; additional handy information is displayed on the dimmable LED display during playback.
The blak CD Player is available now in Anthracite, Charcoal or Opium finish.
blak Integrated Amplifier
Inputs: 3 x RCA (pair)
1 x XLR (pair)
1 x MM Phono RCA (pair)
1 x aptX® Bluetooth (wireless) 1 x USB Type-B
Phono Stage: MM Input
Gain: 76.75dB @ 1kHz
Impedance: 47kΩ Capacitance: 150pF
Line-Level Input Impedance: 24kΩ (XLR) 40kΩ (RCA)
Gain (at 1kHz, 8Ω): 37dB
THD: (at 1W, 8Ω, 5kHz): <0.02%
THD: (at 12W, 8Ω, 5kHz): <0.035%
Power Output (at 1kHz): 150W (8Ω) 230W (4Ω)
Frequency Response (at -3dB, 8Ω, 12W): <20Hz – >80kHz Channel Balance (at 1kHz, 8Ω): Better than 0.3dB
Cross-Talk (at 1kHz, 8Ω): <-104dB
Signal-Noise Ratio (at 1kHz, 8Ω): >76dB
blak CD Player
Outputs: 3 x Digital (Coaxial, Optical, XLR) 2 x Analogue Pairs (RCA or XLR)
Peak Output: 2.5V
THD (at 1kHz, 0dB): <0.001%
Linearity at 1kHz: >89dB
Signal-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): >108dB
Stop-band rejection: >100dB
Audio Hungary are a relatively new name to Hifi Pig and we first met them at this year’s High End show in Munich where they had their wares on display. This, the Qualiton A20i, is their entry level integrated amplifier. It is very compact, runs 2 x 20 Watts of Class A power and is based on classic push-pull topology.
It arrived, with little help from DPD, in a sturdy double (and surprisingly heavy) boxing, with the amp inside being very well packed indeed. The first thing out the box was the remote…wow, that’s heavy and really rather beautiful! Off with the valve cover to expose the tubes and the gleaming chrome body-work and that’s it all unboxed. More »
More ramblings and incoherent musings from Stuart; this time he questions why we aren’t all listening to pro monitors and pro amplifiers and finishes off with a mixed case of reds for good measure. More »
Dominic Marsh and Ian Ringstead take the very well specced £699 Pro-Ject MaiA DS integrated amplifier for a ride and rather enjoy it. More »
Electrocompaniet have announced the EC1 6DX that incorporates and integrated amplifier along with a streamer and digital to analogue conversion.The built-in streamer is said to be flexible and easy to use. It can play directly from music services such as Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify, can be fed music through AirPlay or DLNA, and it can index and play from your own music collection stored in your network. The powerful hardware ensures that all popular formats are supported (including DSD) and that continuous software upgrades can support the latest and streaming services.
The streamer shares the same DNA as the ECM 2 and the new EC Living product line. This means that you can use the same apps and interface, and play all of the same music on all units. All units will work equally well together.
The ECI 6DX can be operated by their iOS & Android application, the universal webinterface, or with the straightforward IR remote control.
The converter will deal with 24bit /192kHz files, has SPDIF; 2 Toslink and a USB input. The streamer section has 802.11 Wifi with MIMO a 1Gigabit Ethernet and a USB for external storage. Supported formats are: WAV/WAVE, MP3, AAC+, Vorbis, AC3, DTS, ALAC, FLAC, APE, WMA, up to 192kHZ/24bit, DSD, up to DSD 128 (5.6 MHz)
|Input impedance ( Balanced input )||47Kohm|
|Maximum input level||10 Volt RMS|
|Noise floor ( 1Vrms, 20 – 20 kHz, balanced)||-135 dB|
|THD + N (1Vrms, 20 – 20 kHz, balanced)||<0.004%|
|Gain (Balanced)||0 dB|
|Output Impedance||< 0,02 Ohm|
|Frequency response||1 – 150 kHz|
|Channel separation||> 120 dB|
|THD ( 20 – 20 kHz)||< 0.004%|
|Maximum peak current||>100A|
|Damping factor 8 ohm load||>350|
|I Input sensitivity 120W output||1.3Vrms|
|Input sensitivity HT 120W output||1Vrms|
|Gain HT Input||x36 (31 dB)|
|Rated output power|
|8 ohms||2 x 125 W|
|4 ohms||2 x 200 W|
|2 ohms||2 x 370 W|
|Width||465 mm / 18.3 inches|
|Depth||405 mm / 16 inches|
|Height||128 mm / 5 inches|
|Weight||20Kg / 44 lbs.|
Dan Worth gets to grip with a little 50watts a side integrated amp from Serbia that costs just £600 in the UK. More »
Part four of Hifi Pig’s coverage of High End Munich 2016 featuring: Neodio, Audio Hungary, Bang And Olufsen, Terrastrato Typ 1 Standard, Estelon, Blumenhofer Acoustics and Cammino, Indiana Line, TW Acustic, Constellation and Martin Logan, TAD, D’Agostino, Wadia, Krell, Audio Research, Meridian, EAT, Sonus Faber More »
Cyrus ONE is a 100 watt per channel amp using the third generation of the company’s hybrid class D technology. It is packed full of features including a built-in phono stage, Bluetooth® streaming and a high quality headphone amplifier.
Swiss manufacturer Soulutions have been in touch to tell Hifi Pig about their new 511 amplifier that will start production in October 2016 and will cost 24500CHF (around £17000). The 511 has the same switched-mode power supply found on the company’s 7 series products and is optimised for audio use.
The 511 can be used in three distinct modes:
Stereo-mode (150W @8Ohms, 300W @4Ohms and 600W at 2Ohms)
The amplification circuit is similar to the 711 and 701 amps from Soulutions having at its core a proprietary voltage amplification stage that consists of linearized amplifiers operating up to a cutoff frequency of 80MHz. The Class A operation is supplemented by 500 000 µF of capacitance storage in the power supply
There are a total of 10 power supplies in the 511with those supplying audio and digital circuits being isolated from each other with optocouplers.
Boulder Amplifiers, based in Boulder Colorado have announced that with the completion of the HDMI input module, the full release and shipment of the 2120 D/A Converter. The original 2000 Series was in continuous and unchanged production since 1996. The replacement 2100 Series is Boulder’s “highest performing, continuously produced product line”.
International export prices will vary by country.
All electronic circuitry within the 2120 D/A Converter is entirely new and all technological changes were developed over a six-‐year period that included the engineering of a complete SoM (System on Module) host processor and dedicated video driver to support the front panel display.
Among the numerous features of the 2120 are:
- Standard traditional digital inputs: coaxial S/PDIF, balanced AES3, and Toslink (EIAJ) optical
- Both Standard (computer) and Slave (memory device) streaming USB connections accepted
- Optional HDMI inputs (2x Input, 1 x throughput)
- DLNA/UPnP via Ethernet for bit-‐perfect network streaming
- Multiple fully modular digital input options available to tailor the 2120 to the user’s system needs and prevent obsolescence
Digital Processing Features:
- Asynchronous digital streaming
- Digital audio file formats accepted: PCM, DSF (DSD 1x and DSD 2x), AIFF, ALAC (Apple Lossless), FLAC, WAV, MP3, OGG Vorbis
- Digital data rates accepted: 16-‐, 20-‐, 24-‐ and 32-‐bit word lengths at 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4,
192, 352.8 and 384 kHz.
- Digital volume control for direct connection to amplification, featuring an 80 dB range and 1.0 dB step resolution
- A balanced variation of Boulder’s Precise Interval Clock to substantially reduce noise in the clock circuit and maintain ultra-‐precise data timing at the DACs
- Boulder’s Eigen-‐algorithm digital filter for optimized frequency and phase response
- Three-‐output power supply (analog left channel, analogue right channel and digital), plus an independent supply for low power consumption standby modes
- Isolated left and right channel analog sections as in the 2110 Preamplifier
- Ten proprietary Boulder 99S gain stages per channel
- Dual balanced outputs for each channel
Operational and Chassis Features:
- Function control by multiple control points on Apple-‐ and Android-‐based tablets and mobile devices as well as iTunes
- Four separate chassis: left analog, right analog, user interface and power supply
- Separate power supply casework ensures optimal noise isolation
- Large, full-‐color, 12.3-‐inch (31.2 cm), 1280 x 480 LCD display
- Display provides complete metadata readout, selected input or customized source listing, progress bar, resolution and data rate
- Album art displayed when available
- Automatic software updating when attached to an active Internet connection
- Multiple Standby modes for quick start, standard and ultra-‐low power consumption
- Comprehensive setup and configuration modes
- IP control with two-‐way communication for integration with external control systems, such as Savant or Crestron
KR Audio, famous for manufacturing their very own tubes will be at this year’s Munich High End where they will have their VA 200 amp rated at 200 Watts and utilising the KR 842 vhd tube application.
Also on show at High end 2016 there will be their P-130 pre-amplifier with KR 05 tube application and the VA300i with KR 300B tube application.
As well as more traditional amplifiers, KR Audio will also have a headphone system showing a VA355i with Abyss with KR 100 tube application. The KR T-00 is, say KR Audio a superior 845 and the amplifier is also known as the ‘baby Kronzilla’.
The Grandinote Proemio Preamplifier and Silva amplifier have just arrived at Hifi Pig Towers for review, but by way of a bit of a preview we’ve taken lots of lovely photographs of the unboxing of this Italian pairing. Prices in the UK for the Proemio Preamplifier is £6500 and £7995 for the Silva Stereo Amplifier.
The amplifier is a 37 W Class A dual-mono and the preamplifier is also Class A dual-mono. The pairing weigh in at a not inconsiderable 55Kg.
Dominic Marsh takes this €840 package of amp, speakers and speaker cables from TAGA Harmony for a spin.
“The word to best describe the sound was “balanced” in that treble and bass were in equilibrium, midband was clean and clear, so it was no effort at all just to sit back and enjoy what I was hearing while the system was warming up.”
Dominic Marsh takes this €840 package of amp, speakers and speaker cables from TAGA Harmony for a spin. More »
The new KR VA 200 monoblocks with the KR 842vhd tube application from KR Audio will be presented at the Melia Hotel in Milan for the Milano Hi-End show, Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, 2016 in the Turchese room by Mr. Luigi Bocca of LAB Audio Technology Amministrazione as a world debut before the official presentation at the Munich Hi-End show next month, May 5-8, 2016 Halle 4, U08.
The VA200 is a circlotron with a Lundahl C-core output transformer. The driver stage is equipped with a depletion mode MOSFET transistors. The circuit is fully symmetrical with a differential input stage. The output tubes 8 x KR 842vhd per chassis) are fully auto-biased so no further adjustment is needed after replacement.
The new VA 200 monoblocks uses not only the KR hybrid circuit with the solid state first stage and the 8 x KR 842vhd tube application per chassis in the second stage, but is innovative for the design concept of the circlotron circuit or floating circuit giving the listener 200 watts.
Technical Data ( one channel )
Power Tubes: 8 x KR842
Output Stage: Circlotron, class A
Output Power: 200 WRMS (THD=1%)
Output Impedance: 4, 8 W
Frequency Response: 20Hz ¸40KHz (-3dB)
Global Feedback: zero
Input Sensitivity: 1VRMS / 100kW @ 200W
Power requirements: 230/115VAC , 50/60 Hz
Power consumption: 1kVA
Operating temperature: 5C° to 40C°
Weight: Approx. 40Kg
Dimensions including projecting parts and controls (w/h/d): Approx. 38.5 x 28 x 55 cm
PMC announces the introduction of the Bryston Cubed Series amplifiers to the UK, replacing the Squared Series that made its debut in 2009 and bringing significant performance improvements.
The Cubed Series is a statement design platform ideal for music enthusiasts, home theatre installations and professional audio applications says the company’s latest press release. The new line-up will roll out in phases, with the 300 watt stereo 4B³ and 600 watt mono 7B³ the first to be introduced to the UK market. Both models feature balance and unbalanced inputs, selectable gain at 23dB or 29dB and convection cooling with no fans or moving parts. The 4B³ is also bridgeable to create a 900 watt mono amplifier.
“Cutting edge engineering achievements” are at the forefront of the new designs, featuring a patented super-linear, low noise input buffer that has added to the “remarkable improvements in transparency and overall musical enjoyment”.
The Cubed Series also features a more robust RF and audio frequency noise filtering circuit positioned before the power supplies. The effect of this new design is to prevent unwanted anomalies on the power line from interfering, even minutely, with the audio signal.
The technological advances perfected by Bryston’s engineers result in some remarkable audio advantages, including an expanded spaciousness and depth of focus, improved mid-bass clarity and more air and openness in the high-frequencies.
Aesthetically the Cubed Series demonstrates a progression in Bryston’s industrial design, with the new amplifiers featuring an redesigned milled aluminium front panel. Standard finish for the range is black, with silver available to order.
As with all Bryston analogue products the entire Cubed Series range comes with the company’s enviable 20-year warranty.
UK Retail Prices (inc. VAT)
Bryston 4B³ power amplifier £5,299
Bryston 7B³ power amplifier £5,449
PMC Unveils the Bryston’s Cubed power amplifier line-up at Sound & Vision at The Bristol Show Sound & Vision 2016 in SS Great Britain 2&3