Photographs from the Shanghai International High-end Hi-Fi Show 2012. Click on the images to enlarge.

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Nielsen Holdings N.V. is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement. They have recently published the Nielsen “Music 360” report which offers comprehensive insights on all aspects of music interaction. Data for “Music 360” was collected via 3,000 online consumer surveys using Nielsen’s proprietary, high-quality ePanel in the United States.

Radio is still the dominant way people discover music (48%) – followed by tips from friends/relatives (10%), and YouTube (7%), but more teens listen to music through YouTube than through any other source (64%) — followed by radio (56%) and iTunes (53% ) and CDs (50%) .

“The accessibility of music has seen tremendous expansion and diversification,” said David Bakula, SVP Client Development, Nielsen. “While younger listeners opt for technologically advanced methods, traditional methods of discovery like radio and word-of-mouth continue to be strong drivers.  With so many ways to purchase, consume and discover great new music, it’s no wonder that the consumer continues to access and enjoy music in greater numbers.”

The following is a small sampling of insights included in the Music 360 report:

Radio is still the dominant way people discover music

  • 48% discover music most often through the radio
  • 10% discover music most often through friends/relatives
  • 7% discover music most often through YouTube

More teens listen to music through YouTube than through any other source

  • 64% of teens listen to music through YouTube
  • 56% of teens listen to music on the radio
  • 53% of teens listen to music through iTunes
  • 50% of teens listen to music on CD

Positive recommendations from a friend are most likely to influence purchase decisions

  • 54% are more likely to make a purchase based off a positive recommendation from a friend
  • 25% are more likely to make a purchase based off a music blog/chat rooms
  • 12% are more likely to make a purchase based off an endorsement from a brand
  • 8% of all respondents share music on social networking sites, while 6% upload music.

Music player apps are most prevalent, followed by radio and music store apps

  • 54% have music player apps on their smartphones
  • 47% have radio apps on their smartphones
  • 26% have music store apps on their smartphones

Males purchase rock music most often, while females prefer top 40

  • 38% of males purchase rock most often
  • 15% of females (compared to 9% of males) purchase top 40 most often

Digital music is seen as a slightly better value than a physical CD

  • 63% of purchasers identified digital albums as a very or fairly good value
  • 61% identified digital tracks as a very or fairly good value
  • 55% identified physical CDs as a very or fairly good value

Younger consumers who do buy digital tracks, are more likely to purchase new music immediately after its release

  • 33% of teens purchased a digital track within one week of release
  • 21% of persons 18+ purchased a digital track within one week of release

36% of teens have bought a CD in the last year; 51% of teens have purchased some kind of music download

18-24 year olds are most likely to attend a music event (among those who attend any type of live event)

  • 7% attending once a week or more
  • 30% attending once a month

Although 18-24 year olds attend more live events, teens are more likely to purchase T-shirts and posters while there.

  • 54% (compared to 46% of 18-24 year olds) of teen attendees purchase concert tees
  • 14% (compared to 7% of 18-24 year olds) of teen attendees purchase concert posters

Listeners enjoy hearing movie soundtracks over music related TV shows or video games

  • 42% enjoy hearing music via music related TV show
  • 59% enjoy hearing music via movie soundtracks
  • 28% enjoy hearing music via music related video games

Older consumers have decreased their spending the most during the current economy

  • 41% of respondents 55+ reduced their spending to a large degree
  • 39% of respondents 45-54 reduced their spending to a large degree



Cary Audio will have a major presence at CEDIA EXPO 2012 at the Indianapolis Convention Centre, from September 5-8. They will have their own booth in space 1321, where they will focus on their Cinema Series components and their new HH-1 headphone amplifier. They will also have a display of the newly reintroduced Audio Electronics by Cary Audio line of more affordable high-end equipment.

Kit on display will include the Cinema 12 surround preamplifier-processor, the Model 7.125 power amplifier and the SA-200.2 stereo power amplifier. They will also introduce their brand new HH-1 hybrid headphone amplifier, featuring a tube front end coupled to a single-ended MOSFET current sourced output stage. This headphone amplifier will be active with AKG K 702 reference headphones.

The Audio Electronics by Cary Audio display will contain the Nighthawk headphone amplifier and will premiere the Constellation tube preamplifier and the Hercules stereo tube power amplifier.

Totem Acoustic will also have Cary Audio electronics running their speakers in booth 5325


Not everyone needs an integrated amplifier and not everyone has the room for monoblocks. The ST60P from Icon Audio is the company’s first stereo power amplifier and has no selector, no volume control and the input socket is directly connected to the grid of the first valve.

It has a big power supply, big output transformers, and uses the new KT120 valve.
The new KT120 has 50% more power than the KT88 tube.

The Ultra Linear/Triode switch on the amp allows switching from 80 watts to 40 watts of triode sound.

A built in bias meter simplifies keeping biasing.

Specifications and Features

Built in “Easy Bias” Meter
Hand wired point to point
Class A, Triode front end
Output circuit Ultralinear or Triode switchable
4x KT120
KT88/6550 compatible
2x 6SL7 first stage valves
2x 6SN7 output driver valves
Valve Voltage regulator
Valve warm up, protection circuit
80w RMS* per ch Ultralinear 8Ω KT120
65w RMS* per ch Ultralinear 8Ω KT88
35w RMS* per ch Triode mode 8Ω KT120
Typical gain 70 (High) 20 (Low sensitivity)
Signal to noise level better than -97db
One line level inputs
Tape monitor circuit
44W, 40D, 23H, 35kg


It’s not very often we carry news of in-car hifi but thought this was interesting.

Land Rover and Meridian have announced their collaboration to design two powerful and unique in-car audio systems for the new Freelander 2. Land Rover has given the Freelander 2 a premium overhaul with new colours, new exterior design features, upgraded equipment levels and the new lightweight and efficient petrol engine. T

The Meridian Sound System is a 380 watt, 12-channel stereophonic system featuring 11 loudspeakers, including a dual-channel subwoofer.

The Meridian Surround Sound System is an 825 watt, 16-channel stereo/surround system featuring 17 loudspeakers, including a dual-channel subwoofer.

Both systems employ the latest Digital Signal Processing technologies (DSP) to deliver distortion-free sound, tailored to cabin acoustics using Meridian Cabin Correction. Digital Dither Shaping is also utilised by both systems.
The inclusion of Dynamic Volume Control aids performance by monitoring extraneous noise levels within the cabin and maintaining a constant volume in order for it to be perfectly heard whatever the circumstances.

In addition, the Meridian Surround Sound System features Trifield technology.


California based Channel Island Audio have announced that they have been selected to to design and custom build the amplifiers for Von Schweikert Audio’s flagship VR-11 MK 2 and VR-9 MK 2 loudspeakers.

The VR‑11 loudspeaker will make its debut appearance at the MOD DAC 2012 Show in the Raffles City Convention Centre in Singapore on August 25th and 26th.




Trinnov Audio unveils its first home theatre processor with 32 individual channels. Trinnov Magnitude 32 features Trinnov Optimizer technology, providing digital room correction and unique Image Remapping that adapts the original media soundscape to the actual loudspeaker placements. Magnitude 32 handles any home theatre project from “classic” 7.1 to installations with multiple subwoofers, individually driven surrounds and multi-amplified speakers.

Key Features

  • Analog output: 8 channels (XLR) expendable to 12, 16, 24 or 32 channels (Sub-D25)
  • Analog inputs: 8 channels (XLR) expendable to 12 or 16 channels (Sub-D25)
  • High performance audio: 64-bit floating point processing and 119dBA AD/DA converters.
  • Trinnov Optimizer Algorithm with:
    • Multi-point measurement of all loudspeakers,
    • Time-frequency analysis: the loudspeakers and the room are separately equalized
    • Automatic optimization of the amplitude and phase response according to Target Curves
    • Intelligent active crossovers: automatic alignment of delays and gains for every driver
    • Image Remapping to adapt the original media soundscape to the actual loudspeaker layout.
  • Easy and accurate setup with comprehensive graphs and fine tuning tools.
  • Control via Ethernet network, RS-232, KVM, smartphone/tablet or optional IR module.


Austrian manufacturer Pro-Ject Audio have announced that they have received “Best Product 2012 – 2013 ‘Turntable’” EISA award for their Debut Carbon turntable.

The Debut Carbon combines traditional technologies with modern materials and modern design at a low price.

It is available in different colours and various equipment levels from € 299.00. The USB Phono version is equipped with a phono-stage with USB port, which allows the digitalisation of vinyl directly on a computer.

Pro-Ject Audio Systems was founded by Heinz Lichtenegger 1990 in Vienna, with the idea that analogue playback is the most cost-effective way to listen to music of audiophile quality. Their products are exported in close to 80 countries worldwide and produce more than 15 different models.

Technical Spec’ for the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

  • 8.6″ one-piece carbon fibre tonearm.
  • Sorbothane-damped counterweight.
  • Two isolation ‘feet’ made from sorbothane, used to decouple the motor from the plinth.
  • 12″ platter.
  • Junction box installed, allowing for the easy upgrade of turntable interconnects.
  • New power supply.
  • Ortofon 2m Red pre-installed.


Reference Fidelity Components, the UK cable manufacturer that is rapidly gaining something of a reputation for quality interconnects and loudspeaker cables and who has just received a 5 star review in the UK hi-fi press, has announced the re-launch of two of their products in the company’s reference range of interconnects.

The Reference Pluto interconnect uses Furutech Alpha conductor which the company claims maintains detail and upper frequency performance. Eichmanns’ highly regarded Tellurium Copper Bullets are used for the connectors and RFC claim these are the very best plugs available at this price point. A one metre pair will cost you £99.50.

The all new Reference Mercury from the company maintains the same level of detail in its construction as all the cables in the company’s range but uses Furutech Hyper-balanced cable for the conductor and Eichmanns’ Silver Bullet plugs offering very low impedence, lower noise floor and better detail than standard RCAs . The cable is available at £165 per metre.

Hifi Pig hopes to carry a review of the cables very soon.



It has been formally announced that KEF’s LS50 loudspeaker, the company’s flagship 50th anniversary mini monitor, has been honoured with the prestigious European Loudspeaker of the Year Award at the 2012-2013 EISA Awards.

EISA stands for the European Imaging and Sound Association, and has been holding its annual Awards for more than 30 years. EISA is the unique association of 50 special interest magazines in audio, home theatre, in-car electronics, photo and video, from 20 European countries.

The Awards will be presented during an official event, attended by the Editors-in-Chief of EISA’s member magazines, and to which senior representatives of all winning companies will be officially invited. The occasion will be held to coincide with IFA in Berlin and at the Awards ceremony the official representative of every winning company will receive a trophy and Awards certificate.


Meridian Audio has announced that its Media Core 200 Digital Media System now offers extra storage capacity and improved audio performance. In combination with Meridian’s Core Control App for iPad the Media Core 200 forms a complete, digital media system with sufficient capacity to store entire music collections.

Media Core 200 is a compact and virtually silent system that requires only the user’s choice of controller to perform. It can be operated by any of the network-based control systems available, including Meridian’s Core Control App for the iPad or iPhone, a computer running the Control PC or Control Mac application, or a Meridian controller such as the Control 15.

At the heart of the Media Core 200 is a new 1TB hard drive (increased from 500GB), storing around 2,000 CD albums in lossless quality for graphical and touch-screen access via the award-winning Meridian interface.

UK Price is £2000.


dCS, the British digital audio component manufacturer, has announced the Vivaldi digital playback system. Vivaldi is a four box digital system which represents the “pinnacle of their ‘no compromise’ approach to product design” and which the company claims sets a new standard for the future of digital audio playback.

Comprising separate Digital to Digital Upsampler, CD/SACD Transport, DAC and Master Clock, the Vivaldi is a “radical redesign and major enhancement of the dCS architecture”. It can be used a four box system or as a combination using one or more of the individual components.

Vivaldi has been designed to play music from any source and can process all high-res musical formats up to DXD plus DSD.

Over the coming months the system will be premiered at the following events:

China – Elegant Music Garden, Guangzhou, August 17-18 2012

United States – Ears Nova, NYC, September 16-17 2012

United Kingdom – National Audio Show, September 22-23 2012

Japan – Tokyo International Audio Show, November 2-4 2012


Naim launches their new flagship loudspeaker today at the Hong Kong High-End Audio Visual Show. The Ovator S-800 will join the S-600 and the s-400 in the range. The S-800 is said to draw on five years of research into the company’s “Balanced Mode Radiator” (BMR) and introduces a specially developed flat panel bass driver which is said to be more consistent with the BMR.

Two 28cm flat panel drivers and and 82mm BMR in a 40litre enclosure will be used on the new loudspeaker. The speaker will go down to 20Hz

The Ovator S-800 will be available in active configuration from December this year.



Roksan have recently launched the Oxygene series of hifi components which the company claims to be totally unique amongst top-end audio. The Oxygene series is being heralded as a truly breakthrough product by Roksan.

The Oxygene range boasts “understated and elegant aesthetics” matched with “simplistic user-friendliness to result in a unique and striking design”. Cast aluminium and very high quality screen printing are creatively used to create a solid and attractive looking chassis which has been designed to blend in with its surroundings yet be “striking and headturning”

The Oxygene range employs touch-sensor operation technology and adorned on the top of each chassis is the logo ‘Less is More’. Touch the word ‘Less’ or ‘More’ on the amplifier and the volume increases or decreases with the relevant word. On the CD player the ‘Less ‘and “’More’ words skip the tracks either forwards or backward.

Whilst the design ethos is simple and elegant there is a plethora of top-spec technology used to make the operational process as easy and enjoyable as possible. As well as traditional stereo inputs, the Oxygene integrated amplifier has built-in Bluetooth receiver technology. This means that you can wirelessly connect any device that holds music and has Bluetooth technology, including iPhones, iPads, smartphones, tablets and computers.  Connection is very flexible and one quote in the press release stands out as being truly innovative – “Imagine you’re at a party where everybody wants to be the DJ. No problem – the world is your oyster! The Oxygene amplifier’s sixteen Bluetooth channels can link as many devices as possible. The first fifteen being individual devices, with the sixteenth being infinite.” Cool!

Hifi Pig will review the Oxygene series of components as soon as they become available.


RJC Audio is a new manufacturer based in the North West of England and whose tagline declares “Designed in the UK…Crafted in Cumbria” – Hifi Pig likes this.

The philosophy behind company’s launch product is taken directly from a quote by Bertrand Russel – “It is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live” and is brought to life by  the Hush Isolation Platform.

RJC Audio argue that having invested not inconsiderable sums on our audio playback systems we need to isolate them from the obstacles such as footfall and other extraneous vibrations so commonplace in the modern home environment.

Hush Isolation Platforms from RJC Audio are designed to support turntables and other vibration-sensitive equipment such as CD Players. RJC Audio claim that by effectively isolating our hifi from external vibrations our equipment is able to work to its highest capability and reproduce the recorded material as intended.

Hush Isolation Platforms are available in models suitable for non-suspended turntables and other equipment with a weight from 6Kg to 17Kg, but for equipment greater than 18Kg RJC Audio also offer custom made Hush Isolation Platforms.

The platforms are priced at between £455 and £525 with an introductory offer available that will save you £75 and the custom units are priced on application.

Hifi Pig will review one of the platforms from RJC Audio very soon.


The HH-1 headphone amplifier from Cary Audio is a hybrid design featuring a valve input stage feeding a single-ended MOSFET output stage.  The HH-1 operates in class A mode at all levels and Cary say MOSFETs were chosen as they have sonic characteristics very similar to valves.The Cary HH-1 features a pair of RCA input jacks and a loop-through output pair making it simple to plumb into your existing set up.

Only two stages of amplification are used in the HH-1 for the shortest possible signal path and It is designed to drive headphones with an impedance between 30 and 600 ohms. The 30-second muting circuit prevents any annoying pops and clicks when turning on the HH-1 headphone amplifier, and ensures that the amplifier is fully stabilised before listening.


California based NuForce have introduced a direct-digital integrated amplifier that they claim marks a new juncture in digital sound. The new design converts the digital audio signal into analogue form at the last possible stage—the PWM amplifier output. “The DDA-100’s  low distortion and noise floor remain in the digital domain from beginning to end, to give a wide dynamic range.”

The DDA-100 doesn’t require a DAC stage, rather, its PWM power amplifier stage is modulated directly by the incoming signal, and the digital-to-analogue conversion takes place at the speaker outputs. In effect, the PWM power amplifier stage operates as a power DAC.

It accepts four digital sources via one USB and with the included remote control, you can control inputs and volume from  your listening chair.

The DDA-100 will drive your loudspeakers via a robust 75-Watt RMS and 250-watt peak capability per channel for “superb dynamics and transparency.”

The NuForce DDA-100 is available worldwide for a suggested retail price of US $549.00 and will be shipping Aug 1, 2012.