Tom takes a listen to the AMI Musik DDH-1 DAC and headphone amplifier for his review for Hifi Pig. DDH-1-05_300

“The DDH-1 sells at $549 – about £340 before shipping and taxes (currently only direct from the manufacturer but local distribution deals is in the offing). This sub £500 area is a highly competitive sector in the UK and includes DACs with quite a following such as the Arcam rDAC and the Rega DAC. Double that budget you get to the M2-Tech Young and other avowedly ‘cutting edge DACs that push the envelope technologically – though to be honest some of the super-advanced DACs have left me cold in terms of the emption of musical reproduction, for all their technical prowess.”

Read the full review of the AMI Musik DDH-1 DAC and headphone amplifier.


Sponsorship button

QED has announced the introduction of their ‘uPlay Stream’ wireless streaming station which is available now for QED_UPlay_Stream£149.

Talking about the new product, Jack Fox, QED’s Brand Manager stated:

“We believe the new uPlay Stream ‘moves the goalposts’. For the first time, users can experience genuine Hi-Fi sound quality from a product that is extremely easy to set up and use, and a fraction of the cost of its competitors.”

“It enables people to access all the high quality music they’ve stored electronically on their computer, tablet, smartphone or network storage, and enjoy it streamed wirelessly through their existing audio or home cinema system.”

Asked to expand on his claim that the uPlay Stream is a ‘breakthrough’ product, Jack Fox said: “QED’s design team has literally ‘thought outside the box’. Conventional hi-fi network streamers are large and have beautifully finished casework, knobs, buttons and exotic displays – all of which are very expensive and, more importantly, completely unnecessary in today’s ‘Smartphone’ age.”

The uPlay Stream boasts a ‘Wolfson’ DAC (compatible with files up to 24-bit/96kHz). It plugs into any available line level input of a hi-fi, audio system, soundbar, television, speaker dock or home cinema system. The uPlay Stream is DLNA and UPnP compatible and supports MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, FLAC and Apple Lossless audio formats.

Up to eight uPlay Streams can be used together to create a multiroom system, in up to eight separate rooms.

Sponsorship button

QNKTC was founded by Børge Strand-Bergesen, who is an expert on electronics filter design, circuit board layout and design for manufacturing. He believes the circuit board design contributes greatly to the sound quality of the DAC. Critical analogue signals are kept on short tracks and away from the digital section. The board design has an obsessive focus on controlled return currents and builds on Strand-Bergesen’s experience with radio frequency and analogue ASIC layout.  More »

Building on the success of their first-generation range of home cinema separates, Anthem (from Canada) has  Anthem MRX710_Front-medunveiled its next generation of their AVR range: the MRX 710 (Pictured), MRX 510 and MRX 310.

Remote control apps for Android and iOS (Apple) devices, improved ease of integration, a new version of the company’s proprietary Anthem Room Correction (ARC 1M) system and drivers for popular control systems are some of the improvements Anthem have made.

The new models come with more HDMI inputs, dual HDMI outputs, faster HDMI switching, more robust control (IP and RS-232 control drivers for full integration with automation), software updates via the USB port, larger, easier-to-read on-screen menus and improved status displays.

The MRX 710 and MRX 510 will be available in autumn 2013, while the MRX 310 is due out early 2014. Prices: MRX 710 £2,199/ MRX 510 £1,699/ MRX 310 £1,199.

MRX 710 and 510 feature seven channels of power whilst MRX 310 is a five-channel unit. Output power is as follows:

MRX 710 120W (2 channels driven), 90W (5 channels driven)


MRX 510 100W (2 channels driven), 75W (5 channels driven)

MRX 310 80W (2 channels driven), 60W (5 channels driven)


Sponsorship button


Enter the new X1 from Alpha Design Labs (ADL), a division of Tokyo-based brand Furutech. The X1 is a X1 redsmall, discrete and high-spec’ portable headphone amplifier and digital to analogue convertor (DAC). It supports digital input from Apple iOS devices up to 16-bit/48kHz as well as 24-bit/192kHz high-resolution files from PC via USB. In addition, 4-pin 3.5mm line-level input allows for use with analogue source devices.

T   The 4-pin 3.5mm output will drive any headphones in the 12~600 ohm range and supports 3.5mm remote and mic earphones. A switch makes it easy to change from one brand of 4-pin headphone to another. A 3.5mm TOSLINK optical digital output delivers USB source signal up to 24/192. Does not draw power from connected iOS device’s battery. 

     Available now at £395

Sponsorship button



Photographs taken at The Hifi SHow 2013 in Windsor. Photography by Mike Blackmore More »

Auden Distribution has announced the availability of the LUMIN audiophile network music player to UK retailers. Lumin-front-on-grey

LUMIN, from Pixel Magic Systems, is billed as a high-end network music player that supports the widest range of audio formats available, including native DSD and lossless recordings up to 384kHz/32bit studio masters. In lossless playback the player supports FLAC, ALAC, WAV and AIFF codecs along with all of the common compressed audio formats.. 

A wide range of output options include fully balanced XLR, RCA, SPDIF and HDMI. The latter can output 2.8MHz/1bit SACD files. The player also benefits from an outboard power supply housed in matching machined aluminium casework. 

Developed in tandem with the hardware, the LUMIN software platform and app-based remote control is sumptuous to look at yet dramatically speeds the music browsing and selection experience.

The suggested retail price is £4995.

Sponsorship button

The Tuning Stick from Akiko comes in a variety of different models including the RCA, the AC and the ts XLRUniversal. They have now introduced the XLR Tuning Stick which plugs into a free XLR input, with the wiring in the plugcoming solely into contact with the grounding of the device.

The contents of a Tuning Stick are said to cause a “cleansing of the grounding near your hifi equipment”.

“We are pleasantly surprised by the incredible success of the Tuning Stick” says co-owner Marc van Berlo, who, together with his son Sander, is involved full time in the running of their Dutch company: Akiko Audio.

Sponsorship button


Custom Cable, UK based reseller of headphones, cables and accessories, is launching the Resonessence Herus Herus_2personal headphone DAC. 

Small on form factor, at just 63mm long, 32mm wide and 19mm high, the Herus has Asynchronous USB Audio 2.0, DXD and DSD capabilities.

Designed and manufactured by Resonessence in Canada, Herus is crafted from a solid block of aluminium and has just two connections: a USB type ‘B’ socket at one end and a 6.35mm (1/4”) stereo headphone jack at the other end.

The latest high bit rate file formats are catered for, with PCM audio of up to 24bits and 352.8 kbps in addition to DXD and DSD64/128, ensuring compatibility with your preferred file format.

On connection to the computer, Herus will register itself as being able to control the volume internally, with the playback software sending control commands to the ESS 9010-2M DAC chip.

Phil Wannell, sales manager at Custom Cable, says, “The £299 Herus is the smallest of the Resonessence DAC products, but it has lost none of the high quality engineering that makes the range so sought after by users of computer based music systems.” He continues, “We are sure that its introduction is going to redefine the category, with Herus proving to be the lord and master of compact headphone DACs.”

Sponsorship button

Kaito (Hiroshi Watanabe) hasn’t released a full length album since his “That Was the Way” and that was three years ago and so it was with a good deal of anticipation that I received his latest effort “ Until the End of Time” on the Kompakt label.

It kicks off with the massively uplifting “Sky Is the Limit”, a fabulous piece of floor friendly dance music with that 3am arms in the air loved up vibe that is just perfect. It’s nagging, it’s insistent, it’s dreamy, it’s beautiful and it’s right up my street with regards to techno dance music. “Until the End of Time” sets the scene for what has to be one of my favourite albums so far this year. More »

The Longdog Audio VDt1 DAC is a £3650 Digital to Analogue Converter that has been designed by well known valve MP_54921_300guru Nick Goreham and so expectations were high when Hifi Pig reviewer Jerry plugged it into his system for a proper evaluation.

Three regulated power supplies are provided;- for the digital board main supply, the output stage valve heater supply, and a valve-regulated high voltage supply using MOSFETs and an EF86 pentode valve.

Digital processing is handled by an Asahi Kasei AK4396 DAC chip, chosen by Nick Gorham as the best sounding device for the application.”

Read the full review of the Longdog Audio VDt1 Digtal to Analogue Converter.


Sponsorship button

The Concept 20 loudspeaker from Q Acoustics is a smallish standmount speaker which comes with its own very attractiveQA2625-Concept20_White_300 support stand. It’s been getting rave reviews from all over the place and so we thought it about time that we had a listen to see if the praise they were receiving was justified.

“One of the more interesting things we read about with the Concept 20s was the use of something Q Acoustics’ call Gelcore, which essentially incorporates a cabinet within a cabinet, where the inner and outer “cabinets” are bonded with a special glue type material that never really “sets” – hence the gel name I presume.”

Read the full review of the Q Acoustics Concept 20 Loudspeaker.


Sponsorship button


Everyone loves a freebie and we were really please to hear that Computer Audio Design (CAD), manufacturer of the CAD's Scott Berry & Isabel Whitley at Bath Audiofest 2013crop - 2CAD 1543 USB DAC, has created a number of free system set-up and optimisation guides, which are now available to download from their website. 

With computer audio destined to be the dominant source of high-quality music in the home, Computer Audio Design’s (Manufacturer of the CAD 1543 USB DAC) Proprietor and Chief Engineer Scott Berry (pictured here at the Bath Audiodest) has applied his knowledge of computer audio set-up and system optimisation, to create a series of free guides for anybody wishing to get the best sound from their Windows PC.

The guides were conceived during the exhaustive research and development phase of the 1543 DAC, where a comprehensive range of media playback packages, drives and even operating systems, were tested over a period of many months to find the best-sounding partnering equipment and software.

The PDF guides, which contain a wealth of free information, have now been uploaded to the CAD website and are accessible to anyone looking to optimise their PC’s sound quality. The guides contain recommendations on media playback software and optimisation, file formats and CD ripping, plus step-by-step information to help configure Windows systems for optimum playback performance.

Sponsorship button

McIntosh Laboratory has introduced the latest version of its free AP1 Audio Player app and very cool looking it is too formc a freebie. Version 1.5 can be downloaded from the Apple Store, allowing iTunes® to be run with the classic look and feel of a full sized McIntosh component.

Featuring the ‘McIntosh Blue’ watt meters the AP1 app gives users access to their audio library through a simple interface, inspired by the iconic power meters that are globally recognised as a symbol of the McIntosh brand.

The latest version now includes AirPlay® technology, enabling users to wirelessly stream their music to an AirPlay®-compatible speaker system. Also included, is a mini product catalogue, a history of McIntosh, plus a dealer locator (US only).


Sponsorship button

Commencing on the 1st November, Hi-fi and Custom Installation specialists Music Matters will be hosting a month long Music_matter_festseries of events based in their Midlands branches and London store showcasing a series of events for customers old and new – The Hi-Fi Festival!

“We’re delighted to be hosting this four week Hi-Fi Festival as its something we have wanted to do for quite some time. Many of our customers have enjoyed the events we have recently run both in our stores and at the wonderful Shakespeare Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. A festival event of this type, covering a wide range of topics will appeal to our loyal customer base and win us some new friends’ said company co-founder Rod Ardern.

Sponsorship button

Aries Cerat got in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us all about the concept behind their latest preamplifier, the Incito.Incitofront

The Incito preamp comes about from the desire for Aries Cerat to find a high performance preamplifier that matched their latest tube amplifiers whilst keeping costs and size to manageable levels. The Incito has been developed for some time they say, but on l now ready to be launched to consumers.

Aries Cerat’s spokesman said they had a philosophy taken from Einstein to “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler” and so the Inito was born.

The heart of the Incito preamplifier is a zero feedback power gain stage, which consists of a transformer-coupled super-triode, using the ultra high trans-conductance  E280F made by Siemens and this is loaded with a step down transformer.

The power supply is built around the 5AR4 rectifier, with separate double pi filtering  for each channel, using oversized chokes, and high speed capacitors, along with an ultra low noise adjustable bias supply and doubled filtered heaters supplies.   

A high quality discrete relay-latched-resistor attenuator is used and true balanced outputs are standard but all inputs are custom configurable.


Sponsorship button

“Hey there sugar with your eyes so blue, ridin’ around in your red HQ!”.  Haha, those lyrics… they warm the cockles of my rural Aussie heart!

After releasing a couple of well received EPs, the four Findlay siblings and best known band from the tiny rural town of Darraweit Guim if you can believe it, have finally launched their debut album. More »

Grace Slick’s “Dreams” was originally released on the RCA label in 1980 and here it rears its head again on Morello Records. Now, cards laid on the table I like Grace Slick a lot – who couldn’t fail to love someone who when invited, mistakenly, to the Whitehouse planned to spike then President Nixon with acid, or who when asked in more recently what her regrets were responded “Never having sex with Jimi Hendrix”. More »

AKG have announced its new K812 reference headphones  – a completely new open-back design.K812PRO

The K812 offers an oversized 53mm drivers and copper-covered aluminium voice coils partnered with adjustable headband and extremely soft ear pads which AKG say will ensure comfort in any application, for extended periods of time.

“The AKG K812’s are not only our newest reference headphones, but they are the very pinnacle of technological innovation to which we’ve aspired in our 65 years of innovation,” stated Kent Iverson, Director of Marketing and Product Development, AKG.  “K812 is the result of an intensive 5-year research and development program to achieve, as near as possible, the perfect headphone. The level of technology and engineering invested in K812 exceeds the industry standard, resulting in truly the best sounding headphones AKG has ever released.”

Sponsorship button

Bath Audiofest was launched just four years ago and in that time has grown to become one of the highlights of the high-end audio industry’s calendar. The show is staged annually in October and is organized by high-end audio specialist Cool Gales, as an opportunity for customers to meet the select group of manufacturers they represents. More »

Seasoned readers of the Album review section of Hifi Pig will already be aware that you have a bit of a space-case fanboy of the undisputed kings of the spacerock genre in the form of yours truly and so it was with a good deal of excitement that I went and collected the latest release from Mr Brock and his boys from the mail box.

Essentially the “Spacehawks” album is a run through a few remixes of recent tunes and reworking of well trodden tracks and is released on the Eastworld label and kindly sent by Daz at Plastic Head Distribution. More »