To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chord Electronics’ DAC 64, the company will be launching something very CHORD_Hugo Top V4 Circ Ant SPOTLIGHTspecial at CES 2014. Based on their FPGA DAC technology the company will be introducing a reference-level.

Called the new device offers “studio-master-tape sound quality, advanced connectivity and uncompromising file playback capability, all from a palm-sized player”. Hugo is a headphone amp/DAC, offering five digital inputs including A2DP aptX Bluetooth, plus 384kHz PCM and DSD 128 playback.

The new Hugo, which can be used as both a portable headphone amp/DAC as well as a source component in a static system.

Hugo benefits from two advanced USB inputs: one driverless input for legacy USB devices and one asynchronous high- definition USB port for operation up to 384kHz plus coaxial and optical digital inputs.  

Hugo has a built-in battery-charging circuit, with a full charge reached in approximately two hours. Hugo takes no power over its USB input and only takes signal data, therefore, it is fully compatible with all iPhone, iPad and Android devices. 

Price will be £1200


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Following the introduction in October of two Tuned ARAY Ethernet cables, Indigo Tuned ARAY Ethernet and normalEthernet Sarum Tuned ARAY Ethernet, The Chord Company has further extended the implementation of its proprietary cable-tuning technology into its digital portfolio with three new cables joining the Tuned ARAY family: Anthem Digital Tuned ARAY; Signature Digital Tuned ARAY and Chord Indigo Digital Tuned ARAY. 

Anthem Digital Tuned ARAY (£220 1m)

Anthem Digital Tuned ARAY is a completely new digital interconnect intended as an affordable introduction to Tuned ARAY technology.  

The Chord Company Anthem Digital Tuned ARAY is built from a design which uses solid-core silver-plated signal conductors with PTFE insulation and is shielded with a combination of foil and high-density braid; the shields are then protected with a PTFE outer jacket and is fitted with The Chord Company’s custom VEE 3 RCA plugs. 

Signature Digital Tuned ARAY (£400 1m)                          

Signature Digital Tuned ARAY uses high-purity single-crystal solid-core signal and return conductors in Tuned ARAY configuration. The conductor insulation is gas-foamed polyethylene and each conductor is protected with a composite shielding system. A soft PVC shield-surround provides mechanical damping, while a hard PVC outer casing protects the cable and prevents changes to the cable’s impedance, caused by compression on the internal shielding and insulation.

The Chord Company’s ultra-low-mass silver-plated non-compression RCA plugs are fitted (military-grade silver-plated BNC plugs are also available) along with the company’s precision-machined acrylic plug shrouds.  Like other cables using The Chord Company’s Tuned ARAY technology, the Signature Digital Tuned ARAY brings a sense of coherence and performance to the system it’s used in, or rather, the music played through it.

Chord Indigo Digital Tuned ARAY (£900 1m)

The Indigo Digital Tuned ARAY is a completely new cable design and one that has been inspired, and heavily influenced by, Chord’s flagship Sarum Tuned ARAY digital cable and like the Sarum, the Indigo Digital uses Tuned ARAY conductor technology.

There is a single core of polished, silver-plated copper, surrounded by PTFE insulation with a combination shield of high-density silver-plated copper braid and heavy-gauge silver-plated foil. 

The Chord Company’s ultra-low-mass silver-plated non-compression RCA plugs are fitted (military grade silver-plated BNC plugs are also available) along with the company’s precision-machined acrylic plug shrouds.   


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There’s been a bit of a trend recently towards metal supergroups (the heavy music community is practically salivating at the prospect of Killer Be Killed), but Mutation is one that may slip under the radar.  Well I’m gonna do my best to see that it doesn’t.

Describing themselves as a “collective”, the band is comprised of a seemingly disparate group of musicians.  Shane Embury (Napalm Death), Ginger Wildheart (The Wildhearts), Mark E. Smith (The Fall), Jon Poole (Cardiacs), Rich Jones (Amen), Chris Catalyst (Sisters of Mercy), Denzel (Young Legionnaire), random members of alt metallers Hawk Eyes and Japanese electro-terrorist Merzbow…. plus heaps more which are too numerous to mention. More »

Monster, which has just launched its first ever on-ear wireless, washable headphones; the iSport Freedom has Monster_News_1appointed Sky 1’s Got to Dance judge and ex-Pussycat Doll, Kimberly Wyatt the new face of the Monster iSport range.

Discussing her new partnership with Monster, Kimberly said: “I am delighted to be welcomed into the Monster family. Working in the music industry I am constantly searching for the best ways of integrating great music into my exercise routines. Thanks to the iSport range I am able to immerse myself in flawless sound, forget about the hassle of tangled wires and focus on working out to achieve my fitness goals.”

Freedom’s design is said to be ideal even for intense workouts, and the anti-microbial soft ear cushions ensure bacteria-free comfort. They they are also fully washable, allowing sports enthusiasts to easily clean them so they are ready to use for the next workout in the gym, on the slopes or wherever.

Price for the Freedom on-ear headphones is £240

Cyrus Audio, whose X200 Signature Mono amps and X DAC Signature received Hifi Pig recommended awards has CyrusCDiannounced the latest CD player the CD i.

The CD i is built around a specially updated version of the company’s proprietary Servo Evolution disc reading system and replaces their two existing integrated CD players – the CD 6 SE and CD 8 SE. The new CD player is positioned between the two previous models in terms of price but although positioned below the CD 8 SE in terms of price, Cyrus claims that the performance of the CD i is superior to any integrated CD player they have ever made, putting this is in part to it using the most advanced version of the company’s Servo Evolution disc reading technology so far.

The CD i shares a new LED disc loader and acoustically led circuit design with the company’s flagship CD transport, the CD Xt Signature. A PSX-R port allows users to further upgrade by connecting one of the company’s external power supplies.

Price is £975

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Time for a left turn into tubeland for the guys over at Schiit Audio whose Magni and Modi kit we’ve reviewed in the past.vali pcb(1) The new Vali headphone amp uses a tiny NOS JAN Raytheon pencil tubes which supply all the gain (not just an buffer!) and whilst the Vali resembles the Magni, the only thing they actually share is a case.

Here’s a look at the innards.

Price is a very reasonable $119 considering this product is made in the US

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Now here’s a bit of a breath of fresh air. Randall K Designer HiFi was started a little under a year ago with one mission, to RandallK_1make audio cool again and get people passionate about wanting to share music and audio the very same way it was infused in us. To do this, they are building what they call functional audio art that they believe are at the very least conversation pieces, whilst still performing at a very high level.

Randy from Randall K commented “We feel that for too long, people would purchase a piece of equipment to hide it in their audio cave. The only way the audio business will drive groups of music lovers towards finer equipment and enjoy listening is to make audio an inclusive sport and not an exclusive one, as well as offering unique, high performance products”.

The speakers can be custom tailored in both color and material utilized and are strictly limited in numbers.

They are currently looking for 10-15 sealers in the US  and 10 -15 international distributors that would like to offer the Randall K loudspeakers as part of their portfolio.

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Surrey based Audio Reference got in touch with Hifi Pig to let us know they will now be representing and distributing Grand_Referenz_MørchAmazon Audio turntables and Mørch tonearms in the UK.

Frankfurt-based Amazon Audio offers five turntable models including the entry level Amazon 2 with the range moving up through the Amazon 1, Referenz and Grand Referenz to the flagship First Choice turntable first introduced at the Munich High-End Show.

Mørch tonearms come in 4 effective masses, 9 or 12 inches, and with 2 types of headshell and all tonearm parameters are adjustable.

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ATC Loudspeaker Technology has announced the launch of their new Hi fi Passive series SCM 19 and SCM 40 ATC_Loudspeakersloudspeakers. The new loudspeakers feature the new ATC designed and built 25mm soft dome tweeter, updated bass/mid drivers and crossovers housed in a curved and a laminated cabinet.

The new tweeter shares technology with the ATC soft domed mid-range drive unit and employs a unique dual suspension system suppressing rocking modes even at high power output levels.

Cabinets are braced and laminated for high rigidity and damping and the curved enclosures are available in real cherry or black ash veneer.

Crossovers in the new loudspeakers feature metallised polypropylene capacitors, large air cored inductors and ceramic wire-round resistors. Each new model exhibits an impedance curve free from low values, presenting an easy load for amplifiers of 75 to 300 watts.

ATC’s SH25-76 soft dome tweeter is joined by the company’s highly linear 150mm mid/bass driver. It features a 75mm soft dome – exceptional for its horizontal dispersion of mid-band frequencies – and a huge 9kg high-energy, ‘Super Linear’ magnet system, which includes a 75mm flat wire voice coil, meticulously milled and formed by ATC. The magnet system and a carefully weighted doped fabric cone assembly contribute to the SCM19’s wide bandwidth, impressive dynamic range and convincing bass output coupled with very low distortion from the unique ‘Super Linear’ motor system.

Price for the SCM19 is £1996 inc. VAT and the SCM40 is  £3275 inc. VAT. Available 16th December 2013.

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Bryston, LTD has announced the introduction of the BUC-1, a digital to digital converter that enables users to use their BUC-1_New_showcomputer as a music source even if their existing Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) does not feature asynchronous USB capability. The Bryston BUC-1 converter allows for native 24 bit resolution at sampling rates up to 192 kHz.

The BUC-1 takes a standard USB output from the computer and delivers bit-perfect data via either an AES/EBU or S/PDIF output to any DAC. “The concept behind this product is to serve a very specific niche in the marketplace,” explained Bryston’s James Tanner. “There are digital music enthusiasts out there who would like to use their computer as a high resolution music server and yet extend their investment in a previously purchased DAC that does not feature asynchronous USB. The BUC-1 is that critical link between older hardware and the latest high resolution music software,” Tanner explained.

MSRP for the BUC-1 is $799. Available January 1st, 2014.

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Meridian Audio has announced the introduction of their Prime Headphone Amplifier which replays audio from both Meridian_prime_headphone_ampanalogue and USB-based sources. The Prime Headphone Amplifier also provides a preamplifier output to drive an external audio system or active loudspeakers. 

The metal enclosure of the Prime headphone amplifier is a dual-skinned design of interlocking extrusions which Meridian say makes the circuitry far less susceptible to interference. There are no screws – the box is opened by a hidden magnetic release mechanism

The Prime Headphone Amplifier can be powered by the wall-mounted supply provided or by the optional Meridian Prime Power Supply, available early December.. 

Meridian’s Prime Headphone Amplifier, features Analogue Spatial Processing (ASP) which “transforms headphone listening, providing a more natural spatial soundstage that’s more like listening on loudspeakers”.  

Price is £1200

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Chord Electronics has announced that Alan Ainslie has been appointed as Business Development Manager with Alan A Head shoulders v1immediate effect. Alan will oversee a number of projects in the coming year.

Prior to joining Chord Electronics, Alan was Business Development Manager at Naim Audio’s NaimNet, the brand’s custom install multi-room audio distribution and control system (which he created), and was responsible for bringing streaming technology to Naim.

On his appointment to Chord Electronics Alan said: “It is great to be with a British company that has both heritage and pedigree, with unchallenged excellence of audio engineering, both analogue and digital. Chord Electronics has always been an early adopter of advanced technical concepts and leads the industry in developing sophisticated engineering solutions to improve on the current state of the art.  I see exciting times ahead as I further enhance that position for the benefit of our users and business partners.”

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When we were asked to review these tuning sticks we were somewhat intrigued as the makers Akiko make some pretty AKIKO_TS_VELCRO_300bold claims about what they can do in a system. Essentially the Tuning Sticks from Akiko Audio are a passive “tweak” which you plug into the back of an amp, spare mains socket or Velcro onto your speakers. Dan was duly sent a pack of the Tuning Sticks and slotted them into his already well sorted hifi system.

“Such tweaks, I feel, are not and should not be claimed to be game changing in their effects, however when combined with a well put together system can prove to have a beneficial effect on the systems performance as a whole.

The Tuning Sticks themselves are very unobtrusive devices, slim barrels with a variation of connectors which are plugged into a spare socket on a component and claim to aid in its grounding potential and clean up background noise and thus enhance detail. The AC versions have your country’s designated power plug fitted and can be plugged into a spare wall socket or spare socket on a mains extension block.”

Read the full review of the Akiko Tuning Sticks.


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Glasgow-based Audio Origami is best known for its tonearms and the PU7 in particular. But Johnny whose brainchild Audio_orig_loupeAudio Origami is also offers a range of services to vinyl lovers including tonearm wiring and tonearm restoration. As part of this service the company has always supplied turntable essentials such as bearing oil and headshell wiring.

Latterly these essentials have been joined by a collection of other useful objects for turntable obsessives.

First up is a little gadget that’s essentially a magnifying glass-with-lamp and which should prove somewhat easier to use than a jeweler’s loupe when checking the condition or cleanliness of your stylus tip. Price is £8 + 3 postage. To clean your stylus you can also add a Clearaudio stylus brush for £10 + postage.

Audio Origami also do a couple of headshell/platter spirit levels in two sizes which are small enough to use on the headshell of your turntable when setting up Azimuth and VTF. Price is £8.99 plus postage.
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A streamer with a built in digital to analogue converter for less than £150? Well that’s what arrived in the post a couple of OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAweeks ago from our friends at QED. To say I was a touch sceptical would have been an understatement, however I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s compatible with all the main file formats including MP3, FLAC, WAV and what not and has an onboard Wolfson DAC which is 24-bit/96kHz compatible. The uPlay is DLNA/UPnP compatible and can be controlled from your iPad or Android doodad. You can have up to eight of these beasties dotted around your house and it will play tunes from your tablet or smartphone, your PC or NAS drive or even from Drop Box and Sky Drive”


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…or to give it its full name the Quantization Noise Killed The Cat AB – 1.2 DAC. Snappy title for a digital to analogue converter that just trips of the tongue but will this $170 DAC cut the mustard in the sonic department. Danny takes a listen and gives us his review.QNKTC-IMG_3_300

The AB-1.2 lets you play high-resolution audio (up to 24 bits at 192kHz) from Windows, Linux and OS X computers. It is a hardware implementation of the Audio Widget open source project – a  project started by an online group who wanted to develop a good solution for a USB DAC.”

Read the full review


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Teufel have introduced a couple of nifty looking soundbars called the PC Bamster and the BT Bamster.Soundbar_teufel

The PC Bamster can be connected to source devices via mini stereo jack or USB port and can even be supplied with electricity via a USB connection if used on the go with a notebook or tablet computer. The BT Bamster can be connected by either mini stereo jack, USB port, or Bluetooth.

Each soundbar measures just 33cm x 4.4 cm x 5.2 cm and look ideal for desktops or when your travelling around.

The PC Bamster is €99.99 and the BT Bamster is  €129.99

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Arcade Fire.  The Canadian indie heroes have been pretty quiet of late… the only murmurs that have permeated our newsfeeds were allegations of pop diva Delta Goodrem ripping off their classic track “Rebellion (Lies)”… Until they announced they were releasing a double album! More »

Audio-Technica is introducing noise-cancelling technology at what seems a truly accessible £149 price point. The ath-anc70_300ATH-ANC70 headphones are say Audio-Technica ideal for smartphone, tablet and laptop use as well as in-flight movies and enjoyment of your music at home.

The noise cancelling circuit is powered by a single battery and you can choose to have music or simply enjoy the enhanced silence once the noise-cancelling mode is turned on.

The ATH-ANC70 headphones fold flat for easy transport in a laptop bag or satchel and can be used to take phone calls thanks to a built-in yet hidden microphone.

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Meridian Audio has announced the introduction of their new-design G65 Surround Controller.Meridian-G65

Meridian’s G65 is the definitive surround processor of the company’s G Series and in conjunction with the Meridian HD621 it allows connection of a diverse range of audio and video sources with unified control over time alignment, bass management and surround sound processing. The latest in the G Series line of components, G65 builds on the achievements of Meridian’s flagship 800 Series, with entirely new circuitry developed specifically for the product. 

Sitting at the heart of a Meridian Digital Theatre, the G65 is designed to drive Meridian DSP Loudspeakers as well as providing balanced analogue outputs for conventional systems. “Unique Meridian technologies include Smart Source, which automatically selects the correct settings for optimum listening, whilst Meridian’s Apodising upsampling system is said to improve audio quality and can correct problems in an original digital recording. Meridian Room Correction smooths out the low-frequency reverberation on a room to improve clarity and imaging for a more immersive experience”. 

Full installation configuration is achieved by running Meridian’s proprietary Windows-based MConfig application, connected to the G65 via a serial or USB link, or direct from the front panel. A comprehensive back-lit learning/programmable MSR+ remote is included. 

UK Price: £4,500 – £6000(with HD621)


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