Iso Tek has unveiled its successor to the award-winning GII Sigmas: the EVO3 Sigmas. isotekEVO111
Like the GII Sigmas, the new EVO3 version is a six-way mains conditioning unit.
The EVO3 Sigmas’ two high-current outlets feature IsoTek’s Direct-Coupled© technology, which provides high-current low impedance filtering whilst its four medium-current outlets feature an increased 10A capacity. This, along with IsoTek’s  Adaptive Gating© technology which auto-senses and adapts to the current draw of the load, enables the use of a wider range of electronic devices, from audiophile components to home cinema plasma screens, projectors and media centres.
A further new addition for the EVO3 is KERP© (Kirchoff’s Equal Resistance Path), a technology developed for IsoTek’s EVO3 generation of products. KERP ensures equal resistance and equal power delivery to all outlets.
The EVO3 Sigmas’ internal wiring has been upgraded to IsoTek’s newly-developed UP-OCC (Ultra Pure Ohno Continuous Cast) high purity copper solid core  wire, which is silver plated before being insulated with Teflon. A fine Teflon strand is wound helically around the wire before a secondary Teflon tube is extruded over the top, creating an air gap between wire and insulating tube and forming an air dielectric which has virtually no capacitance. The printed circuit board features 24-carat gold-plated 2oz copper for improved reliability and signal transfer.

IsoTek EVO3 Sigmas key features

Removes both common mode and differential mode mains noise.
RFI (radio frequency interference) reduction 75dB.
108,000A of instantaneous protection.
Two high-current outlets incorporate IsoTek’s Direct-Coupled© circuit to deliver low impedance power with a maximum continuous output of 3,680W.
Four medium-current outlets, rated at 10A, feature IsoTek’s unique Adaptive Gating© circuit, which auto-senses the connected electronics and provides the optimal level of conditioning required at a maximum 2,300W of continuous power.
Six unique conditioning stages ensure optimal isolation between each outlet, eliminating differential mode cross-contamination.
KERP© (Kirchoff’s Equal Resistance Path) technology ensures equal resistance and equal power delivery to all outlets, with no interference from one socket to the next.
Internal wiring: solid core silver-plated UP-OCC (Ultra Pure Ohno Continuous Cast) wire with Teflon VAD (virtual air dielectric) technology.
Available with UK, EU, US, Australian, Swiss and South African sockets.

The EVO3 Sigmas is available from March 2014, available in silver or black and priced at £2,295 (including VAT).


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McIntosh Laboratory has launched a new CD/SACD player, the MCD550. The new player has been designed to MCD550+Front+Top-1offer exemplary playback of both CD and SACD discs and “transform the audio quality of digitally connected devices”, thanks to its three-input internal DAC.

At the MCD550’s heart lies an eight-channel, 32-bit/192kHz PCM/DSD digital to analogue converter that operates in quad-balanced mode, utilising four DAC paths per audio channel. The three-strong digital input suite in the McIntosh Digital Engine includes a coaxial and optical input, plus a dedicated asynchronous USB 2.0 input (operating at up to 24-bit) which allows for the direct transfer of digitally stored music at up to 192kHz resolution.

The MCD550 benefits from both coaxial and optical outputs, for use with a digital preamp or home theatre processor, plus both (fixed and variable) balanced and unbalanced outputs, giving the new player a vast range of connectivity options including direct connection to a power amplifier.

The MCD550 has a new transport section with a premium die-cast aluminium tray plus the latest in advanced digital servo technology for “faster, quieter and more accurate operation; the disc’s audio data is read at twice the normal rate, ensuring better disc-tracking and error-correction processing”.

The MCD550’s front panel display indicates the current disc’s playback status, digital input status and the variable audio output volume level. Also featured on the fascia is dial-based level control, allowing simple volume adjustment for headphone use, volume-matching with other source components when the player is used in a system, and for volume control when using a direct connection to a power amplifier. A dial control is also employed for track selection.

A dual-layer chassis is employed, plus an advanced linear power supply, which has a R-Core power transformer, along with multiple regulators, to ensure stable and noise-free operation.

MCD550 specifications

Channels: 2

Analogue outputs: balanced/unbalanced stereo, fixed and variable

Fixed output level: 2.0Vrms unbalanced; 4.0vrms balanced

Variable output level: 0 – 8.0Vrms unbalanced; 0 – 16.0Vrms balanced

Output impedance: 600 ohms unbalanced and balanced

Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz, +0.5, -2dB (SACD); 4Hz to 20kHz, ±0.5db (CD)

Signal to noise ratio: better than 110dB (A-weighted)

Dynamic range: better than 100dB

Total harmonic distortion: 0.002% @ 1000Hz (SACD); 0.002% @ 1000Hz (CD)

Channel separation: better than 98dB (1,000Hz)

Headphone output impedance: 47 ohms

Digital audio specifications

Coaxial sample rate: 16, 24-bit/96kHz

Optical sample rate: 16, 24-bit/192kHz

USB sample rate: 16, 24-bit/192kHz

Digital coaxial input: 0.5v p-p/75 ohms

Digital optical input: -15dbm to -21dbm

Digital USB input: USB type B connector

Digital output sample rate: up to 24-bit/192kHz

Digital coaxial output: 0.5V p-p/75 ohms

Digital optical output: -15dbm to -21dbm


Fixed outputs: unbalanced 1 stereo

Fixed outputs: balanced 1 stereo

Variable outputs: unbalanced 1 stereo

Variable outputs: balanced 1 stereo

Digital coaxial input: 1

Digital optical input: 1

Digital USB input: 1

Digital coaxial output: 1

Digital optical output: 1

 The MCD550 sells for £6,395 and is available in February.

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Funjoe at Clones Audio whose little 25 Watt amplifier Hifi Pig reviewed a while ago got in touch to tell us about clones_sheva_DAChis latest product to his rapidly expanding range of audio kit, the Sheva DAC.

Special features:
• DSD 64/128 and DXD (384KHz 24bit PCM) compatible
• Ultra-Low Phase Noise Femto Master Clock
• Remarkable power supply has separate torroidal transformers for Analog and Digital section.
• Digital Inputs: AES/EBU, S/PDIF, BNC,Toslink, I2S and USB
• 2 stereo analog outputs, one on XLR one on RCA
• 100steps fine setting via rotary encoder (digital domain) control main output.

 Price is $1799

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Decent Audio in the UK got in touch to tell Hifi Pig about the launch of two new products from Audeze: the open LCD-X & LCD-XC whitereference LCD-X and closed-back LCD-XC.The Audeze LCD-X and LCX-XC will be officially launched in the UK at Sound & Vision 2014, Bristol, 21st – 23rd February 2014.

As regular readers will know Audeze (pronounced Odyssey) headphones feature planar magnetic drive units that use ultra-thin uniformly driven diaphragms which Audeze say produce outstanding levels of transparency, detail and power.

The new headphones benefit from a completely redesigned planar magnetic driver featuring a newly-developed and processed transducer made of a thinner and lighter material with new Fazor technology. Audeze’s patent-pending Fazor elements are unique to the LCD-X and LCD-XC and help guide and manage the flow of sound in the headphone. The result is sid to be improved phase response, greater frequency extension, smoother frequency response and 3D holographic imaging. The transducer is specifically designed to work with a wide variety of driving sources.

The LCD-XC is Audeze’s first ever closed back design and has been several years in the making. Audeze customers began asking for a closed-back design back in 2010 when the open LCD-2 headphone was introduced. While the company was more than happy to provideit wanted to get it right. “After much research and various design prototypes we finally developed the materials and supporting structure that produces our unprecedented Audeze sound,” said Sankar Thiagasamudram, Chief Operating Officer at Audeze. “We’re excited to finally release the LCD-XC.”

“For the purest, most discerning audiophile listening sessions, open headphones remain the favored choice,” say the company, “but our closed-back LCD-XC is the best enclosed headphone experience you’ll find.”

Both new headphones are available in either lambskin leather or leather-free microsuede, and the LCD-XC features wood enclosure caps.

Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC features:

  • A completely redesigned planar magnetic driver.
  • A newly-developed and processed transducer made of a thinner and lighter material with new patent-pending Fazor technology.
  • Specifically designed to work with a wide variety of driving sources, from portable players to studio use.
  • Earcups made from polished anodized aluminum (LCD-X)
  • Wood cups in hand-worked Bubinga and enclosures made from precision-crafted anodized aluminum.
  • Comfortable sloped earpads in either premium lambskin leather or a leather-free super-suede microfibre. The earpads are designed with specially-crafted foam offering the proper firmness and the right acoustic balance.

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LessLoss Audio are an American/Lithuanian based company headed by Louis Motek and make a wide range of audioll4300jpg cables including interconnects, digital cables, speaker cables plus conditioners and soon a direct drive SD player. Here Danny Worth takes a listen to their $1152 DFPC Signature Power cables.

“Playing Loreena McKennits ‘Raglan Road’ it was immediately clear that the midrange of the Signatures were highly developed, her vocal sits back in the soundstage and has a strong projection of width which can be localised from it’s source point in the performance. Her tones were very liquid and silky and the upper registers had a quality of control that gripped me into the performance. The album is of a live performance and the atmospheric presence of the stage could be felt – airy and spacious”


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Read the full review of the LessLoss DFPC Signature Power Cables

Well this is certainly a good deal of music for your money with Dusty Kid’s third album coming in at round about the two hours mark spread over two CDs which are limited to just 1000 copies on the Isolade label.

III is interestingly mixed with the use of vintage consoles and everything being recorded on to reel-to reel tape to give the finished product a distinctly dirty and lo-fi feel to it and this is apparent from the off with the opening track “Crepuscolaris” where a grimy and distorted kick lay the foundations for more deformed sonic shapes thrown over the top. It’s dark and menacing but the strings over the top lift it a little – as if there is hope rising from the burned ashes of a destroyed future city. More »

Gato have announced that they will release the latest addition to their DIA range from next month. The new addition gatojanwill be a preamplifier and DAC with the name PRD-3. The preamplifier will be based on the company’s DIA integrated amplifier and will include the DAC circuits from their DIA-250 and DIA-400.

Price will be around $2500

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Dynaudio have announced their new Sub, the 250 II which will retail at £750.DYN_Sub 250_livingroom

It’s an active subwoofer with an integrated 200W amplifier and ustilising a 24cm long-throw woofer which has a 100mm voice coil. The enclosure is sealed and it will be available in four finishes.

Interestingly the woofer’s coil and cone are made from Dynaudio’s own MSP material (Magnesium Silicate Polymer).

The amplifier circuit has variable gain setting, a variable low pass filter (50Hz – 150 Hz) and a selectable phase switch. The audio signal can be fed from an AV receiver’s Subwoofer/LFE output into the RCA LFE input, or from a stereo amp’s pre out into the SUB input (2 RCAs). A selectable high-pass filter (Flat, 60Hz or 80Hz) enables the SAT output (2 x RCAs) to facilitate crossover integration between the Sub 250II and the main speakers.

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B.M.C. Audio (Balanced Music Concept) has introduced the new PureVox speaker. The PureVox is B.M.C.’s bmcentry-level speaker and the cpmpany claime a number of innovations for the speaker.

Most conventional  speakers have good depth of  image in the centre of the sound-stage, but much less so at the sides.  Responsible for this lack of realism are the distorted frequency responses outside of the speaker axis say BMC. The PureVox’ quasi-bi-polar design is said to “dramatically improve the  sound-stage’s depth impression at the sides, making the sound- stage more complete and realistic”.

The body of the PureVox’s cabinet is made of a single piece of extruded aluminum, with a varying thickness to reduce internal resonances. Several inside layers of a “molten-in” damping material and stabilization bars at the remaining resonance points are included to “make the cabinet perfectly quiet”.
This was quite a challenge for the manufacturing process since a 1200 ton pressure is required for such big body extrusion!
The cabinet is sealed, “eliminating the bass-reflex resonance that can sound like blowing air into an empty bottle. The power of the drivers and the cabinet’s low energy loss more than compensate for any loss of oomph in the sound.”
The PureVox is a quasi-balanced speaker, which means the same driver set is on the front as is on the 45-degree angled rear of the top. This includes two 6.9-inch Kevlar / fibreglass bass / midrange drivers in a quasi-bipolar configuration. The PureVox’s configuration also includes two powerful AMT tweeters, with strong motor / weight ratio.
Depending on the country the PureVox will be available from March from authorized B.M.C. Audio dealers at a suggested price of EUR 4500 or USD 6,400 per pair.


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Recorded in 1963 and released in July of the same year on the Verve label (and then later in 97 where there were extra tracks) this is Ella Fitzgerald and the Count Basie Orchestra with Quincey Jones being responsible for the arrangements (Fitzgerald later worked with Jones on the 1989 “Back on the Block”) and with production credits going to Norman Granz . Ella and Basie had worked together previously on just one occasion on the 1957 record “On the Sunny Side of the Street”.

Let me say that the first thing I thought when listening to this hi-rez version from High Res Audio was how spot on and modern the recording was and I’m becoming a bit of a convert of this digital format it has to be said…there’s a real opening up of the sound and soundstage for me.

I’m sure many will know this album and many of the tunes therein. It kicks off with a the Fats Waller/Andy Razaf tune “Honeysuckle Rose” with an absolutely glorious arrangement and Ella’s scat style adding a great touch to the tune. This is big band jazz and whilst it may well be from 1963 it doesn’t seem at all dated and that is indeed true for the rest of the album. More »

Empyrean Isles was recorded in 1964, released on the Blue Note label, established Hancock as a serious artist and is now available on hi rez format (this copy came from HighRes Audio in Germany)

The album contains two of Hancock’s most famous compositions –  “One Finger Snap” and the brilliant “Cantaloupe Island” which is one of my favourite tunes of all time.

Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, players on the album are Herbie Hancock on piano, Freddie Hubbard on cornet, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums and all push themselves to their limits. More »

Out 27th January on the Kompakt label Pop ambient 2014 is the 14th instalment of this series of albums presided over by label head honcho Wolfgang Voigt.

Pop Ambient kicks off with “The God of Pads” Ulf Lohmann who’s had a six year hiatus and it would appear he’s back in fine form with the wonderfully dreamy “Sicht” and the tune that finishes off the record PCC. Both are majestic offerings that carry you along on a wave of lush pads and are an apt pairing to open and close this album.

Mikkel Metal’s “Patience” introduces percussion and beats of sorts with slightly disturbing noisescapes over the top – this is a little reminiscent of a lite version of Ben Frosts “By the Throat” album in that it explores similar territories only in a less menacing way. More »

As the title may suggest the Concord USB is a powered USB cable from Astintrew and Danny Worth has been concord2300listening to one for the last few weeks.

“Tones were nice and relaxed and unforced, there was an ease to the sound, a silky flow to the music and, most importantly, the nasty upper bass hump that the Mac has was smoothed out beautifully giving a far better balance to the sound overall.”

Read the full review of the Astintrew Powered USB


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UK Distribution company Henley designs contacted Hifi Pig to tell us about the new Quintet Series of Moving Coil Bronzequintetortofon(MC) phono pick-up cartridges from Ortofon. The all-new range of cartridges includes 5 models to offer a range that ties in nicely with Ortofon’s existing Cadenza Series of premium MC cartridges, and their 2M range of Moving Magnet designs. The Quintet Mono, Quintet Red, Quintet Blue, Quintet Bronze and Quintet Black will be available from late-January 2014.
An ABS (Acrylonitrile / Butadiene / Styrene) thermoplastic material is used to manufacture each Quintet body. This light-weight, impact-resistant material is well-suited to injection moulding, and provides a very durable, scratch-resistant surface. Internally, neodymium magnets are employed to allow the cartridge to achieve an optimal output, while the low internal impedance design ensures the cartridge is less sensitive to load; meaning any Quintet Series cartridge can be easily partnered with a wide range of phono stages and transformers.
The ½” mounting design allows for easy set-up with most tonearm / headshell combinations. The aluminium top-plate has threaded mounting holes and easily accommodates the two sets of screws supplied (5mm and 7mm).
The Quintet Red is £199, Blue £325, Bronze £499, Black £649 and the Mono is £325.


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Thomas at TSAE, whose Evince loudspeakers we reviewed, got in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us that NuNu EvinceDistribution has been appointed the official UK and US distributor for their products.

Anthony Sallis at Nu Nu Distribution said “At NuNu we are admirers of the different and the bold innovators in musical reproduction. Thomas has a great passion for music and its reproduction in a correct and natural manner. Using his talent he has created the stunning Evince and Etalon speakers.”

Having heard the Evince loudspeakers and thoroughly enjoying them we can only wish this new pairing every success for the future.

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Denon has announced its first standalone USB Digital to Analogue Converter, the new £329 DA-300USB DAC denon_usb_dacwhich boasts the same Advanced AL32 Processing and 32-bit, 192kHz digital to analogue conversion technologies of Denon’s flagship CD/SACD players. It is scheduled to hit stores in February 2014. 

The DAC can be connected via USB-B or the additional coaxial and optical digital inputs.When connected by USB the computer recognises the DA-300USB as an external soundcard, completely bypassing its own audio electronics. Any digital audio format that can be played from the computer’s own media player can be processed by the DA-300USB – including MP3/MP4, AAC, ALAC, WAV and FLAC HD (up to 24-bit, 192kHz) and DSD (the native file format for SACD; in 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz resolution). Transmission of the digital audio stream from the computer to the DA-300USB is in bit-transparent, asynchronous mode, to ensure a bit-perfect data stream for high definition Advanced AL32 Processing and High-Precision digital to analogue conversion.

The DA-300USB is an attractively styled, ultra compact unit. Measuring 17 x 17 x 5.5 cm, it can be positioned either horizontally or vertically (using the supplied clip-on stand). The minimalist front panel sports a power button, headphone output and volume control, a touch input selector switch, and an OLED display which shows the selected input, headphone volume and input signal resolution. Orientation of the display changes with horizontal or vertical positioning of the unit.

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When this diminutive Bluetooth loudspeaker arrived just before Christmas we thought that the best person to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAreview it would be our sixteen year old son Harry as he’s potentially the target market and he’s the one with Bluetooth enabled kit.

“The sound quality is very good, the bass is surprisingly rich and the high notes are pretty clear too.

More importantly for what it is, this speaker is loud and can easily fill a medium/small room. It surprised me the first time I used it, as I didn’t expect such good sound reproduction from such a small compact design…it really was a ‘wow’ moment when I first played Deadmau5 on it and this was in one of the largest rooms in our house.  When I moved to a smaller room, my bedroom, the Go really filled the space with music.”

Read the full review of the Simple Audio Go Bluetooth Loudspeaker.

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Like me, the name Leon Haywood may well be a new one to you but don’t let that stop you from reading further because this one is a bit of a hidden gem. Haywood is best known for his crossover hit “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” from 1975 which has been sampled by Public Enemy, Dr Dre, Redman, Aaliyah, 50 Cent, Mariah Carey and others.

He was born in Houston, Texas and he’s had a pretty wide and varied musical career including him accompanying Guitar Slim on piano when he was still a teenager, playing keyboards in Sam Cooke’s band and playing on a number of one hit wonder bands’ tunes. His first solo hit on Decca records was “It’s Got To Be Mellow” which reached the giddy heights of #21 in 1967.

So from an artist that I’d heard nothing about previously I was a little taken aback to hear that Naturally was actually his ninth studio album, was originally released in 1980 on the Century Fox label and was at the time his most successful release reaching #22 in the R&B charts. More »

Charo, or Maria del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza as her parents would have known her, is a Spanish-American singer, actress, comedienne and  flamenco guitarist well known back in the day for her somewhat flamboyant style and her catchphrase “Cuchi-Cuchi” (‘Cuchi’ is a Spanish slang term for a woman’s genitals. However, Spanish speaking countries often have local dialect for the term. In Venezuela, it refers to something pleasing to the eye.” Thanks She’s done films, television (she was a regular on The Love Boat by all accounts but that was all before my time)… and she was voted Best Flamenco Guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine…TWICE! More »

Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the last 35 years or so you must have heard either some of Loleatta Holloway’s disco charged tunes or at the very least one of the many tunes that sample her …”Love Sensation” anyone?

“Queen of the Night” was first released in ’78 on Gold Mind/Salsoul records and was Holloway’s follow up to her ’76 breakthrough album for the label “Loleatta”. Here we find it re-released on Big Break Records with a trio of extra mixes (the 12” Disco and Disco Madness mixes of the album’s opening tune “Catch Me on the Rebound” and the 12” disco mix of “I May Not Be There When You Want Me (But I’m Right On Time). More »

British manufacturer Arcam of Cambridge, used CES to unveil the new FMJ A49, a 200 Watts per Arcamfmjamplifierchannel stereo integrated amplifier, hand-crafted at the company facility in Rochester New York.

Arcam say this is the best and most powerful amplifier they have ever made with its 200 watts per channel Class G constant power into 8 ohms and 400 watts into 4 ohms. The amp will deliver upto 50 wpc in Pure Class A, has a massive toroidal transformer and is fully balanced throughout. The new amplifier has a MM/MC phono stage built in plus an onboard power supply for Arcam’s rSeries of wired and wireless DACs.

The FMJ A49 will begin shipping late March 2014 and will cost £3250/$5000

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