I must confess that I missed out on the first wave of punk, but I do distinctly remember seeing a copy of the Sniffin’ Glue fanzine, for which Alternative TVs Mark P was the founding editor, brought into school by one of the cool kids. I also had a couple of Sex Pistol records. Mark P (Perry) left Sniffin’ Glue on the cusp of it possibly going mega to concentrate on his own band and had he followed the herd down the tried and somewhat tested punk formula he’d have made it big. As it was he went down a different path. More »

15 Audio have got in touch with us to let us know that on the 4th October they will be opening a new store in Tunbridge Wells.15AUDIO

This is the company’s first high street shop in addition to its listening rooms in nearby Ticehurst.

Opening is at 10 am on the 4th October and you can find the shop at 4 Ely Court.


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KEF Announces Week of Exciting International CelebrationFollowing on from the success of last years ‘National KEF Week’, KEF 12014 sees KEF continuing the successful celebratory campaign, not just in the UK but internationally – into all major KEF markets worldwide – with International KEF Week.

Taking place over the anniversary week of KEF’s founding in 1961, International KEF Week will now become an annual event to celebrate all things KEF. This year, the Q Series will be taking centre-stage, with all Q Series retailers becoming destination stores for a weeks’ worth of activities, including expert demonstrations, consumer competitions and product promotions. KEF sales staff along with KEF Acoustic Engineers will also be on hand at selected stores across the country to help, alongside shop staff, deliver expert demonstrations, answer any questions and assist in making the events even more special.

Commenting on the event, Managing Director, Steve Halsall said, ‘National KEF Week was a great success in the UK last year. It was excellent to see the enthusiasm from the retail partners. Also, consumers got to experience expert KEF system demonstrations and take advantage of special promotions. International KEF Week will be even bigger and better, with a wide-reaching flavour, centralised around one of our most popular speaker ranges, the Q Series, but with lots of other demos and competitions as well, including the ‘must hear’ Blade flagship. We are very excited about it indeed and hope it’ll be even more successful!’

International KEF Week is on from the 30th September – 7th October.


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The good people at iFi got in touch with the Hifi Pig office to tell us all about a new concept that they are quite rightly very excited iCLUBabout.

The iClub will give invited members the opportunity to participate in the product design phase of the company’s products, Beta testing for upcoming products, regular iCLUB meets 5for example the RMAF dinner), freebies, special offers and more.

Looks to us like this a great idea of involving the buying public and a model that we’re sure will be copied in the near future.


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McIntosh Laboratory has launched a new media streamer – the MB100 Media Bridge. The new streamer takes full MB100 Left Angle with iPadadvantage of the latest McIntosh technologies and gives users access to web-based music plus digital files from its 1TB hard drive.

The MB100 has four USB inputs, plus an eSata port for the direct connection of external drives. Its high-speed network port offers direct connection to online streaming services including: Pandora®; SiriusXM®; Spotify®; Rhapsody and TuneIn (where available, subscriptions may be required); while additional streaming services may be added in the future. Internet radio stations can also be added as presets.

For integration into existing home audio systems, the MB100 has two analogue and two digital outputs, plus it can be connected via USB to other McIntosh USB-enabled products. Users can also create two independent audio zones when using the USB connection in combination with either the analogue or digital outputs.

The MB100 will automatically synchronise content stored on networked computers and when connected to a monitor or panel, slideshow playback of stored photos is also possible during music replay. Digital content can be backed up to Amazon Cloud Drive or Apple iCloud allowing music to be synchronised across multiple homes or locations. The MB100 can also be configured so that new music purchases from either cloud service can be automatically added to the device’s library.

The MB100 utilises the same eight-channel 32-bit/192kHz DAC as the D100 digital preamp, which is isolated from the motherboard. The operating system and music player are housed on a solid-state hard drive for fast response times, quiet operation and durability. The MB100 can be controlled via an iOS or Android app, a web browser, or a remote control with TV interface.


Frequency response: ±1dB from 2Hz to 22kHz

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.005%

Rated output voltage: 2.0Vrms unbalanced; 4.0Vrms balanced


4x USB (2 USB 2.0/2 USB 3.0)

1x Network (10/100/1000)

1x eSata


2x Analogue (1x balanced, 1x unbalanced)

1x Coaxial

1x Optical

1x USB audio (compatible only with McIntosh products that accept USB audio)

1x HDMI (for GUI only)

1x DVI (for GUI only)

Content Storage:

1TB internal hard drive (external hard drives connected via USB and eSata)

Embedded Streaming Services:

Pandora®, SiriusXM®, Spotify®, Rhapsody and TuneIn (where available, subscriptions may be required)

Dimensions (WxHxD):

44.54cm x 9.8cm x 40.64cm

Weight: 6.1 kg
The MB100 sells for £5,995 and is available now.


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Hifi Pig recently reviewed the really addictive Jazz album The Turn by Jerome Sabbagh which we downloaded from jerome_sabbagh_the_turnHIGHRESAUDIO. You gotta hear the guitar on some of the tracks…I say “you’d be forgiven that you weren’t listening to one of the great rock guitarists helping the jazzsters out whilst his band were off the road.”

Jerome has just personally contacted the Hifi PIg office to let us know that he has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the album pressed onto vinyl that will be limited to 500 copies, mastered by Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab and pressed at Quality Records Pressings in the US.

Now, we don’t normally share links in news items other than for charity, but I was so blown away with this album that I thought it deserved it and so here it is.


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Soundsmith Corporation has announced five new phono cartridges designed for moderate gain preamplifiers.sussurro1076

Peter Lederman, the designer of these new cartridges has made them to perform with preamps that use a 48dB to 54dB gain.

The designs are based on Peter’s previous Moving Iron designs Hyperion, Sussurro (pictured), Paua, The Voice and Aida with them having the “same level of performance as their high and low output siblings”.

The Helios features the unique “cactus spine” cantilever and OC-CL stylus and costs $7 500;

The Mezzo is based on the Sussurro and costs $4 800.

The Nautilus is a moderate output version of Soundsmith’s Paua with a natural seashell detail and costs $3 800.

Sotto Voce is based on The Voice cartridge and costs $2 800.

The Norma is the sister cartridge to the Aida and costs $1 800


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Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC has announced the Jens Phono stage pre-amplifiers, which they say is merrill-jens-phono-stage-hifinews“certain to set a new standard for Phono stage Preamplifiers”. Prices at $15,449, the Jens Phono stage preamplifier.

Built specifically for Low Output Moving Coil Cartridges the Jens Phono Preamp allows for load setting from 25 Ohms to 5 kOhms , 70dB gain with better than 0.1dB RIAA equalization with the aim for it to be very fast and is ultra quiet.

Jens Phono stage was in development for 7 years, including 3 years of listening tests with veteran vinyl experts.  The unit is hand built in the USA and build features include external power supply, steel chassis for maximum EMI/RFI shielding, Stillpoints Ultramini riser footers for isolation, Furutech pure copper Rhodium plated RCA, Double fused AC lines, silver plated Teflon sleeved pure copper wires, hand matched high tolerance components, hand routed circuit board designs,  multi-stage power supply filtering and proprietary circuits.


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Linn have announced that their Exakt technology is now available in a compact standmount loudspeaker for the first Linn_akubarik_hifi_newstime with the launch of their Exakt Akudorik loudspeaker.

The Exakt Akudorik shares the same technology as its bigger brother the Exakt Akubarik.

The power supply and four channels of 100w Linn Chakra amplification is housed in the central column stand for the speakers and is mounted in a suspension module to minimise vibration. The connection between the amps and the loudspeaker is via a recessed 8-way connector which caries the analogue signal from the amps to the drive units with the connection being completely invisible so no cables are visible.

The cabinet of the Exakt Akudorik has a rear ported, four-way design featuring a 6 ½” bass driver and Linns3K array housing the ½” super-tweeter and 3” mid range units.

The bass driver uses a doped paper cone with a symmetrically balanced motor assembly.

The Exakt Akudorik is constructed using similar methods to the Akubarik using a composite construction of steam moulded layers of MDF and birchwood. The speakers are finished by hand in a range of finishes including 6 real wood vebeers in standard or high gloss options or more than 200 high gloss colours.

The Akurate Exakt system featuring the Exakt Akudorik loudspeaker is priced at £17 500 with the Exakt Akudorik loudspeaker being available separately for £13 500.

Linn has announced the launch of the Akurate Exaktbox which is available for Linn loudspeakers and now for other manufacturers’ loudspeakers with the launch of support for the Bowers and Wilkins’ Nautilus.

The Akurate Exaktbox delivers Linn’s Exakt technology to any loudspeaker. It is software-configured to optimise Linn-exaktperformance for any loudspeaker and amplifier combination.

In a system using Akurate Exaktbox, the loudspeakers are run actively, with separate amplifiers for each drive unit. The original analogue crossover in the loudspeaker is bypassed and instead, the Akurate Exaktbox performs the crossover digitally, while applying Linn’s Exakt technology to “eliminate distortion, correct for drive unit variation and optimise the loudspeaker’s performance for the room”.

Exakt Link

In order to deliver the digital signal losslessly to the loudspeaker, Linn developed a new protocol — Exakt Link. Exakt Link transmits losslessly 8 channels of 24-bit/192 kHz Studio Master with exceptionally low jitter and “extreme precision synchronisation between loudspeakers”.

Up to thirteen sources can be connected to the system via the Akurate Exakt DSM with inputs including HDMI, Toslink, S/PDIF, XLR and RCA phono available.

Upgrading to Exakt requires a Klimax or Akurate DSM partnered with a Klimax or Akurate Exaktbox.

Available to audition from 23rd September at Linn Specialists nationwide, the Akurate Exaktbox is £4,000.

The Klimax Exaktbox is currently available and priced at £10,000.


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There’s a fantastic amount of great electronic music coming out of South America at the moment and here we’ve got Brazilian Gui Boratto, once a member of the band Sect, adding to that output with his album Abaporu.

The opening lines of the first track immediately put me in mind of William Orbit and this is no bad thing, but the tune soon becomes its own distinctive groove which sets the scene for the rest of the record. More »

NAS2014There is something I really love about the annual National Audio Show in Whittlebury, Northamptonshire, UK. It could be the lovely scenic route there, or the free parking, or maybe the sound of racing cars screeching around nearby Silverstone. The smiles of Roy Bird, the Chester Group chairman of the annual event, now in its sixth year, walking around the plethora of corridors, and the facial expressions from would-be hi-fi millionaires ogling at and listening to a Fingle’s Cave of equipment make this a really popular event, even if some (and I stress just some) of the old fashioned paper magazine mafia boycott this event for their own personal issues. Grow up. Rant over now, so let’s start talking about the equipment, which us why you are reading this. More »

Not so much a review as an overview and thoughts of a new piece of ripping software.  More »

Mass Fidelity Inc., creator of ‘The Relay’ Bluetooth DAC, has announced The Core wireless speaker system, designed 20140902142929-DSC_0609_temp_600to be the “centre of users’ musical universe” and powered by an internal 120W digital amplifier.

“The Core uses a number of innovative acoustic technologies to create a stunning sound that mimics the experience of two separated Hi-Fi speakers, yet comes from a beautiful box that fits in ‘the palm of your hand” the company’s press release says.

“What makes the Core truly revolutionary is the use of innovative Wave Field Synthesis technology,” said Ben Webster, CEO and Co-Founder of Mass Fidelity. “Wave Field Synthesis is an entirely new way of rendering audio where a sound image is produced by recreating that sound in space – similar to a hologram. This astonishing sound image can be ‘viewed’ from anywhere in the room. It is purer and sounds better than traditional stereo, because it does not rely on the listener’s position or on ‘tricking the brain’ with psychoacoustics.”

In explaining the technology the company comments “Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) is an audio rendering technique that produces a sonic image that sounds like two widely placed Hi-Fi speakers. Wave Field Synthesis causes sound to emanate from virtual starting points (in this case, ‘The Core’) and continue to move along pathways, creating a lifelike sound image as each of the waveforms collide at a point in space. Unlike conventional stereo that is designed to trick the brain with clever psychoacoustic processes, WFS reconstructs the sound field physically, making it the purest and cleanest audio representation. It is a technology that has been touted as the obvious next step in acoustic rendering since the late 80’s but because of its demanding computing requirements, hadn’t been viable to implement as a high quality solution in a consumer product – until now”.

Users of The Core can access and play music however and wherever they want – streaming straight from a smartphone or tablet or via digital and analogue sources using a wired connection. Without having to download apps or configure networking equipment, users can instantly connect up to nine units to create a multi-room music experience with the touch of a single button.

The Core will be priced at £499 in the UK market.


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Norwegian-based manufacturer Henry Audio (previously QNKTC) has announced the arrival of the upgraded USB DACHenrey_audio_dac_ii 128 mkII – Hifi Pig reviewed the mk I hereThe new and improved DAC adds more punch and sonic clarity to the very well received USB DAC 128 say the company.

The USB DAC 128 mkII enables playback of music stored on a computer or streamed through one. It works with Hi-Res up to 192ksps on Windows, Linux and Mac. With it, the inferior analogue output of the computer is completely bypassed.

The mkII  has improved mechanics, better RCA connectors and rubber feet.

Like its predecessors (including the QNKTC AB-1.2) the Henry Audio USB DAC 128 mkII stays true to its Open Source foundations in the Audio Widget project. The electronic schematics and source code for firmware and Windows ASIO driver remain open source and publicly available. The USB DAC 128 mkII is designed in such a way that tinkerers can easily modify it and learn from its construction though the company say that the vast majority of buyers have no intention – and absolutely no need – to ever modify the DAC.

The analogue section of the DAC design puts equal focus on three areas with fundamental influence on audio quality. The AKM4430 DAC chip comes from Asahi Kasai, the clock is made from two precision crystal oscillators from Golledge and the power supply uses low-noise regulators from Analog Devices. The improved sound quality of the mkII is primarily achieved by the addition of more and better capacitors in the power supply. Some, but not all, of these can be retrofitted to the USB DAC 128.

The Henry Audio USB DAC 128 mkII uses an asynchronous USB protocol. This minimizes jitter errors and further improves on the sound quality by making the DAC the timing reference. Asynchronous USB is available in both USB Audio Class 1 and 2.

Henry Audio is founded and operated by Børge Strand-Bergesen, a Norwegian national and 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 electronics and analogue ASIC layout.

The USB DAC 128 mkII can be purchased online in various currencies. All shipments to EU countries are sent from within the EU. Shipments to all other locations (including Norway) are sent from Norway. Price is £210/270 USD/260 EUR.


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We ran a news article a good while ago about the HeadStand, an inexpensive and neat solution for storing HeadStand_goldheadphones that incorporated a nifty wire management system. Today BrandsWalk contacted us to tell us that there is now a limited edition of the stand available in rose gold.

Only 499 of these will be produced and the price is five cents shy of $50 in the US.



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As Zeus gave birth to Apollo, Triangle Art’s Zeus Cartridge gave birth to the Stone body Apollo – the god of Music (and light/sun/healing)!

The Apollo MC cartridge is crafted with onyx stone and uses “some of the best parts in the World, with each componentApolloMC_Cart of this cartridge being fine-tuned and tweaked to deliver the performance worthy of carrying the Triangle Art Logo” says the recent press release from Triangle Art.

There have been some proprietary design changes in the Apollo to yield a “much improved sound quality”.

A natural high quality diamond (V V S 1 grade or more) is used in the design to control the resonance along with silver wiring and gold plated pin.

As with Triangle Art’s Zeus cartridge, there is a philosophy of combining speed and detail without sacrificing musicality and this is what the company say they have achieved with the Apollo – “more details, more transparency, more finesse, more air and more musical”.

From the pictures we’ve been sent it certainly looks to be quite a special bit of kit.


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B.M.C. Audio (Balanced Music Concept) has announced the introduction of their new UltraDAC Digital / Analog BMC_dacConverter / Preamp / Headphone amplifier.

The UltraDAC delivers a digital to analogue converter in reference quality says the company’s press release. It combines its DAC with a balanced preamplifier, a balanced headphone amplifier, and B.M.C.’s exclusive Digital Intelligent Gain Management (DIGM), a volume and amplification control system that “calibrates gain without dividing or downgrading the input signal”.

The UltraDAC’s balanced preamp is integrated with the DAC’s current-to-voltage converter, which converts and filters the DAC’s current, eliminating the need for an extra stage. The Preamp and headphone amp both employ B.M.C.’s exclusive Load Effect Free (LEF) technology that handles current demand separately from the voltage demand, and “naturally avoids distortions increasing the preamp and amp’s quality of its audio reproduction”.

The UltraDAC also has separate volume controls for the preamp and the headphone, an asynchronous USB interface, digital AES/EBU, Toslink and coaxial inputs, balanced analog outputs, RCA output jacks, and a special B.M.C. link for connecting directly to a B.M.C. amplifier. It’s balanced output is ideally compatible with amplifiers featuring B.M.C.’s exclusive Current Injection (CI) technology, which enhances signal purity and the musical presence of theUltraDAC’s audio reproduction.


  • Digital/Analog Converter withCurrent Injection current-to-voltage (I/V) conversion
  • Asynchronous USB interface up to 32bit/384kHz
  • USB PCM: 16…32bit; 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384kHz.
  • DXD support without FIR filtering.
  • USB DSD: DSD64, DSD128.
  • ASIO driver for Windows; Linux and Mac compatible
  • AES/EBU, coaxial and Toslink digital inputs up to 24bit / 192kHz
  • Balanced, headphone amplifier withdigital/analog power convertion (DAPC), load-effect free (LEF) technology, 15A bipolar Voltage output devices combined with MOSFET current sources, a super-low impedance LEF output stage, and lossless Digital Intelligent Gain Management (DIGM) volume control.
  • Balanced LEF, CI-compatible preampthat optionally operates in B.M.C. Mode, with DIGM and bipolar voltage source combines with a DMOS current source and LEF-balanced output stage.
  • Separate volumecontrols for the line and headphone sections (the line volume position 59 represents a DAC standard output level)
  • Second-generation DIGMwith optimized gain distribution between power amps and internal and DIGM volume levels
  • Optical B.M.C. Link forconnecting with B.M.C. amps like the PureAmp

The second new product B.M.C have announced is the PureAmpStereo Integrated Amplifier. More »

The Turn by Jerome Sabbagh was recorded live by James Farber at Sear Sound, New York City on June 6th 2013 to analogue tape and on this Bee Jazz release from HIGHRESAUDIO it really shows. This is a really fantastic recording in the true tradition of jazz music. There is spontaneity and freedom within the constraints of the song structure and the musicians are laid bare. More »

Has Icon Audio founder David Shaw designed the ultimate push-pull triode amplifier? Asks the latest press release Icon Audio MB81from this well known British manufacturer.

For much of the last year, Icon Audio founder David Shaw has, in his own words, been building his own birthday present.  After discovering a quantity of ‘new old stock’ Russian GU81 transmitter valves, Shaw began to work on a prototype amplifier that would achieve a long-held personal goal: to effectively drive any modern low-efficiency high-end speaker to realistic levels.

Shaw has long been a fan of triode operation, being the purest form of valve circuit. But triodes have a downside: limited power output.  After many months of designing and listening, Shaw has produced what is, in essence, the final pre-production prototype of the Icon Audio MB81: a triode monoblock which can deliver 200 watts RMS into even the most demanding of loads.

At 260mm tall, 100mm in diameter and weighing 1kg each, the GU81 is a truly majestic valve. Although the GU81 still in production, Shaw has used ‘new old stock’ valves in the MB81, hand-chosen for their combination of fine resolution, enthralling musicality and immense power.  Always keen to break boundaries and set trends, Icon Audio believe the MB81 to be the world’s first ever push-pull GU81 amplifier.

These massive amps are around 50% bigger than the current Icon flagship MB845MkIIm and weigh around 100kg per pair.

While the MB81 was developed as a personal gift for Shaw himself, he plans to produce a limited number for sale, with an estimated price of £12,500 per pair.

The MB81 will be demonstrated at this week’s National Audio Show at Whittlebury Hall.  Visitors will be the first to witness the life-like scale of the stunning new prototypes from Leicester-based Icon Audio.

  • Pure Class A triode front end.
  • Triode GU81 push-pull output stage.
  • The four GU81s can be user-calibrated using Icon Audio’s built-in ‘Easy Bias’ meter.
  • All hand wired with silver plated pure copper PTFE audio cable to optimise sound and reliability.
  • Low distortion quaternary wound output transformers, potted to reduce noise.

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Naim have got a new look website which as well as looking really cool is much more user friendly and easy to navigateNaim_new_website than their previous site.

As well as easy to find page links to Naim’s entire product list there’s also an interesting “Our Story” section, Find a Stockist, Customer Support, information about the Naim Label and their partnership with Bentley.
It’s a very visual site with the inclusion of videos and lots and lots of large pictures which Naim says will bring users a more dynamic experience. Certainly looks like a job well done from here.


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Slovenian company Erzetich got in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us all about their new high-end headphone Deimos_headphone_amplifieramplifier, the Deimos .

“Despite the rough, 19th century industrial look, with an aged linden wood faceplate and milled thick aluminum parts, there’s a gentle soul inside. This 6.5-kg-headpone amplifier sounds balanced and precise and makes an important visual statement on your desk – no wonder it was a great success among visitors at this year’s Munich High End Hi-Fi show” says the company’s press release with the company’s CEO and founder Blaž Erzetič commenting
“I’ve rediscovered the music with Deimos, This is a supercar among headphone amplifiers. Every album I listen to on it is a spectacle on its own. Visually, we studied a lot the exterior, too, to make this machine not only an ear-, but also an eye-candy”;

Due to the complexity of manufacture, Erzetich plans a very limited yearly production of this completely hand crafted, headphone amplifier;

·  dual mono class-A

  • three separate power supplies (two for analog, one for digital)
  • 43000 uF smoothing capacitors per channel
  • digitally controlled 64-steps relay-based volume attenuator
  • gain boost switch
  • RCA and XLR inputs
  • superior quality RCA connectors
  • Neutrik gold plated XLR connectors
  • chassis made of steel, aluminum, wood and acrylic

Deimos will be available at the beginning of 2015 for around 4,000 EUR but Erzetich will start accepting preorders with a special discount in late September.


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