The original Leema Xen was initially designed as a “cost no object” nearfield monitor for use in studios and the like, but then it was embraced somewhat by those in audiophile circles. Stuart Smith takes a listen to this diminutive £1295 loudspeaker that hails from Wales.


“As mentioned in the preamble, the Xens were originally designed for nearfield monitoring and I’m very familiar with this kind of speaker, having sat in front of them for years and years in studios. First impressions are that the Xens are typical of the very best of this kind of monitor, with them feeling accurate, balanced and composed. Of course they don’t go super low, but you know what, you don’t always miss trouser flapping bass when the mids are just so “right”.”

Read the full Review


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At £9000 the Bespoke Audio Co passive Preamplifier certainly isn’t cheap, but this is a hand-made in the UK, luxury product that is not meant to be within the reach of the majority of people. Stuart Smith takes a listen.Bespoke_pre_netherlands show

“You can choose the configuration of your preamplifier to satisfy your needs and in collaboration with the people at Bespoke. Once you have decided on the configuration, the colour etc, they will then begin work on the preamplifier…a process that will take around five weeks. During this time Bespoke will keep you updated with regards the progress and even send you videos of your transformers being wound, photographs of the build and weekly updates.”

Read the full review


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The original Leema Xen was initially designed as a “cost no object” nearfield monitor for use in studios and the like, but then it was embraced somewhat by those in audiophile circles. Stuart Smith takes a listen to this diminutive £1295 loudspeaker that hails from Wales. More »

Ian Ringstead takes a look at the state of the hifi industry and asks what we can all do to boost the popularity of two channel audio in the home.   More »

Greenwich Music Time returns to the World Heritage-listed site of The Old Royal Naval College from July 6th – 10th 2016 with a stellar line-up featuring an eclectic array of star names from around the world.

Still only in its third year, the concert series has quickly established itself as one of the most popular live music events in the calendar thanks to its stunning location on the banks of the Thames and an array of memorable performances over the years from the likes of Ray Davies, Tom Jones, Jools Holland, George Benson, The Gipsy Kings, Goldfrapp and many more.

Next year’s event looks set to push the bar even higher with the announcement of the first two headline acts. Greenwich Music Time 2016 will present shows from chart-topping ’80s pop duo Roxette, and the most successful UK jazz artist of all time, the Grammy-winning pianist and singer Jamie Cullum.cullum_greenwich

The final three headline acts will be announced in due course.

Greenwich Music Time Organisers Neil O’Brien and Peter Taylor:

“The Greenwich Music Time series is fast-becoming one of London’s must-see live music events. Our aim continues to be to programme an exciting and multifarious concert series and as such we are delighted to have two world class acts already on board for next year in the form of jazz superstar Jamie Cullum and one of the biggest bands of the 80s and 90s, Roxette. We will release details of our remaining three headliners over the coming months.”roxette

Roxette perform on Friday July 8th and Jamie Cullum on Sunday July 10th.

Tickets go on general sale from Friday December 4th


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Music has power.  The power to stir emotions and paint pictures in our imagination.  When Pink Floyd released their high-concept double album The Wall in 1979 its listeners were left to flesh out the storyline that the music and lyrics provided with whatever visual concepts their own brains provided.  Like no album before it though, The Wall called out for visual interpretation.  Pink Floyd’s live performances of the album mixed music and visuals in a way that no band had done before – building a physical wall between the band and audience and then projecting Gerald Scarfe’s animated interpretations of the story onto it, accompanied by huge, grotesque marionettes.  Alan Parker’s 1982 film adaptations of the story provided a fully realised visual framework for the storyline, the music  being somewhat relegated to a supporting narrative role. More »

This is not really the article that I was going to write this month, but things changed in Paris on Friday the 13th of November 2015. We are setting off to visit the Haute Fidelité Show at the Marriott Rive Gauche in Paris. I’m not entirely sure how I am feeling, a mixture of anger and defiance, but also sadness and admittedly fear.


At £9000 the Bespoke Audio Co passive Preamplifier certainly isn’t cheap, but this is a hand-made in the UK, luxury product that is not meant to be within the reach of the majority of people. Stuart Smith takes a listen.  More »

Ian Ringstead comes over a bit Austin Powers when he gives the British made Ophidian Mojo loudspeakers, which cost £995, a listen.
“Walking into the Ophidian room I was greeted by a very impressive sound and at first thought it was coming from the larger floor standing speakers until I realised it was these tiny stand mount units called Minimos. These are the babies of the M series range which comprises of three models – Minimo, Mojo and Mambo. The Mojo is a larger stand mount unit and the Mambo a slim floor stander”.MOJO-angle2
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Ian Ringstead comes over a bit Austin Powers when he gives the British made Ophidian Mojo loudspeakers, which cost £995, a listen. More »

The guys at Entotem have sent us a link to their video for the Plato which we reviewed here


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Hifi Pig was invited to visit French loudspeaker manufacturer Triangle at their offices in Bordeaux, but first of all who are Triangle and what is the history behind the brand? More »

It was with a good deal of trepidation that we embarked on this year’s trip to the Haute Fidélité show in Paris and not without good reason. As I’m sure all readers will be aware the weekend prior to the event Paris had been hit by a terrorist attack that left hundreds of people killed or injured. There was a good deal of discussion at Hifi Pig as to whether we should cancel the visit, but the train and apartment were booked and we were very much of the thought that if we didn’t go then the terrorists had got just what they wanted. I’m writing this preamble on the train and I must confess to feeling a little nervous about the whole venture. However, the people at Haute Fidélité and a number of the exhibitors we know well were determined that the show must go on and so who are we to cry off when we are promised a great line up of kit and a weekend of musical enjoyment.

I don’t want to go into the whole “this sounded great, this sounded crap” scenario with this write up of the show as I think it took a great deal of courage for Haute Fidélité to go ahead with the show and for the exhibitors to turn up. It’s also good to see that a large number of the public turned out for the event.
Yes, there was a little extra security at the front door with everyone getting searched, but this was neither intrusive nor any kind of hassle.  More »

Box Design by Pro-Ject Audio Systems announce after many months of development, the company’s entire range of Stream Box components are now fully compatible with the TIDAL streaming service. PJ-BD-StreamBoxDSnet-silver

As most will know TIDAL offers an expansive high fidelity music streaming service, and with the latest software update from Pro-Ject, the service’s whole music library can be played back through the Stream Box DS net, Stream Box DS+, Stream Box DSA and Stream Box RS.

Control over your music is managed by the free Box Control application – without any need to switch  between different control apps. Now you can browse, manage and playback from a library of 30 million songs through a compact high-quality streaming source!

Full TIDAL integration is included in the latest software releases for all Stream Box models and the Box Control application, and the software updates are completely free to new and existing Pro-Ject customers.


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Pro-Ject Audio System’s Box Design range was created to satisfy the growing trend towards smaller high-performance audio products. In 2013 My Audiophile Integrated Amplifier, or MaiA that measured just 206 x 200 x 36mm (W x D x H) was launched. Now, at the end of 2015, Pro-Ject has introduced a bigger sibling to MaiA for their DS range. PJ-BD-MaiADS-black

MaiA DS provides everything the modern listener needs… Three analogue inputs, three digital inputs, a phono stage, USB streaming and Bluetooth streaming. In addition there are multiple output options including a headphone socket. MaiA DS is a pre-amplifier, an integrated amplifier, a DAC, a headphone amp and a phono stage – all in one box.

Onboard you get a 60W per-channel Class D output stage and the PCM1796 Delta-Sigma DAC chip with 24bit / 192kHz high-resolution audio handling from Texas Instruments. The USB input uses XMOS asynchronous streaming technology and the input can also handle up to DSD256 playback (DoP). The 4th generation Bluetooth input is aptX® enabled to ensure the highest quality wireless streaming from a smart device. There’s a switchable MM/MC phono stage built into the amplifier which is based on Pro-Ject’s Phono Box technology. PJ-BD-MaiADS-back

With the free Box Control Android application, you can gain complete control of the MaiA DS and any other Infra Red (IR) remote-controlled device in your system.* Heinz Lichtenegger, CEO of Pro-Ject Audio Systems, has said:

“We see that people like to control music with an app. The industry offers many streamers where you can control your music content very conveniently. But for your hi-fi amp, CD player or TV, you’ll often have multiple remotes or a very expensive control system. With our unique Box Control app and the MaiA DS it is possible to control standard analogue IR products without the need of a Wi-Fi connection!”

Box Control takes a different approach to other remote systems; so only core controls are accessible through the app, and each device has its own easy-to-understand screen – rather than a myriad of complicated options squashed into one screen.

SRP £699.00

The MaiA DS is available in the UK now in Black or Silver.


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Each week in December a curated collection of Studio Master tracks will be available to download from Linn Records’ roster of artists.

Each collection has its own theme and offers an introduction to high quality Studio Master downloads, giving everybody the chance to explore and expand their musical tastes with the wide variety of genres on offer throughout the month.banner-week1

There’s something for everyone to enjoy, including a rendition from Britain’s First Lady of Jazz, Claire Martin, an award-winning performance from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s hugely popular Mozart symphonies and an exclusive track from the beautiful English pianist and vocalist, Liane Carroll, recorded specially for Linn’s 24-bits of Christmas.

You can enjoy a taste of what’s on offer throughout December with Linn’s preview download – The Movie Collection from Monday 23rd November.

The Movie Collection features tracks from some of the most celebrated moments in movie history, interpreted by Linn Records’ artists and delivered in 24-bit Studio Master quality.


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McIntosh Laboratory launched the C1100: a luxurious two-chassis preamp with huge connectivity and McIntosh’s best technical performance to date and we broke the news about it way back in September here. XL_C1100C_and_C1100T_Angle_Left

The C1100 is now available in the UK with a price tag of £12,995 with Jordan Acoustics being the distributor.

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British brand Exposure Electronics has long been renowned for creating high-performance audio components with involving musical reality, yet with an affordable price tag.

In January 2015, the brand released a new, enhanced ‘D’ edition of its 3010S2 integrated amplifier and now the preamp has been given the same upgrade.Exposure 3010S2D preamplifier with 3010S2 mono amps

Like its predecessor, the new 3010S2-D preamplifier comes with six line level inputs. However, one of these is now a direct AV input to enable integration within a surround sound system. There is still the possibility to fit an optional MM or MC phonostage, which is now joined by the option of a plug-in DAC board. The latter is capable of up to 192/24 bit PCM and DSD 64, and comes with two inputs: USB and BNC, with auto-switching between them. A tape output is included as well as two main outputs to allow for easy bi-amping.

The 3010S2-D now sports a brand new circuit board which has been remapped and features high quality relays for input selection to ensure the shortest possible signal path. There are no integrated circuits, as the signal path uses all discrete components including special high-quality capacitors. The new power supply includes a large custom-made torodial power transformer and adds extra stages of regulation for improved performance. 

Technical specifications

Input impedance17K Ohms minimum (line input)
Input sensitivity250mV
Gain17dB ( x7)
Frequency response20Hz – 20KHz ± 0.5dB
Total harmonic distortion<0.005% at rated output, ref 1KHz
Signal to noise ratio>100dB, A-weighted
Channel separation> 60dB @ 20KHz
Mains supply110/120V or 220/240V, 50/60Hz (factory set)
Power consumption<25VA
Dimensions90mm (h) x 440mm (w) x 300mm (d)
Net weight (unpacked)5kg
Gross weight (packed)7kg
Warranty3 years

The Exposure 3010S2-D integrated amplifier is available now in titanium or black, priced at £1,060  (incl. VAT).

Optional additions:

  • On-board MM phonostage £240
  • On-board MC phonostage £240
  • On-board DAC £325


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The New Pass Labs’ HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier  was designed on a “clean sheet of paper” as though it were to be used as a power amplifier.

The HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier is capable of driving difficult loads in terms of impedance, power consumption or both and it has been designed as a real Class-A power amplifier in its own right.HPA1+Front

The foundation of the HPA-1’s engineering is a custom, low-noise shielded toroidal power transformer feeding a discreet low noise regulated power supply for the audio circuits.  The HPA-1’s amplifier circuits are low-feedback, wide-bandwidth discreet designs employing a J-Fet input stage and a Mosfet output stage biased into Class A-biased direct-coupled output stage.HPA1+Back

The HPA-1 has a single headphone jack on its front panel, two sets of single-ended analogue inputs via RCA jacks on the rear panel, and also a set of switchable “Preamp” line-level output jacks on the rear panel.  The HPA-1 can be used as a stereo preamp. The rear panel holds the power switch and fuse. Volume control is via a hefty rotary knob connected to an ALPS Potentiometer. The other front-panel controls are three pushbuttons, to select inputs or to engage the Preamp output.

Price $3500


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Totem Acoustic from Montreal, Canada, just launched its first Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the first series of its new ARC amplifier. Since Totem is known primarily in the HiFi technology scene for its speakers, the ARC represents a new adventure into the realm of amplifiers.ARC1

The ARC is not just another HiFi amplifier the company say, but possibly the first in line of a new generation of digital amplifiers. Totem likes to call it “The next generation of digital amps” adding “This amplifier allows all digital music to be played on a HiFi system with the sound quality of any large sound system”.

The ARC allows Bluetooth audio wireless streaming from any digital device directly to almost any 8-ohm speaker system. Small and easy to use, all that is needed is a pair of speakers and the ARC. With the integrated Bluetooth audio wireless connection, the ARC works autonomously with a set of speakers and a smart phone. It can also be hooked up to a computer via USB. The ARC will thus act as a USB audio device, but will switch automatically to Bluetooth Audio if it is connected to a smart phone.ARC2

Today most of the music we listen to is digital; it’s on our phones, our laptops or streamed from the web. But there is gap, a missing link, when it comes to listening to our online music library or internet streaming music on a good HiFi system. As music passionate, we know that high-end quality is absolutely irreplaceable when it comes to a great listening experience and immersive sound. That’s why we created the ARC,” explains Gabriel Bull, Director of Technology at Totem Acoustic.

All you need is a set of nice speakers and the ARC. Done. Now go ahead and play your music collection from your computer, smart phone, or any internet radio streaming on your existing HiFi setup or run out and get yourself some nice sounding speakers,” says Robert Valtierra, Research and Development Engineer in the field of Electronics and Embedded Systems and inventor of the ARC.

Being the size of a book, it can be placed anywhere. The ARC has no buttons or knobs; it turns on automatically when you connect to it. With a total power of 120W, it runs at high efficiency thereby providing large amounts of audio output power while requiring very little space and without need for heat sinking.

The ARC is a fully-integrated amplifier system. Amplification is provided by the latest in Class-D amplifier technology. It is designed using digital inputs: USB Audio 2.0 and Bluetooth aptX Audio. The USB audio connection delivers 24-bit resolution and sampling rates up to 192 kHz. The Bluetooth connection can provide a “CD-quality” connection via aptX.

Although the ARC performs on its own initiative, it is possible to customize sound with the free and optional ARC App.ARC3

Built-in, powerful digital Class-D amplifierClass-D. Maximal rated output 120W (2 x 60W into 8-

ohms, THD+N<0.05% @ 1kHz) with both channels driven,

20 Hz-20 kHZ-AES17 measurement bandwidth.

Silent operationAs the amplifier does not produce any heat, there is no need for a noisy fan — all you hear is the music.
Full range outputThe Arc allows for 2.1 installation to achieve more bass power. The optional and free Arc App allows for more subtle adjustment of frequencies.
Speaker connectionsPush Gold plated posts
Auxiliary outputRCA type line-level output
Audio formats supportedAll audio formats supported.
Internet radio supportedAll streaming radios supported

Suggested retail price: $350 US


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Audio Research say they are pleased to announce that the GSi75 integrated amplifier, the third member of the G-Series, is finally a reality and in production. First shown as a prototype at  the Munich High End show in 2014 (And very nice it looked too), the final production version has grown in size, versatility, and performance with Audio Research calling it the Swiss army knife in their lineup.4218_Audio_Research_GSi75

The GSi75 is more than a simple integrated amplifier, it is a one-box solution that includes both a high per- formance DAC and phono stage; all you need is a digital source, a turntable, and speakers…it even has a tube headphone section.

The DAC in the GSi75 is the companyy’s most advanced design, handling digital sampling rates up to 384kHz and DSD 1x and 2x, in both native and DoP formats via USB 2.0. True, native DSD bitstreams are resolved with no PCM conversion. In addition to the USB input, the GSi75 also has Toslink and RCA inputs. Fast and Slow filters are selectable, as is Upsampling to 352kHz or 384kHz. A separate driver is not required for Mac.4219_Audio_Research_GSi75_(top_view_without_protective_valve_cage)

The phono section has switchable 45dB or 62dB gain for use with MM or MC cartridges. Input impedance is selectable (47k, 1000k, 500, 200 or 100 ohms) via the front panel or the remote.

In addition to the digital and phono inputs, there are three other SE inputs, one of which can be configured as a home theater pass- through. The GSi75 has an IR input, and is also controllable via RS-232. The GSi75 has two 6H30 driver tubes and four KT150 output tubes that should last 3,000 hours. There are 4 and 8ohm speaker outputs.4215_Audio_Research_GSi75_(detail)

“The GSi75 is a sonic knockout, with clarity, dynamics and the same engaging immediacy that you have come to expect from the GSPre and GS150” say the company. Visually, it has the same elegant esthetic as its siblings, featuring a welded, hand-finished, brushed aluminum chassis, matte black transformer cover, black side handles, and a remov- able (perforated black) tube cage.


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Geoff Downes and Chris Braide released “ Pictures Of You”, their debut album as The Downes Braide Association, in 2012 after meeting at a Buggles reunion show in 2010.  Downes was already familiar to me from his work with The Buggles – I’m a big fan of their Age Of Plastic album – Yes and Asia.  Chris Braide was a new name to me but he has written and produced songs for Beyoncé, Lana del Ray, Paloma Faith, Christina Aguilera and Marc Almond amongst others so his pop pedigree is beyond doubt. More »

UK importer Hidden Systems has been in touch to tell us about the continued success they are having with the Lejonklou range of  phono stages, preamps and power amps, which we at Hifi Pig had not come across previously.lejonk1

The brand is designed by Frederick Lejonklou and he says “Building the best Hifi is like building a musical instrument. Every detail matters. While a lot of companies like to claim they pay attention to detail, we mean it in an extreme way.”

The Lejonklou range includes:

Sagatun Preamplifier

Sagatun Mono Preamplifier (Pictured)

Tundra Stereo Power Amplifier

Tundra Mono Power Amplifier

Gaio MM Phono Stage

Slipsik MM Reference Phono Stage


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Let’s get this straight from the outset… the él record label is absolutely nuts!!! And I love its quirkiness and bottle for putting out albums of music that otherwise would be unlikely to see the light of day. Regular readers will have read other reviews I’ve done of the label’s output and it is nothing if not varied and eclectic. And this album is a continuation on that devil may care, plucky stance, for here on Escape In Time we have a collection of 24 popular British television themes of the 1960s and some incidental music from The Prisoner tacked on the end.  More »

Billed as the world’s first jazz-funk mass Rochester Mass is due for release on Cherry Red on the 4th December and is essentially a catholic mass with the backdrop of The James Taylor Quartet. More »

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