Steve Halsall heads up KEF in the UK. Hifi Pig gets Behind the Brands with him, find out about his past and current systems and what he makes of the state of the Hifi industry. More »
Hifi Pig reader Michael Howell was born in England but now resides the good old USA. In this Readers’ Lives article he tells us how he personally goes about evaluating a system. More »
Australian brand Burson have announced a Noir Edition of the Conductor V2+ headphone amplifier/DAC/preamplifier. Hifi Pig had one of the older versions of this in house for a few months driving Audeze cans and it offers very good value and great sonics for money at USD 1499.
The Noir Edition will have the same spec as the classic silver one. ie.
8.2W per channel @ 16ohm,
SABRE32 ESS9018 DAC + Xmos USB receiver making it DSD256 / DXD / 32bit384khz able
Remote Controlled Preamp
5 years of warranty
The Noir version will be Available later in August.
MQA, the music technology company founded by Bob Stuart, announced today that it has hired music executive Mike Jbara as CEO. In addition to day-to-day leadership responsibility, Jbara will sit on the Board of MQA Ltd.
Bob Stuart, Chairman of MQA said: “We are delighted to have Mike join us to take the helm as MQA moves into this next phase. Our mission is to improve the quality of distributed music and to help connect artists to fans. I have known Mike professionally for many years and have immense respect for his technical and industry insight and knowledge, as well as interpersonal and organisational skills. Mike is a good friend and we are looking forward to developing the MQA business together.”
Jbara joins MQA from Warner Music Group, where he has held roles as Head of ADA Worldwide, President of WEA Corp. and most recently, EVP of Technology and Business Process.
Jbara commented: “I am inspired by the principles that have led to the creation of MQA – a commitment to sound quality, intuitive and natural consumer experiences, and the tireless advocacy for the artists’ music. I have had the great fortune to work closely with Bob Stuart and develop a partnership and friendship rarely found. The MQA team is exceptional. I could not imagine anything more exciting than to join this team and pursue that vision.”
Schiit Audio have introduced Modi Multibit, the most affordable DAC in the Schiit Multibit lineup. Modi Multibit, which retails for £249, joins Bifrost Multibit, Gungnir Multibit, and Yggdrasil in the Schiit Multibit DAC line.
“Modi Multibit smashes the price barrier in advanced multibit DACs,” said Mike Moffat, Schiit’s Co-Founder and head of digital development. “It is the most affordable multibit DAC built on a modern architecture—from any manufacturer, in any country in the world.”
Modi Multibit is built on Schiit’s proprietary multibit DAC architecture, featuring Schiit’s unique closed-form digital filter on an Analog Devices SHARC DSP processor. For D/A conversion, it uses a medical/military grade, true multibit converter specified down to 1/2LSB linearity, the Analog Devices AD5547CRUZ.
“It may seem incredible that, just a little over a year after we introduced our first multibit DAC, Yggdrasil, we’re introducing a multibit DAC that includes a version of the same digital filter and a real multibit D/A converter for 89% lower cost,” said Mike. “But we don’t believe that you should have to spend a boatload for great sound, so it makes complete sense.”
Modi Multibit is Schiit Audio’s fourth multibit DAC, and is built on Schiit’s second major multibit platform that was developed from the ground up. It fits into the line as follows:
Yggdrasil: Schiit Multibit 1 Platform, Modular/Upgradable, 8X Closed-Form Filter, AD5791BRUZ x 4, Choke-Input, Shunt Supplies, Discrete JFET Buffer Output, Gen 3 USB, £2045
Gungnir Multibit: Schiit Multibit 1 Platform, Modular/Upgradable, 8X Closed-Form Filter, AD5781BRUZ x 4, Discrete JFET Buffer Output, £1125
Bifrost Multibit: Schiit Multibit 2 Platform, Modular/Upgradable, 4X Closed-Form Filter, AD5547CRUZ, £540
Modi Multibit: Schiit Multibit 2 Platform, 4X Closed-Form Filter, AD5547CRUZ, £249
Multibit DACs differ from the vast majority of DACs in that they use true 16-20 bit D/A converters that can reproduce the exact level of every digital audio sample. Most DACs use inexpensive delta-sigma technology with a bit depth of only 1-5 bits to approximate the level of every digital audio sample, based on the values of the samples that precede and follow it.
Things are afoot in the world of reel 2 reels. Not only are there now at least 4 major companies producing reel to reel copies of famous master tapes, but very importantly after a long gap the Swiss tape recorder manufacturer Revox are bringing back the medium with a player based on the A700. More »
Following the successful launch of their Reference loudspeakers at the Munich Highend show, where they won the Hifi Pig Loves You award, Avid Hifi have expanded their range further to include their new entry level Reference.
Reference Four employs the same unique cabinet construction and vibration damping techniques, sandwiching the drivers between metal plates and guiding unwanted resonances away from critical points to their internal tuned mass damping element as other loudspeakers in the range.
“Matched to an appropriate room size it is more than capable of performing to the same high levels as our other Reference models” says the company’s press release.
Vibration normally felt in the loudspeaker cabinet are channelled to its mass damping element to ensure the cabinet, loudspeaker chassis and especially the speaker cone “remains free of colouration and the sound remains pure and smooth”.
Manufactured from up to 15mm aero-grade aluminium plate at their Huntingdon factory in the UK, each visually fixture free hand crafted cabinet contains one 6” Bass/Mid driver and a 28mm soft dome tweeter, each retaining the titanium voice coil former for lightness and rigidity, identical to other Reference models.
The Reference Four cabinet is also reflex loaded, the bass performance being optimised and the tuned port exits below onto the defusing plate minimising room positioning issues.
Dedicated optional stands are specifically designed to optimise the loudspeakers performance.
Price is expected to be less than £10 000
HF: 1 x 28mm (Titanium voice coil former)
MF/LF: 1 x 160mm (75mm Titanium voice coil former) Frequency Response: 40Hz – 22kHz +/-3dB Sensitivity: 88dB 1W@1m
Recommended Power: 40 – 300W Impedance: 6.5 Ohm
Crossover Topology: 2.5-way, 2nd Order
Cabinet Construction: Aluminium Plate. All internal volumes sealed with O-Ring gaskets
Dimensions: (cabinet) 367 x 210 x 440 (HxWxD)
: (overall) 995 x 210 x 440 (HxWxD) Finishes: Black, Bronze or Charcoal Silver with copper trim. Net weight: (loudspeaker) 26 KG
: (inc.stand) 48 KG
“Artnovion combines art and innovation to create the most beautiful and effective acoustic panels” says the company’s recent press release.
The range of panels include absorbers, bass traps and diffusers which are engineered to work sonically and be “striking” to look at.
Artnovion has also created an acoustics app called Impulso, which is designed to help users tune their rooms without requiring specialist training. With a user-friendly layout, room measurement is carried out in a few steps via the software’s interface. Configure the sound levels, and click ‘Go!’ for immediate results. As well as measuring the room, the app allows you to pick your desired Artnovion products, and then it automatically simulates how the room’s acoustics will alter, showing a reverberation time graph.
‘Sound is an audacious and powerful living element. An element that shapes the perception of our universe and embraces our senses. Curious about this elegant interaction I have nurtured a passion for sound ever since I can remember. Driven by the challenges of unravelling the mysteries of sound, I have been traveling through an extraordinary life journey of studying, imagining and creating acoustic innovation. Artnovion has become my life’s mission, the canvas I created to share this journey with you.’ Jorge Castro, CEO, Artnovion.
The Swiss company Goldmund has been present in Asia for more than three decades. Issued in 1982, at a time when most audio brands were trying to conquer the USA, this one had the clear objective of serving Asian customers first. Since then, Asia has continuously been Goldmund’s preferred market, and the first one in terms of sales.
It is thus not surprising to discover that Goldmund is opening this summer a new sales and technical support center in Taiwan. Located in Taipei, the new center will provide quicker technical services to its distributors and customers. It is also a demonstration centre where the latest products of the brand can be experienced in a private home environment that includes a dedicated room with a Logos home cinema. The showroom will be at the disposal of Goldmund’s professional partners and will welcome end users for private listening sessions (by appointment).
The grand opening of the Goldmund Asia Centre will take place on August 9 with a first event reserved to the media. The company will let journalists report their impression to the public and does not wish to spoil the surprise by disclosing more on the new facility.
This new development is a very clear message from Goldmund on a major shift it is taking in Asia. The company aims at reinforcing its presence and service thanks to geographically close and Chinese speaking staff members who will collaborate attentively with current distributors and dealers to promote a coherent presentation of the brand, products, and prices throughout the continent.
Dr. T.I. Lin, Goldmund Asia General Manager, will also take advantage of the opening of the Taipei Support Center to announce how the company will restructure its distribution in China. In an effort to fight the grey market that is widely spread in this country, it is foreseen that Goldmund Asia will be the sole distributor of Goldmund lifestyle and home theater products for China and will directly take care of all retailers who wish to continue or start working seriously with the brand.
Now before all you cat lovers and anti-vivisectionists try to lynch me, let me explain. Loudspeaker design has fascinated me for almost as long as I have been on this planet (60 years if you really want to know!!) and from my earliest days in retail I spent a lot of time not only listening to many designs but repairing them too. More »
With Stuart writing extensively about taste recently, and, having touched on the subject of hifi looks and beauty myself in previous articles, I got to thinking about how a hifi’s looks have a bearing on how it sounds, or how we perceive it sounds. For me, hifi systems fall into three main categories looks wise. More »
The Ultra SP turntable is built to order, and the final finish options are to each individual customers preferences, from the thickness and profile of the diamond polished granite base board, to the options for fine paint, lacquer or even gold, silver, or other plated metal finish to key components used in the manufacture of this product.
The company’s Ultra SP turntable in “XL specification” offers a larger chassis and baseboard designed to accommodate multiple tonearms of any size or type, but all other aspects of its specification are the same.
The design of The Ultra SP consists of a chassis constructed from anodised extruded aluminium beams with the whole structure being internally damped and then mounted on suspension isolation towers from the high mass granite baseboard below. This ensures the ideal environment for both the iota-audio-design Satori tonearm as well as the the rotating Spindle Platter supporting the vinyl record.
The Spindle Platter on which the vinyl record is placed is made up from 26 individual components, these include a combination of 316 stainless steel high mass peripheral weights, as well as aircraft grade aluminium alloy components, plus natural cork, Acetyl turned components and advanced polymer resin bonding agents.
The aim has been to create a structure that offers high rotational mass, but to position the majority of the mass at its extreme outer edge, therefore to gain the maximum benefit of centrifugal force. In addition whilst the structure is designed so that it supports the vinyl record where it is most required at its outer edge, but also at the centre around the turntable bearing spindle. The addition of a clamp then holds the vinyl flat to this damped area at the centre of the Spindle Platter. However the area of the vinyl that contains the groove will be devoid of any platter reflections or interactions. The interface cork mat is left to do its job, and nothing else, and again as it’s not fixed and the company have alternatives available.
The supplied Satori tonearm is a suspended control point design. This employs a combination of bearing and support techniques as well as materials not previously applied or used in other tonearm designs. The combination of an exceptionally strong Pultruded carbon fibre tube of square/round section for the main arm tube, this is suspended on PVDF ( Polyvinylidene flouride) mono filaments, with the excursion of the tonearm constrained by an upward facing stainless steel control point.
As a standard option the tonearm is supplied with XLR balanced connections and so very long cable runs from the turntable can be used. However, The Iota tonearm can be supplied with standard type connector plugs at no additional charge for use in conventional systems.
The turntable is supplied with the Ultra SP power supply which acts as a mains regenerator. Frequency stability is crystal locked to +/- 30 parts per million. In fact in order to provide both 33 and 45 RPM for the two-speed model specific crystals, ground to exact specification were used. Speed change is achieved by the flick of a switch. The unit is also available for all other international mains supplies & None UK/ EU voltages.
Prices from: £5,695.00
The Iota QT Ultra-SP turntable as above in XL specification: £ P.O.A.
Other models start from £795.00
David Robson takes a look at Indonesian company Vermouth Audio’s Rhapsody loudspeaker and mains cables costing £200 for a six foot pair for the former and £150 for a four foot cable for the latter. More »
When Rickie Lee Jones toured her Pirates album in 1981, she comfortably filled Edinburgh’s 3,000 seat Playhouse Theatre. Tonight, The Queen’s Hall, at less than one third of the size, is somewhat less than half full. The lack of seat sales is undeniably disappointing but is perhaps unsurprising. Jones is an uncompromising musician who has followed her muse through a variety of musical journeys but has never gone out of her way to court the mainstream – her sole chart single hit, 1979’s Chuck E’s In Love, struck a chord with the record buying public without bending its LA boho jazz style to the fashions of the day.
MUTEC, German manufacturer of professional and audiophile consumer audio equipment, say they are excited to introduce the firmware V1.10 for their MC-3+ Smart Clock USB. The new firmware V1.10 will not only introduce several functional improvements, it also presents a significant step-up for the already exceptional sound performance of the MC-3+USB say the company. Furthermore, the update will be free to all users and is ready to be installed on their own at home or at the studio.
- Free, user-executable update
- Painstakingly optimized re-clocking algorithm
Improving the already exceptional sound quality to achieve even more clarity, resolution, and presence
- PCM/DSD auto-detection
Enjoy music via USB up to 192 kHz PCM and DSD/DoP streams (up to DSD256 and DoP128 respectively) without the need for manual switching
- Bugfixes and functional improvements
Windows only at the moment, but Mac update coming soon
One of the most significant functional improvements and most requested feature of the firmware V1.10 is the automatic detection of DSD and PCM streams when using the MC-3+USB for audiophile computer audio playback via USB. MUTEC CEO Christian Peters comments: “Convenience is key for our high-end consumer audio customers and having to switch modes depending on the source file when playing back a mixed format playlist for example was a major nuisance.” From now on, the user simply has to select the USB input from the reference menu (all top three LEDs now illuminate) and the MC-3+USB will automatically adapt to PCM streams with up to 192 kHz sampling rate and DSD/DoP (DSD256 and DoP128 respectively).
Christian continues: “Our development engineers have painstakingly tweaked the DDS algorithms under the hood yielding a new level of sound quality. This is an achievement we’re particularly proud of and that all users will benefit from.”.
The firmware release package will contain several update files and a comprehensive guide taking the user through the process step by step. The update will be made available via MUTEC’s website as a zip-archive download. At the moment, the update is limited to Windows users only, but a Mac version of the update is expected to follow soon.
Expect a review of this the MC-3+USB on Hifi Pig soon.
Romanian company Meze Headphones has announced that the new line of earbuds, the Meze 11 Neo, is now available for pre-order. Coming in two colour variations, Gun Metal and Iridium, Meze say that the 11 Neo earbuds are ‘designed for the user to elegantly stand out from the crowd.’ They have an ergonomic shape aiming to make them comfortable and ‘non intruding’ to the ear. The aluminium housings hold the titanium coated dynamic neodymium drivers and the earbuds are compatible with all audio playing devices, including iOS, Android, and Windows.
The complete package of the Meze 11 Neo will include the following:
• One pair of Meze 11 Neo
• Hard EVA carrying pouch
• Spare silicone eartips, in four sizes
• Set of Comply™ foam tips
The sleeve notes for Eye’s Of Blue’s Crossroads Of Time opens with a bit of an odd one “Sometimes a band can anticipate history to their own detriment. There is such a thing of being too far ahead of the game and finding everyone else is still playing by the old school rules…The story of Welsh band Eyes of Blue is such a case in point”. More »
BenQ certainly have a monitor for everyone. Here at GadgetyNews we’ve reviewed a few high to mid spec screens but it is now time to check out something more entry level so we give you the GW2270H.
It is easy to get excited about the latest gaming panel or 4K display but not everyone needs, or wants that kind of monitor.
For instance, my needs are going to be different to someone who just nips online to update FaceSpace and Twitagram inbetween filing tax returns or making pie charts.
What we have here in the BenQ GW2270H, hopefully, is a no fuss but decent monitor.
Get the full review at GadgetyNews.
Home studios have always been popular but it’s only really over the past 10-15 years that they have actually been in the reach of most people. I remember getting my first tape 4 track recorder but, since the cost of a digital set-up such as the Tascam TrackPack US-2×2, has become affordable and the knowledge required to record something has also been simplified, now is a great time to get tooled up.
First I must apologise for the delay in posting this review. This has not been the fault of the tools sent to me to review but rather my insistence of having something half decent recorded through the set up. Unfortunately, the more pressure I put on myself to record something better than half-baked the more unhappy with what I was producing I became. Then, after a sit down with my friends Jim Beam and Jack Daniels, something hit me. That thing was the epiphany that I was supposed to be reviewing the hardware – not my musical ability and not even the supplied DAW software.
Throwing those shackles aside – it’s time to move on.
Read the review over on GadgetyNews.
The Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 is set up to be the Chinese company’s challenger to Apple and Samsung. Huawei have made no secret that they aim to actually overtake those two over the next couple of years. Has the MediaPad M2 got the chops though?
Months without a new Huawei device to review and then there’s two in a matter of weeks – not that I am complaining, of course!
Following on from my P9 review, I have just spent the last 10 days living with the premium version of the MediaPad M2 10.0. This is a landscape-focused, 10-inch Android tablet that’s both thin and light and has a classy aluminium build.
This, on paper at least, makes it a direct challenger to Apple’s iPad Air 2. It certainly looks and feels more polished than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.
Could this be the iPad and Samsung Tab S2 alternative you’ve been looking for?
Find out at GadgetyNews.
The Huawei P9 was launched almost three weeks ago and GadgetyNews was there. Since then, I have been living with the phone that packs Leica camera smarts and no fewer than three snapper sensors – one up front and two around back.
Huawei is still trying to win over the Samsung and Apple returning customers. It’s not like they’re unheard of either. Google for one used Huawei to design and build their Nexus 6P, which is an amazing mobile.
With all the chat about the P9’s photographic credentials, has Huawei got it all wrapped up with their latest flagship phone?
Read the review over on GadgetyNews.
You might recall my news of AOC announcing their new line of premium gaming monitors – the AGON series. Now they have released its first model – the 27-inch (68.6 cm) AG271QX.
The AOC AGON AG271QX is powered by a high-speed TN panel at a native resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels.
It promises ultra-smooth images with a 144 Hz refresh rate and a response time of 1 ms, supported by Adaptive-Sync Technology (FreeSync compatible, at a 30-144 Hz range) that reduces stuttering and tearing – focusing on the best gaming performance.
Read the full story at GadgetyNews.
The DP-X1 press release makes no bones about it – “Onkyo has launched the world’s best Hi-Res Digital Audio Player, the DP-X1”
That’s a lofty claim to say the least but Onkyo must be pretty sure of themselves.
As you would expect, it handles all the existing Hi-Res formats you can think of, including MQA.
With the rapid rise in consumers wanting “higher than CD quality” High Resolution Audio (High Res Audio) formats, the availability of multiple streaming audio and video services, and High Res-capable headphones, many users have been looking for ways to enjoy their High Res Audio content everywhere they go.
Get the rest of the story over on GadgetyNews.
I love my Nvidia Shield tablet but what about an Android device that’s dedicated to Android gaming? Well the Nvidia JXD S192 may be the one.
Before I start, I realise that there’ll be some of you saying “Hang on, you’ve forgotten about Ouya!” well, I think most other people have too. The Ouya seemed to be a decent proposition and enough people agreed with the millions it made on Kickstarter originally. Unfortunately, it was buggy as hell and sales were poor. Its lack of support by games developers didn’t help either.
Nvidia’s Shield tablet and Shield Android TV box are both excellent devices that excel when it comes to playing quality games as well as be fully-featured entertainment kit.
Anybody who has played with the latest Shield Tablet K1 will tell you how the Tegra K1 processor makes quality gaming possible on a portable device. My first gen Shield is pretty near darned perfect as it is except that to fully enjoy the gaming experience I need to lug around a wireless controller.
Now a handheld gaming tablet plans to exploit the chip for a gaming handheld that will also come packed with retro emulators aplenty.
For the full story, check out the article on GadgetyNews
At £885 the Minute EL-34 valve certainly looks to offer good value for money with its separate power supply. Add another £150 and you get a full compliment of cryo’d valves. Ian Ringstead takes a listen. More »
When I was a youth I had the door to my bedroom painted with all psychedelic patterns, dragons, mushrooms and the like. Somewhere on the door I also had a poem that started “I am Bufo bufo, not yet rested from the great work” and on the frame over the door I had “It’s an ill wind that blows no minds”. I’m sure my parents must have been very proud, if not a little concerned about my mental wellbeing. The year the tunes on this collection came out I was born, but I’ve always been drawn to the whole hippy vibe…man, and love the music of this era; mostly it has to be said the music that came out of the US scene. More »
Karma-AV have announced the availability of the Mark-Levinson № 526 dual- monaural preamplifier. The № 526 is a 12-input dual-monaural design featuring Pure Path circuit topology, a class-A ‘Pure Phono’ stage, a 32-bit DAC, and a class-A Main Drive Headphone output.
Designed and engineered at HARMAN’s Engineering Centre of Excellence in Shelton, CT, USA, the Mark Levinson № 526 offers a signal path that is fully discrete, fully balanced and completely dual-monaural, with a discrete, balanced R-2R ladder volume control to maintain the highest level of sonic purity, resolution, transparency and dynamic range.
There is the choice of two balanced and three single-ended analogue audio inputs, stereo phono inputs and six digital inputs, supported by the Mark Levinson ‘Precision Link’ DAC and HARMAN Clari-Fi® music restoration technology.
The Mark Levinson № 526 offers digital decoding up to 32-bit, 192kHz from PCM and double-speed DSD.
Its proprietary ‘Precision Link’ DAC incorporates an ESS Sabre32 Reference converter. Six digital audio inputs including asynchronous USB, AES/EBU balanced, TOSLINK optical and coaxial unbalanced, feed the digital signal path. For listeners whose libraries contain older or lower resolution content, the № 526 incorporates HARMAN Clari-Fi® music restoration technology.
In addition the № 526 is equipped with a ‘Pure Phono’ stage, which operates in class-A throughout, offering a fixed-gain MM section with five capacitive cartridge-loading settings, and an MC section with three gain settings and 10 resistive cartridge-loading settings. An infrasonic filter intelligently compensates for rumble and warping.
The № 526 preamplifier delivers its signal to balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) stereo outputs, as well as a 1/4-inch (6.3mm) Main Drive Headphone output integrated with the front panel metalwork – a first for Mark Levinson. The Main Drive Headphone amplifier circuit drives up to 32-ohm headphones in class-A by employing the main output circuit rather than a secondary signal path.
The № 526 features a 6000- series aluminium housing in black with silver trim. It can be controlled from the front panel, from the remote control supplied and via a comprehensive range of system integration connections. Like all Mark Levinson products, the № 526 is designed and handcrafted in the USA.
- Pure Path discrete, direct coupled, fully balanced, dual-monaural signal path
- 32-bit Precision Link DAC with three selectable filters and seven power supplies
- Supports high-resolution PCM (up to 32-bit, 192kHz) and DSD (up to 5.6MHz)
- Discrete, balanced R-2R Ladder volume control for precision and performance
- Class-A Main Drive Headphone output for up to 32-ohm headphones using main circuit
- Selectable fourth-order, 80 Hz high-pass filter allows seamless integration of subwoofers
- Class-A Pure Phono stage with physically separated channels for MC and MM
- 12 analogue, digital, and phono inputs; balanced, single-ended, and headphone outputs
- Designed and handcrafted in the USA
Mark Levinson No 526 Dual-Monaural Preamplifier typical retail price inc VAT: £15,000 ea
The Tomcats were a British R&B/Mod band formed in Ealing in 1965 but it is in Spain they were most well known. The story goes that just before they were about to make it big on the R&B scene in London the band jumped in a van (bought by one of the band’s mum) and headed for Madrid. More »
Based in Hong Kong, Lock has over 10 years’ experience in the Asia Pacific region audio industry, having worked for other prestigious audio brands in business development and sales director positions. Prior to the audio industry, he has served global FMCG companies, focusing on marketing and business development.
“Lock’s experience with audio companies as well as his extensive knowledge of the region and Asia Pacific cultures, puts him in the ideal position to take PMC’s business in this market to the next level” says the company’s press release. He will be responsible for the support of existing distributors and the development of new business opportunities across the domestic hi-fi and professional audio sectors.
Miles Roberts, PMC managing director, commenting on the appointment says, “I was immensely impressed with Franco’s understanding of the markets and have no doubt he will be a significant asset to all of our businesses. I hope everyone will give their warmest welcome to Franco and allow him to assist those in his region with their future plans.”
This month, John Scott revisits the 1968 classic from Pink Floyd, Saucerful Of Secrets. More »
This months offering from él records was recorded in 1956 and is Michel Legrand’s homage to the French capital where he was born in 1932. You may not necessarily know the name but you are sure to know some of his tunes as he’s got around 200 film scores to his credit and if you’re still struggling you will certainly know Dusty Springfield’s version of Windmills Of Your Mind which is another of his tunes. More »
Lyn Stanley is the darling of the audiophile community and she certainly knows how to press our collective buttons to get us all in a lather over her recordings. Not content with just releasing her music on CD, she also releases her output on Reel2Reel and very high quality vinyl too – you may have even caught one of her live performances at High-End Munich (Lyn featured on the front cover of Hifi Pig’s coverage of High End 2015) and other audio shows. More »
Howard Massey knows a thing or two about the music industry and is a long-time music journo and consultant to the pro-audio side of things. He’s been a touring/session musician, songwriter, recording engineer and producer, not to mention having written a dozen or so books used in recording school curricula including Behind The Glass and Behind The Glass Volume II. So his credentials for putting together The Great British Recording Studios would seem to be well and truly in order. More »
First Watt’s new F7 power amplifier (MSRP: $3,000) is a very unique power amplifier says the company’s press release that’s just landed at Hifi Pig. It’s a two-stage push-pull JFET (input)/MOSFET (output) topology with fewer parts than any First Watt amplifier to date. The new F7 has been created as an updated version of the earlier F5 amplifier. Conceived in 2007, the F5 was a push-pull Class A amplifier employing eight semiconductors and 23 resistors to achieve 25 watts output with good specifications and good sound.
According to Nelson Pass: “The F7 bests the earlier F5, comprising even better sound and even simpler circuitry.”
Like all First Watt designs, it is a relatively low power (25W/channel into 8-ohms) simple Class A circuit, designed with an unusually low parts count. It is the 19th product from First Watt, since its founding in 1998 as Nelson Pass’ “personal laboratory”.
Explaining First Watt, Nelson Pass says: “I spend a lot of time building and evaluating basic amplifier concepts with an eye toward producing the highest quality sound with elegantly simple circuits.
“There is no such thing as a perfect amplifier, but there is a best amplifier for each type of speaker, music, and listener. Each First Watt model is a unique design and is ‘best’ in some particular way. They look alike because they all use the same basic chassis and power transformer. On the up side, it makes it easy for me to test ideas and compare different designs with the hardware being a fixed constant.
“Looking for tomorrow’s faceplate with yesterday’s circuits? You’re in the wrong place.”
The desire for a simpler circuit is self-explanatory – apart from the aesthetic, Nelson Pass believes that that simpler circuits tend to sound better: “In such a simple circuit, there are opportunities for improving performance by careful choice of transistors, resistor values, voltage and current values and precise matching of parts.”
The F7 has most of what was on his Wish List:
Very wide bandwidth
Low distortion and noise
Large Class A operating region
No degeneration in the output stage
Very low thermal distortion and drift
No capacitors or transformers (apart from the power supply)
Uniquely, it incorporates a very innovative balance of very low Negative Voltage Feedback and a small amount of Positive Current Feedback to give an “astonishing measure of control over reactive loudspeaker” loads.
Modest amounts of Negative Feedback are balanced in counterpoint to a small amount of Positive Current Feedback, creating an equilibrium where the output impedance approaches zero, improving transient and frequency response. “Of course you can achieve a similar effect with tons of negative feedback, but I think this is more elegant and sounds better. For brevity, I call it ‘PCF’,” explains Pass.
“Also, I put more capacitance in the power supply and found a clever way to further reduce the effect of high frequency DAC noise and environmental RF. This is a different amplifier. The diversity of audio taste being what it is, not everyone will prefer it. I presume that a certain segment of audiophiles will like it.”
MSRP Price: $3,000
Dimensions: 17W x 15D x 5.5H
Weight: 30 lbs.
Warranty: Parts and labour for 3 years, not covering shipping costs or consequential damages.
The £3785 Naim Superuniti is an all in one box streamer, DAC and amplifier, but is it a Jack of all trades and master of none? John Scott finds out for Hifi Pig. More »
Harmony is a new stereo interconnect cable from Black Rhodium hand built at the Black Rhodium factory in Derby employing advanced design techniques developed by Black Rhodium for use in its most expensive products.
The wires in Harmony are insulated in silicone rubber “because its low dielectric loss ensures extremely low distortion due to dielectric absorption effects in which sound energy is absorbed in the insulation and released at a later interval of time to create highly audible time-smearing distortion”.
“‘Transient Phase Distortion’ is reduced by using thicker insulation than is usual in speaker cables, increasing the distance between conductors and thereby reducing the magnetic field seen in each conductor wire as a result of the magnetic field created by the current in the other conductor wire. A further increase in the distance between conductors is achieved by use of the attractive cable braid and this further reduces ‘Proximity Effect’ distortion.”
Construction of Harmony includes the use of two separate and complementary materials that damp mechanical vibrations within the cable without the expense of vibration stabilisers says the company’s press release.
Harmony uses RFI suppression technology originally developed for high end cables in its construction. This protects the signal wires from picking up radio frequency interference (RFI) generated from Radio, Wi-Fi, Mobile Phones and even central heating systems. Further Harmony is covered in a tightly braided screen to protect the inner cores from picking up radio frequency interference.
Harmony RCA cables are terminated with ‘Hourglass Silhouette’ RCA connectors, plated in gold for long life reliability. The shape of the connector bodies enables easy insertion and removal at the back of equipment.
- Capacitance of 1m terminated cable: 50pF
Harmony Stereo interconnects will be available at these Retail Prices:
0.5m pair terminated with GN-3 RCA plugs. £320.00
1.0m pair terminated with GN-3 RCA plugs. £370.00
3m Sub-Woofer cable terminated with GN-3 RCA plugs £300.00
5m Sub-Woofer cable terminated with GN-3 RCA plugs £400.00
The ATC SCM19A active loudspeakers have onboard amps and active crossovers more often seen in pro audio, but these £4990/pair speakers are designed most specifically for the home environment. Dan Worth plugs them in and assesses their merits. More »
Noble Audio has launched a new flagship in-ear monitor which, for the first time, features proprietary Noble drive units. The range-topping Katana IEM benefits from nine custom-made drive units for each ear and is principally manufactured in the USA. Featuring a two-part US-made precision-machined aluminium chassis, Katana is smaller and lighter than the previous Kaiser 10U flagship.
- New US-made flagship model with nine proprietary drive units per side (ear)
- Most advanced Noble IEM and sound performance to date
- Updated Noble form factor and geometry featuring refined US-made precision-machined aluminium housings
- Sensitive enough for use with smartphones and portable audio devices
- Detachable cable with industry standard 2-pin configuration (0.78 mm diameter)
- Universal-fit as standard, custom-fit available (using alternative materials)
Noble Audio’s aluminium-chassis IEMs are no ordinary IEMs: they have been designed and manufactured in conjunction with specialists in California whose clients include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Marc Newson and Holly Hunt. The nine-driver Katana configuration is also available as a custom-fit model, using alternative construction materials from the Noble range, including acrylics and exotic solid woods (Prestige range). A 3D-printed option (SLA range) is also available for faster builds.
Supplied accessories include a Pelican 1010 case (crush-proof carrying case); a black velvet soft pouch; 12 pairs of ear tips (four kinds in three sizes); two Noble Audio bands or amp bands; a cleaning tool; a Noble cable and an ownership card.
SLA (3D-printed) £1,199/$1,650
Prestige custom-fit from £1,999/ $2,850
Choose a word from the following: Warped, debased, putrid, twisted. And one from these: Brilliance, originality, ingenuity, inventiveness. And there you have this album pretty much reviewed and condensed into two words. For the record I’d have gone for “Twisted Brilliance” for this is what you have here. Let Me Hang You is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended, but then William Burroughs reading some of his most outrageously degenerate but simultaneously entertaining and unsettling passages from his Naked Lunch novel of 1959 was never going to be. If you don’t know Naked Lunch then look it out and devour it before it consumes you! More »
Hifi Pig’s Janine Elliot is invited along to world famous AIR Studios where BBC Radio 2s Clare Teal joins the Syd Lawrence Orchestra for a direct to disc recording session. Read on, it’s fascinating! More »
“The SI-300.2d integrated amplifier is yet another milestone as Cary Audio forges deeper into the new era of sought after premium audio systems” the North Carolina company says in its latest press release.
The SI-300.2d mates a 300 watts per channel stereo Class A/B power amplifier with analogue RCA and XLR inputs to a Class A analogue preamplifier gain stage. The amplifier itself is biased to run Class A for an extended portion of the power output. The digital section is a chip off Cary’s reference products thereby including technologies like their proprietary TruBit™ Upsampling and OSO™ reclocking features.
Digital inputs include; XMOS USB capable of True native DSD up to 256 and PCM/DXD up to 32 Bit / 384kHz, as well as Coaxial (2), Optical, AES/EBU, and aptX® Bluetooth inputs. All SPDIF and Bluetooth digital sources offer 10 TruBit™ selectable upsampling or PCM to DSD conversion options. On the analogue side, the SI-300.2d includes 4 analogue inputs (2-balanced XLR, 2-RCA), with one each of the XLR and RCA inputs offering true Cinema Bypass features.
Additional features include: a pre/subwoofer output, coaxial and optical digital outputs, IR hand held remote, trigger out, IR sensor input, and Ethernet and Wi-Fi for controlling the SI-300.2d with free iOS and Android apps.
Weight: 52 lbs.
Dimensions: 6″ H x 17.25″ W x 18 ” D
Retail Price: $5,995
The SI-300.2d is now shipping
Download your free copy of Hifi Pig’s FREE 66 page special supplement for the last months North West Audio Show. There’s loads of reports from the show, photos and more… More »
Project have a well deserved name for producing great products at great prices, but £299 for a vacuum record cleaning machine really does seem to be very good value, at least on paper. Ian Ringstead puts a few of his grimier charity shop finds through the VC-S to find out if it sucks or not! More »
Forty years have passed since the summer of 1976, that long, hot summer when punk’s adrenaline rush threatened to sweep away anything and everything that threatened to get in its way. The Sex Pistols were punk rock’s leading lights and singer Johnny Rotten was punk’s poster boy, although whether the band were a credible threat to the establishment or simply puppets – the punky Monkees – of manager Malcolm McLaren’s situationist art project has become a moot point. “Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated?” sneered Rotten to an audience the Pistols reached the point of self destruction. I’ve never been too sure whether he was addressing the audience or himself. More »