LATEST ADDITIONS

Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011
Some setup curiosities don't detract from a very fine cartridge Handcrafted in its Erlangen factory in Germany, Clearaudio’s products stem from founder Peter Suchy’s aim to offer ‘a complete range of all the necessary things in the reproduction of analogue music’… tonearms, turntables, amps, plugs, cables, records, racks and, of course, phono cartridges. Clearaudio offers an extensive selection of both moving-magnet and moving-coil models, with the reference Goldfinder MC cartridge costing in excess of £7k. Its MM types sit at the other end of the price scale and the Aurum Beta occupies the middle rung of a seven-strong range. Each is offered with a choice of aluminium or satiné wood body materials.
Keith Howard  |  Sep 02, 2011
The high-end hi-fi industry is perhaps unique – certainly unusual – in that it continually holds the present to account, against its past. Many audiophiles, often not with nostalgia foremost among their motivations, wilfully divest themselves of the ‘benefi ts’ of modern technology, preferring vinyl to digital, vacuum electronics to solid state and full-range drive units to the meticulously developed multidriver speakers that purport to represent the state of the art. If we think of this as a spectrum of design approaches rather than Montagues versus Capulets, the Aurousal VSx – the new, improved version of the VS that won our group test in HFN Aug ’10 – is certainly not at the extreme occupied by single-ended triodes and re-entrant horns. Although the VSx does turn the clock backwards somewhat: in eschewing multiple drivers knitted together with a crossover network in favour of a pair of full-range drivers supplemented by a dome tweeter.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Sep 02, 2011
It doesn’t seem that long ago since D-to-A converters featuring USB sockets were something quite rare. How times have changed in just a few short years. Today pretty much all standalone DACs – including models from UK specialist manufacturer Chord Electronics – have them. Computer audio is ubiquitous in modern households, after all.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Aug 08, 2011
Though outwardly unchanged, a serious internal makeover has brought Karan's cool-looking pre/power duo up-to-date. But how do these revised models sound? here must be many audiophiles who are torn between valve and solid-state amplification. If you are attracted to the sound of valves, but hesitate to take the plunge for practical reasons, you’ll be interested in solid-state products which try to offer the best of both worlds. And that’s part of the promise held out by the Karan amplifier line, which is built in the Republic of Serbia and has been gathering a following in several other countries since around 2000.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 08, 2011
Designed to mimic the design of the Mac Mini, the CEntrance has wider appeal If you’re planning to use a Mac mini as your audio computer (and it’s a good choice given that it is small, smart, quiet and you can always use a Windows OS if you prefer) then why not have a DAC of similar appearance? That’s the USP of the CEntrance DACmini CX, which doesn’t quite pull off the imitation (there are joins in the case at either side) but even without a Mac mini as partner has the benefit of being likewise compact and sleek. That volume control knob on the front panel might suggest that the DACmini, like the Benchmark, Electrocompaniet and Antelope models, offers variable output level but it’s deceptive. The volume control actually adjusts the level of the headphone output only, via the nearby 1⁄4in jack. The rear panel analogue outputs are fixed.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 08, 2011
A very capable design with the added benefit of wireless connectivity Electrocompaniet’s new PD-1 is the largest DAC here and would be the most traditional in appearance but for its touch-sensitive display panel. It’s solidly enough built – although the review top plate on the review sample did rattle against the fascia. The PD-1 is unique in this group in two respects. First, it is supplied with a remote control, which allows the input source, output volume setting and display brightness to be adjusted.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 08, 2011
A crossover from the pro sphere with an extensive feature set Antelope Audio is better known in the pro audio industry than in the audiophile world, although its attendance at the recent Munich high-end show is evidence of its desire to bridge the divide. A glance at the Zodiac+ suffices to confirm its pro heritage. Not only does it describe itself as an ‘HD Mastering D/A Converter’ on the fascia, at the back there are unusual features such as balanced analogue inputs on 1⁄4in jack sockets, a word clock input and de-jittered digital outputs for daisy-chaining to other devices – none of which many audiophile buyers will ever have cause to use. The fascia is dominated by a central volume control that adjusts output level on the balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 08, 2011
Well thought out and far more than simply a 'budget' product Designed by The Audio Partnership in central London and manufactured in large volumes in the Far East for distribution worldwide (including an exclusive deal with Richer Sounds in the UK), Cambridge Audio products have become synonymous with good performance at a competitive price. The Azur component range was revamped substantially a couple of years ago. Soon after its introduction we featured this Azur 650C player alongside its partnering 650A integrated amplifier in our Nov ’09 Group Test. To recap, while a bit more expensive than the 640 models they replaced, they featured a fresh-up and wholly improved design with wrap-around casework and substantial alloy fascias that belied their (still modest) price tags.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 08, 2011
A sophisticated design with many likeable features Although the most affordable player in this Canadian specialist’s Moon range of components, the CD. 5 nevertheless is a solidly built machine with a sculpted front panel and sturdy metal casework enhanced by fluted detailing in the side cheeks. Its PCB has pure copper tracings and gold plating, and while the digital and analogue audio circuits are mounted on a single circuit board the company is at pains to point out that is in order to minimise signal path lengths – and each has its own respective ground plane to reduce interference and signal degradation. Simaudio claims its proprietary CD drive system comprises hardware and software developed in-house, while the DAC employed is a 24-bit/192kHz-capable Burr-Brown PCM1793 with 8x oversampling digital filter.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 08, 2011
A svelte Swede with performance to back up the looks Replacing the CD31, this new CD32 has been designed alongside the I32 integrated Class D amplifier [HFN Jun ’11]. Sweden’s Primare company has always had an eye for handsome design and while the appearance of these latest 32 models is broadly the same as the products they supersede, each component has been enhanced by the inclusion of a white-coloured, variable-brightness organic electroluminescent display (OLED) panel that adds real finesse. The CD32 is housed in an alloy/steel chassis and is beautifully finished; balanced outputs match the balanced inputs of its partnering amplifier. Separate PCB modules featuring SMDs are used to isolate signal paths while keeping them as short as possible, a regulated power supply employing an R-core transformer with separate windings for mechanical, analogue and digital audio circuits, while a separate switch mode supply powers the player’s microprocessor.

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