LATEST ADDITIONS

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.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 08, 2011
The Danish brand continues to be as unconventional in sound as appearance Danish company Densen has updated its top CD player, the Beat 440, to include a coaxial digital input, so that its internal D-to-A converter and output stage can be used for an external source ‘like a Sonus system, a Squeezebox or another digital source’, to quote the company’s recent announcement of this latest B-440XS model. Despite its slim profile and svelte cosmetic design, the player is quite a heavyweight at 8kg. Under the brushed aluminium casing its regulated power supply employs a 300VA transformer alongside substantial reservoir capacitors. Densen states that the digital and analogue stages, microprocessors, and front panel dot matrix display all have individual supply arrangements designed to avoid interference.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 08, 2011
Technically accomplished and extremely insightful North Star Design is an Italian company but there is little evidence in the USB dac32 of the flamboyant design features that often distinguish that country’s audio products. There’s no gratuitous use of wood and no eye-catching metal sculpture. On the contrary, the USB dac32 is positively staid in appearance, albeit chunkily built and surprisingly heavy at 5kg. Operationally it’s as simple as can be.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Jul 08, 2011
Upscale integrateds must be the ‘new black’: following Storm, EAR-Yoshino, Quad and others, the Audiant 80i is a charmer from Down Under – and with an onboard DAC too In its 37 years as an amplifier manufacturer, Perreaux has gone from its 22W/ch GS 2002 integrated debut product to eye-watering 750W monoblock powerhouses. Separate preamps, professional gear, D/A converters, CD players – it’s a full-line brand that’s maintained a global reputation despite the remoteness of a manufacturing base in New Zealand. Along the way, Perreaux was bitten by the MOSFET bug. Having decided not to go with valves as far back as 1974, due to the inconveniences of size, weight and heat, and not entirely happy with the sound of bipolar solid-state devices, MOSFETs seemed a godsend.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2011
Rugged construction, distinctive cosmetic design and the inclusion of a valve output stage combine to make this luxurious CD player stand out from the crowd Ever since the introduction of the compact disc format – the early 1980s, if you can remember so far back – audio perfectionists have argued there’s something ‘not quite right’ about the fidelity of sound it produces. The fact is, despite CD’s finite resolution capability, we’ve all got at least a few discs in our collections that blow our socks off. Wouldn’t you agree? Nevertheless, to tweak its sound, to ensure that CDs sounded more organic and less matter-of-fact, specialist manufacturers far and wide have long experimented with various digital filter implementations and designed proprietary analogue output stages for their players in an attempt to sweeten the sound of what analogue lovers disparagingly refer to as ‘digititus’. The first to make a CD spinner with high-end pretentions that employed valves in its output stage was California Audio Labs.
Paul Miller and Keith Howard  |  Jun 08, 2011
A large panel speaker, certainly, but the Omega is not a dopplegänger from audio’s past Apogees, surely, risen from audio’s graveyard of well-intentioned but utterly impractical ideas? That’ll be the first thought of every red-bloodied audiophile who glances at these pages. But despite the astonishing resemblance in shape, distribution of drivers and slate grey colour of these door-sized dipoles to Apogee’s long-mourned full-range ribbons, they’d be mistaken. Indeed, under the skin Analysis Audio’s Omega loudspeakers have little in common with their erstwhile lookalikes. Sure enough, they employ a long ribbon mid/treble driver down the inside edge of the large flat MDF baffle but the trapezoidal bass panel is a planar-magnetic design, far closer in execution to that of Magneplanar’s current crop [HFN, Mar ’11].
Keith Howard and Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2011
A fairly costly system with certain limitations but the bee’s-knees intuitive touchscreen interface is a plus, and for some this will be the ideal home music distribution solution. When Meridian announced, to some surprise, that it had bought Sooloos in late 2008, it was a demonstration that the UK’s premier exponent of digital audio technology had recognised the burgeoning importance of computer audio, conceded that it was somewhat behind the game, and concluded that the best way to fast-track a move into this sphere was to buy what was, and remains, widely recognised as the best music server software available.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2011
One of Germany’s heavyweight turntable makers lightens up, giving its stylish new baby an Italian-sounding name. So is the Barzetti more than just a fashion item? Perhaps, like me, you were brought up and nurtured on the idea that all the best turntables had a suspended subchassis, so that the platter was always bouncing freely on a set of springs. But if you always hated the way a suspended platter wobbles slightly as you put the record on, and the cartridge recoils from your touch, you’ll be receptive to the concept of Gunther Frohnhoefer, Acoustic Signature’s founder and designer. ‘When I was younger,’ he says, ‘I had contact with subchassis players, like the Thorens.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2011
Still refining its triode technology after all these years, the American company offers a purist preamplifier that promises new levels of musical insight Now that tube amplifiers seem to grow on trees, at least in China, it’s hard to imagine the overwhelmingly solid-state hi-fi scene of 35 years ago. In America, though, a tube revival was coming. Audio Research had been selling new hi-fi tube amplifiers since 1970, while many audiophiles were still finding something in the sound of old tube amps that seemed to be missing from the shiny new solid-state stuff. Among those users of classic tube equipment were Dr William Conrad and Dr Lewis Johnson, two economists who were both also keen audiophiles.

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