LATEST ADDITIONS

John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2011
Sleek design, comprehensive functionality and even a built-in wireless DAC make the AS-400 a thoroughly modern integrated amp – for today’s iTunes generation Not long after the introduction of Micromega’s £2800 integrated amplifier, the IA-400, and its £1100 WM-10 wireless-equipped DAC comes a component that effectively combines the two: a new version of its integrated amplifier (with ‘AS’ instead of ‘IA’ nomenclature) featuring a built-in 802. 11n Wi-Fi receiver/DAC, working to Apple’s latest AirStream protocols. As with any wireless connectivity – Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – there is something quite spooky about the ability for music stored on computer, mobile ’phone or PDA to be played through one’s hi-fi system as if by magic. Unlike open source DLNA/UPnP systems, however, AirStream (formerly called Airplay) is proprietary to Apple and works only with its iTunes media player, iPhones, iPads and the web-enabled iPod Touch.
Steve Harris and Keith Howard  |  May 08, 2011
Forming an enclosure from glass is a costly process. So Waterfall’s floorstander represents fine value with style Peceived wisdom generally has it that a loudspeaker’s enclosure should be inert, so that we hear the acoustic output of the speaker’s transducers unsullied by the additional singing along of a cabinet. As ever in our wonderful world of sound reproduction there are designers who refute this given ideal. The late American speaker maestro Peter Snell, for example, whose Snell Type J and Type E models from the 1970s live on in the guise of today’s UK-made Audio Note speakers.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2011
Taking advantage of Ortofon’s latest cartridge range update, Pro-Ject offers a new keenly-priced plug-and-play turntable package that promises moving-coil bliss There’s always been a strand of hi-fi culture that says you have to suffer to be beautiful, an idea that you just have to go through a lot of mixing and matching, and twiddling and tweaking, to get good sound from the old vinyl LP. If you’re prey to this kind of thinking, an all-in-one, plug-and-play record deck solution just seems too easy. But why fight it, when the manufacturer will do it all for you? Pragmatic as ever, Pro-Ject offers a huge range of package options, from its basic Debut series upwards. If you’re just trying to stop your spending going much into four figures, you can try a package in the more refined Xperience series.
Haden Boardman and Keith Howard  |  Apr 10, 2011
From Switzerland, a compact phase corrected active speaker that reflects its pro background. But is it house trained? Although virtually unknown in the UK, PSI can trace its roots back to 1975, when founder Alain Roux first started manufacturing his own loudspeaker designs while still studying at the Lausanne École Polytechnique Fédérale. Over the past 35 years, this Swiss company has produced a range of custom, domestic, but mostly professional studio loudspeaker systems. In 1991 an analogue and digital electronics section was added to the acoustic laboratory at its Yverden manufacturing facility.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Apr 10, 2011
The first product from a new Japanese high-end marque, this imposing hybrid power amplifier system employs a ‘DC reactor’ power supply housed in a separate chassis Rarely does an amplifier designer launch a new hi-fi company with such a bold high-end statement. ‘This is our vision of amplification’s ultimate form’, says designer Robert Koch of the imposing ‘tri-chassis’ Takumi K-70 power amplifier, designed and built in Japan, and the very first product to sport the Robert Koda brand name on its fascia. The Japanese ‘Takumi’ character can be translated as ‘maestro’, while the word ‘takumi’ actually means artisan – the naming of the Takumi K-70 being particularly apt as the amplifier is wholly hand-crafted, and manufacturing is limited to just 20 units per year. It’s a single-ended hybrid design employing some 32 power transistors and two 5842 triodes in each monoblock and one 6X5 rectifier tube per side in the power supply.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Apr 10, 2011
For its appropriately named Classic series of turntables VPI Industries of New Jersey has gone back to basics – and should score a hit with today’s vinyl enthusiasts Is it because retro is cool? Perhaps it’s the appeal of its almost plug ’n’ play simplicity… Whatever the reason (and I suspect it’s a combination of many factors, not least the ability for vinyl enthusiasts all over the world to communicate in internet forums) it’s a fact that lovers of the black stuff seem mostly to love this big, bold and brutish turntable, one that’s undeniably a throwback to the good old days when proper turntables were: well, big, bold and brutish. If you look back to our Nov ’09 issue, where we reviewed VPI Industries’ venerable Aries Scout turntable (updated to MkII status with improved tonearm and 35mm-thick acrylic platter), you will surely agree that it looks sleek and modern – very much a deck of the 21st century, one with its motor separated from the main chassis to minimise breakthrough of deleterious vibrations to platter and tonearm. The latest Classic series of turntables, however, of which this Classic 1 is the entry model, couldn’t be more different. THIRTY YEARS ON Thirty years have passed since founder Harry Weisfeld launched his first record player (the company started in 1978 by making record cleaning machines, and there are now three current versions) and consequently the Classics are being marketed to celebrate this anniversary of turntable production.
Keith Howard  |  Apr 08, 2011
It might look like more of the same, yet this Q series loudspeaker boasts some new features at front and back The Q900 may be top of KEF’s brand, spanking new Q series – the meat and potatoes of its range – but to look at, inside and out, it appears in some ways to represent a step backwards, certainly in respect of KEF’s rich technological history. The Q900 effectively replaces the previous iQ90, a speaker which bowled me over when winning a group test just over a year ago [HFN Mar ’10]. One of the notable aspects of the iQ90 was its curved cabinet, a feature of more than aesthetic significance since it stiffens the enclosure, whereas the large side panels of a conventional box cabinet are prone to resonance. It was a surprise, then, to find the Q900 has what KEF rather grandly terms a ‘rectilinear’ cabinet – what you and I would call a standard, slab-sided box.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Mar 10, 2011
A CD player with a valve displayed in the front panel: Luxman references its own past for the D-38u, a machine that oozes retro, right down to its chunky wooden sleeve Compact Disc was only launched in 1982/3, which – though its demise is perhaps now in sight – doesn’t seem that long ago. Yet here is Luxman with a player that is decidedly two-channel-only, its digital outputs are limited to coaxial and Toslink optical, it arrives with a wooden case, and it features a design touch that refers directly to one of its ancestors. If that’s not retro, what is? But Luxman, cleverly, has never been shoehorned into a genre, having excelled in every area save speaker manufacture. Its amps have a cult following, as did the vacuum-hold-down turntables, and the company always delivered decent CD players.
Keith Howard  |  Mar 10, 2011
This innovative Dutch company provides an active audiophile speaker which is unusually styled and also features sophisticated onboard Digital Signal Processing So, Grimm Audio is not the most propitious name, in English, for a hi-fi manufacturer. But once the schoolboy giggles have subsided, there are two very good reasons to take this Dutch company, and its new LS1 loudspeaker, seriously. Firstly, there are the people involved. The second reason is the LS1 itself, because run-of-the-mill it is not.
Paul Miller and Keith Howard  |  Mar 10, 2011
After a long absence, Magnepan's iconic 'room screen' panel speakers are finally back in the UK Firsts linger long in the memory. That first school, first car, first kiss. . .

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