LATEST ADDITIONS

John Bamford and Keith Howard  |  Oct 25, 2009
When Scott Walker famously sang ‘My Ship Is Coming In’ he could have been describing taking delivery of a pair of Focal’s £110,000 Grande Utopia EMs, surely one of the finest dynamic loudspeakers known to humankind. Standing over 2m tall and weighing 260kg (each!), the four-way ‘Grande EM’ with its electromagnetic 16in woofer and user-adjustable ‘Focus Time’ cabinet construction is a statement product that challenges the envelope of speaker performance. Privileged indeed are the audiophiles with adequately large listening rooms in which to accommodate them and deep enough pockets to afford them. Focal is France’s largest and most successful speaker manufacturer, producing several series of hi-fi models ranging from affordable to, well, the price of a Bentley in the case of the aforementioned flagship.
Richard Stevenson and Keith Howard  |  Oct 25, 2009
Oh to live in a trendy warehouse conversion overlooking the Thames. Imagine the acres of glass, the polished floors and the designer furniture with the Habitat labels peeled off. One’s loudspeakers would need to offer equally stunning visual splendour, exude an air of bespoke affluence and leave your friends (probably called Tarquin and Jemima) green with envy. Clearly you would need Jamo’s sumptuous R 909s or if your City bonus has been a little credit crunched this year, perhaps the smaller but equally lush R 907s reviewed here.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Oct 06, 2009
‘Business as usual’ marks life at Audio Research under Quadrivio, its new, Italian owners. The American-as-root-beer virtues that exemplify the products remain; banish any notions that we’ll see ARC amps made with staves of curvy walnut. The new 120W/ch VS115 is pure Yankee ARC all the way, though one now needs to turn to Russia for 6550s. Advancing from the VS110 by adding balanced inputs, the VS115 retains the layout of its predecessor: open architecture and an anodized top plate with every aperture clearly labelled for each of the eight matched 6550 output tubes and the quartet of 6H30 gain and cathode follower valves.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Oct 05, 2009
It’s a fact that McIntosh gear has never been hugely popular this side of the Atlantic as its bold, retro styling appeals only to a minority of European consumers today. If you’re trying to integrate a high quality music system discreetly into a family-friendly living room it’s unlikely you’ll be shopping for a McIntosh. Which is something of a preamble to make the point that McIntosh’s latest MCD301 CD player is every bit a ‘big Mac’, sporting the marque’s traditional livery and looking as ‘macho’ as ever. It’s as American as a Hummer or a Harley alright.
Paul Miller  |  Oct 05, 2009
Convergence between national markets is fueling the development of new, one-size-fits-all AV products at an unprecedented pace, often reducing shelf life to a few short months. New BD players are a case in point. Such is the pace of technology, and the scramble to patch both HDMI and Profile standards, that no sooner had we completed our review of Panasonic’s DMP-BD30 Blu-ray player than its replacement, the DMP-BD50, was announced. So one review was shelved and another immediately instigated.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Oct 04, 2009
Who better than a cartridge set-up maven to build a turntable? While any deck that accepts universal arms will, intrinsically, suffer an enormous margin for set-up errors when compared to decks with dedicated, integral arms, there’s something reassuring about the Feickert. . . especially for those who’ve used his set-up device.
Steve Harris and Paul Miller  |  Oct 04, 2009
Vinyl record-player design sometimes progresses, often just precesses, and always revolves. You could say that any ‘new’ idea comes round again every 33. 3 years, although in the case of the 12in arm revival, it’s more like 45 years. Be that as it may, the ever-increasing band of enthusiasts who must have extra inches now have yet another intriguing new option.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Sep 30, 2009
Heralding Ortofon’s 90th anniversary no less, the MC A90 is the company’s brand new flagship moving-coil cartridge. When we first learned a few months ago about its development and imminent launch, you’d never seen such a scrabble in our editorial office to ensure that Hi-Fi News secured first dibbs on the first sample to arrive at Henley Designs in Oxfordshire, Ortofon’s UK distributor. It turns out we did better than getting the first in this country. What you’re looking at here is the first sample to leave Ortofon’s Danish factory.
Keith Howard  |  Sep 25, 2009
Perhaps because Audioplan is more than just a loudspeaker manufacturer – it makes cables, Sicomin isolation and damping products, and mains conditioners as well – the German company offers just three models of speaker. Each is a two-way design, although the costliest Konzert III incorporates three drivers: two forward-facing and a second bass-mid driver firing rearwards from the back of the cabinet. The bottom of the range Kontrapunkt IV B, on review here, has no such elaboration but still sports some unusual features. First of these to catch the eye is its – for want of a better term – cabinet stand.
Keith Howard  |  Sep 25, 2009
Gamut by name, gamut by nature. Danish audio company Gamut (it writes it GamuT), not content with offering eight models of loudspeaker, of which the Phi7 is top of the four-model Phi range, also manufactures a CD player, preamplifier, two integrated amps and four power amps plus interconnect and speaker cables. So it can supply you with an entire hi-fi system, wires included. Phi in the context of this Gamut speaker and its siblings is the golden ratio, 1:1.

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