Ed Selley

Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011  |  0 comments
Despite the small size, this well thought out design has much to commend it As the smallest and lightest speaker here, the Synchrony Two B may seem to be flying a kite in asking £1200 of its buyer. And, indeed, it is significantly cheaper in its native North America. But remember that its sibling, the large, floorstanding Synchrony One, won our group test in Aug ’09 – and take a look at the lab report. It may be diminutive but the Synchrony Two B walks tall: it has one of the flattest on-axis frequency responses here and a waterfall plot so clean that few more overtly prestigious speakers can match it.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011  |  0 comments
The updates to this long running range have proved particularly effective Dynaudio’s Focus range was getting a bit long in the tooth so we weren’t surprised to learn when we requested the 140 for this test that it had just been replaced with this new model, the 160. Little has changed externally – if you’re the type who can distinguish Aston Martins at a glance then you’ll note a new light grey paint finish on the drivers and the use of Torx fasteners, only three of which now attach the tweeter – but internally there’s more that’s been breathed on. As before, the cabinet side walls taper a little towards the rear from the narrow bevels at the front baffle edges – a feature which helps tame internal standing waves – but the enclosure has been significantly stiffened. The 170mm bass-mid driver retains its magnesium silicate polymer (MSP) cone, and the voice coil is still aluminium to reduce moving mass.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011  |  0 comments
Some very sophisticated technology doesn't quite come together as a cohesive whole In loudspeaker cabinet construction, curves are good. Curved panels are stiffer than equivalent flat ones – but more difficult to make than the V-groove and wrap box construction that so many speakers today employ. In creating what is the most expensive model in this month’s group, Mordaunt-Short clearly devoted a good deal of its budget to abandoning the traditional rectangular wooden cabinet in favour of a curvaceous enclosure moulded from a well damped polymer resin. Deeper at the bottom than at the top, in profile it looks positively Falstaffian.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011  |  0 comments
Some treble issues detract from the overall performance With nearly 50 years’ experience under its belt, Audio-Technica has established a reputation for building good value MM and MC phono cartridges. The AT120E is second from the top of Audio-Technica’s MM range, sitting just below the AT440MLA (£159) which has inspired its body shape and alloy tube cantilever. Where they differ is in the stylus, with the AT440MLA using Audio-Technica’s square MicroLine design, compared to the AT120E’s more conventional elliptical profile. The AT120E has a functional fit and finish illustrated by the lack of branding on its nose.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011  |  0 comments
An excellent performer at a very creditable price New York’s Grado Labs is truly a family business with John Grado, nephew of founder Joseph Grado, taking the company’s presidency in recent years. Alongside phono cartridges, Grado also manufactures a selection of audiophile headphones to suit a range of budgets [HFN May ’11]. The Grado Gold1 cartridge updates the previous Gold model and sits atop Grado’s entry-level Prestige Series, with five other models beneath, all named after colours with corresponding coloured dots that sit either side of the stylus assembly. These six models should actually be considered as three pairs, each comprising a standard version and a higher-end variant drawn from the same production run, but which achieved a higher specification.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011  |  0 comments
An entry level moving coil with many strong sonic qualities As the largest producer of phonograph cartridges in the world, Ortofon (which is Greek for ‘correct sound’) produces a wealth of models and ranges to suit every type of listener, from scratch DJ to discerning audiophile. The Vivo range represents Ortofon’s entry-level, low output moving-coil models, with the Vivo Red (£220) priced just below the Vivo Blue on test here. The extra outlay accounts for improved profiling of the Blue’s nude elliptical stylus which, according to Ortofon’s website, affords a wider frequency range and better tracking ability. The conservative looking casework is made from Lexan DMX, a rigid polycarbonate-based resin which houses coils made from 7N oxygen-free copper wire.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011  |  0 comments
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.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 08, 2011  |  0 comments
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  |  0 comments
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  |  0 comments
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.

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