Hi-Fi News Staff

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015  |  0 comments
Sony has returned to pure, two-channel, high fidelity sound; there’s an initiative to bring hi-fi replay back to the top of its consumers’ must-have wish lists. And it has produced a raft of new products focused around hi-res computer audio. All are compatible with files up to 24-bit/192kHz and, of course, DSD downloads. HFN was first in line to sample the ‘Elevated Standard’ HAP-Z1ES digital music file player featuring a built-in 1TB HDD, and its partnering TA-A1ES integrated amplifier rated at 80W/8ohm.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015  |  0 comments
In some ways the AX-5 represents a distillation of Ayre’s ‘purist’ philosophies, as it employs both the company’s ‘Diamond output circuit’ and the elaborately-designed volume control trickled down from its flagship KX-R Twenty preamplifier. In the fully-balanced zero loop feedback AX-5 integrated, Ayre eliminated the preamp stage altogether and simply made the gain of the power amplifier directly adjustable using VGT (Variable Gain Transimpedance). The volume knob on the right of the fascia acts as an encoder to control a pair of motor-driven Shallco silver-contact rotary switches (one for each channel, conjoined using toothed belts), each of which contains dozens of hand-selected, low-noise resistors. Volume level can be adjusted over a range of 69dB in 46 steps of 1.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  0 comments
Producing a solid-state version of a valve CD player is nothing new for the Minnesota-based company, although, for many, ‘Audio Research’ means valves. But at least the CD6 can be sited in a cabinet or other enclosure with doors, whereas the REF9 CD player/DAC [HFN May ’13] needs ventilation. Both players confront the current need for a plethora of digital inputs and sampling rates with a full complement. The CD6’s four digital inputs comprise asynchronous USB 2.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  0 comments
Weighing over 20kg, the Loit Passeri CD player is the first product from the talented young designer Lup Yoong Kam of Singapore. Clearly a perfectionist, Kam has come up with a product that simply exudes quality. It is also a great piece of industrial design. At the outset, Kam commissioned well-known Russian designer Artemy Lebedev who envisaged the CD cover as a simple flat disc, ringed by a glow of blue light.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  0 comments
We were bowled over by the technical performance and subjective sound quality of Simaudio’s Moon 380D standalone DAC [HFN Aug ’13]. The Moon Nēo 260D CD transport with optional DAC is a new addition to this Canadian audio company’s portfolio, so we were keen to get our hands on it for a review. Simaudio’s new Moon Nēo designs are built into casework with sculpted front panels akin to the aesthetics of the firm’s luxurious Evolution Series components. Here we’re assessing it as a CD player which, like the majority of players today, features digital inputs for playing additional sources via its digital-to-analogue converter stages.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  0 comments
Known originally for its professional studio speakers, Pioneer’s Technical Audio Devices brand is now firmly established in high-end consumer audio. Late last year, TAD announced the D1000 disc player/DAC and the DA1000 as a DAC-only alternative. Both offer the same DAC input options, but the DA1000 also includes a linear volume control, for direct connection to a power amp, and a separate headphone amplifier (fascia controlled for level). Both new models, says TAD, ‘integrate a newly developed, ultra-high accuracy master clock equivalent to that employed in the higher-level TAD D600’ [HFN May ’12].
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  0 comments
Canadian audio manufacturer Bryston adopted a purist approach with its first computer audio product, the BDP-1 ‘digital player’ [HFN Apr ’11], this based on an ultra-minimalist computer with four USB sockets for memory sticks or external HDDs. An enhanced model, the BDP-2 featured here has joined Bryston’s line-up along with a new BDA-2 DAC which includes a 192kHz/24-bit capable asynchronous USB input. This uses proprietary firmware running on the XMOS USB audio micro-controller platform. Bryston supplies the necessary driver software on a memory stick for Windows PC users (Macintosh supports USB Audio Class 2.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  0 comments
Krell announced at the 2014 Las Vegas CES its intention to introduce a UPnP/DLNA-compliant network media player and the rather aptly named Connect is now available in the UK. There are in fact two versions of Krell’s Connect player, the one featured here having an optional built-in DAC with balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) analogue outputs. Needless to say it is vastly overbuilt compared with most music streamers! At its core lies a familiar BridgeCo-based StreamUnlimited platform including vTuner internet radio functionality. Massive power supplies have always been the cornerstone of Krell designs, and the Connect has an over-specified linear power supply with a 94VA toroidal transformer large enough to power a modest amplifier.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015  |  0 comments
Rothwell Audio has been going for a quarter of a century, mostly making guitar effects pedals. Its hi-fi range encompasses three moving-coil step-up transformers, two MM-only phono stages, a valve preamplifier, interconnects and attenuators. Rothwell’s first phono stage was launched at the 1990 London Hi-Fi Show. The Rialto MM/MC phono stage is tiny and perhaps no oil painting in aesthetic terms.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 09, 2015  |  0 comments
Inspire Hi-Fi is a turntable manufacturer that’s equally at home with belt, direct or idler-drive decks – witness its range of upgrades to some of the most iconic decks of the last few decades. At £560, the Black Magic Si is the entry-level model in the firm’s home-grown belt-drive range, and it includes an Inspire-branded Rega RB202 tonearm. The platter is a precision cut 20mm frosted acrylic disc which has a recessed area in its underside to accept the deck’s sub-platter, motor pulley and round section belt. The sub-platter, Inspire’s own design, is machined from a block of acetyl resin.

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