Funny thing, hi-fi. We all know what is right – and what is right is what we like. Yet in this simple landscape there are some glaring disparities. One of them is why an electrostatic loudspeaker sounds so different to a box loudspeaker, when they do basically the same job, measuring alike. My first electrostatic, Braun's version of the Quad ESL-57, I was in two minds about – until I swopped back to box loudspeakers after getting used to them. Oh! That's when I realised everything experts said about electrostatics was true; they are a league apart. Explaining why Martin Logan's most affordable hybrid electrostatic, the Electromotion, has sold well in Britain. The company now capitalise on this success by adding an uprated version, the new ESL X. See what we found when using it, in our exclusive review on p11.
Chord Electronics have, at the end of the development cycle of an entire range of DACs, released their finest: Dave. Sounds prosaic I know, but Latin scholars will be delighted to know this is no allusion to a recently departed UK prime minister, but an acronym of Digital Audio in Veritas Extremis. Inside lies a unique, UK designed digital convertor chip of outstanding performance, measurement shows. See what we found when using Dave in our in-depth review on p74.
Happenstance (I should say good planning!) saw a brand new Single-Ended valve amplifier arrive in the office from Icon Audio, the Stereo 30se, at the same time as the Martin Logan ESL X electrostatic loudspeakers. Everyone who heard this combination loved it. Valve amplifiers are a perfect match for electrostatics and the two were made for each other.
Single-ended amplifiers are a purist's dream, but they produce little power. The Stereo 30se by way of contrast uses the latest KT150 power valve to produce 28 Watts – perfect for the Martin Logans. You can read about this fabulous little amplifier on p60.
As time passes we realise that famous musicians of the 1960s still with us are all but museum pieces. A wry smile crept across my face on learning the Pink Floyd are now on display in the Victoria & Albert museum, London. I wonder if their tour van you can see on p87 is there too, 'cos it should be. Of course, the boys themselves won't actually be on display, not having yet become static exhibits, but you can see much else that lies behind fifty years of output, 1967-2017. Paul Rigby guides us through an extensive box set on p87. Who doesn't remember Atom Heart Mother (man)?