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High-End Audio Industry News


02 / 28 / 08

Advanced Acoustics Echo-Stick Acoustic Panel  British manufacturer Advanced Acoustics, designers of handcrafted acoustic treatment panels, now offers their Echo-Stick acoustic panel (from £78 for 2-foot to £118 for 4-foot length). Available in three sizes, each panel is 12-inches wide by 6-inches thick and covered in a variety of colors. The design and shape allows for a surface area increase by over an extra 50 percent of flat units. The larger surface area ensures that these acoustic panels have a higher degree of effectiveness at removing flutter echoes and shortening the reverberation time within a listening room. Each panels also is able to absorb lower frequencies with increased efficiency than flat acoustic panels. These panels can be installed either with the D-ring option or the mirror plate fixing depending on users' requirements. Each Echo-Stick is made using professional grade acoustic foam and highest quality MDF, while the finishing is a durable open weave linen cloth. Of importance is that each one conforms to the fire furnishings regulations for the utmost of safety.

 

Jamo R 909 LoudspeakerJamo's R 907 ($8999) dipolar floorstanding loudspeaker is based upon the dipolar principle and builds off their top line R909 design (pictured here). The R 907 employs dual 12-inch woofers as opposed to the 15-inch drivers in the R 909, with an overall approximately 20 percent shorter and 15 percent slimmer design. Following the theory that the ideal speaker shouldn't have a cabinet as to avoid cabinet-induced resonances, the R 907's midrange unit maintains the original R 909's open basket design and uses a magnesium cone partnered with an efficient ceramic magnet system. In place of the R 909's ScanSpeak Revelator unit, Jamo chose a variant of its highly acclaimed Decoupled Tweeter Technology (DTT). By decoupling and fully suspending the speaker's 25mm silk-dome tweeters from the rest of the speaker, vibrations transmitted from the front baffle to the tweeter are reduced by more than 20dB. Jamo's R 907 is available in a sleek red or black finish. The Jamo R 909 was first seem by many audiophiles worldwide within Enjoy the Music.com's 2006 Top Audio show report (seen here).

 

02 / 27 / 08

Goldmund Eidos 20 Blu-ray Digital Disc Player  Goldmund now offers their Eidos 20 ($16,900) Blu-ray digital disc player on the heels of the recently announced (and soon to be defunct) HD DVD format. The new Goldmund Eidos 20 BD player embodies all the high-tech refinement Goldmund has developed during the last 20 years. Their "AC-Curator" power supply circuit is said to dramatically improve picture, sound stability and dynamics. The unit also features mechanical grounding construction which removes from the player mechanism spurious vibrations blurring the video signal and increasing jitter. Goldmund's Eidos 20 BD uses a magnetic damper, which a device claimed to lower the reading errors that Goldmund reserves only for their top models. Goldmund does report that some of their far-east customers "were finding the Eidos 20 too shallow and complained. So, we explained that the purpose was to minimize the HDMI path, a way we found to considerably increase the performance over our previous models."

 

Verity Audio Sarastro II LoudspeakerVerity Audio has released their Sarastro II, an evolution of their already popular eXR (extended range) loudspeaker line. Their eXR, meaning extended efficiency, dynamics, power and bandwidth, is said to recaptures all of the drama, excitement, and intimacy of the original performance. Driver compliment includes Verity Audio's aluminum foil ribbon tweeter, proprietary 6-inch midrange, proprietary 11-inch woofer with a 4inch voice-coil former. The rear-mounted woofer configuration reproduces the lowermost octaves. Frequency response is from 20Hz to 60kHz while sensitivity is 93dB/W/m. The crossover allows for bi-wire / bi-amplification and the cabinet features Italian lacquer.

 

02 / 26 / 08

High End 2008 Munich Germany  Germany's High End Society will be holding their High End show from April 24th through the 27th at the M.O.C. in Munich. This show, called the CES of Europe by some members of the press, is the largest audio show of its kind in Europe and continues to expand each year. In addition to Atrium 3, this year the large Atrium 4 and Hall 4 will be used as presentation and exhibition space. This brings the show's total floor space from 15,500 m² in 2007 to a staggering 18,373 m² (59.0551 ft²) in 2008. The number of conference rooms will increase by 21 rooms to a total of 83. Of note is that as if this writing all large conference rooms are booked.

Location: M,O,C, Munich, Lilienthalallee 40
Duration: April 24th through 27th
Trade Day: Thursday, April 24th (only by pre-registration)
Open: From 10am through 6pm
Entrance fee:
Trade visitors: 20€ with pre-registration for all days
Public: 10€  per day or 20 € for family ticket (for 2 adults and up to 3 children)
Kindergarten on site free of charge
See Enjoy the Music.com's 2007 High End show coverage by clicking here.

 

Audiomagus PowerCenter Battery Power Supply v1.1The Audiomagus PowerCenter Battery Power Supply v1.1 is the first in the company's family of integrated 12VDC power products. Housed in elegant black anodized aluminum, the PowerCenter is hand-wired and uses high-quality connectors, WBT 4% silver solder and the shortest possible runs of silver plated copper 18 gauge wire. Red and green LEDs indicate state of charge while one switch controls the AC connection to the charger and the other switch toggles between charger and amplifier. Each PowerCenter BPS includes an 8AH Sealed Lead-Acid (SLA) valve-regulated type (sometimes called 'sealed' or maintenance-free) battery and uses an absorptive fiberglass mat to hold the acid electrolyte. The advantage of this design is that the battery needs no water additions, can be operated in any position, and can be used in close proximity to sensitive equipment. Output power is 14 Watt at 14.75 Volts maximum.

 

02 / 25 / 08

Quest For Sound SQ-84-V2 Stereo Integrated Tube Amplifier  Quest For Sound has released their SQ-84-V2 ($1250) stereo integrated tube amplifier that improves on the first version that was reviewed by Enjoy the Music.com (click here). The new unit produces 15 wpc and features improved circuitry, better cosmetics, speaker impedance switch, two inputs and headphone jack. The SQ-84-V2 is a push-pull in triode mode Class AB integrated amplifier that uses four 6V6 output tubes. A pair of 6F2 / 6U8 act as input stage and drive stage at the same time plus provided voltage gain and drivers. The 6V6 output tubes are transformer-coupled to the load. Frequency response is from 10Hz to 66kHz (-3dB), input sensitivity is 0.7V and output impedance is 4, 8 or 16 Ohm selectable. A set of four Sound Quest Isol-Pads and remote control are included.

 

Transpaent Cable Opus MM2Transparent Cable now offers their flagship Opus MM2 technology to their entry-level The Link interconnects and The Wave loudspeaker cables. The result of more than 5 years of research and development, MM2 Technology represents the company's complete re-examination of MM Technology. MM2 Technology is claimed by the company to encompasses significant advances in network design and calibration, network topology and assembly, resonance damping, superior network components, and improved connector technology. Claimed performance advantages of MM2 Technology include less noise, dynamics bloom, greater microdetails, an enhanced listening space and more.

 

02 / 23 / 08

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)  A training video called In Trial produced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was leaked to the public and concerns alleged illegal music activates plus makes reference that defendants may then seek out handguns, are drug users, are hardcore criminals... and may be linked to terrorist organizations(!). The video has been reported to star ex-prosecutor Deborah Robinson and ex-Maryland state trooper Frank Walters to "assist in the training of U.S. prosecutors responsible for handling music piracy cases." While there is not a specific date of production mentioned, it appears to be fairly recently made as within the video Frank Walters is seen in the video to be pointing to a CD burner tower according to a website. The video may be frightening in just how far the RIAA is willing to take matters into their own hands, as they will help in "qualifying an RIAA investigator as an expert" who then can be employed within their legal trials. Can someone say possible major conflict of interest and biased 'expert' witness. As for how this video is now on the Internet for all to understand how far the RIAA is willing to go, the below 'letter' is said to be from the person who acquired it.

I came into possession of this video through a close friend. He happens to hold a position in the criminal prosecutorial system. He is a prosecutor of felonies, which is what makes this video such a wonderful illustration of just how overboard the media industry has gone in their persecutions of pirates. Should downloading music ever be considered a felony?

My contact knows my views on the current state of intellectual property law in the United States. I tend to be somewhat outspoken on the subject.

Obviously, when I saw the envelope in his office with the attractive and oh-so-professional RIAA/NDAA letterhead protruding from the top, I could not resist. I begged him to let me have it, and since he tends to sympathize with those of us who hold less respect for IP rights, he consented.

I was expecting the video to be epic. I had no idea, however, that it would compare pirates to terrorists and drug dealers. It was too good to be true.

It was a wonderful find, and a perfect example of how misinformed the legal system is on the issues of piracy.

The RIAA is deluded. They have a warped perception of how media distribution should work in our high-tech world. They refuse to adapt. Instead, they stick to their age-old business model, they cry foul, and they persecute pirates. They recruit friends in high places in the legal system. They have succeeded in painting us as the enemy through their propaganda campaigns.

We are not the enemy. We are the new generation of media consumers.

We should be their allies.

Thanks for hearing me out, and for reporting on it. The video is good for a laugh, no?

This training video is available on many torrent websites and can easily be found using various search engines as am sure the RIAA legal team is scrambling to shut down as many sites as possible that have it for download. A clip was on YouTube, but has since been taken down.

 

02 / 22 / 08

Audiomangus KingRex UD-01 USB DAC  Audiomagus' new KingRex UD-01 USB DAC ($190) is a high-performance desktop unit that works with both MAC or PC as an external sound card. Built around the Burr Brown PCM 2702E DAC chip and a large internal buffer to store audio packets, the UD-01, the Burr-Brown OPA2604 low pass filter acts as the output stage preamplifier and removes residual unwanted digital artifacts. Combined with the Texas TL072 DC servo and low noise JFET OpAmps, the result is said to be a more analog sound. The unit can handle a sampling rate upwards of 16-bit/48kHz. The DC servo chip is a socket-mounted Texas Instruments TL072 for easy chip changes. The titanium-look anodized aluminum case provides a small footprint for ease of positioning on your desktop and has USB input and a pair of gold-plated RCA jacks for output. External 100 to 240 universal voltage to DC12V/0.5A power supply is included.

 

OnkyoWith Sony's Blu-ray format now being the high resolution video disc format winner, this was just received from Onkyo to my inbox, due to the recent events concerning the demise of the HD-DVD format:

"Onkyo Corporation has decided that Onkyo will discontinue the development and production of HD DVD players.

Onkyo has distributed and sold approximately 2000 units of the HD DVD players in the selected markets due to the growth of the large screen display market and high demand for home entertainment media. Onkyo has reached its decision to discontinue the development and production of HD DVD players after thorough review of Toshiba's public announcement "Toshiba Announces Discontinuation of HD DVD Businesses" on February 19, 2008. As Onkyo manufactures HD DVD players with core parts supplied by Toshiba, it will be difficult for Onkyo to continue its further development and production of HD DVD players. Despite this decision, Onkyo will continue to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Onkyo HD DVD players.

Regarding Onkyo's prospective marketing of home theater products, Onkyo continues to provide innovative home theater products with high definition sound and images that are compatible with next generation disc formats such as Blu-ray.

While Onkyo has been an enthusiastic supporter of the HD DVD format, it was not an exclusive relationship. Onkyo's research and development teams have maintained a parallel development program for the competing Blu-ray technology."

 

02 / 21 / 08

Naim Audio SuperLine Phonostage   Naim Audio has launched their SuperLine ($3200) high-end phonostage and announced a partnership with luxury automobile manufacturer Bentley. The design goal for SuperLine phonostage was to extract the ultimate musical presentation and maximum possible detail from vinyl records. SuperLine's active phono stage includes a three-stage phono engine with Class A amplification for optimum results with moving coil cartridges and delivers true RIAA equalization accurate to 0.1dB while using an external power supply to eliminate noise from negatively affecting the critical analog stage. Paralleled phono and BNC sockets provide input versatility and cartridge impedance matching adjustment is provided by four resistive and three capacitive load plugs. In combination with the SuperLine's internal input load, twenty different standard load combinations are possible as standard. Gain is upwards of 64dB, SNR being 82dB ref 500uV, and distortion is a vanishing low <0.005 percent. Overall frequency response is a wide 10Hz to >200kHz (-3dB). Loading setting include 10k, 500R, 220R, 100R (resistive) and 1nF, 2nF, 6nF, 11nF (capacitive). Enjoy the Music.com offers reviews of various Naim products including their Stageline phonostage with Flat-Cap 2 power supply (click here), Naim's CDSII CD player (click here), the Nait 5 integrated amplifier (click here) and Naim's X Series system (click here).

 

Naim Bentley PartnershipIn other news from Naim, they have formed an exclusive partnership with Bentley to deliver an in-car sound system. After 18 months of careful research and development, the result is said by Naim to be "A world-beating audio system that remains true to both Bentley and Naim's philosophy of no compromise in the search for quality." Located throughout the car, 25mm tweeters using the latest catenary-profiled domes produce an optimum balance of rigidity and weight, while unique 80mm midrange drivers with 32mm voice coils operate in crucial frequencies down to 450Hz. The lower midrange is produced using 130mm drivers while the lowermost frequencies are handled by twin 200mm subwoofers. Designing purpose-built drive units played a significant role in allowing the system to need little in the way of tailoring EQ and made optimizing crossovers relatively simple. Naim and Bentley engineers worked together to integrate the loudspeakers within the cabin so they could deliver the best performance. The Naim designed amplifier and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) unit provides 1100 watts across a maximum of 15 channels, with full DSP control of crossover frequency and level. The Digital Signal Processor (DSP) offers users eight modes to enhance their listening experience. These range from Naim's main 'audiophile' mode — the absolute reference setting for sound playback — through to other settings including driver-optimized, balanced, rear-optimized, digital media playback (via mp3, iPod players and digital radio), spoken word, classic and enhanced. The DSP performs, user selectable, dynamic equalization that adjusts EQ, and volume for every DSP mode dependent on car speed. These also vary if the car is a convertible, detecting whether the roof is up or down. Bentley Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen said, "Our customers expect the ultimate in every experience when they commission a Bentley. The 'Naim for Bentley' sound system delivers the world's ultimate in-car audio experience — allowing for an 'as-live' audio entertainment that is as pure as the Bentley driving experience itself."

 

02 / 20 / 08

Van den Hul Waterfall Hybrid Interconnect  Van den Hul's new Waterfall Hybrid interconnect (179.50€ for 0.8-meter length) is based on their FUSION technology. The metal conductor within the cable has a low electrical resistance due to enough free electrons per volume unit, a high internal resistance against metal deformation and displacement plus an amorphous structure that is free from intercrystalline boundaries. This technology, combined with their patented Linear Structured Carbon Hybrid layer, brings to the forefront this new cable design. The Waterfall Hybrid is available in all standard lengths starting at 0.8 meters, pre-terminated with high quality gold plated RCA connectors or with industry standard black Neutrik XLR connectors. Enjoy the Music.com has reviewed the Van den Hul The Frog MC phono cartridge as seen here.

 

ESS 64-LQFPESS Technology, a leading provider of high performance audio/video solutions, has unveiled the Sabre Reference digital to analog converter (DAC) chip. The Sabre Reference is touted to outperform the best audiophile equipment with an unprecedented 134dB dynamic range and -118dB total harmonic distortion for 44.1kHz to 192kHz sampling rates. The chip supports Blu-ray/HD-DVD players and Universal DVD/DVD-Audio/SACD players. A patented multi-bit Hyperstream modulator with Dynamic Matching uses a 48-bit accumulator and 28-bit data path to allow for the reproduction of audio as it is mastered at the recording studio. A patent-pending time-domain Jitter Eliminator is said to completely remove clock jitter that is common in digital audio. The Sabre Reference's Hyperstream architecture supports mono, stereo, 4- and 8-channel output in current or voltage modes. In addition, the Sabre Reference integrates an all-digital SPDIF receiver and supports multi-channel digital audio in PCM or DSD formats. The Sabre Reference is sampling now in 64-LQFP package and priced at $29 each in quantities of 1,000 or more.

 

02 / 19 / 08

Pass Labs XA30.5 Amplifier  Pass Labs' new baby XA30.5 ($5,000) 30 watt Class A amplifier includes the company's critically acclaimed low-noise Super-Symmetry circuitry at a relatively affordable price. As the smallest of the company's XA.5 Series, the XA30.5 has larger output current capacity than corresponding models from Pass Labs' earlier XA Series. Specifically, a staggering five times the current, which is more than 25 times the power into very low impedance loads. This makes XA.5 amps entirely appropriate even for loudspeakers with very difficult loads. Other evolutionary refinements include lower distortion at all power levels and into all types of loads, especially the all-important audio midrange; and greater control over the large heavily biased follower output stages, which have low output impedance for consistently high damping under all load and signal conditions. Additionally, internal circuits do not compensate for any type of high frequency by using little frequency roll-offs, lag capacitors, output coils, Zobel networks, or other techniques. The amplifiers are stable because they are simple gain stages with minimal feedback. Also of note is that the amplifiers' idling current is more constant against variations in temperature, line voltages, and signal transients. Pass Labs' evolution, in part, is to replaced input differential MOSFETs with JFETs possessing much less noise, higher input impedance, and greater linearity. They added more power output devices to improve power handling and linearity. They developed a new bias generator that eliminated three sources of variation in the output stage bias current. Pass Lab's XA.5 drives 30 wpc at 8 Ohms with a gain of 26dB and 1 percent THD. Input impedance is 30 kOhm balanced, 15 kOhm unbalanced; and measures 19 x 7 x 19 (WxHxD in inches) and weighs 75 lbs. Enjoy the Music.com has reviewed many Pass Labs models including the Aleph X2.5 stereo preamplifier (seen here), the X250 stereo amplifier (seen here), Aleph 30 SE amplifier (seen here) and First Watt model F1 current drive power amplifier (seen here).

 

TEAC Esoteric C-03 PreamplifierTEAC Esoteric C-30 stereo preamplifier ($9500) is the company's top line state-of-the-art in design and engineering. This dual mono preamplifier is driven by dedicated per channel custom power supplies to ensure optimum channel separation. Circuit components including input stage, output stage, and power supply are completely isolated for ideal signal transmission. The C-03 features a highly rigid multiple-chambered chassis design for optimum resonance control properties. To allow use of high grade audiophile components on the PCB, the input stage and output stage are completely isolated achieving highly advanced circuit architecture. The input stage features a high quality discrete buffer circuit. The output stage features a fully discrete output buffer circuit driven by high voltage (+/- 38V), for maximum clarity and high signal linearity. The output buffer circuit is coupled with a large capacitor to further support high voltage output. To achieve high level signal purity, being free from digital noise generated by a microprocessor, the audio signal is completely isolated from the control signal. The TEAC Esoteric C-03 features a high quality, digitally-controlled, analog volume IC for each channel while the volume control, channel balance control and gain compensation between each input source is aggregated to this IC. The C-03 has 5 line level input selections (three RCA and two XLR). Enjoy the Music.com has reviewed the Teac Esoteric SA-60 audio disc player (seen here) and combination P-05 & D-05 transport/converter (seen here)

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02 / 18 / 08

IFPI  The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an organization that promotes the interests of the international recording industry worldwide with membership comprising some 1,400 major and independent companies in more than 75 countries, have announcement that the European Commission will act to achieve fairness on copyrights issues. Term Commissioner McCreevy has declared his intention to come forward with a proposal extending copyright term on music recordings in Europe from the current 50 years to 95 years. Artists and the international recording industry today welcomed the announcement by EU Internal Market Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, that he will shortly come forward with a proposal to ensure fairness on copyright term. Tens of thousands of performers, producers, music publishers and entertainment retailers have been calling for an improvement of copyright term in Europe to match the term provided by the EU's major trading partners. "This is great news for thousands of musicians and we are especially delighted that the Commission has acted to benefit session musicians" said John F Smith, President, International Federation of Musicians (FIM). "We are indebted to our friends and colleagues across the music industry for their ongoing support in achieving this most welcome of outcomes. This is a clear sign that the music community working together has a powerful voice." Recording label EMI says on their website, "We welcome today's proposals by Commissioner McCreevy. If implemented, these measures are excellent news for thousands of artists, many of whom rely on income from sound recordings for their long term financial security. EMI has long believed that the significant imbalance in the protection provided to performers compared to composers is unjustified and unfair. Like composers, artists should enjoy recognition for their work throughout the whole of their lives.”

 

EMIIn other music related news, it has been reported that the London-based music company EMI, recently acquired by Terra Firma Capital Partners, is looking to remove various investments within music industry trade bodies by around half. Currently, EMI invests £250 million on its three key bodies, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). EMI feels this is "excessive." Of note is that EMI is in talks with the other major recording labels, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, and Warner Music Group Corp, and they feels there is some alignment with all those involved in the effort to reduce overhead costs.

 

02 / 15 / 08

Klipsch Palladium P-39F Horn Loudspeaker  Klipsch now offers their Palladium P-39F ($15,000) flagship loudspeaker that encompasses a mating of new technology and the company's legendary horn-loading. This 3.5-way Tapered Array design includes a proprietary horn-loaded 0.75-inch titanium diaphragm tweeter assembly made of unique acoustically-damped materials, a sophisticated inverted dome midrange, and three high-output woofers. The tweeter has a resistively damped back chamber plus a uniquely chambered phase plug and exclusive Tractrix Horn combination delivers an extended high-frequency response that is inherently flat from 3kHz to 30kHz. Housed in its own acoustically-tuned and sealed enclosure, the P-39F midrange employs a 4.5-inch inverted aluminum diaphragm driver and operates from 500Hz to 3kHz. The midrange driver is coupled to a 90-degree by 60-degree acoustically-damped Tractrix Horn via a four-to-one compression phase plug, which is specifically designed to operate over the midrange frequencies. The Klipsch Palladium P-39F's three low-frequency drivers use 9-inch hybrid cone woofers (made of aluminum, Rohacell and Kevlar) while triple ports further enhance low-distortion bass response. Featuring a "boat-tail" enclosure, the P-39F's cabinet walls are up to 30mm thick with multiple laminations of medium density fiberboard that have been molded through a proprietary process. Extensive internal bracing gives the speaker a more rigid and structurally sound enclosure. Each pair is both visually and audibly matched.

 

Save Planet RockNormally i am not a radio person, yet it has been brought to my attention that Planet Rock, Britain's classic rock radio station with over 500,000 listeners, is about to go off the air. As such, there is now a movement to show the owners, GCap Media, (the owners of Planet Rock) are to close this radio station by the end of March 2008. As such, a movement called Save Planet Rock has commenced, and as such those interested can sign a petition in hopes of changing the current owners decision. As a side note, the owners will also be closing down a jazz stations as well, therefore handing back various local XFM licenses they hold. If you desires, please support this petition to make GCap rethink this strategy or at least to show support for this station and hope that someone will buy it and keep it operating. This will bring the joy of classic rock music to hundreds of thousands of radio listeners within Britain.

 

02 / 14 / 08

  The mid-February Review Magazine features a new editorial by Steven R. Rochlin titled Audio Research Buyout And Other Mergers and says, "The buzz online was strong recently, as reported within the Industry News, that longstanding American high-end audio manufacturer Audio Research Corporation (ARC) was acquired by Italy's Quadrivio SGR. As Quadrivio SRG is a an investment management company formed in 2000, it should come as no surprise that only a handful of months earlier they also purchased Sonus Faber, widely considered one of Italy's popular high-end audio loudspeaker manufacturers. Now they have focused on American amplification manufacturer ARC, with over 38 years of experience, now Quadrivio SGR has a way to mate their loudspeakers with appropriate amplification." To read more, see February 2008's midmonth update to the Review Magazine by clicking here.

 

Van den Hul The CanaryVan den Hul has released a new MC cartridge called The Canary (3200€). It features a newly designed frontpole with pure 24 Carat gold wire coils that produce a strong 0.55 mV output. The company says the cartridge "reproduces an extreme precise positioning in the sound field thanks to some newly developed technology. The Canary has a very flat frequency response without any noticeable coloration." Also of note is that Van den Hul's The Canary has reduced impedance variations and high cross-talk damping to ensure consistent drive and stereo separation. The use of a strong Alnico magnet, short cantilever protected by the front-pole, and nylon body round out this design. Enjoy the Music.com has reviewed the Van den Hul The Frog MC phono cartridge as seen here.

 

02 / 13 / 08

  Enjoy the Music.com now offers the world premiere of The Absolute Sound's Issue 180, March 2008 table of contents and editorial! This edition features a guest editorial by Andrew Quint titled A Grand Multichannel Experiments, where he states, "In this issue we inaugurate a new feature reporting on the finest multichannel recordings [Multichannel Marvels. The Best in Surround Sound Music]. It's certainly not that TAS has neglected SACD and DVD-Audio releases in the past. We've had write-ups of these discs in every issue for six years running now, and will continue to cover high-resolution software in our regular music section. But Editor-In-Chief Robert Harley has received many requests for more multichannel music reviews, and this column will substantially augment our coverage with a quarterly roundup of the crème de Ia crème, sonically and musically, of the latest surround-sound releases." You can see the table of contents and read the complete editorial by clicking here.

 

Ultralink/XLOUltralink/XLO has introduced their Reference 3 and Signature 3 cables (pricing starts at $290 for Reference3 0.5m and $590 for Signature 3 0.5m). Features of these new cables include special chemical treatment to improve ultra-high frequency pulse response, proprietary Field-Balanced Geometry design, 99.99998% pure laboratory grade copper and minimized capacitive discharge effects. The company feels that these two lines set new standards for cable performance and provides significant upgrades in across the board performance over their predecessors. After chemical surface treatment, each conductor in the Reference 3 series is insulated with a very thin layer of a specially selected high performance non-fluorinated polymer (a variant of Dupont Teflon). The wires are then wound in a proprietary Field-Balanced geometry for optimal performance.

Don BouchardIn other news concerning Ultralink/XLO, it saddens me to report that president of sales and marketing Don Bouchard passed away last week after injuries suffered from a motorcycles accident in 2007. Don and i talked quite a bit during the RMAF in 2007 as we shared in our love of the open road. Unfortunately, Don's motorcycle injuries were too severe and he was unable to recover from them. Don passed away peacefully on February 7 and he will be greatly missed by his family, friends and business colleagues, who saw him as "one of the brightest lights in the industry". He is survived by his two children Don III and Rebecca, his mother, Doris, his brothers Jeff and Mike along with his sister-in-laws Pam, Kathy and Lisa.

 

02 / 12 / 08

Wolfson Microelectronics  Audiophiles have praised the use of Wolfson Microelectronics' digital circuits in portable audio products. The company has announced their latest AudioPlus technologies, ultra low power multimedia CODEC with Class G headphone amplifier, and new Class AB/D speaker driver. The AudioPlus Smart Power WM8400 combines a multimedia CODEC with integrated power management features to deliver the high-performance audio and mixing capability plus longer battery life. WM8400 functions include multimedia CODEC, on-chip FLL, two DC-DC converters and four LDO regulators, all inside a compact 6 x 6mm BGA package. Audio quality is key, with a very low 98dB SNR performance and selectable Class AB or Class D speaker driver operation. There are four headphone driver outputs for fully differential or cap-less drive.

Wolfson Microelectronics new WM8900 ultra low power multimedia CODEC with Class G headphone amplifier offers longer battery life in portable media players and multimedia handsets with reduced external component requirements. The device is offered in a low profile 0.55mm high 40-pin QFN package, which makes the WM8900 ideal for slim, portable electronic applications. The ground-referenced Class G headphone amplifier eliminates many sources of pops and clicks during power up, power down, mute and unmute to deliver high quality audio performance.

Lastly, the company's new WM9001 Class AB/D monophonic 1W switchable Class AB/D speaker driver enables simplified PCB layout and maintains signal integrity by minimizing high frequency signal track lengths. Audio performance is enhanced through differential input and output modes to remove undesired noise. Additionally, RF noise suppression is improved and external component count reduced by an integrated oscillator for clocking the Class D outputs. WM9001 also connects seamlessly with both the WM8990 audio hub CODEC and the new WM8400 audio and power management IC, enabling a full stereo 1 watt Class AB/D speaker drive solution.

As for how this concerns audiophiles, many have been complaining about the lack of sound quality within the new Apple iPod units. Of note is that i have personally heard the newest iPod units, was less than pleased, and so returned it for a full refund. It has been widely said that the lack of sound quality is due to Apple changing from the good sounding Wolfson Microelectronics to another manufacturer. Many audiophiles on various discussion boards are less than enthusiastic about the sound quality produced by the new iPods.

 

Infinity new Classia SeriesInfinity new Classia Series ($329 to $899 each) loudspeakers combine attractive styling with versatility and advanced driver technologies. The slim enclosures house the company's patented Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragm (CMMD) midrange and tweeters, a technology that advances the company's previous designs by reproducing higher accuracy with less distortion through stiffer cones and lighter materials. Frequency response reaches beyond 40kHz and operate in conjunction with a proprietary Constant Acoustic Impedance (CAI) waveguide to provide open and detailed high-frequency reproduction with optimal dispersion. All models within Infinity's Classica Series utilize premium-grade parts and construction, with well-braced enclosures designed to minimize cabinet colorations. All models come in high-gloss black and cherry-wood veneer accented by back cloth grilles.

• C205 two-way bookshelf (1-inch tweeter, 5.25-inch woofer) $329 each 
• CC225 two-way wall-mountable center channel speaker (1-inch tweeter, dual 5.25-inch woofers) $499 each 
• C255ES two-way wall-mountable surround loudspeaker with selectable monopole/bipole/dipole/dual-speaker operation (dual 1-inch tweeters, dual 5.25-inch woofers) $499 each
• C336 three-way floorstanding (1-inch tweeter, 4-inch midrange driver, three 6.5-inch woofers, bi-wirable) $899 each

 

02 / 08 / 08

Cable research Lab (CRL)  Cable Research Lab (CRL) now offers audiophiles the ability to audition their products and upgrade their existing CRL cables through two new policies. Customers can listen to CRL cables before buying through the company's new audition policy for the price of shipping (non-refundable) and a refundable 10 percent deposit for up to 14 days. Cable Research Lab customers can also take advantage of CRL's new upgrade policy within twelve months of purchase. Customers will be able to trade-up to a higher priced cable and apply 100 percent of their previous purchase price towards the purchase price of higher priced cables of equal lengths or longer. Chip Winston, President of Cable Research Lab, said "The CRL line has been enhanced over its ancestors, and I want to allow more listeners to hear CRL for themselves before buying. By offering both an audition policy and an upgrade policy, Cable Research Lab customers will be confident in their purchasing decisions."

 

Gato Audio Phase-itGato Audio is now re-introducing their Phase-it ($99) polarity detection device. The Phase-it operates by sending a harmless electrical pulse into the loudspeaker and a built-in microphone detects the reproduced acoustic pulse and illuminates an LED green or red. Green for correct polarity and red for reversed polarity. This makes the Phase-it especially well suited for audiophiles who desire a way to verify if their loudspeaker drivers are phase correct. The Phase-it automatically shuts itself down when not in use and has a housing built entirely from aluminum, which means that it is built to last in a rough custom home audio installation environment.

 

02 / 07 / 08

Densen B-130 Stereo Integrated Amplifier  Densen introduced their B-130 (£2000) stereo integrated amplifier, which is a non-feedback design producing 80 wpc. Using extremely fast and reliable transistors plus and other high quality parts, the B-130 contains several unique features including a processor loop for easy connection to external surround processors and the possibility of adding Densen's SB-1 or SB-2 analogue surround boards for easy connection to DVD players with analog 5+1 or 7+1 output. There are also internal sockets for Densen's DP-03 MM phonostage and their forthcoming DP-06 MC phonostage.

 

Scandyna The Drop LoudspeakerScandyna, a company that manufacturers some very attractive loudspeakers, offers their The Drop affordable two-way design ($849/pair). With a goal of never making compromises on the sound, this fresh and innovative designs based on organic forms. The company feels they are able to provide "true and amazing products come alive". This uniquely shaped two-way loudspeakers holds a 1-inch dome tweeter and 5-inch Kevlar long throw midrange/bass driver to produce frequencies from 50Hz to 22kHz (+-6dB). Sensitivity is 89dB/W/m and the unit weighs in at 5.5 lbs each. A selection of six colors (White, Black, Silver, Blue, Yellow, and Red) plus four different ways to place the speakers, users have a maximum of flexibility to choose from.

 

02 / 06 / 08

DaVinciAudio Nobile Tonearm  DaVinciAudio new Nobile tonearm (4085€) is built with the highest quality in the company's tradition. Offered in both 10-inch and 12-inch version, the aluminum bearing block ensures high rigidity while a double gimbaled ruby bearing, same as in the company's Grand Reference Grandezza, provides smooth operation. The jewel bearings are hand polished to achieve the exceptional precision and many years of operation. Critical anti-skating is via magnetic, the tonearm tube is made from carbon fiber, the headshell from aluminum and the counterweights are steel. A standard captive 1-meter in included, with longer or shorter lengths available upon request.

 

Gingko Audio Cloud 12S PlatformGingko Audio  now offers their Cloud 9S and Cloud 12S (pictured) anti-resonant platforms specifically designed for the most popular VPI turntables ($299 and $599 respectively). The Cloud 9S is designed for the VPI Scout and Scoutmaster and features the double thickness base of the Cloud 11 for high performance with separate plate for the motor, further isolating motor noise from the plinth. It provides 6 dimples placed strategically to allow many ball position combinations to accommodate different weights from the Scout to the Scoutmaster with Super Platter. The Cloud 12S is designed for the VPI Super Scoutmaster and features separate platforms for the motor and the plinth, thus further isolating motor noise from the turntable. There i also a Cloud 12A ($699) is designed for the VPI Aries that also features separate platforms for the motor and the plinth. Of note is that the motor platform also accommodates the new flywheel motor.

 

Audio Reserch CorportationLongstanding American high-end audio manufacturer Audio Research Corporation (ARC), with over 38 years of experience, has been acquired by Italy's Quadrivio SGR, an Investment Management Company formed in 2000. Like their recent acquisition of audiophile loudspeaker manufacturer Sonus Faber, they hope to maximize the return on the capital invested. With the United States dollar reaching all time lows against the Euro, it appears European firms may be eyeing the purchase of now bargain-priced American companies (see recent Enjoy the Music.com article concerning the economy by clicking here). It has been reported that ARC's founder William Z. Johnson has suffering health conditions and will stay aboard, yet firmly placed in a lesser role within the company as the over two decade company veteran Terry Dorn will find himself as the newly appointed president. Of note is that Audio Research sold over 8 million dollars of product in 2007 and the company looks to surpass that sales figure in 2008.

 

02 / 05 / 08

Cambridge Audio TT50 Turntable  Cambridge Audio now offers their TT50 turntable ($499 in USA, 499€ in the EU and £350 in Britain). The TT50 has been developed in partnership with high-end audio manufacturer Pro-Ject using some key Cambridge Audio innovations. Features include proprietary arm with non-contact magnetic anti-skate, an elastomer-coated acrylic platter, mass loaded sub-platter, and includes the Audio Technica AT95E moving magnet cartridge. Cambridge Audio's TT50 platter is said to gives an acoustic impedance matched to the record for maximum detail retrieval while the sub-platter provides both speed stability and inertia for tracing ability and deep bass retrieval. Also of note is that the headshell and arm are cast as one piece for material stiffness. An isolated motor floats freely to minimizing vibration from negatively affecting the music as it rotates the platter. The adjustable drive pulley allows for both 33rpm and 45rpm vinyl record playback.

 

Ultra Systems DIGIstroboUltra Systems announced the hifi4music DIGIstrobo ($160), a unique new digital instrument for extremely accurate measurement of turntable speed. This unit is employed with a microprocessor-based system to allow for precise Quartz crystal implementation. Different from any other strobe, the DIGIstrobo can measure the actual speed of the platter at any moment, even while the record is playing. While there are little other details, this is an excellent move forward for those who seek to ensure their platter is rotating precisely at 33.3, 45, or 78 rpm. Users of the DIGIstrobo simply attach the included reflective tape to either a record clamp or the edge of the platter, then press a button on the side of the unit to activate the strobe. It then will shine light on the reflective tape and provide the rpm readout to an accuracy of 0.01%.

 

02 / 04 / 08

AV123 MFW-15 Subwoofer  AV123 MFW-15 subwoofer ($599) features 'trickle down' technology from the company's higher line models, yet is wrapped in a lovely hand finished cabinet. Designed from the ground up by AV123's Mark Schifter and renowned subwoofer guru Mark Seaton, the MFW-15 features a 25mm front baffle, internal bracing, custom designed 15-inch driver, 350-watt amplifier and a control panel for Level, Phase and Low Pass Frequency adjustment. The top back of the AV123's MFW-15 subwoofer cabinet has an internally folded slot port to help extend lower frequency response, with overall response rated from 18Hz to 200Hz. The cabinet is wrapped in real wood veneer (via renewable resource) or smooth satin black. Dimensions are 23.94 x 22.44 x 18.125 (HxDxW in inches), weight is 100 lbs. and the unit comes with a three year warranty.

 

Atma-Sphere Volume ControlFor years Atma-Sphere has avoided remote control systems due to what the company feels are audible degradation that most remotes cause. The new Atma-Sphere MP-1 preamplifier remote control system is a mechanical advance for the volume control that is simple and reliable, yet allows for manual operation at any time. According to Ralph Karsten of Atma-Sphere, this is the only way to do a remote that does not degrade the audio path. The contacts are gold, there are 24 positions and the attenuation is a taper (two 6dB steps, three 3dB steps and the remainder are 2dB steps). It is an add-on to the existing volume control and works with any MP-1 made since 1997. The option runs $1700 and earlier MP-1s will require an update before remote volume control implementation.

 

02 / 01 / 08

   Enjoy the Music.com has just posted the February edition of our Review Magazine plus added three additional Las Vegas show reports! Of note within the Review Magazine is the guest manufacturer article Design Philosophy For Turntables: A paper from Pierre Lurne of Audiomeca plus a great DIY/technical article that covers the subject of triode connected pentodes by Herb Reichert! Many new articles and think pieces are now online including...

Show Reports                 
CES 2008 Design Awards
Las Vegas Show Photofest!
Audiolics Anonymous Chapter 100: CES / T.H.E. Show 2008

Viewpoint
More CES / T.H.E. Show Plus The Economy
AA Chapter 65: An Interesting Observation
Joe Audiophile: Time To Solve The Audio Industries Failings

Sound Practices
Triode Connected Pentodes

The BAS Speaker
Clarity Versus Fidelity

Manufacturer Viewpoint
Design Philosophy For Turntables: A Paper From Pierre Lurne Of Audiomeca

Audiophile Equipment Reviews
Balanced Power Technologies BP-2 Power Conditioner
Canton Chrono 502 Bookshelf Loudspeakers
Hagerman Piccolo MC Headamp
T+A V10 Integrated Amplifier & G10R Record Player
Antique Sound Labs (ASL) Phono LUX DT

Music Reviews
Classical Music
Lively, good-sounding chamber orchestra performances of four Beethoven symphonies.
A valuable collection of the recorded legacy of American composer Leon Kirchner.
An exciting bargain-priced CD of music by French composer Albert Roussel.
From Telarc, fine-sounding symphonic Tchaikowsky.

Jazz, Folk, Bluegrass, Blues, Etc.
Russ Barenberg When At Last
Shawn Camp & Billy Burnett The Bluegrass Elvises Vol 1
New recordings by Nik Bärtsch's Ronin and The Necks.
Sharon Rae North The Way You Make Me Feel
The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson Anthology

Rock, Pop, Funk, Techno, Punk, Metal, Etc.
Ultimate Grammy Collection: 7 CD Collection
Robert Plant & Allison Krauss Raising Sand
Red Plastic Buddha Sunflower Sessions
Arek Religa In Memory Of The Greatests
The Brian Setzer Orchestra Wolfgang's Big Night Out
Test CD 3: Reference Recordings CDs for subjective and analytical comparisons.
Cassandra Wilson New Moon Daughter & Traveling Miles

See the February Review Magazine by clicking here.


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