Author Archives: toneaudio

The latest desktop system from Technics

Technics has just announced a new, Mk.2 version of their successful SC-C70…

While they haven’t given us a full MSRP yet, the MK1 tipped the scales just under $1,000, so we suspect this will be somewhat the ballpark number for the Mk.2. The major upgrades include a revamp of the 2.1 speaker system, a more powerful amplifier, utilizing Technics’ “JENO Engine,” and their “Space Tune” DSP, optimizing the woofer for the environment in which it’s used – to deliver the most natural bass response.

It supports all the major streaming services, and includes a tuner too. There’s even a CD player on top – very nice. We’re looking forward to a review unit as soon as they are available. And…they come in black!

www.technics.com

Original article: The latest desktop system from Technics

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702 Signature from Bowers and Wilkins

We’ve just received the 702 Signature floor standing speakers from B&W…

Again, the UK manufacturer sticks to their path of constant refinement, with the
new Signature model of this speaker borrowing heavily from the technology
developed for the top of the line 800 series.

While there is no diamond tweeter sitting on top of the enclosure, the newest
version of the Carbon Dome tweeter uses a similar vapor deposition process
(developed for the 800 series diamond tweeters) in its construction.

We’ll have a full report very soon.

bowerswilkins.com

Original article: 702 Signature from Bowers and Wilkins

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Time to build an Amplifier!

It’s time to get the soldering iron out, especially with fall on the horizon.

If you’ve spent any time in the DIY world, you might be familiar with Nelson Pass and Wayne Colburn from Pass Labs. These guys give so much of their design knowledge back to the DIY family, so that those not able to afford a big pair of Pass Monoblocks can still get some of their magic.

We just got an email from the diyaudiostore showing off their “Amp Camp Amp” kit, that features everything you need to build a Nelson Pass designed, 8 watt per channel, class-A power amp.  (and you can build them as 15 watt mono blocks – which might just be killer for those of you with Quads) How cool is that? We’ve ordered our kit, so watch for an upcoming build article and full listening review.

This is going to be BIG fun!

Original article: Time to build an Amplifier!

Please note that all TONE Audio copy and photography is © 2005–2018 TONE Magazine LLC. This RSS feed is provided for personal, non-commercial use only.

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McIntosh returns to mobile audio with Jeep

It’s hitting the web today, that McIntosh is providing the audio system for the concept car, that will eventually become the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer next year.

Ralph Gilles, Jeep’s head of design made it clear in their launch this morning that McIntosh is a big part of the Grand Wagoneer concept’s package. His smile when discussing the McIntosh system says it all, when he talks about the extent that they went to making this part of the new vehicle. Showing off the lighted speaker grilles with McIntosh, he says “yeah we went a little overboard on this, but you’ll be able to show off that you went the extra mile to get the McIntosh system.”
Most importantly, to dispel all the rumors that have been flying around, this was not an off the shelf solution, adapted to Jeep. The McIntosh group is no stranger to mobile audio, having done the stunning system for Ford’s GT40, and a killer line of aftermarket components that are still revered by mobile sound enthusiasts today. However, Poggi’s experience with mobile audio at Harman and Bose really came into play on this project, and he makes it clear this has always been a priority for him at McIntosh. “When I joined the McIntosh group, this was something I wanted to accomplish. We felt Jeep was a perfect overlap for the two companies.”

Poggi mentions that while they approached Jeep, the meeting of the minds went extremely well, and it didn’t take long for both teams to be on board with this project. Many of the technologies that exist in home Mac components, like Power Guard™, will be in the mobile system for maximum benefit.

This nearly three-year project had engineers from McIntosh as well as Jeep cross pollinating each others’ laboratories and design studios, with every aspect of the system fine-tuned to match the Grand Wagoneer’s environment. Poggi says this part of the process to him is “being given control of the room.”
Viewing the rest of the Jeep video, the team has clearly gone all out to offer an incredibly immersive experience for everyone in the cabin, and the integration of the McIntosh system is beautiful to behold.

Automotive car companies often launch concept cars as far as a few years from production, and the final result does not often mirror the concept car. You need look no further than Porsche’s Boxster to see the deviation. However, with Jeep saying that this vehicle will be available next year, it seems unlikely that there will be a major design change between now and then, so fingers crossed.

At this point, the cost of adding the McIntosh system is not available, but the system in the concept car features 23 custom-designed speakers connected to a 24-channel amplifier providing an immersive audio experience. The audio elements are housed in aluminum and gloss black, true to the design aesthetic of McIntosh’s high-end home audio systems. Again, to extrapolate based on what other SUV companies offer, there will most likely be two or three trim levels offered on the Grand Wagoneer, perhaps with the top line featuring it as standard equipment (As Range Rover does with the Meridian systems) and it being an add on for the other models.

Jeep is claiming the Grand Wagoneer will start at $45,000. We wouldn’t be surprised if a fully optioned version approaches double this price, but time will tell.

ED NOTE: A release from Car & Driver reveals the new Grand Wagoneer is going to start at $60k, with a fully loaded version “topping $100k,” so I guess our guess was on the money...

So, if you’re going to be shopping for a new SUV next year and you want to rock in style, what could be a more American experience than cranking up your mobile McIntosh system in a Grand Wagoneer. We look forward to taking one of these for a test drive. Here’s to seeing the finished product, and here’s a look at the past for a reminder where it all began.

www.mcintoshlabs.com

www.jeep.com

Original article: McIntosh returns to mobile audio with Jeep

Please note that all TONE Audio copy and photography is © 2005–2018 TONE Magazine LLC. This RSS feed is provided for personal, non-commercial use only.

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New Premium Integrated Amp from Technics…

Building on the success they’ve achieved in the high end audio market over the last six years, Technics brings a new integrated amplifier, with some exciting new digital technology.

The SU-R1000 takes advantages of advances in power supply, output stage and overall amplifier design. It even features digital phono EQ in the phono stage. The stark, handsome front panel achieves a minimalist design ethos, with merely a volume control, input selector, power switch and headphone jack.

It features two sets of speaker outputs, and while no mention of power output was made in the press release, the front panel power meters illustrate 100 watts as the 0dB point, suggesting power somewhere around 100 watts per channel. In addition to the new, sophisticated phono stage, there is also an onboard DAC, with optical, Coax, and USB inputs. There are two RCA line level inputs, and one balanced XLR, as well as a standard RCA phono input and a balanced XLR/MC input.

Suggested retail has been hinted at just under $10k, but we will announce a final figure when it becomes available.

www.technics.com

Original article: New Premium Integrated Amp from Technics…

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New from Backert Labs

We’ve really been enjoying the new Rhumba 1.3 from Backert Labs.

With an MSRP of $4,000, the new Rhumba offers a level of sonic purity that’s tough
to come by at this price. Featuring top quality components, auto bias for the tubes,
and Backert’s patented “Green Force” power supply – this is an exciting preamplifier.

Featuring balanced XLR and RCA ins and outs, you can integrate the Rhumba into
any system with ease, and it also features a basic, volume up, volume down remote.

We’ll have a full review shortly.

For now,

www.backertlabs.com

Original article: New from Backert Labs

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Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Audio Research


Ken Kessler has been an occasional TONE contributor for over a decade now, and in that time, I’ve had the privilege to call him a friend.

He’s written some great books on some of the most legendary brands in audio, but I think his latest title, Making the Music Glow, is his best. Like the fine wines he enjoys, Kessler just gets better with age.

With news of the book being released earlier this week (and of course, under embargo on the news) Ken was kind enough to give us a brief overview on what went into making this legendary book. He and the staff at Audio Research spent a full year getting the details right. The book is $150, and worth every penny. I suspect the initial printing of 2000 copies will sell out quickly. You can order one from your local Audio Research dealer, or online at www.audioresearch.com.

Here’s what Ken had to say about writing this landmark book:

Warm’n’Fuzzy

It never gets old: waiting for one’s next book to appear. If something totally unforeseen, like a pandemic, interferes, the anticipation has been tempered by other challenges. Would the printers be working during lockdown? How would the near absence of air travel affect shipping … and the book launch? Despite unexpected changes to our daily lives, the publishing date has arrived. And an important box has been ticked.

Audio Research: Making the Music Glow is my fifth effort – and fourth history of a hi-fi manufacturer – and the timing was crucial. It was commissioned to mark the company’s first 50 years, so release in 2020 was mandatory. Everything else in my life, as in yours, was being postponed or cancelled: every hi-fi show fell from the calendar, a half-dozen trips abroad abandoned, my 50th class reunion moved to 2021. But nothing was going to stop the telling of one of high-end audio’s most important tales during its milestone year.

“He would say that,” spots the cynic, “because he’s promoting his book.” Er, doh. So does every other author, musician, baker, tailor, plastic surgeon or anyone else with something to sell. The difference is, there is no hype here. Audio Research’s founder, Bill Johnson, is to the tube revival and the birth of high-end audio what the Band is to roots music, or Rolex is to mechanical watches. His brand’s story is about as seminal an element of the subject we love as it is possible to be.

I went into the project already a long-term user of the company’s preamps and power amps, whose own time involved with serious hi-fi coincided almost exactly with that of Audio Research’s span. A story beginning in was – off the page – almost a chronicle of my own hi-fi adventure. Looking back on my own journey, Audio Research has always been there; in my case, its electronics have powered my reference system for decades. I knew the brand – or thought I did.

As I interviewed past and present employees, reacquainted myself with models from the back-catalogue, reread reviews (including ones I’d written years ago), it emerged that Audio Research wasn’t “just another brand,” which is, unfortunately, an epithet applicable to the majority of names in audio, most of which add little to the canon. As any history is about context, it was a reminder of a specific moment in the development of hi-fi, when transistors threatened to do to audio what quartz was doing to watches.

For audiophiles of a certain vintage, the book is a wander down Memory Lane. Sadly-departed characters from hi-fi’s past pop up here and there, like legendary retailer Mike Kay or pioneering reviews such as Harry Pearson and J Gordon Holt. Forgotten brands, defunct magazines, barely remembered hi-fi shows, once-ubiquitous test discs, obscure rivals and a litany of tube travails: the story is told by those who were there, so future revisionists be warned. ARC employees Warren Gehl, Chris Ossanna, and Dave Gordon are this book’s provenance.

This is not just the saga of Bill Johnson and Audio Research, but how the industry made a stand against mediocrity. Our hobby has always treated its history with disdain, save for those anachrophiles who love vintage audio gear. There are no high-end audio museums, and lavish, profusely illustrated books such as this have only been around since 2003, with the arrival of my first book, the history of Quad. Vainglorious as that may sound, and yes, there were books about hi-fi before it, but none celebrated luxurious audio components with the visual impact they deserve. None treated hi-fi the way books about Ferrari or Rolex glorify, respectively, high-end cars and watches.

Since then, my shelves of books about hi-fi have grown to include a dozen more brand histories, and it is hoped that denizens of a future in which streaming is all that remains will happen upon them and revel in high-end hardware the way some of us swoon over Italian coffee apparatuses from the 1930s, twin-lens cameras and lacquered fountain pens. If the word “romantic” seems to have no place in a world based on brushed aluminum, folded steel plate, glassware, wire and other cold materials, the omnipresence of music should be enough to dispel that notion. But this book is more of a love story than I ever imagined it to be. And I don’t mean my own love for the brand.

What I hope you will glean from every page is that those who worked for Audio Research, and those who still do, love not just the company, and not just audio per se, but they loved Bill Johnson. That may seem a cliché too far, but it was an overwhelming realization. And the greatest love? That of Bill and Nancy Johnson. If, after absorbing the story of Audio Research, you feel as I do about its importance in the history of high-end hi-fi, let it be known that Nancy is an unsung hero, as Bill’s supporter and enabler. And without whose input this book wouldn’t exist.

Original article: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Audio Research

Please note that all TONE Audio copy and photography is © 2005–2018 TONE Magazine LLC. This RSS feed is provided for personal, non-commercial use only.

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REL Tzero MKIII subwoofer

We’ve put a lot of emphasis on REL’s larger sub bass systems lately. Their latest offering is affordable, approachable, and easy to use.

The new TZero MKIII is the current iteration of their 6.5″ sub, featuring a 100 watt class-D amplifier, in a cabinet that is only 8.5 x 9.5 x 10.5 inches. The perfect size for smaller spaces and smaller speakers. And they just might be the perfect thing to add a little life to your favorite pair of vintage electrostats – we’ll definitely be trying them out with our Acoustat 1+1s, as well as a number of sub-$1000/pair mini monitors.

Please click here to go to the REL site for full specifications…

Original article: REL Tzero MKIII subwoofer

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McIntosh Labs announces the C22 MK V preamplifier

McIntosh first introduced the C22 preamplifier in 1963 and it’s been a top seller ever since.

The combination of subtle styling, a plethora of inputs, and high performance, have made the C22 a true definition of the phrase “control preamplifier.” It was ahead of its time with two turntable inputs. Now, with the Mk.V edition, the C22 takes a slightly more modern approach to this classic, with a headphone jack on the front panel, vacuum tubes visible via a see through glass top window, and balanced inputs and outputs.

McIntosh claims the C22 Mk.V is very similar to the current C70 preamplifier, but offers the style you know and love. For the first time, the C22 also shares the backlit green faceplate of the rest of the lineup.

With MM and MC phono onboard, it continues the tradition of two phono inputs, in step with the current level of vinyl enthusiasm, and remains an all-tube design, sporting a 12AT7 and five 12AX7 tubes.

These are available for order now, with an MSRP of $6,000.

mcintoshlabs.com

Original article: McIntosh Labs announces the C22 MK V preamplifier

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New F8 From First Watt

There’s a new amplifier from the First Watt division of Pass Laboratories, and it looks exactly like all the other First Watt amps. However, every First Watt amplifier has different characteristics and is optimized for a different kind of speaker.

If you’ve ever met Nelson Pass, you know that in addition to being a creative genius, he’s also got a great sense of humor and practicality. Using the same case keeps the cost down, and that’s a good thing. According to the recent press release, the F8 is an improved version of their J2, the most popular amplifier in the First Watt lineup. Pass says, “I enjoy amplifiers with a little personality. They don’t have to measure perfectly, they just have to sound good. This is a simple little Class A amplifier with a very nice personality and I hope you like it.”

Producing 25 watts per channel into an 8-ohm load, but only 13 into 4-ohms, the F8 will not be for everyone. But like all of the other First Watt amplifiers we’ve experienced, those of you that will enjoy the F8, will enjoy it like no other. And you won’t get this sound anywhere else. Sound like a compelling challenge? We think so.

If you’ve got fairly sensitive speakers that can work with a 25 watt per channel amplifier, this is a piece of audio art you won’t want to miss. Mr. Pass usually makes these in limited quantities, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

The F8 is available now, at a cost of $4,000

http://www.firstwatt.com/f8.html

Original article: New F8 From First Watt

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