Category Archives: World News

Audiojumble, Tonbridge Oct 2012

The Tonbridge Audiojumble is organised twice a year by John Howes and is now in its 20th year. On October 7th the Angel Leisure centre was filled with 140 stalls each piled high with classic hi-fi, radios, records and all manner of audio goodies. I went along to see what I could find and had to use all the powers at my disposal to avoid bringing home more beautiful kit such as the Beogram 1200 above.

Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 2300 receiver, fully working with Beocord 2400 cassette deck for £150

A Brinkman omni directional speaker from Wales

EMI 14A oval driver with lovely green Hammerite chassis

Hørning Agathon, high sensitivity Danish design with a Lowther PM6A silver driver in the front and a PM2C on the back plus internal drivers that can be connected in a multitude of variations, £2,000

AMR's Vincent Luke demonstrated the ifi phono stage with this classic JBE turntable adding a bit of style to proceedings

A nice fully rebuilt Leak Stereo 20 for £695

Apparently not for sale this French Lectron JH 50 would have been a sore temptation

Early Micromegas had reliability issues but this one was still spinning and looking better than the picture suggests, it's a Duo CD3.1 transport for £650

This Nagra III was one of a superb collection on display for visitors to drool over

Nagra IV S

Nagra SN

Nagra SN and transfer unit

This stylish Nakamichi 630 receiver was being sold by Adam Smith for £120

From L-R: Pioneers with lovely fretwork, KEF Concerto and well disguised Lowther Mini Acoustas for a very reasonable £320

They don't make remotes like this anymore, Quad 66, who needs touchscreens?

Quad ESL 57s for £495 can't be bad

Massed Roberts radios

Stentorian T18 drivers, once £3 now £250

Thorens TD124, apparently there was a TD 224 autochanger at Tonbridge too but that one got away

Rare Thorens Type 2.000 S integrated with separate volume and tone controls for each channel

Italian exotica in the form of a VYGER Baltic M with SME 312S

Who needs WEEE directives when 50 year old drive units still have a value

Genuine NOS

Let's hope they never switch off analogue transmissions!

Ariston RD80SL, an early Scots full sus design in remarkable condition with the a Linn arm and Grace cartridge 
The wax cylinder, the first casualty in the format wars

Alchemist Forseti (£700) and Yamaha CX-1000 (POA), will we ever see so many switches again?

Original Resource is The Ear

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9

The latest addition to Bang & Olufsen's BeoPlay range is the A9. This superbly styled 70cm diameter single piece system is in essence a big dock that's capable of wireless operation. It contains active class D amplification for its two tweeters, two midrange units and single bass unit. Volume can be changed by stroking the top and there are three DSP modes with which to tailor the sound to taste. It's £1,600 which is a lot for a dock but cheap for such a cool piece of furniture.

Original Resource is The Ear

National Audio Show, Whittlebury 2012

ifi iPhono
AMR has broken ranks and produced a range of compact components for the less well heeled audio nut. So far there's an iDAC (£249) complete with headphone output and volume control, iCan (£199) dedicated headphone amp and iUSB (£199) that cleans up the current in the USB line. Most intrigueing however is the pre-production iPhono (£299) which although only about six inches long is MM and MC ready, has variable gain and impedance and nothing less than a selection of EQ settings alongside the standard RIAA. This is a pretty scarce feature on high end phono stages and if this thing sounds half as good as it looks it could be a giant slayer.

Audio Note Empress
Essentially a copper version of the Neiro the Empress monoblock runs parallel single ended  2A3 triodes for an 8 watt output from a choke rectified circuit, yours for £4,500 a pair.

Prometheus Audio
George Thomsen from Poole in Dorset brought along the biggest equipment rack in a show full of big racks and stuck his substantial Prometheus turntable on top of it. Both items are made to order with the rack featuring air suspension and the turntable being built with a slab of ancient hardwood as its plinth. This example used mahogany that George says was cut in 1950, the base is in slate and the aluminium platter weighs between 17 and 20kg. Proper back breaking analogue technology in all its glory. The tonearm is also made of hardwood but not by Prometheus, it's a unipivot Durand Talea from France.

Canalis Anima
This attractive two-way is made by the speaker division of turntable specialist Spiral Groove. It was designed by Audio Physic founder Joachim Gerhard and features a laminated bamboo cabinet, a material that I imagine will become more common in the future because of its high stiffness and relative affordability by hardwood standards. The tweeter is an aluminium dome in the centre of a wide fabric surround, the idea being to combine the qualities of both materials,  the bass driver has  a long throw, five inch ceramic coated aluminium cone with 20mm quoted excursion. Price in the UK is $2,800, Canalis is being brought into the UK by Kog Audio.

Da Vinci Virtu
This elegant 12inch arm is fitted to the Systemdek 3D and being distributed by its maker Derek Dunlop. Made in Switzerland it features an ebony section on the armtube itself and a detachable headshell made from same material. Information is a bit scarce but apparently it has a four point gimbal bearing and costs £9,000.

DPA Minuet
Deltec Precision Audio launched three new 'sub £500' components at Whittlebury. The Minuet Disc is an MM/MC phono stage with fixed gain and impedance, the DAC is a three input type with a DPA filter and asynchronous USB input that runs at up to 192kHz and comes with a driver. The last element is the Minuet Filter, a power supply upgrade for the other two components. Price at the event was £300 a piece but the company is undecided on final retail.

Astin trew Concord
Astin trew has hired the talents of Graham Fowler, creator of the Trichord phono stages, to design the Concord DAC (£3,760). As well as the usual features there is the option of adding either an XMOS USB module or a Firewire input module for £300. Concord also has an I2S input to accommodate PS Audio transports among a few others. It uses twin Burr Brown converters and avoids upsampling, and the icing on the digital cake is a tube output stage. A matching transport is in the pipeline.

Graham Fowler has been busy expanding the Trichord range to include two headphone amplifiers. Both in prototype form at the show but soon to be available, one will cost £400 with a standard power supply or an extra £100 for the Never Connected version. The bigger model (shown) is based on the Michell Alecto that Graham designed back in the nineties, that was a rather good amplifier so I have high hopes for this Never Connected PSU device which will cost between £700 and £800.

Icon Audio MB30M
These attractive Quad II like amps are David Shaw's latest monoblocks, the MB30M (£1,799) has KT120 output tubes that produce 16 watts in triode mode or 27 watts in push-pull. Features include tertiary wound transformers and a choke interstage transformer.
Icon also showed its latest range topping preamp the LA5TX (below), this has a transformer output stage so that it will drive pretty much any power amp on the planet and do so via long interconnects which is not always the case with tube line stages. It has single ended and balanced outputs, four inputs and remote control not to mention a double choke power supply.

This is John Daniel who runs Keystrobe a company which specialises in devices to assist in getting your turntable runnning at the right speed. He is holding the KeyStrobe Au gold stroboscopic disc (£36), this is the same size as a record label and is made PCB style with gold markings for 33.3, 45 and 78rpm with one side marked for 50Hz UK mains and other for 60Hz power. He makes a standard printed version for £15 and a range of torches to use with the discs which start at £34. Garrard 301 owners will also be interested in his Lightbeam 301, a permanent strobe light that fits in one of the existing bolt holes and lets you read the markings on that classic turntable's platter, it costs £95 including power supply.

Original Resource is The Ear

Considerazioni sull’editoriale del 25/09/12

Inauguriamo qui una sorta di "Lettere al Direttore"-
Pubblicheremo lettere ricevute in, che riteniamo meritevoli di eventuali commenti da parte dei Lettori. Salvo indicazioni contrarie e nel rispetto della privacy, non pubblicheremo che i nomi degli scriventi.

Ho letto l'ultimo articolo di Angelo audio-activity 
Nel mio passato di ascoltatore ho fatto le considerazioni dei prezzi e salvo alcune volte dettate dalla necessità di cambiare in meglio a condizioni umanamente accettabili, ho privilegiato maggiormente l'acquisto di dischi. 
Oggi infatti vanto una discoteca (cd e LP) di circa 3000 dischi ed in ogni monografia di musicisti reperibile su radio3 o rsi, le scalette includono al 99% brani che ho nella mia discoteca quindi il best della musica. Oggi vedo che le Magico Q7 me le potrei permettere con un grosso sforzo ma cercare di avere certi dischi, quelli sì introvabili, sarebbe cosa molto più ardua e molto più costosa. Spero di aver contribuito ad aggiungere un elemento in più alla discussione. 

Buon ascolto a tutti.


Original Resource is Hi-fi e musica

In Defence Of Music

  Linn are purveyors of fine musical systems for your homestead, they also have a rather wonderful blog; in particular recent post ‘In Defence Of Music’ touches on a few of the themes covered here:

“Think about this, for starters: in less than 15 years, the internet has transformed recorded music from an prized possession into something presumed by a disconcerting number of web denizens to have literally no value.

Or think about the fact that not long ago, even relatively casual music fans listened to their favorite music with the care and attention one gives to something of consequence. Today, songs flood through people’s digital existences at a tempo that debilitates a sense of custody or care.

Or maybe just think about this: when you had to take yourself in the three-dimensional world to a physical retail store, flip through material items to find something of your liking, and pay actual hard currency to take possession of your music item, and when that music item might be one of only two or three you might take possession of in, maybe, a month or two, well then you damn well made sure you sat and listened hard to the thing, and plenty more than once or twice.”

Read the full article here.

Original Resource is How Do You Listen To Music?

Top Audio, Milan 2012

It’s taken me a long time to get to Italy’s biggest show and I now realise that I should have started a long while back. Where else can you get such fabulous food, see such beautiful shops, people and buildings and hear such a diversity of serious kit. The best rooms at this event sounded pretty damn stunning and there were considerably more home grown brands than I’d expected despite many years of attending European shows. The choice of music sometimes left a little to be desired but fans of Pink Floyd and tinkly jazz are very well accommodated! There is no avoiding the enthusiasm of Italian audio lovers, the quantity of exhibitors and music sellers rivals Munich and makes one wonder why there isn’t a show of equal scale in the UK. Here are a few of the more interesting new products I found.

Naim UnitiLite
Naim’s MD Paul Stephenson was in Milan to launch the latest and sleekest addition to the Uniti range dubbed Unitilite. Depending on how you look at it this is either a small NaimUniti or a full width UnitiQute with CD player. Unitilite costs £1,650 and has a 50 watt amp onboard alongside full 24/192 Uniti streaming capability, there is also the option of adding a DAB and FM tuner module for a £245 premium.
An unexpected bonus of this introduction is that the price of the Unitiqute has been dropped to £995 for the 24/96 version, this apparently to clarify the Uniti pecking order.
Paul Stephenson explained that the all in one nature of the NaimUniti has bought a lot of newcomers to the brand and Unitilite is clearly intended to expand that user base. Other features include iPod and USB stick playback from the front panel, full service internet radio, gapless playback and support for all lossless and most lossy formats.

Tufan Hashemi shows off the Roksan Oxygene

Roksan Oxygene
I bumped into Roksan MD Tufan Hashemi who had the first sample from his shiny new Oxygene series. Designed by Bo Christiansen but with Roksan know how inside this is one of the most stunnnig pieces of design  todayin the hi-fi business. The case is machined from a two inch slab of aluminium with edge radiusing that’s accurate to less than two 100ths of a millimetre, the display is via perforations in the front panel and control is entirely by remote handset. The Oxygene integrated amp (£3,000) has a Bluetooth APTx receiver built in that was chosen to give high sound quality from mobile devices, it will be joined by the Oxygene CD player (£2,500) when the range is launched. Roksan plans to add a loudspeaker, CD transport and DAC next year.

Stefan Loorits & the Guru Junior

Guru Junior
Rumours have been circulating about a smaller Guru speaker for a few months so it wasn’t surprising to see a prototype in Milan. Guru was sharing a room with Cambridge Audio and playing some appealingly unhi-fi music to excellent effect through the QM10.2. The new Guru Junior should be in store by November and features the same size drive units as the QM10.2 in a more conventionally shaped, slot ported cabinet. It retains the slot shaped port and will come with soft feet in true Guru style but the price looks like being half as much. The brushed aluminium facia on the samples shown looks likely to be indicative of the final finish but the Guru guys are also considering an off-white anodised aluminium for the white model which looks rather good.

Audio Note AN-E SEC slate
Audio Note brought a pair of its AN-E SEC loudspeakers to Milan that were clad in a prototype slate finish. This silver wired version of the largest speaker in the range has a crushed stone ‘veneer’ on all faces and brings new meaning to the description monolithic. Price is £38,000 per pair. Elsewhere in the system they had the CDT 6 two box CD transport and matching DAC 6 Signature at £115,000 apiece. Analogue source was an AN-TT 0.5 Reference (£27,000), the penultimate turntable in the range which has has three motors and a belt that should look a bit more true when it starts turning the acrylic platter.

Micromega MyDac
Micromega is launching a range of compact components at budget prices yet keeping manufacturing in France. The first to appear is the MyDAC converter, an asynchronous USB device that runs at 24-bits/192kHz and has a built in power supply. It measures a mere 3.5cm (1.5inches) high and has coax and Toslink inputs alongside class 2.0 USB. Price in Europe is €299. Future Micromega My products will include a phono preamplifier, headphone amp, wireless streamer and integrated amp.

Revox Joy
Revox’s compact Joy is an integrated streamer and amplifier in a case that’s not so different in scale to a Naim UnitiQute but even plainer. It only has a power indicator behind the glass façade of its front panel and there are no controls to be seen on the sleek aluminium body, so you need to hang onto the handset. It comes in two guises the S119 delivers 60 watts for €1,690 while the S120 doubles that power rating for €2,390. Joy has two line and four digital inputs plus wired or wireless streaming at up to 24/96. It is also ready for multi-room installation and has a power napping function that sounds rather handy for those of us that get a little dozy in the afternoon.

Galactron MK 2280
A new name to me Galactron is an Italian company that has a large range of amplifiers and power conditioners. It caught my attention because of the sound quality that the new MK 2225 integrated was producing with a pair of Triangle Magellan speakers and a Heed transport and DAC. This amp is a 80 watt class A design with dual mono construction and FET output devices, but the key spec is the use of interstage transformers. Such things are a rarity in tube amps let alone solid state designs. Its €6,740 price reflects why this might be but if the brand makes it to the UK I’d be keen to give it a spin.

Audio Research LP1
Audio Research has clearly spotted the renaissance of vinyl and is keen to get a piece of the action. The LP1 is its least expensive phono stage yet at €2,390, it has a hybrid tube/transistor circuit using the 6H30 output tube. It’s designed for moving magnet and high output MC cartridges and has a custom power transformer inside its compact casework.

dCS Vivaldi DAC

dCS Vivaldi
Looks like dCS has decided to make a statement with its range topping Vivaldi components, these have the sort of jaw dropping casework that reminds one of Constellation Audio. There are four Vivaldi components, a DAC (£19,999) with onboard volume control as well as USB and DOP (DSD over PCM) inputs, it utilises the latest generation of the company’s Ring DAC and FPGA processing chips. The Vivaldi digital to digital Upsampler (£12,499) can turn any digital source into DXD (24-bit/352.8kHz), DSD (1-bit/2.822GHz) or PCM 24/192 formats for the Vivaldi DAC. There is also a Vivaldi CD/SACD transport (£24,999) and separate word clock (£9,699.

Fortevita Audiovisore III
The most striking piece of cabinet design was unsurprisingly from an Italian company. Fortevita makes a range of very stylish components including the Audiovisore III preamplifier, which  uses vintage J-FETs and has a total of two inputs on RCA phonos, so it must sound good. Fortevita calls it a program amplifier or gain stage which has a volume control to adjust the “amount of input signal”, a gain control which determines the I/O voltage ratio” and an overdrive control that “optimizes the spectrum of the harmonic distortion”. So it’s as wild as it looks but is based on a class A, DC coupled circuit that is devoid of feedback so it has potential. Price reflects appearance at €27,500.

Original Resource is The Ear

How Do You Listen To Music? Greg Wilson

Here’s a little flavour of the documentary, I recently interviewed Greg Wilson as part of the project. The full interview will be in the finished doc.

Original Resource is How Do You Listen To Music?