Are active speakers really worth investing in? We got our hands on a couple of pairs from the first manufacturer to create them and gave them a try. If you're looking for something outside the traditional hi-fi separates set-up, these are definitely worth thinking about.
The world of hi-fi can be an intimidating, confusing place for a pure beginner if you don’t know what you’re really looking for, or how to start your own set-up. It can all be a bit overwhelming at first. For those of us just delving into the world of high quality sound systems, there is a lot of jargon and basic components you might not be familiar with.
Looking for an all-in-one wireless speaker that sounds ace, beautifully well-built and easy to use? The Naim Mu-so might just have you covered. From the moment you take it out of the box; to hearing it with your own ears, you will be surprised of what this speaker is capable of. This is all aided by a sweet accompanying application that is used to control the Mu-so, you will locate your way around it in no time and if you are seeking a sound as close to a separates system without having all of the boxes and separate speakers, you can't really go wrong.
For many people, the turntable deck is at the heart of their hi-fi setup. But what about those who want to get into the world of turntables, but don't know where to begin? I delve into the world of high quality turntables to find out exactly that.
Until 15th February 2017, you can get 10% off a Linn DS or DSM product by trading in your current music player. This limited offer is well worth it - so act fast. It applies to Linn Majik, Akurate and Sneaky DS and DSM models.
It's not often we see a brand which defines a category, but that's exactly what we are seeing by Chord Electronics whom now have arguably the best digital to analogue converter range on the planet, and we have them all in our Edinburgh store for your delight. From the £399 Chord Mojo to the £7,950 DAVE and all the models in-between, these hugely impressive Rob Watt's designs have far more processing power than most Wolfson or Burr Brown chip sets.
On Monday I was invited to the Linn factory once again, to see and experience the latest and greatest Klimax level upgrades. After an introduction about new Linn technology from their technical director we moved onto the listening rooms, and sitting in a room with a number of other respected dealers and audiophiles I have never quite seen so many jaws hit the floor as soon as the music started playing.
Calling all of those out there that have small listening rooms and who want a floorstanding speaker. Neat Acoustics have recently released one of those speakers that can easily be overlooked by many hi-fi enthusiasts – I, myself overlooked them when they first arrived in the shop. The Iota Alpha is probably one of the smallest, if not the smallest, floorstanding speakers I’ve ever come across.
When Spendor made the announcement about adding another speaker to the well-received D series, my hope was for a large reference floorstanding speaker that happily competed with speakers like B&W’s 804 D3 (£6,750) and, maybe even the Focal Sopra No2 (£9,599). To my happiness, and the happiness of many, the D9 was finally announced. It was meant to surpass every modern tower-speaker that Spendor has ever manufactured.
Listening to the B&W 802 D3 speakers I immediately struck by how they present the music. To my ears they are better than the previous 800 Diamond (or “D2”). The midrange is the first aspect of the 802 D3 that I notice. Its effortlessly reproduces vocals as if the singer(s) were sitting in the listening room with me – very natural sounding to my ears.
There is a reason why Harbeth’s P3ESR speaker has won multiple awards from hi-fi critics around the world. This shoebox size speaker has the amazing ability to sound like a much larger speaker. It also works incredibly well in many rooms as its sealed cabinet design makes this one of the less fussy speakers that Harbeth produces
It is said that the preamplifier is the brains behind any system – I tend to agree with this manner of thinking. However, it is also the one component that can be a fool’s golden nugget. What do I mean by this? Well, I’ve come across some preamplifiers in my time that when you look beyond the fancy casework, it doesn’t seem to be much to it and looks like very little thought and even worse, money went into creating it – but yet they sell for top-dollar, as we say in the states.
When you see the Naim SuperNait 2 in person, its modest exterior design is relatively soft spoken and understated with its two large rotary dials (volume and balance) on the left side of the facia and the single line of input buttons taking up the right side of the facia. However, once the Naim badge in the middle is illuminated in green as the rear power rocker-switch is clicked into the on position, the SuperNait 2 transforms into a whole another beast.
In 1997 Alan Shaw and his team at Harbeth decided to launch a speaker based off the BBC LS5/9 for use in the BBC studios, the Monitor 30 (or “M30”) – fifteen years later, the year of the company’s 35th anniversary, Shaw and his team would launch one of the most well received speakers Harbeth has ever produced, the Monitor 30.1.
If there was a standard for high-end standmount speakers, then Bowers & Wilkins 805 D3 would surely be one that benchmarks were fashioned after. Like the rest of the range the 805 D3 have gone through an entire makeover even if on first glance it looks exceptionally similar to the previous D2 version.
There is no mistake when it you see the new Artera Play (£1,399) and Stereo (£1,499) that they are a product of Quad – especially with the company’s iconic logo on the lower right side of the front facia. From the CNC machined heatsinks to the top glass panel insert, and with the textured aluminium front facia (available in silver or black) this series of Quad kit has to be the most modern looking kit it has produced in recent times.
The thing that always strikes me about PrimaLuna, without singling out any particular product, is how good of performance it offers in relation to how much it cost. If you’ve ever been interested in getting into valve based amplification (and CD players for that matter) – then look no further than PrimaLuna; this company makes owning a tube amplifier as easy as owning a solid-state amp.
Last week a customer called up asking to listen to our set of Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 speakers. I happily arranged the demonstration for him. Truth be told, I often overlook the C7ES-3 speakers, but for good reason and at the same time, to my discredit.
Now if I was asked about a year or so ago, what I thought would be one of Arcam's latest and greatest all around product, I most likely would have talked about their analogue integrated amplifiers. And guess what, I wouldn't have been too far off.
The new B&W 804 D3 speaker is the only “traditional” looking speaker in the new 800 D3 range. At a quick glance, it’s easy to mistake it for the previous D2 version. It is also easy for someone to mistake it as just another tower speaker, but don’t be fooled by its modest exterior. Internally there are technologies incorporated into its design that would make many speaker manufacturers envious.
When I heard that Classé Audio was bringing out a new component in their Sigma range, my hope was that it would be an integrated amplifier. A smile broke out over my face when in May they released to the public that they would be launching a new highly intelligent integrated amplifier called the Sigma 2200i. As a huge fan of the entire Sigma range (and Delta range for the matter), especially the Sigma Amp2, I had high hopes for this new addition.
I read somewhere once that it isn’t necessary to have an overabundance of power unless your speakers require it. However, after spending time with the PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP Poweramplifier (£2,998) that school of thought might just be disproven.
When Harbeth decided to update their flagship monitor, the M40.2 (£10,595+), it was the talk of the town among hi-fi enthusiasts. Recently, I've the ultimate pleasure of listening to the M40.2 with an exceptionally good Naim system, which consisted of the NAP 300 (£7,295) and the NAC-N 272 (£3,400). Utilizing the streamer in the 272 made for a clean and tidy system. The Naim had no difficulty in driving the Harbeth speakers and was at ease moving their 300mm bass driver.
Bowers & Wilkins did some very cleaver thinking when they decided how to price the new 800 D3 series speakers in relation to the level of performance they would produce for the end user. Just a quick comparison – if I were to buy a new pair of B&W 803 D3 at £12,500, I could expect them to perform better than the old 802 D2 (£11,500) and moving to a level closer to the 800 D2 (£18,500). So in essence B&W have been able to create speakers, with the advancement of technologies, that now preform miles better than their predecessors without massive price hikes. For this alone, my hat is off to them.
Some people think that the silver-disc is a dying playback format, but yet there are a lot of companies out there producing CD players from entry level to the very high-end. Why? The use of CDs is still very prominent among audiophiles and music enthusiasts – especially with ever increasing price drops for albums on CD compared to its digital-download brethren and analogue (vinyl) cousin. There are a few shops here in Edinburgh where you can pick up a brand new album on CD for £3.00 – absolutely insane when you think how £30.00 will buy you ten albums; prices like this make CD players still very attractive to many people out there.
When companies like Spendor bring out a new speaker, a company who over the past forty plus years has built up a reputation in the hi-fi industry for setting standards in speaker manufacturing, a person should get excited. I must admit, I was excited …
Bringing Out The Beauty Of Vinyl Playback. There is something special about playing an album on vinyl. Anyone who enjoys music enough to invest in a hi-fi system, no matter the systems price point, cannot deny how personal vinyl …
Why fix something that isn't broken? This is a question that can be universally transmitted and asked in many industries. It is a question that every hi-fi manufacturer should be asking themselves on a regular basis without concerns to increasing sales of a certain product or product range. It seems as though Alan Shaw questions himself with this regularly and it could explain why it has taken almost a decade and a half to bring out the seventh generation of the Super HL5 - turning into the Super HL5 Plus.
The New Year is upon us, and as I reflect on 2014 the word "inspiring" comes to mind. On a personal level 2015 is the year of amplification. My search begins with three integrated amplifiers from three of the industry's most regarded manufacturers …