All-In-One Systems

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Hi-Fi Choice  |  Apr 21, 2016  |  0 comments
Being un-square is good, and being a single unit that’s a doddle to accommodate – whether on a sideboard or, as here, it’s dedicated £149 single-column stand – takes us back to the days of mono when having to find the room for two loudspeakers was an inconvenience yet to come. Not that the AeroSphère Large is mono, of course. It isn’t even stereo in the conventional sense. As you might well imagine, pulling a quart-sized soundstage out of a pint-sized pot requires a degreeof trickery and psycho acoustic manipulation.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 26, 2016  |  0 comments
While all-in-one systems come in many shapes and sizes, generally they follow a similar set of conventions with smaller scale woofers, tweeters and amps packed together underthe same roof, trading levels ofsonic output for greater degrees of convenience. But as we saw withits Ensemble package last year(HFC 386), following conventionsis not really the Devialet way. From the outset the distinctive Silver Phantom’s egg-like case immediately challenges your preconceptions of what a hi-fi system should look like. Each one housesits own internal amp, DAC, wi-fi streamer and speakers, allowing itto fly solo as a standalone systemor work alongside more Phantomsas part of a two or more channel installation through Devialet’s free Spark app and Dialog wi-fi controller (£249).
 |  Feb 05, 2015  |  0 comments
If you’re looking for a compact, micro hi-fi system that covers all the bases, then the Yamaha CRX-N560D could well be the answer. It’s petite in size, but manages to pack a lot of functionality into its rather diminutive frame. The N560D is a new model in Yamaha’s PianoCraft series and comes with an onboard CD player and DAB/DAB+/FM tuners, but its network streaming capabilities are what really sets it apart, greatly expanding your listening options beyond these more traditional formats. Its Ethernet socket gives you access to the online and networking world, but it lacks the built-in wi-fi I was hoping to see.
 |  Feb 05, 2015  |  0 comments
There have always been mass market consumer audio products, and there has always been hi-fi. Several decades back the two were clearly delineated, but nowadays we’re seeing the mass consumer electronics market – now catered for by the likes of Apple – moving upmarket and eating into entry-level hi-fi products. Hi-fi manufacturers are now fighting back, making quality ‘lifestyle’ products like this one. Traditionally, the high-end audio (as opposed to ‘hi-fi’) market was the sole province of Bang & Olufsen, with a minor supporting role played by Bose.
 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
Looking a little bit like a piece of furniture you might find back in a seventies living room housing a radiogram, JBL’s Authentics L16 is anything but old school. The design of this one-box audio systemis actually based on the company’s Century L100 bookshelf loudspeaker and utilises foam grilles similar to those found on the popular seventies model, giving the L16 a retro feel that is very much on trend today. Measuring over 800mm wide, the walnut-veneered unit is a thoroughly modern one-box audio system with more wireless connectivity options than you can shake a smartphone at, including AirPlay for iTunes and iOS, DLNA for Android and Windows devices and Bluetooth – although there’s no mention of the aptX codec. As well as extensive wireless options including Near Field Communication (NFC), the L16 also has two USB inputs beneath the removable top plate for charging devices – sadly wireless charging isn’t available on European models for Qi-compatible devices.
 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
The small system isn’t a new idea. Indeed, those outside the rarefied climes of separates hi-fi would probably regard it as the norm. After all, do we really need yards of pressed steel casework, acres of cables and multiple power plugs? For that reason alone, since the late seventies when Aurex sold its first microsystem, many folks wanting decent quality sound from a system taking up only a small space have eschewed traditional hi-fi. In the case of the new McIntosh, there’s an extra dimension – if you pardon the pun.
 |  Jan 23, 2015  |  0 comments
Challenging hi-fi’s conventions has been at Devialet’s core since the French high-end maker launched its groundbreaking D-Premier amp back in 2010. Concepts including customising settings via an onboard SD cardand online configurator, along with firmware releases ensuring your amp stayed up to date brought fresh thinking to long-term ownership. Devialet’s range has since expanded into four models, and with each comes increased connectivity, power and configuration options. At the heart of all Devialet ampsbeats the same ADH (Analogue Digital Hybrid) amplification, which is a moderntake on Quad’s Current Dumpers of yesteryear that uses analogue Class A voltage amplification working in parallel with digital Class D dumpers.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
It’s official, and you heard it here first – we don’t live in the seventies anymore. Like David Bowie, times have changed. He’s no longer the Thin White Duke and the world isn’t buying huge amounts of separates. Life moves on, and so does the way people play music.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
Ever since it was formed in the mid-eighties, Essex-based Ruark has moved with the times. To meet the growing demand for multi-channel in the nineties the company expanded from its original portfolio of stereo speakers, then in the last decade it launched its Vita Audio sub-brand of digital radios. A couple of years ago the decision was madeto cease the production of passive speakers and concentrate on making radios. At the same time the name Vita Audio was killed off with Ruark returning as the brand name under which all the company’s products were sold.
 |  Jan 19, 2015  |  0 comments
Music centres combining record deck, cassette recorder and tuner were big business back in the late seventies through to the early eighties, with fans keen to enjoy music at home on all the main analogue formats of the day. Today in the mostly digital era the idea of the ‘one box does it all’ approach goes against serious audiophile thinking, with the general consensus being that dedicated components being assigned to specific tasks is the best way to guarantee pure, interference-free playback of your music collection. With the world of audio moving towards streaming and downloads, we’re told that the desire for physical digital media (CDs) is falling rapidly. So, what to do with that sizeable CD collection and how best to migrate to streaming are regular questions being asked by music fans looking to move with the times to a less tangible music playback system.
 |  Jan 15, 2015  |  0 comments
It can be difficult to predict format trends, and even consumer electronics giants can be caught off guard, but a new range of hi-res music machines sees Sony make a welcome return to the hi-fi arena. Things got difficult back in the late nineties, when MP3 files began to replace Compact Disc. The company’s instinct had always been to maintain control of the entire music recording and replay chain, from record company to format to player. But for once, this great innovating consumer electronics group was caught on the hop.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Arcam Solo Neo £1,400 Highly specified, with full streaming capabilities, the Neo is the latest in Arcam’s popular Solo range Bringing the Solo up to date with recent trends, Arcam’s Neo is well-equipped with digital connectivity, including wired Ethernet, Wi-Fi and USB (for portable players, etc. ). It doesn’t digitally interface to iPods and other Apple products, but it can control them via Arcam’s own optional irDock. It doesn’t have S/PDIF inputs either, but does sport four handy line-level analogue inputs.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Myryad Mi - £1,295 Super user interface, neat packaging and great sound make this the star of the show The elder statesmen of the one-box system breed these days, the Myryad Mi has no way of connecting to a computer. It will, however, connect via its ‘M-Port’ to an iPod or iPhone Touch, which gives it some of the internet connectivity that some others lack. You can, for instance, use services like Spotify via an iPhone. It’s a mixed blessing; Apple products famously have a nice user interface, but you have to tie one up as a basic data-forwarding device when you could, with a fully Ethernet-enabled streamer, use that boring router box parked out of sight near your phone master socket.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Cyrus Streamline £1,600 Well equipped for the brave new world of streamed music and other digital sources We reviewed Cyrus’s Stream X a few issues ago (HFC 351) in our first-ever Blind-listening Group Test of streaming music players. The Streamline effectively adds an integrated amplifier to the Stream X, and does so for just £200 extra. To some, the amplifier may look like a cheapskate add-on; a single high-performance integrated circuit which includes a full 30W per channel power amplifier in a single package. Time was, when that kind of thing was death to real sound quality, but things have moved on and the data sheet on this device suggests a performance that most designers of ‘serious’ amplifiers wouldn’t consider too shabby.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Aura Note Premier £1,495 With computer audio via USB, plus recording radio to MP3, this is a beautiful yet flexible package This group includes a number of units that steer clear of the stereotypical black or silver box, but we found the Aura Note Premier the most smart and upmarket-looking. The one drawback of all that chrome is that the black labelling for the buttons can be hard to read, and you’ll be more than usually glad of the remote control. By far, the nicest operational feature here is the top-loading CD transport. You slide the glass cover across, remove the puck, pop a CD on the spindle, replace the puck and slide the cover back.