All-In-One Systems

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Ed Selley  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Get your hits out This system is the most affordable route into the exclusive Meridian club. Jason Kennedy looks at the company’s everyman solution Meridian Audio is a highend company with a difference, its products are largely dependent on being used within a complete Meridian system in order for them to be able to do everything in an extensive list of features. The new DSP3200 is the least expensive active speaker in the range and it has been designed to be exclusively used with one of the company’s control units, be that a preamp/processor, CD player or a Sooloos music server. It has the same proportions as the mid-treble part of the range-topping DSP8000, but contains completely different drivers and electronics.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 29, 2011  |  0 comments
In the round Elipson’s one-box Music Center MC1 is a striking piece of design. Ed Selley finds out if it has a well rounded sound to match its looks Our first introduction to the recently invigorated Elipson was via the remarkable looking Planet L speaker (HFC 350). Any manufacturer whose idea of a standmount speaker is a brightly coloured sphere the size of a bowling ball is unlikely to release its partnering electronics in an ordinary box and Elipson hasn’t disappointed us. The Music Center MC1 is, as the name suggests, an all-in-one system.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 29, 2011  |  0 comments
Potent Cocktail Newcomer Cocktail Audio has a high-value music server that’s also high on features. Jason Kennedy remains shaken, however. The Cocktail X10 is positioned to take on the Brennan JB7, but adds a raft of extra features and considerably greater hard-drive sizes from 500GB to 2TB. It’s a compact unit that can rip CDs in a variety of formats including WAV and FLAC.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Why Zero is our hero Makers of some of the most exotic hi-fi on the planet, Audio Note's Zero system is, says Jimmy Hughes, refreshingly affordable High-end audio tends to be a tad expensive. When a manufacturer sets out to employ specialised military-grade internal components that are large and massively over-specified, you can’t expect prices to be low. Nevertheless, some high-end manufacturers relish the challenge of designing products that deliver a taste of high-end performance at more wallet-friendly prices. After all, it’s not easy to produce outstanding results within tight budget constraints, but Audio Note’s Zero System aims to do just that.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Space saver For hi-fi-like sound in the office, kitchen or bedroom, Richard Black reckons the new, improved Vita R4i is the right tool for the job Back in HFC 310, we had our first experience of the excellent R4 from Vita Audio – now here’s the latest version of the same model, the R4i. The ‘i’ evidently doesn’t stand for ‘iPod’, as that family of devices was supported from the outset. Indeed, you’ll look in vain for features that weren’t present on the original model. Vita Audio has put all the revisions under the bonnet, improving sound quality, the company claims, by a significant margin.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Fade to grey NAD's VISO Three is far removed from the grey boxes that the company is famous for. Ed Selley finds out if the house sound has made the jump NAD has been at the forefront of entry-level hi-fi components for decades and still produces its famous battleship grey components at a variety of price points to suit most pockets. More recently, we have seen a move towards more – dare we say it – stylish components with the Masters series at higher price points and an entry into more lifestyle components with the VISO series. Following on from the DVD-based VISO Two and Five systems, the new £750 VISO Three is the first two- channel audio member of the family.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 28, 2011  |  0 comments
CD-free supersonics Linn’s new Akurate system with digital streaming promises superb sound and a slick user interface. Has CD finally met its Waterloo, asks Jimmy Hughes? World-famous conductor Herbert von Karajan’s response, on being introduced to the delights of the compact disc in the early 1980s, was “All else is gaslight”. It’s a great one-liner, but was he right? Wasn’t CD little more than a digital version of the vinyl LP anyway, with a laser replacing a stylus? If so, then Linn’s Akurate DS system is far more radical. It takes the whole process of listening to music in the home to another level, replacing physical sources like CD or SACD with music stored on a hard drive, while offering remote access from the comfort of your armchair.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 02, 2011  |  0 comments
Cube is no square Arcam has distilled its audio expertise into a compact iPod system – the rCube. Richard Black asks if this is the ideal office/kitchen set-up? All sorts of ‘iPod solutions’ have popped up in the last few years, responding to the quite astounding popularity of Apple’s little devices. Arcam has had docks in its catalogue for a while, but this is something altogether more comprehensive, basically making up a full music system when an iPod is plugged in. Inside the compact, but quite heavy housing (and yes, it is indeed a cube, 200mm each way) are stereo speakers, amps to drive them and the full iPod dock shenanigans.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 02, 2011  |  0 comments
Just add speakers Rotel has consolidated its hi-fi know-how into just one £1,200 box, adding streaming for that 21st century touch. Richard Black investigates The term ‘all-in-one system’ is becoming more and more ambitious as more bits and bobs come to be considered standard parts of a system. With the RCX-1500, Rotel has arguably enlarged the envelope compared with previous products we’ve encountered under that general heading. The obvious bits are there – CD player; DAB and FM radio; amplifier; line input and a couple of digital ones – but the RCX-1500 goes a lot further.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
A supercharged mini Malcolm Steward enjoys some high-end hi-fi time, with a cool-looking stack and combo system that can also digitise your vinyl The bijou Chord Electronics Chordette package surely must be the ultimate, high-class micro system. The set-up can be as simple or as comprehensive as anyone wishes just as with regular separate components, albeit, perhaps, slightly more flexible. Yet it has one distinct advantage: the entire Chordette set-up we tested occupies less space than a single 430mm-wide regular component, and there is a purpose built, modular rack available to accommodate the system and make it look swish. The system under test here comprises the Dual (not pictured), Prime, Mogul and Scamp.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 08, 2010  |  0 comments
Naim on stream Naim has launched a new, streaming all-in-one system with a difference – there’s no CD drive! But as Ed Selley discovers, it’s music non-stop Considering that Naim waited the best part of a decade before producing its first CD player, the speed that the company has adopted hard drive and audio streaming products is impressive. In the last few years, we have been treated to the HDX hard drive server, the ‘NaimNet’ multiroom system and the Uniti all-in-one system with streaming capability. The Uniti has now morphed into a complete range of products with the Uniti Serv, CD-ripping music server and the product tested here, the all-in-one streamer/player, the UnitiQute. Finally, Naim has just announced the NDX streamer.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 26, 2010  |  0 comments
Full stream ahead The Arcam Solo neo is the first ‘hi-fi’ one-box system to provide network music facilities Malcolm Steward swops five boxes for just one The Arcam Solo first saw the light of day around six years ago when most audiophiles had CD as their primary source. That is probably still the case for many but there is increasing demand now for machinery that can handle streamed music, whether it’s sourced from the user’s home network or from the internet. And streaming ability is what the Solo neo brings to the party. Naturally, being a member of the Solo family, it also offers CD and radio capabilities – the latter now including internet broadcasting – along with its integral preamplifier and power amplifier stages.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Consonance Forbidden City Ping - £1,495 It looks like a chunky amplifier with a CD and radio added on, but the Ping has plenty of bang for your buck Out of all the systems in this group, this is the one that most resembles an amplifier with added bits. Mostly that’s because it’s quite powerful and, therefore, has the real estate that’s associated with powerful amps (big transformer, reservoir capacitors and heatsinks), but it’s even bigger than it strictly needed to be and is really quite imposing. The front panel layout can be annoying, though – all those little squares prevent one taking in the button labels in a hurry! Features are minimal, but there is a USB input. Although it’s an A-type socket, which would normally be for a USB stick or similar, it’s actually intended for use as a DAC fed from a computer – you’ll need an A-to-A USB cable, but one is provided with the Ping.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Audio Analogue Enigma - £1,295 Beautiful Italian design and one Russian valve makes this one-box system something of a wonder Audio Analogue’s smartly designed products are familiar features in the pages of this magazine – we’ve reviewed quite a few of them over the years. This recent addition to the company’s range brings together radio, CD and an amplifier, though it lacks frills such as digital input, USB socket and iPod dock. The use of a valve is an obvious talking point, though the usual question arises: when the circuit is otherwise resolutely solid-state, what is one valve going to do other than add some character? Still, it’s a nice visual feature, glowing gently behind its own little window. The hard work of providing current for the speakers is handled by a pair of integrated-circuit amplifiers, mounted on an internal heatsink at the rear, next to the large toroidal mains transformer.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Arcam Solo Mini - £750 Solo was one of the first one-box systems on the market and still holds its own against the newcomers Arcam didn’t invent the all-in-one system, but it gave the breed a lot of street cred with the original Solo (still available) and this, the half-width version. Despite its diminutive size, it does a lot of stuff, so excuse a slightly telegraphic rundown of its features. . .