Cables & Accessories

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Ed Selley  |  Nov 09, 2011  |  0 comments
Digital Delight Cambridge Audio delivers pure digital audio from iPods, iPhones and now the iPad through the new iD100 says Malcolm Steward The home office hi-fi looks rather swish right now with an Apple iPad sitting atop the rack proudly displaying some attractive album artwork – the gifted bassist, Tal Winkenfeld’s Transformation. However, this not a review of the iPad, but the rather neat little digital dock upon which it rests: the Cambridge Audio iD100. The iD100 will operate with various iPods, iPhones and the iPad, from which it will extract a pure digital output that it then delivers to a stand-alone DAC or the digital input on your amplifier (if it has one) for maximum performance. Pure digital out from the iPod/ iPhone/iPad is definitely the way to go for the best sound quality.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Black cube is no square Richard Black rattles his skull with the help of this analogue/digital input headphone amp; but are both inputs created equal? Lehmann is a company that specialises in phono and headphone amplifiers. This is an unusual proposition in that it manages to be a headphone amplifier, a preamplifier and a DAC all at once. Admittedly, viewed as a preamp, it’s a bit basic, because it features only one analogue input, and the DAC has only one input which is USB (when this is active, that is when it detects it is connected to a valid source, the analogue input is bypassed). So really this is an analogue/digital input headphone amp with a volume-controlled line output! Heady power Lehmann’s idea of what constitutes a headphone amp is generous, with a full push-pull power amplifier output configuration.
Ed Selley  |  May 17, 2011  |  0 comments
Portable perfection Richard Black discovers an exciting and unique proposition – a high-resolution portable player/recorder with upsampling and a built-in DAC Including, but by no means limited to, the various iPod models, there are currently dozens of portable music players out there – hundreds if you include mobile phones, most of which have some kind of music-playing capability. Many of them give very decent results, but they’re not really Hi-Fi with capital letters: commodity consumer electronics, more like. True audiophile The Colorfly is something a bit different. It’s a portable music player all right, but it’s aimed fair and square at the true audiophile, the individual who owns a carefully selected system of high-quality components and a decent library of recordings.
Ed Selley  |  Apr 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Getting the cleaners in A noisy mains supply can ruin the sound of your hi-fi says Jimmy Hughes, as he discovers the latest technology from Isol-8's SubStations Sooner or later, even the most sensible hi-fi enthusiast starts to wonder what sort of difference having a mains conditioner might make to the sound of their equipment. Mains electricity is the ‘fuel’ that powers your system. So it stands to reason; the cleaner the fuel, the better things should sound. But then doesn’t the power supply in each individual hi-fi component deal with whatever impurities that might be present in the electricity supply? Well, to a degree – yes.
Ed Selley  |  Apr 28, 2011  |  0 comments
The right balance With Magic Racks your hi-fi literally floats on rubber bands and as Richard Black discovers, it provides a unique way to isolate your system. There have been plenty of new designs for equipment supports over the years, the majority of them taking rigidity seriously along with such anti-vibration measures as spikes. A few, though, seek to decouple equipment more thoroughly using sprung or otherwise ‘floppy’ support systems, with or without damping. Newcomer Magic Racks has come up with an ingenious way of implementing the floppy approach, using what are basically rubber bands – long strips of neoprene rubber, placed between supports in such a way that they keep equipment clear of the floor or the level underneath, while allowing it to bounce freely.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Can't knock Okki Nokki Cleanliness is next to fidelity when it comes to vinyl, but where on earth did this device get its name? Jason Kennedy scrubs his grooves Okki Nokki distributor Ken White has been selling second-hand records since the nineties, so he knows a thing or two about filth, enough it would seem to have sought out this strangely named machine and decided to bring it to the UK. It’s certainly priced right at £395 – we don’t know of a cheaper alternative that has built-in vacuuming capabilities and the ability to spin in both directions. Not only that, but it comes complete with concentrated cleaning fluid and a goat’s-hair brush. The name, incidentally, is Dutch for ‘thumbs-up’.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 02, 2011  |  0 comments
PURE brilliance PURE’s ground-breaking £80 digital iPod dock brings hi-fi sound to Apple devices for pin money. Ed Selley plugs in 2011’s super transport The iPod transport, a dock that extracts a digital signal to output to an external DAC, has been with us for a few years now and the price of models has drifted progressively lower. From the £2,000 MSB iLink (which only worked with a specially modified iPod), we now have the PURE i-20 which will function with any iPod connected to it and will produce the all-important digital signal for a princely £80. If this was the only feature the i-20 offered, we would be fairly impressed.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
Touchy, feely The new Apple iPod Touch is incredibly slick and capable of doing some remarkable things, but is it really hi-fi? asks Ed Selley Launched in September, the 4th generation iPod Touch builds on the facilities of the previous models, but is still most easily explained as the screen, processor and basic design of the iPhone, without the ability to make and receive phone calls. The path of the original iPod (which is now referred to as the Classic) from curio to hi-fi accessory has been a long one and the sheer numbers of docks available (some of which are iPod transports able to extract a digital signal directly from the iPod) are turning it into a hand-held music server. But do the extra features of the Touch make any difference in this context and do they affect the audio performance on the move? Mind-boggling The features the Touch offers are impressive. The unit tested here is a 32Gb (eight and 64Gb versions are also available) ‘multimedia platform’, able to replay audio and video.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 12, 2010  |  0 comments
Cartridge upgrader Here's a novel way to enhance your cartridge's performance. Richard Black checks out Audio-Technica’s new MC transformer Moving-coil cartridges are wonderful things, but they suffer from a disadvantage in their extremely low output, often less than 1mV peak, or one two-thousandth of what most CD players produce. Clearly, low-noise amplification is a must. Because they have a low impedance, the self-noise of such cartridges is actually very low, but getting an amplifier to match or (ideally) better it is hard work.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  0 comments
Mobile library Malcolm Steward discovers a neat solution for losslessly storing up to 3,000 ripped CDs with zero effort, a minimal outlay and no catch The Vortexbox name represents two things: it is a suite of Linux (Fedora-based) software applications that provide users with a music library. It is also the name of the software installed on the company’s ripping NAS (Network Attached Storage) appliances. The software is freely downloadable, while the hardware – a range of fully equipped DLNA-capable (Digital Living Network Alliance) appliances – starts at the genuine value-for-money price of £385. 3,000 albums at CD-quality You can load Vortex Box software onto any PC, where once installed, it will automatically rip CDs to FLAC and MP3 files, ID3 tag those files and download the cover art.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 26, 2010  |  0 comments
Get into the groove Jason Kennedy is a sucker for the latest sub-£500 vacuum vinyl-cleaning system from ‘Chi-fi’ analogue specialist Hanss Hanss Acoustics is a Chinese firm with a penchant for all things ‘vinyl’. It has some pretty impressive turntables and a rather good phono stage in its range, so the debut of this innovative and attractive record cleaner was only to be expected. A curvy box built out of extruded aluminium, the RC20 is significantly less imposing than the competition, yet it offers much the same spinning and sucking abilities – skills that are intrinsic in the pursuit of vinyl freshening. It doesn’t offer the cleaning thread found on Keith Monks machines, but neither does it cost that sort of money.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2010  |  0 comments
Current affairs Mains filtration removes high-frequency noise, but as Richard Black discovers Isol-8’s Powerline Axis goes the other way, removing direct current ains treatment specialist Isol-8 has been around for quite a while, but has not been over-keen to offer product for review. Evidently, the reason for this decision was due to the fact that advanced sales had outstripped supply, apparently! Now that this problem has been addressed, we’ve finally been able to get our hands on a sample and a fascinating product it is, too. In its basic form, the PowerLine is ‘just’ a mains distribution board – though it’s actually about as deluxe as such a thing can get, with silver-plated wiring, high-quality sockets, a solid metal chassis and so on. But the Axis variant adds something very unusual in mains filtering called DC blocking.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 02, 2010  |  0 comments
Follow the A1 Dominic Todd gets acquainted with legendary headphone manufacturer Beyerdynamic's high-performance A1 headphone amp he mission for Beyer’s A1 is all about bringing wideband audio to the headphone enthusiast. The entire circuit has been designed to transmit 96kHz signals, making it ideal for SACD, DVD-Audio or other high-resolution audio formats. Against its rivals, who often seek a mellifluous, valve-like sound, the Beyerdynamic A1 has studio-like neutrality as its design concept. In a similar vein, the A1 is styled for practicality rather than flamboyancy.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 02, 2010  |  0 comments
Room service Thanks to this innovative room correction device, enjoying studio quality sound in your own home is a lot easier than you think, says Richard Black Novelty is a bit of a moveable feast. A CD player can still have novelty interest if it uses a new DAC chip or a different kind of output circuit. The PARC, though, is something quite unlike any product we’ve reviewed in Hi-Fi Choice before. It’s a room correction unit, and it’s true we’ve seen the odd one or two of these, but it works in a very different way from any other we’re aware of.