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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.