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Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 03, 2019  |  0 comments
Distributed in the UK by Decent Audio, Colorado-based Ayre has introduced the first product from its entry-level 8 series. The EX-8 integrated ‘hub’ is available in five variants with a different array of input modules priced from £5,750 to £7,750. It’s rated at 2x 100W into 8ohm and is built around fully balanced, zero-feedback circuitry. With the Net module installed (from £7,500), it provides six digital inputs (Ethernet, USB, AES/EBU, S/PDIF and two Toslinks) and has embedded support for Spotify, Qobuz and Tidal streaming services as well as being Roon-ready.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 02, 2019  |  0 comments
The premier of the monster ULTIMA preamp and monoblock power amps from Chord Electronics certainly drew big crowds eager to geta first look at the newest beasts to arrive from the Kent-based specialist audio brand at last year’s Hi-Fi Show Live held in Windsor. Launched to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary with two ground-breaking introductions to its Reference range, the ULTIMA preamp (above) and twin mono power amps dominated one of the show’s largest demo spaces in a spectacular showcase that was joined by the company’s Blu MkII CD/ digital transport and DAVE DAC/preamp and partnered with probablythe world’s most striking loudspeaker – supplied in the shape of KEF’s Muon flagship. A single ULTIMA power amp measures 480 x 350 x 670mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 86kg. It’s rated at 780W into 8ohm (for 0.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 02, 2019  |  0 comments
Danish loudspeaker company Dynaudio has introduced its five-strong Evoke Series, which includes two standmounts, two floorstanders and a dedicated centre for multi-channel setups. Designed at its purpose-built R&D facility in Skanderborg, the series fits the same new 28mm Cerotar tweeter with Hexis inner dome to all models. All Evoke drivers were developed alongside the company’s more upmarket Contour and Confidence loudspeaker designs and employ strong ferrite+ magnets as well as the company’s proprietary MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) cones to its bass drivers. The Evoke 10 (£1,250) is a two-way standmount with a 140mm mid/bass driver, while the 20 (£1,800) employs a 180mm mid/bass driver.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 02, 2019  |  0 comments
Wales-based Leema Acoustics has unveiled its Elements Streamer, billed as a space-saving DLNA/UPnP network music player with a built-in DAC, offering integrated Spotify Connect, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal streaming services alongside USB drive playback. Priced at £1,295 and conceived by Leema co-founder Lee Taylor, the player is based on the streaming module found in the company’s £2,995 Quasar integrated amplifier (HFC 425), and control is via a free app available for Android and iOS devices. Connectivity options include both balanced and unbalanced outputs, optical and coaxial digital outs, as well as a USB input and Ethernet network port. Twin wi-fi antennas aim to provide increased signal stability.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 02, 2019  |  0 comments
One event that really caught our eye at last year’s busy Hi-Fi Show Live was the unveiling of Copland’s CTA408 hybrid integrated amplifier that utilises both valve and solid-state circuitry. Unlike many other manufacturers, Copenhagen-based Copland prefers to do things differently and the CTA408 is based around an arrangement usingthe latest KT150 output valves and its own output transformers, offering a power stage rated a 2x 75W into4 and 8ohm that’s equipped with a special startup procedure designed to prolong valve life. Measuring 435 x 220 x 460mm (WxHxD) and weighing 26kg, it offers four line-level inputs and a tape loop, plus a fully shielded phono stage that has dedicated moving-magnet and moving-coil inputs and a solid-state circuitry design said to use 100+ discrete components. A dedicated Class A headphone amplifier is also built in, and the 6.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 02, 2019  |  0 comments
Acoustic Energy introduced its 100 Series in 2017 – the Cirencester-based company’s 30th anniversary year – with the launch of the AE109 (HFC 425), the new series’ top floorstander at the time priced at £600. The AE120 (pictured above) is the latest addition to the entry-level series and is a true three-way floorstander with sensitivity rated at 90dB. The slimline floorstander measuring 200 x 900 x 300mm (WxHxD) sees the new addition to the 100 Series continue to focus on traditional design values for a modern setting that have been carefully thought through. Twin 110mm bass drive units underpin the AE120’s performance, partnered with a dedicated midrange driver that’s housed in its own enclosure designed to mitigate the harmful effects of rear wave reflections, the company says.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Feb 01, 2019  |  0 comments
Releasing a trio of standmounts for the first time on UK shores, Definitive Technologyis part of the Sound United group that also includes hi-fi specialists Denon and Marantz. Designed in California, the baby Demand 7 measures 140 x 248 x 222mm (WxHxD) and claims 85dB sensitivity. It’s priced at £529 and employs a 114mm mid/bass driver partnered to the same offset 25mm aluminium dome tweeter that’s fitted to each Demand model along with the company’s 20/20 Wave Alignment Lensfor improved stereo imaging and dispersion. Priced at £799, the Demand 9 is the mid model measuring 165 x 297 x 300mm (WxHxD) with a 133mm mid/bass driver and 229mm passive bass radiator, and claims 88dB sensitivity.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jan 31, 2019  |  0 comments
Few loudspeaker designs use complete metal mid/bass drivers, and fewer still combine them with ribbon tweeters. Monitor Audio has always gone its own way and like its predecessor, the latest Gold Series iteration balances the company's established C-CAM driver and MPD high-frequency transducer and introduces tech derived from its flagship Platinum II Series. Reduced to six models in this revised lineup,it includes three hi-fi pairs – a standmount and two floorstanders, plus a centre speaker, rear/FX speakers and a subwoofer for multi-channel installations. Priced at £1,400 the two-way Gold 100 standmount is fitted with a 165mm C-CAM mid/bass driver and rated at 86dB sensitivity.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jan 29, 2019  |  0 comments
Welcome Audio products with more than one function used to be derided by serious audiophiles. Think music centres in the seventies combining record player, cassette deck and FM radio tuner that took up most of the sideboard, and were often too easy on the pocket and not so easy on the ear. A dedicated component that's built for a specific audio task has always been the audiophile approach, but the all-in-one music system looks to be making a bit of a comeback in 2019. Take a look at KEF's LSX wireless music system reviewed on p16.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Jan 02, 2019  |  0 comments
Happy New Year! What an amazing year 2018 has been for all things audio. With everything from amplifiers to turntables evolving to embrace the way we want to consume music today, this bumper 164-page special issue celebrates the hi-fi high-points from the past 12 months. Flicking through the review and system pages demonstrates the strength of today’s audio industry and the diverse range of products available to cater for all kinds of music listener – from those just starting out to seasoned audiophiles – and feeding our passion for sound in increasingly innovative ways. Each of the products selected for this ultimate product guide is a coveted Hi-Fi Choice badge winner applauded by our team of expert reviewers for a winning combination of outstanding sound quality and value for money – prices shown are from the time of original publication.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Dec 11, 2018  |  0 comments
Expanding its portable X-Series range of components, iFi Audio’s £299 xCAN is a pocket-sized analogue headphone amp with the added convenience of Bluetooth to enable quality streaming from compatible digital devices. Housed in a similar lightweight case to the company’s xDSD (HFC 439), it measures 67 x 19 x 95mm (WxHxD) and weighs 127g. It eschews the USB audio connectivity and standalone DAC capability offered by its similar-looking sibling, and is strictly a headphone amp that offer 2x 1,000mW of power output to drive headphones connected to its 3. 5mm and 2.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Dec 10, 2018  |  0 comments
Making its UK debut at The Hi-Fi Show Live, Harman’s Luxury Audio Group showed the first two models from the Mark Levinson 5000 Series with the N° 5805 and N° 5802 fully discrete, direct-coupled, Class AB integrated amplifiers. Both designs claim a power output of 2x 125W into 8ohm and the 5805 has three stereo line-level inputs – one balanced XLR and two single-ended – and a newly designed MM/MC phono stage with front panel selectable gain levels and infrasonic filters, and rear panel capacitive and resistive loading settings. Four digital audio inputs are also provided: one coaxial and two optical S/PDIF, and one asynchronous USB for up to 32-bit/192kHz PCM, DSD128 and MQA support. The 5802 is a digital-only design with six digital audio inputs and offers the same USB file support plusBluetooth connectivity with aptX HD.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Dec 07, 2018  |  0 comments
UK distributor Karma-AV introduces two new systems from SVS with the Prime Wireless Speaker System and Wireless SoundBase bridge, priced at £699 and £549 respectively. Measuring 160 x 260 x 180mm (WxHxD) and claiming a total of 200W amplification split four ways to drive the individual 25mm tweeter and 114mmmid/bass driver fitted to each standmount, the aptly named Prime Wireless Speaker System handles connectivity via Bluetooth – with aptX support – and wi-fi as well as wired connections from optical and line-level sources. Control is via smart device over wi-fi using the DTS Play-Fiapp, which offers multi-room capability for up to 16 zones and supports 24-bit/192kHz playback as well as Amazon’s Alexa voice control. A dedicated output provides a wired connection to a sub, while a USB port accepts the US-based company’s SoundPath Wireless Audio Adaptor for wireless subwoofer connection, which can also be used for charging mobile devices.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Dec 05, 2018  |  0 comments
Following its award-winning LS50 Wireless active loudspeaker system introduced in 2017 (HFC 413), respected hi-fi speaker maker KEF looks set to continue to be the go-to-brand in compact music systems with the introduction of its £1,000 LSX wireless stereo speakers. Packing in 200W of Class D amplification (2x 30W + 2x 70W), the smaller two-way standmount design measures 155 x 240 x 180mm (WxHxD). It employs the respected Uni-Q driver array with a 19mm aluminium dome tweeter and 115mm magnesium/aluminium alloy cone mid/bass driver – recognised for its wider stereo imaging over a larger area – and is combined with the company's Music Integrity Engine DSP to ensure accurate time alignment and phase coherence, no matter where the LSX is placed in a room. The twin active stereo speakers support wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity – with Apple AirPlay 2 support expected early in 2019 via a firmware update.
Hi-Fi Choice  |  Dec 05, 2018  |  0 comments
With more ways to listen to music than ever before, the type of products we choose to use differs for many of us. While I always prefer to hear my favourite tunes on my main hi-fi system – comprising floorstanding speakers, pre/power amplification and dedicated sources for all format types – the majority of my friends and family listen to theirs via discreet smart speakers. At first glance, some might see my setup as old fashioned, but play an LP, CD or music stream and its doesn't take long to see why I have the setup I do. Here at Hi-Fi Choice we realise that listening to music in this way isn't always possible due to the practicalities of our domestic arrangements, and consumer electronics firms along with the specialist hi-fi industry have been quick to identify the interest in small wireless music systems that meet our practical demands while offering great sound quality.