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Ed Selley  |  Dec 23, 2011  |  0 comments
Totem Rainmaker Canadian manufacturer Totem has built a strong reputation with its attractive compact speakers Totem has the rather quaint tradition of naming its models after the country’s First Nations shibboleths, a procedure which is, frankly, rather more imaginative than most rivals manage. The Rainmaker is a compact standmount, loading its bass/mid driver by a reflex-ported enclosure of just nine litres capacity. The shape is a little unusual, rather taller and less deep than most speakers of this size and the construction is strong, linking all the panels with properly mitred joints. Yet it’s also quite light in weight, since mass tends to store energy.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 23, 2011  |  0 comments
DALI Mentor 1 This exceptional standmount has a unique hybrid tweeter module, combining dome and ribbon diaphragms This Danish operation was once closely linked to a leading Scandinavian hi-fi retail chain, but it has always operated entirely autonomously and independently as a speaker manufacturer and indeed has proved more successful on the UK market than most overseas brands. The DALI name has nothing to do with surrealism here, but is actually an acronym for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries. The Mentor range, probably best described as ‘affordable upmarket’, is one of several in the DALI portfolio and consists of six stereo pairs which share a number of proprietary engineering techniques. The most obvious of these is seen in the tweeter arrangements.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 01, 2011  |  0 comments
20 gives plenty Icon Audio has taken its cue from the Leak Stereo 20 for its latest entry into the budget valve market, says Jason Kennedy Beside the Quad II, the Leak Stereo 20 (ST20) is one of the most sought after British valve amps of yore. Introduced in the mid-fifties by H J Leak, it sold in substantial numbers for over a decade, but today even unrestored examples cost more than Icon is asking here. The Stereo 20PP’s circuit is based on the original ST20 and uses the same output valves in a push-pull configuration. It only delivers 15 watts per channel, but as any glass audio enthusiast will tell you, it’s not how much power you have, but how you use it that counts.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 01, 2011  |  0 comments
It’s a gas The Helium 410 is Amphion’s smallest speaker, but as Ed Selley discovers it still packs a punch The premise of an advert, inviting you to listen to a speaker with the volume turned down, might not be the most obvious way of selling it to a wider audience. For Amphion however, there is a reason for this unusual approach. The entire range is designed to offer excellent intelligibility and clarity even at very low volumes. The Helium series is the entry-level offering in the range and the 410 is the smallest speaker in the group.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Precision audio? Deltec was one of the first to make a standalone DAC and now its back in the fray, Jason Kennedy finds out if its experience has paid off Back in the late eighties the idea of a separate digital-to-analogue convertor was a very new thing. Until then, the relatively young CD player market had, on the whole, been dominated by larger companies. Deltec Precision Audio (or DPA) was formed by Robert Watts and Adrian Walker to produce technologically advanced audio components, among which were pre and power amplifi ers as well as one of the first standalone DACs to hit the market, the DPA PDM1. This used surface-mount devices (SMD) in its circuit boards, had one of the first bitstream chipsets and came in a shiny dark grey case.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Let the beat drop The Drop is one of the most distinctive-looking speakers on the market. Ed Selley investigates whether the music is as smooth as the lines Scandyna has been producing its distinctive pod speakers for over a decade and there is now an eight-strong range of stereo models with supporting subwoofers and amps. The Drop is, however, as the name suggests, modelled on a droplet – even down to the ‘separating stem’-effect at the top of the cabinet. Plastic fantastic The Drop retains many classic Scandyna features, including a cabinet formed of ABS plastic.
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 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Musical update This Creek amp claims a variety of technical improvements over the original. Richard Black investigates how this works out in sonic terms Rather to our surprise, we find it’s over five years since we first set eyes and ears on the original Creek Evolution amp. Amplifier design may not have made any revolutionary leaps in that time (at least, conventional amplifier design like Creek’s – switching amps have progressed rather more), but it’s natural that a manufacturer would find a few tweaks to apply that could justify adding a ‘2’ to the model name. Extra, extra One of the changes is a practical one, adding an ‘AV direct’ inputwhich bypasses the volume control, allowing the Evo 2 to be used as a power amp.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Swell new bel From America comes a switching amp that’s big on digital inputs. Richard Black thinks it might be the most exciting thing he’s heard in a while Don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t heard of Bel Canto. We’d had very limited exposure to the firm’s products and only a rather hazy idea about what the range consists of. In fact, the company can sort you out a complete hi-fi system (minus speakers) from its product list, which includes predictable things like a CD player and a handful of DACs, as well as an FM tuner with partly digital processing and a digital output.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
A touch of glass Can this substantial valve output CD player mix it with the hardcore contenders? Jason Kennedy finds out Ayon is an Austrian company that produces sources, amplifi ers and loudspeakers, as well as glass audio components. It makes its own power valves at a facility in the Czech Republic and builds some very high-end products – it’s most affordable power amp, for example, costs nearly £20,000. The CD-07s sits at the opposite end of the scale and looks to be an attempt to break into a sector of the market with more potential buyers. A deeply competitive sector, of course, but this player is heavy on features.

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