|  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
Now that the CD format appears to be in the twilight of its life Rega has produced one of the most entertaining and enjoyable players I have ever encountered. It’s ironic really that when vinyl was being written off in the eighties folk in the audio business carried on improving and refining turntables and now they are significantly better than they were in the format’s heyday. It looks like something similar is starting to take place with CD. Disc sales are being trampled under the weight of downloads, yet in the last year I encountered the best CD transport ever created in the MSB Data CD IV and now Rega has delivered all the best bits of its phenomenal Isis player in a machine that’ll set you back £1,600.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
Ever since it was formed in the mid-eighties, Essex-based Ruark has moved with the times. To meet the growing demand for multi-channel in the nineties the company expanded from its original portfolio of stereo speakers, then in the last decade it launched its Vita Audio sub-brand of digital radios. A couple of years ago the decision was madeto cease the production of passive speakers and concentrate on making radios. At the same time the name Vita Audio was killed off with Ruark returning as the brand name under which all the company’s products were sold.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
If you’re a dyed-in-the-grain hi-fi aficionado, you’ll remember the classic Nytech CTA252 receiveras something of a giant killer ableto better some far more expensive pre-power amp combinations. It was launched by Richard Hay in the early seventies; a man who had served his audio apprenticeship at Radford Electronics. His company made respected, middle-market equipment for around 15 years. Phil Balaam was Nytech’s original test engineer, and worked closelywith Hay, learning every aspect of the company’s fine-sounding designs.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
If anyone can help drive the take up of hi-res audio among non-audiophilesit’s this Japanese giantof consumer electronics with its premium-brand reputation. The NWZ-ZX1 operates very much like an Android phone with DLNA networking, web browsing, email, YouTube, etc, but without the telephony or texting features. Audiophiles may baulk at this multi-tasking, but such features are largely software based and unlikely to compromise the player’s performance. And by offering these features rather than say an expandable memory slot, digital optical audio output, DSD compatibility or the ability to use the NWZ-ZX1 as an external DAC, Sony is clearly targeting a different type of user.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
Despite having its finger in many home entertainment pies, the fact that Yamaha continues to plough considerable R&D into dedicated two-channel audio shows how much it values purist hi-fi. This network player also signals a move into newer territory for Yamaha, as its first all-in-one streamer for the UK. The R-N500 sits within Yamaha’s more affordable amplifier range starting with the £200 A-S201 integrated through to the £340 A-S500. These amps, however, are fairly standard fare compared to the R-N500, which is bristling with features drawn from the company’s mainland Europe and USA-facing R-S receiver range, from where the R-N500 inherits its front panel layout.
 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
The concept is clear – to make a good speaker great. There are several ways of doing this, the obvious one being to spend large amounts of money on the drive units. A fancy ribbon tweeter here or some expensive carbon fibre mid/bass drivers there, perchance? The other way is to work on the cabinet, and if you think about it, this is even more critical than the drivers, which can’t do their best if they’re spoiled by boomy boxes. In a way, cabinets can do no right, as all they can do is lower the performance potential of drive units by accentuating standing waves – smudging and blurring the sound from inside.
 |  Jan 19, 2015  |  0 comments
Music centres combining record deck, cassette recorder and tuner were big business back in the late seventies through to the early eighties, with fans keen to enjoy music at home on all the main analogue formats of the day. Today in the mostly digital era the idea of the ‘one box does it all’ approach goes against serious audiophile thinking, with the general consensus being that dedicated components being assigned to specific tasks is the best way to guarantee pure, interference-free playback of your music collection. With the world of audio moving towards streaming and downloads, we’re told that the desire for physical digital media (CDs) is falling rapidly. So, what to do with that sizeable CD collection and how best to migrate to streaming are regular questions being asked by music fans looking to move with the times to a less tangible music playback system.
 |  Jan 19, 2015  |  0 comments
Costing the considerable sum of £900, Tannoy’s new Precision 6. 1 has to be demonstrably better than the large number of cheaper standmounters around to attain serious success. It has to give at least a taste of greatness, if not the full culinary experience! Reflecting this, it is a purposefully styled product, with a design suggesting few compromises. Being a Tannoy it has a Dual Concentric drive unit.
 |  Jan 19, 2015  |  0 comments
A preamplifier’s life is not a happy one. In the olden days, when mammoths roamed the wild planes and Duran Duran were at number one, its job was clear. A preamp sat in front of the power amp, because without it there was no way of getting music from your sound source. Music came from vinyl, and its meagre output was such that plugging it directly into a power amplifier would have produced all the power, as Captain Blackadder once said, of an asthmatic ant.
 |  Jan 19, 2015  |  0 comments
Why is it that some steaks taste like sun-dried cardboard, while others are dripping with flavour and have the texture of warm butter? It’s not that difficult a question to answer, is it? The finest food needs ingredients of the best quality, prepared in a skillful way that doesn’t hide the natural goodness. And so it goes for loudspeakers too – no one ever made a great one with sub-par drive units and cabinets that weren’t fit for purpose. But just like steak, even a good speaker can be ruined if it isn’t cooked properly, or is badly served. Of course, if it doesn’t use the right raw materials in the first place, it can never be right.

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