October 2014 - Piega Classics - Known for aluminium speaker enclosures, Swiss ribbon speaker house Piega just bowed their 3-deep Classic range in a nod at their company beginnings. These floorstanders introduce a new cosmetic with a Sonus faber type slanted top, boat-hull curvatures and veneer or gloss black/white finishing. The biggest model gets the firm's largest dual-concentric ribbon array, the middle unit gets a smaller coaxial version thereof and the entry-level box limits itself to a ribbon tweeter. 93dB efficiencies promise successful drive with smaller amps.
October 2014 - Baby aria - DigiBit of Spain have bowed the aria mini music server [starting at €2'000], "a no-compromise music server supporting an unlimited number of extended metadata fields for any music genre. In spite of its small size, aria mini incorporates a fanless design with ultra-low power consumption. The aria mini’s practical dock allows you to recharge your iPad via its built-in USB port. aria mini is available in three configurations: diskless, 2TB HDD and 1TB SSD. Additional capacity can be provided with an external HDD or a NAS. An optional external DVD-R drive allows fully automatic ripping providing error-free data retrieval and fast rips as well as metadata retrieval with automatic access to Rovi, GD3, SonataDB, FreeDB and Musicbrainz. Its built-in DAC supports DSD64/128 and up to 32bits/384KHz PCM. There is bit perfect retrieval, gapless playback and support for WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, MP3 and AAC. aria mini can play different music programs in different rooms by streaming to Airplay™ and DLNA™ compatible devices. You may also listen your music collection with headphones streamed to your iPad. Furthermore, you can stream your favorite internet radio or music services available on your iPad to the aria mini server. The free multi language iPad app controller is extremely easy to use and very powerful with unique music library views, playlists management, intelligent search engine and tagging capability."

October 2014 - Expensive gainclone sighting - For €2'250 in black or white, Peter Reinders' 20wpc LM1875-based chip amp called Blok20 is point-to-point wired, gets ultra-fast recovery rectifiers and a 300VA power toroid housed in a 17x17.5x20cm HxWxD Corian box weighing 8kg. For less than half and delivered globally, there are Clone Audio's competitors from Hong Kong. Either way, good sound from minimalist circuits based on op-amp outputs continues to be popular.

October 2014 - Gruensch not grinch - The MSL linestage from this German firm bills itself as an ultimate statement effort based on a single-stage zero-feedback class A JFET gain circuit for 4-ohm output impedance. Reed relays switch precision resistors for volume. To avoid switching transients, an intermediary circuit takes over during changes, then removes itself once the new value is set. An outboard power supply is based on constant current tech. Minimal remaining THD behaviour is predominantly 2nd and very low 3rd order with no higher-order components at all. The full-metal remote controls volume, phase and mute. For socketry, the MSL offers 5:3 RCA/XLR inputs, 4:3 RCA/XLR variable outputs and one each fixed outputs. Bandwidth is 0.5Hz to 370kHz -3dB, channel balance is better than 0.01dB at all level settings, stereo separation is -117dB and SNR -105dBA. Input sensitivity is switchable from 1 to 6 to 11dB. Max output voltage is 6Vrms.

October 2014 - Pangea - Pangea Audio have announced the their MFI-tested, Apple-certified Lightning cables for use with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5/5S/5C, iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina and all Lightning-equipped Apple devices. Pangea Lightning cables are an extra-long 5-feet in length—42% longer than Apple’s standard Lightning cable—and feature "superior shielding, robust 27-gauge signal conductors, heavy-duty 21-gauge power conductors and Apple’s newest thinnest C48 Lightning connector on one end, with a USB ‘A’ connector on the other end. Pangea has utilized high-grade copper, with wire gauges that are significantly thicker than a typical Apple-type cable in order to deliver accurate signal and steady power despite the longer cable length. Five available colors (Black, Blue, Green, Pink, or White) are designed to match your iPhone, iPad Mini or other Apple device." MSRP for the Pangea Lightning cables is $29.95 however they are available now from AudioAdvisor.com and Amazon at the low introductory price of $19.95.

October 2014 - CEntrance iPhone sleeve - The new i5 Audiophile Case™ [$599] combines a sound card and extended battery built right into an iPhone casing and works with the iPhone 5, 5S and iPod Touch 5G models. It streams asynchronous audio directly from the phone's Lightning jack into a 24/192 DAC and headphone amp with 11 hours of battery life.

October 2014 - ModWright Elyse shipping - Dan Wright's 6922-based tube-rectified D/A converter is now in full production. Basic specs include BurrBrown PCM1794 conversion chips; FPGA-based custom data/clock buffering; dual-frequency clocks; future DSD ability; Lundahl transformer coupling for the in/outputs to avoid all signal-path capacitors; separate regulated power supplies for the analog and digital sections; a current-regulated tube filament supply; true balanced XLR and RCA outputs; RCA, BNC, AES/EBU and 24/192 asynchronous USB inputs. Tube rolling options include the rectifiers 5AR4, 5R4GY, 5U4G, 5U4GB, 5V4G, 5V4GB and 217 whilst the driver tubes may be 6922, 6DJ8 or 7308.

October 2014 - UK phono - The Music First Audio dual-mono Reference phono stage [£8208] uses a low-noise pentode front end, dual-triode gain stage and inductive T-network RIAA equalization plus a shunt-regulated high-voltage power supply spread over two chassis.


October 2014 - Lambert Company - The Audio Nerd, U.S. distributor of Lambert Company audio products from New Zealand, will demonstrate the Play It By Ear headphone amplifier [$499] at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. This is a class A design and part of the Small Wonder range offered by Lambert. The Audio Nerd will also display pre-production working prototypes of the complete line as a set of compatible components which can be used individually or in various combinations as a complete system. A basic system consists of the Control preamp with Bluetooth 4.0; the 50wpc Force ICEpower amplifier; and The Last Word/The Bottom Line 2.1 speaker system. Even greater system performance is provided by The Full Force mono amplifiers which feature bridged ICEpower modules to produce 100w/8ohms and 170w/4ohms from a relatively small package.

October 2014 - Polish audio show - As it does every year, the Warsaw show organized by Adam Mokrzycki Services takes place in November, this year on the weekend of the 8th & 9th spread out over three hotels, the Bristol, Kyriad and Sobieski. With 6moons having attending three prior installments and booked again to cover it this year, in our opinion this event has become #2 in Europe right after the Munich Highend show. And don't let the language dissuade you. Nearly everyone there speaks English. We should know. Our Polish is a perfect zero.

October 2014 - Axis of beauty - Our Australian contributor Edgar Kramer reports that the new Axis VoiceBox S speaker marks the return of Axis Loudspeakers as a highly respected Australian brand that has been in hiatus for a number of years. Industry stalwarts John Reilly and Brad Serhan—friendly but strong competitors in the past—now together revive the dormant brand with a new design. Reilly, a music lover, musician and discriminating audiophile with decades of experience in retail and distribution; and Serhan who’s peerless engineering and critical discernment has produced a number of highly-successful designs, team up to produce the Axis VoiceBox S. The new speaker is a mini-monitor sized 2-way using a high-quality ribbon crossing over to a 5.25-inch paper mid/woofer. Specifications encompass an impressive-for-the-size frequency response of 45Hz to 20kHz (1/3 octave pink noise +/-3dB), a 5-ohm impedance and 83dB sensitivity. The speaker features an immaculate multi-layer piano black finish and a decorative perforated aluminium grille that should be removed for critical listening. "Early tests in my reference rig have shown a seamless crossover and blending between ribbon and main driver, stunning imaging accuracy, profound detail/microdynamic retrieval and surprising dynamic output. I will be reviewing this outstanding design soon." The Axis VoiceBox S has also been chosen as a monitor by highly-respected local mastering engineer Don Bartley at his Benchmark Mastering facility. The Axis VoiceBox S retails for $2'495/pr and will be on display from October 10-12 2014 at the RMAF Show in room 2017 of Colleen Cardas Imports.

October 2014 - Alpha Prime - Dan Clark's new top dawg headphone is called the Alpha Prime [$999] though looking at it, you'd not know. It looks like the $699 Alpha, with the same 3D-printed ear cups and leather headband. The relevant makeover attacked the invisible bits by completely rebuilding the Fostex driver in excess of what the Alpha did. Promised sonic improvements from "the full teardown, modification and rebuild of the driver" include a "big increase in soundstage size, clarity, tone and texture, distortion reduction, dynamics, bass and more".

October 2014 - Dynaudio - The Danes at Dynaudio go active and fully digital with their new Focus XD range. The initial plan calls for 3 models - the 200XD compact and the floorstanders 400XD and 600XD. Built-in class D power scales from 300 to 450 and 600 watts as these models increase in size. Inputs are 24/192 coax and analog which undergoes A/D conversion inside. Volume control is built in to decommission a separate preamp; and DSP adjustments allow compensation to taste and room. For expanded connectivity there is the Dynaudio Hub with two more analog inputs and digital coax and Toslink. Further details and pricing on the DX range remain TBA.

October 2014 - Chord - The British Hugo headphone amp/DAC had become available in a satin black anodized finish. Price remains £1'400 as it's been for the original silver unit.

September 2014 - W8 - Boenicke Audio ready their W8 solid-wood 3-way model which previewed as the Anna at HighEnd Munich 2014. Scaling up the very successful recipe of the W5 two-way mini, the W8 gets the same 3" wideband tweeter/mid on a 1st-order high pass, a larger rear-firing ambient dome tweeter, a dedicated 4" 1st-order low-passed paper-cone midrange and a sidefiring long-throw 6.5" woofer in a curved rear-line loading arrangement tuned to 28Hz without a crossover. The W8 also gets an optional customized version of Boenicke's SwingBase whereby the rear of the speaker is wire-suspended off the floor to decouple rather than couple, with the front decoupled by a ceramic roller bearing.

The W8 is offered in three versions, standard, SE and SE+. All share 87dB sensitivity and a nominal 4-ohm impedance. The SE version adds an electromechanical parallel resonator to the bass/midrange, Harmonix Tuning Bases to the widebander, Bybee Quantum Purifiers and a proprietary phase linearisation network. The SE+ version adds Stage II type electromechanical series resonators to all three drivers, a parallel resonator to the woofer and a Steinmusic Speaker Match Signature module.

September 2014 - Swiss SK16 Skiny - Klutz Design of CanCan headphone stand and Ballerina listening chair fame recently premiered the forthcoming Bakoon AMP-51 and soundkaos SK16 Skiny loudspeakers at the Gothenburg Hifi show. Martin Gateley's second speaker model after the oval Wave 40 here shown in black combines a 16cm Armin Galm widebander with a 37mm dome tweeter in a wooden sub assembly which replaces the conventional metal driver basket with wood components as shown in the right image. By pursuing a simpler laminated wood enclosure than that of the top model, retail pricing even in the costliest Walnut option is expected to remain well below €10'000/pr. There's also a matching D8 wood-enclosed subwoofer available to augment bass response of the SK16 in larger rooms.

September 2014 - Vinnie Rossi - Check out our industry feature for the full details on this exciting new brand launch. For now, the website link still rolls over to Red Wine Audio. In a few weeks, it'll go to a dedicated new website.
September 2014 - Hafler reborn -  Radial Engineering Ltd is pleased to announce its relaunch of the Hafler brand of high-fidelity audio products. According to Radial president Peter Janis: "Way back in the 1990's, Radial was the Canadian distributor for Hafler and ever since then, we have felt that given the opportunity, we could bring Hafler back to the world of audio. Earlier this year, we purchased the brand from Rockford-Fosgate and have been quietly working through designs in preparation to launch the brand at this year's CEDIA trade show. Although Radial is not well known in hifi and home theater circles, we are in fact a major supplier to the professional touring and recording markets. Radial is the world's leading producer of direct boxes, owns the Reamp, Tonebone and Primacoustic brands and ships nearly 100'000 electronic devices a year to customers around the world. Artists who use Radial include The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Vince Gill, The Boston Pops Orchestra, Keith Urban, Chick Corea and Metallica just to name a few. We plan to leverage these relationships to bolster the Hafler brand and have already secured an endorsement by the world's most revered engineer of all time; Al Schmitt - known for his work with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Steely Dan.

"David Hafler basically invented high-fidelity amplifiers back in the 1950s under the Dynaco brand. Later he launched the David Hafler company. When Rockford-Fosgate took over the reins in 1987, they focussed their attention on studio amplifiers culminating their designs with the popular P3000 and venerable 9505, often considered to be one of the most musical and dynamic sounding amplifiers of all time. We are currently going through the paces of redeveloping these legends. But this is no easy task! We are working with various winding companies to recreate power transformers, locating some hard to find parts and retooling the heat syncs. Once the groundwork is completed, we will upgrade the designs where we think we can bring value. We anticipate launching the power amps in 2015. As we are a small box specialty manufacturer, we have actually begun the 'Hafler Revolution' with phono preamps and headphone amplifiers."  
September 2014 - Firmware gets firmer. A lot firmer - PS Audio announce the 1.2.1 upgrade to the firmware of their DirectStream DAC promising "the biggest single improvement yet. Overall distortion and noise are reduced., the sound is more stunningly lifelike. As good as DirectStream was before, now it’s better. A lot better."

September 2014 - Jens - From Merrill Audio comes the 70dB Jens phono stage for low-output MC applications [$15'449]. Load settings are variable from 25 ohms to 5kOhms and RIAA equalization is said to be accurate to within 0.1dB. "The Jens was in development for 7 years, including 3 years of listening tests with veteran vinyl experts. Using expert technology and being hand built in the USA, the Jens includes an external power supply, steel chassis for maximum EMI/RFI shielding, Stillpoints Ultramini riser footers for isolation, Furutech pure copper Rhodium-plated RCA, double-fused AC lines, silver-plated Teflon-sleeved pure copper wires, hand-matched high tolerance parts, hand-routed circuit board designs,  multi-stage power supply filtering and proprietary circuits."

September 2014 - Marantz Headfi - Based on their Premium 11 range, the current feedback HD-DAC1 combines a CS4398-based 24/192 PCM / DSD128 DAC with a gain-switchable headphone amp and fixed and variable main outputs. Inputs are USB A+B, Toslink and coax. USB is asynchronous, there are two clocks for the 44.1/48kHz audio and video families of sample rates and the output stage benefits from Marantz's HDAM and HDAM-SA2 modules. There's even an iDevice-ready front panel USB port and 3.5mm stereo line input on the rear.



September 2014 - JCAT battery supply - "The JCAT battery PSU [€389] is a very effective upgrade for computer audiophiles. Just connect it to the LP4 power input on the JCAT USB card or to a SSD via the included high-quality DC cable and enjoy better sound. The JCAT battery PSU features patent-pending SATRI analogue automated charging circuit from Bakoon of South Korea. This design allows the connected device to continually operate by utilising two embedded batteries which automatically switch between charging and discharging states. It works completely in the analogue domain free from all the noises of the AC, ground loops and RFI/EMI. Using the JCAT battery PSU with any USB card, SSD or CompactFlash drive that needs 5V DC power will greatly enhance the sound and performance compared to a standard power supply."
battery type: Li-ion
battery recharge:Patent Pending Automatic Control
output voltage: +5V DC
output current: 1A (nominal) 1.5A (peak)
60cm output DC cable with LP4 and SATA power connectors

September 2014 - Relaunched Cary Direct - Cary Audio are pleased to announce the relaunch of their Cary Direct Online Store. The online store is now split into three different sections: B-stock, DIY parts and vacuum tubes and accessories. The B-stock section is made up of current and past production models. It could be returned or open box products, previously repaired products, demonstration products used at industry shows or in dealer showrooms, cosmetic flaws such as scratches or dings in chassis, faceplate, paint surfaces or other visible areas. All B-stock products will only be sold and shipped within the United States.

The DIY parts section is made up of stock of different parts such as capacitors, speaker binding posts, switches etc. This caters from those looking to build their dream project to those who are looking for parts to upgrade their current equipment.

The vacuum tubes and accessories section is made up of different vacuum tubes and accessories available at Cary Audio. For the vacuum tubes, we have anything from new production tubes to new old stock (NOS) tubes. Some of the NOS tubes are available in limited quantities. For accessories, we supply anything from bias meters to Cary Audio T-shirts.
September 2014 - nCore for the masses - NAD's M22 power amplifier is the first nCore-based model from a mass-market company. Unlike competition from Acoustic Imagery, Merrill Audio, Jeff Rowland and Mola-Mola which get $10'000/pr and more for equivalent monos, the NAD stereo amp sells for $3'000. "We have our own nCore module developed in close cooperation with Hypex. It is based on the NC400 not the 1200 but this is not a qualitative difference. It only affects power output.  We can do this because we will build and sell a lot of units. The 1200 was developed primarily for the pro market where huge power is required. In the Hypex 400 module continuous power is 200W@8 and 400W@4. In our implementation it is 250W@8/4 controlled by Erik Edvardsen’s precision clipper circuit. The benefit of this approach is the ability to offer much more short term or dynamic power where we have 350 @8 and 600W@4. This makes the power in actual use seem greater than the spec – in typical NAD tradition!" Inputs are selectable on RCA or XLR.

September 2014 - MB81 - Icon Audio's limited edition push/pull monos exploit a cache of NOS Russian GU81 transmitter valves which David Shaw stumbled upon. The upshot are 200 watts of triode power per side. "At 260mm tall, 100mm in diameter and weighing 1kg each, the GU81 is a truly majestic valve. Although the GU81 still in production, we used ‘new old stock’ valves in the MB81 that are hand-picked for their combination of resolution, musicality and power.  These massive amps are around 50% bigger than the current Icon flagship MB845MkIIm and weigh ca. 100kg/pr. Complex quaternary output transformers minimize distortion whilst allowing unbeatable bass power and authority. Even though the MB81 was developed as a personal gift for Shaw himself, he plans to produce a limited number for sale, with an estimated price of £12'500 per pair."

September 2014 - Legacy - After selling out the silver/black Legacy edition of their VK-1 headphone model whilst getting more orders than they could fill, Aëdle have decided to incorporate the €390 Legacy variant formally into their standard lineup. Now customers have a choice between black or camel-coloured leather with clear-anodized aluminium covers; or all black.


September 2014 - Moon tails - Named as though issued by us, the Ultimate MoonTails from Belgian company Jade Audio are Carine Michiels'. About them we're told that "the Ultimate MoonTails are building on the strengths of the original MoonTails. With an already perfect recipe, some extra ingredients were thrown into the mix and a whole different dish is being presented. The icing on the cake are the fabulous Majestic RCA connectors from Bocchino Audio Technologies of Australia. They give the MoonTails an aesthetic boost while the sound approaches that of Jade Audio's top of the range cables."

September 2014 - Minor Duetto Edition - Care Orchestra SRL's Divina Line welcomes a small rear-ported 4-liter monitor whose standard features include opaque, high-gloss or metallic lacquer finish with cuoietto or leather sides; magnetic leather covers; silver biwire terminals; a ScanSpeak Illuminator soft dome tweeter with neodymium ring magnets; a Seas Excel 12cm paper-cone mid/woofer; Van den Hul SCS12 hookup wiring; and Jantzen silver components for the electrical 2nd-order filter network. The crossover frequency is set at 2'100Hz.

September 2014 - Job monos - With Goldmund's team just having departed our publisher's digs to pick up various review loaners, we've learnt that the anticipated 300-watt Job monos are now in prototype form at the Geneva factory. They are expected to go into production for December. Width will copy the existing Job 225 and Job Pre2, height will be somewhat less than double. Pricing is still to be determined but expected to come in at roughly twice of the stereo amp and preamp, i.e. below $2'000 per mono amp.
September 2014 - Grow wood - Be it American or Burmese Walnut, Bog Oak, Northern Ash, Karelish Birch, Teac, Cherry, Amaranth, Beech, Iroko or Zebrawood, Kennerton's Magister headphones [$799] let you order the ear cups of your choice replete with sonic descriptions of their influence. Assembled in Russia, the sealed Magister relies on a 42mm Titanium-coated Mylar diaphragm with lambskin ear pads and head band.
September 2014 - Nagra relaunch website - Audio Technology Switzerland has overhauled their web presence with a new site that combines their high-end, pro and security products, covers company history, product time lines, indepth specs, brochures and reviews.
September 2014 - You've been served! - The Amare Musica Diamond Music Server from Poland offers multiple control options including iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android OS and PC and includes an aluminium remote. Streaming services supported are music libraries on Samba, Dina, NFS, USB flash drive or hard drive (FAT32, NTFS and EXT2/3). Inputs are RJ45 and 4 x USB 2.0. Supported audio format with gapless playback are WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, AIF, DSD, DFF, MP3 and OGG. Digital outputs are on BNC, coax and AES&EBU. File density support is up to 32/384 PCM and DSD128. The mother board was custom designed for Amare Musica. The power supply is an "ultra low-noise" type and the display consists of dual OLED sections. USB reception is via 500mips XMOS processor and the gold-plated PCB features 4-layer construction with oversized copper traces. The casing is 10mm aluminium.

September 2014 - LDR go upscale - Tortuga Audio's LDRx [$1'495] is a 3/2 i/o single-ended passive preamp based on light-dependent resistors for attenuation. Two additional inputs are optionally available. The LDRx combines bamboo and black-anodized aluminium panels for its casing and a rotary encoder with push button with an Apple remote.

September 2014 - Hugo le pooch - Not quite. Chord release a pouch to dress up their portable DAC/headfi amp Hugo. The £99 leather case protects the device and can house a digital audio player or cell phone as a matching source. Available in black or tan, the case "allows full access to Hugo’s controls, in/outputs and LED indicators. Full provision has been made for source components, too. The Hugo leather case uses a quad system of durable elasticated webbing straps with tough Velcro terminations, to securely hold phones and digital audio players to the case. The clever design allows direct access to touchscreens and controls, and offers several fastening options, giving users real flexibility over how partnering equipment is secured. A tough thumb-loop at the top of the case provides a secondary element of security when the Hugo is hand-held, and Velcro-tipped leather latches at each end of the case provide both protection and (at the input end), a useful cavity to store small connection leads."

September 2014 - Kudos - The new X3 from Kudos [£2'145/pr incl. VAT] uses the same 25mm soft-dome tweeter as its X2 stable mate but a new 18cm main driver with a mixed cone of paper and reed fibres. A copper-clad aluminium voice coil and copper shorting ring enhance transients and dynamics and reduce distortion. A cast chassis gives the main driver optimal stability. Both transducers are Seas issue "specifically designed for the Kudos loudspeaker range. All internal wiring is The Chord Company’s Sarsen loudspeaker cable. The X3 cabinet is constructed from 18mm high-density MDF and the reflex port is situated on the bottom to load into a fixed boundary gap with the plinth." Core specs are 88dB sensitivity, 8-ohm impedance, 30Hz-25kHz bandwidth and dimensions of 845 x 190 x 250mm HxWxD.

September 2014 - Deimos - The new Erzetich Audio Deimos headphone amplifier from Slovania is a 6.5kg affair finished in thick milled aluminium with a distressed wooden fascia. It's planned to release as a very limited handcrafted edition for early 2015 at ca. €4'000 each. Preorders are accepted with a special discount until late September. About the circuitry, there's a dual-mono layout with three separate power supplies, one for each channel plus one for digital; class A bias; 43'000µF filter capacitance per channel; digitally actuated relay-based 64-step resistor-array volume; and RCA/XLR inputs.

September 2014 - Göbel site revamp - Oliver Göbel reports that "after extensive work, we finally launched our completely redesigned website. Our main focus was to show all our new products, give more information about our worldwide unique and patented technologies, perfectly visualize our products with nice photos and accomplish all this with a clean and noble layout."

September 2014 - DSD is in the air - Hegel are readying their HD12 DSD DAC [€1'200] described as a true native DSD64 DAC with onboard digital preamp and high-quality headfi output. "Key features of this new DAC are an exceptionally low noise floor of -145dB and equally low jitter levels. In these respects it represents the best DAC we have developed to date. Jitter wise, the largest improvement is reducing the level of 'skirting' to result in a very much more precise sound. The HD12 supports all common files up to 24/192kHz on all inputs plus true DSD64. A brand new USB interface makes this possible. On the input side, the HD12 has 1 x USB, 2 x optical and 1 x coax. There are RCA and true balanced analog outputs which can be used together if one wanted to add a subwoofer. The remote control can be used to control all functions of the DAC as well as control other Hegel components."

September 2014 - Classy Classé - Classé have announced availability of a new series called Sigma comprising the $5'000 7.1-channel Sigma SSP processor and two amplifiers, the $5'000 2x200wpc AMP2 and the $3'500 5x200wpc AMP5. “High-end is about passion, discovery, experience and technical exploration. It’s not just who can make the most expensive things,” said Dave Nauber, Classé president. “Making more affordable products that are truly high-end is a greater challenge, hence the market gap between offerings from the mass-market CE companies and the high-end brands. We chose to exploit our cost advantage as part of the B&W Group to fill this void with some exceptional new products.”

The Sigma SSP is a preamp/processor with video switching, multi-channel processing and bass management, connections for USB and Ethernet plus basic HDMI, coax and optical digital inputs, balanced and single-ended analog inputs and an optional phono stage. According to Classé, the amplifier models are derived from their Delta series CA-D200, a Class D topology that achieves 3 nanosecond dead-band time to "dramatically lower distortion and enable numerous other design advantages."

September 2014 - Linnenberg's 20th Anniversary offer - "Linnenberg Elektronik have now been in the audio business for 20 years. That's good reason to celebrate and remember. In September 1994, we introduced our first product in the PowerDAC. A review in the German stereoplay magazine attested to its outstanding performance and top ranking. It seems that time has flown by.

"Until now, each and every product we released had only one goal in mind: meeting the actual needs of discerning customers. Although the tech focus of music lovers changed over time, it is nice to see that gear from our early years is still in use all over the world. Today we would like to announce that ordering the bundle of Vivace and Maestro models will result in a 10% price reduction. The total amount for both is now €2'511 (excl. VAT). Customers who already bought the Vivace but are looking for the Maestro will get their discount retroactive. The offer is valid for end users only."

September 2014 - Golden notes - Gold Note's "luxury boxed Fiorino TSC turntable speed control is directly derived from the exotic Gold Note Bellagio Conquest motor power supply. It features a 12-volt motor with a power width modulator to enable great torque at outstanding low noise because the computer-developed design allows the AC 12V synchronous motor to work with its three phases perfectly aligned to null out all vibrations. The Fiorino TSC has 33 and 45rpm electronically controlled changeable speed settings which can be finely adjusted. This pitch is permanently stored in the micro controller's memory. The Fiorino TSC enhances the performance and can fit all Gold Note turntables ever made but will also fit any other turntable."

September 2014 - Bring home the bakoon - Bakoon's new's HPA-01M is "exactly the same circuit as our stationary HPA-01 amplifier" packed into a portable 140x95x17.5mm casing and fitted with a Li-ion battery bank to deliver Bakoon's trademark current and voltage outputs for up to 10 hours of on-the-go headphone power.

September 2014 - G Lab Design Fidelity - From Poland comes the €4'100 Block single-ended EL34 tube integrated amplifier whose industrial design was contributed by an Academy of Fine Arts graduate. Delivering 5.5wpc for a response of 30Hz to 30kHz ±2dB with 98 watts of power consumption, the Block features two line-level and one phono input, weighs 18kg and measures 339 x 288 x 208mm WxDxH without tubes. The driver and input tubes are 2 x E88C and 2 x 6N6P.

September 2014 - Wiener Wunderkind - From Martin Schützenauer, ex designer for WLM Loudspeakers and now leading his own brand WIM Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur, comes a high-end take on the vintage boom box. The Wiener Wunderkind combines a pair of 16cm Kevlar two-way speakers with vintage-sized 5cm paper tweeters whose analog-compensated bandwidth claims serious 30Hz-25kHz reach; 250wpc of built-in power; wireless streaming and Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR for 30-meter reception; a built-in 24/192 DAC; and analog inputs. Delivered in a sturdy portable flight case like shown, this powered wireless stereo speaker is meant to go where others won't: on the porch, to a vacation cabin or to friends to throw an impromptu party before returning to the owner's own crib. Measuring just 26.5 x 44 x 19cm HxWxD and weighing 10.3kg to remain convenient to move about, the standard finish is a white acrylpolymer and linoleum. Veneer finishes are available by request.

The remainder of the WIM catalogue includes traditional passive speakers as well as partial or fully active variants including vertically opposed powered subwoofers.


September 2014 - B&W revamp - Trickle-down tech from its Reference and Studio 800 Diamond ranges has led to the upgraded CM10 S2 and CM6 S2 models. Primary improvements include a new twin-membrane dome tweeter whose aluminium front is augmented by a second open-center dome behind it to move the first break-up mode from 30 to 38kHz. For these two models, the tweeter has also been moved into a separate bullet housing while the other models in the range now use a synthetic gel for decoupling their tweeter from the enclosure. The mid/woofers use a Kevlar cone with anti-resonance plugs, the woofers use a Kevlar/paper membrane. Internal wiring has gone to quality van den Hul conductors and even the speaker terminals have been revisited.

The revised CM Series includes 3 monitors, 3 towers, two center channels and one subwoofer. Pricing ranges from €900 to €3'600/pr, with €650 and €1'000 respectively for the center channels and €1'350 for the subwoofer.
September 2014: Trafomatic to the next level - Proudly designed in Serbia, Sasa Cokic's Experience Two MkII "is the upgraded version of the previous Experience Two 300B integrated. The circuit, chassis and components have all been redesigned and upgraded. Most the changes are in the power supply which now uses CLCLC filtration of the anode voltage. The output transformers are still dual C-core types but raised to a higher level. There is just 2dB of negative feedback which we found necessary during critical listening. The electrolytic cathode capacitors in the input stage have been upgraded to premium-quality metalized polypropylene units." Key specifications are:
Output power: 8wpc
Class of operation: Single-ended class A)
Tubes complement: 2 x 300B EH gold grid , 2 x 6SN7, 1x 5U4G
Inputs: 4 x RCA inputs
Outputs: 4 & 8 ohms
Input sensitivity: 0.5Vrms
THD: 0.5% 1W, 5% 8W
Bandwidth: 10Hz-65KHz( -3dB)
S/N ratio: 83dB
Input impedance: 100K
Power consumption: 200VA
Input voltage: 120V/230V/50-60HzHz
Weight: 24kg

September 2014 - Bakoon scales up - Soo-In Chae provided us with these sneak peek photos of their AMP-51 prototype which currently is en route to Sweden's Klutz Design to participate in their upcoming audio show with soundkaos speakers..

"I’m blown away by its performance already and we’ve decided to improve upon it even further. The initial power output was set at 35 watts but will be increased to 50 watts for production. We’ll also be adding a precision attenuator circuit with a remote controller and still improve various circuits throughout. Due to these changes, the new design will employ a display on the front panel and may get slightly bigger and heavier than the prototype's dimensions of 425 x 475 x 67mm (excl. foot height)."