All-In-One Systems

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 |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
It’s official, and you heard it here first – we don’t live in the seventies anymore. Like David Bowie, times have changed. He’s no longer the Thin White Duke and the world isn’t buying huge amounts of separates. Life moves on, and so does the way people play music.
 |  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 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 15, 2015  |  0 comments
It can be difficult to predict format trends, and even consumer electronics giants can be caught off guard, but a new range of hi-res music machines sees Sony make a welcome return to the hi-fi arena. Things got difficult back in the late nineties, when MP3 files began to replace Compact Disc. The company’s instinct had always been to maintain control of the entire music recording and replay chain, from record company to format to player. But for once, this great innovating consumer electronics group was caught on the hop.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Aura Note Premier £1,495 With computer audio via USB, plus recording radio to MP3, this is a beautiful yet flexible package This group includes a number of units that steer clear of the stereotypical black or silver box, but we found the Aura Note Premier the most smart and upmarket-looking. The one drawback of all that chrome is that the black labelling for the buttons can be hard to read, and you’ll be more than usually glad of the remote control. By far, the nicest operational feature here is the top-loading CD transport. You slide the glass cover across, remove the puck, pop a CD on the spindle, replace the puck and slide the cover back.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Cyrus Streamline £1,600 Well equipped for the brave new world of streamed music and other digital sources We reviewed Cyrus’s Stream X a few issues ago (HFC 351) in our first-ever Blind-listening Group Test of streaming music players. The Streamline effectively adds an integrated amplifier to the Stream X, and does so for just £200 extra. To some, the amplifier may look like a cheapskate add-on; a single high-performance integrated circuit which includes a full 30W per channel power amplifier in a single package. Time was, when that kind of thing was death to real sound quality, but things have moved on and the data sheet on this device suggests a performance that most designers of ‘serious’ amplifiers wouldn’t consider too shabby.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Myryad Mi - £1,295 Super user interface, neat packaging and great sound make this the star of the show The elder statesmen of the one-box system breed these days, the Myryad Mi has no way of connecting to a computer. It will, however, connect via its ‘M-Port’ to an iPod or iPhone Touch, which gives it some of the internet connectivity that some others lack. You can, for instance, use services like Spotify via an iPhone. It’s a mixed blessing; Apple products famously have a nice user interface, but you have to tie one up as a basic data-forwarding device when you could, with a fully Ethernet-enabled streamer, use that boring router box parked out of sight near your phone master socket.
Ed Selley  |  Feb 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Arcam Solo Neo £1,400 Highly specified, with full streaming capabilities, the Neo is the latest in Arcam’s popular Solo range Bringing the Solo up to date with recent trends, Arcam’s Neo is well-equipped with digital connectivity, including wired Ethernet, Wi-Fi and USB (for portable players, etc. ). It doesn’t digitally interface to iPods and other Apple products, but it can control them via Arcam’s own optional irDock. It doesn’t have S/PDIF inputs either, but does sport four handy line-level analogue inputs.
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 29, 2011  |  0 comments
Potent Cocktail Newcomer Cocktail Audio has a high-value music server that’s also high on features. Jason Kennedy remains shaken, however. The Cocktail X10 is positioned to take on the Brennan JB7, but adds a raft of extra features and considerably greater hard-drive sizes from 500GB to 2TB. It’s a compact unit that can rip CDs in a variety of formats including WAV and FLAC.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 29, 2011  |  0 comments
In the round Elipson’s one-box Music Center MC1 is a striking piece of design. Ed Selley finds out if it has a well rounded sound to match its looks Our first introduction to the recently invigorated Elipson was via the remarkable looking Planet L speaker (HFC 350). Any manufacturer whose idea of a standmount speaker is a brightly coloured sphere the size of a bowling ball is unlikely to release its partnering electronics in an ordinary box and Elipson hasn’t disappointed us. The Music Center MC1 is, as the name suggests, an all-in-one system.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Space saver For hi-fi-like sound in the office, kitchen or bedroom, Richard Black reckons the new, improved Vita R4i is the right tool for the job Back in HFC 310, we had our first experience of the excellent R4 from Vita Audio – now here’s the latest version of the same model, the R4i. The ‘i’ evidently doesn’t stand for ‘iPod’, as that family of devices was supported from the outset. Indeed, you’ll look in vain for features that weren’t present on the original model. Vita Audio has put all the revisions under the bonnet, improving sound quality, the company claims, by a significant margin.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Why Zero is our hero Makers of some of the most exotic hi-fi on the planet, Audio Note's Zero system is, says Jimmy Hughes, refreshingly affordable High-end audio tends to be a tad expensive. When a manufacturer sets out to employ specialised military-grade internal components that are large and massively over-specified, you can’t expect prices to be low. Nevertheless, some high-end manufacturers relish the challenge of designing products that deliver a taste of high-end performance at more wallet-friendly prices. After all, it’s not easy to produce outstanding results within tight budget constraints, but Audio Note’s Zero System aims to do just that.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Fade to grey NAD's VISO Three is far removed from the grey boxes that the company is famous for. Ed Selley finds out if the house sound has made the jump NAD has been at the forefront of entry-level hi-fi components for decades and still produces its famous battleship grey components at a variety of price points to suit most pockets. More recently, we have seen a move towards more – dare we say it – stylish components with the Masters series at higher price points and an entry into more lifestyle components with the VISO series. Following on from the DVD-based VISO Two and Five systems, the new £750 VISO Three is the first two- channel audio member of the family.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 28, 2011  |  0 comments
CD-free supersonics Linn’s new Akurate system with digital streaming promises superb sound and a slick user interface. Has CD finally met its Waterloo, asks Jimmy Hughes? World-famous conductor Herbert von Karajan’s response, on being introduced to the delights of the compact disc in the early 1980s, was “All else is gaslight”. It’s a great one-liner, but was he right? Wasn’t CD little more than a digital version of the vinyl LP anyway, with a laser replacing a stylus? If so, then Linn’s Akurate DS system is far more radical. It takes the whole process of listening to music in the home to another level, replacing physical sources like CD or SACD with music stored on a hard drive, while offering remote access from the comfort of your armchair.

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