|  Feb 05, 2015  |  0 comments
There have always been mass market consumer audio products, and there has always been hi-fi. Several decades back the two were clearly delineated, but nowadays we’re seeing the mass consumer electronics market – now catered for by the likes of Apple – moving upmarket and eating into entry-level hi-fi products. Hi-fi manufacturers are now fighting back, making quality ‘lifestyle’ products like this one. Traditionally, the high-end audio (as opposed to ‘hi-fi’) market was the sole province of Bang & Olufsen, with a minor supporting role played by Bose.
 |  Feb 05, 2015  |  0 comments
There are umpteen wireless speakers around now, but what makes the Air-X 403 interesting is that it’s aimed at serious audiophiles and yet is (relatively) affordable. Startingat £2,499 for these entry-level 403s plus £349 for the base station, there’s also the option of the larger 407 floorstanders for £4,299. Elac makes very fine loudspeakers and has done some pioneering work especially with tweeter technology over the years. So we’re not talking about a consumer electronics company sticking its wireless tech into any old pair of transducers here! They are effectively active, wireless versions of the highly capable BS 403 passive standmounter.
 |  Feb 05, 2015  |  0 comments
If you’re looking for a compact, micro hi-fi system that covers all the bases, then the Yamaha CRX-N560D could well be the answer. It’s petite in size, but manages to pack a lot of functionality into its rather diminutive frame. The N560D is a new model in Yamaha’s PianoCraft series and comes with an onboard CD player and DAB/DAB+/FM tuners, but its network streaming capabilities are what really sets it apart, greatly expanding your listening options beyond these more traditional formats. Its Ethernet socket gives you access to the online and networking world, but it lacks the built-in wi-fi I was hoping to see.
 |  Feb 05, 2015  |  0 comments
It might not be a household name, but Hegel has a considerable reputationin its home country of Norway and is increasingly winning favour with dealers and customers further afield. The company has a strong technology pedigree and its approach to its extensive audio product range is to do things rather differently from the norm. Unsatisfied with some of the supposed limitations of digital signal handling and transistor amplification, Hegel has gone back to the drawing board for the manufacturing of the H80. This is an integrated amplifier and DAC in one box that is setting its stall out to offer convenience and quality.
 |  Feb 02, 2015  |  0 comments
On occasions, a design idea that notionally offersthe highest possible performance can fail to deliver on that promise in reality. In theory, a crossover is a considerable impediment to the performance ofa speaker and far less effective than having a single driver reproduce the entire frequency range. In reality, the laws of physics ensure that the single driver speaker has as many issuesas one with a crossover in terms of performance at frequency extremes. This hasn’t stopped Eclipse from becoming perhaps the best known manufacturer of single driver speakers.
 |  Feb 02, 2015  |  0 comments
Who would have thought it? Obscure manufacturer of decent Chinese optical disc players starts spin-off company (Oppo Digital Inc. ) in California to make high-quality hi-fi products. It’s not a typical tale of hi-fi success, but the story is getting ever more believable with every product launch. Less than a year after the excellent PM-1 headphones were released, the company now has its own matching DAC/preamp/headphone amp too – in the rather pleasing shape of the HA-1.
 |  Feb 02, 2015  |  0 comments
For those that love music, there are going to be times where you want to hear it in other rooms apart from the listening room. One solution is to have extension speakers wired up to the main system, but that means running speaker cables everywhere. It also means having your system running full tilt when all you wantis some background music in your kitchen. A better solution is a completely separate, standalone system that doesn’t take up too much space and won’t break the bank.
 |  Feb 02, 2015  |  0 comments
There is a school of thought among certain loudspeaker manufacturers that what’s good for studios is alsogood for the home. One of those manufacturers is ATC, the Acoustic Transducer Company, which builds professional and domestic monitors and voices both in the same way. In studios monitors are used to reveal problems, to highlight sounds that shouldn’t be there. Monitors are a fundamental tool of recording and mastering, the window into the production.
 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
The small system isn’t a new idea. Indeed, those outside the rarefied climes of separates hi-fi would probably regard it as the norm. After all, do we really need yards of pressed steel casework, acres of cables and multiple power plugs? For that reason alone, since the late seventies when Aurex sold its first microsystem, many folks wanting decent quality sound from a system taking up only a small space have eschewed traditional hi-fi. In the case of the new McIntosh, there’s an extra dimension – if you pardon the pun.
 |  Jan 29, 2015  |  0 comments
There’s something odd about ATC’s SCM40 – it doesn’t look or feel like almost any other loudspeaker in its price class. It’s almost as if someone has forgotten to style it, like they’ve taken three drivers and put them in a box designed to do the job and then gone home. This is in marked contrast to many rivals, which have all kinds of stylistic flourishes. Despite looking rather ‘old school’ – albeit in a timeless sort of way – the SCM40 is actually a new model that came out in 2013, replacing a 2007 design of the same name that looked as if it had been launched in 1988! ATC, it seems, doesn’t pay too much attention to matters of fashion.

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