Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

ACI Emerald XL mini-monitors

ACI Emerald XL mini-monitors

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 70-20kHz ± 3db anechoic,
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms, minimum impedance 7 ohms, low reactance
  • Sensitivity: 86db 1 watt/1 meter Dimensions: 10″ H x 5 7/8″ W x 8 1/4″ D Weight: 11 lbs each
  • Tweeter: 1″ silk dome with ferro-fluid and aperiodic second chamber
  • Bass-Midrange: 4″ cast-frame with paper cone, rubber surround; long throw, low distortion motor system with vented pole piece
  • Recommended RMS Power: 20 to 150 watts per channel
  • Bass-loading: Fourth order, low Q, rear ported system. May also be used as second order sealed system.
  • Cabinet: Full 3/4″” MDF with extensive interlocking bracing structure. Finishes: Satin Black, Piano Black, Inlaid Cherry
  • Price: $700 or $800

Sometimes I just wish that every manufacturer in audio set their design goal to follow the definition of “seductive”. It’s one of the few words that is a part of the goal of every audio fanatic. We crave hearing the sound that transports us away from the realities of such insanity as the panicked herd mentality now driving Wall Street. As a reviewer, it’s a bit easy to become focused on the minutia and forget about finding the bliss in listening. But every once in a while, a product arrives on my doorstep that forces me to let go and just enjoy. The ACI Emerald XL mini monitors are such a package and belong in Webster’s as an example of seductive. read more…

Acoustic Revive: RCA-1.OPA (RCA Interconnects) XLR-1.OPAII (XLR Interconnects) SPC-PA Speaker cable

Acoustic Revive: RCA-1.OPA (RCA Interconnects) XLR-1.OPAII (XLR Interconnects) SPC-PA Speaker cable

Specifications:

RCA-1.OPA (RCA Interconnects)

  • PCOCC-A Single Core Interconnect Cable
  • Cable Length: 1mm Pair
  • Price: $900

XLR-1.OPAII (XLR Interconnects)

  • PCOCC-A Single Core Interconnect Cable
  • Cable Length: 1mm Pair
  • Price: $975

SPC-PA Speaker cable

  • PCOCC-A Single Core oval Speaker Cable
  • Speaker Cable Length: 2-meters
  • Price: $1650
  • 3-meter length
  • Price: $1950
  • Available in Bi-Wire, Y-rag (spade) or Banana termination
  • Ask for quote

Power Reference (Power Supply Cable) PCOCC-A Single Core Interconnect Cable

  • Custom made version of C-037 (connector) & P-037(plug) terminations
  • Power Cable Length: 2-meters
  • Price: $725
  • Manufacturer: SEKIGUCHI MACHINE SALES CO., LTD

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Acoustic Revive: RGC-24 Ground Conditioner SIP-8F, BSIP-2F Short Pins IP-2F Vibration Protect Pins CS2F Outlet Stabilizer

Acoustic Revive: RGC-24 Ground Conditioner SIP-8F, BSIP-2F Short Pins IP-2F Vibration Protect Pins CS2F Outlet Stabilizer

Specifications:

RGC-24 Ground Conditioner

  • Dimensions: 88 X 18mm (main body) Weight: 384g
  • Length of cable: 50cm
  • RCA plug connection adapter included
  • Price: $450 each

SIP-8F, BSIP-2F, IP-2F Pins

  • Length: 32mm (including hot pin) X Dimension 11.5mm
  • Weight: 9.2g
  • Eight SIP-8F short pins to a package (for RCA
  • input terminals)
  • Two BSIP-2F short pins to a package (for XLR input terminals)
  • Two IP-2F vibration protect pins to a package (for RCA output terminals)
  • Price: $225 per package each

CS2F Outlet Stabilizer

  • none given at the website Price: $175 each
  • Manufacturer: SEKIGUCHI MACHINE SALES CO., LTD

The components from Acoustic Revive that I am about to review today can either be looked upon as a system used in unison, or individually if your budget or needs do not allow. Those of you who have been reading my reviews, starting with my initial introduction to Acoustic Revive products in the September 2008 issue of “Affordable Audio”, will by now know something about the company. For those of you who are new to Acoustic Revive products let me sum a few things up rather quickly. This company is very well know in Japan, where it is located, and word of its products have now spread worldwide as reviews continue to come forth telling of their excellence. Acoustic Revive makes audio accessories that continue to amaze me with their positive effects on my audio system and their relatively modest pricing on most products. When you look at the world of high-end audio and what people are charging Acoustic Revive is quite reasonable indeed. For what they do and the quality of the product, versus what they charge I consider them a bargain. No, they are not “inexpensive” in terms of the bottom of the rung pricing in audio, but when you look at them in the context of being high-end products, they appear to me a relative bargain. read more…

Budget Monitor Comparison: A Second Helping

Budget Monitor Comparison: A Second Helping

In the December I wrote about a rather entertaining comparison between three highly regarded budget monitors: Era Design 5, Polk LSi9, and the Totem Rainmakers. After the issue was uploaded I began to get emails about the comparison. A few were disappointed that I didn’t do a double blind shootout, but the rest were very positive and appreciative that I delved “out of the box” a bit. During late January I decided that a second round was in order with three fresh monitors. However, I decided to throw a bit of a curve ball into the mix. Instead of 3 current models, I narrowed it down to two: the newly updated Aperion Audio 6B, and the Swan 2.1SE. The third challenger I pulled from the vintage world, the Polk Audio 5jr. I recognize that the Polk 5jr’s were at a disadvantage, but on the other hand, since vintage gear is a part of A$$A’s DNA, it was quite fitting that they be a part of the comparison. Besides, they were just hanging around in my garage awaiting a future project to veneer them.

read more…

Eficion Ficion S20 Loudspeaker System

Eficion Ficion S20 Loudspeaker System

Specification:

  • Design: 2-way vented-box. Frequency Response: 65Hz-40kHz. Sensitivity: 88dB/2.83V/1m.
  • Impedance: 8 ohms (minimum 7.5 ohms). Power Requirement: 50-100W recommended.
  • Tweeter: Purified aluminum ribbon tweeter with pleated structure.
  • Woofer: 5.2″ polymer compound cone. Enclosure: MDF with real wood veneer.
  • Loudspeaker Dimensions (HWD): 13.8″ X 7.4″ X 7.5″. Price: $650 pr.

The Eficion Ficion S20 is a two way high quality speaker system that Eficion sells as a surround speaker. Fortunately Eficion recently opened a showroom in the Redmond Town Center in Redmond Washington just a short 16 mile drive from my home and Peigen Jiang the owner and designer of Eficion loudspeakers was able to meet with me and supply a set speakers for evaluation. I initially went to visit Peigen and hear his incredible sounding Eficion Ficion F300s (which are worth a visit to his shop if you are anywhere near Redmond Washington) but I was impressed when I heard these little speakers so I decided to do a review for A$$A. read more…

Audio Horizons TB5.0n Tube Buffer

Audio Horizons TB5.0n Tube Buffer

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 100kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion THD): 0.05% @-20dBV Dynamic Range: Better than 110 dB
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 117 dBv
  • Channel Separation: 90 dB @ 1 kHz
  • 65 dB @ 10 kHz
  • Gain -1 dB Price: $725

“Tube buffer or not tube buffer? That is the question”

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Acoustic Revive: REM-8 EMF Canceler and RCI-3 Cable Insulator

Acoustic Revive: REM-8 EMF Canceler and RCI-3 Cable Insulator

Specifications:

  • size: W80mm X D105mm X H14mm Two size AAA batteries included Price: $550
  • RCI-3 Cable Insulator

Specifications:

  • size: W80mm X D64mm X H30mm
  • Accepts cables size up to 40mm Wide X 30mm High
  • Price $150 Each

If you are looking to squeeze the most out of your audio products, you need look no further than the audio accessories from Acoustic Revive. This is after all their specialty. No they do not make amplifiers, speakers, DAC’s, Cd players, transports, tuners or even preamplifiers. What they do however, is find ways to get the most out of the above mentioned equipment without the need for you to purchase new gear. Do you have an amplifier that you are attached to and would rather keep than to replace with something else, yet you feel the need to upgrade for a different sound? Fear not for Acoustic Revive has many a product available for you to do just that. Today I will tell you of my adventures with their REM-8 EMF Canceler and RCI-3 Cable Insulator. I say adventure because I feel that experimenting with these products is just that, an adventure, a journey of great joy that one would like to embark on. read more…

Acoustic Revive: RIQ-5010, RIQ-5010W Insulators

Acoustic Revive: RIQ-5010, RIQ-5010W Insulators

Specifications: 

  • Diameter: 50mm Thickness: 10mm
  • Load Resistance: 200kg (1 pieces)
  • Please take care that the RIQ-5010 is weak in an acute-angled load
  • Four pieces to a package
  • Price: $625
  • RIQ-5010W Pure Quartz Insulator

Specifications: 

  • Diameter: 30mm Thickness: 10mm
  • Load Resistance: 200kg (1 pieces) Four pieces to a package
  • Price: $625
  • QR-8 Quartz Resonator Specifications: Diameter:10mm X 3mm Weight: 0.6g
  • Eight pieces to a package
  • Eight replacement adhesive sheet attached
  • Price: $125

Once more I am looking at some fine products from the Japanese manufacturer Acoustic Revive. Today we are going to examine a few somewhat more pricier audio accessories with the quartz RIQ-5010 and RIQ-5010W insulators, as each set of four retails for $625. To balance this out I will also examine the QR-8 quartz resonators, that come eight a package for only $125 a box. Sometimes with audio equipment it pays to wait when judging price until you weight it against actual performance per dollar. While $625 is not inexpensive if it makes a worthwhile improvement in audio quality then it is worth purchasing. Each Acoustic Revive product that I have reviewed, so far, seems to compliment the others in their approach to bringing a truly organic, relaxed sound to my audio system. When I was asked to have a chance to experience these products in my review system I naturally agreed and awaited their arrival with great anticipation. I must say that at $625 for a set of only four insulators I had my reservations, but still I reminded myself to keep an open mind because after all these were Acoustic Revive audio accessories. read more…

Revising My Reference System

Revising My Reference System

As an , part of my nature is to tweak my system continually to improve the sound and hence get closer to the music. Until recently my reference system has consisted of a VPI HW-19 MKIV turntable, Audio Research SP16 vacuum tube preamplifier, Conrad Johnson MV60SE vacuum tube amplifier, Primare D30.2 CD player and Paradigm Signature S2 monitors mounted on Target, lead and sand filled stands. Additionally my speaker cables of choice are a 10 foot pair of Discovery Cables Essential speaker cables and I also use Discovery Essence interconnects throughout the system. I have had my turntable set up using a Rega RB600 tone arm and a Benz Ruby 2 MC Cartridge running through a Quicksilver Audio MC step up transformer. My listening room is located in our basement which is 13’ X 18’ with 7’8” H ceilings. I have positioned the speakers out from the rear wall 32” and away from the side walls about a foot, toed in sharply, on axis to the listening position. read more…

Audioengine AW2 Wireless iPod Transmitter/Receiver

Audioengine AW2 Wireless iPod Transmitter/Receiver

Specifications:

  • Range (typical): 30ft (9 meters) THD+N (A+weighted) < 0.03%
  • Wi-Fi Frequency Band: 2.4-2.4835 GHz
  • Latency: < 20mSec
  • Dimensions (each): 100 x 30 x 10 mm
  • Audio frequency response: 20Hz to 22KHz (+/- 1.5 dB) Output Voltage: 830 mV
  • Channel Separation: 65 dB Price: $169

Some companies just like some people have it, a knack, an ability to hit just the right button at the right time. Making them the envy of everyone around them. My best friend has mojo, as does Apple Inc., BMW in this decade has ridden the mojo express as well. In audio, the call is much tougher, but I would like to nominate Audioengine for this distinction. The gang from one of the three places I like to live in America, Fort Collins, Colorado, have an absolute knack for hitting the bull’s eye on everything they bring to market, both in design and sales. Their first three products, the A5 and A2 powered speakers and the AW1 wireless transmitter, have received unqualified praise throughout the audio/iPod community.

read more…

SVSound SBS-01 Loudspeakers

SVSound SBS-01 Loudspeakers

Specifications:

  • Speaker type: Sealed Bookshelf
  • Frequency Range: 68Hz – 20kHz ± 3dB Sensitivity: 85dB
  • Dimensions: 12” X 7” X 9.5” Woofer: 1 – 5¼”
  • Tweeter: 1 – 1” Silk Dome
  • Weight 11 lbs (Each)
  • Enclosure: MDF laminated with textured vinyl
  • Price: $225.00

I am not a frequent poster to the large assortment message boards available to people these days. I do read them while I don’t have enough free time be a particularly active participant. While reading the A$$A Circle on AudioCircle.com one night I stumbled across the “What you would like to see reviewed” section. I thought it was pretty cool that I already had the DIY Paradise Monica DAC that had been requested, but I scanned the rest to see if anything else caught my eye. During this time I was also looking for a loudspeaker company whose products were in the ultra-affordable category for another project that never really materialized, so the request for an SVS review struck my fancy. I’m sure a complete home theater review would have made the manufacturer happier. I was looking for an inexpensive pair of sealed 2-way bookshelf speakers. Being the frugal audiophile I really wanted to know what a couple hundred bucks could get me. read more…

Homegrown Audio Silver Lace and DNA Interconnects

Homegrown Audio Silver Lace and DNA Interconnects

Specifications:

  • DNA proprietary substrate that optimizes conductor placement and reduces microphonic vibrations all natural cotton dielectric used throughout solid silver 99.997% pure conductors
  • LOK Silver Point termination (single ended) or Neutrik Silver plated
  • XLR (balanced)
  • Each set of DNA cables is given an individual serial number for quality assurance
  • Price: .5 meter $525, 1 meter $575 (LOK)
  • Silver Lace
  • Optimized 8 strand braided geometry
  • Individually insulated, ultra fine solid silver conductors
  • FEP Teflon dielectric
  • LOK™ rhodium over silver plated locking-barrel RCA connectors
  • Price: .5 meter $245pr, 1 meter $280pr

 

 

Homegrown Audio is one of a handful of companies that have brought silver audio cables within the financial reach of the everyday audio enthusiast. During the early years of its existence, HGA sold a lot of product to the DIY market. As a whole, the DIY crowd is a tough group to please, and their acceptance of HGA wire is a testament to the overall quality of their merchandise. In a phone conversation, Holly Frye relayed stories about the beginnings of Homegrown Audio. It was a captivating story of how an enterprising group of college students formed a successful audio company.1 As its name implies, Homegrown Audio has a philosophy that is markedly different than other “big-time” cable manufacturers. Homegrown Audio’s strategy is to keep the prices of its products affordable, and reinvest its profits into the company. If you turn the pages on any major audio print magazine, you will not find any glossy color ads for their products. Cable manufacturers are often accused of soldering ends on “off the reel” wire, hiding it in a fancy jacket, and raking in the profits. Homegrown Audio offers a well-crafted product that is built in-house, and pricing it within the reach of the average audio enthusiast. read more…

Sony MDR-EX71

Sony MDR-EX71

A lot of people (including me) who decide to up grade their standard ear plugs, choose initially for the Sony MDR-EX71. They do this, because the MDR-EX71 has an excellent reputation for price versus quality. The insulation, however, is not as good as in the more expensive models, which makes them less suitable for usage in a noisy environment. On the other hand these IEM are a useful leg up to the high-end IEM and a fine way to find out whether in ear is to your liking. read more…

Paradigm Monitor 7 v6 Floor Standing Speakers

Paradigm Monitor 7 v6 Floor Standing Speakers

Specifications:

  • Design MagneShieldTM optional for Black Ash only, 4-driver, 2-1/2-way bass reflex, quasi-3rd-order resistive port
  • Crossover 3rd-order electro-acoustic at 2.0 kHz, 2nd-order electro-acoustic at 700 Hz (lower bass drivers)
  • High-Frequency Driver 25-mm (1 in) H-PTDTM dome, ferrofluid cooled
  • Bass / Midrange Driver(s) 140-mm (5-1/2 in) M-ICPTM cone, 25-mm (1 in) voice coil, GRIPTM chassis
  • Bass Driver Two 140-mm (5-1/2 in) carbon-infused polypropylene cones, 25-mm (1 in) voice coils, GRIPTM chassis Low Frequency Extension 41 Hz (DIN) Frequency Response:
  • On-Axis ±2 dB from 54 Hz -20 kHz
  • 30° Off-Axis ±2 dB from 54 Hz – 15 kHz Sensitivity – Room / Anechoic 94 dB / 91 dB Suitable Amplifier Power Range 15 – 180 watts Maximum Input Power 130 watts
  • Impedance Compatible with 8 ohms
  • Internal Volume 25.7 L / 0.90 cu ft
  • Height, Width, Depth 93.8 cm x 16.5 cm x 29.8 cm
  • 36-15/16 in x 6-1/2 in x 11-3/4 in
  • Weight (Unpacked) 33.6 kg / 74 lb per pair Finishes Wengé, Cherry, Rosenut, Black Ash Price: $750

Many years ago, I owned a pair of Paradigm Export Monitors that I bought from a college student. He had done a bit too much partying and discovered that you can’t pay rent with deposit money from beer cans. I remember being very pleased with my purchase and I enjoyed them right up to the day they went into storage. I never saw them again, as my locker, along with a few others, was broken into while I was on a 6 month job site out of state. Wanting to start fresh, I went with another brand of speakers and equipment when I got the insurance money. Since then, much has happened with both Paradigm and myself.

read more…

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