Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Clear Day Audio Cables

Clear Day Audio Cables

There have been pockets of audio enthusiasts in the audio community that have had a long-standing appreciation of the sonic characteristics of silver wire. Silver wire has infiltrated the modern audio landscape, and is used in a wide variety of audio systems. Perhaps the first group to enthusiastically proclaim their appreciation of silver cables was the Single Ended Triode crowd. Within a short time period, the vacuum tube enthusiasts took notice, and began experimenting with silver cables in their systems. It is not unheard of to see a kilowatt solid-state audio system being wired up with silver cabling. However, the main drawback to silver cables is the cost. Seasoned audiophiles know that silver wire is expensive, and are not considered a viable option for the frugal audio enthusiast. read more…

Aperion Audio 4T Two Channel and Hybrid 5.1 Speaker System

Aperion Audio 4T Two Channel and Hybrid 5.1 Speaker System

Specifications

4T Towers

  • Frequency Response (+/- 3dB) 55Hz -20,000Hz (+/- 6dB) 45Hz -22,000Hz Impedance 6 Ohms Sensitivity 86 dB
  • Recommended Power 25 – 150 Watts Tweeter1″ Audiophile-grade Silk-Dome Tweeter Midrange/Woofer 2 4″ Woven Fiberglass Composite Woofers
  • Driver Configuration 2-Way
  • Enclosure Type 3/4″ HDF, Ported
  • Dimensions 34″ H x 5″ W x 7.5″ D (Base: 8.25″ x 10″)
  • Weight 19 lbs
  • Price $325 ea.

Bravus 8” Subwoofer

  • Frequency Response -3dB, 35Hz – 180Hz — -6dB,
  • 30Hz – 180Hz
  • Amplifier Power 150W
  • Woofer Dual 8″ Aluminum Cone Drivers
  • Driver Configuration Dual Drivers
  • Enclosure Type Sealed and Internally Braced 3/4″ HDF Dimensions 13.5″ H x 12″ W x 12″ D (with feet at- tached)
  • Weight 33lbs
  • Price: $499

4B Rear Channel Speakers

  • Frequency Response (+/- 3dB) 120-20,000 Hz (+/- 6dB) 100-22,000 Hz
  • Impedance 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity 84 dB
  • Recommended Power 50-150 watts
  • Tweeter1″ Audiophile-grade Silk-Dome Tweeter
  • Midrange/Woofer 4″ Woven-Fiberglass Composite Woofer
  • Driver Configuration 2-Way Enclosure Type 3/4″ HDF, sealed Dimensions 8.75″ H x 5.33″ W x 5.5″ D Weight 6.5 lbs
  • Price: $130ea

4C Center Channel

  • Frequency Response (+/- 3dB) 80-20,000 Hz — (+/- 6dB) 70-22,000 Hz
  • Impedance 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity 84 dB
  • Recommended Power 25-150 Watts
  • Tweeter1″ Audiophile-grade Silk-Dome Tweeter
  • Midrange/Woofer 4″ Woven-Fiberglass Composite Woofer
  • Driver Configuration 2-Way
  • Enclosure Type 3/4″ HDF, sealed with one passive radiator
  • Dimensions 5.33″ H x 12.8″ W x 5.5″ D Weight 8 lbs
  • Price: $160

One of the interesting side benefits of doing audio reviews is that you get to find out ahead of the general public when new models and an entire series is being upgraded. Sometimes the manufacturer with reveal some of the details in an “off the record” conversation. I honor these requests, as I’m a firm believer that in order for society as a whole to become better it must start with keeping one’s own gentleman’s agreements. Last spring I was at Aperion Audio’s headquarters filling in the details for my review of the 533T’s. At that time John Wanderscheid informed me that the entire lineup of Aperion speakers were to be refreshed with all new components, only the cabinets would stay the same, except for a new subwoofer styling. read more…

Almarro A205A MKII Single-Ended Pentode Integrated Tube Amplifier

Almarro A205A MKII Single-Ended Pentode Integrated Tube Amplifier

Specifications:

  • Class of operation: A
  • Tube complement: 2x6BQ5/EL84, 1x12AX7
  • Connections: 2 RCA inputs, 8/16-ohm outputs, headphone output
  • Frequency response: Output power: 5wpc Power consumption:
  • Dimensions: 11.4″ W x 5.2″ H x 9.6″ D Weight: 16 lb
  • Available finishes: Flat black,
  • Price $960

Almarro audio products are the work of designer and founder Yoshihiro Muramatsu. The company is located in the small town of Iida-shi in the Nagano prefecture of Japan where there are twelve workers under Muramatsu-San’s guidance. Two of those workers are his sons and his wife. Even though it is a relatively small company it is making a big splash in the high-end audio field with their reasonably priced, yet well designed, product line of tube gear and speakers.

Almarro is a small company with a fascinating story. Muramatsu’s father had a woodworking shop that the company now takes full advantage of with its use of Ash and Cherry wood found in the Almarro product line. Before he started Almarro Muramatsu-San used to build traditional farmhouses and in fact still lives in one of them. Almarro’s sister company, Network Supply Corporation, designs and builds electronic communication devices. This contact gives them access to suppliers of electronic parts and a wide range of special vendor catalogs for use with the Almarro products. As Muramatsu-San has been known to say he prefers using these industrial parts in his products because they have good quality control. His thought is to use parts that are readily available, will last long, do the job both reliably and safely while maintaining an affordable price. read more…

A Fun Comparison: Three Fine Monitors

A Fun Comparison: Three Fine Monitors

There is a saying in Willamette valley of Oregon that fall is great, until mid-October, then the rains come and everyone disappears indoors until spring. During this time over the course of a few weekends I got a wild hair and decided to do a non-shootout comparison between three sets of fine budget monitors I had on hand: The Era Design 5’s, Polk LSi9’s, and the Totem Rainmakers.

One of the things that I wanted to try was getting immediate feedback when listening to all three. So, I crawled up into the rafters and dug out my Adcom GFS-3 speaker selector. Then I rounded up all the 12 gauge wire I had on hand and evened out the lengths. At this point I faced my first obvious variable, I have three sets of stands, each unique, and in three levels of quality: The reference Celestion si stands that are sand-filled. A pair of twin-metal post stands that work in a pinch; and finally, a cheap wooden pair. In order to be fair each speaker would get an opportunity to be heard on all three stands.

Now I can hear some of you already mentioning amplification. Luckily, I have tube, solid-state, and class d chip amp on hand. The source unit was my coveted modified Jolida JD100 cd player. Near the end of the experiment I added in the Totem Storm subwoofer, the Design 5’s and the Rainmakers showed the most improvement in richness and bass response.

With a research project of this type I recognized that multiple days would be needed in order to fairly compare. Mental fatigue is can be a significant issue when doing serious listening. I do my best to limit myself to two hours at a shot. Having the switch box saved a great deal of time as I didn’t need to spend time running back and forth swapping speaker connections.

read more…

Marigo Audio TR and VX Mystery Feet

Marigo Audio TR and VX Mystery Feet

Specifications:

  • Set of 3 TR Feet $659
  • Set of 3 VX Feet $699

Last spring while I was strolling from room to room at VSAC in Vancouver, Washington I came across some unusual accessories from Marigo Audio. First were some dots that looked like they belonged on a ice cream cone. But as I peered farther into the room I spotted what maybe some of the most interestinglooking bases for audio ever to be produced, the Mystery Feet in a couple of sizes.

Ron Hedrich, the owner and creator of the feet gave me a soft pitch on their attributes. He was more than confidant that the sonic improvement would speak for the Feet’s worthiness and price. Now Rob is a local Portland guy, therefore it was easy to accept the crop circle look to the Mystery Feet. After all, the most popular bumper sticker in city reads “Keep Portland Weird”. read more…

Pathos Acoustics Classic One MKIII integrated Hybrid Amplifier

Pathos Acoustics Classic One MKIII integrated Hybrid Amplifier

Specifications:

  • Type: Integrated amplifier with remote in Class A/AB, hybrid circuit with input tube stage, bridgeable
  • Output Power: 2 x 70W @ 8 Ohm, 2 x 130W @ 4 Ohm, 270W in bridged mode (mono)
  • Inputs: 5 line, including one balanced (XLR) Frequency response: 2Hz ÷ 100kHz
  • THD: <0.05% Signal/noise ratio: 90dB Input impedance: 100kOhm Retail Price: $2995
  • Warranty: Three years parts and labor (check with manufacturer for details)

U.S. Distributor:

  • Musical Surroundings
  • 5662 Shattuck Ave. Oakland, CA 94609 phone: 510.547.5006 fax: 510.547.5009

Italy is well known for its Ancient Roman architecture, rolling hills, fine wines, exquisite paintings, exotic cars, movie directors, clothing designers, incredible cities, romantic language, and friendly down to earth people. You may now add Pathos Acoustics to that illustrious list. Since I’m Italian, my wife has been after me for years to take some time off to fly our family over to Italy. When I do I will try my best to visit the city of Vicenza and hopefully meet with Gaetano Zanini, Gianni Borinato, and Paul Andriolo, the founders of Pathos Acoustics. They are building a new factory that will be five times as large as their existing one. The research laboratory will now be much larger allowing for the various production departments such as woodworking and metal craftsman to have their own spaces in which to work. The city of Vicenza is in the northeastern part of Italy 50 meters above sea level surrounded by hills and mountains. It has a population of about 119,000 people and is less than a one hours drive from Venice’s Marco Polo airport. Vicenza is well known for its ancient churches, palaces and other buildings as well as a wall that is still partially standing and at one time surrounded the entire city. If you get the chance go online and see the many beautiful pictures of the city of Vicenza. Peder Beckman of Musical Surroundings, their US distributor, sent me this picture of the Teatro Olimpico or “Olympic Theatre”, designed by Andrea Palladio. This was his last work, built in 1585, and is today the oldest surviving Renaissance Theater. I mention all this to give you an idea of the environment of a longstanding tradition of excellence in which Pathos Acoustics is working under. Knowing this it should be no surprise when you see this glorious integrated amplifier that is not only functional but also created with an eye towards beauty as well. Pathos Acoustics produces audio gear with looks that are magnificently inspired like an ancient palace, or an old stone church done in the tradition of the old renaissance masters.

read more…

LaJoie SJ1 Jumpers: Multi-Writer Mini-Review

LaJoie SJ1 Jumpers: Multi-Writer Mini-Review

Specifications:

  • Pure silver jumpers. 99.9995% purity.
  • Direct replacement for standard size pre-out/main-in jumpers. Custom Sizes Available
  • Price: $75

read more…

Grant Fidelity B-283 Tube Processor/Buffer

Grant Fidelity B-283 Tube Processor/Buffer

Specifications:

  • Tube Compliment: (2) 6J1
  • RCA Input & Output
  • Weight: 6 lb.
  • Dimensions: 8in W x 4in D x 6in H List price: $219
  • Sale price: $150

Addiction is a hard thing to break free of, especially when audio is involved. It all comes down to craving a certain type of presentation, sound, and tone. I’m no different than anybody else, in that I find my sonic craving is best filled when those three characteristics are covered in some fashion. My biggest addiction is the “warmth” that tubes impart on the musical signal. I’ve heard several explanations as to the cause of this auditory signature, so I won’t attempt to explain, etc., it just isn’t worth the hassle to be honest.

read more…

Bolder Cable Ultimate IV Squeezebox Power Supply

Bolder Cable Ultimate IV Squeezebox Power Supply

Specifications:

  • ACME Audio Silver Plated IEC connector, ACME Audio Silver Plated fuse holder, ACME Audio Silver Plated ceramic fuse, EI core transformer, He-Fred rectifiers, Jensen four pole capacitors and a Linear Tecnologies regulator. Includes the Nirvana Regulator upgrade.
  • Price $950

The application of power supply design is a topic that is frequently not fully appreciated by the typical audio enthusiast. Even individuals who are adventurous enough to pop the hood on their gear may yet have a limited grasp on what they are looking at. It is often assumed that if a piece of equipment has a large transformer and chunky filter caps, then it must have a high-grade power supply. While these two sub-components play an important role in the performance of a power supply, there are several other considerations that must be addressed in the overall architecture of the component layout. Designers must work through an appropriate grounding scheme, and smooth the ripple characteristics of AC current with the bridge rectification assembly. The electrical current needs of the circuit must be taken into account, and the power supply filter capacitance requirements are then generated. A high quality power supply directly affects the sonic characteristics of a component; therefore every part within the power supply has an influence on the overall sound. During the design process, it is necessary to listen to the effects of the parts used within a power supply, and find the appropriate blend of parts to achieve maximum performance. Since the audio circuit of any component manipulates the DC output of a power supply, it can be inferred that the overall performance of a piece is determined by the quality of the power supply stage.

read more…

Blue Circle Power Line Product

Blue Circle Power Line Product

Blue Circle Audio BC86MKIII Power Line Pillow $180

Technical Information:

  • 4 distinct wide ‘Q’ filters covering a wide range of frequencies.
  • Fully enclosed in a steel chassis for RF rejection.
  • Filtering is cumulative with the addition of one or more additional BC86s
  • MKII-broader range of filtration than the original BC86
  • MKIII-eliminated PC board hard wired -double the filtration of the MKII.

Blue Circle Audio BC86PUG filtered outlet cord

  • $180 USD
  • Technical Information:
  • The Pug is a BC86MKIII with a receptacle that allows it to be used with a component with a hardwired power cord

Blue Circle Audio BC86PC filtered power cord $180 USD

Technical Information:

  • The BC86PC is simply a BC86MKIII inserted in a hospital grade power cord with an IEC connector on one end
  • Blue Circle Audio BC62 power cord 6 feet (1.83 m) long
  • $280 USD plus $30 per foot for additional feet

Technical Information:

  • 10-gauge basic power cord with a hospital grade male plug on one end and in IEC plug on the other
  • Blue Circle Audio RR2
  • Innerkip, Ontario, Canada NOJ 1MO
  • Telephone +1 (519) 469-3215
  • Fax +(519) 469-3782

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away . . .”(quote from the original Star Wars movie) To the north of a country called America lived a young man who for 20 years toiled to design and manufacture quality handcrafted audio products for the forces of good (audiophiles) against the forces of evil (companies of mass produced products seeking profit over quality). This young man, Gilbert Yeung, with the power of his force through his philosophy of “Simplicity, Artistry, and Music” raged war against the evil empire.

Blue Circle Audio is a company located in a little town in Canada called Innerkip. Looking at a map it is near Lake Erie about equal distance between Toronto, Canada and Buffalo, New York. I asked him how he managed to set-up his factory in Innerkip when he told me the following story.

read more…

Stager Silver Solids Interconnects

Stager Silver Solids Interconnects

Specifications:

  • Design: Unshielded symmetrical pair Ultra low 11 pF/ft. Capacitance.
  • Wire: .999 pure silver 24 ga. (.020″ diameter) solid core wire.
  • Insulator: Translucent Teflon.
  • Connectors: Canare F-10 RCA connectors. Machined solid brass center, Teflon insulator, 24K gold plated contacts, spring strain relief.
  • Construction: Lead free silver solder at all contacts. Color coded Polyolefin heat shrink at ends. Caig ProGold coating applied to silver for lasting anti-tarnish protection, and to connectors for perfect electrical contact.
  • Price: $129.00 -1 Meter Pair ($80.00 per additional meter)

When a product is designed correctly and does everything right, you really don’t need to mess with it much. It seems to me that should be the way things are supposed to work, and I love those types of products. The Stager Silver solids have been built the same way using the same products by the same guy for over a decade and they sound awesome. A question that will go unanswered not only in this review but also likely for the rest of my life I believe is “Why do companies constantly create new product lines?” I think the answer is that people want the latest greatest product, but is it truly better and at what cost in the long run? read more…

Manley Stingray Integrated Tube Amplifier

Manley Stingray Integrated Tube Amplifier

Features And Specifications:

  • 4 x Stereo Line RCA Inputs TRIODE -UL Switching RECORDING OUT SUBWOOFER OUT TAPE LOOP (Insert) with Bypass switch
  • Passive Noble Volume and Balance Controls
  • All-Vacuum Tube Lo-feedback Stereo Integrated Design Output Tubes: 8 x EL84 Ships with Russian NOS EL84M (aka 6Pi14Pi-EB) (We are out of Ei 6BQ5)
  • Driver Tubes: 2 x 6414 Ships with GE or RAYTHEON JAN NOS USA or 6414W
  • Input Tubes: 2 x 12AT7EH Ships with: 12AT7EH large plate Electro-Harmonix Russian
  • Maximum Output Power UL mode: 40 Watts x 2 channels
  • 1.5% THD @ 1kHz
  • Maximum Output Power TRIODE mode: 20 Watts x 2 channels
  • Frequency Response: 15 Hz -40 kHz, -1dB Gain: 37 dB at max Volume
  • Input Sensitivity: 185 mV in = 50 watts out into 5 ohms Input Sensitivity Triode: 66mV in = 1W into 8 ohms Input Sensitivity UL: 53mV in = 1W into 8 ohms
  • S/N Ratio: typically 87 dB A-WGT, 20Hz-20KHz
  • Input Impedance: 50 Kohm nominal
  • Optimum Speaker Load: 5 ohms
  • Actual Output Impedance at 20Hz: 2.8 ohms at 100Hz: 2.6 ohms at 1KHz: 2 ohms
  • Damping Factor: 5
  • Power Consumption Idle: 200W
  • Maximum Power Consumption at Full Power: 370W MAINS Fuses:
  • 100~120VAC operation: MDL 3 AMP / 250 Volt SLO-BLO
  • 220~240VAC operation: MDL 1.5 AMP / 250 Volt SLO-BLO
  • B+ FUSES (2): MDA 1/4 AMP, 250 Volt SLO-BLO, Ceramic. (Located internally)
  • Power Supply: is factory set for 100V, 120V or 220-240VAC operation for original destination country’s mains voltage.
  • Operating Mains Voltage: changeable with power transformer re-wiring on PCB and fuse value change. Mains Voltage Frequency: 50~ 60Hz
  • Power Cord: Detachable IEC standard.
  • Appropriate power cord supplied for destination country
  • Dimensions: W= 19″, D=14″, H=5 ½” Shipping Weight: 30lbs.
  • Price: $2250

Here I go again putting on my diving gear so I can take a playful romp with my friends in the ocean. In the October I wrote about the Manley Labs Shrimp tube preamplifier ($1880) and what an amazing journey it is to browse through their online website. I was so taken by the Shrimp that EveAnna Manley, the President of Manley Labs, offered me up another one of her friendly sea creature products for review. This time instead of the Shrimp it was the Stingray. The Stingray is a tube integrated line level tube amplifier (phono stage not included), priced at only $2250. As of late I have been reviewing quite a lot of integrated amplifiers. I find that they are a great alternative for those who do not want to pay the bigger money for separates. Couple this with taking up less space in our audio cabinets, the need to buy less interconnects, power cords and the ability to use smaller power conditioners and you wind up saving a good deal of your hard earned money.

On your amazing journey through their vast website it is in the Manley audiophile hifi gear page that you will find the Stingray and other home audio equipment. Once there you will notice that Manley Labs just loves tubes, which is quite evident by the amount of tube gear they are offering to the public. The great thing about a manufacturer that has so many tube pieces is that they understand how to design and to build them. Tube equipment is their bread and butter, not just an afterthought to fill in the product line so they can say that they have a little bit of something for everyone. Their confidence in the finished product is evident when Manley Labs stands behind the Shrimp with a 90-day limited warranty that is extended to a full five years (The warranty is to the original purchaser and must be accompanied with proof of the date of purchase.) and all you need to do is to fill out the warranty card and send it in before 30 days expire. Five years, you’ve got to love it in an era where one to three years is quite common.

read more…

Audio Space Reference 3.1 Integrated Tube Amplifier

Audio Space Reference 3.1 Integrated Tube Amplifier

Specifications:

  • Input Impedance: >56K ohm (RCA/Direct In) Output Impedance: 4, 8, 16 ohm
  • Output Power: 22W/ch in Triode; 40W/ch in Ultralinear (Class-A push-pull) T.H.D.: < 1%
  • Input Sensitivity: >200mV, 3-5mV (mm phono in) S/N Ratio: > 80dB (hum noise < 3mV)
  • Tube Compliment: 4 x KT-88, , 2 x 6SN7, 4 x 12AX7 (ECC83) 
  • Dimension: 18.5″ x 16″ x 8″ (DxWxH), Weight: 65 lbs
  • Price: $3,390

Audio Space is an established Hong Kong-based manufacturer of tube amplifiers whose products are gaining increasing attention in the mainstream US audio press following generally positive but sporadic reviews over the last five years, and the sort of teasing one-liners one finds in articles summarizing reviewers’ experiences at various audio shows. After reading that Albert Von Schweikert himself felt these amps mated particularly well with his speakers, and as an owner of a pair of VR5s, I was delighted to have the opportunity, courtesy of the ever-en-couraging Alfie Lew of Audio Space, to place a Ref 3.1 integrated in my system. read more…

Elemental Designs A6-6T6 Monitors

Elemental Designs A6-6T6 Monitors

Specifications: 

  • Max Power-200w Min Power-15w
  • Nominal Impedance-6 Ohm
  • Sensitivity: 89.6db
  • Tweeter: 1.3 inch Silk Dome Midrange Drivers: (2) 6 inch Poly Cabinet type: Dual vented
  • Frequency Response: 50-22Khz =/-3db Measurements: 22.4 in H x 8.65 in W x 9 in D Weight: 42lbs pair
  • Price: $365 pair

Growing up in a small community my parents did all their business with friends to be honest. The local Sears catalogue store maybe had a hundred things on display; everything else took a week or so to come in from the regional distribution center. Our TV’s and even the family console stereo came from the appliance store on Main Street. To this day I passionately avoid big box stores at all costs. I may pay a bit more, but I never have to make a second trip from receiving the wrong item. I mention all this for a reason; I have purposefully avoided buying equipment from any place other than mom and pop shops. I’ve always been able to check out pieces over the weekend; or, if I purchased a unit and didn’t like it, I have been able to exchange for something more pleasing. That may not seem fair to the retailers, but I never buy new, instead I’ve focused on demo pieces just to save a dollar or two. read more…

WordPress.org

Copyright © 2000-2018 HighFidelityReview – Hi-Fi systems, DVD-Audio and SACD reviews - HQ Hi-Fi Review Theme by ThemeShift.com