Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Peavey IPR Series IPR 1600 Amplifier

Peavey IPR Series IPR 1600 Amplifier

More power/less weight are seemingly contradictory, yet awe-inspiring, dual features that are increasingly found in the most innovative and surprisingly affordable modern live sound amplifiers.

Case in point: Peavey’s IPR 1600 — the entry-level model of its lightweight, lowcost, and most-efficient Class-D sound reinforcement amplifier line — is a 2-channel, 800W per channel (2 ohms)/530W per channel (4 ohms) live sound amp with a net weight of around 7 lbs. at $299 street. read more…

Focal CMS 40, CMS Subwoofer

Focal CMS 40, CMS Subwoofer

Hooray for the little guys: Though they are small in stature, the Focal CMS 40 near-field studio monitors — along with the accompanying not-so-small Focal CMS Subwoofer — pack a one-two wallop of clarity and affordability. The CMS 40 is the little brother to the increasingly admired CMS 50 and CMS 65 (both of which also pair up with the CMS Sub) but whatever you do, don’t discount the CMS 40 as a tiny, unwanted tagalong.

For those of you not in the know, Focal (pronounced fo-kal) was founded in 1979 in Saint-Etienne, France by Jacques Mahul. Mainly known for audiophile speakers and speaker components throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, in the late ‘90s Focal moved into high-end car audio systems and even manufactured speaker and driver assemblies for pro audio companies (such as KRK for its very popular 6000, 7000 and 9000 series of monitors before the company was sold and then turned to China for parts). read more…

Aperion Audio Intimus 6T Towers

Aperion Audio Intimus 6T Towers

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response- (+/- 3dB) 36-20,000 Hz
  • Impedance- 6 Ohms
  • Sensitivity- 91db
  • Recommended Power- 50-300 watts
  • Tweeter- 1” Silk Dome
  • Woofer- (2) 6.5” Woven Fiberglass Composite
  • Driver Configuration- 2 way
  • Enclosure Type- 1” HDF, Ported, Medium Cherry Veneer or High Gloss Black
  • Dimensions- 41.5” H x 7.75” W x 15.5 D (Base 10.5″x18.25″)
  • Weight: 70 lbs.
  • Price: $1390 pair.

There is a bias in regards to big speakers. We expect them to do everything much better. The listener’s surprise value is lessened with each inch of added cabinet volume. The only way to gain back the surprise factor is by price comparison with another speaker of equal physical stature. When it comes to price + sound quality litmus test the budget audio hobbyists are always looking to add another model to their weapons list in debates with those who endlessly chase sonic nirvana.

For the past three months I’ve had the opportunity to spend time listening to the Aperion Audio Intimus 6T tower. Unlike its smaller brethren, the smooth 5T, and killer 4T mini-tower, the 6T is a bit imposing from the side with its 15.5 inch depth. What is does share is the beautiful medium cherry veneer, or high-gloss piano black finish attached to a simple, yet very effective and sturdy base with screw in brass spikes. Being an Internet-Direct speaker manufacturer the 6T’s came double boxed and virtually encased in Styrofoam. I would be rude not acknowledge the traditional purple felt drawstring bag. read more…

SV Sound MBS-1 Speakers and PC12-Plus Subwoofer

SV Sound MBS-1 Speakers and PC12-Plus Subwoofer

Specifications

  • Speakers: MBS-01
  • Type: Two-way Two-Driver, stand-mount
  • Tweeter (size, type): 1″, Scan-Speak AirCirc silk dome Woofer (size, type): 6.5″, Peerless Nomex cone Nominal Impedance: 6 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 84db
  • Recommended Amp Power (watts): 20–250
  • Selectable Tweeter Attenuation: 0db or -3db
  • Frequency Response: 48 Hz – 25 kHz ± 3 dB
  • Available Finishes: Black vinyl with Gloss Black, Rosenut, or Oak side panels
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 10.3″ x 16″ x 13″ Weight (pounds): 27
  • Price: $948/pair
  • Subwoofer: PC12-Plus
  • Connections: Line-level RCA, Speaker Level Binding Posts
  • Enclosure Type: Sealed or vented, adjustable
  • Woofer (size, type): 12″, 12.4 Plus Woofer w/ Composite pulp/fiberglass cone
  • Power Rating (watts): 525 RMS, BASH Crossover Bypass: Yes
  • Available Finishes: Black fabric Dimensions: 40” (tall), 16” (diameter) Weight: 60 Pounds
  • Price: $949
  • SV Sound 877 626-5623

SV Sound has a long and successful history of building American made, world class subwoofers at below reasonable prices; and before this review I had not had the pleasure of hearing that reputation for myself. After a chat with Ron Stimpson, we concluded that an upgraded version of an SVS classic, the PC12-Plus subwoofer, as well as their newer foray into the above 120hz world, the MBS-1 monitor speaker, would make for a nice speaker system and review article. A week later, I came home to two large boxes in my entryway. Luckily, the PC12-Plus is small enough that it does not require freight shipping like the larger SVS models; i.e. PB12-Plus. read more…

Matrix mini-i Balanced DAC

Matrix mini-i Balanced DAC

Specifications:

Digital Input:

  • Toslink: 32-192kHz
  • BNC: 32-192kHz
  • USB: 44.1-48kHz
  • XLR: 32-192kHz (AES/EBU)

Digital Output:

  • RCA S/PDIF: 32-192kHz
  • Support AC3, DTS

Analog Output:

  • Pair of unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR
  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 120dB
  • Dynamic Range: 118dB
  • Distortion 0.0002% (1kHz)
  • Stereo Separation: 110dB
  • Power: 110v A/C via standard IEC power cable
  • Weight: 2 kg
  • Device Dimension: 205 x 155 x 48mm (L x W x H)
  • MSRP: $349.95
  • Distributor: eBay User TAM’S AUDIO

The quest for a budget balanced digital to analog converter has been an on going for quiet some time. The benefits on an external DAC for a stereo application are well known in the audio industry, it just comes down to how much one is willing to spend and what features they are looking for. The first balanced DAC that I was able to get my ears on was the great Neko Audio D100. This piece of equipment is basically flawless, but since it lacks a USB input, may not be perfectly suited for some PC audio listeners. After many hours on the internet looking at countless balanced DAC from many manufactures, I happened upon the Matrix mini-i DAC sold by Tam’s Audio on eBay. read more…

Fritz Carbon 7 Speakers

Fritz Carbon 7 Speakers

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 39Hz-20Khz +/-3 db
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms nominal
  • Sensitivity: 88 db (1 Watt, 2.83 V @ 1 Meter) Bass/Midrange Driver: 7″ Carbon Graphite Fiber/Paper
  • Pulp composite cone with non-resonant low loss butyl rubber surround & Kapton voice coil former & die cast frame with massive magnet, bass reflex loadedrear port
  • Tweeter: 28 mm 1.1 inch hand coated textile soft dome with non-resonant rear chamber & ferro-fluid cooling, aluminum face plate, SE model upgrades to the revelator tweeter
  • Crossover: Series crossover without any capacitors in the circuit with the tweeter
  • Dimensions/Weight: 16”H x 9”W x 12”D, 30 lbs (each)
  • Recommended Power: 30 -150 Watts RMS, without clipping
  • Price: $1750

Well to start out, I thought I provide a bit of background about myself. Aside from the occasional post on sites such as head-fi, audiocircle, audiokarma, and audiogon, this is my first attempt at a review. I’ve been a life-long music lover, but never seriously studied music or played an instrument.

About 10 years ago, I began to seriously get into music. Work was becoming very stressful and on advice from my doctor, he suggested spending some dedicated time each day meditating or listening to music. Having tried meditation before, with limited success, I opted for the second choice. With a limited budget, I started out first with headphones and a good amplifier based on some recommendations from www.head-fi.org. It was also during this time I grew to love classical music. As time past and my budget grew, it was time to look into getting a 2-channel speakerbased system. Headphones are fantastic for many kinds of music – especially chamber music – but lack the presence and that “at the concert” feel for large orchestral works or rock music. read more…

Acoustic Revive lineup: TB-38, RST-38 and RAF-4

Acoustic Revive lineup: TB-38, RST-38 and RAF-4

Specifications

TB-38 Isolation Platform

  • Cabinet and Top Board made with Finnish Birch plywood
  • Filled with Natural Crystal Particles Dimensions : 347 x 215 x 45(H) mm Effective size: 298 x 169mm
  • Price: $895

RST-38 Isolation Platform

  • Cabinet and Top Board made with Finnish Birch plywood
  • Filled with Natural Crystal Particles Dimensions : 480 x 380 x 47(H) mm each Effective size: 432 x 332mm each
  • Weight: 5.90kg each
  • Price: $1100 (each)

RAF-48 Air-Floating Platform Board

  • Cabinet and Top Board made with Finnish Birch plywood
  • Dimensions : 482 x 382 x 45(H) mm
  • Effective size: 430 x 330mm
  • Weight: approx. 4Kg
  • Max. load capacity: 60kg
  • Air filling terminal for use with Air Pump that comes in Black or White
  • Price: $2250
  • US Distributor: The Lotus Group
  • Phone: 415-897-8884

This review started out by sending off an email to inquire if there were any new products appearing in the Acoustic Revive lineup. A few days later I was told there just happened to be three products about to be introduced and so it appeared my timing was perfect. Mr. Ken Ishiguro and his design team created these new items to aide audiophiles cope with an audio systems arch enemy, vibration, yet each one attacks the problem from the perspective of different source components. read more…

Morrow Audio Cables

Morrow Audio Cables

Specifications:

  • MA4 XLR Interconnects, $599 1m pair
  • SP4 Biwire speaker cables, $729 2m pair, $60

The quickest way to start an argument among audiophiles is to raise the subject of sonic differences in cables. The often hard to conceive cost differences between what are essentially pieces of wire transmitting the signal from component to component tend to draw fire on every audio forum, and it is never long before someone points out the lack of empirical evidence from any well-controlled listening test that can point to repeatably recognized sonic differences between two wires. And heaven help you if you try to explain to a non-audiophile why you spent serious money, sometimes very serious money, on a pair of interconnects. It’s beyond the reckoning of reasonable people that a cable can make much difference. Despite this, the cable industry continues to find new ways of encouraging you to part with your money in return for such innovations as filter boxes, special windings, battery power, proprietary materials, exotic metals, friction reduction, and hosepipe widths. It’s easy to be cynical and to imagine that it’s all a load of hype, that as long as a cable measures fine for capacitance, resistance and inductance, then any differences subsequently heard are in the minds of the listeners. How nice it would be if it were that simple. read more…

Vista Audio i34 Integrated Tube Amplifier

Vista Audio i34 Integrated Tube Amplifier

Specifications: 

  • Power: 35Wpc Bandwidth: 15Hz-35kHz
  • Inputs: CD, Tuner, Aux.
  • Outputs: 4 and 8 ohm
  • Input sensitivity: 0.6Vrms
  • Tubes: 2xECC832, 4x E34L Toroidal transformers
  • Gold plated terminals Stainless steel chassis
  • Price: $980

When I was a kid I remember going down to main street with my grandfather to the appliance store. Inside was a vacuum tube testing machine, there he would plug in a couple of tubes from the console television in an attempt to be handy and save my parents a few dollars. To his credit and my thrill he pulled up a chair to the machine and had me stand on the cushion. From that point I was able to assist him in picking the proper socket for each tube. Had this occurred today I can imagine the horror of tube fanatics as we handled each tube without gloves. The most exciting part was watching the tubes glow after pushing the “test” button.

Some thirty years later with the help of the Vista Audio i34 integrated amplifier I have rediscovered my fascination for vacuum tubes. I’ve always been a solid state audio fan, but over the years I would occasionally wonder about a piece of tube gear in an advertisement. But it never went past a fleeting wishful moment…..until now. The Vista Audio i34 has definitely opened my eyes. read more…

Jungson JA88D(09) Amplifier

Jungson JA88D(09) Amplifier

Specifications

  • Power Input: 115V +/-10% (60Hz)
  • Output Power: 80w x 2, Class A (8ohm, RMS)
  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz (-0.2dB) THD: ≤0.05% @ 1kHz, 1W
  • S/N ratio: ≥98dB
  • Input Impedance: 100kΩ Output Impedance: 8Ω Size: 19″ D ×17″ W ×7.5″ H
  • Net Weight: 64 lbs (29kg)
  • Price: $2300

As per last month’s article, I have been spoiled with a two piece system lately from Grant Fidelity of MBS-1 speakers and the Jungson JA88D(09)1 amplifier. These two pieces of equipment work magically together to produce a full, very musical sound, and I am sure part of the reason the MBS-1 speakers sounded so good was because of this class A amplifier. But I wanted to be able to test the JA88D(09) independently of the MBS-1 to be able to get a better overall sense of the amplifier and its sound qualities. With its 64lbs to lug around, I had my work cut out for me. read more…

The Sony XDR-F1HD Tuner: An Alternative View

The Sony XDR-F1HD Tuner: An Alternative View

 I first learned of the Sony XDR-F1HD AM/FM tuner when I visited the home of a friend of mine, a gentleman who appreciates both great music and fine equipment. I was very interested in listening to his latest tuner: He had recently acquired a Sansui TU-9900, at great expense from eBay, and had sent it to the very talented Ken Bernacky at Stereo Surgeons in West Hartford, CT, for a full diagnostic and restoration/upgrade. This tuner is a beautiful piece of work, and on stations with a strong signal the sound is absolutely superb on my friend’s system, composed of McIntosh electronics and PSB speakers. read more…

Vers 2X iPod Sound System

Vers 2X iPod Sound System

Specifications:

  • Energy efficient class D amplifier
  • 2-15 watt full range speakers
  • Dual rear port design for deep bass response
  • Hand crafted real wood cabinet Plays and charges all docking iPods Removable front grill
  • 3.5 mm Aux-in
  • 3.5 mm Aux-out
  • 14 function IR remote with 25’ range
  • 283 mm (L) X 143 mm (D) X 143 mm (H)
  • 11.2″ (L) X 5.6″ (D) X 5.6″ (H) Price: $199

Why do iPod docking stations have to be cheap plastic boom-boxes? I can’t be the only person with no desire to put a white or black piece of plastic in my home, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a use for an iPod docking station. While I do listen to PC audio throughout my house the PC isn’t always on. I generally turn it off when I go to bed, or it automatically shuts off at 11 PM. When I have already turned off the PC or haven’t turned it on yet in the morning I still occasionally like to hear music. This is where the Vers Audio iPod dock comes in. I keep in on the bookshelf in my bedroom, and with the simple but full-featured remote I am able to enjoy whatever I have loaded on that iPod at the moment. read more…

Shure SE530 Review: A Guilty Pleasure – For Your Ears

Shure SE530 Review: A Guilty Pleasure – For Your Ears

Specifications:

  • Speaker Type: Triple-balanced armature – single tweeter & twin woofers) Sensitivity (1mW): 119 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance (1kHz): 36 ohm
  • Frequency Range: 18Hz – 19kHz
  • Cable Length/with Extension: 18 in. / 45cm (54 in. / 136cm)
  • 




MSRP:
$499
/
$549
(with
PTH
device)

In 2006, the Shure E500 universal in-ear monitor was introduced as the first ever triple-driver armature earphone oriented toward consumer use. Although the E500 is no longer commercially available, its replacement, the SE530, is nearly identical to its predecessor in both build and design. The only differences that stand between the E500 and the SE530 are their respective model numbers and packaged accessories. So if you feel like you missed out on the opportunity to acquire a set of E500s, no qualms, the SE530 is designed to give you the same fantastic performance that put the E500 on the earphone map. read more…

VPI Classic Turntable

VPI Classic Turntable

Specifications

  • Wow and flutter: Less than .02% Rumble: Greater than 80db down Speed accuracy: Within .1% Platter runout: +/- .001 inch
  • Dimensions: 20.75″ W x 15.75″ D x 10″ H (Including to nearm wire loop)
  • Weight: 48 pounds (net) Price: $2,500
  • Manufacturer: VPI Industries, Inc., 77 Cliffwood Avenue, #3B, Cliffwood, NJ 07721

I like vinyl—a lot. Despite a decently sized collection of CDs and SACDs, I listen mostly to LPs, and even review a few of them for this publication. Needless to say, I enjoy turntables as well: I own nine or ten of them: Linn, Thorens, AR, Philips, B&O, Dual, Transcriptors. They’re like my kids, I love each of them in their own way. Realistically, though, I end up using only a handful regularly. My primary units are my tweaked Linn LP12 and my heavily modified AR XA; I’ve been doing 90% of my listening on these turntables over the past year or so. read more…

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