Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Harmonic Technology: Harmony Wave Loudspeaker Cables, Harmony-Link Interconnects and Pro AC-11 Power Cords

Harmonic Technology: Harmony Wave Loudspeaker Cables, Harmony-Link Interconnects and Pro AC-11 Power Cords

Specifications:

Harmony Wave Loudspeaker Cable

  • Two 14 AWG and two 16 AWG copper wires
  • Harmonic Technology patented Single crystal™ design
  • Exterior constructed of UL/CL-3 grade PVC
  • Terminations can be spade or banana, Bi-wire or single design
  • Accommodates for in-wall applications as well
  • Capacitance per foot, 37 pF Inductance per foot 0.56 uH Resistance per foot, 0.003 Ohm
  • Review cables ten feet each side (Bi-wired at loudspeaker end), spade terminations both ends
  • Price $305

Harmony-Link Interconnect

  • Made with copper wire
  • Harmonic Technology patented Single crystal™ design Terminated with Gold Finished RCA connectors: Capacitance, 62 pF
  • Inductance per foot, 0.52 uH Resistance per foot, 0.013 Ohm Terminated with XLR connectors Capacitance, 60 pF
  • Inductance per foot, 049 uH Resistance per foot, 0.011 Ohm
  • Review Interconnect-One meter RCA connector version
  • Price $99 a pair with either RCA OR XLR connectors

Pro AC-11 Power Cord

  • 11 AWG 6N (99.9997%) high purity copper wire Harmonic Technology patented Single crystal™ design Exterior constructed of two shields of UL/CL-3 grade PVC
  • Variety of IEC female and male plugs are available at the ends
  • Review power cord was a 2 meter length with: Furutech FI-11 IEC
  • Furutech FI-11M male plug
  • Price as reviewed $260

Harmonic Technology was founded in 1998 by Jim Wang and is headquartered in San Diego, California. Through extensive research they developed and patented their OCC Single Crystal™ design process. According to their website this process allows for metal to be purified in order to eliminate any potential crystalline barrier distortion and thereby increase dynamics and clarity while still maintaining an increase in the power of the signal transmitted through the cables. When talking to Jim Wang on the phone he mentioned that their (OCC) Single Crystal™ copper (99.9997%) conductors have been the single most effective key to Harmonic Technology’s success in making so many wonderful and effective cables. Anyone interested in a detailed description of this process may go to the “Technical Overview” section of their website and read information far too lengthy to mention here in this review. read more…

Tweak City Audio WAF-1 Mini-Monitors

Tweak City Audio WAF-1 Mini-Monitors

Specifications:

  • System: 2-way, direct-radiating system, vented enclosure w/rear port
  • Finishes: Rosewood (wood veneer) Drivers:
  • Tweeter = .787” inch (20mm) dome tweeter
  • Woofer = 5.25” inch (133.35 mm) doped paper cone woofer Crossover point between tweeter and woofer 2000Hz Frequency Response:
  • Port Open: 50Hz – 20kHz, +/- 3db from 65Hz to 18kHz
  • Seal port for wall mounting; works with 80Hz crossover point
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms nominal Efficiency: 86db (@ 1 watt / 1 meter) Grill: Recessed; removable
  • Cabinet: MDF
  • Dimensions: 10.5″ H x 7″ W x 10″ D (approx.)
  • Weight: 11 lbs each. Shipping Weight: 26 lbs. per pair
  • Additional Info: Video Shielding: No (matters only for CRT/tube TV’s)
  • Price: $229 Available with Gizmo 1.0 amp for $309

What does an audio entrepreneur do when they have a class D integrated amplifier that puts out 25wpc and fits easily on a computer desktop? If you’re Craig Chase of Tweak City Audio, you build a matching set of mini-monitors. However, being an audio fanatic meant that Craig wanted something that would actually sound truly good at a computer audio price range. That may sound like a tall order, but Craig had an ace up his sleeve, a relationship with noted speaker guru Danny Richie. The result is the tongue-in-cheek, but appropriately named WAF-1. read more…

Grant Fidelity MBS-1 Speakers

Grant Fidelity MBS-1 Speakers

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 45 Hz to 22 kHz, -6db @ 40 Hz
  • Efficiency: 88db
  • Impedance: 8 ohm
  • Recommended Power: 10 to 75 watts tube, 20 to 150 watts solid state
  • Dimensions: 13″ D x 8.3″ W x 16″ H
  • Weight: 12kg / 26 lbs each
  • MSRP: $1280

What do I want in a monitor loudspeaker? Let us start with high quality construction materials and workmanship. If the production company uses industry proven drivers and crossover components that is a plus. As far as the production company itself, how about one with a respected and proven history in the audio industry? Without actually listening to the speakers themselves, those criteria would allow you to include many top companies in your search for a quality pair of monitors. When I initially contacted Grant Fidelity about the possibility of a review, I was interested in their Jungson JA88D(09) class A amplifier. After a few minutes with Ian on the phone, he convinced me that I also need to get my ears on his MBS-1 bookshelf speakers. I figured that I could always use another speaker review in my rig, and boy did I make the right choice (more on the Jungson JA88D(09) amplifier). All of your favorite speaker companies aside, let me suggest to you Grant Fidelity 1 as an offering that more than exemplifies the above criteria. read more…

Emotiva ERC-1 Compact Disc Player

Emotiva ERC-1 Compact Disc Player

Specifications:

  • Output voltage: 1V rms (7V peak)
  • Channel separation: ≥95dB – ref. 1kHz
  • Frequency response: 0-20Khz (+/- 0.1 db)
  • S/N: ≥100dB (A weighted)
  • THD: ≤0.01% 0dB 1KHz)
  • Playback formats: Red book CD, HDCD, MP3
  • Digital Output Filter: 24-Bit, 384 times oversampling (Analog Devices 1955)
  • Sampling Frequency: 44.1 kHz
  • Analog output filter frequency: 80 kHz (-3dB)
  • Amplitude output linearity: 0.2dB
  • Phase linearity: 30°
  • Power consumption: ≤ 25W
  • Output connection types: digital coaxial, digital optical toslink, unbalanced RCA, balanced XLR
  • Weight: 17.5 lbs. (unboxed)
  • Width: 17 inches
  • Depth: 14 inches (including RCA jack extension)
  • Height: 3.75 inches (faceplate only) – 4.25 inches including feet
  • Feet are recessed 2.25 inches from face of unit, and .5 inches from back of unit
  • Price: $399

Every audio fan over 35 remembers their first compact disc player. It was a right of passage from old technology of analogue, into that new and obscure world of digital. In my case, it was a second-hand Sony unit. The specific model number has long drifted away, but the excited memory of that first play has stayed with me. To hear music without the clicks and pops was a wonder. Only many years later did I discover the harsh realities that digital music was the end all of sonic reproduction. In the past five years I believe the audio industry has really begun to take a hard look at compact disc players and recognize that much work still needed to be done.

One of new wave of affordable gear manufacturers is Emotiva. Best known for their big power amplifiers sold for reasonable prices, they have become one of the favorite brands of cost conscious audio forum members. Those individuals with difficult to power speakers found themselves smitten with the various amplifier offerings courtesy of this Tennessee company. read more…

Monarchy Audio’s DIP/Upsampler Combo and the DR-1 Digital Interconnect

Monarchy Audio’s DIP/Upsampler Combo and the DR-1 Digital Interconnect

Specifications 

  • DIP/Upsampler Combo Price: $399 (digital interface processor)
  • Decodes 16 to 24 Bits
  • Inputs: Opto, Coax, AES/EBU Balanced
  • Outputs: Coax, AES/EBU Balanced
  • Upsamples from 44.1 to 48 or 96 Khz (user selectable) Outputs 24 Bits

Specifications

  • DR-1 Digital Reference Interconnect
  • Price:$239

This will be a two-fold review of Monarchy Audio products starting with their all new DIP/Upsampler Combo and wrapping up with their DR-1 Digital interconnects. The Former is brand new, in fact I got to test the very first unit produced, while the later has been around for a while now. There are many of you, who I am sure, have already heard of Monarchy Audio. Monarchy Audio has been in existence since C.C. Poon founded the company in 1979. As I mentioned in a previous review (July A$$A) of the Monarchy Audio M150 Dual Isolation AC Supply, I am a big fan of C.C. Poon and his company. I have purchased numerous items from him in the past some of which as still quite active in my current review system today. Luckily for me his shop is only fifteen minutes from my house, if you do not live in the San Francisco Bay Area do not despair as he is only a phone call or email response away from anywhere in the world. It really is great to live in this modern world with the ease of access to almost any company and its products. read more…

Stereo Knight Ultimate Magnetic Silverstone B&R Preamplifier

Stereo Knight Ultimate Magnetic Silverstone B&R Preamplifier

Specifications

  • Inputs: 2 Balanced and 3 Unbalanced
  • Outputs: 2 Balanced and 2 Unbalanced
  • Attenuation: 33 steps via four silver-wound transformers
  • Dimensions: 18″ W x 12″ D x 7” H
  • Power Requirements: 110v -60Hz
  • Weight: 25 lbs net; 35 lbs shipping
  • Warranty: 3 years parts and labor MSRP: $2550

I’ve had an obsession with passive preamplifiers lately. I do not know whether it’s the simple nature of them, the path of least resistance, or the fact that I like class A solid state amplifiers and I feel that those two designs have synergy together; not to mention I don’t need a second component sucking juice next to the class A bias. I had heard of Stereo Knight a few times before as I had seen one of their passive preamps floating around the HIFI classifieds. Along with their current line up of four passive preamplifiers, they also have three vacuum tube driven preamplifiers that use the same transformer attenuation technology, and KT88 tube integrate amplifier and pair of 100wpc tube monoblocks. When I got the opportunity to review a rather unknown passive preamp, the Stereo Knight Ultimate Magnetic Silverstone B&R, I definitely jumped at the offer. read more…

Kenwood KR-4600 AM/FM Receiver

Kenwood KR-4600 AM/FM Receiver

Specifications:

  • POWER OUTPUT: 30 watts per channel @ 0.3% THD?
  • VINTAGE: ~1977
  • INPUTS:
  • PHONO 1 & 2 (both moving magnet) TAPE MONITORS 1 & 2
  • AUXILLARY FEATURES:
  • PREAMP/POWER AMP JUMPERS BASS & TREBLE CONTROLS LOUDNESS & HIGH FILTER BUTTONS MODE: MONO/STEREO (with FM muting) VOLUME & BALANCE CONTROLS
  • SIGNAL STRENGTH & CENTER CHANNEL TUNING METERS HEADPHONE JACK
  • SPEAKER SELECTOR: A,B, A+B
  • METAL CASE WITH WALNUT ENDCAPS DIMENSIONS:
  • APPROX. 19 3/4”W X 5 3/4”H X 13” D APPROX. 25 LBS.

Let us observe a moment of silence for Kenwood, a once great company that has since abandoned the American home audio market (I believe they still sell car stereos). From the early seventies to the mid-eighties Kenwood (originally known as Trio) battled toe-to-toe with the likes of Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui, and Technics among others, for marketplace dominance. Oddly enough, while they were known early on for having superior tuner sections, their receivers somehow never garnered the acclaim that their fine integrated amplifiers received. I find this puzzling on two counts: first, I always thought that their receivers in general and this series in particular were among the best looking on the market in an understated sort of way, they were far less ornate than the Pioneer’s or Sansui’s and less industrial than the Marantz line. Secondly, having rehabbed both their receivers and their integrated amps, I can attest that the receivers were built in the same fashion as their amps. read more…

Aperion Audio Intimus 6B Monitors

Aperion Audio Intimus 6B Monitors

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: (+/- 3dB) 48-20,000 Hz — (+/- 6dB) 42-22,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 82 dB
  • Recommended Power: 50 -200 Watts Amplifier Power
  • Tweeter: 1″ Audiophile-grade Silk-Dome Tweeter
  • Midrange Woofer: 6.5″ Woven-Fiberglass Composite Woofer
  • Driver Configuration: 2-Way Enclosure Type: 1″ HDF, Ported Dimensions: 15″ H x 8.3″ W x 12.8″ D Warranty: 10 years
  • Weight: 26 lbs ea.
  • Price: $690 pr.

Internet-direct audio companies are either evil or a blessing depending on whom you ask. Now I love brick and mortar mom and pop shops and over the years I’ve tried to support them in whatever field of retailing before submitting myself to the obnoxiousness of big boxes. The economic purging of such businesses, especially audio has left consumers all the poorer for it. With fewer storefronts, many upstart manufacturers had little choice but to go the Internet-direct route. The beginning of this decade was a definite shake down period as how to make this type of marketing work. By all accounts on the various audio forums Aperion Audio has found success and respect.

I’ve lived about 10 minutes from Aperion Audio’s headquarters for several years now, but never visited. Aperion is proud of their Portland, Oregon roots, but doesn’t broadcast it locally. It must have something to do with their very calm philosophy. In doing some research on the forums about Aperion Audio, those who have visited their offices, or dealt with staff on the phone all seem to describe a very calm, efficient, friendly, and relaxed atmosphere. read more…

TTWeights Audio Kit

TTWeights Audio Kit

Specifications:

  • TTSuperWeight Stainless Version 1.8 lbs Internally dampened $289
  • TTCopperCarbon ULTIMATT – 1.570 KG/3.5lbs $469
  • TTOuter Stabilizing Ring 600 Gram Version Solid Copper Nickel Plated-Silver Finish $569
  • Package deal at $999

Vinyl playback just never seems to go out of fashion among audiophiles and it’s often remarked that this is in fact a golden era for turntable design with new models reaching previously unimaginable heights of accuracy and musicality. It’s certainly a golden time for expensive tables, some can cost more than a house or a luxury car, but one lives in hope that the engineering insights gained eventually trickle down. While there are mods and extras one can add to almost any component in the audio chain (see my Aug review of HAL’s special dampers for interconnect cables), tables and vinyl reproduction generally have always been a playground for those who want to eke out the last bit of performance from their electro-mechanical toys. Mats, cleaning fluids, anti-static guns, software set-up tools, counterweights, VTA shims, motor controllers, vibration-killing rubber balls and so forth, from stylus tip to plinth, there’s a product somewhere to help you fine tune your table’s ability to trace those grooves. I don’t know who invented the first periphery ring but it’s not unusual now to find tables with these extras, most noticeably the higher end VPI tables, but their application still seems in its infancy. Adding a ring to my rig has intrigued me in a way that simultaneously made me a little uncomfortable. Just what could adding a weighty ring to the circumference of an LP actually accomplish? I understand the possibility of flattening a slightly warped record, though I am not sure this is really the best way to do it, but I could not easily overcome my anxiety about piling on weight to a spinning motor, or worse, the possibility of having my precious stylus find itself in intimate contact with unforgiving and non-compliant metal. read more…

Wyred4Sound STP SE Preamplifier

Wyred4Sound STP SE Preamplifier

Specifications:

  • Typical Distortion
  • THD+N (20-20kHz / 2V) <0.003%
  • THD+N Noise (A-weighted / VOL = 63) < 6 µV
  • Noise (A-weighted / VOL = 64) < 18 µV
  • Noise (20-20kHz / VOL = 63) < 9 µV Noise (20-20kHz / VOL = 64) < 27 µV
  • Frequency Response (20-20kHz / 2V) +/- 0.02 db
  • Channel Tracking (All Steps) < +/- 0.05 db IMD < 0.002%
  • Crosstalk (20-20kHz / VOL = 63) >106 db
  • Crosstalk (20-20kHz / VOL = 64) > 96 db
  • Output Impedance (VOL ? 63) 113 Ù
  • Output Impedance (VOL ? 64) 78 Ù
  • Input Impedance 60.4kÙ
  • Maximum Output Voltage 9V RMS
  • *Vol = 63 (gain stage not engaged)
  • *Vol = 64 (gain stage engaged)
  • Manufacturer: Cullen Circuits read more…
Clear Day Double Shotgun Speaker Cables

Clear Day Double Shotgun Speaker Cables

Specifications

  • Four solid silver wires per conductor
  • Terminated with silver plated spades or banana plugs
  • MSRP: $400 per 8′ Pair read more…
Sony XDR-F1HD FM HD Tuner

Sony XDR-F1HD FM HD Tuner

Specifications

  • Antenna System : 75 ohm for FM, AM
  • Frequency Range : AM: 530 — 1,710 kHz, FM: 87.5 — 108 MHz
  • Dimensions (Approx.) : 7 1/8 x 2 3/8 x 6 3/8 inches (180 x 60 x 160mm) (w/h/d) not including projecting parts and controls
  • Weight (Approx.) : 2lb 6.8oz (1.1kg) Price: $99.99

Working from home on a pretty regular basis allows me to listen to music from a wide variety of sources. A few years back I had all but given up on radio in the home, the difference in sound quality was enough to question its value. Then came the promise of HD radio. A coworker has a Polk Audio radio in his office and once I heard it I had hopes for radio’s rebirth.

A$$A’s founder, Mark Marcantonio, received the Sony XDR-F1HD tuner from a reader for a suggested review. Knowing my taste, Mark asked me to take it on. No problem on my end, as I could decide in a final manner whether HD radio is worthy of it’s potential as a music source when I work from home. read more…

Yamaha A1000 Integrated Stereo Amplifier

Yamaha A1000 Integrated Stereo Amplifier

Specifications:

  • POWER OUTPUT: 120 WPC INTO 8
  • OHMS FROM 20 – 20,OOO HZ.
  • RATED DISTORTION: < 0.005% T.H.D. < 0.002% I.M.D.
  • RATED IHF DYNAMIC POWER: 320 WPC INTO 4 OHMS; 340 WPC INTO 3 OHMS
  • AMPLIFIER CLASS: CLASS AB OR AUTO CLASS A TO 10W / CLASS AB (SWITCHABLE)
  • DAMPING FACTOR: 90 ( 1 kHz, 8 ohms)
  • POWER BANDWIDTH: 10 – 100,000 Hz ( ½ power, 0.03% THD, 8 ohms) S/N RATIO: -106 dB (line inputs)
  • (IHF A NETWORK) -80dB PHONO MC -94 dB PHONO MM
  • DIMENSIONS: 17 1/8” W X 5 3/4” H X 16 3/4” D
  • WEIGHT: 28 LBS. 10 OZ.
  • PURCHASE PRICE: $600 IN 1984

The Yamaha A1000 integrated amp was their top model from 1982-1984, and offered almost all of the flexibility and performance of separates at a very attractive price. The fact that I still use it daily 25 years later speaks volumes for its build quality and durability*. In today’s market, an integrated amp with this level of performance would cost $2,000 or more. read more…

Magnum Dynalab Indoor FM Antenna’s

Magnum Dynalab Indoor FM Antenna’s

Specifications

SR-100 Silver Ribbon Tunable FM Antenna

  • An indoor Antenna for both enhanced FM performance and HDTV broadcasts
  • Specifications
  • Base measures 3.5” width x 2.5” deep x 3/4” high Maximum height of antenna fully extended: approx. 37.5” Maximum width of antenna fully spread: approx. 32”
  • Cord is approx. 3′ long
  • Warranty: twenty four month limited warranty applies to the first end user
  • Price: $35

MD-205 Signal Sleuth FM signal Antenna

  • According to Magnum Dynalab “In an independent test, using a commercially available FM tuner, the following percentile improvements were attained with the SLEUTH on line:
  • Sensitivity (under 1dB limiting) -170% Spurious Response Rejection -90% Image Rejection -380%
  • Ultimate Sensitivity was rated at 70dB+ Also, the total harmonic distortion (THD) remained unchanged indicating the Sleuth added no measurable distortion of its own.” Specifications
  • Circuit: 3 varactor-tuned RF stages Gain: VARIABLE -30dB thru +30dB Tuning Range: 88-110 MHz Bandwidth: Better than 400KHz Noise: Less than 4dB
  • Distortion: 0%
  • Antenna Input: 75 ohms
  • Power Required: 230/240/110 volts
  • Size: 17” x 1.75′ x 6”
  • 43.18cm x 4.45cm x 15.24cm
  • Weight: 6 lbs/ 2.65KG
  • Warranty: twenty four month limited warranty applies to the first end user
  • Price: $435
  • Company Information
  • Magnum Dynalab Ltd.
  • 8 Strathearn Avenue, Unit 9
  • Brampton, Ontario
  • Canada
  • L6T 4L9
  • Telephone: (905) 791-5888
  • Toll free in North America 1-800-551-1430
  • Fax: (905) 791-5583
  • International Fax: (1) (905) 791-5583
  • US Contact Telephone, toll free: 1-800-551-4130

Looking back twenty-five years ago to 1984, we see a time when Magnum Dynalab introduced its very first product, the Signal Sleuth, which was designed to boost and stabilize FM signals. According to Larry Zurowski, the president of Magnum Dynalab, the biggest difference between that Signal Sleuth and today’s model is that the gain curve is now more consistent across the FM band. Later, in September of 1985, the company marketed the FT 101, which was heralded as their first FM tuner. Magnum Dynalab now makes FM tuners, an integrated FM receiver, an integrated amplifier as well as a selection of both indoor and outdoor antennas. Having recently, in the June 2009 issue of “Affordable Audio”, taken a look back at the 1960’s McIntosh MR67 tube tuners I can only wish I’d had today’s Magnum Dynalab products around to help with the review. read more…

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