hi-fi systems review

Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Digital to Analog Converter

Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Digital to Analog Converter

When it comes to music, whether live or recorded, I’m best (self-)described as an aesthete… an aficionado… or up to and including an avaricious glutton. Looking at my insatiable appetite in another context, one might recall Edgar Allen Poe’s famous line, “Quoth the Maven, ‘Evermore!’” So what’s this little bit of literary folderol got to do with a DAC review, you ask? Fair question. It’s simply my un-simple way of announcing I approach equipment reviews based solely on their interaction with, and impact on, music—I’m not an engineer. Technical information is always available on the manufacturers’ websites… in this case, www.mav-audio.com. read more…

Lepai LP-808 Mini-Amplifier

Lepai LP-808 Mini-Amplifier

Specifications:

  • R.M.S: 15wpc x2
  • Channel: 2-channel
  • Power supply: DC 12V 2A
  • Size: 140 x 95 x 40mm (5.5 x 3.7 x 1.6 inch)
  • Price: $24.95

There are times when all audio fans need a secondary amplifier to temporarily play music, but the thought of dragging a big old piece of gear is the last thing one wants to do. Recently, our founder was asked to create a long term temporary solution for a friend who was in need of music in their home. But with limited space and next to nothing of a budget, could only afford an amplifier to work with her iPod and dock. The result was found on eBay, a small chip amp by Lepai that could power a set of bookshelf speakers. read more…

ADAM Audio A3X Active Closefield Monitors

ADAM Audio A3X Active Closefield Monitors

The reality of many modern home/personal studios is that there’s not a lot of room for large speakers. With that in mind, ADAM Audio introduces the A3X closefield powered monitor ($299 each, street). The A3X is ADAM’s smallest speaker ever and the least expensive of their affordably priced product line, the AX Series. read more…

Revel Ultima Studio2 Loudspeakers

Revel Ultima Studio2 Loudspeakers

Mama said you only get one chance to make a first impression. That is certainly true by Alan Silverman for a loudspeaker, and I expect I’ll never forget the startling experience of hearing Revel’s Ultima Studio2 loudspeakers in my mastering room for the first time. [For the uninitiated, Revel is a Harman-owned company alongside pro audio industry stalwarts AKG, BSS, Crown, dbx, DigiTech, JBL, Lexicon, Soundcraft, Studer, et al. — Ed.]

read more…

Electro-Voice ZXA1-90 Two-Way Loudspeaker

Electro-Voice ZXA1-90 Two-Way Loudspeaker

The E-V ZXA1-90 is a small (17.88 x 11.12 x 10.38 inches), amplified, two-way loudspeaker built for portable sound reinforcement applications, which utilizes the EV8L 8-inch woofer and the DH2005 1-inch exit compression driver, the latter of which is a titanium diaphragm tweeter coupled with a rotatable 90 x 50 degree waveguide. read more…

KRK Systems R6 Reference Monitor Speaker

KRK Systems R6 Reference Monitor Speaker

While almost driven to the brink of extinction by the overwhelming popularity of modern active (powered) nearfield studio monitors, passive (non-powered) models remain very useful mixing tools and the folks at KRK Systems, among other manufacturers, realize that. Thus KRK’s R6 Reference Monitor Speaker offers impressive performance at what I find is an incredible value — $150 each, street. read more…

Genelec 8260A Triamplified Active DSP Loudspeaker

Genelec 8260A Triamplified Active DSP Loudspeaker

Genelec has been gradually adding models and features to its 8000 series of professional powered studio monitor loudspeakers since the line was introduced in 2004. Until now, each of the models was a two-way device.

The desire for yet higher output volumes in an 8000 series device led to consideration of a three-way loudspeaker. Genelec has ample experience with three-way loudspeakers, but the challenge was to optimally deploy three loudspeakers within a portable housing.
read more…

Blue Sky SAT 8 Compact Midfield Monitor, SUB 212 Subwoofer Monitoring System

Blue Sky SAT 8 Compact Midfield Monitor, SUB 212 Subwoofer Monitoring System

As the owner of a mid-sized project studio, I’ve always used nearfield monitors for mixing and kept oversized consumer speakers (or even small PA speakers) in the rear of my large control room for clients who wish to track without headphones, or to “hype” my clients with loud playback.

However, I’ve always had a yen for some midfield monitors to expand my mixing palette, better fill the room, and further inspire performers.

In my use, I have found the SAT 8 threeway powered midfield monitor with SUB 212 powered subwoofer from Blue Sky was what I was longing for. They have proven to be very useful for my large control room environment — yet the transition was quite difficult or, should I say, educational. read more…

Turbosound Milan M15 Powered Loudspeaker

Turbosound Milan M15 Powered Loudspeaker

West Sussex, U.K.-based Turbosound is not a company I can easily associate with portable PA products.

The first thing I think of when I see Turbosound’s distinctive logo is Iron Maiden’s World Slavery Tour of 1984/1985 — one of the longest tours in rock ’n’ roll history — and its massive, incredible Turbosound rig. And that’s only the iceberg tip of Turbosound’s impression left on the realm of large-scale touring.

What did such trivia mean to me as I unpacked a pair of Milan M15 self-powered portable PA speakers, Turbosound’s most affordable speaker in the company’s long history? Exceedingly high expectations for performance, power, and build quality. What I found in the M15 was consistently a cut above most common portable PA options, thus worth its cost ($1,082 list, under $1k street). read more…

Miniwatt S-1 Integrated Amplifier

Miniwatt S-1 Integrated Amplifier

Specifications:

  • Power Output: 2.5W+2.5W @ 8 ohms
  • Frequency Response: 30-20Khz (+-1db) Sensitivity = 500mV
  • Gain = 18dB
  • Residual Noise < 0.8mVac
  • Output Impedance: 8 ohms (Japan Z11- EI48*24
  • Output Transformers)
  • Input AC Voltage: 85-132Vac or 176-265Vac
  • Dimensions: 130 x 100mm
  • Weight: 1.5kg Input: RCA Jacks Output: Banana Jacks
  • AC: Standard IEC Jack with Fuse protection (2A Fuse)
  • Price: $229

I know I’m more passionate about affordable products then most people. I get both praise and ridicule for my attitude. Obviously as a writer for this magazine I’ve gotten over it from both perspectives. I still never thought I would have a $229 integrated tube amp in my system the big shock though is that I never thought I could enjoy it this much. I honestly thought that all the hype from Audio Circle and other forums was just fluff, I just knew that this little device wouldn’t memorize me as it has all these other audiophiles; well I guess I got fluffed too! It generally isn’t my style to let the cat out of the bag right off the bat, but this is a smoking piece of gear! read more…

Audioengine P4 Mini-Monitors

Audioengine P4 Mini-Monitors

Specifications:

  • Type: 2-way passive, front ported design
  • Sensitivity: 88dB (2.83v@1m) Frequency response: 58Hz-22kHz
  • Nominal Impedance: 4-8 Ohms Crossover Frequency: 2.8 kHz
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 10-125W per channel
  • Tweeter: 3/4″ (20mm) silk dome with neodymium magnets
  • Woofer: 4″ (101mm) Kevlar cone
  • Enclosure: 3/4″ MDF
  • Inputs: Gold-plated, 5-way binding posts Magnetically Shielded
  • Weight (each): 2.75 kg (6 lbs)
  • Total shipping weight: 6.5 kg (14 lbs)
  • Dimensions (each): 228 (H) x 140 (W) x 165 mm (D) (9 x 5.5 x 6.5″)
  • Shipping box dims: 330 (H) x 460 (W) x 228 mm (D) (13 x 18 x 9″)
  • Finish Options: Satin Black, Hi-Gloss White, Solid Carbonized Bamboo
  • Price: $249pr.

Not many young audio companies have had the initial success like Audioengine. In just a 5 short years of production they have garnered an impressive 17 Awards from the audio press. It all began with a desire to listen to quality iPod/Airport Express sound. The A5 speaker became an instant hit with the built-in 50wpc amp combined with attention to actual sound performance. Since then, the gang from Audioengine have expanded the speaker line to include the A2 powered computer monitors, subwoofer, and the super-slick AW1 & AW2 wireless iPod transceivers. For 2009, they went back to the drawing board to design a desktop monitor that could work for those who already have a small amp, especially class D and class T units. The result is the P4 passive mini-monitor. read more…

VPI Classic Turntable – Part II

VPI Classic Turntable – Part II

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 tonearm wire loop)
  • Tonearm: VPI JMW 10.5 SE (pre-installed on turntable)
  • Weight: 48 pounds (net)
  • Price: $2,500
  • Manufacturer: VPI Industries, Inc., 77 Cliffwood Avenue, #3B, Cliffwood, NJ 07721

Part one of my review of the VPI Classic turntable (November issue) focused on the physical characteristics of this turntable, and on the steps I took to set it up. Over the past couple of months I’ve worked on optimizing the setup of the turntable and have been listening to the thing incessantly. This part of the review will focus on how the Classic sounds.

I installed the turntable on a VTI BL-series audio rack. VTI makes a series of racks at eminently affordable prices, and I’ve been very pleased with the stability and configurability of this rack. The rack is made of steel with MDT shelves, and its spikes couple nicely to the (very bouncy) hardwood floors of my listening room. Acting on the recommendations of others that mass-loading is the way to go with this turntable, I placed the Classic on a 2 1/4 inch thick maple cutting board (a Boos Block, obtained from amazon.com) on the top shelf of the rack. read more…

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…

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