hi-fi systems review

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…

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…

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…

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…

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