Dynaudio Focus 30 Active Loudspeaker System $3999 Review

January 27, 2023 § Leave a comment

https://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/reference-components/1748-recommended-reference-component-dynaudio-focus-30-active-loudspeaker-system

At the end of Gordon’s exhaustive review, he concluded that the Focus 30 system “deepened” his “admiration for Dynaudio’s active speakers,” and that he was “won over by the Focus 30’s transparent presentation, effortless dynamics, pinpoint imaging, and bass extension.” Gordon added that he “loved the look of the speakers” in his living room, but the support for Dirac Live is “the clincher” when it comes recommending this speaker system to readers. Gordon’s praise in his review earned the Focus 30 speaker system a Reviewers’ Choice award at the time it was published—and that same praise has now earned it a Recommended Reference Component award. Suffice it to say, DSP-based active speakers have come of age for those who are serious about sound—and Dynaudio’s Focus 30 has the features to optimize that sound, too.

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Vermouth Audio Studio Monitor Loudspeakers $20,000 Review

January 25, 2023 § Leave a comment

Suppose one decides to go with something that isn’t as large as a floor-standing speaker but will deliver more volume and frequency extension than a stand-mounted mini-monitor. In that case, the Vermouth Studio Monitor is what you’re looking for. In my listening room, it had enough internal volume to produce serious bass. The two 6.5 mid-woofers produced a transparent midrange that filled the room with sound with a prodigious soundstage. Its ribbon tweeter was remarkably extended and had a musical sound that, regardless of how loud I played the music, was never fatiguing.

I heartily recommend the Vermouth Studio Monitor. Its audition proved that it was a surprisingly good-looking and great-sounding speaker, which is well worth its asking price.

Rogue Audio Pharaoh II integrated amplifier $3995 Review

January 25, 2023 § Leave a comment

https://www.stereophile.com/content/rogue-audio-pharaoh-ii-integrated-amplifier

The headphone the Pharaoh liked best was Meze Audio’s new $4000 Elite—an open-back, planar-magnetic design. Powered by the Pharaoh, the 32 ohm, 101dB/mW Elite delivered music with relaxed, pristine clarity. The Rogue–Elite pairing played Ledbetter live in Austin with an air of well-structured authority that said, “Who cares if the headphones cost as much as the amp? The sound is dang near perfect.”

The headphone the Pharaoh II liked almost as much was Sony’s $1799 MDR-Z1R, the closed-back I have used more than any other headphone since I reviewed it in GD16. Because they are so comfortable, durable, natural-sounding, and easy to drive, the 64 ohm, 100dB/mW Z1Rs have never stopped being my paint-splattered daily headset. They employ fast, 70mm magnesium domes that never hint that they’re made of metal. Powered by the Pharaoh II, those domes sounded like they were made of paper: not too soft or hard, space and detail displayed with an appealing tube-like sheen. A recommendable match.

YG Acoustics Cairn Loudspeaker £9900 Review

January 24, 2023 § Leave a comment

https://www.hifinews.com/content/yg-acoustics-cairn-loudspeaker


In every way small but beautifully formed, the Cairns show all the benefits of their manufacturer’s integration of extensive analysis and modelling in the design and manufacturing processes. They’re precise without ever being clinical or sterile, and have a weight, depth and finesse that belies their compact dimensions. Few small standmounts will fill modestly proportioned rooms with such authority. They are little crackers!

SME Model 60 Turntable and VA Series Tonearm $71,000 Review

January 24, 2023 § Leave a comment

Clearly, it was a big deal for SME to produce a brand-new turntable intended to better the company founder’s original, now-classic design. Challenge met. The new SME Model 60 with Series VA arm is an overwhelmingly successful upgrade to what was formerly the company’s flagship Model 30. It achieves new SME greatness without forsaking the vision of founder Alastair Robertson-Aikman, who would surely appreciate both this new turntable/arm combo and where his company is headed.

That said, if you want a table that allows you to swap arms or carry a pair of them, the Model 60 isn’t for you. Otherwise, if you’ve got $71,000 or a bit more for something blue or one of the other variants, you’d best check out the SME Model 60 before buying anything at or near the price point. The only remaining question is, who the hell really designed this thing?

Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia V loudspeaker $79,500 Review

January 22, 2023 § Leave a comment

https://www.stereophile.com/content/wilson-audio-specialties-alexia-v-loudspeaker

It’s been quite the six months in Serinusland. First the Stromtank, then the Nordost QNet and QSource, and then one of the finest DACs I’ve been privileged to enjoy, the dCS Rossini Apex. I never fully appreciated how good each of those components is until Wilson Audio’s new Alexia V loudspeaker let me hear so much more of what they can deliver.

All these changes and improvements can be summarized in one sentence: Assisted by first-rate amplification and source components, the Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia V presented the entirety of the musical argument more completely and satisfyingly than its predecessor did. And its predecessor was very fine.

The notion that the loudspeaker is the most important component in an audio system is hogwash, although that conversation may be more semantic than substantial. What’s the point of being able to hear more of what your system can deliver if all you hear is more distortion or mediocrity?

 Zesto Audio Eros 500 Select Class A Monoblocks $35,000 World Premier Review

January 21, 2023 § Leave a comment

I am at a loss for words to describe my excitement listening to the groundbreaking Eros 500 monoblocks. I was expecting excellence, but not ball-busting greatness. Plus, from all the worldwide tube manufacturers of note and history, it is Zesto Audio in Southern California that creates these masterpieces.

Congratulations to George Counnas and Zesto Audio for bringing to us, the audiophiles of the world, the best tube amplifier (and maybe any amplifier) ever. You must hear the Zesto Audio Eros 500 Select Class A monoblocks if you are even contemplating cost-is-no-object or high-end high-powered amplifiers for your system. These are the best amplifiers yet devised, in my humble opinion.  

Schiit Audio Tyr monoblock power amplifier $3198 Review

January 20, 2023 § Leave a comment

https://www.stereophile.com/content/schiit-audio-tyr-monoblock-power-amplifier

While I described the audible differences I found between the Schiit Tyr and the two amplifiers with which I compared it, I must admit that these differences were relatively minor. I find it increasingly difficult to characterize the sounds of modern solid state amplifiers. Unlike many tube designs, which have a readily identifiable sonic character, solid state amplifiers are benefiting from a process of convergent evolution that pushes noise and distortion below audibility.

Schiit’s Tyr is a perfect example of such a thoroughly modern amplifier. It offers high power, is not fazed by low impedances, sounded superb with the three pairs of loudspeakers that I used for this review, and is competitively priced. Strongly recommended

AVID Reference Three Loudspeaker £60,000 Review

January 20, 2023 § Leave a comment

https://www.hifinews.com/content/avid-reference-three-loudspeaker

The (Le) Concert Spirituel recording of Handel’s ‘The King Shall Rejoice’ [Coronation Anthems; Alpha ALPHA868] sounded magnificent, complete with powerful drums and a fine unforced sense of live performance. There was nothing artificial or studio-y here, but instead a real impression of experiencing the music in a live space. It was a big, exuberant sound, but one with bags of detail to back it up, and those very ‘Handel’ vocal flourishes had a glorious ringing quality.

With the unusual instrumentation of Sachse’s ‘Concerto In F major’ from Clare Farr’s Loudmouthed Beauty recital [Lawo LWC1242, see p94] – bass trombone accompanied by church organ – the AVID Reference Threes delivered a persuasive impression of the two instruments in a church acoustic. Both the low-frequency power and harmonic richness of each was evoked, their notes ringing through the space. In the theme and variations of the third movement the effect was even more striking, with the extraordinary power of Farr’s instrument holding its own against the mighty organ.

KEF Reference 5 Meta £17,500 Review

January 19, 2023 § Leave a comment

https://hifiplus.com/articles/kef-reference-5-meta-floorstanding-loudspeakers/

Back with solid state power and the Weather Station’s mumblings on ‘Marsh’ and other tracks where it’s not clear what is exactly being said but the feelings behind it are transparent in the hands of these KEFs. With an older favourite in Talk Talk’s New Grass where the vocals are quiet but easy to follow and the nuances of the performance are clear thanks to the transparency on offer. These speakers are borderline explicit when it comes to detail resolution, they really drill down into whatever you put through them and deliver the musical treasure that other speakers fail to expose. It gets the micro dynamics, the differences between the volume of notes, spot on and this brings a variety and colour to subtle pieces that often gets lost. It does the macro too of course and I thoroughly enjoyed Led Zeppelin’s ‘Killing Floor’ where they managed to give the bass a thickness that Metallica would have killed for, and  were clearly attempting to emulate on the Black album

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