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Showing posts from September, 2019

McIntosh Labs MA8000 Integrated Amplifier Review

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McIntosh Labs has some very strong heritage and history behind the name and brand, founded in 1946 by Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow they went on to create their very first low distortion amplifier, named the 50W-1 which also included their very first patented technology the Unity Coupled Circuit which is still used in products today, and you can say the rest is history as they went on to make it what the brand is today and that is a huge giant in the amplifier and Hi-Fi world. The brand has some distinguished appearances and one’s that stands out to me is the great 1969 Woodstock event, they supplied the amplifiers to power the sets and another great moment in time is the Greatful Dead’s “Wall of Sound” which apparently used forty-eight 300 watt McIntosh Labs MC2300 solid state amplifiers with a mass total of over 28,800 watts of continuous power. So some impressive historical events which included the McIntosh brand, this is a statement to their quality and continued success in this

McIntosh Labs MCD550 SACD/CD Player Review

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Over the last few years, with CD in particular sales may have started to drop off as the market adapts to the new High Resolution revolution which has now been gathering momentum and seems to be all the rage. Myself included loves what this new medium is offering but as an audiophile I have many different sources and also a fairly large CD collection and it just so happens that a fairly substantial SACD collection too. From previous experience of high end CD spinners, I know that this medium can offer some stunning sound as I have reviewed the excellent Metronome Audio CD 8S which is a fantastic player, also extensive listening to the Audio Research CD6 and CD9 players. With the ability to extract such a high-quality sound, CD is certainly not dead for many audiophiles who have large collections and a fairly high budget to play with. When the McIntosh Labs MCD550 came up for review I jumped at the chance as I have a lot of respect for what this company does in the high-end audio indust

ATC SCM19AT Active Speakers Review

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When I was asked if I would like to review the new ATC SCM19A speakers I jumped at the chance with a resounding YES. It had been a while since I last heard the well coveted SCM19 speakers, but this time it is in the guise as the SCM19AT with ‘AT’ standing for the Active Tower versions of this popular speaker. ATC have a long history in building high quality speakers with many of their components being made in house. This gives them total control over what is produced but it also means that they have the knowledge of not just designing good speakers but building them too. With many of their speaker’s studio grade and their active designs are some of the best examples of how to do active. With matching all the components together, meaning drive units and active crossovers you can be sure that the speaker has plenty of power and specifically to each drive unit as is the case with the SCM19AT which has a total of 182 watts per speaker at its disposal. High End Audio and active speakers

Sonus faber Olympica II Speakers Review

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Sonus faber is an Italian icon in the HiFi world in the same vein that Ferrari is in the automotive world, with the name representing some of the finest in luxury loudspeakers to come out of Italy in the past century and continuing on to present day. If you are looking for some of most stylish and beautiful looking speakers then it will most probably have the Sonus faber name embellished on them. It’s not all about the beauty though as thankfully the sound is also world class and it runs through the entire Sonus range, from the entry level to the range topping Aida speakers. The Olympia II Speakers that I have for review sit somewhere in the middle of the range as the Venere is below them and then you move up to the Homage range which starts running into serious money. Everything about these speakers screams quality and the attention to detail is second to none. Sonus faber refer to their speakers as musical instruments and as such they look and feel every bit as special as say a bea

ProAc K6 Speakers Review

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Over the last two decades I have owned around three pairs of ProAc speakers, all in the Response range which I loved. I have always admired their work and in particular Stewart Tyler’s ability to create such stunning examples of what speakers should be and that is the ability to create great music. Their speakers are very understated with regard to the design they have stayed more or less the same, well they have always stuck with the traditional box design varying in sizes with all the magic going on inside them. Rather than using exotic materials for cabinets, Stewart and his team have gone with the conventional method and that is to use wood in all their speaker cabinets, this is with exception to the drive units which have seen many different types of polymer, paper pulp, carbon and Kevlar which Stewart has experimented with and mastered over the years to what sounds best for the ProAc name. ProAc has been in business for many decades now, Stewart Tyler started making speakers in t

dCS Debussy DAC Review

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The dCS name has become one of the most recognised and distinguished in high-end audio world, as the class leader for digital electronics in the ever-growing DAC market. The most coveted being the dCS Vivaldi which is a four-box powerhouse and used by many of the class leading high end audio speaker manufacturers to show off their gorgeous speakers to their best ability. All of their DAC’s are named after famous composers with the one that I am reviewing here being the Debussy DAC. This is there starting point in the ladder and also their cheapest coming in at around the £8,500 price point, but that by no means reflects any shortcomings in the Debussy’s performance as it still uses their proprietary Ring DAC™ which oversamples all incoming data to 5-bits at 2.822 to 3.07MS/s and is used all the way through to the gorgeous sounding Vivaldi DAC. Their approach to the digital processing platform is one in which it is built around a sophisticated field programmable gate array and DSP IC.

JBL 4429 Studio Monitor review

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JBL is a name in the speaker world which conjures up all sorts of memories for many people all over the world and is most iconic for their studio monitors which have graced many professional recording studios’. This sort of iconic status is well earned and respected by all who have had the pleasure of hearing this legendary speaker brand. The JBL 4425 was first introduced way back in 1985 and the 4429 model is a direct replacement for this monitor. At that time the JBL 4425 was the first studio monitor from JBL to combine a compression driver and Bi-Radial horn in a monitor which was in a reasonably compact size. Technology has moved on but the same principals are still instilled in the design and look of the JBL 4429, as they both have the 300mm bass unit but rather than just the one horn they have two in place with high compression drivers, one for the mid/high frequency up to 8Khz and another for the UHF which extends all the way up to 45Khz. This represents a major upgrade in son

Audio Research PH9 Phono-Stage review

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Audio Research has a long history in creating some of the finest vacuum tube amplifiers and preamplifiers in the industry with its roots going all the way back to 1970 when they made their first amplifier. I have heard many great systems with speakers being driven by Audio Research electronics and some of my favourite ones too. With the recent G series, they really have stepped up the mark a good few notches and the performance with the incredible GS150 Stereo amplifier is one of my most listened to amplifier which has incredible power over most speakers that they have been paired with. This is all good but where would a good system be without the pairing of an exceptional preamplifier and again this is another area which Audio Research have mastered and mastered really well. The use of tubes in their amplifiers really do set them apart from other companies as far as the high-end audio industry goes, with all their work being carried out at their factory in Minnesota Minneapolis in th

Chord Electronics Poly Review

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Chord Electronics is an iconic name in the English audiophile community, to me, it represents excellence in HiFi and Chord makes sure you know that it is proud of its heritage and the British flag is placed proudly on all its packaging. I spent 2 hours with Chord Electronics at the very prestigious Goring Hotel in London for the launch event of the Poly and it was very snazzy indeed with champagne flowing. What impressed me the most at this fantastic launch event was the amount of R&D and technology that has gone into the final product that is the Chord Electronics Poly. It is one of a kind for sure and there is no other product on the market that even comes close to what the Poly can offer. I have always liked the Mojo's sound quality and it has won many awards from every reputable HiFi magazine I can think of. It has an outstanding sound quality which is hard to rival at its price point and you will have to pay considerably more to come close to the quality of the Mojo. Now

dCS Network Bridge Review

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dCS is a name in the high-end audio community which holds a very high regard when it comes to quality and all things digital, recently celebrating their 30th Birthday. They started producing DAC's for the professional market way back in the 1980's with the first 24bit analogue-to-digital converter which appeared in 1989. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength with its current Vivaldi DAC its greatest achievement to date giving you the very best in their DAC technology and digital prowess, but it comes at a very high cost and is available to rich audiophiles who can afford it. Although the ring DAC technology is also available in their lower costing DAC's with the Debussy being one of them, it has been reviewed HERE at The Speaker Shack so make sure you check out that review after reading the NBR review. The dCS Network Bridge is a new product for them, it does not look like much at first glance, with its sleek lines and boxed appearance but when you t