The Audiophile Man Featuring Hi-Fi and Music news, reviews, features and interviews 2018-11-14T18:02:49Z https://theaudiophileman.com/feed/atom/ Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[Colibri XGW Signature Stradivarius]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28129 2018-11-14T18:02:49Z 2018-11-14T18:02:49Z van den Hul’s Colibri cartridge first appeared in the mid-90s and has continually evolved in the form of a range of versions and editions since. This is the new XGW Signature Stradivarius edition The new Colibri
 XGW Signature Stradivarius is crafted from cross-grained Brazilian, high density wood and is often used in the bows of stringed instruments. Here, its strong internal damping limits vibrations travelling between cartridge and tonearm. A further key distinction in this new edition is the ‘Stradivarius formula’ lacquer that coats the Colibri’s body, a treatment which was recently tried and tested on the company’s ‘Crimson’ model. While the details of the formula’s composition remain under wraps, its inspiration comes from that used on Antonio Stradivari’s violins, hence the cartridge’s name. van den Hul applies three separate layers of the lacquer and each layer takes several weeks to fully cure and harden, meaning that every cartridge body undergoes months of work before any further construction can even begin. “The advantage,” explains van den Hul, “is that the harder outer coating destroys the standing waves inside the softer body, reducing unwanted resonance.” The Colibri
 XGW Signature Stradivarius has an extremely high (for an MC model) output of 1.10mV, […]

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van den Hul’s Colibri cartridge first appeared in the mid-90s and has continually evolved in the form of a range of versions and editions since. This is the new XGW Signature Stradivarius edition

The new Colibri
 XGW Signature Stradivarius is crafted from cross-grained Brazilian, high density wood and is often used in the bows of stringed instruments. Here, its strong internal damping limits vibrations travelling between cartridge and tonearm.

Colibri XGW Signature Stradivarius

A further key distinction in this new edition is the ‘Stradivarius formula’ lacquer that coats the Colibri’s body, a treatment which was recently tried and tested on the company’s ‘Crimson’ model. While the details of the formula’s composition remain under wraps, its inspiration comes from that used on Antonio Stradivari’s violins, hence the cartridge’s name. van den Hul applies three separate layers of the lacquer and each layer takes several weeks to fully cure and harden, meaning that every cartridge body undergoes months of work before any further construction can even begin. “The advantage,” explains van den Hul, “is that the harder outer coating destroys the standing waves inside the softer body, reducing unwanted resonance.”

Colibri XGW Signature Stradivarius

The Colibri
 XGW Signature Stradivarius has an extremely high (for an MC model) output of 1.10mV, thanks to a magnet with double the strength of that found in the regular Colibri and a coil assembly with matched, six-layer, 24-karat gold coils which have three times the output of the standard two-layer coils. The cantilever is solid boron and uses the proprietary van den Hul type 1s, 2×85μm stylus.

Colibri XGW Signature Stradivarius

Each individual cartridge is hand-built to order by A.J. van den Hul himself and can be tailored according to the customer’s hi-fi system, musical preferences and other sonic tastes.  What’s more, van den Hul offers a 200-hour service check-up free of charge to the original owner. Price is £7,450.

To learn more click www.vandenhul.com or call 056 0205 4669

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[P10 Phono Amplifier From Pure Sound ]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28120 2018-11-14T16:54:44Z 2018-11-14T16:53:55Z Offering a moving magnet stage with moving coil upgrade options, Paul Rigby reviews the Puresound P10 phono amplifier An essential part of the analogue chain but one that rarely receives enough attention when putting together a vinyl-sourced system, the phono amplifier is critical to obtaining a top quality sound from your vinyl records. Given the specialist job of boosting the tiny signal emanating from your delicate stylus, there are two specific flavours commonly found on most phono amplifiers. Both ally themselves to cartridge technologies: moving magnet and moving coil.  The P10 phono amplifier is valve based and is devoted to moving magnet but you can upgrade specs to moving coil using a step-up transformer. Puresound offers one of its own, the T10 at £369.95. Spanning 215 x 360 x90mm and weighing in at 5kg, in its default configuration, the P10 can handle classic moving magnet cartridges (at 47K Ohm) but also high output moving coil cartridges and moving iron technologies (I used a moving iron Origin Live Aladdin during the test). Talking to designer, Guy Sergeant, he explained that the design of the P10 uses, “…double triodes in a simple anode follower configuration. The phono equalisation is achieved using passive components […]

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Offering a moving magnet stage with moving coil upgrade options, Paul Rigby reviews the Puresound P10 phono amplifier

An essential part of the analogue chain but one that rarely receives enough attention when putting together a vinyl-sourced system, the phono amplifier is critical to obtaining a top quality sound from your vinyl records.

Given the specialist job of boosting the tiny signal emanating from your delicate stylus, there are two specific flavours commonly found on most phono amplifiers. Both ally themselves to cartridge technologies: moving magnet and moving coil. 

The P10 phono amplifier is valve based and is devoted to moving magnet but you can upgrade specs to moving coil using a step-up transformer. Puresound offers one of its own, the T10 at £369.95.

Spanning 215 x 360 x90mm and weighing in at 5kg, in its default configuration, the P10 can handle classic moving magnet cartridges (at 47K Ohm) but also high output moving coil cartridges and moving iron technologies (I used a moving iron Origin Live Aladdin during the test).

P10 Phono Amplifier From Pure Sound 

Talking to designer, Guy Sergeant, he explained that the design of the P10 uses, “…double triodes in a simple anode follower configuration. The phono equalisation is achieved using passive components and can therefore maintain its accuracy over time without introducing the unacceptable levels of phase shift found in active equalisation stages. There is no negative feedback in the circuit. The P10 features a particularly elaborate HT power supply. After the initial rectification and smoothing, the supply is split and two separate, heavily decoupled high voltage rails are established. These feed each half of the output valve while further decoupling of each rail allows the cleanest and most independent voltage rails possible to feed each half of the input valve.” 

The valve filaments are also fed by a DC supply while the circuit makes use of close tolerance metal film resistors, polypropylene signal coupling capacitors and selected valves.

Aesthetics are nothing to write home about, this is a well made, yet simple boxed chassis with a simple power switch on the front and basic phono amplifier connections on the rear. That’s fine with me, though, I would rather that the art emerged from within.

SOUND QUALITY

I began the tests with an original pressing of Joe Jackson’s high energy jazz LP, Jumpin’ Jive and the track, Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid.

I was a little puzzled by the P10 for a minute or two. I realise that this amp cannot be described as low cost and, yes, there’s a reasonably pricey moving iron hanging off the tonearm so we’re not talking cheap and cheerful. I realise all of that. Even so, I wasn’t prepared for the quality of the sound from the P10. 

Before we get to the the P10 itself I’d like to talk about the Aladdin first off. Why? Because there are phono amplifiers out there that fail to allow the Aladdin to ‘do its stuff’. The Aladdin has a smooth, low noise midrange that encourages you to up the gain. Its low noise design then sucks in more detail from that point onwards. Restrictive phono amplifiers can make the Aladdin sound a little clunky, claustrophobic and stumbling in its approach. Not the P10. The Pure Sound amp basically said to the Aladdin, “OK, you want air and space to operate within? Here, have this lot…hell, have some more.” It was the platform created by P10 that impressed me more than anything. That is, for the price, the P10 was pretty darned invisible, refusing to impose itself on the soundstage and giving the Aladdin a large ballroom to dance within. 

P10 Phono Amplifier From Pure Sound 

What I’m trying to say here is that the P10 didn’t sound great, it allowed the Aladdin to sound great. My mind figuratively pointed at the cartridge, not the phono amplifier. I can’t think of a bigger compliment to give to the P10 than that. It just, well, got out of the way. 

Specifics? That space and air that I mentioned was generated in an around the mids and treble, giving the music a dynamism that allowed it to be both relaxed and far reaching in its approach. Here was a real ease and flow about the midrange. Strain and tension were not to be heard here and, because of that, the musicians sounded like they were having a ball. The lack of any constriction and the tonal accuracy produced off the back of that plastered a smile all over my face. 

One specific highlight was the combined brass attack from this song and the ability of the P10 to add enough insight into the soundstage to allow the ear to hear the whole and yet differentiate between instruments. At no time, did this collection of horns sound like an amorphous blob. Detail oozed from the midrange.

P10 Phono Amplifier From Pure Sound 

Bass was not excessive yet remained characterful and there was plenty available for the job in hand. Although bass never felt massy, that bass never lacked character at any time, in fact it was nicely balanced around the soundstage and honed to boot.

I then turned to an original pressing of The Rutles self-titled album and their Beatles parody of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Good Times Roll. Bass performed excellently here, adding weight to the spacious percussive strikes.

The Lennon-like vocals were expressive and offered a heap of emotive textures while the rather shy bass guitar could be easily tracked by the ear, such as the admirable instrumental separation.

The next track, the Penny Lane-Like, Doubleback Alley allowed the piano to be expressive yet simultaneously controlled, opening up the instrument and allowing the ear to enjoy the complexity of this instrument, free of any damaging smearing. 

P10 Phono Amplifier From Pure Sound 

Vocal harmonies were to be enjoyed as a single entity but the ability of the P10 to infuse air into all aspects of the arrangement meant that the ear could differentiate and recognise each voice as a separate person. 

CONCLUSION

You might question spending almost £700 on a moving magnet phono amplifier but, with the right step-up transformer upgrade, the two box system can bring its own low noise benefits and there is a lot to be said for getting the basic moving magnet portion of any phono  amp ‘just right’. 

And ‘just right’ is what you can hear here because the P10 is quite a performer. Feed it with a high quality moving magnet cartridge and it will blow away much (Most? All?) of the competition.


PURE SOUND P10 PHONO AMPLIFIER

Price: £689.95

Tel: 01822 612449

Website: www.puresound.info


GOOD: spacious mids, balanced output, easy to set-up and use, clarity, transparency

BAD: nothing

RATING: 8


[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

REFERENCE

 

Avid Acutus turntable

SME IV tonearm

Origin Live Aladdin moving iron cartridge

Icon PS3 phono amplifier

Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp

Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers

Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade

Spendor A1 speakers

Tellurium Q Silver Diamond cables

Gekko Purple Haze cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

CAD GC1 Ground Controls

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[Direkt Speakers From Heco: Sensitive Souls ]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28102 2018-11-14T16:13:06Z 2018-11-14T15:36:25Z Looking for a pair of high efficiency, sensitive speakers with a unique sense of styling? Paul Rigby reviews the Heco Direkt speakers I can’t seem to get the notion out of my head – these speakers, with the stripe running down the centre? Looks like a Lambretta scooter to me. If ever there was a pair of speakers for a Mod, this was them. Want to listen to the Small Faces? Try to be Direkt.  All these speakers need are 57 pairs of wing mirrors sticking out of the sides.  Tearing myself away from my over-active imagination, the Direkts are large two-way speakers with a unique, broad MDF-based frontage that gives the aesthetic a retro feel. On that front is a 28mm silk domed tweeter with a solid aluminium front panel and wave control horn, powered by a double magnet system. The 279mm mid-bass unit arrives with a Kraft paper diaphragm and lightweight dust-protection cone in a die-cast aluminium cage. Underneath is a pair of downward-firing bass-reflex ports. A pair of speaker terminals can be found at the back. Arriving with a sensitivity of 95db, they are ideal for low powered valve amps from around 10W or so. The speakers weigh in […]

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Looking for a pair of high efficiency, sensitive speakers with a unique sense of styling? Paul Rigby reviews the Heco Direkt speakers

I can’t seem to get the notion out of my head – these speakers, with the stripe running down the centre? Looks like a Lambretta scooter to me. If ever there was a pair of speakers for a Mod, this was them. Want to listen to the Small Faces? Try to be Direkt. 

Direkt Speakers From Heco: Sensitive Souls 

All these speakers need are 57 pairs of wing mirrors sticking out of the sides. 

Tearing myself away from my over-active imagination, the Direkts are large two-way speakers with a unique, broad MDF-based frontage that gives the aesthetic a retro feel.

Direkt Speakers From Heco: Sensitive Souls 

On that front is a 28mm silk domed tweeter with a solid aluminium front panel and wave control horn, powered by a double magnet system.

The 279mm mid-bass unit arrives with a Kraft paper diaphragm and lightweight dust-protection cone in a die-cast aluminium cage. Underneath is a pair of downward-firing bass-reflex ports. A pair of speaker terminals can be found at the back. Arriving with a sensitivity of 95db, they are ideal for low powered valve amps from around 10W or so.

The speakers weigh in at 26kg and stand on their own trio of metal legs that arrive loose and need to be screwed into the base before use. You can attach spikes or rubber feet on the ends. 

Available in black/black and white/silver, each speakers spans 440 x 998 x 397mm

SET UP

Before the music itself took effect, I was impressed at the sensitivity of these speakers and how easy they were to drive. Like other sensitive speakers I’ve come across, the Direkt speakers needed tweaking in order to find the sweet spot. For me, that was pointing the tweeters outside of my left and right ears, almost pointing directly down the room but toed in a touch. Too close to the ears and they tended to ‘beam’ and hit a slight stridency from guitars and vocals at high volumes. If you get that, swing them out a bit further from the ears.

Direkt Speakers From Heco: Sensitive Souls 

Each speaker also needed careful moving to centralise the stereo image. Once done, the soundstage clicked into place and all was well with the Heco world. Apart form that, these speakers sounded like they hadn’t been played for a while so needed a fair bit of breaking in, to loosen up the joints, as it where.

SOUND QUALITY

I began with vinyl and the country ballad, You’re Free to Go via Emmylou Harris from the album, Thirteen.

Highlights to look out for are Harris’ throaty, sometimes dry and raspy delivery, a pair of lazy acoustic guitar strums, a mandolin solo during the middle eight, occasional but rather subtle piano chords and shy cymbal taps with reverb tails but the speakers need to be insightful enough to track them.

Once up and running, I was happy to hear the textural delivery from Harris, the little catches in her voice, the slight dryness that accompanied the emotion of this ‘break up’ song, two lovers realising that the end has arrived.

Direkt Speakers From Heco: Sensitive Souls 

The strumming acoustic guitars offered plenty of detail and midrange delicacy, exhibiting a full set of moving strings and the the pick that sped across them giving that shooting strum effect.

The suite of piano chords were there, present and correct, providing a decidedly grand effect to the music and the mandolin, subtle and reserved, showed how the Direckt speakers were able to utilise their insight to tease out the delicate strum sounds. 

Treble was similarly impressive. The cymbal taps, lounging way to the rear of the mix, were accessed by the ear while the delicate reverb tails could be tracked easily. 

Direkt Speakers From Heco: Sensitive Souls 

I then dived into Queen at their rocking best and Dead on Time from the album, Jazz.

I was impressed with the well structured soundstage here. The sense of imagery was well implemented by the Direkt speakers while bass extension was a definite highlight, the lower frequencies were strong and massy while sub-bass extension was impressive, giving the music drive but also a high energy excitement. 

Transient ability was also good, Freddie Mercury’s vocals were lively, responsive and sprightly. This particular cut suffers a touch from brightness during vocal crescendos and the Direkts didn’t hide that, their transparent nature was fully prepared to let you know when a master wasn’t quite right. So, be prepared by the Direckt’s honesty.   

Direkt Speakers From Heco: Sensitive Souls 

I decided to draft in a bit of Babs, Barbra Streisand, to see how the speakers coped with there vocal range. Did you know that Streisand sang prog rock? Check out the LP, Guilty and the track Make It Like a Memory and be prepared to store it next to your single of Music by John Miles.

During the song, Streisand’s vocal was impressively detailed, the orchestral backing was clear and impressively spacious with plenty of air to encourage fine detail.

CONCLUSION

Plug the Direkt speakers into the right amplification, preferably an amplifier that offers a wealth of detail, delicacy and fragility, then take take time to position the speakers carefully and they will offer you a fascinatingly insightful performance that will wow owners of valve systems especially. Don’t reject these speakers from a solid state system, though. There’s plenty of fine solid state units out there offering clarity and an open nature that would benefit from a demo. As it is, the Heco Direkts provide a supremely expressive and articulate performance, drawing you into the entire musical experience. 


HECO DIREKT SPEAKERS

Price: £2,749.95

Tel: 01822 612449

Website: www.puresound.info


GOOD: transparency, imagery, midrange insight, sensitivity, styling

BAD: careful component matching and careful set-up…just be careful, ok?

RATING: 8


[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

REFERENCE

Origin Live Sovereign turntable

Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm

Van Den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius Cartridge

Icon PS3 phono amplifier

Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp

Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers

Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade

Spendor A1 speakers

Tellurium Q Silver Diamond cables

Gekko Purple Haze cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

CAD GC1 Ground Controls

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[Mu-so adds Apple’s AirPlay 2]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28089 2018-11-13T17:02:21Z 2018-11-13T16:54:05Z The second generation of Apple’s streaming technology is been added to Naim’s Mu-so range Naim has announced Apple AirPlay 2 technology for the Mu-so range. Owners can enable AirPlay 2 functionality by updating their devices firmware upon release. Once the update becomes available, the Naim app will prompt customers to perform an over-the-air update. Users will need to have their compatible Apple devices running on IOS 11.4 or above. The update will be available today for the ‘Qb’ and Wednesday 14th November for the Mu-so. AirPlay 2’s multi-room audio functionality can drastically change the way Mu-so owners experience home audio, streaming music (or podcasts or YouTube video audio from your Apple TV, iPhone or iPad to a Naim Mu-so/Mu-so Qb, as well as any other AirPlay 2-enabled speakers in the home. You can quickly select as many or as few of the speakers as they want to use in your iOS device’s Control Center, giving scope to listen in a single room of the house, a group of rooms or all rooms. All iOS apps with audio include manual AirPlay 2 controls for playback and volume adjustment but the new addition of Siri integration means that voice recognition is added.  Apple Music subscribers can now […]

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The second generation of Apple’s streaming technology is been added to Naim’s Mu-so range

Naim has announced Apple AirPlay 2 technology for the Mu-so range. Owners can enable AirPlay 2 functionality by updating their devices firmware upon release. Once the update becomes available, the Naim app will prompt customers to perform an over-the-air update. Users will need to have their compatible Apple devices running on IOS 11.4 or above.

Mu-so adds Apple’s AirPlay 2

The update will be available today for the ‘Qb’ and Wednesday 14th November for the Mu-so.

AirPlay 2’s multi-room audio functionality can drastically change the way Mu-so owners experience home audio, streaming music (or podcasts or YouTube video audio from your Apple TV, iPhone or iPad to a Naim Mu-so/Mu-so Qb, as well as any other AirPlay 2-enabled speakers in the home.

Mu-so adds Apple’s AirPlay 2

You can quickly select as many or as few of the speakers as they want to use in your iOS device’s Control Center, giving scope to listen in a single room of the house, a group of rooms or all rooms.

Mu-so adds Apple’s AirPlay 2

All iOS apps with audio include manual AirPlay 2 controls for playback and volume adjustment but the new addition of Siri integration means that voice recognition is added. 

Mu-so adds Apple’s AirPlay 2

Apple Music subscribers can now use spoken commands to request a track, album, artist or playlist, play or pause playback, skip track or adjust the volume.

When used in conjunction with a multi-room AirPlay 2 system, Siri can be asked to play different songs in different rooms or groups of rooms or the same track across the entire system.

Mu-so adds Apple’s AirPlay 2

To read more, click www.naimaudio.com/mu-so

[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[F3 Subwoofers from Fyne Audio]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28074 2018-11-13T16:14:07Z 2018-11-13T15:59:10Z The Fyne Audio F3 Series subwoofers combine DDX Direct Digital amplification and DSP The cabinets are heavyweight and extensively braced, with large diameter ports.using a flare profile at both ends. The black oak finish cabinets are fitted with large, compliant feet. Fyne’s front-mounted drivers feature a cone material formed with a mix of fibres, with rubber roll surround and deep coil assembly affording long throw excursion and high power handling. Direct Digital Amplification (DDX) is used throughout., “DDX builds on Class D technology with higher power, better efficiency, lower RFI output and enhanced sonic characteristics,” said the company. In addition to switchable LFE/Normal input, phase reverse and signal sensing power on, all subs include automatic dynamic range management, overload protection and Fyne’s Bass Boost function. This feature gives a +3dB lift. Prices: F3-8                8″ (203mm) bass driver/425 Watt DDX power     £300 each F3-10              10″ (254mm) bass driver/475 Watt DDX power   £400 each F3-12              12″ (305mm) bass driver/520 Watt DDX power   £600 each To read more, click www.fyneaudio.com [Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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The Fyne Audio F3 Series subwoofers combine DDX Direct Digital amplification and DSP

F3 Subwoofers from Fyne Audio

The cabinets are heavyweight and extensively braced, with large diameter ports.using a flare profile at both ends. The black oak finish cabinets are fitted with large, compliant feet.

F3 Subwoofers from Fyne Audio

Fyne’s front-mounted drivers feature a cone material formed with a mix of fibres, with rubber roll surround and deep coil assembly affording long throw excursion and high power handling.

F3 Subwoofers from Fyne Audio

Direct Digital Amplification (DDX) is used throughout., “DDX builds on Class D technology with higher power, better efficiency, lower RFI output and enhanced sonic characteristics,” said the company.

F3 Subwoofers from Fyne Audio

In addition to switchable LFE/Normal input, phase reverse and signal sensing power on, all subs include automatic dynamic range management, overload protection and Fyne’s Bass Boost function. This feature gives a +3dB lift.

Prices:

F3-8                8″ (203mm) bass driver/425 Watt DDX power     £300 each

F3-10              10″ (254mm) bass driver/475 Watt DDX power   £400 each

F3-12              12″ (305mm) bass driver/520 Watt DDX power   £600 each

To read more, click www.fyneaudio.com

[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 50 COPIES EACH]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28055 2018-11-13T16:13:24Z 2018-11-13T14:36:43Z Unicef has announced that it is pressing just 50 limited edition blue vinyl copies of 16 rather well known albums. Specially released to raise money for Unicef’s work for children affected by wars and disasters THE ALBUMS ARE…  David Bowie – The Next Day Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit Kate Bush – The Sensual World King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree Coldplay – A Head Full Of Dreams The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud Alicia Keys – Songs In A Minor Bob Marley And The Wailers – Catch A Fire Novelist – Novelist Guy Ozzy Osbourne – Diary Of A Madman Spice Girls – Spice Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution Robbie Williams – Take The Crown Amy Winehouse – Back To Black Each of the 16 albums has been specially pressed in Unicef’s cyan blue vinyl and individually numbered from 1 to 50. Each album will be adorned with an edition sticker as well as a holographic Unicef sticker on the front of the album. To acquire one of the limited edition vinyl fans can pay £5 to enter an artist specific prize draw. There is no limit to […]

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Unicef has announced that it is pressing just 50 limited edition blue vinyl copies of 16 rather well known albums. Specially released to raise money for Unicef’s work for children affected by wars and disasters

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

THE ALBUMS ARE… 

David Bowie – The Next Day

Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit

Kate Bush – The Sensual World

King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Coldplay – A Head Full Of Dreams

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love

Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud

Alicia Keys – Songs In A Minor

Bob Marley And The Wailers – Catch A Fire

Novelist – Novelist Guy

Ozzy Osbourne – Diary Of A Madman

Spice Girls – Spice

Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution

Robbie Williams – Take The Crown

Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

Each of the 16 albums has been specially pressed in Unicef’s cyan blue vinyl and individually numbered from 1 to 50.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

Each album will be adorned with an edition sticker as well as a holographic Unicef sticker on the front of the album.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

To acquire one of the limited edition vinyl fans can pay £5 to enter an artist specific prize draw.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

There is no limit to the number of tickets that can be bought and for every 10 tickets bought by one person a free ticket is issued.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

For the super fans and collectors there is the opportunity to bid for the first pressing (no. 1) of each the blue vinyl editions. Bids start at £250.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

The prize draw and auction will be hosted on www.givergy.com.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

There is also a special auction for the collection of the number 2 pressings of all 16 albums. Bids start at £1,500.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

100% of proceeds from Unicef Blue Vinyl will go to Unicef UK’s Children’s Emergency Fund.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

The Children’s Emergency Fund helps Unicef be there for children in danger, wherever and whenever war or disaster strikes.

UNICEF BLUE VINYL: 16 SEMINAL ALBUMS

For more information, click unicef.org.uk

[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[S9 Wireless Noise-Cancelling ‘Phones From Pioneer]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28038 2018-11-13T16:16:47Z 2018-11-13T13:35:50Z Pioneer has added the S9 wireless noise-cancelling headphones to its Scene Style series  The S9 features large 40mm diameter “rare-earth” magnet drivers and CCAW (Copper-Clad Aluminium Wire) voice-coils plus polyurethane-cushioned headband, sliding hangers and low-profile earpads. Buttons and a microphone on the headphone housing allow the listener to adjust the volume, skip tracks and take calls. The S9 also features NFC functionality for device pairing. A maximum continuous transmission time of 27 hours (NC OFF/including music playback time) is featured. Also, if you press and hold the relevant button, you can start a conversation with your Google Assistant. Multi-Point Function allows two smartphones to be wirelessly connected to the headphones at the same time. You can take calls with one phone and listen to music with another.  You listen via cable should the batteries become depleted. The Pioneer headphone app supports Bluetooth pairing, the ability to switch noise management modes, and more. Available in silver-accented black or gold finishes, the S9 Pioneer noise-cancelling wireless headphones with Google Assistant are priced at £200, available from the end of November. For further information visit www.pioneer-audiovisual.eu [Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive […]

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Pioneer has added the S9 wireless noise-cancelling headphones to its Scene Style series 

The S9 features large 40mm diameter “rare-earth” magnet drivers and CCAW (Copper-Clad Aluminium Wire) voice-coils plus polyurethane-cushioned headband, sliding hangers and low-profile earpads.

S9 Wireless Noise-Cancelling 'Phones From Pioneer

Buttons and a microphone on the headphone housing allow the listener to adjust the volume, skip tracks and take calls. The S9 also features NFC functionality for device pairing. A maximum continuous transmission time of 27 hours (NC OFF/including music playback time) is featured.

S9 Wireless Noise-Cancelling 'Phones From Pioneer

Also, if you press and hold the relevant button, you can start a conversation with your Google Assistant.

S9 Wireless Noise-Cancelling 'Phones From Pioneer

Multi-Point Function allows two smartphones to be wirelessly connected to the headphones at the same time. You can take calls with one phone and listen to music with another.  You listen via cable should the batteries become depleted.

S9 Wireless Noise-Cancelling 'Phones From Pioneer

The Pioneer headphone app supports Bluetooth pairing, the ability to switch noise management modes, and more.

S9 Wireless Noise-Cancelling 'Phones From Pioneer

Available in silver-accented black or gold finishes, the S9 Pioneer noise-cancelling wireless headphones with Google Assistant are priced at £200, available from the end of November.

For further information visit www.pioneer-audiovisual.eu

[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[AH-D9200 Flagship Headphones From Denon]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28022 2018-11-13T16:15:25Z 2018-11-13T12:49:13Z The AH-D9200 headphones are hand built in Denon’s Shirakawa Audio Works facility, north of Tokyo. The unique patterning of the bamboo from which the earpieces are made means no two pairs are the same Crafted from carefully selected real wood – in this case Japanese bamboo – as well as diecast aluminium and leather, the AH-D9200 sits at the top of a three-strong Denon ‘Wood Series’, joining the walnut AH-D7200 launched in 2016 and the zebra wood AH-D5200 introduced earlier this year. Mounted in vibration-reducing resin baffles, the headphones are powered by magnets made from an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron. A combination of Japanese leather and memory foam for the earpads combine with the aluminium headband and natural leather cushion. The AH-D9200 is supplied with two detachable cables: a 3.0m silver-coated oxygen-free copper connector fitted with a 6.3mm plug for home listening and a shorter 1.3m cable with a 3.5mm plus portable music players. A hard storage case and cleaning cloth are supplied too. The AH-D9200 headphones are available now for £1,399. For more information visit www.denon.com. [Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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The AH-D9200 headphones are hand built in Denon’s Shirakawa Audio Works facility, north of Tokyo. The unique patterning of the bamboo from which the earpieces are made means no two pairs are the same

AH-D9200 Flagship Headphones From Denon

Crafted from carefully selected real wood – in this case Japanese bamboo – as well as diecast aluminium and leather, the AH-D9200 sits at the top of a three-strong Denon ‘Wood Series’, joining the walnut AH-D7200 launched in 2016 and the zebra wood AH-D5200 introduced earlier this year.

AH-D9200 Flagship Headphones From Denon

Mounted in vibration-reducing resin baffles, the headphones are powered by magnets made from an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron.

AH-D9200 Flagship Headphones From Denon

A combination of Japanese leather and memory foam for the earpads combine with the aluminium headband and natural leather cushion.

AH-D9200 Flagship Headphones From Denon

The AH-D9200 is supplied with two detachable cables: a 3.0m silver-coated oxygen-free copper connector fitted with a 6.3mm plug for home listening and a shorter 1.3m cable with a 3.5mm plus portable music players. A hard storage case and cleaning cloth are supplied too.

AH-D9200 Flagship Headphones From Denon

The AH-D9200 headphones are available now for £1,399.

For more information visit www.denon.com.

[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[Styx Cables & Lifts From Titan Audio ]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=27993 2018-11-09T12:04:35Z 2018-11-09T11:50:22Z Offering a new range of cabling plus a low cost set of lifts to run alongside (or should that be underneath?), Paul Rigby reviews Titan’s Styx interconnects, speaker cables, digital cables and cable lifts  Styx is Titan’s latest range of cabling for the entry-level user. I was very happy with the company’s mains power block which I reviewed earlier this year and was eager for more so was fortunate to grab an exclusive review on the new batch of Styx cable releases. Namely the new speaker cables, RCA interconnects, digital cable and cable lifts. The speaker cables have been hand built with CNC-machined parts. They feature 2-core stranded conductors which are sheathed with metal braid and then extruded with a PVC dialectic before being covered in decorative braid, “One of the huge problems at this price point is the cable splitter section,” said the company. “The vast majority simply splice and cover with a Y boot or heat shrink (even with cables twice the price) which some may think is only a cosmetic issue but by stripping the dielectric you are essentially welcoming airborne frequencies which is why we felt it was very important to create a splitter which protected them […]

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Offering a new range of cabling plus a low cost set of lifts to run alongside (or should that be underneath?), Paul Rigby reviews Titan’s Styx interconnects, speaker cables, digital cables and cable lifts 

Styx is Titan’s latest range of cabling for the entry-level user. I was very happy with the company’s mains power block which I reviewed earlier this year and was eager for more so was fortunate to grab an exclusive review on the new batch of Styx cable releases. Namely the new speaker cables, RCA interconnects, digital cable and cable lifts.

The speaker cables have been hand built with CNC-machined parts. They feature 2-core stranded conductors which are sheathed with metal braid and then extruded with a PVC dialectic before being covered in decorative braid, “One of the huge problems at this price point is the cable splitter section,” said the company. “The vast majority simply splice and cover with a Y boot or heat shrink (even with cables twice the price) which some may think is only a cosmetic issue but by stripping the dielectric you are essentially welcoming airborne frequencies which is why we felt it was very important to create a splitter which protected them as much as possible from any interference while also keeping the cost to the consumer at a reasonable level, in the end we went with acrylic as it’s resin based which blocks frequencies pretty well and also allowed us to fit a small ferrite.”

The banana plugs are the usual 24k gold plated affairs. The connection is single screw clamp for grip and then a pressed cylinder crimp to keep the cable/plug straight while sealing the connection from any airborne frequencies, “Just before the crimp we fill the plug with an anti-vibration gel which hardens during the crimp process,” said the company. “This means there is no oxygen in the plug, creating a harmonically dead ‘shell’. The plug cover is machined from aluminium which, as you know, is non magnetic so again doesn’t invite any nasty frequencies.” 

Styx Cables & Lifts From Titan Audio 

The interconnect and digital cables basically follow the same pathway as the above  The main difference is that there’s a 3-core design for the interconnect while the digital cable uses a similar design to an aerial cable in that the centre pin is ‘floating’ between a thick extrusion which is why the cable is pretty stiff.

All the cables have unique serial numbers for a lifetime warranty’s and the same labels also show you the direction the cable should be used as it was extruded in that direction. 

The cable lifts are simple construtions, made from acrylic, “Acrylic is a fantastic material for absorbing high frequency vibration which is why you see so many turntable platters made of the stuff and that’s the main reason for the material choice in our lifts,” said the company. 

It would have been much easier for Titan to vacuum form them in a ‘U’ shape but the reason behind the lengthy build process is partly due to that V shape, “If you take one of the lifts and place a pencil across it you will see the minimal contact area between the lift and the table and same with the pencil and the lift. This is simply because we didn’t form the edge flat, the legs literally sit on the edge/point of the acrylic making the contact area incredibly small and therefore allowing as little room as possible for vibration to make contact,” said the company.

So how does this lot sound?

SOUND QUALITY

I began with the speaker cables and played You’re Free to Go via Emmylou Harris from the album, Thirteen and found them instantly balanced and neutral in their sound presentation. No nasty bass bloom, pinching treble or hard mids here. Details abounded around the lead vocal with plenty of emotion within the Harris’ delivery, guitars were incisive and informed, drums were steady with a nicely measured bass thump, strummed guitars offered a satisfying ‘string ring’ while the piano provided a controlled yet transparent demeanour.

The cables were almost boringly good, in fact. After a few seconds of listening to them I felt like exclaiming, “OK, good…next!” An extended review almost seemed unnecessary because of the confidence that the cables exuded, right there and then. 

Some cables around this price point tend to be either coloured or ever so slightly coloured, a touch warm, a little bit on the cool side or lacking in midrange insight. The Titan Styx speaker cables never fell into any of these open traps. 

I then moved to Supertramp’s Dreamer, from the LP Crime of the Century, and found the lead organ informative but controlled. This organ has the potential to bleed all over other voices and instruments, masking and swamping the soundstage. The Titan cables held a discipline that prevented that which meant that subtle secondary percussion was easily heard, as well as the relatively complex vocal harmonies. 

Styx Cables & Lifts From Titan Audio 

The low noise aspect of the cables also enabled the ear to pick up a lowly tambourine, even at a stage in the song where the drums were flailing around and the band were performing at full volume.

I then moved to the Styx interconnects and carried on with the Supertramp track.

I liked the speaker cables but the interconnects are, I have to say, a bit special. They moved the sound into hires mode without cheating their way to that state by cramping the mids and compressing the sound. The interconnects, instead, opened up the midrange and allowed masses of detail to wash around the soundstage. Once in, that detail was honed by impressive focus that enabled, for example, the vocal delivery to sound far clearer than most other cables at this price point. The proof of the pudding was that I could more easily understand what he was singing about!

Similarly, the organ and secondary percussion benefited from extra precision which afforded them greater impact. Drums, meanwhile, were big, hefty and plain heavy in their approach, giving the lower end a dramatic and, above all, organic weight.

Styx Cables & Lifts From Titan Audio 

Switching to Emmylou Harris, I was impressed by the mandolin solo during the middle eight in terms of its approach and detail but, more than that, the low noise performance of the cables because I could still hear the mandolin noodling away in the background very easily, even after the solo had fiished. This is often a rather shy detail but the Styx interconnects highlighted the information without difficulty.

I then moved to the Styx digital cable and used it to connect my CD player with my DAC. Playing Bing Crosby and the jazz-infused Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella from the Bluebird album, Bing with a Beat

Two things stood out here. Firstly, the low noise performance of the cable provided room and space for the Crosby vocal to relax and focus. This reduced a common element of digital cables at this price point which often smears the midrange. The Styx digital cable removed that issue, reducing the size of the lead vocal because it was focused and compact but that also meant that the vocal was fleet of foot and nimble across the soundstage. The lower noise also enabled a shy background piano noodle right at the start of the music to be brought nearer the ear and to take more of a role in the mix. It added to the richness of that early action of the song while the drummer – busy playing the metal rims of his drums – was given extra vitality and energy. 

Styx Cables & Lifts From Titan Audio 

The brass section featured a precise output, again reducing midrange smear, which added transient speed to the background instruments of the song. The entire song was snappy and snazzy now, making you want to click your fingers to the beat. 

Similarly, Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence also benefitted from the lower noise, reeling in subtle little percussive noises and synth effects, adding layering to the soundstage while the focused beats added speed and pace to the overall song, . 

Finally, I leapt upon the cable lifts. These little plastic items are cheap and cheerful accessories that make Titan exactly zero profit. They’re a bit of a loss leader in that the company wants you to use their cables (of course) while offering you a bit of a bargain as far as the lifts go. As cable lifts can be very expensive then I see this as a ‘good thing’. Unlike the recent review of the highly complex Furutech Cable Lifts that I recently reviewed, the Titan examples only want to lift the cables off the floor to remove it from speakers resonances, static from carpets as well as isolating the cables themselves. Cable ‘noise’ is not just on the inside of cables, it infests the outside too.

The better your system, the more you’ll hear – as ever – but everyone should benefit from this one. And the benefits are? A sparkling suite of midrange frequencies.  Harris’ vocal was much smoother than before and, more than that, less tense…calmer, if you will.

I grabbed three more boxes from Titan and did the same thing with the power cables from the rear of my Quad 57 speakers (they’re powered electrostatics, you see). Result? More. Better. The job started by the speaker cable lifts was continued and furthered. The key was that mandolin. Apart from the mid-song solo, the guy sits in the corner, facing the wall (well, it seems so) and noodles to himself. With lifts on both the speaker cables and speaker power cables I heard more mandolin in more areas of the song. An effect of lowering that noise once more.

All frequencies benefitted from this simple but effective upgrade and the changes occurred whether I was playing vinyl or CD. On the Supertramp track, the powerful drums enhanced their precision, the vocal added emotive texture and the secondary percussion sat in a wider space making their presence known and allowing the ear to target them ever more easily.  

If you are investing or have invested in Furutech cable lifts and cannot afford to lift all of your cables with the relatively expensive Furutech kit then buy what you can and lift the rest of the cables off the floor with these  Titan lifts, you won’t regret it.

CONCLUSION

The speaker cables are supremely even-handed. For this day and age, looking around at the competition and judging expectations, they provide top quality sound and do everything you’d expect and want for cables of this price point. That is, after a full 10 seconds, you just know that you can put faith in them and that they’ll do a job. 

The interconnects are real stars of this test, offering focus and a sense of midrange insight that drag detail from dark corners of the soundstage without resorting to compressive stridency. The sound output with these cables benefits with enhanced tonal insight.

The digital cable effectively grabbed the music by the scruff of the neck, tidied up the signal, added precision and pace, wound everything back up like a clockwork toy and released it not the sound stage to great effect. Adding both style and elegance.

As for the cable lifts – a bargain! The best value for money results in terms of sound enhancement in these sonic tests, the Titan cable lifts are actually one of the most effective hi-fi gadgets, in terms of price/performance ratio, that you can currently buy on the market.

[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]


STYX SPEAKER CABLES

Website: titanaudio.co.uk

Price: £250 for 3m

GOOD: balanced output, neutral mids, firm bass, confident presentation 

BAD: nothing

RATING: 8


STYX INTERCONNECTS

Price: £150 for 1m

GOOD: airy mids, incisive midrange, organic bass, high resolution sound

BAD: nothing

RATING: 9


STYX DIGITAL CABLE

Price: £80 for 1m

GOOD: precision, focus, transient pace, open mids, punchy bass 

BAD: nothing

RATING: 8


STYX CABLE LIFTS

Price: £30 for a pack of four

GOOD: low cost, easy to use, noise reduction, sparkling mids 

BAD: nothing

RATING: 9


REFERENCE

Pro-Ject RPM 3 turntable

Ortofon 2M Black cartridge

Trichord Dino phono amplifier

Rega Brio R amplifier

Spendor A1 speakers

Tellurium Q cables

Chord Shawline speaker cables

QED Reference Digital Audio 40 cable

QED Reference interconnect cables

Nordost Qbase QB6 power block

Titan Styx power block

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner 

 

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[A10 integrated valve amplifier From Pure Sound]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=27971 2018-11-08T14:32:33Z 2018-11-08T14:07:26Z The entry level design from Pure Sound, Paul Rigby reviews the A10 integrated amplifier If there’s one thing I’ve learned about valves and valve amplifiers especially is that there might be a host of products on the market but you can’t produce a top quality valve amp on the cheap. My previous ‘entry point’ recommendation was the Icon Audio Stereo 20 which currently retails somewhere around the £900 mark.  Pure Sound’s attractively built model nips in under that figure and so is immediately attractive and worthy of investigation. Designed as a Class A Ultra Linear push-pull design, the A10 uses a pair of 6N3 valves in the preamp section and a four 6P14 valves (“…a modern equivalent to the EL84/6BQ5 family,” said the company) for the output stage. For this price, the one thing you’re not going to get is lots of power. That Stereo 20 I mentioned above pumps out a maximum of 15W while the A10 spurts out only 10W. Hence, you’re going to have to be careful when matching speakers or the room size or both. Grab a sensitive pair of speakers and a room that’s not too large, though, and you might be in the market for […]

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The entry level design from Pure Sound, Paul Rigby reviews the A10 integrated amplifier

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about valves and valve amplifiers especially is that there might be a host of products on the market but you can’t produce a top quality valve amp on the cheap. My previous ‘entry point’ recommendation was the Icon Audio Stereo 20 which currently retails somewhere around the £900 mark. 

Pure Sound’s attractively built model nips in under that figure and so is immediately attractive and worthy of investigation.

Designed as a Class A Ultra Linear push-pull design, the A10 uses a pair of 6N3 valves in the preamp section and a four 6P14 valves (“…a modern equivalent to the EL84/6BQ5 family,” said the company) for the output stage.

For this price, the one thing you’re not going to get is lots of power. That Stereo 20 I mentioned above pumps out a maximum of 15W while the A10 spurts out only 10W. Hence, you’re going to have to be careful when matching speakers or the room size or both. Grab a sensitive pair of speakers and a room that’s not too large, though, and you might be in the market for an A10 (or, at least, that’s what I originally thought, see below).

A10 integrated valve amplifier From Pure Sound

Outside, the amplifier is stylish in its appearance with a very nicely built ALPS Blue Velvet volume knob centrally placed at the front of a dinky Sandalwood fitting and a pair of gold plated single-ended inputs on the rear. That’s right, there’s only two pairs here but that’s fine if you want to hook up an external phono amp for vinyl play and a CD player or DAC for more digital fare. Cosy, shall we say. Some users will see this as an issue but careful planning will remove that problem.

While we’re at the rear, apart from the power socket, there’s the 3-way, gold plated speaker terminals plus a 4 Ohm and 8 Ohm speaker switch.

The A10 uses an Auto Bias system, which means the replacement output valves should be fitted as matched pairs so there will be no need to reset or monitor bias conditions. Inside, the amplifier are a host of carbon film resistors and polypropylene signal coupling capacitors: quality has not suffered as the price has been shaved, therefore.

A10 integrated valve amplifier From Pure Sound

Spanning 140 x 230 x 330mm, the chassis weighs in at 8.5kg.

Oh, one final thing. This amp doesn’t come with a remote but look at the exclusion like this, you’re getting lot of amplifier for your cash. If you added a remote, it wouldn’t be a freebee, it would hike the price upwards once more. For this category of amplifier trying to do this type of job at this sort of price, I would put a remote way down on my priority list. Hence, I don’t view its absence as a problem. A solid state design? Sure. For a valve amp looking to produce quality at a low price? No.

DESIGN

Before I got to the actual sound quality, I wanted to quickly report on the sensitivity to see if my above comments held any water. I initially tested the amplifier with my Quad 57 electrostatic speakers. They are not particularly sensitive yet the A10 was able to ‘go loud’. Very loud, in fact. Ear splitting, if pushed. 

I then brought in a pair of Spendor A1 speakers at a rating of just 84db, to see how they responded in my large listening room. The answer was very well indeed. Again, the A10 could easily ‘go loud’, even in my large room and even with this level of sensitivity. Which goes to show, it’s not the power rating of an amplifier that’s important but how that amplifier handles its power and processes it. 

A10 integrated valve amplifier From Pure Sound

I asked the amplifier’s designer, Guy Sergeant about this odd phenomena and he commented, “The A10 is a 10W per channel class A amplifier. Class A operation has some advantages. The output devices are biased such that they do not get switched off at any output level. The reason why you might choose to bias the output valves so that they stay switched on all the time is because switching them on and off causes them to become quite non-linear in operation and introduce significant and rising levels of distortion the more time they spend switching between on and off. With the A10, it will play up to its full output (i.e. 10 Watts) without the minimal amount of distortion it does produce changing very much at all. Even with relatively insensitive speakers (such as your Quads) a clean 10W will get them to play quite loud in normal domestic use. Indeed the original Quad II amplifiers probably didn’t produce much more than 10W output. Ditto the contemporary Leak Stereo 20. Amplifiers whose output devices are switching on and off can have their distortion perhaps reined in by applying lots of negative feedback around the circuit.”

SOUND TESTS

To begin the sound tests? No messing about, I dived into Queen at their rocking best and Dead on Time from the album, Jazz. Potential issues? On some systems the drums can sound a little edgy and tinny, Freddie Mercury’s vocal, during crescendos can hover towards the the bright and cymbals are often buried under the percussive cacophony. The main issue is the mastering of this early edition reissue.

None of those issues proved to be problem with the A10 – that’s the short answer. If they were illuminated at all, these problems were alleviated to such an extent as to not be a major concern. The issue was reduced, not because the output sounded warming but because the A10 reduced noise to such an extent as to almost dissipate the strident effects.

Hence, in percussive terms, the drums pulled back a tad to take a fuller part in the mix rather than trying to dominate it while the percussion item was nicely characterful, providing an organic presentation.

A10 integrated valve amplifier From Pure Sound

Mercury’s voice was less crowded by this low noise design which means that he had more room to manoeuvre, allowing greater subtlety to emerge from his performance and a rounded view of his delivery to be heard. That is, there was an inherent transparency around the lead vocal that gave the entire song personality, a strength but also a sense of, well, honesty I suppose. You felt that the A10 was getting into the nitty gritty of the lead vocal.  

Cymbals were the big surprise here. Because of the space and air infused into the soundstage, there was a large amount of room available for the cymbals to emerge. Hence, the delicacy of a symbol tap was easy to hear and enjoy, reverb tails were hanging all over the place, adding complexity and layering to the track as a whole. 

This also meant that both lead and bass guitars were allowed to move around the soundstage instead of being swamped by the vocals and drums. 

A10 integrated valve amplifier From Pure Sound

I then turned to more sedate fare on CD and Emmylou Harris singing Mystery Train from the album, Thirteen.

Again, I was impressed by the low noise aspect of the amplifier but also the wide expanse of the soundstage. The far edges were occupied by acoustic guitars, strumming away like good’uns and the detail from them was impressive indeed with regular delicate string twangs pushing out the odd fragile reverb tail to add richness and depth to the song.

A10 integrated valve amplifier From Pure Sound

Harris’ voice oozed character, personality and texture, especially if she pushed her voice a tad and a slight dry throated essence told you that she was forcing her vocal to the max. Of course, this sort of detail only enhanced the realistic nature of the playback.

I was also happy to hear the bass sitting behind the Harris vocal and the slight distance between the two, in and around the central stereo image. The 3D structure of this area meant that the two never tripped over each other.

CONCLUSION

It’s the calming nature of the A10 that really impresses me. Despite the supposed low power, the A10 never felt that it was stressing or tense. The entire test period only revealed how relaxed and at ease this amplifier was. Incisive with a superb degree of clarity, the Pure Sound A10 is a steal at this price. 


PURE SOUND A10 INTEGRATED VALVE AMPLIFIER

Price: £729.95

Tel: 01822 612449

Website: www.puresound.info

GOOD: detail, transparent mids, low noise, broad soundstage, instrumental separation

BAD: nothing

RATING: 9


[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

REFERENCE

Origin Live Sovereign turntable

Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm

Van Den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius Cartridge

Icon PS3 phono amplifier

Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp

Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers

Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade

Heco Direkt speakers

Spendor A1 speakers

Tellurium Q Silver Diamond cables

Gekko Purple Haze cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

CAD GC1 Ground Controls

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner

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