LATEST ADDITIONS

Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Mar 25, 2009
Has it really been more than 20 years since Acoustic Energy bridged the worlds of professional studio monitoring and domestic audio? Back in ’88, the former regarded the latter in the way that, say, Labour regards fiscal responsibility. AE was having none of it, and produced a classy, compact two-way monitor of true studio merit, sort of a UK answer to Wilson’s WATT. Given its diminuitive stature, most noteworthy was the AE1’s prodigious bass. Rear-ported and boasting a still-radical metal mid/bass driver, it begged to be positioned away from walls on solid 24in stands.
Keith Howard  |  Mar 25, 2009
Thiel Audio Products Company of Lexington, Kentucky may have a lower profile here in the UK than in its native US, but its reputation precedes it. Designer Jim Thiel holds fast to certain, long established design principles in his loudspeakers such as eschewing high-rate filters to ensure phase linearity through crossover. He also prefers the costlier underhung voice coil geometry (voice coil much shorter than the magnet gap) for the marque’s proprietary drivers, in preference to the more commonly used overhung geometry, because of its inherently superior performance. Thiel is innovative too, examples being its cast aluminium, surface-mounting PowerPoint 1.
Keith Howard  |  Mar 25, 2009
In this era of DSP room correction systems, surprisingly few loudspeaker manufacturers seem to be looking at the issue of room interaction from the speaker design angle, trying to find ways to quell the room’s influence and thus, potentially, render DSP assistance redundant. Danish company Dali is an exception, although to look at the Helicon 400 Mk2 you could be forgiven for thinking that it is an entirely conventional direct-radiating floorstander. The giveaway, although its significance may not be immediately obvious, is the trademark Dali twin tweeter module which combines a 25mm soft-dome unit with a leaf supertweeter whose diaphragm is 10mm wide by 55mm high. Supertweeters are normally deployed these days to extend response out to low ultrasonic frequencies but the Dali supertweeter also has an important function within the audible range, where it takes over from the dome tweeter at 13kHz.
Ken Kessler and Keith Howard  |  Mar 25, 2009
Some years ago, Magnepan produced a tiny panel for in-store display as a point-of-sale item. It was a miniature Maggie, maybe 18in tall, with sections cut away to show the technology. I asked Jim Winey, ‘Why not make them functioning speakers?’ But, alas, my first visit to Magnepan took place well before home theatre and Dolby Surround would deem small speakers desirable. But I loved the idea of a pair of ‘mini Maggies’ for the desk, or the bedroom, knowing they would never be realised.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Mar 06, 2009
Americans have this phrase – probably politically incorrect – for those areas you never hear about. They call them the ‘flyover states’, a perfect description for anywhere that isn’t New York, California or Florida. Which is not to say that places like North Dakota, Idaho or Nebraska are totally without charm. They’re just not on everyone’s radar.
Paul Miller  |  Mar 05, 2009
If CES 2008 sounded a warning shot across, if not into the bows of the HD DVD fleet then there was always the consolation that its players were, on the whole, far cheaper than their Blu-ray competition while boasting full compatibility with both the software-driven and web-enabled functionality of its discs. Not all Blu-ray players can currently promise that. Sony’s BDP-S300 is one of those players that neither fully conforms to the BD1. 1 video profile (which means that picture-in-picture, ‘Blu-Scape’ games and other bonus features may not function wholly as intended) nor deliver Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreams over its HDMI 1.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Mar 05, 2009
Though CD players now bear a whiff of fin de siècle, this is a ‘golden age’ for silver discs. Despite sales pointing to CD’s demise, some of us still prefer CD to downloads and servers. Ironically, recent gems from Nagra, dCS and others recall the raft of sublime turntables of the late 1980s. Perhaps 10 years hence, CD will be to downloads what vinyl is to CD.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Mar 05, 2009
Just occasionally very creative people can pair two otherwise completely incongruous items and come up with something truly special. Take strawberries and cream: who would have thought mixing a ground fruit with the soured milk of a lactating mammal would sire an international tennis tournament and two weeks of eastern European girls running around in short skirts? Marvellous. But an SACD player with a traditionally video-centric HDMI connection? I’m not so sure. The reason is multichannel SACD audio and getting that data to an external DAC with almost zero jitter.
Andrew Harrison and Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2009
It’s no idle exaggeration to say that the Sondek LP12 has been a touchstone for record playback during the three decades-plus of its continuous production. And although Linn Products has earned its credentials as a progressive company by embracing new areas of business such as multiroom and AV electronics, and despite the low demand for record players compared to the heyday of the 1980s, the LP12 has stubbornly stayed in the catalogue. It’s a reminder of the company’s heritage but also surely a testament to the turntable’s abiding popularity, since Linn wouldn’t trouble itself to make something no-one would buy. Externally almost identical since 1973, many small changes have been made inside over the years in order to improve its sound, principally by tightening tolerances on metal components and substituting superior suspension pieces.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2009
It was as inevitable as Rocky 2. As soon as SME issued the Model 20/12 turntable in 2006, enthusiasts wondered, would it be joined by a 30/12? Shortly before he passed away that same year, Alastair Robertson-Aikman revealed that it was definitely happening. And almost two years to the day after the funeral, his son Cameron announced the Model 30/12. Its name was a given.

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