“Honey, I shrunk the LS50 Wireless” might be the snappiest way to describe KEF’s latest active loudspeaker: into a compact, Danish-fabric-wrapped cabinet, designed by one Michael Young and landing in five colour options, goes a new version of the British loudspeaker company’s Uni-Q driver array, internally juiced by Class D amplification – 70w for the mid/bass, 30w for the tweeter – and crossed over in a DSP engine that takes its binary feed from the (also internal) digital streaming board. An attractive hi-fi system in a box for apartment dwellers and bedroom producers.… Read the full article
Spotify. To hear snobs tell it, the Swedish streaming service has no place in the hi-fi world. According to this outmoded idealism, the high-end audio is a party where Spotify’s lossy (Ogg Vorbis) encoding doesn’t get you past the velvet rope.
Thankfully, an increasing number of high-end audio manufacturers are showing us that they firmly disagree.
Using a standard Mac or PC as a network streamer – WiFi/Ethernet in, USB out – will only get us so far on sound quality. So too will patching the Mac or PC’s electrically noisy USB output with filters and/or USB re-clockers. Adding a linear power supply to a desktop PC might bring an audible improvement but it doesn’t bypass or disable the noisy switching power supplies and regulators running on the motherboard.
For extracting better performance from our downstream DAC, we need a network streamer that has been built to satisfy audiophile sensibilities: a motherboard and digital outputs with lower electrical noise and lower jitter.… Read the full article
Naim review cliche #1: to headline the article with the pun-heavy “What’s in a Naim?”. It’s as tired as David Byrne features topped with “Still Making Sense”; a well-worn wink at the ex-Talking Head frontman’s most well-known eighties release (Stop Making Sense).
I’m as guilty as the next guy, headlining my coverage of the Naim Uniti Atom and Nova’s 2016 US debut with – you guessed it – “What’s in a Naim?”. Never again (is what I swore the time before).… Read the full article
Mainstreamers visiting their local big Apple or high-end department store might see Naim’s Mu-so as a luxury (mains-powered) Bluetooth speaker. As one might expect at €1199, it stomps all over its smaller battery-powered brethren. The KEF Muo (US$350) is one of the best of the portable Bluetooth bunch but sat next to the Naim long box the Muo is outclassed in every respect. The Mu-so delivers oodles of dynamic slam to sound larger and more impactful than its diminutive rival.
The Mu-so also sounds larger than its letterbox profile might suggest.… Read the full article
Out of the blue and into the black? Nope. Subverting Neil Young’s song title we look to a Pixies b-side to go into the white for an elegant hi-fi system that oozes Future-Fi inside and out but in the passive loudspeaker domain. In this post, we look at how a pair of wonderfully unusual standmounts meet an integrated amplifier loaded with DAC and streamer.
The Eclipse TD510Z MK2 loudspeaker (£3840/pair) from Denso Ten. That’s quite the mouthful. TD510Z MK2 is the model number, Eclipse the brand and Denso Ten the parent company, established in 1972 with initial investment coming from Fujitsu Limited and the Toyota Motor Corporation.… Read the full article
The DirectStream DAC is not like other DACs. Instead of a more common off-the shelf DAC chip, PS Audio load an FPGA chip with software coded by one Ted Smith, he of wizard beard and Hawaiian shirt. And like the computer operating systems we use daily, Smith’s DirectStream code is updated semi-regularly – at zero charge to the end user – to bring him/her better sound quality from the DirectStream DAC.
Each software version is named after one of Colorado’s ‘Fourteener’ peaks.… Read the full article
Little and large. The shiny Muon reach for the stars in performance, physical stature and price: £70,000/pair. Being passive loudspeakers, their amplification is external. At Munich High-End 2017, that came from Arcam:
“An AV950 preamp processor feeds 3 x P49 per side – a two-channel class G power amp switched into bridged monoblock mode. Each one can deliver 1kW at 0.0001% distortion. That’s a 6000W system!”, says Arcam’s Andy Moore. Monstrous!
For one thirty-fifth of the Muon’s asking, we get the KEF’s active mini monitor LS50 Wireless (seen here in white, £2000/pair).… Read the full article