This is the June Newsletter, reflecting on the last month here at HF&MS. Welcome to the Summer; here on office rotation is the new album from Joe Webb, called Summer Chill. It has a knock-out 60s US poolside jazz vibe and we love it.
It has been an integrated amplifier-heavy month with reviews of the excellent Exposure 3510 and the equally cool Rega Elicit Mk5, both priced similarly at £2,250 and £2,000 respectively. Where Rega’s Elicit has a built-in DAC and Phono stage, Exposure offers their amplifier with optional DAC or Phono boards as extras on top of the base price. As always there is no right answer to which is best, it certainly depends on where you are with your HiFi journey, and what your ears tell you. An audition is always the way forward with HiFi Equipment.
Also at HF&MS, the imposing Cyrus i9-XR integrated amplifier came along in tandem with the new Cyrus CDt-XR. The CD transport was revelatory, receiving an Outstanding award from HF&MS. The CD transport illustrated that keeping the source input as simple as possible enables a clean, crisp low noise signal to be delivered, notwithstanding the ‘CD Quality’ label of the source. It was hard boxing the CDt-XR for the return journey.
Also reviewed this month, if you missed it, was the Elipson W35+ ‘planet’ speaker. It was a very flexible and liveable piece of equipment and it took a bit of pounding on this reviewer’s Jubilee weekend celebrations.
North West Audio Show
This month saw the return of the North West Audio Show, up near Stoke. It was a really nicely spaced-out event that saw the debut of the KEF LS60 wireless speaker system. The LS60 looked great and really stylish, relegating the high-end KEF Blades to the background. Other highlights included a first look at the new HiFi Rose RA180 that was on display with local dealer Wilkinson HiFi, see the Instagram post in this link. Other highlights included a preview of Leema’s new Quantum range, complete with sheep grazing in the corners of the room, a little Welsh humour there. The Moor Amps room was also a delight with designer Tim Narramore on hand to offer his expertise in a well-presented pleasantly quieter room with Graham Audio LS5/9f speakers. Some rooms are still too noisy in these small rooms!
This month there will be new reviews of the Triangle 40th Anniversary Antal floorstanding loudspeakers. As a plot spoiler, they are really impressive sounding speakers and they look sumptuous too, particularly in the Santos rosewood that is here. There will also be a review of the new ELAC Uni-Fi Reference standmount speakers. Priced at just £749, they are really impressive at that price. Arriving next week are the new, new Meze ADVAR in-ear monitors that I am really looking forward to, on these breezy summer walks. Finally, there will be a few summer specials looking at high-quality systems for a given budget, starting with an audiophile solution under £1,000. Yes, really! Possibly featuring in the future summer system setups will be the £249 a pair AE100², which feel good so far. Also here at HF&MS with the 100s are their big sister AE109² floorstanders at £599.
There is some good new music around at the moment, this reviewer finally got his hands on Arooj Aftab’s Vulture Price album on vinyl. It has been re-released with a bonus track featuring Anoushka Shankar on sitar. If you love this album, I would strongly advocate listening to Arooj Aftab’s 6 Music New Music Fix Podcast on BBC Sounds which features a hugely eclectic set of recommendations. Other music highlights this month included watching Poppy Aduja’s cover of The Jacksons I want You Back, with Jools Holland. It was an absolute show stopper, the clip is here, but what you can’t see is Jools Holland who is clearly choked by such a stunning vocal at the end of the performance. Of course, Glastonbury has been on and hooking up the TV to the biggest pair of speakers possible has been a must. Paul McCartney was obviously mind-blowing and when David Grohl came on a did Band on The Run, I nearly passed out!
On Poppy Aduja’s YouTube video you catch a glimpse of the equally amazing Jessie Buckley, who was performing new music on the same Jools Holland show with Bernard Butler, formerly of Suede. Their album is terrific and highly recommended here, it has a real maturity with some great tracks, particularly Footnotes on the Map. If you are looking for other new music to listen to, if you need to relax on a hammock this summer, check out Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s album, which has a plastic chair on the front cover! It really does and it is called I could be your dog and it is very cinematic.