Welcome to the HF&MS Newsletter #22. October’s Newsletter was slightly missed for extra-audio reasons so this November edition is a bumper catch-up on reviews you may have missed, what is coming up and a reflection of the latest new music.
These last six weeks have seen new reviews of some fantastic products, including the surprising Chord Company GroundARAY which is designed to remove unwanted HF interference in the HiFi system. in a world of marginal gains, I said of the GroundARAY:
…(it) is effective… it is just there and evident. It will not help you understand Nickleback any more than you do already but at other times it will add to your presentation as it has mine. As a further improvement to this system, I like it a lot.
The GroundARAY was slotted into the back of the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 for the review cycle. The EVO 150 is a fine piece of kit that does the lot. As an all-in-one system, it is perfectly positioned for the coming decade of HiFi choice. With an excellent MM phono input and headphone stage with one of the best colour displays, it is a great example of British excellence, something we desperately crave in this country at the moment. In the review, I concluded:
The Cambridge Audio Evo 150 is a fine piece of equipment and sums up the progress of the last ten years in the HiFi industry. High-quality sound married with a slick control interface, this is as good as it gets.
Other reviews on the loudspeaker side included the PSB Passif 50 which is an Anniversary Edition of their earliest speaker designs. The speakers, driven by Moor Amps amplification are terrific, dynamic and detailed, in summary, I concluded the PSB Passif 50:
…are nicely balanced, languid, warm and easy on the ear speakers, and they look stylish too.
One of the highlights of the last few weeks was receiving the “bonkers conkers ” HiFi Rose RA180. The integrated amplifier has a stunning 800W of Class AD power in various configurations. The amplifier offers bridging and bi-amping options and certainly, the bi-amping offered a ‘heightened soundstage with dynamic energy.‘ In the end, though I couldn’t help thinking that a pared-back 2-channel version of this fantastic amplifier might give the likes of Rega and Exposure a real run for their money.
Other reviews you may have missed include were of some rather nice headphones that have been auditioned in the fabulous Earmen CH-Amp stack. These headphones include the Meze Audio 109 Pro headphones that were clearly lovely and open with exceptional detail. Also reviewed were the on-the-move Sivga Oriole headphones with a warm soundstage with plenty of detail at an affordable price.
Finally, you may have missed the review of the iFi Zen DAC that came out just after the last newsletter. In the overall comments, I said of the ‘Outstanding’ Zen DAC:
I cannot recommend it (iFi Audio Zen DAC) highly enough…
Up and coming reviews whilst the iFi Zen DAC is here will be a review of the iFi Zen CAN which is their dedicated headphone amplifier solution in a compact box, that has the same form factor as the Zen DAC. First impressions have been very positive indeed, particularly with all of these new headphones here.
The next review to look out for, however, will be a look at the Earmen CH-Amp stack which is also a headphone amplifier package like the Zen series. This stack features the brilliantly clean Tradutto DAC fed by the sibling new Staccato streamer, all supporting the Earmen CH-Amp headphone amplifier. Of the headphones available here at HF&MS, most have never sounded better with this product, which is set to receive an Editor’s Pick!
Other reviews coming to HF&MS include a look at the Pro-Ject X2 B turntable and a thorough examination of the latest Atlas Hyper 5.0 loudspeaker cable, which was used in the bi-amping to good effect with the HiFi Rose RA180.
Also just arrived at HF&MS are the Kudos Titan 505 loudspeakers, in the new Liquid Amber finish. The Titans are absolutely gorgeous and are currently being driven by the Moor Amps Angel 6 with not just the Pro-Ject X2 B turntable on the analogue side, but also the latest Auralic Altair G1.1 Streaming DAC, on the digital side. With such a revealing system it is going to be a wonderful end to the year.
It is awards season
Speaking of the end of the year (did you see what I did there?) it is, of course, time for some awards. In the inaugural awards given by HF&MS, we will be acknowledging some of the stunning products that have come through this year. In doing this, and because it is the first set of awards there will also be, in December, a further set of ‘Best Ever’ awards from HF&MS. These awards will look back to previous years some of the very best audiophile products heard. Look out for these awards, coming one a day from this Friday.
New Music (and old)
Finally, for Newsletter #22, a look back at some of the music being enjoyed hereat HF&MS. On the popular side of music, you cannot help but listen to Taylor Swift’s new album, Midnights, though it is a bit sweary really considering millions of kids are going to either buy it or stream it. Also released these last few weeks was the update to The Beatles’ Revolver, labelled Super Deluxe. It is just a treasure trove of their progression and a reminder that Sgt. Pepper’s started with Revolver.
Other interesting albums that have impressed recently include Sault’s 11 which is so lusciously produced it demands a vinyl purchase. See Bandcamp where you can preorder the vinyl release! Also on repeat with the new Altair G1.1 is the Blue Note re: imagined volume II album which is simply gorgeous. In particular, listen to Parthenope’s version of Don’t Know Why, Cherise’s Sunrise and Ego Ella May’s beautiful track.