Welcome to Newsletter #31 from HF&MS, looking back at reviews and highlights of the last month and looking forward to future reviews coming up and other news.
Without a doubt, the highlight of this month was a trip to visit the manufacturing facilities at Node Audio near Cambridge. You can read about the trip and the laser sintering of the loudspeaker headshell in the feature article here. It was a real
privilege to see the best of British at Node and to hear the stunning output from their loudspeakers.
This month has seen reviews of the ‘talk of the town’ Eversolo DMP-A6 streaming DAC as well as its sister, the DAC-Z8 which is a straight DAC. The Z8, though, does have a decent headphone output whereas the streaming DMP-A6 does not. Both products take an ESS Sabre DAC chipset and implement it to a very high standard, given the more modest price points at which they are placed. This Chinese technology is coming at pace now and the prices seem to be tumbling for the standards being offered. We said of the DMP-A6;
Whether you call this a streamer, a DAC or a networked server it is an outstanding product…
The Eversolo products were kindly loaned by Audio Emotion in Fife.
Also, this month HF&MS had its first opportunity to listen to an Audiovector loudspeaker. The QR1 features Air Motion Technology in the tweeter which is a gold leaf membrane, like a ribbon tweeter, but not; the gold membrane is rippled. Most notable with the QR1 was the quality of the finish, we said;
The loudspeakers are flawlessly finished with soft curves…
And we concluded;
These are very vigorous and energetic loudspeakers…
The Audiovector QR1s were loaned by the always brilliant Renaissance Audio in Edinburgh (who have a lovely new site!).
Finally, the biggest surprise of the year came with the review of the Tozo OpenBuds which are like having a couple of small speaker drivers hung over your ears. However, they are extremely comfortable, and secure, and they sound stunning. For seventy quid they received a quite unexpected Outstanding award!
This month there will be a review of the Bluesound Node X, released to mark 10 years of progress in the streaming world. I was at the first UK lunch by Bluesound in London and it has consistently been a superb product supported by one of the best platforms, BluOS.
Also, coming this month will be a review of the Node Audio Hylixa Signature loudspeakers. As mentioned in the visit these are premium loudspeakers with the latest technology delivering a high-quality sound. Amplification has needed to be up to scratch so we’ve been using Moor Amps Angel 6 power amplification and also Musical Fidelity’s Nu-Vista PAS power amplification from Henley Audio (who also have a lovely new site!).
Look out too for a couple of Cambridge Audio reviews, in particular of their ALVA TT V2 turntable that has Bluetooth output as well as traditional built-in line or phono output. There will also be a review of their AX N10 streamer as well. At the end of this period, we should be able to conclude who has the best under £1,000 streamer at the moment.
The T+A 200 Series has been at HF&MS this summer, and a review of the DAC 200 will come through. HF&MS has been leaning on the DAC 200 heavily for the Hylixa Signature review as it is a premium source. We also have here the MP 200 music and CD player and the A 200 power amplifier which we will look at too. Plot spoiler? It is T+A so it is going to be very good indeed.
Also in the office are some headphones from Edifier, notably their S3 STAX Edition. Edifier acquired STAX a few years ago and this is their celebration of the legendary Japanese electrostatic pioneers, in planar magnetic form.
Finally, this busy month, look out for our Eversolo DMP-A6 video on our YouTube channel.
Looking back at music this month, it has been interesting with perennial favourite Miles Kane releasing new music this last month. As an audiophile, it seems that Aphex Twin is essential listening. Their Black Box EP this month has been on repeat a fair amount, that is until the Ziggy Stardust 50th re-release came out this month. Speaking of anniversaries the 40th Anniversary of Stop Making Sense on Vinyl has arrived for the ALVA TT2 review.
The trip to Node Audio flagged up the artist Dominique Fils-Aimé who has simply the most perfect voice and the production in her albums is also really clear and well-presented. In particular, her album Nameless features several stunning tracks, Strange Fruit (a Nina Simone cover), the title track itself and Feeling Good (also a cover of the musical track).
Other music this month on very heavy rotation includes lots of Stones Roses, for no particular reason as well as New Order’s Blue Monday, again, for no particular reason other than it is amazing and there is an original 12″ copy here at HF&MS (yes, the one with the cut outs Factory lost a fortune on).
We love a Playlist here at HF&MS, here are a few recent ones.
The Qobuz QR1 Playlist is here.
The Hylixa Signature Playlist (a preview) is here, featuring Dominique Fils-Aimé. Listen to Club For Five’s version of Brothers in Arms; in the Hylixa Signature speakers, you just have to stop!