Wishing our readers good health and relaxed reading for this, our summer edition, our audio scribes have continued their work, ears and pens at hand, to deliver yet more knowledge and opinion on matters audio.
Brexit is having an impact on audio commerce, delaying imports and exports. Some electronic components are in short supply meaning the production of designs has been delayed or halted. The export red tape has led to some companies setting up depots in the EU at significant cost, to ensure delay-free sales and delivery into Europe. Unquestionably prices have risen over the last year, up to 10% in some cases. Some items are simply unobtainable.
I fitted in a high-end record player turntable-arm-cartridge assessment towards the end of the reviewing period, just as the UK lockdown was easing, but all those concerned still took anti-Covid precautions. This high end LP combo is the Vertere SG1 turntable which came with a SG1 tonearm, a massive acrylic decoupler base to fit to the NAIM FRAIM platforms and the Mystic moving coil cartridge, all powered by the latest Tempo quartz synthesized frequency power supply. Neatly matched to this audio visitor was the latest Wilson Audio floor standing loudspeaker, the X version of the tidy looking and surprisingly powerful three-way Sabrina.
KEF’s KC62 a relatively inexpensive micro sub, took me by surprise. About the size of a large watermelon, it packed a crisp punch even when used with larger loudspeakers and I think it will be a good candidate for multiple spaced sub arrangements, this technique potentially capable of largely defeating low frequency room modes. Given separate treatment, I didn’t want the KC62 to be overshadowed by the review of latest KEF LS50II active - the one with the Meta augmentation to the tweeter’s inside acoustic termination.
Our industry personality focus is on the redoubtable Roy Gandy, engineer-founder of REGA Research who has focused on producing high value turntables for half a century. Stan Curtis reminisces further about his audio adventures and adds a specialist technical book review on horn loudspeakers (HIGH QUALITY HORN LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEMS) for good measure.
Both Focal and T&A high end headphones feature, with Ed Selley scrutinising the Focal Clear MG ‘magnesium’ and also the Solitaire P-SE ES from T&A. Chris Frankland has a not so brief encounter with the Kerr Acoustic K300 MK3, this model coming from a studio monitor background and also tackles a new offering of a classic from Rogers Electronics, the E20a integrated valve/tube amplifier. Chris Kelly encounters a serious revival of a famous Dynaudio compact, now called the Special 40, while Kevin Fiske is notably surprised by a powerful streaming active Dali floor stander, the Oberon 7C.
Andrew Everard ploughs the Rotel furrow, assessing the high end Michi X3 ‘Integrated’ amplifier, possible the last of the series to be breathed on by the late and great Ken Ishiwata. It boasts analogue and digital inputs and includes a massive high quality, linear 200W/channel power amplifier.
Ed Selley dives headfirst into an evaluation of the new variation of the Kudos C10 loudspeaker, while our inestimable tech guru Keith Howard expertly explores the subject of tape modulation distortion, to some degree inherent in the vast majority of jazz, rock, pop and classical recordings pre 1980 and thus also embedded in the wealth of later digital re-releases of these recordings.
Mark Prendergast commemorates the work of a favourite of his, the US composer and musician Harold Budd. Andrew Mellor reviews interesting classical releases and Andrew Everard surveys the latest Hi Res DSD Jazz. Our independent pundit and industry stalwart Steve Harris has more music collectors’ favourite selections.
Steve also takes on the Soundstage back cover to report on the latest version of Audirvana software, ‘the audiophile music player’.