sILENzIO Interconnect, Loudspeaker, USB and AC power cables

For quite some time prior to this review of the new sILENzIO über cables from Danish manufacturer ZenSati, I had been using as part of my reference system the superb flagship Seraphim cables. These unusual cable designs of multiple air-suspended twisted gold plated solid core conductors were resoundingly neutral, nourishingly musical, beautifully assembled and ‘bling’ enough to fit into the most beautiful high-end system contexts (and yes, to many enthusiasts the cosmetic aspect is actually quite important, especially at the price point). Up until that point, the Seraphim cables were ZenSati’s top-level offering while sILENzIO, now an independent line of über cables, was but a twinkle in company Founder Mark Johansen’s third eye. Fast-forward a couple of years and right now, after several months within my reference rig where they often managed to dislocate my jaw, I give you sILENzIO…

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Vitus Audio RI-101 Integrated Amplifier

It’s the ‘Golden Age’ of the integrated amplifier. Just sayin’. Why? Catch a web wave to any of the major high-end electronics manufacturers and you’ll see what I mean. Me? I’ve had a number of integrated amplifiers in-house over the last couple of years that have unquestionably taken the entire category to an unprecedented level of all-round quality to rival that of many preamplifier and power amplifier combos. Take a look through recent SoundStage! Australia review pages too, to see many-a-shining example. Valve-, solid state-based and hybrid, austere and extravagant… even Johnny Strabler-leather-clad. A state-of-the-art integrated enjoys the fruits of contemporary advanced engineering allowing the implementation of superior power supplies and the adoption of higher-grade transformer designs. Further, manufacturing sophistication has resulted in finer, tighter tolerance chassis construction and the development of modular architecture, expanding the functionality horizons of the humble ‘integrated’.

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Absolare Signature Integrated Amplifier

Absolare, a company with facilities both within the USA and the Netherlands, is one of the brands that has made me cross a ‘divide’. From the introduction of its Passion series preamplifier and power amplifier separates in 2012, Absolare immediately positioned itself as a brand that was luxurious, bespoke and innovative.

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Gryphon Audio Designs Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier

High-end specialist Gryphon Audio Designs is renowned for the quality of its products in all aspects of design, be it style, engineering principles or sonic performance. Recently, the company has had considerable success with the astounding Diablo 300 integrated, a powerhouse offering which, as the name suggests, is rated at 300 watts per channel. The Diablo 300’s modular design is capable of accepting a top-shelf DAC and phono stage while bearing the usual Gryphon (for short) engineering and artistic design flair. Now, that glorious integrated amplifier sees the spawning of an offspring in the Diablo 120, a smaller sibling with just about half the power albeit with its bigger brother’s outstanding nuclear DNA running strongly through its circuit chromosomes.

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Trinnov Amethyst Preamplifier, DAC and Digital Processor

Here in the land Down Under, we’re in the homeland of DEQX. Due to their pricing and powerful local marketing, it’s likely hard for other manufacturers of competing products to get a foot in the market. For that reason, to me companies like Trinnov Audio and Holm Acoustics have always had a sense of mystique about them – you just don’t hear that much about them in this country. But once you start investigating on the web, you can find a great deal about the design and philosophy of Trinnov Audio.

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Lumin T1 Network Player

With more people than ever now relying on streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, or one of the plethora of more esoteric services as the primary source for their music, it is encouraging to know that most hi-fi manufacturers are now offering dedicated components to allow us to get our ‘musical fix’ in this manner (and potentially put an end to the accumulation of little silver discs to clutter up the cupboards).

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TARA Labs The Muse Interconnect and Speaker Cables

Over the last few decades, periodical fluctuations notwithstanding, the increased availability and reduced cost of high-grade materials, in conjunction with the development of more advanced software-controlled CNC machines and engineering software/computer modelling programs, have allowed the development of high-end audio of increasing sophistication and complexity. While this has meant that current affordable audio components offer superb engineering and build quality, at the other end of the scale, we have über high-end equipment employing up-to-the-minute material technologies and sonic performance that encapsulates what is presently technologically possible. Cable manufacturers are also utilising this wider engineering tools palette, adopting new techniques and materials in complex designs to bring the humble ‘wire’ up to spec in order to more adequately support these more sophisticated electronics and speaker systems. Enter TARA Labs’ The Muse.

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Faber’s Power La Potenza & Grounding Box Power Products & La Potenza AC Cable

During the early days of taking up this hobby, there were certain chapters of audiophile lore that I found harder to swallow than others. While it’s not hard to hear the changes to a system made by switching to a different component, it can be hard to reach a consensus about the effect of upgrading cables and other ancillaries… It just couldn’t work, right?

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Definitive Technology Demand D11 Loudspeakers

While on a personal level I have a vibrant zeal for high-end audio and the results from the creativity and imagination of talented designers with less restrictions in production budgets, I’m also fascinated by what is possible to achieve when boundaries are tightly set on products aimed at the entry level. There have been many occasions where budget fare has impressed me with a sonic performance that is way above the expected. I found myself in such a scenario when I popped-in to Audio Connection, one of Sydney’s most respected and longest-established high-end audio retailers, while there to collect a Gryphon amplifier (Diablo 120 soon-to-be-reviewed). A zigzagging multi-dimensional conversation with affable proprietor Josef Riedeger on all things audio somehow wound up in the following scenario…

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Follow-Up: Yamaha NS-5000 Loudspeakers – Editor’s 2nd Opinion

As much as audio has advanced in the last 40 years or so, many enthusiasts will fondly – and admiringly – recall the Yamaha NS-1000, a truly iconic speaker that with its beryllium-based drivers heralded an unprecedented technological advancement in transducer design. Equally time compressing is my recollection, as if it was only yesterday, of the pleasure I had reviewing the Yamaha NS-5000 loudspeakers for another publication in another life (and this is a follow-up to Joshua Givorshner's first-dip review, link here). Over several weeks I had naught but sheer enjoyment from these highly-developed music communicators.

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REDGUM Audio RGPH2ENR Signature Series Phono Stage

REDGUM Audio’s Ian Robinson (Chief Designer) and Lindy Gerber (Marketing and Administration) run this uniquely ‘Aussie’ manufacturing concern and the team rate among the most dynamic, and nicest, duos in our local high-end industry. The company’s website, product instruction manuals and the nomenclature of the wide variety of product offerings also reflect the laconically quirky “larrikin” humour Australians are renowned for. But be reassured here and now that, while appreciating the lighter side of life, both Gerber and Robinson have their feet firmly planted on solid ground – REDGUM Audio designs are the fruit of astute design and concrete engineering principles.

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Yamaha NS-5000 Loudspeakers

Japanese conglomerate Yamaha is a company that to most would need no introduction. Now with over 20,000 employees and holding the position of the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instruments, it is a far cry from its relatively humble beginnings. If it wasn’t at first obvious, the three interlocking tuning forks encapsulated in its logo are an obvious reference to the musical beginnings that have subsequently followed the company from its inception as a piano and reed organ company dating back to 1887.

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