Phasemation PP-200 Moving Coil Cartridge

Japanese high end company Phasemation relatively-recently released its “basic” PP-200 Moving Coil cartridge. Sporting a lovely deep metallic blue colour, this low output MC features trickle down technology from the company's top models including a rigid Duralumin alloy mounting base with an aluminium body, boron cantilever and a fine line stylus. Shipped in an oversized padded black case ensures this mini jewel arrives safely… A major emphasis on 'live' sounding products guides the Phasemation design philosophy.

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McIntosh Laboratory MA12000 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

Yes, I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder… but man, McIntosh Laboratory’s MA12000 is a thing of pure splendour. Its style perfectly balances retro-modern industrial design with technical innovation, as dichotomous as that may seem. Plus, the company’s highly-engineered proprietary amplification technologies signal (pun intended) high performance potential. So it’s not just a pretty faceplate. And with ample power on tap, this beast-of-an-integrated forcefully declares, “Hey, I may look hipster-cool but I sure as Hell can pummel with a wall of sound”. Hail The Grateful Dead…

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Cables for Music Songbird Cable Loom with OnEarth Grounding System

The vast majority of cables are relatively simple constructions combining conductors of varying materials and different levels of purity with, typically, some form of shielding to protect the signal from our RF-rich environment. Then, there’s the dielectric structure and, at the important contact point, the connectors which physically interface with the up/down-stream equipment. Some manufacturers take the concept a step further by introducing additional elements such as impedance-matching in-line networks, battery dielectric bias systems, unusual construction architectures, etc. Hong Kong cable specialist Cables for Music adopts elaborate grounding schemes with a view to reducing noise to ever-lower levels. As the entry-point into the ‘High-End’ series, the Songbird cables offer much of the extreme grounding technology dedicated to the company’s super-high-end offerings at a more affordable price point.

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Wilson Audio Lōkē Subwoofer

Wilson Audio subwoofers. Yes, envision those… edifices and you’ll be manifesting monoliths worthy of Clarke and Kubrick. In this context, a different influence on the human psyche, an alternate generative force… music can evolve the species. You could say the first Wilson Audio subwoofer was the WAMM companion piece, a monumental supporting pillar for the famed design. More recently, the Subsonic and Thor’s Hammer surpassed even the original’s grandeur. Both are examples of an elevated ambition, the Subsonic hinting at intense energy and Thor’s Hammer at legendary might. If you can call it downsizing, the smaller-scale yet unquestionably powerful WATCH Dog offers a more room-compliant alternative. All are passive designs coupled to bespoke crossovers or controllers and requiring high quality external amplification. Now, Wilson Audio Special Application Engineering, a sub-division responsible for a growing stable of complimentary products, has produced Lōkē, Wilson Audio’s newest low-registers transducer... fully downsized.

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ModWright Instruments KWH 225i Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

As in any hobby, or an endeavour of any type, there’s an inherent human propensity to form tribes. Those associations can offer a sense of community and a collective understanding of a shared journey with a common destination. I’m taking this explicatory trope to an extreme, I know, but when it comes to amplification, there are two main tribes: those who favour valves and those who prefer solid state amplification. But what about a design which, at least on paper, aims to stamp a firm foothold on both camps? The ModWright Instruments’ latest integrated, the KWH 225i has the potential to satiate the warring impulses of the most ardent of tribal extremists.

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Perreaux Audio 200iX Integrated Amplifier

Many high-end audio companies have flourished as a result of the unwavering vision of one passionate person. A single-minded entrepreneurial idealist developing product/s with a self-fulfilling desire to primarily express creativity or to manifest a subjectively superior conception. It may then also bring about an innovation or fill a niche perceived to be open, or all of those reasons and more. In the case of Peter Perreaux’s ambitions in the mid-1970s, his development of seemingly unbreakable, high performing Hi-Fi and professional amplification products led to forming New Zealand’s famous Perreaux Audio. It’s the story of a ‘Kiwi’ audio company reaching unprecedented global success. Perreaux Audio’s recent renaissance has seen the company offering a growing range of products of which the subject of this review, the comprehensively-featured 200iX integrated amplifier, is its newest star.

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Soulines tt42 Turntable

It's always exciting to receive a set of top flight turntable components to assemble, set up and review and the following are quite out of this world! Put together with suggestions from premium retailer Sydney Hi-Fi Castle Hill the Soulines tt42 was supplied as a package including the unique Sorane TA-1 tonearm and Soundsmith Sussurro mk II cartridge. All these are individually highly-capable solo artists but how will they perform as a tightly-knit ensemble?

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Holbo Airbearing Turntable System MK2

Some truisms, of course, so encapsulate the described concept they become clichéd. But if any axiom totally captures the expression of Holbo’s Airbearing Turntable System MK2, the most resoundingly precise would be Einstein’s oft misquoted (as indeed I may have here too) “Genius is making complex ideas simple, not making simple ideas complex.” Examine and engage the functionality of this remarkable design and you’ll admire it, truly grasping the purity of that statement. Holbo may be a relatively new company, yet its singular creative expression screams maturity and is bound to run tingling goosebumps on music lovers’ collective skin while raising the eyebrows of the competition.

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Grimm Audio MU1 Digital Music Player

Grimm Audio was founded in 2004 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, the original home of Philips. Grimm Audio was started by Eelco Grimm with Guido Tent, Bruno Putzeys and Peter van Willenswaard. Bruno Putzeys departed to concentrate on Class-D amplification, and Peter van Willenswaard has since retired. Grimm Audio’s first product was the AD1, a DSD64 output A/D convertor designed and developed for the pro-audio industry. In 2010, ‘Grimm’ diversified and embraced the home consumer market when it introduced the LS1 digital active speaker system. In late 2019 Grimm launched the MU1 music server/player which can directly connect to the LS1 to create an elegant music system. Here, we’re examining the MU1 as a high-end standalone digital music player.

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AudioQuest William Tell ZERO Loudspeaker Cables

In general, audio signal transmission suffers from the tyranny of multiple individual fundamentals and even varied combinations of one-and-all. The tri-axis of impedance, resistance and capacitance form the elementary foundation for the conductors themselves, be it copper, silver, gold or cocktail combinations. Add the effects of the components’ own electrical parameters, the environmental effects of interference and, down the line, the loudspeaker’s own inherent demands and you have a whole lot of variables which the signal conduit must address, adapt and comply to. Permutations of these factors are the reasons why cables can sound different from one system context to another. When it comes to signal delivery, AudioQuest knows its LCRs. The company offers a profound level of choice covering every possible scenario. Do the upmarket William Tell ZERO loudspeaker cables sling the signal-arrow straight to the heart of the music?

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Vermouth Audio Studio Monitor Loudspeakers

A few years ago, for another publication, I reviewed a pair of studio monitor speakers which bridged the divide between the professional and consumer spaces. This super-accurate speaker from Australian company Grover Notting managed to provide both a forensic tool for the studio and a musically involving sound capable of pleasing the discerning audiophile. Much time has passed since that delightful encounter. Now, I find myself once again assessing a loudspeaker design with the balance to adeptly surf the swells between the studio and the home.

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Duntech Audio Senator Loudspeakers

Many, many moons ago – I’m talking a full lunar-solar cycle… oh, how time slips by – an Australian loudspeaker singularity big-banged with unprecedented disruptive force. Duntech Audio emerged in the last quarter of the previous century with a line of speakers soon to be widely hailed as exemplars of transducer accuracy and peerless engineering. I wanted them. Any model. Badly. Alas, out of my reach was the majestic Sovereign, a design which even today is lauded as one of the world’s best, bar none. In fact, many of the world’s finest recording and mastering studios still employ Sovereign speakers as the main monitors of choice. Today, the Senator loudspeakers, an entirely new design following Duntech Audio ideologies, is a mid-point beacon by which the revitalised company, once again, partakes in the competitive waters of the high-end audio seascape.

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