Nordost QPoint Resonance Synchroniser & QSource Linear Power Supply

High-end audio enjoys some of the best engineering and innovative technologies which are the equal to any industry at large. As highly developed as audio products are, there’s also a healthy space for ancillaries aimed at wringing the last drop of performance from electronics and loudspeakers. Some are mere ‘tweaks’ which contribute varying degrees of effectiveness. Some may even have dubious scientific merit. There are supplementary products with known benefits, such as those aimed at reducing vibrational distortions by coupling, grounding or isolating. These can be inert platforms, cones, complex ceramic and metal bearing devices and a cornucopia of variations on the theme. Others, like power conditioners and regenerators, are designed to eliminate AC distortions via an interface between electronics and the grid. Nordost, maker of some of the very best cable solutions in the industry, has applied its engineering know-how to its QRT products which the company refers to as ‘Audio Enhancers’. The steadily-growing range is now joined by the unique QPoint Resonance Synchroniser and dedicated QSource Linear Power Supply.

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REDGUM Audio Articulata Integrated Amplifier

River Red Gums are very large, fast-growing, spreading trees with huge trunks that can extend more than five metres around. As the name implies, they grow along rivers and their wood when freshly exposed is a bright red, almost blood-coloured. Apparently Red River Gum trees can live for up to 700 years. I dare say that might be longer than today’s REDGUM Audio electronics products would last but you never know – the company’s Articulata looks pretty indestructible too. And both are quite unique and native to Australia.

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Bowers & Wilkins 702 Signature Edition Loudspeakers

Like many advanced undertakings, high-end audio presents the opportunity to develop technologies, to progress the engineering of advanced materials and composites and to adopt fabrication methodologies expressing to fruition the imagination of the industry’s creative minds. These advances are, usually, firstly showcased in statement products. In 2017, Bowers & Wilkins launched its 700 S2 series of loudspeakers with new and also trickled down technologies first expressed in the company’s flagship 800 series. The new line was greeted with tremendous market success. Now in 2020, Bowers & Wilkins fine-tunes a key model, the 702 S2 (read our review here), with a tweaked crossover and a jaw-dropping new finish warranting a more illustrious moniker – the 702 Signature Edition.

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Line Magnetic LM-845 Premium Integrated Amplifier

I’m a man of many wants. One of them was a decent listen in my own man-cave to a nice tube amp, ‘musica uninterruptus’. But not just any tube amp – one that exists in the realms of mere mortals but that wasn’t an entry level type where the design trade-offs are more significant. Enter the Line Magnetic LM-845 Premium – a Chinese-designed and built single-ended triode integrated amplifier.

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Michi P5 Preamplifier & M8 Monoblock Power Amplifiers

Throughout audio history there have been high profile companies who, after success in the affordable ‘mainstream’ space, have amassed their R&D, engineering and manufacturing might to produce products catering to the high-end market. Some have given the new luxury products distinctive appellations, as a form of distinct separation from its mainstream fare, while others went about launching disassociated alternative brands with a less obvious resonance to the parent company. Back in the early 1990s, armed with an enviable reputation in affordable quality Hi-Fi and wanting to embark on a new path, Rotel fired an authoritative round squarely at the high-end by way of the Michi statement brand (A.K.A. ‘Michi by Rotel’). As successful as Michi was, Rotel in its wisdom phased the brand out of the market. Subsequently, the select Michi products became highly sought-after classics. Now, after a hiatus lasting near on 30 years, the term ‘Michi’ is once again part of the luxury audio lexicon.

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JL Audio Fathom f110v2 Powered Subwoofer

Bass. We all love it. Come on, you know you do! You can muse audiophilic to your heart’s content on “accuracy” and “neutrality” but when you’re cranking Led Zep or Yello to 11, all talk of “balance” goes down the gurgler in an intense sensory wave of low-end pleasure. Fun so it Hertz. But what if I told you about a low frequency generator which is capable of both supreme accuracy and all-out visceral joy? All in a pretty and small package. Well, I be talking JL Audio Fathom f110v2. Yes, it will play nice and audiophile-like with your super-precise high-end mains and, should you desire some outright fun, it’ll also test the construction integrity of your house… and your neighbour’s house.

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Audia Flight FL CD Three S CD Player

A Swiss Army Knife inside a Pandora's Box. We reviewers do so love our metaphors and I've brewed-up a doozy in that previous sentence. It's about as mixed as they get and yet, it's what sums up this interesting player from the Italian audio house of Audia Flight. Features abound and it truly is a “jack of all trades”. CD player? Yep. DAC? Yep. Transport? Of course. USB DAC? We have you covered Sir. Oh? Your system is balanced you say? Not a problem Sir. We have balanced outputs along with our five (yes five) different digital inputs and high-resolution playback. Sir doesn't use a preamplifier? We anticipated that and there's remote volume (in the digital domain naturally).

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Yamaha GT-5000 Turntable & Tonearm

What enthusiast with an appreciation of audio history and who values music, from its creation to its recreation, would not love to own a beautifully designed and superbly engineered music-playing component with the tag ‘Gigantic and Tremendous’? Images of a looming multi-driver Gojira-like loudspeaker come to mind but Yamaha, the world’s oldest music company, has revived this sensational term – coined decades ago in the GT prefix for descendants GT-1000 and GT-2000 – to moniker its new flagship turntable, the GT-5000. And yes, Yamaha’s new vinyl spinner sits comfortably with that overt descriptor. The muscular GT-5000 fits the bill by not only featuring Yamaha’s updated engineering and latest refinements of proprietary technologies, but by also being rather… Tremendously Gigantic.

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Rega Research Aethos Integrated Amplifier

British firm Rega Research is known for one product category above all: turntables. But the Rega Aethos is not one of those. It’s an integrated amplifier. Indeed, it doesn’t even have a phono input. But even so, the Rega Aethos is definitely an amplifier for the lover of analogue music.

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MSB Technology Premier Digital-to-Analogue Converter

Once much maligned, digital audio is now the most likely to be at the vanguard of advancing the state of the art in high-end audio. In this endeavour, there can be few companies with as distinguished and successful a pedigree as MSB Technology. Since its DIY beginnings in the 1980s and still family owned the company has continued to grow, stunning the competition with stratospherically priced fare like the Reference and Select line of Digital-to-Analogue Converters. Hearing the flagship Select in unfamiliar territory at recent audio shows and demonstrations, it took me no time at all to appreciate that I was in the presence of sonic greatness. For most of us, however, no matter how incredible the sound quality of these exalted devices, they remain the realm of aspirational fantasy. When MSB recently introduced the more affordable Discrete DAC and its bigger brother (sister?), the Premier DAC, I jumped at the chance to experience in my own system MSB’s trickle down technology in action.

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Fischer & Fischer SN/SL 370AMT Loudspeakers

It was with some trepidation that I awaited delivery of the Fischer & Fischer SN/SL 370AMT loudspeakers. While many old and new audio delicacies have graced my room (with many now tucked away in cupboards and corners, awaiting that day), I can honestly say I'd never had a pair of Rock speakers through the door. I say "Rock" with a capital "R", because I'm not referring to the musical genre, but rather to the construction of the cabinets. Yes folks, just when you thought this hobby couldn't get any more esoteric, along comes German boutique manufacturer Fischer & Fischer with a pair of floorstanding speakers made of slate! Half a billion year old slate in fact, although what acoustic benefits the age of the slate may impart remains unknown. But do read on…

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Mark Levinson N° 526 Preamplifier with DAC & N° 534 Power Amplifier

It’s near-winter mid-May and the Blue Mountains are now splashed with hues of red and covered in brittle tree-fall. It’s conducive to calm, cosy music listening. In able assistance is the latest Mark Levinson pre/power combo in for review. I’m immersed in its analysis. Through that time, I ponder on the genesis of high-end audio, what products and personalities were responsible for its most forceful bloom in the early 1970s. Also in my thoughts are the joys of my own experiences with the brand and, just as joyfully, my many engaging conversations with Mark Levinson the man so many years ago now. Then, as I conclude an engaging four hour listening session, in as unexpected a way as fate could muster, a WhatsApp notice pops up on my iPhone. After so many years, the man himself, Mark Levinson is on the line…

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