EGM Audio Black ML Reference AC Power Cable

I once had the attitude – not that long ago – that life was too short to compare, let alone strictly A/B, AC power cables. After all, given a well-designed cable featuring good amounts of copper and appropriate shielding, AC power should be delivered to your device in a way that would suit its function. Especially in the case of good amplification where astute engineering makes full use of inherent elements such as extensive filtering, regulation and massive supporting power supplies. But in fact, it may be because of these design elements that I subsequently discovered (after finally spending some time comparing AC cables) the sonic differences AC power cables can make. Yes, often subtle but present nevertheless. Sharing the point of view that AC cables can indeed make a noticeable difference is Australian cable specialist EGM Audio. We take a look at the company’s high value flagship offerings in the new Black ML Reference AC cables.

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Stax SRM-700S Electrostatic Headphone Amplifier

If I had one Hi-Fi story to pass on to the new generations, it would go something like this: “Dear young people, we live in a world full of magical devices. They let us do wonderful things and if our grand-grand-grandparents saw us they’d think we’re all wizards. But looks can be deceptive. Long ago people could only listen to the music with their own ears, but although these days we can play any song, sonata or symphony by just tapping on a screen, the real sound of a guitar, violin or any other instrument is a mystery to many of us. We hear reproduced approximation of the sound and we’re happy with it. We seldom hear “the real thing”, live and vibrant! The best example of this are the headphones you use. There are so many of them… earbuds, over-the-ear, wireless, noise-cancelling, what have you. Some are cheap, some cost quite a bit, some sound nice, some sound better, some are ugly, some look good… but 99% of them are not even close to the real thing!

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SB Acoustics Rinjani BE Loudspeaker Kit

It’s been my experience that audio sees very rare true bargains. Yes, there’s gear that presents varying degrees of value-for-money for different reasons. It may be due to an unexpectedly high build and parts quality at the asking price. Sometimes, components may be widely perceived to perform beyond expectations. There may be reasons attached to a company’s reputation or a given product’s legacy which may automatically bestow added worth. But a genuine bargain from a product that offers most of the above, and considerably more in a number of important areas, is akin to the sighting of Bigfoot… or if in the Aussie bush, the spotting of the mythical Yowie. The SB Acoustics Rinjani BE debunks the myth – Yowies do exist after all.

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Simaudio Moon 680D Network Player/DAC

What do you want from your audio gear? Usability and convenience? An absence of aggravation? Or supreme audio quality? The magic that can sometimes be realised in a fine stereo system? Sometimes these two considerations can be at odds. But not, it seems, with Canadian Hi-Fi maker Simaudio. I’ve now put two of its Moon-branded products through their paces and both have been glorious in their acoustic performance while being delights to use. The first was merely a straightforward DAC. But achieving similar effectiveness in a combined DAC and Network Streamer is a harder ask. Yet the Moon 680D has achieved just that.

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Gryphon Audio Designs Ethos CD Player/DAC

How can an audio component, which is effectively a device with a specific function, stray as far away as possible, design-wise, from the ubiquitous plain rectangular box and still fulfil its purpose? What’s more, as an industrial designer, how to free yourself, how to deviate from constraints enforced by the rigours of architecture, functionality, usability, performance? Irrefutably, Gryphon Audio Design’s new Ethos CD player is proof-of-concept. It eschews design convention, seemingly tossing away the rule book…

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Vermouth Audio Reference Cables

Since its ‘Big Bang’ in the 1970s the vast universe of cable manufacturers has been in constant expansion. How does a nascent ‘Alpha’ star differentiate itself from the countless supernovas permeating the audiophile cable galaxies? Well, Vermouth Audio’s budding brightness combines high materials quality, exemplary build, intelligent design and an ambition to create a neutral and simultaneously engaging sonic presentation.

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432EVO High-End Music Server

432EVO is an imaginative and inventive audiophile music server brand founded in Belgium in 2013 by parent company Klinkt Beter. It was considered that music servers of the era were inadequate – Klinkt Beter wanted to do… better. 432EVO products are designed by Frederic Vanden Poel who was intrigued by 432 Hz tuning, so he decided to create a better music server with that tuning in mind. Frederic has been researching, designing and improving 432EVO’s range of dedicated music servers since 2015. 432EVO claims that 90% of listeners prefer music playing in the 432 Hz tuning over the tuning all other music servers use (much more on this later). Listeners felt it gave a more relaxed and natural presentation.

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Audio Research Reference 160S Stereo Power Amplifier

While a number of American audio brands reached iconic status in what some have described as high-end audio’s ‘Golden Age’ from the late 1970s through to the early 1990s, many others have either disappeared altogether or have lost much of their former gravitas. The world moves on… potent and innovative new players have joined the fray. Having said that, Audio Research (like its sibling McIntosh Laboratory) remains a powerhouse in high-end audio. In fact, 2020 marks Audio Research’s 50th Anniversary. Yes, it’s half a century since founder William Z. Johnson formed the Audio Research Corporation. Today, a skilled team of engineers and designers continues to boldly propel the company onwards, producing superb electronics while mindfully respecting the iconic American brand’s heritage and stature. In the Reference series, Audio Research presents its most powerful design statements. Here, we look at the just-released Reference 160S stereo power amplifier.

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in-akustik Referenz LS-4004 & LS-2404 AIR Pure Silver Loudspeaker Cables

Many years ago I bought a pair of speaker cables that retailed for about $550 at their prime but were heavily discounted “for a quick sale”. Despite that, at the time I still thought that I paid a lot (yes, I can be rather mean about some things Hi-Fi!). What I got for my money were (and still are) copper cables, while in-akustik’s Referenz (Reference) speaker cables reviewed here are made of silver. The connectors on my cables are gold-plated, which is great, while in-akustik connectors are plated with rhodium, a much tougher material that forms highly stable low resistance contacts. The list goes on, but to cut the long story short, Reference cables strive to deliver the best possible electrical parameters to your Hi-Fi system with very few – if any – compromises. And they look great!

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Rogers LS3/5a Classic Loudspeakers

When, in the early 1970s, the engineering team at Britain’s BBC network was tasked with producing a small, dependable, accurate and consistent reference loudspeaker for outside broadcasting audio monitoring, the Dudley Harwood and Spencer Hughes-led team (later of Harbeth and Spendor respectively) produced the archetypal LS3/5. Subsequently, a modification to the original spawned the ‘A’ version which became, simultaneously, the classic and iconic LS3/5a, a superb design that also inspired many licenced versions by major British brands (one of these being Rogers). Its production ran for many years but the diminutive monitor has been in hibernation since the late 1990s. That is until the recent re-emergence of the Rogers brand under a new and dynamic leadership. With new engineering ideologies and in-house manufacturing, the new Rogers entity is now offering a revitalisation of both the iconic LS3/5a and LS5/9 BBC monitors. Here, we embrace the opportunity of scrutinising the classic LS3/5a Classic mini-monitor.

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Magico A3 Loudspeakers

In the pursuit of the perfect loudspeaker design, audio engineers are faced with a number of imposing challenges. Obviously, careful thought must be devoted to the proper design of a driver complement, understanding the way in which those drivers, each manipulating or moving air within a given frequency range, will interact with one another in the final design. This complex interaction will in no small part also depend on the nature, components and execution of the crossover network and of course, the partnering or driving electronics (the amplifier) to which the speaker will be connected.

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Cary Audio SLI-100 Integrated Amplifier

Austere, stark, unembellished… yet aesthetically truthful, functionally honest. They’re the terms which came to my mind as I unboxed the matter-of-fact SLI-100 integrated amplifier from Cary Audio. The design seems non-superfluous, stripped of excess and devoid of unnecessary decoration. But with a purposeful, regimented functionality to provide music. Does the SLI-100 deliver on its direct, straightforward promise?

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