Siltech Classic Legend 880 Cables

By the very lexicon, the new Classic Legend cables from Siltech make a rather bold promise. Off the bat. At the get-go. Classic Legend. That’s some chutzpah right there. But if there’s a cable specialist who can pull that off… Yes, Siltech’s R&D resources, metallurgy expertise and overall market authority certainly qualifies it for such self-assuredness. The company has been one of the industry leaders in cable manufacturing since its market launch in 1983 when it introduced its G1 ‘Silver Technology’ cable interface creations. Now evolved to G9 material and cable architecture, will Siltech’s newest high-end offering live up to the pledge?

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Rockna Audio Wavelight Digital-To-Analogue Converter

When Australian importer Audio Heaven casually waved the wand of temptation about reviewing Rockna Audio’s latest digital-to-analogue converter, I was all restrained excitement. Here’s a company which has garnered unanimous acclaim across the globe for making advanced proprietary-technology digital products from an unlikely birthplace. Not only did this assignment promise good, good, good vibrations but it’s a product hailing from Romania which is simpatico with my own paternal Germanic-Romanian heritage. So, Rockna Audio’s newest offering, the rather elegant slimline entry-point Wavelight DAC arrives, fresh from the former Eastern Bloc, with a potent musical pledge combining a proven alternative methodology with a twist of 21st century tech.

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The Funk Firm Houdini Cartridge Decoupler

Obviously, The Funk Firm’s Houdini cartridge decoupler hints at some kind of trickery, some wand-charm waived onto this unique product. Audacious association aside, Houdini shows evidence of ingenuity with genuine performance potential. How did the Houdini perform, after taking… umm, sheltering support over our already sonically stellar in-house cartridge and tonearm combo? Can Houdini free your sound from its resonant captive chains? Will the diminutive component’s performance captivate through to the final Prestige?

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KEF Blade Loudspeakers

The KEF Blades are gorgeous looking speakers. They have elicited nothing but compliments and occasional awe from every visitor I’ve had during the past couple of months, including one very keen tradesman who did all but insist on hearing them after finishing some painting on my balcony. The Blade is no longer a new speaker, despite the futuristic looking visual design, however, it’s an important loudspeaker design and it’s been too many years since I’ve listened to a KEF flagship model (discounting the limited-edition Muon) so when opportunity knocked, I opened the door.

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Classé Audio Delta PRE Preamplifier and Delta MONO Power Amplifiers

How does a great brand, a veritable audiophilic powerhouse, return after a creative hiatus? How does it regain market recognition, recapture the imagination and re-stimulate the desirous impetus of audio enthusiasts who held it in such high regard? In the case of Canadian Classé Audio, now under the umbrella of powerhouse D & M Holdings, it starts by re-inventing the entity and forcefully re-launching onto the world’s high-end audio stage. It then follows by introducing re-imagined products which, while preserving signature aesthetic motifs, improve on their predecessors with re-engineered and evolved design concepts. Incorporating these core philosophies, to a heightened status, are Classé Audio’s new Delta PRE and MONO flagship components.

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Line Magnetic LM-34IA Integrated Amplifier

It was with an open mind that I welcomed the invitation to review this particular component from Line Magnetic. My curiosity was piqued and came from a place of genuine interest in the LM-34IA integrated amplifier. An interest to see if indeed the rumours were true – that the Chinese manufacturers we've seen emerge into the vast landscape of the audio industry have left their mediocre beginnings behind and become capable of competitive, world class offerings. Even at this particular price point, one that you would regard as 'entry level' into the chasm that is tube gear.

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Totaldac d-1 direct Digital-to-Analogue Converter

If you survey classic CD players, the ones that were the format’s leading lights in its golden age throughout the 90s, you’ll spot a common theme. The ubiquity of multi-bit digital-to-analogue conversion using DAC chips which are now expensive and rare. In an alternate methodology, resistor ladder-based conversion (R2R) has taken the sonic performance of multi-bit DACs to a level which, by the zealous testimony of many astute audiophiles, crowns the technology as the ultimate glory of digital. In fact, some manufacturers are engineering proprietary modular ladder architectures while others achieve conversion by painstakingly aligning regiments of carefully-matched high quality resistors. French digital specialist Totaldac is in the latter camp. Here, we look at the company's recently introduced top single-box solution, the d1-direct digital-to-analogue converter.

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Linn Majik DSM/4 Network Music System

Do we really need to talk about Linn? It is one of the most famous companies in high-end audio and, back in the 1970s, it was one of a small group of British companies that changed the way all of us thought about high fidelity sound reproduction. Its most famous product was – is, since a revised version is still in production – the Linn Sondek LP12 turntable. Next year ought to be a big one for Linn, since it will the 50th anniversary of its turntable. But since much of the world is digital now, Linn has long been involved in that part of audio as well. Which brings us to the Linn Majik DSM/4.

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Transrotor Crescendo Turntable & Reed 1X Tonearm

What was thought to be a dinosaur in-waiting, with extinction as intensely ominous as the outlandish rainbow-like shine from polycarbonate discs, has resulted in a mere lull followed by an explosive rebirth. Yes, seemingly retrograde – but far from it, really – the mechanical turntable and vinyl, its analogue expression, have survived onslaughts from many-a-digit-based technology. They have persevered with assertive triumph. Germany’s longest-running analogue specialist Transrotor, like its industry brethren, has weathered the onslaught of digital music and continues to adhere to its no compromise principle of producing highly sophisticated turntables. Ditto for relative newcomer Reed, a tonearm specialist offering a variety of finely-engineered options. In this review, we examine in detail our in-situ pairing of Transrotor Crescendo Nero with the Reed 1X tonearm (recently subtly modified to 1H).

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Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One Evolution Loudspeakers

While evolving technologies have changed the electronics space, notably in developments across Class-D amplification, through to streaming software/hardware platforms and in music delivery, innovation in dynamic loudspeaker design has been more about progressive refinement rather than transformation. Fundamentally, a magnet, coil, spider, cone/dome, etc. have been the transducer’s consistent core elements since its invention by Kellogg and Rice in the 1920s. What’s more, the benefits of advanced diaphragm materials over ‘Ye Olde’ plain paper or cloth have been fervent fodder for subjective and empirical debate by engineers and audio enthusiasts alike. Nonetheless, the team of designers at Wilson Benesch has refined the concept, enhancing aspects of the company’s revolutionary first-gen product to position the new A.C.T. One Evolution at the cutting edge of loudspeaker design.

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Yamaha NS-3000 Loudspeakers

When I was young, it was conventional wisdom in the high-fidelity community that Japan was one of the best places from which to acquire the electronic components of your audio system. But your loudspeakers really ought to be American, British or, perhaps, European. Meanwhile, Yamaha – a Japanese company if ever there was one – was producing the Yamaha NS-10, or what has been described as “the most important loudspeaker you never heard of”. In the late 1970s and through the 1980s the NS-10 became almost ubiquitous in recording studios, principally for their revealing nature. So what do we make, now, four decades later, of the Yamaha NS-3000 speakers? At just under AU$13,000 per pair for mid-sized two-way speakers, we’re talking about Yamaha firmly placing itself in high-end territory.

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Larsen 9 Loudspeakers

Until recently, Larsen was a brand name unfamiliar to me. Upon learning they employ an Ortho-acoustic design, my mind conjured images of a white robed man cradling an unusual speaker design on the pages of a once popular print Hi-Fi magazine (I’m pretty sure that memory is correct even though a decent Google search couldn’t back me up). The original plan was for a review of the Larsen model 8.2 however a last-minute change resulted in a pair of the flagship model 9 being delivered to my door. To quote a diminutive Jedi master, “Disappointed I was not”.

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