Bowers & Wilkins DB2D Active Subwoofer

To an even greater extent than the development, and subsequent adoption, of high-tech materials in the fabrication of loudspeaker transducers, the subwoofer space has benefitted from the advancements in DSP and the general digital manipulation of the audio signal’s low frequencies. Further digitalisation has been incorporated in subwoofer functionality via Wi-Fi’s ubiquitousness, Bluetooth and the employment of smart device Apps. A thoroughly refined adoption of these and other technologies has been cunningly implemented in the new high-tech Bowers & Wilkins DB2D subwoofer.

Read more ...

Soulution 330 Integrated Amplifier

First of all, this is not your everyday high-end amplifier, DAC or Preamplifier. In fact, it's not your average anything and almost defies classification. This is an AU$25,000 entry (yes, entry as this is the least expensive Soulution unit) to the rarefied and fascinating world of Soulution Audio.

Read more ...

Nordost QKore1 Ground Unit

When you power on your home audio system and turn it up, you don’t just bring the noise, chances are, you’ve got too much of it already in the form of AC-born (-/e) electrical noise. The AC power line is the lifeblood of a home audio system and its quality is critical to a system’s ultimate performance no matter how well designed the power supplies of your individual components. But what you are hearing (and therefore not hearing, as it were) is a function of the quality of your AC. Indeed, the perception that a hi-fi system often sounds appreciably better in the wee small hours after regular folk have stopped using as much electricity and gone to bed, is a recognised audiophile phenomenon, to this listener at least.

Read more ...

TRIANGLE Esprit Australe EZ Loudspeakers

Earth is just within the extremities where life, as we know it, will flourish. Too close to the sun and it’s too hot, too far away and it’s too cold – those temperature extremities as measured from the sun fall just before Earth to mid-way between Earth and Mars. They call it the Goldilocks zone – it’s just right. That analogy applies equally well to the new TRIANGLE Australe Esprit EZ speaker system; the new reference in its new Esprit EZ series. For its RRP, it offers a lot of speaker. No one wants to pay 10K for speakers if they don’t really need to. Am I implying that the Australe Esprit EZ speakers compare sonically to speakers up to $10K?

Read more ...

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…

Read more ...

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’.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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).

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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?

Read more ...