Tuesday, June 27, 2017
High End 2017
in Munich
Brand New
Video Series
NAD C 368
DAC-Integrated
New Integrated
Anthem STR
Vandersteen
Model Seven Mk.II
Ayre Acoustics
QX-5 DAC
Paradigm's Flagship
Persona 9H
Newsflash:
Merging NADAC ST-2 on SoundStage! Ultra ... Read the review
Onkyo's A-9010 on SoundStage! Access ... Read the review

Sponsors

Price: $199.99

Website: www.usa.1more.com

Brent said: I can’t think of earphones I like better for $200 -- or even for $300.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Great sound and nine sets of eartips!

Price: $39.99

Website: www.alteclansing.com

Rad said: Altec apparently cut costs in the wrong places: in the electronics and drivers. If you’re going to listen only to spoken word or old-time radio, these headphones will do; but if you want even semi-serious sound quality, be willing to spend a few bucks more.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Don’t bother with these.

Price: $3499

Website: www.anthemav.com

Roger said: The MCA 525 may look unpretentious, but don’t underestimate it. Its excellent all-around performance makes it my favorite midpriced multichannel amp.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: A solid anchor for your new home-theater system.

Price: $2000

Website: www.arcam.co.uk

Al said: Arcam’s Solo Music will be great for those who want to dispense with a component-based hi-fi system. With everything included -- amplifier, preamp, SACD/CD player, DLNA network streamer -- all you need to add are speakers (and a sub, if you’ve got one).

Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

The gist: The most simplified Arcam system so far.

Price: $399 with Cipher and analog cables, $349 with analog cable only

Website: www.audeze.com

Brent said: If you want top-notch, audiophile-grade sound you can enjoy at home and easily take along to your office, cubicle, or hotel room, I can’t think of a more practical and cost-effective way to get it. This is $4000 worth of sound for $400.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Unique design delivers stunning sound quality.

Price: $7500

Website: www.audioresearch.com

Vade said: I know several audiophiles who spurn any prepackaged server/network player, preferring to optimize their systems’ sound by tweaking the system parameters; if that’s the way you feel, the DAC9’s very good sound quality and gorgeous looks make it an easy recommendation.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: The Linux limitation is the big issue with the DAC9.

Price: $7500

Website: www.audioresearch.com

Vade said: For me, the point of diminishing returns is the LS28. If your budget can swing it, I strongly recommend that you audition the LS28. You might like it as much as I did.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: The, ahem, foundation of your new stereo system.

Price: $20,000

Website: www.audioresearch.com

Doug said: For those who want a neutral sound, excellent resolution, high power, ease of use (for a tubed amp), superb build quality, and beautiful industrial design, Audio Research’s GS150 is very tough to beat.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Retro styling and modern sound by a legendary company.

Price: $4199

Website: www.audiodesksysteme.de

Tom said: Not having had an original Vinyl Cleaner to compare it to, I can say only that the new model is a truly remarkable component. In fact, this vinyl aficionado now can’t imagine listening to his records without it.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: When you really take record cleaning seriously.

Price: $699.99

Website: www.audiofly.com

Brent said: Their combination of wear-’em-all-day comfort and superbly balanced sound makes the AF1120s one of the most appealing sets of earphones I’ve reviewed.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: A marked improvement over the company’s AF140 earphones.

Price: $799 to $1616.25

Website: www.axiomaudio.com

Vince said: If you’re looking for a small yet powerful music system for streaming tunes, look no further than the AxiomAir N3 -- you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Potent portable goes anywhere you want music.

Price: $8950

Website: www.ayre.com

Philip said: What I can say is that the QX-5 Twenty is a beautifully designed, well-built component that could easily anchor a state-of-the-art sound system for years to come.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Classic Ayre sound in a modern digital source.

Price: $1895

Website: www.bang-olufsen.com

Al said: Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound 2 is a prime example of a speaker designed to satisfy both lifestyle and audiophile expectations. It’s beautiful-looking, it’s compact enough not to dominate a living space, and it incorporates forward-looking technology that delivers benefits in both ergonomics and sound quality.

Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

The gist: Style meets substance in B&O’s BeoSound 2.

Price: $699

Website: www.bluemic.com

Brent said: In my experience, the Blue Ellas were unique in their ability to present all elements of a stereo mix cleanly and clearly, without resorting to unnatural-sounding emphasis of any part of the audioband. It’s hard for me to imagine who wouldn’t like their sound.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: These look and sound different than most.

Price: $699 per pair

Website: www.bowers-wilkins.com

Al said: Anyone looking for an easy entry into the audiophile world would be well served by the Bowers & Wilkins 685 S2. For a $699/pair speaker, it hits most of the high-end high points: precise imaging, refined detail, ample dynamics. And for the speaker’s modest size, its bass extension is impressive.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Get that B&W marquee in your room for under 700 bucks.

Price: $899.99

Website: www.bowers-wilkins.com

S. Andrea said: Bowers & Wilkins’ latest headphone model isn’t just the company’s own best to date; it deserves to be compared against other truly high-end headphones from the best manufacturers, even models priced much higher.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Headphone sound to go with your 800-series speakers.

Price: $199

Website: www.brainwavzaudio.com

Brent said: They’re super-comfortable, easy to live with, and their few departures from neutrality are subtle enough that I’d consider them characteristics rather than flaws.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: The deviations from neutrality make for a pleasing sound.

Price: $7690

Website: www.devialet.com

Hans said: With the Expert 130 Pro, Devialet has continued to build on the most excellent foundation of past successes like the 120 and Expert 200. Despite my apathy for such monikers as ADH and Magic Wire, their clever circuits continue to set the bar for audio realism.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Hans was blown away by this thing.

Price: $799 per pair

Website: www.dynaudio.com

Hans said: Strong, linear bass, a beautifully clear midrange, and terrific soundstaging are just a few of the qualities that make the Emit M10 a bombshell of a minimonitor. Strong recommendations don’t come much easier.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Low price doesn’t necessarily mean compromised sound.

Price: $6850; power supply upgrade, $600; $7380 if purchased together

Website: www.exogal.com

Hans said: Exogal’s Ion PowerDAC is a novel, forward-thinking concept. It partners a high-performance DAC with a multitude of inputs, including traditional analog inputs and a dedicated headphone output, with a proprietary amplifier in a well-tailored all-in-one package.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Unique DAC-amplifier technology is the thing with this product.

Price: $25,000 per pair

Website: www.focusaudio.com

Jason said: You’ll get what we audiophiles always say we want: an incredibly short signal path, true dual-mono construction, and phenomenal sound quality.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Built by hand in Canada with incredible results.

Price: $249.99

Website: www.gracedigital.com

Rad said: It does everything it’s engineered to do, it’s beautifully designed and solidly built, and a full charge of its battery will last a long time -- for the length of the party or a whole day at the beach.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Your play-it-loud outdoor party speaker.

Price: €29,000

Website: www.gryphon-audio.dk

Jeff said: It sounds stunning, it looks like a real power amp should, and for €29,000, it has all the technology and badass hardware you could want.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Jeff Fritz’s favorite Gryphon amp.

Price: $5000

Website: www.hegel.com

Garrett said: Hegel Music Systems has produced fine-sounding audio equipment at fairly moderate prices for many years now, and their new Mohican is no exception. It’s a wonderful player of Compact Discs that should be seriously considered by anyone with a large library of them who’s in the market for a dedicated player.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: A good candidate for your last CD player.

Price: $3000

Website: www.hegel.com

Al said: Hegel Music Systems’ Röst is a versatile, forward-thinking hi-fi component -- I can’t think of another integrated amplifier with connectivity options that address not only the needs of audiophiles, but also those of the custom-installation market. It looks interesting, it sounds great, and it has AirPlay -- to hear uncompressed music, you need only whip out your iPhone.

Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

The gist: Update on Hegel’s very successful integrated-amp platform.

Price: $149.95

Website: www.jbl.com

Rad said: The JBL Charge 3 is one of the most capable Bluetooth speakers I’ve heard in terms of its ability to play loud -- what it lacks in finesse, it makes up in volume.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: The waterproof feature only adds to the punchy sound quality.

Price: €397 

Website: www.jplay.eu

Howard said: Designed to work with Windows- and Linux-based USB DACs and USB-to-S/PDIF converters, the JCAT USB Card was created through a partnership with JCAT and Canada’s Adnaco Technology, the latter a designer of products for home computers, marine radar, precision industrial measurement systems, data-acquisition systems, telecom test gear, and medical devices. 

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Get the best from USB-based playback.

Price: €365

Website: www.jplay.eu

Howard said: The JCAT USB Isolator rejects computer-based noise by providing full galvanic isolation to the USB bus up to 2.5kV, and regenerates, repacketizes, and reclocks the incoming USB computer signal. 

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Makes USB playback quieter. 

Price: $13,999.99 per pair

Website: www.kef.com

Doug said: For its price, the Reference 3 is damn near impossible to fault as an accurate, high-definition loudspeaker.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: More traditional alternative to the company's Blades.

Price: $99.99

Website: www.koss.com

Rad said: These are good all-purpose headphones, especially considering their price of $99.99. 

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Good, but the Koss BT539ik’s are worth the extra $100 expenditure.

Price: $49.99

Website: www.koss.com

Rad said: Once I got started listening to Koss’s UR42i headphones, I found it hard to stop. You can find better headphones if you want to spend $200 or more, but for $49.99, I can’t think of anything that touches these.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Here’s that pair of $50 headphones you’ve been looking for.

Price: $349 per 1m pair (XLR); $199 per 1m pair (RCA)

Website: www.madscientist-audio.com

Colin said: I wouldn’t go wrong buying Mad Scientist Audio’s Heretical Analog interconnects and Nitro power cords -- they’re excellent products and incredible bargains. They’re not audio jewelry -- you may want to hide the Nitros from sensitive eyes -- but looks are clearly not everything. If your cable budget is limited and you want to know how great wires can transform a system’s sound, go Mad.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Interesting design at a good price.

Price: $399 per 1.2m cord

Website: www.madscientist-audio.com

Colin said: I wouldn’t go wrong buying Mad Scientist Audio’s Heretical Analog interconnects and Nitro power cords -- they’re excellent products and incredible bargains. They’re not audio jewelry -- you may want to hide the Nitros from sensitive eyes -- but looks are clearly not everything. If your cable budget is limited and you want to know how great wires can transform a system’s sound, go Mad.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Interesting design at a good price.

Price: $8400/eight

Website: www.magico.net

Jeff said: If you’re going to go to the considerable expense of buying, placing, and powering a pair of Magico speakers -- some of the most revealing speakers ever made, if not the most revealing -- why forgo that last drop of possible higher sound quality? It’s real, and once you hear it, you won’t be able to go back.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: The ultimate tweak for your Magico speakers.

Price: $6495 per pair

Website: www.martinlogan.com

Roger said: After listening to and thoroughly enjoying the nearly flawless performance of the Classic ESL 9s in my system, I can’t imagine living without them.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Roger's new reference.

Price: $5500

Website: www.mcintoshlabs.com

Al said: Not only does it provide reference-quality video performance, 3D audio and video playback, upscaling to 4K, flawless operational performance (aside from some lighting idiosyncrasies), and seductive sound quality -- it does all of that for a cool grand less than the device it aspires to be: McIntosh’s own MCD550 SACD/CD player.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Perfect source to round-out your all-Mac setup.

Price: $1000 each

Website: www.mcintoshlabs.com

Al said: I enjoyed the RS100s’ muscular bass, and their ability to cast a big aural image with rock and electronic tracks, but was less thrilled with their sound when I streamed more delicate, nuanced acoustic jazz and classical music.

Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

The gist: McIntosh for the masses.

Price: $14,495 per pair

Website: www.monitoraudiousa.com

Aron said: The speaker’s fit and finish are exquisite, its build quality is exemplary, and the science behind its design and development is as beyond reproach as its sound.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Thoroughly updated model in Monitor's premium series of loudspeakers.

Price: $899

Website: www.nadelectronics.com

Al said: NAD’s C 368 is a highly competent, great-sounding integrated amplifier that in itself represents an excellent value at $899.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

The gist: Classic NAD integrated reborn for the modern audiophile.

Price: $3999

Website: www.nadelectronics.com

Hans said: From packaging to build quality to connectivity to, most important, sound quality, the M32 is an outstanding example of how audiophiles don’t necessarily have to spend top dollar to get top-shelf performance.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Call it Devialet light.

Price: $999

Website: www.naimaudio.com

Al said: At $999, the Mu-so Qb isn’t cheap, but its combination of good looks, solid features, and sound and build quality make it a winning all-in-one for someone wanting to fill a small space with big sound.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

The gist: It may be small, but all those drivers indicate a real hi-fi component.

Price: $549

Website: www.oppodigital.com

Wes said: All in all, Oppo Digital has another winner in the UDP-203. 

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Can't do better for a reasonably priced BD player.

Price: $1499

Website: www.outlawaudio.com

Brent said: My guess is that, once audiophiles hear how clear, clean, tight, and punchy this sub sounds -- and how, even in ported mode, it reveals no hint of boom, ringing, bloat, or all those other things audiophiles often hate about subwoofers -- they’ll flock to it.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Solid performer if you want deep bass at a great price.

Price: $399

Website: www.project-audio.com

Jeff said: This combo laid down a foundation from which the music bloomed vertically and rolled forward, left, and right, to fill my listening room with warmth and presence. It moved music out of the background to reclaim a primary place in my life.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Great choice for an entry-level vinyl rig. 

Price: $14,998 per pair

Website: www.psaudio.com

Erich said: The BHK Signature 300 Monos are expensive, but nothing in their build quality or sound makes me doubt that they’re worth every penny PS Audio asks for them -- or that they’re great amps.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Superamps without the superhigh price.

Price: $899

Website: www.rotel.com

Al said: The Rotel A12 is an easy recommendation for anyone looking to move beyond mass-market stereo receivers.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Modern, affordable integrated with sufficient power for most speakers.

Price: $12,500

Website: www.symposiumusa.com

Howard said: A rare blend of value, good looks, and performance, it’s an easy recommendation.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Put your SOTA components on this puppy.

Prices: $62,000 per pair (Model Seven Mk.II) and $52,000 per pair (M7-HPA)

Website: www.vandersteen.com

Pete said: The quality of sound I’m hearing from them is beyond what I could have hoped for, let alone expected, even a year or two ago.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Pete’s reference.

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