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Kerr – Kerr Acoustic transition their initial focus on pro audio to home by signing a new UK distribution agreement with Berkshire-based Sound Fowndations. "I guess it was a natural move for me to start with the pro market," says Kerr, "since I was already working in that field as a session musician and a music producer. During that time I found myself collecting, restoring and modifying a vast number of different loudspeaker designs in pursuit of the kind of resolution I wanted to achieve in my recordings, which is what ultimately led me to create my own designs – and then share them with others." Kerr’s loudspeakers feature midrange and bass units from Dorset–based Volt with true ribbon tweeters and transmission line bass as low as 16Hz in the three-way K100 floorstander and 33Hz in the standmount K300. Kerr Acoustic loudspeakers are available in real wood veneer, satin or gloss finishes. The K300 starts at £4'995/pr, the K320 at £7'495/pr and the K100 at £22'995/pr.

Pro-Ject gets labeled – For nearly 30 years, Pro-Ject have offered upscale hifi gear. Now there's their first audiophile record under the new Pro-Ject Records label. "The first of its kind, the record shows different recording styles blended in collaboration with Austrian musician/audiophile 7RAY featuring Triple Ace – Jazzy Zoetrope. The vinyl is an audiophile 180g double LP and di­rect master tape copy. This album is easy listening with a great atmosphere to become an instant Jazz classic. As a special-concept live studio album recorded at Pro-Ject’s HQ in Austria, it presents a direct comparison of different recording styles. The producer used real analog tape and top recording equipment with reduced and thoughtful miking techniques to capture the essence of Pro-Ject’s mission and commitment to quality sound without compression or extensive editing."

B.Audio One – The French firm bow a 3-deep new line called One. Its B.dac One benefits from their source jitter removal tech and gets USB-B, AES/EBU, 2 x coax and 2 x Toslink inputs, a fully balanced output stage and linear-phase digital filters to eliminate pre-echo with an in-house developed oversampling algorithm. DSD support is up to 11.2896MHz and PCM up to 384kHz. The B.dpr One adds balanced analog volume and the option of 2 x RCA and 1 x XLR analog inputs. The B.amp One is a 120wpc class AB stereo power amp with 200kHz bandwidth, three pairs of complimentary bipolar output transistors per channel and a 6-transistor class A push/pull driver stage with local feedback.

Stoned? – Rockna's new entry-level DAC Wavelight [€4'990] remains 25-bit R2R executed via Xilinx Spartan 7 FPGA. Volume control is by analog resistor matrix. Besides Toslink, coax, AES/EBU and USB-B, there's  I²S over HDMI (perfect for the upcoming Wavelight server) and an analog RCA input. Analog outputs are on RCA and XLR and the dimmable display is a white dot matrix. Dual transformers and 100'000µF capacitance, 4 digital custom filters including hybrid and NOS plus 32/384 PCM and DSD512 round out the specs. Finish options are silver or black and there are iOS and Adroid control apps plus future proofing with firmware updates.

Gold – Erzetich from Slovania put a compilation of 12 tracks of indie music on a gold-plated CD [€10] to "contribute to the recognition of outstanding independent musicians and offer audiophiles a superb music and audio experience. The songs move between pop, rock, blues and new age sequenced so as to join such diverse styles into a meaningful whole. Artists featured are Mark Newman, The Inoculated Canaries, The Blue Dolphins (band of five-time Grammy award-winning producer/engineer), Jordan Paul, Alice Callari, Katie Ainge, The Fairest and Best, Mason Murphy, Lamontt, Tim McNary, Sweet Soubrette and Catherine Duc (Grammy nominated)."

 

Delta force – exaSound bow their new Delta music server with "Intel i9-9900 8-core CPU for heavy-duty DSP processing and upsampling with Roon for stereo and multi-channel applications. Silent, high-performance hardware and the exaOS lightweight operating system facilitate streaming to virtually any USB DAC and Roon-supported audio device. Roon Core delivers intelligent management of content stored on hard drives, NAS and from streaming services Tidal and Qobuz. UPnP offers bit-perfect streaming up to DSD512 and PCM 768kHz. A 7" touch screen offers a convenient user experience. The Delta can be a server and player/renderer when an exaSound DAC attaches via USB. Asynchronous packet streaming over USB developed by us guarantees that the CPU load caused by multiple server tasks does not affect the timing accuracy and precision of local USB playback."

Daddy's home – If you're Voxativ's Hagen that is. In the Teutonic Nibelungen epic, Alberich was strongman Hagen's dad. And now Alberich is the Voxativ Hagen's active bass stand. But it's still more. "As Alberich Absolut it's an Absolut Hagen system with additional 1'000-watt active woofer module. Full wireless control via Wifi or Bluetooth (AirPlay, UPNP, Roon etc) and widebander drive with 50 watts class A/B like a smaller digital version of our 9.87 system. But if you like to tweak: just ask us for Alberich analog edition with our Lyric or T211 tube amp." In the Alberich configuration, Hagen runs a modified Voxativ AF-1n widebander. Alberich is based on the company's rescaled Z-Bass subwoofer with 96dB custom Voxativ woofer "in a completely open system that has to move nearly zero air volume". With adjustable low pass, Alberich covers the up to 20-200Hz bandwidth.

Hippeas – If you're puffed chickpeas, you're hippeas. If you're a hip-flask DAC from iFi, you're a blue hip-dac [$149] with a copper nozzle. You do MQA, 384kHz PCM and DSD 256, run headfi off either 3.5mm standard or 4.4mm balanced, put out up to 400mW standard or 700mW balanced, have switchable input sensitivity to better match varying headphones and add purely analog bass boost. Your USB type A accepts digital data, USB type C is for charging. Drink up!

A500 – Denmark's Buchardt bow their first active speaker based on the popular S400. To accommodate the electronics, the S400's passive oval radiator becomes an active 6" woofer to reinforce the frontal 6" driver below the ¾" wave-guided tweeter. There's quad-core DSP, a dual CS4398 DAC, room-correction ready, low-level listening EQ and a sealed alignment. The customer decides whether to configure DSP for 2.5-way or 3-way operation. With on-board processing power and 3x150w analog gain based on TI, claimed bandwidth is an ambitious 25Hz – 40kHz ±1.5dB. Filter points are 150Hz and 2'800Hz. There's lossless 24/96 wireless and a wired analog XLR input. All of it fits into a 365 x 180 x 280mm cabinet in black, white or walnut. Buchardt's optional stereo hub can drive 16 wireless speakers from its own hot spot and accepts USB, 3 x Toslink, coax, HDMI, standard RCA and 3.5mm stereo sources The hub will stream Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, vTuner, Amazon Music, Roon and YouTube. The hub also adds RF remote and Buchardt's room correction algorithms. Those work on a 1-minute data acquisition protocol which uses an Apple iPhone 6S or newer with the Buchardt app.

"Standard config is as 2.5-way set to 25Hz with variable bass. If you play at 100dB, don't expect 2 x 6" woofers to generate 25Hz. The system will then smoothly set the bass tuning higher so the woofers don’t break. But what if you rarely play loud? Download a different tuning from our website. Copy the file onto a USB key and upload to each speaker. Now it's a 3-way design set to 20Hz instead. What if deep bass isn't important but high SPL are? What if you want to use subs? Download a different master tuning. We are experimenting with cardioid, semi cardioid and optimized nearfield tunings for professional studio use and much more." All the hardware ships Denmark direct and a current pre-order campaign for June delivery offers discounts.

Rouault – From France come the speaker designs by Alain Pratali and Antoine Rouault. Simon Lee of Korea is involved in a voicing role and recommends these designs to his clients exclusively to feature them on his own website. The M1 and M3 models shown combine 8" and 6.5" Accuton mid/woofers respectively with Alain's own ultra-light floating dome tweeter loaded in a precision-machined ellipsoidal Delrin horn. Compound 6dB+12dB filters with Rike Audio components, Birch ply construction, WBT binding posts, user-adjustable tweeter tuning with magnets not shelving resistors and lacquered real-wood veneers round out the feature set. The M3 monitor is rear-ported, the M1 tower combines a quarter-wave line with a port tuned to 33Hz. All EU sales ship from Antoine's workshop outside Britanny's Rennes whilst Asian clients work with Simon Audio.

KlanghornSound horn in German, it's SoundSpace System's new solid-wood tweeter wave guide for their active floorstanding model previously reviewed in these pages. "As a small manufacturer, we can make the special possible. Our latest coup is the Klanghorn milled from a solid block of resonant wood. The result is not only a beautiful look and feel but sound optimization that speaks for itself."

JC +1 – This is the other JC aka John Curl who revisits his Halo JC1 mono amplifier design for Parasound with a new iteration. At 450 watt into 8Ω, 850 into 4 and 1'300 into 2 plus 180 amperes of peak current, the JC1+ [$17K/pr]  is a beast which works its first 25 watts in class A. Over the predecessor, it increases by 30% in weight, ups capacitance from 132'000μF to 198'000μF and increases output devices from 18 Sanken transistors to 24. "The JC 1+ is the first commercially built product to employ active high-frequency noise filtering with Bybee Music Rails. Curl’s newly designed driver stage employs a cascode circuit with greater open-loop bandwidth and increased linearity. In another first for the JC1+, the input and driver stages reside on FR-408 printed circuit board material. Until now FR408 was only used in super-computer and aerospace applications."

Schiit storm – As our review clarified, the Raal Requisite SR1a ribbon earspeakers require a 100wpc/8Ω speaker amplifier to dispatch the requisite current whilst an impedance interface box raises the near dead short of the ribbon's load impedance to a happy 6Ω. There'd been talk that Schiit were working on a direct-drive amp that would do away with Raal's impedance converter whilst building in the necessary baffle-step compensation into their circuit. Reader Russell Dawkins: "I talked to Requisite's Danny McKinney yesterday. Apparently the Schiit amp for the Raal SR1a ribbon ear monitors is coming in two versions: one with Schiit branding in their own case, the other in a case designed by Requisite with Requisite branding. The model name will be FOS for 'full of schiit' because the internals are identical. Pricing will be minus $300 for eliminating the Raal interface box and +$800 or $1'000 for the amp with and without USB inputs so $4'000 and $4200 for the two headphone/amp packages." Now Schiit have released the $799 Jotunheim R which dispatches 14 amperes into the SR1a's impedance, which has defeatable baffle-step correction should a circumaural Raal ribbon bow in the future which won't need it and which adds selectable passive RCA/XLR pre-outs. Analog inputs are on both RCA and XLR. The optional $200 True MultiBit card can add a USB DAC with Schiit's own DSP filter. That makes Jotunheim R the ideal compact driver for the SR1a which can be taken on the road or placed on a desktop driven USB direct from a computer.

Advantages – From Franck Tchang's Parisian Avantages Audio workshop come two new monitors called N°56 [€3'200/pr] and N°68 [€3'800/pr]. "Amazing frequency response for monitors with aluminium mid/woofers in front and paper cone passive radiators in the back. Their 25mm tweeter plates diamond atop a magnesium substrate to act as super tweeter. The smaller model uses a 15cm widebander with a 18cm passive radiator. It has a 3kHz high-pass, 85dB sensitivity, dimensions of 18.5 x 30.5 x 16cm WxHxD and weighs just 6kg. The bigger model scales up to an 18cm widebander and 22cm passive radiator, gains 1dB of sensitivity and slightly lowers the filter hinge to 2.8kHz. It weighs 9kg and measures 24x40x20cm WxHxD." The N°56 promises bandwidth of 40Hz – 45kHz, the N°68 plumbs to 30Hz.

 

 

Denafrips go D/D – When a reader dropped a hint that Denafrips were readying a USB reclocker, I checked in with their global marketing manager Alvin Chee of Vinshine Audio. "News spreads fast. Yes, it's coming. No, they are coming. Three models, entry, premium and flagship. They are all pure digital-to-digital converters. The entry-level model converts USB to AES/EBU, coax, Toslink and I²S. The premium model adds a fifo buffer and femto clock. The flagship model adds mil-spec temperature-stabilized crystal oscillators for the very best reclocking. It will be an exciting year for Denafrips."

Telos 7 – Goldmund's latest class AB integrated amp [£9'500] does 190wpc into 8Ω and revisits the feature set of the discontinued Job INT with one analog input, 32/384 USB, Toslink, coax and a digital volume control. It also upgrades the enclosure, connectors and footers and contains the latest NextGen circuit updates.

2180i – Like he did with James Bongiorno's IP under the Spread Spectrum Technologies brand, EJ Sarmento of Wyred4Sound now did for Bob Carver Design – bring it in-house by acquiring the rights to the designs. "We're working on many new things but the 2180i integrated amp is first. Bob Carver remains involved and together we're working to build new designs. Some of the non-amplifier products for the brand will be more me but still with his insights." In short, Wyred4Sound just branched out into building vacuum tube electronics…

Silent Angel – Network specialists Thunder Data now have their Silent Angel Bonn N8 network switch available in Germany [€399]. As per model name, there are eight Gigabit RJ45 sockets to route network traffic. The temperature-compensated crystal oscillator is said to work with 0.1pmm clock precision. The power supply is an external medical-grade switcher. Our colleagues at fairaudio.de have a short review on it.

 

 

 

Z40i – Linear Tube Audio convert their existing Zotl 40 power amplifier into an integrated amplifier [$7'650] to deliver 51wpc into 8Ω from a quartet of KT77 output tubes. There are 4:1 RCA:XLR inputs, hi/lo Ω 6.3mm headphone ports, a tape loop on RCA, a 100-step precision attenuator and a pre-paired Apple remote. The industrial design and case work are by Fern & Roby, the patented circuitry with RF-transformer impedance conversion is by David Berning.

Simon sez – Simon Audio's 3 Series separates include the P3 line stage and S3 power amp. The preamp combines a 1MΩ input impedance with sub 100Ω output impedance for optimal signal transfer. Socketry combines 2 x RCA inputs, 1 x RCA thru-put, 2 x XLR inputs and one each RCA and XLR out. The analog attenuator is digitally actuated via relays. The matching stereo amplifier generates 150/300wpc into 8/4Ω using push/pull Sanken power transistors and a Jfet input stage. Ex April Music's Simon Lee fronting SAG also has half-sized components, a full-featured All-in-one and two pairs of loudspeakers

DSS – That's not a new format but Métronome's new streamer. The DSS, short for digital sharing streamer, is a compact deck with a 25cm² footprint and just 7cm height. There's up to PCM 384 and DSD64 support, MQA, Roon, Airplay 1 and 2, UPnP and DLNA. Output socketry is on coax, AES/EBU, Toslink and I²S over HDMI, inputs are on USB and RJ45.

Nordost phono phrenzy – Following the company's Valhalla 2 tonearm cable introduced at High End Munich 2019, there are the Blue Heaven [$599/1.25m], Heimdall 2 [$799], Frey 2 [$1'399] and Tyr 2 [$2'749/1.25m] to flesh out their dedicated phono cable models. "Each new tonearm cable + uses four silver-plated solid core OFC conductors arranged as twisted pair to create a left and right channel, then wrapped in micro or dual mono filament then a braided silver shield. A separately shielded silver-plated bond ground wire wrapped in micro mono filament minimizes noise. To further reduce noise, two detachable ground wires can connect to the shield of the cable, serving as additional ground loop prevention when needed."

A5 – Magico's new 5-driver 3-way [$21'800/pr] introduces a new carbon/graphite 5" midrange bracketed by the firm's familiar 28mm Beryllium dome tweeter and three 9" graphene-based woofers in a 6061 aluminium heavily braced 180lbs enclosure. 4th-order slopes with just introduced Mundorf M-Resist foil resistors in Magico's 'elliptical' filter configuration handle the signal routing.

Cherry blossoms – From Canada's Eden Acoustics comes the open-baffle Sakura [€15'000/pr] to add a bigger model to the company's prior Tômei monitor. "Sakura is a 3-way using three or four drivers: a sliced cone 6" mid/bass driver featuring 0.5" excursion, a dome tweeter and one long-throw 1" excursion 13" woofer. The central control unit comes with first-class components from Hypex, Analog Devices, XMOS and AKM. DSP optimizes each driver's amplitude, impulse, time and phase response. It sports eight 32-bit/768kHz AKM4495 DACs. Hypex Ncore amplifiers for 1'700 watts total connect directly to the drivers' voice coils. The CCU accepts connections through balanced/unbalanced analog, S/PDIF coax i/o, USB Class 2 and with the optional Network Music Server [€1'200], streaming through Airplay, UPnP/DLNA, Bluetooth and Roon. Sakura will be available in two formats. The base version includes a pair of 3-way towers with a remote control-based central control unit. Sakura2 [€16'200/pr] sports two mid drivers per side. Both systems can come Roon ready with network streaming."

Bulgaria's DHT preamp – From Thrax comes Lybra [€50'000], a two-box balanced 300B preamplifier with independently gain-adjustable outputs like Supratek's Dual Cabernet to accommodate bi-amping with different amplifiers. There's also a fully balanced tape loop to support ambitious reel-to-reel machines, an outboard dual-mono power supply, auto bias and full microprocessor control with an LCD display. As to whether the 300B couple via transformers or capacitors, they use "chokes and capacitors" as Boyan Donchev replied via short note from his engineers.