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  2. These 7 systems just didn't fail to perform they were downright embarrassing for the manufacturers. Whats concerning is that in all cases I think they felt their systems were performing well. The clue for them would be the amount of folk who walk in, listen for no more than 3 seconds and walk straight back out. This was not the case in my number one choice for disastrous sound quality where I think show visitors were just simply astounded at how ordinary it was and were trying to figure out how this much money could sound this awful. 6) Boenicke - I absolutely love the way these things look and the way they are made. The integral base allows the loudspeaker cabiniet to girate around on some kind of springing arrangement. It's amazing and beautifully executed! They are Swiss, they are stunning.....to look at........ They don't have a tweeter in the normal sense though and they sound like it. The have the treble quality of a Bose 301 from 1981. Not good enough at all in 2019 and definitely not good enough at the price. They also sound unbalanced due to the lack of extension in the top end. What a shame. 5) Magico - These were a pretty significant disappointment. The midrange had a real dirty sound to it and it was quite peaky and edgy. Somewhat coloured overall and many folk were just turning around and walking out. Definitely a case of not living up to the hype... at all. 4) Nagra - I don't know what was going on here. I love the way this product looks, the way its made etc but wow this was desperately ordinary sound for such a seriously pricey combination. Particularly dry sounding, a bit compressed and just wrong. Particularly so considering and comparing how good the sound in some quite affordable rooms was. A fail for Nagra at Munich 2019. 3) Elrog - Thomas seems like a nice guy but sheesh I have honestly heard better sound holding the phone at arms length while listening to 'on hold' music. Maybe that is overstating it slightly but seriously these enormous things produce no real bass, an incredibly coloured honky / wispy sounding mid and generally sound so little like the sound a musical instrument produces that they just have to be dismissed as a German curiosity. ??? 2) Superjet horns. Oh dear. This gentleman was so proud of his creations. He needs to listen to some other systems at the show with an open mind though. These horns beautifully demonstrated all that can be wrong with horns. Screechy, hard, incredibly coloured and peaky. Completely un listenable even for seconds. They were just so wrong I and everyone else was busting to get out of the room. What a shame as he seemed like the nicest guy but he will not be selling any of these anytime soon based on his Munich Show this year. 1) Air Tight - This room actually didn't just offer the poorest of sound quality that sounded the least like any live music of any kind but it trounced it's opposition for dreadful audio quality by a large margin. I can't remember there being any bass but if there was it was forgettable but what wasn't was the nasty thin incredibly coloured midrange that reminded my of the sound of a broken iPhone playing through its inbuilt speaker. Trust me this was jaw droppingly terrible. A $1500 entry level system blind tested against this would have a 100% positive hit rate. Possibly the worst sound ever at Munich ever I give you the multi $100k Air Tight system. Massive fail! I except that at another time, in another space with different music some of these systems may sound better than when I heard them. I suspect though where there is smoke there is fire and in all cases these systems were demoed with very easy to sound good music that on the vast majority of systems sounds very very good. These systems failed to impress, excite or sound like real music when playing back even the simplest of demo material. Till next year, Phil.
  3. There was some seriously fantastic sound on offer at the 2019 edition of Munich High End. There was also some downright embarrassingly poor sound but I will leave that for a future article (very near future). There may of course be some who were also travailing the halls and Atrium's at the show who will disagree with my thoughts but this is how 'I' heard it. 7) L100 JBLs sounded a bit like history but also like a whole lot of fun. I was genuinely surprised about how uncoloured and clean the sound was. Yes they were connected up to a front end well beyond what 99% of potential buyers will spend on driving them but it was an engaging sound quality that reminded me of live music. It had scale, weight, drive and enthusiasm. I was great fun to listen to. Well worth an audition if that shape and kind of loudspeaker is on your mind. 6) Falcon Acoustics, a UK based firm with a solid BBC engineering background is perhaps best known for re creating the wonderful little old monitor the LS3/5a. That loudspeaker has its charms in a slightly small scale kind of way but their new middle of the range floorstander is a different machine altogether. Sounding incredibly agile but distortion free and even slightly liquid sweet in the vocal area. Employing a tricky sounding composite in the cone of the mid bass drive units is said to be key to the pace and lack of overhang these loudspeakers offered. I was rather taken with the bass depth and speed too. All was going well till I discovered the price. Mind you nothing is inexpensive in the remainder of my winners. 5) Western Electric made loudspeakers for cinemas nearly 100 years ago. I admit I don't quite understand this demo room and what they are trying to sell but the sound is very very special. There are horns and then there are horns and I can tell you these are the horns to have as they sound remarkable. As you will find out when I pen the 7 worst sounds at the show, horns can sound unpleasant, but these - bellissimo! They are huge but so is the sound. If you ever visit the Munich show these should be on your must hear list along with the number 1 place getter in this sound off. Driven by some kind of custom tube amps and a fancy turntable the sound was quite simply awe inspiring in the way it communicated with your emotions. Like a large scale LS3/5a though they are old and other newer speakers do more and do it better but like the old shoebox sized BBC monitor they have this amazing ability to emotionally connect. Weird? Is there something missing from modern loudspeakers? 4) Totem. Both of the white speakers in the pic were heard and oh wow aren't they a thoroughly modern full range speaker that has you sitting there wondering where so many designers go wrong. They don't look like they have any special engineering features but wow the sound was big, very extended at both ends of the spectrum and so clean and musical/natural. I sat there for a while in no rush to leave. Like some of my other choices here I walked into the room expecting more of the same (its a big show, there is lots of very good sound quality on demo but these choices here jumped out of the noise that is a tonne of very good sound but not a lot of exceptional sound). 3) Probably almost a tie with Totem is Kii. Okay so I had not heard anything from this brand before, but I expected a lot based on the hype and unusually came away rather impressed. A lot like the sound of the totems but grippier in the bass I think and oh so beautifully styled and finished off. Not to say that the Totems aren't. I'm clueless on what they sell for but this list does not take cost into account. The only test is whether I would have them at home and whether they move me. The Western Electrics moved me more but these could, on the right track excite me more with dynamics and realism that the big old horns could not. 2) The longer I listened to the EAR Yoshino gear connected to un named speakers (that I will remind myself what they are and edit this text) the less I wanted to leave .... ever. I always feel that Tim de Paravicini who started this company in the 70s and still runs it is too old for this stuff but wow and wow his gear still communicates with my inner something or other. Yeah the bass could be a bit plodding on some tracks but when they switched to a CD rather than an LP that improved markedly. Maybe its a little rolled off in the top but once again it moved me like the Western Electrics but with a much more modern capability dynamically and just outright level. His gear isn't cheap but compared with what comes next its a bargain! 1) As anyone who has ever heard MBL gear can attest it is super clean, detailed and sounds like live music full stop! For this show they had the full reference system which I don't think has changed for many years. It doesn't need to. It is frankly so far ahead of the rest of the field. I have heard many many reference quality half million to 1 million $$ systems but the MBL just does that bit more. I can only really put it down to one thing - no speaker cabinet. Well the lowest of bass does I suppose from the separate bass cabinets but the vast majority of the sound comes from a transducer that is in effect dynamic but has an electrostatic quality without any of the gutlessness that comes for free with that technology. Oh so shimmeringly perfectly clean, detailed and fast. The bottom end is in another league of accuracy and tunefulness. I'll say it again the big MBL system sounds like live music and is worth travelling half way around the world to hear. I'm not sure of the cost (it is pointless knowing, I won't be buying one this lifetime) but think north of half a million clams. Go to Munich next year and listen to it. No one in the room when I was there was doing anything other than crying, ooing and ahhing and just shaking their heads in disbelief that recorded sound could be this stunning! - Apologies for the poor picture it was very dark in there. Next article will be show disasters.....
  4. Perhaps the most obvious trend is that the show is busier again than last year. This show is now 'the' show for quality audio gear for the world. Okay compared with the likes of the CES in Vegas this show is tiny but the CES encompasses an enormous range of products of which quality stereo equipment is a tiny fraction. The second trend is that there is next to no AV gear here. I know its a 'High End' show and that implies 2 channel but there is nothing stopping exhibitors from showing off some multi channel equipment and I have seen almost zilch. Third trend is - more retro re stylings. The L100 JBL being one of the most successful according to my ears. I walked from Magico next door to Harmon and I know what I would prefer in my home. Especially with the orange grilles! They made normal music sound well like music, played by a band. So many manufacturers still play whispy pretend music that frankly could sound good on any decent system. JBL played normalish recordings and the bass had some welly and fun to it (but still rather athletic) and the mid and top was surprisingly uncoloured and pleasant to listen to. other examples of retro exist in the few extra open reel machines spotted and some turntables made from wood to varying degrees. The other obvious trend was incredibly tall loudspeakers. I mean so tall I doubt they would fit in my house. approx 2 metres tall or more. Definitely separating the haves and have nots in the ceiling height stakes. Some pictures for examples. Back with more observations tomorrow..
  5. Actual details and thoughts on sound quality etc soon.
  6. Of course there is a Veyron on display it’s a Audio Show! (Actually it’s probably the new version of the Veyron but I have forgotten it’s name due to it not being on my new car shopping list).
  7. A few snaps to give you a taste of our coverage over the next couple of days.
  8. Phil Fi

    ARC Genesis is here!

    What is 'ARC Genesis' you may wonder. It's the updated room correction software from Anthem to suit both their Surround Sound processors and their Two Channel amps. In fact any product from Anthem, Paradigm or Martin Logan that is ARC or PBK enabled will benefit from this update. Full details are here For those with one of these products and a Mac you will be pleased to hear that Mac compatibility is part of the update. Further questions not answered by the link should be directed to the importer of Anthem and other brands into Australia - Audio Active
  9. Munich isn't just all about the beer, BMWs and slightly odd animated clock tower shows a couple of times a day. The Munich High End Audio Show has been held annually in early May for 15 years. HiFi and Stereo will be there covering the show this year with an eye for a bargain. Sure one could take endless pictures of new $100,000 turntables and $150,000 tube amplifiers (and we will) but we are more interested in what all of us one day might actually be able to afford to own. Keep an eye out for very complete coverage including as many new models as we can find. The show begins at 6pm AEST on the 9th of May.
  10. Dayton Sub powered by 1kw amp Scanspeak mid bass powered by 500 watt amp and Scanspeak mid range and SB Acoustics tweeter powered by 300 watt amp 4 channel amp. I have built 2 MTM units, the other one has SEAS H1304 MCA12RC, the beauty of the speakers is the 4 individual cabinets allowing me to change out and try different drivers without having to build an entirely new speaker. They are mounted together using acoustic isolation similar to whats on submarine equipment so cabinet interaction is virtually zero. Each cabinet has been in a chamber to check unwanted cabinet radiation and I have to say they are very, very dead. Also the drivers curve corresponds perfectly to the spec sheet, the cabinets have added or subtracted nothing from the drivers. There is no frequency correction used anywhere. Time aligned to the limit of the preamp. You can see the difference in size of the SEAS and ScanSpeak drive units. The heart of the system though is the Analog Precision pre amp. I can change out the MTM, or any cabinet for that matter and load the new AudioWeaver profile into the preamp and away you go. They would be what they are without the preamp. And like I said you have to sit in front of them to appreciate how good they truly are. Thanks to Dave for the preamp, Dan from Colorado in the driver selection and help with the cabinet design and my other friends I can't mention, you guys know who you are.
  11. Woahhh! Looks like they were inspired more by the actual Saturn 5 rocket than anything Duntech SaturnV. What drive units are you using if its not rude to ask? Phil
  12. Hi all. I will be the first one to post on here. Here is a picture of my active 4 way. Many years in design and testing inspired by John Dunlavy. Powered by Analog-Precision Ultimate Preamp. Soon to be upgraded to the new Ultimate Preamp Plus and a new 8 channel amplifier specifically for 4 way active loudspeakers. The whole system is simply outstanding and has to be heard to be believed.
  13. Maybe its not a war but from an outsiders perspective it would appear there has been some shenanigans surrounding dates for audio related exhibitions in Australia over the last year or so. This of course culminated in two shows in a week in Melbourne last year. A crazy situation for everybody including potential patrons who had to visit two shows and pay for two entry tickets if they were to see the full range of equipment on offer to them. In a recent announcement from Chester Group (the UK exhibition specialist who kick started HiFi Shows in Australia again in 2011) the drama is over and all is settled. Apparently it has now been agreed to juggle cities and years to avoid a clash of dates again. Make a note in your calendar now for the following dates - 2019 - StereoNET Melbourne Hi-Fi Show - Pullman Hotel - October 18th to 20th - www.hifishow.com.au 2020 - Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show - Novotel Sydney Central - July 31st to 2nd August - www.chestergroup.org 2021 - StereoNET Melbourne Hi-Fi Show - Pullman Hotel - October 22nd to 24th - www.hifishow.com.au 2022 - Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show - Novotel Sydney Central - August 5th to 7th - www.chestergroup.org It was reported by ourselves 2 days ago that the Sydney show for 2019 had been cancelled. We are glad now for some clarity on this front.
  14. Hot off the grapevine today is news that the 2019 Australian HiFi and AV Show has been cancelled. The full story is not available just yet but the Sydney show set for kick off at the start of August this year has been put on the back burner. Organised by exhibition specialists, Chester Group and to be held in the Novatel Sydney Central it showed great promise and no doubt Sydney AV enthusiasts will be very disappointed with this news. In a country though that struggles to support one motor show per year, having two audio shows per annum did seem a little extravagant. UK based Chester Group re ignited the Australian HiFi show scene in 2011 with the first of many A/V exhibitions. Offering both the trade an outlet to show off their wares and consumers some electronic show excitement without having to leave the country. This was something much missed by everyone in the preceding 'dark' years of no shows for nearly 20 years. Having been instrumental in getting the industry together for a number of well supported shows over the years in both Melbourne and Sydney the UK firm found themselves somewhat at war with local outfit Stereonet. Stereonet obviously felt they could do a better job (as surely they couldn't have thought the country needed two audio shows per year). This culminated last year in the Melbourne audience being offered two HiFi Shows in two adjacent weekends.... The saga continues?
  15. Rega dealers will be offering fantastic trade in deals starting Record Store Day which is this Saturday. Apparently you can save as much as $500 by bringing in your old turntable and grabbing a new one at a discounted price. More info here - www.synergyaudio.com and at your local Rega dealer.
  16. Phil Fi

    Review Images

    Images used in HiFi and Stereo reviews also shot by HiFi and Stereo Australia.
  17. The Emotiva TA-100 is an interesting, well-featured and surprisingly capable stereo receiver considering its low profile and sub-$1000 price. It includes almost all the inputs one could ever need both from the past, in the form of a phono input, along with newer features such as streaming USB audio and SPDIF digital ins. I like it a lot, and found it to be a seriously impressive unit, so read on for the full details and to find out just how good it sounds for so little cash. FEATURES When Emotiva were designing this stereo amp (with a tuner thrown in), the conversation probably went something like, “We want it to have every damn feature you can imagine, sell for almost nothing, and it must sound spectacularly good as well!”. No doubt the engineers responsible said it couldn't be done, but they sure came close. Inputs-wise it has a switchable phono input for either moving magnet or moving coil cartridges. It has a couple of line inputs for old-school analogue such as a CD player or even a tape deck (well, they are cool with the kids these days). It has digital inputs (one each) for coaxial, optical and USB streaming up to 24/96. It has another USB connector for a Bluetooth dongle and an antenna connection for the built-in FM radio, making it a receiver rather than an integrated amplifier. Output-wise there's a 3.5mm headphone socket on the front panel, and the rear is home to a pair of RCA outs for a subwoofer, another pair of RCA preamp outs for connection to a power amp, along with a trigger connection to power it up. Of course, there's also a pair of binding posts that accept bare wire, spades and banana plugs to attach a pair of loudspeakers. Also on the rear is a figure eight-style connector for mains power and a mains switch that, when turned off, completely disconnects power from the unit's internals. Inside is a very proficient DAC supporting the latest high resolutions up to 24/192, along with a surprisingly grunty 50w per channel into eight ohm power amp. There's also a pre amp section that offers not just volume and input switching but also balance and tone controls, which are hidden but easy to use, in a menu operated by the volume control and input selector buttons. FM tuner capability is also built in with the ability to store 50 of your favourite stations as presets. There's a few other handy things it offers such as tone controls, the ability to remember headphone volume independently of the level of the speakers, and a remote for muting those annoying ads if it's connected to your TV, as it can be thanks to its optical digital audio in. INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY I prised the lid off the TA-100 to reveal a very smartly laid out and tidy interior. Straight away I spied the class A/B output stage, decent quality components throughout, a hefty toroidal mains transformer, a switch mode standby power supply and a construction that a technician could work on fairly easily if the occasion ever arose. It's obvious that a bit of thought and care has been put into the design of the internals. Build quality of the casework is perhaps typical of a Chinese-made product that sells for this price, but the standard of the electronics is a cut above the average at this price. With minimal venting in the lid this receiver should also resist salty air corrosion better than many. All in all, I was quite impressed by the quality of what's on offer, and it really feels like Emotiva have put a lot of effort into providing the best components possible. They haven't cut corners and the results are remarkable. Many parts feel like they should belong to a more expensive product, and I've got no doubt that it'll prove to be a reliable amp. DESIGN The whole Emotiva range looks a bit like pro audio gear, but I can't help thinking that if they spent a little extra on the front panel and made it look like a classy bit of high end kit, the TA-100 might well sell a whole lot better at $999 than it will now at $849. I think this would certainly be the case in Australia, but it seems like the aesthetics are aimed squarely at the American market, where these units are designed and the upper range models are manufactured. Regardless of this, I can live with the looks knowing how good it sounds. The feature set is particularly impressive for a sub-$1000 receiver, leaving little missing except a network connection and the streaming features that come with that. Clearly the designers were aiming for a simple look, though, and I think they've pulled it off. There's quite a bit of complexity hidden away behind the few front panel controls that are simple to use and have a good feel. Sure the volume control, being a continuous rotary encoder type, needs quite a few twists to turn it from loud to quiet unlike a proper 'pot', but I can live with that. SETTING IT UP The TA-100 comes very well packed in a sturdy carton with plenty of foam packaging. Once I had removed all the bits and pieces I didn't need to flip open the instruction manual to get the system up and running, because it's all fairly straightforward. I encountered no surprises during set up and had it all organised in no time. Sure, you'll need the manual to glean some understanding of the menus hidden away for the tuner functions and tone etc, but it's not rocket science. Interestingly, not having any network capability pretty much removes any operational frustration. Even digitally, the coax input worked fine with the coaxial out of the Naim CD player that I couldn't get to work with the previously reviewed Yamaha R-N303D network receiver. There were also no issues getting hi rez audio from a PC through the USB in. It was all smooth sailing! SOUND QUALITY Sometimes you switch on a piece of gear and say to yourself, "Yup, it definitely makes a noise". Other times you turn on the power, sit back and enjoy music as you hope and expect a quality HiFi system should present it. The Emotiva TA-100 is definitely from the latter group, and I found myself completely forgetting that I was conducting a review as I flipped from CD to CD and record to record to see how the combination handled particular aspects of my favourite songs. I tried it with a few different loudspeakers, with the best results from the warmer-sounding speakers such as an older pair of Neats I had kicking around. Possibly even a match made in heaven, the pairing just made music. Employing the previously reviewed Elac B5.2 for a while, I also enjoyed a well-balanced, pleasing and enjoyable sound. The character of the amplifier can best be described as lively. It's seemingly fast down low with a decent amount of weight, and distinctly alive up top - mostly in a good and exciting way. I really liked it but I suspect with the wrong speakers or room this could become fatiguing. This is certainly no half-asleep tube amp! Lots of detail is also on offer, but because it's coupled with a clean, sweet mid, I didn't find vocal performances tiring. In fact it was the opposite – I wanted more! There is a catch, though. I'm not entirely convinced of just how good the built-in DAC is. It's far from poor but there's a trace of hardness to the sound, and sometimes I felt the bass was a bit recessed compared with a high quality analogue input. It's subtle, though. The phono stage is pretty good but also just swings slightly on the bright side of neutral. Frankly I would prefer that than for it to be dull and uninteresting. Seriously, though, a decent phono stage can easily cost more than this whole receiver, so don't take my comment as a complaint. It's a quiet amplifier, it images nicely and as I've said a few times now, it just makes music. You might think that's a given with a new amp that sells for nearly $1000, but it's not the case with quite a few products that have been released recently. Unfortunately many AV receivers in this price range are awful. The TA-100 once again reminds us that if you only have two speakers, please buy a stereo amp of some sort. Don't spend your hard earned money on something of which you'll only use two channels out of seven, as well as little of the digital processing. I highly recommend listening to this amp (really, it's a receiver) if you're on a tightish budget, need phono and a DAC capability, and are after a great-sounding system in a slim enclosure. It does a lot for relatively little money, and it sounds fantastic. ACCESSORIES AND WARRANTY The infrared remote included is small and unusually shaped, but is ergonomically rather good. The range is fine and the buttons are nice and responsive. The manual is perfect for me as it's easy to read, with a thorough description of the various functions that even an absolute beginner could understand. A simple, and rather lengthy, wire antenna is included for FM reception. There's also an RCA lead, power lead and a trigger lead which you'll need when you add the A-300 power amp for real neighbour-awakening volume levels. The card in the box from the local importer Audio Active suggests the warranty is 12 months. In the back of the manual, three years is spoken of. The Audio Active inserted card also states that, “Audio Active will honour warranty claims within this term or in accordance with the product manufacturer's stated warranty term if that provides for a longer period.” I'll take it that the TA-100 has a full three year warranty, which is quite generous. FINAL THOUGHTS The vast majority of the time I spent working on this review involved little more than sitting back and enjoying the music. I forgot about specs and stats and got lost in the sound - and that's a good thing. Yes, it has a slightly brighter tonal balance than neutral, but this Emotiva goes about its business in a very musical and sweet way. The sweetness is somewhat obscured by the just noticeable upper mid and treble exaggeration, but it's there. It's a low distortion, clean sounding amp that doesn't become dirty when pushed hard, and has a giant swag of features. It doesn't cost a gazillion and everything works! The TA-100 was designed and built to be uncomplicated and enjoyable, and that's exactly what it is. I like it a lot - very highly recommended! SCORE: 70.5/100 FEATURES: 10.5/15 INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY: 7.5/10 DESIGN: 5/10 SOUND QUALITY: 21/30 EASE OF SETUP: 8.5/10 MANUAL AND ACCESSORIES: 3.5/5 REMOTE CONTROL / APP: 2.5/5 WARRANTY: 3.5/5 VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5 EXCITEMENT FACTOR: 3.5/5 PROS: Exciting and enjoyable sound quality Every feature works as advertised, with little need to reference the instruction manual Almost every connection type is available Plenty of power, and it doesn't clip in a nasty way Agile and tuneful bass, slight sweetness or even warmth in the vocal region Runs quite cool CONS: Modestly bright sounding with the wrong speakers Internal DAC and phono stage sound very good, but not great For those trapped in the 60s – no AM radio SPECIFICATIONS POWER OUTPUT: 2 x 50W with a frequency range of 20Hz to 20Hz at .02% THD into 8 ohms INPUTS: Optical, Streaming USB and coax inputs supporting audio sample rates up to 192kHz, FM 75 ohm antenna, RCA inputs for CD, AUX and Phono. OUTPUTS: Speaker pair via 4 binding posts, Pre outs and Sub outs (both RCA), trigger out. DIMENSIONS: 43.2 x 8 x 34.5cm without antenna WEIGHT: 6.8kg RRP: $AU849 Imported by Audio Active THE TEST SYSTEM Included Elac B5.2 loudspeakers, Neat Motive One loudspeakers, windows computer with a few 24/96 HD files, Naim CD5XS CD player and a Rega P1 with AT VM95E cartridge. NOTES ON OUR SCORING SYSTEM We do not give away high marks on a whim. Each section is scored separately and without regard to the cost of the equipment. Each product is scored solely relative to other units in the category, no matter their cost. In theory, a more expensive unit should usually outscore a cheaper one, but that's not always the case, and we'll never shy away from calling a spade a spade. Our reviews are conducted by lifelong HiFi enthusiasts who are just as passionate about new equipment as you are, and who are determined to provide you with the best information possible.
  18. The AT LPW40 turntable is housed in retro stylings yet paired with forward thinking performance. Read on for the highs and the lows of this brand new record player. FEATURES Draped in stylish teak exterior with the look and feel like real wood veneer, this new Audio Technica turntable is off to a great and somewhat vintage start. In a move upward from its mostly 'convenience' orientated fellow models though, the '40' does not offer any auto style features. Its a fully manual turntable which is probably where the retro tale ends. Although it is belt driven as the vast majority of turntables in the '70s were. What is definitely modern though is having a built in switchable phono pre amp stage and an included brand new VM95E cartridge as recently listened to by Phil in his affordable Rega P1 upgrade article. Couple these features with the apparent carbon fibre tonearm, the slim profile of the timber clad plinth and the outboard wall wart power supply (so its a DC low voltage motor not 240 volt AC) and really the only retro feature is in fact the wood. To summarise: this record player offers a detachable headshell, a hinged lid, detachable signal leads, the built in amp stage mentioned above, 33 and a third and 45 rpm speeds, a cueing lever on the arm, a rubber mounted DC motor, adjustable tracking and anti skating force adjustments and rubber feet. The platter is made from aluminium and has an appropriate rubber platter mat that is best for dampening the ringy nature of the aluminium. Frankly everything you might be entitled to expect for $649 but don't always get (the Rega P1 has a fixed headshell, fixed anti skating adjustment and more rigid feet). The Rega is cheaper though. INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY I didn't take this unit apart as really there is nothing to take apart as per the Rega P8 review but overall its very nicely crafted for Chinese made turntable of this price. The platter is cast from aluminium as mentioned above so will run true forever, the centre bearing seemed of good quality as does the tonearm and its bearings. Not amazing but good enough. The detachable headshell fitting is a precision piece, the lid and hinges work nicely. The timber plinth, whether real or faux wood certainly looks admirable and overall I would say, considering the price, there is nothing at fault. I tested the speed of the unit and it was by the tiniest measure, slightly slow on 33 and a 1/3 and somewhat fast on 45. Close enough but no reference for speed accuracy. The earth terminal on the rear came loose when I was trying to attach the supplied signal lead. A bit disappointing but the performance was hum free so clearly it was still connected inside. DESIGN Well.. A good old belt drive manual turntable design keeping things simple with little to go wrong now or many years into the future. As I have alluded to its a little olde worlde looking with the teak finish on the plinth but due to its slim height I suspect it will fool few who are looking for a true 1970s style record player. If Audio Technica had made the plinth 3 times the height that it is in the LPW40 it would have satisfied many who want the retro look without the retro hassles of failing technology from the last millennium. From my perspective though I rather like the timber finish so maybe it will attract a few buyers away from Projects and Regas as I'm not sure they or any other brand offers a timber finish for under $1000. SETTING IT UP If packing a turntable into as many different pieces as possible was an Olympic sport, Audio Technica just won Gold. The signal lead unplugs, the headshell is separate, the power lead/wall wart is separate, the platter is off, the lid is off the hinges are in their own bag, the counter weight is separate etc. When compared to say the Rega Planar One which only requires the removal of one piece of cardboard, sliding on the counter weight to the fully home position and removing the stylus protector to play a record this is indeed the opposite way of going about packaging a turntable for shipment. This lack of assembly coupled with the confused instructions mentioned below means for the beginner this will be a project of similar proportions to a black belt afternoon of IKEA assembly. Despite this, I had it up and running in minutes though so my suggestion would be to buy the this Audio Technica turntable from a specialist HiFi shop and have them assemble it for you prior to departing their store. The real concern is that you just won't get the best from your purchase unless its properly set up and frankly the hieroglyphic instructions will fail you. Once assembled, sit it down on a sturdy level platform as per any other turntable and then plug it in either to a phono input, if your amp has one, and if it does set the internal amp switch on the rear to 'phono'. If your amp is sans phono input use any other analogue input and switch the slide switch on the back to 'line. Enjoy the music! SOUND QUALITY After all the excitement and perhaps stress of assembly, the result is worth it as this turntable sounds very pleasing. I played quite a few familiar pieces and very much enjoyed the music. The bass quality is very surprising and for my money is slightly superior to the benchmark Rega P1. This is of course in part due to the VM95E cartridge being better in the bottom end to the Rega Carbon that comes gratis with the P1, which Phil revealed in an earlier article. It may also be due to the stiffer ali platter? I'm not sure but the bass is very pleasing indeed. The midrange and top end replicates largely my experiences with the much too often mentioned Rega cheapy. More to the point perhaps this Audio Technica trounces any turntable I have heard in this price range outside of Project and Regas offerings. This listening was facilitated using an external but inbuilt phono stage in a UK built amp we will be reviewing soon. Like I say, it sounded thoroughly enjoyable, exciting, musical, very neutral, imaging was ok and really I could not fault the performance for the bucks. But then I thought I would give the internal phono stage a twirl.... Oh dear! Rarely have I heard such an obvious difference between two phono amplification alternatives. The in built phono stage in the LPW40 is indeed very ordinary. Weak, slow and mono sounding bass with no improvement in the upper areas of the frequency spectrum. Lifeless, lacking in detail and generally unmusical. Avoid at all costs. It is strictly an interim solution till you buy a better amp with a phono input or obtain a serious outboard phono stage. Its a shame as those who use the internal stage are hearing perhaps only 50 – 75% of the potential quality of this rather good turntable. Speaking of upgrading or at least making the most of what you have, the use of the new VM95E cartridge allows very simple upgrading to another higher level of performance by just swapping the stylus. Read our P1 Rega upgrade article for some thoughts on the differences between these VM95 range options. In summary: if you use a quality external phono amp or a good quality stage inbuilt to your amplifier you will be very pleased with the full rich and well focused sound on offer. Not quite in Rega Planar two levels of sophistication but I think slightly better in some ways to the entry level Rega. The minor speed inaccuracies were not audible to me but they were quite small. As mentioned above do not use the inbuilt phono stage unless you really have to, it may actually make your ears cry. ACCESSORIES AND WARRANTY The instruction manual is lacking, at least the supplied quick start guide. There is a suggested URL where you presumably can download a full manual but I couldn't find one on the Audio Technica website but I did find the warranty term which is 12 months. There is no warranty card in the box or any mention of anything to do with a warranty in fact. All the accessories were well packed and complete. In fact the turntable is very well packed full stop but there are no instructions on how to repack it so you may need to do the degree course first if you are repacking it for a house move as clearly the Audio Technica staff do prior to working on the assembly line. The point is.. It's rather complicated. FINAL THOUGHTS I was a bit surprised with just how clean and tight the sound was from this simple and good looking turntable. A very musical performance as long as you avoid the internal phono amp. Fit and finish is very good and its a pleasure to operate. You do pay a little more than its perceived opposition, probably for the walnut (as Audio Technica describe it, I still think it looks like teak) styled plinth. Overall this LPW40 is a serious alternative to the veterans of the class and is well worth an audition. SCORE: 60.5/100 FEATURES: 10.5/15 INTERNALS AND BUILD QUALITY: 6.5/10 DESIGN: 6.5/10 SOUND QUALITY: 18/30 EASE OF SETUP: 5/10 MANUAL AND ACCESSORIES: 1.5/5 WARRANTY: 1.5/5 VALUE FOR MONEY: 8/10 EXCITEMENT FACTOR: 3/5 PROS: Sound quality is very competitive at the price A welcome change of appearance in this class. Overall its quite well made. Enjoyable to use and listen to. CONS: With its slight retro look you might think it would be auto return but it isn't Mediocre sound quality from built in phono stage. Complicated to assemble for newbies. Earth terminal came loose during set up. Speed a bit off (only just on 33 but somewhat fast on 45) Instructions are probably going to a be a mystery to the uninitiated. Only 1 year warranty. SPECIFICATIONS – (Courtesy of Audio Technica) Type - 2-speed, fully manual operation Motor - DC servo motor w/speed stability control Drive Method - Belt drive Speeds - 33-1/3 RPM, 45 RPM Turntable Platter - Die-cast aluminium Wow and Flutter - 0.15% (WTD) @ 3 kHz (JIS) Signal-to-Noise Ratio - >60dB Output Level - Pre-amp “PHONO”: 4 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec Pre-amp “LINE”: 200 mV nominal at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec Phono Pre-Amp Gain - 35 dB nominal, RIAA equalized Power Supply Requirements - 100-240V AC, 60 Hz Power Consumption - 1 W Dimensions - 420.0mm W x 340.0mm D x 116.9mm H Weight 4.7kg Accessories Included AT-VM95E phono cartridge; AT-HS4 headshell; dual RCA (male) to dual RCA (male) cable with ground wire; counterweight; rubber mat; dust cover; 45 RPM adapter Tonearm type - Balanced straight tonearm with detachable headshell Effective arm length - 223.6mm Overhang - 18.6mm Tracking error angle - <2 degrees Applicable cartridge weight - 12-17g Anti-skating range - 0-3g Imported by TAG Audio RRP: $649 THE TEST SYSTEM Included Spendor A6R, and KEF L50 loudspeakers. Exposure 2010S2D integrated amp with built in MM phono stage. NOTES ON OUR SCORING SYSTEM We do not give away high marks on a whim. Each section is scored separately and without regard to the cost of the equipment. Each product is scored solely relative to other units in the category, no matter their cost. In theory, a more expensive unit should usually outscore a cheaper one, but that's not always the case, and we'll never shy away from calling a spade a spade. Our reviews are conducted by lifelong HiFi enthusiasts who are just as passionate about new equipment as you are, and who are determined to provide you with the best information possible.
  19. In further Naim news Apple AirPlay 2 compatibility will be offered as part of a firmware update that will be available soon for the Atom, Star and Nova. This firmware update will also allow fitment of a tuner module and in turn the ability to receive FM and DAB+ radio broadcasts. Approximate cost will be in $300 odd range. The firmware of course is free. A number of other improvements are also part of this update when it has completed Beta testing soon. More news when we have it.
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