I consider myself a lucky guy. Not only did I get a chance to go to Las Vegas to cover CES, I also got to sit down with Sandy Gross and have a personal audition of his new Triton 2 towers. Sandy has had an illustrious career with Polk Audio and Definitive Technology and has more recently helped start up a new company called GoldenEar Technology. Here, we review their new SuperCinema 50 Home Theater Speaker System.
As general rule of thumb, I try not to review equipment from manufacturers of products that I personally own as it can lend an air of bias on my part. I'm just letting you know up front that I own a UMC-1 pre/pro and three amplifiers from Emotiva. I find their products to perform very well and are true bargains in the A/V world.
The D6 SACD player and A9 integrated stereo amplifier are two of four possible combinations in the Pioneer G-Clef series of SACD players and integrated two channel amplifiers that are sold as a pair. The G-Clef series is tested and approved by AIR Studios in London and are designed for the discriminating stereo lover in mind. As quoted from Pioneer's website, "The AIR Studios quality seal is proof not only of the extraordinary engineering that has gone into these audio units, but also of the exceptionally high quality of their craftsmanship and carefully selected electronic components".
Every so often I get to review a product that sets itself apart from the "other guy" stuff. You know, the mass produced stuff that we often see in the brick-and-mortar stores. The special products are ones that are intelligently designed and built to exacting standards. It's sort of like comparing a Mercedes to a Chevy. Nothing wrong with a Chevy, but just slamming the door on the Mercedes can make you go, "Whoa! Now that's quality"! In this review, we cover the Cary Audio Design CD-500 CD Player.
Screen Goo is a specially formulated line of acrylic paint products designed specifically for the video projection industry. It allows anyone to transform any smooth paintable surface into a high performance projection screen.
While at CEDIA last September, I witnessed a demonstration of the OmniMount LEDP75 wall mount kit and was fascinated with the ease of installation and the uniqueness of the design. From the initial cutting to mounting took the technician about 15 minutes. The fact that they were also giving away a free LCD flat panel from Samsung did not dissuade me from watching the demo either. (No…I did not win).
Legacy Audio has been making speakers amongst the cornfields in Springfield, IL for over 20 years. Bill Dudleston (president and founder) and Doug Brown (VP) gave me a tour of their facility last summer which allowed me to see first hand how their speakers are assembled, tested, tuned and shipped. Legacy has many models to choose from, including floor-standing speakers such as the Whisper, and the Studio HD Monitors, which are reviewed here.
Paul Barton has been in the loudspeaker game for over 35 years and his latest iteration of speakers shows that his experience has been put to good use. The Synchrony Ones are his top of the line 3-way (5 drivers) towers that use some interesting design twists. At nearly 61 pounds apiece, they make an elegant statement of curved wood and aluminum surfaces that blend together in a flawless fashion.
Engineered Music Products (EMP) was founded in 2007 by industry professionals with over thirty years experience in designing, engineering and manufacturing high-performance loudspeakers for companies such as ParaSound, McIntosh, JBL, Destination Audio and Fosgate. EMP Tek is a sister company of speaker manufacturer RBH Sound. For years I have heard people talk about tubes ("valves" if you are British) and how warm and wonderful they sound. This is my chance to hear for myself. Can one find analog bliss in a digital world?
My first introduction to high end audio was back in college. During my freshman year (1975) I came into contact with a kid across the hall from me who owned a Pioneer tape deck. I remember well the wooden side panels and dancing dials. Even though I can not remember the model, I remember that it was able to record on CrO2 tape for the highest fidelity. Does anyone else remember those tapes? Over the years, I have owned a Pioneer CTF-650 tape deck and at least one Pioneer CD/SACD player. But even back then, I knew that Pioneer was really only mid-fi. In fact, Pioneer was competing with JVC, Technics, Sansui and others in the entry to mid level equipment market place. Sure, today the Elite series is pretty good, but I still can't shake the feeling that it is just on the upper end of the mid-fidelity crowd. Pioneer makes speakers too, and they are very good. Here, we review their model S-2EX, which are monitor-sized, which means they are too big to go on a shelf, but not floor-standing.
Is there a more apropos name for a manufacturer of subwoofers than Earthquake? True, they now make a fine line of speakers and their power amplifiers have won many awards, but their real claim to fame has always been their subs. During my recent trip to CEDIA last fall, I had the pleasure of meeting with Abraham Sahyoun, Earthquake's marketing director. He encouraged me to attempt to lift the Super Nova Subwoofer off its display pedestal…he grinned while I attempted and failed…and then told me that it weighed in excess of 300 pounds. He then introduced me to a new sub, the CP-8, a subwoofer that is designed to fit behind or under your couch. The CP stands for "Couch Potato."
In 1997, McCormack Audio was purchased by Conrad-Johnson, known primarily for their fine tube amps and preamps. They have the same high quality and value that Steve McCormack put into his designs in California, but these current products are basically an entirely new line (and are built in Virginia). In this review, we take a look at one of their line-stage preamps, and a stereo (two-channel) power amplifier.
Revel is the upscale speaker division of Harman International, which includes Infinity, Harmon Kardon, JBL and Lexicon. Revel has been making speakers since 1996 and makes the Ultima2 (~ $26K/pair) and Performa series from which the Concerta gets its lineage. The chief designer of these speakers is Kevin Voecks who also has had a hand in developing speakers for Snell and Mirage. With an audio testing facility built by Harman International in California, all Revel speakers go through a rigorous testing process for voicing and timbral accuracy.
I well remember the day I got my first NAD product back in the 70's. I have long since forgotten the model number, but it was a stereo receiver. I remember listening to it and thinking how great it sounded compare to the old Marantz it was replacing. I knew back then that moving up to the NAD meant that I was no longer just listening to tunes. I had moved up into the realm of being a lover of music, an audiophile.
Founded by Raymond Cook in the 1960's on the premises of Kent Engineering & Foundry (from where the name KEF is derived), KEF speakers have been a popular loudspeaker brand in Europe for many years. With interest in expanding their presence here in the States, KEF is introducing their XQ series which ranges from the XQ10 bookshelves to the XQ40 towers. What I consider to be their most innovative design is the Uni-Q, a point source that consolidates the tweeter into the mid range driver.