Magazine article Gramophone

New Ideas for Desktop Audio: Yet More Evidence That the Ways We Listen Keep Expanding

Magazine article Gramophone

New Ideas for Desktop Audio: Yet More Evidence That the Ways We Listen Keep Expanding

Article excerpt

THIS MONTH the remarkable Focal Easya speaker system, Bang & Olufsen's H6 headphones, and I wonder whether hi-res audio is too big a leap for most

Our main review this month--of Focal's Easya wireless speaker system--is fine evidence of the way the hi-fi industry is expanding its offering to cater for ever more ways of listening to music. Combining speakers needing only a mains cable connected wirelessly to a hub providing both physical and wire-free connections, it does an excellent job of combining convenience with superb sound, and is more than capable of filling even a large room.

Designed for more intimate listening are the new TD-M1 speakers from Eclipse, a company built around its beautiful egg-shaped speakers, which use a single driver for a more coherent sound, and 'ground' that driver mechanically using a metal 'anchor' with the enclosure floating free. The new speakers, selling for 999 [pounds sterling] per pair, take that established formula and add built-in amplification and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, allowing the speakers to be used on a desktop or shelf and take their music directly from a suitable computer or portable device. There's also a USB input providing for a direct connection to a computer, and handling content at up to 24-bit/192khz. It's a neat and stylish solution, and while the speakers are maybe a litde limited in their frequency range for large-room use, for personal listening they should be ideal given the precise, detailed sound for which Eclipse speakers are known.

Also aimed at the desktop market is the new Quad 9AS, selling for around 600 [pounds sterling] a pair. Each speaker uses a 25mm fabric dome tweeter and a 10cm mid/bass unit, and houses a 35W amp for the tweeter and 65W for the woofer, and the system has a choice of RCA phono or 3.5 mm stereo line-ins, plus optical, coaxial and asynchronous USB digital inputs. They use Class AB amplification rather than the Class D common in such designs, have a three-position bass equalisation switch for free-standing, shelf or close-to-wall use.

Back to wireless, loudspeaker company Monitor Audio has launched its first amplifier, designed to form the link between computers and handheld devices and its range of speakers. The A100 is set to sell for 400 [pounds sterling], and offers AirPlay connectivity to computers running iTunes and iOS smartphones and tablets, as well as Airstream direct connection to those iOS handhelds without having to go through a network. …

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