Magazine article Gramophone

Core Hi-Fi Is Alive and Well in 2015: The Latest Arrivals Show Strengths in Traditional Areas like Vinyl, CD and Speakers

Magazine article Gramophone

Core Hi-Fi Is Alive and Well in 2015: The Latest Arrivals Show Strengths in Traditional Areas like Vinyl, CD and Speakers

Article excerpt

This month I enjoy a stripped-down UK-tuned amplifier and some superb headphones, and I also get a computer audio masterclass.

Andrew Everard, Audio Editor

AWARDS ISSUE TEST DISCS

With a fine-detailed yet warm sound, this set of quartets by Benjamin Godard, from the Elysee Quartet on Timpani, is hugely involving.

The Bach Collegium Japan's recordings for BIS can be relied on for superb sound quality, and this glorious latest set is no disappointment.

After a few months when it seems the new product arrivals were dominated by system add-ons and those aimed at portable listening, core audio is back centre-stage as we head toward the traditional peak hi-fi-buying season. For example, Quad has unveiled a complete new loudspeaker series (1), from bookshelf models to hefty floorstanders, and all using a newly designed ribbon tweeter.

The Quad S Series ribbon tweeter harks back to the company's Corner Ribbon speaker, launched 66 years ago, but is a much more robust design thanks to a sandwich construction, suspended in a powerful magnetic field. The company says the frequency response extends beyond the limits of human hearing, while the dispersion has been tailored to give a wide horizontal arc while avoiding reflections from the floor and ceiling.

It's complemented by Quad's Kevlarconed midrange and bass units, the latter tuned with ports in the standmount models and auxiliary bass radiators in the floorstanders. The speakers are finished in a choice of black or sapele maple, with the four-strong stereo range starting at 600 [pounds sterling] a pair for the smaller of two standmount models, the S-l, and rising to 1600 [pounds sterling]/pr for the larger floorstanders, the S-5. There's also a centre-channel speaker, the 500 [pounds sterling] S-C, and the speakers will also be available in premium finishes--hand-lacquered white and piano black--later in the year.

Celebrating 30 years since Marantz launched its original 'special edition' products (2), the new SA-14 1SE SACD/ CD player and PM-14 1SE amplifier are due on sale about now, at 1799 [pounds sterling] apiece. Heavily tuned by the company's Brand Ambassador, Ken Ishiwata (see this month's Audio Essay on page 142), both products offer elevated performance compared to the 'standard' versions thanks to extra damping and improved components, and the player also doubles as a digital-to-analogue converter, complete with an asynchronous USB input for use with a computer. …

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