Atlas have introduced a new cable range above Mavros dubbed Arran. The difference being that Arran cables have solid core conductors made up of seven OCC copper strands rather than the multistrand nature of Mavros. The other change is an upgrade to the insulating sleeve on RCA connectors where PTFE has been replaced with a 3D printed polyethylene sleeve called Ultra Latik, this is much closer to the air, the ultimate dielectric, and results in wider bandwidth and a more natural sound. Ultra L RCA cables are £2,350 for a metre pair while Arran Transpose speaker cable has six OCC copper conductors and costs £5,995 for a 3m pair. At the more accessible end of the scale Atlas have introduced Ailsa Ultra (below) with a metre pair of RCA interconnects for £995 (XLR and DIN also available), and Hyper 5 speaker cable at £680 for a 3m pair.
Auralic were able to showcase their full four box digital streaming system at High End for the first time this year. Combining the Aries G2.1 network streamer, Vega G2.1 DAC with a Sirius G2.1 upsampler and the latest addition, Leo G2.1 reference clock, with ATC SCM100A active loudspeakers. The result was powerful and immediate with no shortage of fine detail.
Chord Electronics showed the new Ultima 3 preamplifier at High End. This revamp of the Chord look takes third place in the company’s preamplifier range at £6,000 but offers low noise, five analogue inputs and filtering to keep out RFI and protect the signal. It also has AV bypass and a 5V USB charging port, I wonder if that would make a good power supply for my network switch?
Retro styling is in at Elipson who have made a pair of Heritage range models for those looking to get that ‘70s vibe into the listening room. The bigger Heritage XLS15 has a 12inch bass driver and dome tweeter and midrange which combine with a crossover to offer a generous 92dB (1W/1m) sensitivity. They sounded particularly good playing Ulaz by Bojan Z (me neither) with their modular P1 preamp and 400W A2700 amplifier.
Dutch vinyl specialist Tonar have several ways of keeping your records clean but the new Wash and Dry machine is one of the most interesting. This is a vacuum cleaner with an adjustable cleaning arm for all sizes of disc (7, 10 and 12 inch) that has the major benefit of not sounding like a jet plane. In the admittedly noisy environs of the MOC this €550 cleaner seemed unusually quiet. Even less intrusive is the Knosti Disco Anti-Stat Ultrasonic record cleaner (£1,149, below), which has a filter system for debris and goat hair brushes to dislodge dirt. Each slab of vinyl takes 2-3 minutes to clean and can be dried in a supplied rack, cartoon soundtrack not included.
Frank Kuzma has built what he considers the ultimate tonearm, the Kuzma Safir 9. This is similar to his 4 Point model but based around a conical sapphire tube with sapphire bearings to allow frictionless movement. The reason for choosing this unusual material is that unlike the majority of tonearms which resonate between 1.2 and 2kHz sapphire remains rigid up to 5kHz, meaning that vibration from the cartridge will not set it off. The tube is bonded into a large block of aluminium and brass with a locking counterweight. It sounded pretty spectacular on a Kuzma R in the Living Voice room and by high end standards the €20,000 asking price isn’t unduly excessive.
The Mission 770 was a pretty radical loudspeaker in its time, but that was the ‘70s, now it’s back and still looking good. Peter Comeau has upgraded the 770 to cope with wider bandwidth sources using a copper cap on the magnet system for the 28mm doped fabric tweeter, and created an ‘extreme’ port profile with an internal baffle. The cabinet is a sandwich of chipboard and MDF with a damping layer between the two. The crossover is close to the original with flat delay. Price will be in the £3,300 to £3,500 region when the 770 comes to market in the autumn. There was also the smaller 700 in the room and no denial that the Mission 70 bookshelf might reappear in future.
Dali brought a new flagship to Munich in the form of the mighty Kore loudspeaker. This, strangely, is the first Dali to feature a midrange driver which has their preferred wood fibre cone and a second gen version of another Dali speciality, soft magnetic compound, magnet system. The tweeter is a large 35mm dome which combines with a ribbon to cover the highest frequencies, while the 110kg mass includes a cement plinth. Combined with NAD electronics the Kores, with the aid of a Dali recording, produced the most holographic imaging encountered at high end. So the £70,000 price tag seems appropriate.
Universal speaker designer Karl-Heinz Fink introduced the forthcoming reintroduction of Castle to the hi-fi world after a considerable hiatus. He has gone for a classic British style of speaker but without old skool engineering, the new Windsor series may look retro but their design and build is of the moment. The cabinets are a sandwich construction with internal damping to kill resonance, the motor systems have copper caps and the midbass units have woven polypropylene cones. The Windsor Duke has an 8inch main driver for a target price of £6,500 while the Windsor Earl with a 6.5inch unit is expected to be around £4,000, as yet there is no suggestion of a Duke of Earl being added to the range.
Technics have set their fans up to be disappointed with the colourful 1200M7L 50th Anniversary turntable which is being sold in very limited numbers. Available in seven colours with only 1200 units worldwide, demand is naturally expected to exceed supply, especially with the £899 price and some attractively dirty colours (below).
Fyne appear to have stopped pretending that they are not the new Tannoy by producing a range of retro models dubbed Classic and Vintage. They showed two of four proposed Classic models, X and XII (indicating 10 and 12 inch drivers) with dual concentric two-way drivers featuring titanium dome compression tweeters, prices will range from £3,500 to £8,500. The Vintage range also consists of two-ways but in much fancier cabinets with a presence control on the front, all feature an Isoflare bass/mid cone with a 75mm titanium tweeter. The range consists of the Vintage 10 with 250mm driver (£18,000), Vintage Twelve (300mm, £23,000) and Vintage Fifteen with a substantial 15inch unit at £30,000.
If you’re in the market for something more affordable Denon might have the answer, their DCD-900NE (£499) is a dedicated CD player with only a USB A socket for hard drives as an added extra, still if you want to play CDs that’s all you need. The matching PMA-900HNE is a 50W integrated amplifier with built in HEOS streamer and MM/MC phono stage for £999. The rather more sexy PMA-1700NE integrated offers digital as well as analogue inputs and a phono stage, 70W of Mosfet power per channel and the luxury of tone controls for £2,000.
Wilson Benesch are making progress with the Prime Meridian turntable and arm system first previewed at the last High End show three years ago. This has massive a pat. pending Alpha drive motor system some elements of which can be seen in the outer ring around the platter, adjustable air suspension and the option to change the main platter from acrylic shown to Delrin. VTA can be remotely micro adjusted with a piezo system that fixes the arm (top of page) even whilst it’s moving, and arms are designed for easy change over. The arm’s metallic parts are made of titanium and carbon and being hollow offer tremendous rigidity without adding mass. Even the record clamp has a collet fixing system to avoid dishing the vinyl. Wilson Benesch are hoping to have the Prime Meridian in production by Q3 this year and won’t be drawn on price, suffice to say it won’t be cheap.
The brothers behind B.Audio have a new B.amp mono block power amplifier that looks pretty much like their existing model but comes in at a lower €12,450 price. Power output is a high 300W into 8 Ohms and 500W into 4 Ohms and it’s claimed that crossover distortion is unmeasurably low.
The Yuki AP-O turntable and arm from Japan is made by a division of a well established yet unnamed company and has some design features not seen on many turntables. The long platter spindle is centred by magnets top and bottom with a hardened thrust bearing at its base. A thread drive runs round an idler wheel opposite the motor to offset any tendency for the platter to be pulled toward the motor and the 10 inch arm is stainless steel. Price is likely to be in the region of €30,000.
In the area for new start-ups Luphonic showed two rather distinctive turntables. The H1 above has a Rega like rigid polyurethane foam plinth and a Solid Surface (acrylic and aluminium compound) platter. The 9.5inch arm has a gimbal bearing, carbon fibre tube and polyamide headshell, price is €1,690. The H2 (€2,490) has a sandwich plinth with Solid Surface top and bottom and a neat system for control, this is a magnetic puck that turns the motor on when it’s placed on the front left leg and changes speed when it’s turned over.
See part 3 of our High End coverage here.