Townshend Audio Excalibur II
Max Townshend has gone right back to the beginning for this long awaited tonearm. The Excalibur II is essentially the original Cranfield Institute of Technology design, created at the same time as the first Rock turntable in 1979. It’s as different as one would hope with overhang adjustment via the base plate, fixed tracking angle, space-frame outrigger to the damping paddle and separate counterweight and downforce adjusters. The bearings are apparently ball races with enough play to allow the 1000 centisoke oil to get in between every metal to metal contact and allow the arm to effectively float. Price is expected to be around £4,000 and parts have been ordered for a production run, so this time it will happen! Pictured below is the latest Rock 7 complete with Merlin power supply and Excalibure II.
Roksan K2 BT
Roksan is clearly enamoured of Bluetooth in its low compression aptX variation, this music from your smartphone feature appeared first in the Oxygene range and has trickled down to the K2 integrated. The amp has also been revised internally in order to deliver improved imaging, transparency and dynamic range, at least that’s what it says on the blurb. Price is £895.
The first Roksan loudspeaker was called Darius and now the name has been revived for this stylish standmount. Featuring a ribbon tweeter and six inch SEAS mid/bass driver Darius is designed to be a high resolution monitor with lifestyle looks. It comes complete with a low, angled stand to which the speaker is bolted in order to give the visual impression of floating. The tweeter emulates the suspended nature of the original Darius with its own ‘ring-fenced’ enclosure and separate crossover. Price will be £4,500 including stand.
Longdog Audio VDt1
Nick Gorham has the best beard on the British audio scene and I regret not prompting him to stand by his latest creation so that you too could appreciate it. As it stands I will have to tell you about the VDt1 which is now in production and combines a DSD capable AK4996 DAC chip with a tube output stage that’s based on vintage RCA mixing desk technology. Nick says it avoids the “too much love sound” you get with many tube output stages and gives you the sort of bandwidth and clarity required for hi-res formats. The tubes are 5687 double triodes, the digital inputs are galvanically isolated and every line on the chip has its own regulator. Coloured lights on the front panel indicate input status and the DAC has a floating output, price is £3,500.
Z-Axis from Sussex is bringing in Japanese hybrid electronics from Concert Fidelity. These beautifully finished components are distinguished by rear mounted triodes on the preamp and DAC for easy tube rolling. Both have valve rectification and the DAC 040/BD has a battery power supply with onboard charging. The DAC costs £7,900 while the 080LSX2 preamp, which has four single ended inputs and incorporates “audio circuitry [that] allows the amplifying device to sonically remove itself from the chain”, is £12,900. The ZL-200 monoblock amps have four pairs of MOSFETs each, no overall feedback and a 180 watt output for an asking price of £26,300 per pair.
The system featured a rare vintage Sony Biotracer PS-B80 turntable with electronic downforce, anti-skate etc, a nightmare to set-up apparently but damn cool.