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GO FULL-THROTTLE WITH SALTIRE MOTORCYCLES AND LOUD & CLEAR

 On Saturday 3rd December Loud & Clear is joining forces with Saltire Motorcycles for an entertaining day of great music and fantastic bikes. Visitors will be able to enjoy some of the world’s finest hi-fi systems and admire a selection of stunning Indian and Mutt motorcycles. 

Loud & Clear’s showroom is in a beautiful old, bonded warehouse in Leith, Edinburgh. Guests at the event will see audio products from leading brands such as Audiovector, Dynaudio, Fyne Audio, JBL, KEF, MOON, Nordost, Rega and VPI on display. In addition, a selection of different systems will be playing in the store’s conservatory, main space, and demo room. 

Saltire Motorcycles will have a stunning Indian on display at the showroom entrance and a Mutt in the conservatory. 

This special music and motorcycles event takes place on Saturday 3rd December from 10am to 6pm. 

Food and drink will be available, and there will be special prizes to be won. 

Mads Klifoth (CEO) and Martin Dunhoff (European Sales Manager) from Audiovector will also be at Loud & Clear on the day, and they will be on hand to answer questions about their premium range of Danish loudspeakers. There will be an opportunity to hear the award-winning QR7 in action – a speaker with the power and performance to perfectly complement the motorcycles. 

Loud & Clear has stores in Edinburgh and Glasgow and is renowned for its extensive range of audio products. Whether it is an entry-level turntable or a high-end streaming system, the knowledgeable and friendly teams take pride in helping the customer make the right choice. 

Saltire Motorcycles is the leading motorcycle dealer in Scotland for KTM, Husqvarna, Indian Motorcycle, Royal Enfield, Zero Motorcycles, Sunra, Energica and Mutt Motorcycles. 

www.loud-clear.co.uk/edinburgh/pre-xmas-party-2022/ 

This special event is the first in a planned series of collaborations between the two companies. 

Loud & Clear, 94 Commercial Quay, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6LX 

0131 516 7561 

Burmester 217

Given Burmester’s reputation as a manufacturer of complete audio systems, the 217 is only the company’s second turntable in the brand’s 45‑year history. That first turntable, the 175 from five years ago (reviewed here) is part of the company’s Reference Line and includes a built-in phono stage. The 217 – from Burmester’s Top Line – is the first product the company has ever made to take advantage of the awesome 100 Phono Preamp, that we reviewed way back in issue 77.

However, I want to extricate the review from a potential trap of its own making at the outset. The way I described the 217 makes it sound like it’s simply the record-spinning add-on to the Top Line electronics. The implication that it’s the turntable for Burmester completists rather than a good turntable in its own right. This is wrong. The 217 is a turntable, arm and cartridge combination designed as a turn-key vinyl ‘rig’ that works well at the head in many systems. The fact that I suspect it will be the turntable of choice for so many Burmester owners shouldn’t detract from its performance as a standalone package.

Easily fooled

As you unbox the 217, you would be forgiven for thinking it a direct-drive design. In fact, it features two belt-drive motors, the belts and pulleys of which are supplied pre-fitted. You can’t see them even in installation because the belts sit beneath the drive axle upon which the platter sits. It has one switch for power and two buttons for 33 and 45-rpm play. An indicator light flashes as it reaches the set speed and stays constant when it reaches that level. That’s the sum of its controls; no 78, no speed control, and no more extensive displays or strobes. That’s all you need.

This drive axle and motor arrangement are housed in a massive, low-resonance unibody housing of solid aluminium. This effectively makes the 217 a sealed unit, and even replacing the belts is beyond the listener’s scope. This is the Mercedes-Benz connection rubbing off on the brand (even putting coolant in the radiator is a service-level job today), but it does mean the product is functionally fuss-free once installed. The final links in the chain are the three adjustable feet the deck sits upon and a bituminised leather composite mat.

The turntable is matched with a straight, gimbal-mounted 9″ tonearm, which features an arm tube of ‘unidirectional fibre composite material’ (carbon fibre, to its friends) and an aluminium headshell and arm base. The cartridge is also housed in an aluminium body and is a moving coil design with a Shibata stylus profile. The arm exits to a standard five-pin SME tonearm cable connector, and a high-grade tonearm cable (exiting, in this case, to two XLRs for the 100 phono stage) is supplied, which fits in a recess on the back of the turntable.

Ready to roll

For such a high-grade turntable, it’s a remarkably ready-to-roll design. Burmester recommends professional installation, but much of that is more about lifting a relatively heavy turntable into place rather than a complex installation. Burmester sets up everything from speed control to cartridge alignment, even downforce and anti-skate are put in place in the Burmester factory. You plug and play.

While I said earlier that the Burmester 217 is not simply a front-end for the Top Line system, the company is not too forthcoming with resistive and capacitive load or the cartridge gain. This is not a problem for Burmester 100 owners because the system allows automatic set-up using the test LP provided with the phono stage. For the rest of the world… it’s guesswork time!

Build quality is off the charts. Normally, I’d preface that by saying, “Naturally, as a Burmester product…” but vinyl enthusiasts might not have had the same exposure to Burmester’s product line. They might assume it’s some shiny chrome bling thanks to that front panel. They would be assuming incorrectly. I’d say this is built like a tank, but that doesn’t go far enough. This is built to an uncompromising standard, putting the 217 among the shining stars of turntable construction like SME and Transrotor. It’s the consistency and attention to detail that will grab you; some of the best-loved and highest-end turntables have a ‘three-foot rule’; they look great from a metre or so away, but up close, there are some rough edges. You’d need to analyse every panel with an electron microscope to find a poorly finished edge. I guess when your products end up in the interior of a Maybach, ‘good enough’ isn’t in your vocabulary.

Seven Layer Army

That attention to detail extends to the packaging itself. Built across seven numbered layers, it allows you access to everything in a logical order, beginning with the manual, then the case candy with a pair of grey Burmester-logoed gloves and cleaning kit, then cables, then the platter and so on. I find it a little odd that the platter is the first part of the turntable out of the box (the other logical way is to place the platter underneath the main unit, so it comes out of the box and straight onto the installed turntable. However, the platter’s mass is such that if it is housed that close to the edges of the box, it could create undue stress on the packaging. Placing it in the middle of the unboxing (and to the left of the turntable) makes the load more evenly distributed and prevents any risk of an accident.

It might seem like a small touch, but Burmester has a clever way of installing the platter. It recommends installers use a double cup suction lifter, the sort of things glaziers have to move panes of glass around. Installers can place the heavy platter on the spindle and bearing housing. Given the only other way of placing this by hand involves either dropping the whole platter the last centimetre or so – or sacrificing a few fingertips to the Dark Gods of Vinyl – the use of a simple suction lifter is a neat trick. It’s absolutely going in my box of tricks for the next heavy platter lifting session. You could say I’m a sucker for this kind of thing.

Burmester 217 rear

There’s a commonality to Burmester source devices, be they CD players, music servers, or turntables. There is a clever combination of extraordinary refinement with a stentorian bass that takes the listener a little time to process. You are so overwhelmed by the information going on it takes two or three tracks to realise just how good the sound really is. Curiously enough, in finalising the review, I looked at my notes and compared them with the ones written for the 175 five years ago. Two things sprang out at me; my handwriting is worse than ever, and there were so many echoes between that review and this one. Yes, of course, the 175 is the bigger (and, especially, heavier) hitter and the process of re-educating your ears took a lot longer with the Reference Line turntable because there was so much more information to process. But the two are very much in lockstep sonically.

Shining naturalness

Back then, I wrote about ‘effortlessness’ and ‘naturalness’ to the 175’s sound, and those elements shine out in the 217 too. The deceptively simple lines of ‘Paper Tiger’ from Beck’s Sea Change [Mo Fi] require a turntable of both precision and absolute fidelity to get right, otherwise, it overstates the guitar sound or his close-mic’d vocals. Get it right (as happens here), and it’s at once fluid, morose, slightly creepy, and brilliant. Get it wrong, and it sounds like an out-take. That can only happen with a turntable with outstanding effortlessness and naturalness. Especially the latter; any hint of brightness is met badly.

The very natural sound of the 217 extends to its dynamic range, and it’s here where I think the newer model might even score over the 175 it’s clearly based upon. The Reference Line turntable is designed for similarly uncompromising systems. Its monumental sense of scale can be overpowering in some cases, and it’s in those cases where the 217 sounds right. That still means large full-range systems, but not those top-of-the-tree designs that require a barn of a room and leave you intellectually and emotionally drained after an hour or two of playing. In the 217, the ultra-dynamic recital by Alexander Toradze playing Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No 7 in B flat [EMI/Angel] is portrayed with force and grace at once, but the same in a system befitting the 175 might make you run for cover.

Burmester 217 cartridge close up

Record playing through the 217 is both a voyage of rediscovery and a lithe and articulate performance, with the large-scale soundstage that’s a Burmester trait. Music is fully three-dimensional with excellent solidity of instrument images within that stage. Each of these instruments is right sized too. That ability scales well as you move from Dylan, a guitar and a harmonica through chimey PCM synthesisers that dominated 1980s recordings, back to well-recorded 1950s jazz and out to full-blown orchestral pieces. If each of these has its correct scale and shape, it’s clear the 217 is doing many right things, sonically.

Close harmony

Vocals are a strong point with the 217, whether they be the close harmonies of the Beatles singing ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ [Abbey Road, EMI] or the truly beautiful folk voice of Nic Jones singing ‘Canadee-i-o’ [Penguin Eggs, Topic], the articulation and detail of the voices in both cases cut through the years.

Breaking down the sound of the Burmester 217 is ultimately self-defeating because it’s an extremely coherent sound. Going back to that Nic Jones album once more, his voice, guitar and fiddle playing demand a system that communicates music well, and that’s precisely what the 217 does so well. This album normally shows up a higher-mass turntable as being a bit ponderous and rhythmically challenged, but on the 217, it’s light, tight and beautifully ordered. Swap Nic Jones for Frank Sinatra singing ‘It Happened in Monterey’ [Songs For Swinging Lovers, Capitol] and the 217 nails it; both Nelson Riddle’s excellent scoring and Sinatra’s uncanny passing tones meld together exactly as you always knew they should.

My only real issue with the 217 is more ‘philosophical’ than ‘musical’. I’m still unsure if the high-end turntable market ‘gets’ the notion of a turn-key turntable like this. While there was a long hiatus when turntables were starting to be discussed in the past tense, audiophiles before and after the vinyl revival almost universally selected the turntable, arm, and cartridge from a selection rather than select them as a single entity. Even brands that provide all the links in the chain (Clearaudio, for example) don’t specify their high-end models as a turnkey solution.

All-in-one

However, I think the trend is more toward this kind of all-in-one solution, even if there is an implication of choice; Linn offers a range of decks, arms, and cartridges… but has them in three distinct packages that most listeners choose. In fact, I find this preset option to have great validity as it allows the manufacturer to make very nuanced decisions about the performance of all three turntable components as a complete unit. It also removes some of the difficulties of successful system matching and installation. Finally, it solves the ongoing problem of finding a demonstration facility willing to perform cartridge demonstrations.

Burmester 217 arm-base detail

The Burmester 217 is a formidable turntable like the 175 was before it. And yet, it is not a turntable that delivers a formidable sound. Instead, it makes the sort of sound that will keep you listening to vinyl for years and is built so well that it will still be doing the same for your great-grandchildren. In sound and build, it’s consistent and exacting. It’s the ideal partner for a Top Line Burmester system, and yet its standalone performance makes it a turn-key high-end turntable for almost any system. In short, it’s a stellar performer.

Technical specifications

  • Type Belt drive record player with arm and cartridge supplied and set
  • Speeds 33, 45 rpm
  • Motors Two AC motors with belts, no user access
  • Arm Aluminium and carbon fibre, 9”
  • Arm bearing system gimballed bearing
  • Cartridge type Moving coil
  • Stylus profile Shibata
  • Dimensions (W×H×D) 482 × 165 × 283mm
  • Weight 31.5kg
  • Price £18,700

Manufacturer

Burmester Audiosysteme GmbH

URL: burmester.de

Tel: +49 (0)30 78 79 68 0

Back to Reviews

GoldenEar BRX: Best transparency at this price point?

GoldenEar BRX bookshelf speakers feature fantastic transparency.

NextScreen CEO Tom Martin reviews the GoldenEar BRX bookshelf speaker and talks about its transparency, sound staging, dynamic range, and more.

To see the full review, watch the video below:

To learn more about the GoldenEar BRX, click here.

You can see this video and more on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube Channel, such as Tea Time with Alan and Pete.

Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom and Publisher Pete Collingwood-Trewin talk about what’s happening in the high-end audio world.

Tea Time with Alan and Pete is just one of several new series on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube channel designed for audiophiles of all levels.

Another series is History of Audio, which aims to teach viewers a little about the History of Audio, which might be a trip down memory lane for many. It also hopes those who watch will learn from the varying experiences of other audiophiles through their trials and tribulations with different equipment.

While you’re on our YouTube channel, be sure to check out our Audio Basics series. So far, this series has covered what makes a great stereo system and how to find a great stereo system.

Soon, you can find reports from manufacturers at audio shows from around the world. You can see the likes of Aurender, Focal Naim, AudioThesis, Schiit Audio, and Magnepan, just to name a few. Right now, you can see what debuted at AXPONA 2022 and a bit from the Texas Audio Roundup, including background on the Magnepan LRS+. You can also see videos from Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle, CEDIA 2022 in Dallas, and you’ll see reports from Capital Audio Fest coming next month.

You can also see additional product reviews as well as more from the Warsaw Audio Video show and Capital Audio Fest on the hi-fi+ YouTube channel coming soon.

Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss any episodes!

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Geshelli Labs at Capital Audio Fest: Affordable amps and DACs?

Geshelli Labs, a family owned and operated company, debuted their new two channel amp at Capital Audio Fest and showed off their J2 DACs.

The products feature beautiful wood finishes, and are made by the family themselves.

Watch the video above to hear a little bit of the Geshelli Labs family story.

To learn more about their products, click here.

You can see this video and more on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube Channel, such as Tea Time with Alan and Pete.

Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom and Publisher Pete Collingwood-Trewin talk about what’s happening in the high-end audio world.

Tea Time with Alan and Pete is just one of several new series on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube channel designed for audiophiles of all levels.

Another series is History of Audio, which aims to teach viewers a little about the History of Audio, which might be a trip down memory lane for many. It also hopes those who watch will learn from the varying experiences of other audiophiles through their trials and tribulations with different equipment.

While you’re on our YouTube channel, be sure to check out our Audio Basics series. So far, this series has covered what makes a great stereo system and how to find a great stereo system.

Soon, you can find reports from manufacturers at audio shows from around the world. You can see the likes of Aurender, Focal Naim, AudioThesis, Schiit Audio, and Magnepan, just to name a few. Right now, you can see what debuted at AXPONA 2022 and a bit from the Texas Audio Roundup, including background on the Magnepan LRS+. You can also see videos from Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle, CEDIA 2022 in Dallas, and you’ll see reports from Capital Audio Fest coming next month.

You can also see additional product reviews as well as more from the Warsaw Audio Video show and Capital Audio Fest on the hi-fi+ YouTube channel coming soon.

Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss any episodes!

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PMC twenty5.26i loudspeaker: Full video review

PMC twenty5.26i loudspeaker produces clean bass

Hi-fi+ reviewer Jason Kennedy goes in depth on the PMC twenty5.26i loudspeaker, which features vents on the front that produce bass through a transmission line from the drivers to the vents.

Check out Jason’s preview of the PMC twenty5.26i loudspeaker on the hi-fi+ YouTube channel, and his original review for hi-fi+ magazine.

For more about this product from the manufacturer, follow this link.

You can see this video and more on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube Channel, such as Tea Time with Alan and Pete.

Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom and Publisher Pete Collingwood-Trewin talk about what’s happening in the high-end audio world.

Tea Time with Alan and Pete is just one of several new series on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube channel designed for audiophiles of all levels.

Another series is History of Audio, which aims to teach viewers a little about the History of Audio, which might be a trip down memory lane for many. It also hopes those who watch will learn from the varying experiences of other audiophiles through their trials and tribulations with different equipment.

While you’re on our YouTube channel, be sure to check out our Audio Basics series. So far, this series has covered what makes a great stereo system and how to find a great stereo system.

Soon, you can find reports from manufacturers at audio shows from around the world. You can see the likes of Aurender, Focal Naim, AudioThesis, Schiit Audio, and Magnepan, just to name a few. Right now, you can see what debuted at AXPONA 2022 and a bit from the Texas Audio Roundup, including background on the Magnepan LRS+. You can also see videos from Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle, CEDIA 2022 in Dallas, and you’ll see reports from Capital Audio Fest coming next month.

You can also see additional product reviews as well as more from the Warsaw Audio Video show and Capital Audio Fest on the hi-fi+ YouTube channel coming soon.

Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss any episodes!

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McIntosh MDA200 upgradable DAC protects into the future

McIntosh MDA200 is an upgradable DAC that protects against future changes in technology.

*From the McIntosh news release

Binghamton, New York, USA, 17 November 2022: McIntosh has unveiled a new upgradable DAC that protects owners against future changes in digital audio technology.

The new MDA200 D/A Converter is based around McIntosh’s established DA2 Digital Audio Module featured in the award-winning flagship MA12000 Integrated Amplifier and C2700 and C53 Preamplifiers.

The DA2 Digital Audio Module has been designed with the ability to be replaced by a newer digital audio module in the future, positioning the MDA200 D/A Converter as a timeless investment keeping home audio systems current for years, if not decades, to come.

McIntosh MDA200

The MDA200 benefits from a next generation, Quad Balanced, 8-channel, 32-bit digital-to-analogue converter. This audiophile-grade DAC features enhanced dynamic range and improved total harmonic distortion.

Support for high-resolution digital audio playback is offered, with the USB input providing native DSD playback up to DSD512 and DXD to 384 kHz; the coax and optical inputs support up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

The MDA200 benefits from seven digital audio inputs: two coaxial, two optical, one USB, one MCT (to pair with McIntosh’s MCT series of SACD/CD Transports), plus an audio-only HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) to improve sound quality from TVs.

Audiophile touches include balanced and unbalanced analogue outputs, plus Roon Tested designation from Roon Labs.

The DAC includes classic McIntosh’s design elements including an illuminated logo, rotary control knobs, custom machined aluminum end-caps and a black-glass faceplate.

McIntosh MDA200

Pricing and availability

Orders for the MDA200 D/A Converter can now be placed with authorised McIntosh dealers with shipping expected to begin in November 2022 (United States and Canada), and the rest of the world, shortly thereafter, £4,995.

About McIntosh

Founded in 1949, McIntosh Laboratory is known for offering distinguished quality audio products, superior customer service and the ultimate experience in music and film. All McIntosh products are handcrafted at the Binghamton, NY factory by over 150 employees with a passion for music and the McIntosh heritage. McIntosh continues to define the ultimate home entertainment experience for discerning consumers around the world, with the iconic McIntosh Blue Watt Meters, globally recognised as a symbol of quality audio.

Since its inception, McIntosh has been powering some of the most important moments in music history and pop culture. From President Lyndon Johnson’s inauguration speech, to Woodstock, to the famous Grateful Dead ‘Wall of Sound’, McIntosh has not only witnessed history, it has also shaped it. With McIntosh, customers have the ability to create their own premium audio experience – and truly live their music. Visit mcintoshlabs.com to learn more.

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SourcePoint 10: New speaker from Andrew Jones?

SourcePoint 10 loudspeaker from MoFi Electronics at Capital Audio Fest

In this video, legendary speaker designer Andrew Jones describes the process for designing his latest speaker, the SourcePoint 10 from MoFi Electronics.

Jones talks about the 10 inch bass drivers, his thought process and why he decided to include a frame on the front of the speaker.

For more information, visit the link below:
https://www.mofielectronics.com/sourcepoint10

You can see this video and more on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube Channel, such as Tea Time with Alan and Pete.

Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom and Publisher Pete Collingwood-Trewin talk about what’s happening in the high-end audio world.

Tea Time with Alan and Pete is just one of several new series on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube channel designed for audiophiles of all levels.

Another series is History of Audio, which aims to teach viewers a little about the History of Audio, which might be a trip down memory lane for many. It also hopes those who watch will learn from the varying experiences of other audiophiles through their trials and tribulations with different equipment.

While you’re on our YouTube channel, be sure to check out our Audio Basics series. So far, this series has covered what makes a great stereo system and how to find a great stereo system.

Soon, you can find reports from manufacturers at audio shows from around the world. You can see the likes of Aurender, Focal Naim, AudioThesis, Schiit Audio, and Magnepan, just to name a few. Right now, you can see what debuted at AXPONA 2022 and a bit from the Texas Audio Roundup, including background on the Magnepan LRS+. You can also see videos from Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle, CEDIA 2022 in Dallas, and you’ll see reports from Capital Audio Fest coming next month.

You can also see additional product reviews as well as more from the Warsaw Audio Video show and Capital Audio Fest on the hi-fi+ YouTube channel coming soon.

Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss any episodes!

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Devialet Mania: 360-degree sound?

Devialet Mania, a hifi portable speaker

*From the Devialet news release

Introducing Devialet Mania, our first-ever high fidelity smart speaker to translate our signature sound purity into a portable form. Once you get a taste, it will be impossible to listen on-the-go any other way.

Capable of unleashing powerhouse, expansive soundstage, Devialet Mania is the only portable speaker with adaptive 360° stereo sound. Revel in a sound that morphs to your surroundings, sparking a sensory frenzy wherever you go.

Transcend the limits of your space. With Devialet Mania, Devialet’s iconic aesthetic has morphed into portable speaker form. A handle for ease of movement. An IPX4 splash-resistant rating for resilience. And Devialet’s first built-in battery for up to 10 hours of wireless streaming. Experience pure infatuation with augmented listening that leaves a lasting impression.

Sturdy and soft, fused. Devialet Mania boasts visible push-push woofers and a co-spherical design. A luxurious woven skin swathes its exoskeleton, which in turn protects the technologies held within. Make it your focus, tuck it away, take it outdoors— it was designed to sublimate any setting, any moment.

Let Devialet Mania adapt to your environment and revel in the experience. Its real-time acoustic mapping technology, ASC – Active Stereo Calibration, taps four-room calibrating microphones and embedded intelligence capabilities to allow it to automatically evolve the audio rendering based on its surroundings.

It took us four years to translate our signature sound purity into portable form, and Devialet Mania is the culmination: a 30-20,000 hertz range, bass that you can feel in your bones, and sound that is nothing short of obsession-inducing. Succumb to its sound quality once and you’ll never kick the habit.

The portable speaker was engineered to homogeneously diffuse stereo sound in every direction. Move around your space. You’ll enjoy the same immersive listening experience no matter your position.

Get your hands on Devialet Mania Station, an add-on wireless charging dock so you can charge up without being tied down. Note that Devialet Mania Opéra de Paris edition package comes with a complimentary Devialet Mania Station.

For more information, click here.

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PMC twenty5.26i loudspeaker Review: Bass producing vents?

PMC twenty5.26i as reviewed by Jason Kennedy, who talks about the vents on the front that produce bass through a transmission line from the drivers to the vents.

You can see this video and more on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube Channel, such as Tea Time with Alan and Pete.

Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom and Publisher Pete Collingwood-Trewin talk about what’s happening in the high-end audio world.

Tea Time with Alan and Pete is just one of several new series on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube channel designed for audiophiles of all levels.

Another series is History of Audio, which aims to teach viewers a little about the History of Audio, which might be a trip down memory lane for many. It also hopes those who watch will learn from the varying experiences of other audiophiles through their trials and tribulations with different equipment.

While you’re on our YouTube channel, be sure to check out our Audio Basics series. So far, this series has covered what makes a great stereo system and how to find a great stereo system.

Soon, you can find reports from manufacturers at audio shows from around the world. You can see the likes of Aurender, Focal Naim, AudioThesis, Schiit Audio, and Magnepan, just to name a few. Right now, you can see what debuted at AXPONA 2022 and a bit from the Texas Audio Roundup, including background on the Magnepan LRS+. You can also see videos from Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle, CEDIA 2022 in Dallas, and you’ll see reports from Capital Audio Fest coming next month.

You can also see additional product reviews as well as more from the Warsaw Audio Video show and Capital Audio Fest on the hi-fi+ YouTube channel coming soon.

Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss any episodes!

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McIntosh MI502 Digital Amplifier launches

McIntosh MI502 2-Channel Digital Amplifier offers an incredible 500 watts of McIntosh-quality Class D power.

*From the McIntosh news release

Binghamton, New York, USA, 3 November 2022: McIntosh has launched the MI502 2-Channel Digital Amplifier, a powerful and highly versatile Class D power amp that’s set to expand the company’s uncompromising ‘Ci-Fi’ (Custom Install Fidelity) portfolio.

The MI502 is extremely flexible, offering a substantial 500 watts of power into 8 ohms or 800 watts into 4 ohms, making it highly attractive for premium custom-installed home audio or home cinema systems.

The amplifier uses innovative closed-loop digital switching technology with resilient power supplies to produce groundbreaking performance levels for custom install audio; McIntosh’s world-renowned sound quality comes as standard.

mcintosh-MI502-front

The MI502 can be configured flexibly, too: it can be used to power the front left and right speakers in a home cinema system; drive two in-wall subwoofers; a pair could drive the three front channels of a home cinema plus one subwoofer; or even power a pair of outdoor speakers; multiple MI502s could also be used to power a distributed home audio system.

Rack-mountable with a 2U height, the MI502’s highly efficient Class D amplifier means the amplifier does not require noisy cooling fans to maintain nominal operating temperature, despite its powerful 500-watt output.

mcintosh_MI502 Lifestyle

The front panel features two blue McIntosh Watt Meters that display the power output of each channel, while multi-colour LED indicators display the status of each channel. The rear panel includes a pair of balanced and unbalanced inputs to connect to preamplifiers, and a pair of McIntosh’s standard five-way speaker binding posts are also included.

Also included is a black-glass front panel, an illuminated McIntosh logo, and a familiar form factor, highlighted by silver trim.

mcintosh-MI502-Back

The MI502 also benefits from several proprietary McIntosh technologies including:

Power Guard® signal overload technology that prevents overdriving the speakers

Sentry Monitor™ short-circuit protection circuit that disengages the output stage before current exceeds safe operating levels and then resets automatically when operating conditions return to normal

Power Control 12-volt triggering capabilities

Eco-friendly on/off signal sensing that turns the unit off if no input signal has been detected for a set amount of time, or automatically turns the amp on when it senses a signal

mcintosh-MI502 Angle Left

Pricing and availability

Orders for the MI502 can now be placed with authorised McIntosh dealers with shipping expected to begin in November 2022 (United States and Canada), and the rest of the world, shortly thereafter, £5,995.

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Gold Note Mediterraneo X and PH-5 at Warsaw Audio Video Show

Gold Note Mediterraneo X and PH-5 were displayed at Warsaw Audio Video Show in Poland last weekend.

In the video below, Gold Note Italy CEO Maurizio Aterini talks about the Mediterraneo X turntable, which celebrates the company’s 10-year anniversary.

He also shows off the PH-5 phono stage, which is making its international debut at the Warsaw Audio Video Show in Poland.

For more information about these products, visit the following links:
https://www.goldnote.it/turntables/mediterraneo/
https://www.goldnote.it/phono-stages/ph-5/

You can see this video and more on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube Channel, such as Tea Time with Alan and Pete.

Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom and Publisher Pete Collingwood-Trewin talk about what’s happening in the high-end audio world.

Tea Time with Alan and Pete is just one of several new series on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube channel designed for audiophiles of all levels.

Another series is History of Audio, which aims to teach viewers a little about the History of Audio, which might be a trip down memory lane for many. It also hopes those who watch will learn from the varying experiences of other audiophiles through their trials and tribulations with different equipment.

While you’re on our YouTube channel, be sure to check out our Audio Basics series. So far, this series has covered what makes a great stereo system and how to find a great stereo system.

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Audio Analogue Bellini Anniversary and Donizetti Anniversary

This took a long time. During the lockdowns of 2020, we got the Audio Analogue Bellini Anniversary preamp and Donizetti Anniversary stereo power amp. And during those lockdowns, it got completely overlooked, in the way you can easily overlook a stereo power amp that comes in a box that Ikea might use to flat-pack a whole kitchen. It’s a shame because these two are a fine paring.

Let’s get the rant bit out of the way first; Audio Analogue came to fame in the mid-1990s thanks to its excellent Puccini integrated amplifier. That product does not define the brand; the Italian company makes a whole range of audio electronics from half-sized digital products (the excellent AAdrive and AAdac that we tested in Issue 193) as well as phono stages, integrated amps and these fantastic separate preamp and power amplifier. And yet, when talking about this upcoming review to audio-adjacent friends, it was always, ‘ah yes… the Puccini!’ That said, being known as ‘the Puccini brand’ is better than ‘Audio who?’!

Happy 27th Birthday!

The introduction wasn’t simply to fill space; the Puccini was Audio Analogue’s first product back in 1995. Twenty years later, Audio Analogue produced a version of the Puccini to celebrate that anniversary. That formed an Anniversary line of products (all designed in Airtech’s laboratories), including the more powerful Maestro Anniversary integrated amplifier, and Bellini Anniversary preamplifier and Donizetti Anniversary power amplifier.

Like Puccini and Maestro, Bellini and Donizetti are well-known names in Audio Analogue’s history and, like the Puccini Anniversary and Maestro Anniversary, the Bellini and Donizetti Anniversary models share little more than the name with their predecessors. The Bellini Anniversary is closer to the Maestro Anniversary, as it shares the same basic preamplifier circuit. However, the Bellini Anniversary adds an inductive-capacitive filtering system to the main power supply, designed specifically for the preamp. This filter is suggested to significantly reduce ‘disturbance’ from the mains in terms of ripple and potential EM interference.

Audio Analogue Bellini Anniversary internal

The four-layer circuit board uses Audio Analogue’s own SeGeSTA (Single Gain Stage Transconductance Amplifier) circuit to keep the noise floor low. The fully-balanced, dual mono preamp has no global feedback, and the board layout is designed to minimise potential noise and crosstalk ingress by reducing crossing points between input and output and between digital control sections and analogue inputs. What’s – pleasantly – surprising about the Bellini Anniversary is the extensive use of traditional components over surface-mount designs. This allows the amplifier to specify very high-grade components and affords the Bellini Anniversary owner better long-term repair options (if a resistor needs replacing, it’s a lot easier to do so with a discrete component than it is trying to unpick and replace a surface-mounted equivalent).

For a balanced design, there are a lot of single-ended inputs; the Bellini Anniversary has two balanced XLR and three RCA single-ended inputs, with two XLR and two RCA outputs. I think this is a good option for a domestic industry that has never fully embraced the joys of balanced inputs, but in listening, the balanced option used throughout sounds better.

The Bellini Anniversary’s basic functionality needs a bit of a run-up, as it’s perhaps not the most instantly intuitive design around. Having one control to drive standby, input selection and volume can take some time to understand, and until you get the knack of operating it… use the remote. Once you do get that knack, you’ll probably still want to use the remote because switching inputs involves pressing the button for the correct length of time and moving majestically in sequence through the inputs. Fortunately, these inputs are clearly marked with white LEDs on the front left of the preamp, while the volume is displayed through 22 white LEDs on the right-hand side. These are dimmable… from the remote.

Bring on the brute!

The Donizetti Anniversary (which also shares nothing but the name with its predecessor) is an absolute unit, a friendly brute of a 250W power amplifier that doubles to 500W into four ohms and 950W into two-ohm loads. There’s nothing out there in loudspeaker land that will trouble it; two beefy 1200VA transformers designed specifically for the amp help. Because the amp is a pure dual mono design, the two transformers stack one on top of the other, which gives the amp an uneven weight distribution. When coupled with some spiky heatsinks that run the length of the sides of the amp, this forward-tilted weight distribution makes the amplifier approximately 1.35 standard metric pigs to move; but once sited and the blood flow is staunched, it becomes the most docile of amplifiers unless provoked by music!

Audio Analogue Doninzetti Anniversary internal

All that heatsinking does push for an observation about the Donizetti Anniversary. It takes a while to come on song. Not just in terms of its initial conditioning phase (I can’t speak about that as it all happened long before the amplifier arrived), but in terms of starting the amp from standby. It really only comes on song when the heatsinks are warm to the touch, which can take anything up to half an hour or more. It’s worth the wait, but those who demand instant gratification from their amplifiers will not like that their first few tracks played will lack the satisfying musical integrity they will experience later in the session.

As with the Bellini Anniversary, the no-global feedback Donizetti Anniversary uses Audio Analogue’s SeGeSTA configuration, which in the Donizetti’s case is followed by a group of four transistors per side to deliver the requisite current without influencing the gain stage. It also has the same ‘minimal crossing points’ layout seen in the Bellini Anniversary, uses high-quality discrete components on four-layer boards, and sports 7N OCC copper case wiring throughout. With both balanced and single-ended inputs and high-grade speaker terminals at the rear and a single soft-start push button on the front, it’s likely all the amplifier you need. If it isn’t, there’s also an option to run two Donizetti Anniversary in dual mono… presumably if you want to use a pair of loudspeakers as a foghorn.

Sound quality

Within about 20 seconds into the listening, my notes read ‘mailed fist in a velvet glove’. It’s a cliché, but one that holds a lot of water when listening to the Audio Analogue Bellini and Donizetti Anniversary duo. The overall sound is refined and effortless… but with a lot of speaker-gripping control and sheer grunt in reserve should you decide to play it loud.

A sign of a good amp combination is that controlled power, where it doesn’t tip over into brightness or showy deep bass rumbling unless it’s called for. If that is the case, the Audio Analogue pairing is an extremely good amp combination. That first track was ‘Englishman in New York’ by Sting […Nothing Like the Sun, A&M] and it sounded extremely fine. The shape and texture of the music played had great flow and some force when called for and had plenty of grace and charm throughout. Sting’s odd diction is not the best test of vocal articulation, but I’d say it works well; perhaps the ‘refinement’ part of the sound makes him more ‘Mild Skin Irritant’ than ‘Sting’, but the combination paints the recording with all the right shades.

Audio Analogue Bellini Anniversary rear panel

Swapping from this to ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless [Reverence, Cheeky/BMG] showed the space and power this duo has in abundance. I’m frequently shocked that this classic of Progressive House music is getting on for 27 years old but played loud it sounded fresh and exciting through the Audio Analogue pairing. That famous ‘drop’ is powerful and expressive and when the drums kick back in, you are back in the clubs again. That drop needs a system that is both sophisticated (it can sound too toppy) and dynamic enough to make it seem like it’s 1995 again.

Another telling sign of the quality of the Audio Analogue pairing was how happy they were when things changed. Swap over loudspeakers and the amps change their character to suit (up to a point… it’s still the same refined, warm balance with a holographic soundstage and lots of fluid midrange detail). Swap sources and the amps react accordingly. Even changing preamp and power amplifier shows their basic refined/warm/neutral sound shines through. They are at their best when you keep the amps in the Audio Analogue family, however.

Again and again, I found myself drawn into a wide, near holographic soundstage filled with instruments that have a sublime midrange, a subtly underpinning of bass, and a refined, never once brash treble. OK, so maybe the soundstage wasn’t so pronounced when playing some 1970s pub-rock recordings [‘She Does It Right’ by Dr Feelgood, Down By The Jetty, UA] but here it’s all about managing raw charm. You get to hear Wilko Johnson ripping through a Telecaster at a ferocious pace, and loses none of ferocity of that bridge pickup and its tweeter-shattering intensity. But what the Audio Analogue duo do so well is give this recording a sense of its own place in history. You can almost smell cheap beer, cheaper aftershave, and Canvey Island’s finest whelks when playing this record through the Audio Analogue duo, so natural is the sense of space and energy.

There’s always a trade-off somewhere in audio. Here it’s between absolute fidelity and wider musical approachability. Those sublime recordings – not just test records, but the ones you use to show off a system, like ‘Babylon Sisters’ from Steely Dan’s Aja [MCA] ­ are reproduced extremely well, but lack a little of the top-end sparkle and vividness you hear through the very best audio electronics. On the other hand, records that are all-but unlistenable on top-notch audio systems – like the stupidly compressed ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ from Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not [Domino] – sounded, well, OK. The compression was still apparent, the dynamic range of the recording paper thin, but the pace and fun of the track was retained and not so undermined by the sheer detail retrieval of the system.

Audio Analogue Donizetti rear panel

I am in two minds about that trade-off. It renders a lot more music listenable but those recordings that don’t need a helping hand are less well presented.

Conclusion

The spectre of audio’s rose-tinted view of the past should be exorcised. We sometimes prize those classic big pre/power combinations from the 1980s, but if we listened to them today on a level playing field, I suspect a few of the Anointed Ones of audio wouldn’t hold a candle to this Audio Analogue pairing. It’s gentle, refined and sophisticated touch with music – that not only rolls with the punches but can also deliver a neat haymaker when required – is extremely alluring, especially for those who do not simply choose audiophile-approved recordings. The Audio Analogue Bellini Anniversary and Donizetti Anniversary is the pre/power combo that puts a smile on your face.

Technical specifications

Bellini Anniversary line preamplifier

  • Inputs 3x RCA single-ended stereo pair, 2x XLR balanced stereo pair
  • Outputs 2x RCA single-ended stereo pair, 2x XLR balanced stereo pair
  • Input impedance 47kΩ
  • Output gain 5dB (single-ended), 11dB (balanced)
  • Frequency response (attenuation 0.5dB) 0Hz–200kHz
  • Unbalanced output noise (Band 0 Hz–8kHz) 24µV, 9µV (A-wtd)
  • Balanced output noise (Band 0 Hz–8kHz) 37µV, 14µV (A-wtd)
  • SNR(0dB/A weighted/ref. 2Vrms) -107dB (single-ended), -103dB (balanced) – unbalanced output
  • Finish Black or silver
  • Dimensions(H×W×D) 140 × 450 × 380 mm
  • Weight 12kg
  • Price £6,000

Donizetti Anniversary stereo solid-state power amplifier

  • Inputs 1x RCA single ended stereo pair, 1x XLR balanced stereo pair
  • Input impedance 47Kohm
  • Power on 8Ω load 250W (1,000W mono)
  • Power on 4Ω load 500W (1,700W mono)
  • Power on 2Ω load 950W (2,200W mono)
  • Power Amp gain 26db
  • Sensitivity (8Ω output nominal power) 2.3Vrms
  • Frequency Response 0Hz 110kHz +0dB, -3dB
  • SNR; >110dB
  • Output resistance (rated power on 8Ω at 1kHz); 0.15Ω
  • Noise reported at the input (0Hz-80kHz); 10µV, 4µV (A-Wtd)
  • Finish Black or silver
  • Dimensions(H×W×D) 221 × 450 × 428 mm
  • Weight 41.2 Kg
  • Price £11,000

Manufacturer

Audio Analogue

URL: audioanalogue.com

UK Distributor

Decent Audio

Tel: +44(0)1642 263765

URL: decentaudio.co.uk

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