LATEST ADDITIONS

Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Arcam Solo Mini - £750 Solo was one of the first one-box systems on the market and still holds its own against the newcomers Arcam didn’t invent the all-in-one system, but it gave the breed a lot of street cred with the original Solo (still available) and this, the half-width version. Despite its diminutive size, it does a lot of stuff, so excuse a slightly telegraphic rundown of its features. . .
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Audio Analogue Enigma - £1,295 Beautiful Italian design and one Russian valve makes this one-box system something of a wonder Audio Analogue’s smartly designed products are familiar features in the pages of this magazine – we’ve reviewed quite a few of them over the years. This recent addition to the company’s range brings together radio, CD and an amplifier, though it lacks frills such as digital input, USB socket and iPod dock. The use of a valve is an obvious talking point, though the usual question arises: when the circuit is otherwise resolutely solid-state, what is one valve going to do other than add some character? Still, it’s a nice visual feature, glowing gently behind its own little window. The hard work of providing current for the speakers is handled by a pair of integrated-circuit amplifiers, mounted on an internal heatsink at the rear, next to the large toroidal mains transformer.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Consonance Forbidden City Ping - £1,495 It looks like a chunky amplifier with a CD and radio added on, but the Ping has plenty of bang for your buck Out of all the systems in this group, this is the one that most resembles an amplifier with added bits. Mostly that’s because it’s quite powerful and, therefore, has the real estate that’s associated with powerful amps (big transformer, reservoir capacitors and heatsinks), but it’s even bigger than it strictly needed to be and is really quite imposing. The front panel layout can be annoying, though – all those little squares prevent one taking in the button labels in a hurry! Features are minimal, but there is a USB input. Although it’s an A-type socket, which would normally be for a USB stick or similar, it’s actually intended for use as a DAC fed from a computer – you’ll need an A-to-A USB cable, but one is provided with the Ping.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Harman/Kardon MAS110 - £650 These futuristic black boxes look and sound the money, but don’t be hoodwinked by their lively style At an attractive price (including loudspeakers, which we didn’t include in the review though a brief listen suggests they’re decent), this little system looks rather futuristic, with its shiny black finish unspoiled by buttons or other such fripperies. It shows fingerprints, but a quick wipe sees things right. Although quite a lot of functions are in fact banished to the remote, including source selection, the front panel of the CD player does at least have transport controls, touch-sensitive ‘buttons’ which light up when power is applied, while the amp has a volume control. Actually the ‘CD player’ is also the preamp part, but no, you can’t mix and match the parts as they share a power supply and the only input to the amp is via the multi-way lead.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 20, 2010  |  0 comments
Shanling MC3000 - £1,400 With its retro looks and technology, Shanling's MC3000 is right on trend and challenges the competition The chassis design of this device started life as a CD player and it’s thanks to some nifty lateral thinking that Shanling has been able to expand its remit to amplification, radio reception and even an iPod dock. Some of the work to do that was straightforward enough; for instance, putting the power amplification and mains transformer in the ‘towers’ at the back. Some was really quite clever – the volume control and input selector are each operated by a knob masquerading as the top of one corner pillar. There’s nothing unusual about the internal construction, though, the parts quality is impressive, with a very recent DAC chip and quite a few good-quality op-amps.
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Arcam A38 - £1,480 Comprehensive features list makes this amp a star performer Not much has changed with Arcam’s amps in recent years, at least superficially. That’s absolutely fine by this observer, who thought they were nicely thought-out when they first appeared and hasn’t found any reason to change opinion since. The A38 is the top model of three integrateds in the current range and it does many of the same things as most modern integrateds. For instance, it has fully electronic switching and volume control: but you still get a unique push button for each input and a decent size volume knob that is, at least, reasonably solid and generally nice to the touch.
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Astin Trew AT2000 Plus- £1,740 Impressive sound and connectivity lead the way on this amp Designed in Britain’, says the literature – though construction is actually Chinese. Wherever it was put together, though, this amp offers some impressive material value for money. Indeed, it seems to tick an unusually large number of boxes. Valves, multiroom capability, front- panel MP3 input, balanced input and output, high-grade coupling capacitors (along with some fancy cable, contributing to the ‘plus’ bit of the model name).
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Cyrus 8xp D - £1,550 Superb amp that tries to cover too many bases Possibly the hardest-working component in hi-fi, the Cyrus case moulding has done some impressive things in its time, but surely few are quite as surprising as hosting six-analogue and five-digital inputs, plus twin pre-out, Zone 2 out (usable as a record output), MC- Bus in/out, headphone socket, PSX-R power supply socket and bi-wire loudspeaker outputs, all on a rear panel one hand-span wide. You do end up needing slim fingers to plug and unplug, but that’s hardly a big deal when kit like this is unlikely to sell to full-on system- tweakers. The digital input provision is particularly appealing. Five inputs (including one USB) is more than you get on any sensibly priced DAC and makes this amp a perfect choice for modern systems with assorted analogue and digital sources.
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Electrocompaniet ECI-3 An amp with big potential, but a little too bright for some Electrocompaniet has been around for a long time and while this amp certainly doesn’t date from the company’s earliest days, it’s hardly a spring chicken. Still, if they got it right first time round and all that. . .
Ed Selley  |  May 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Moon i. 1 - £1,450 Some technical flaws can’t dampen this amp’s spirit While a £1,500 integrated is pretty upmarket for Arcam and Cyrus, it’s the very start of the range for Simaudio, whose Moon products extend to distinctly high-end territory with such products as the vast and powerful Titan power amp. But then the Moon i-1 is not exactly a shrinking violet, even though its 50-watt rating is fairly modest by current standards and the unit is not at all daunting to behold. It’s certainly neat and practical, though, as we shall see.

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