Lumin U1 Mini Network Player

Lumin Audio burst onto the scene in 2012 with the first DSD compatible network audio streamer. Such a sophisticated and well sorted first product hinted at a longer engineering heritage. It turns out the parent company, Pixel Magic Systems Ltd, which was founded in 2003 with offices in Hong Kong and the United States, quickly became a market leader in video processing (they developed the first Linux based video processor). Rave reviews followed and Lumin went from strength to strength expanding they’re range of Network Players to include the U1 Mini reviewed here.

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Hulgich Audio Duke Loudspeakers

“It’s all about balance”, said Nick Hulgich of Hulgich Audio. He’d just picked up my new Scotty Cameron golf putter and was giving it a few practice strokes. It seems he’s a keen golfer too but has difficulty finding the time to play. He expressed he could feel the engineering and beauty in the blade on each stroke. When he said that, my mind was still revelling in what I’d heard earlier from his new flagship speakers, the Dukes, which we’d setup in my room. I was thinking that the Dukes too, are all about balance and beauty.

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Yamaha C-5000 Preamplifier & M-5000 Stereo Power Amplifier

Yamaha’s near-one-and-a-half century-old heritage has seen the company evolve, from humble beginnings, to a multi-faceted constitution across the music and audio spaces. As the world’s largest instrument maker, Yamaha creates the means by which to inspire artists’ imagination, enabling the creation of music. The company’s products encompassing studio technology also provide the conduit for art to be captured for perpetuity. Further, Yamaha also manufactures the pro gear used to replay music in live venues, from intimate club to massive arenas. And finally, via the company’s consumer hardware, music lovers in homes around the world, are empowered to delight in the fruits of musical artistry. So when Yamaha presents the world with a new all-out effort aimed squarely at penetrating the high-end audio space, astute music lovers should, and do, pay strict attention. Enter, in all their lushly-designed glory, Yamaha’s C-5000 and M-5000 flagship preamplifier and stereo power amplifier combo.

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Linn Selekt DSM + Katalyst Network Music Player

Aside from your choice of speaker, it is, in most cases, the room that has the next biggest influence on the overall sound of your system. With the digital technology and processing power available today there’s almost no excuse for having to ‘put up with’ room imposed limitations to one’s audio system’s performance. Linn’s approach, called ‘Space Optimisation’, uses a mathematical approach to achieve the appropriate correction.

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Microphase Audio Design SAT Mk.II Signature Loudspeakers

In my view, if you call yourself a normal human being you have to be crazy about something. Jean-Marie Liere is crazy about speakers, which also gives an additional meaning to the name of his company “Microphase Audio Design”. This diagnosis must have been accurate since Jean-Marie’s early days when he created the minuscule audio monitor speakers (“Microphase SAT” model) that attracted quite a following due to their great sound, their beauty and the quality of their build. Many years (and many speakers) later, the most recent product to come out of Jean-Marie’s design workshop is the “SAT MkII Signature” speaker that continues on this philosophy of small size and high quality.

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Crystal Cable Future Dream Interconnect and Speaker Cables

I dream of a future where audio thrives with vibrant and passionate young music lovers, where the high-end is inclusive and open and is free of cultural elitism. I imagine a future where the ranks of hobbyists, gear-heads and pure music lovers are united in sharing a singular passion: the art of music. This ideal audio world is not, in my opinion, a far-fetched fantasy but a scenario which presents a real opportunity… and may even be a prospective saviour. Back in reality, Crystal Cable’s über high-end Future Dream cables provide a small but important step to realising this altruistic ideal. Future Dream cables are luxury items, yes, in all the senses of the word, but they offer an important… glimmer. A spark to light the fire of advancement.

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Sonus faber Electa Amator III Loudspeakers

You just know, in your brain and heart, when you are in the presence of pure beauty. Yes, some things are beautiful to varying degrees, provoking a spectrum of subjective quantifications. But true, pure beauty, as indescribable by mere language as it is, is universally known. On a basic instinctive level. And for me, after hastily unboxing the new Electa Amator III speakers from Italian audio artisan Sonus faber… well, my senses knew instinctively that I was looking at the purest of designs. Then, beyond emotions, solely intellectually, I wondered… Will this ethereal beauty merge with practical function to produce musical substance?

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Dynaudio Confidence 20 Loudspeakers

Back in the late 1980s, an Australian company had the rights to use the Dynaudio moniker across a line of exceptional locally-manufactured speakers sporting full Danish driver arrays – head-to-toe metal jacket. Including the fabulous Esotar tweeter (in those days, Dynaudio supplied its state-of-the-art drivers to the OEM and DIY spaces). I lusted after those beautifully-finished designs. Especially after hearing them several times at a Sydney city store but, alas, at the time I was a student and the price of admission, despite the great value offered, was way beyond my financial capabilities.

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Meridian 857 Reference Two Channel Power Amplifier

Meridian Audio is a name known to most if not all audiophiles. It’s an established audio company that dates back to 1977 – only a handful of high-profile, high-end audio companies can tout a longer history. But longevity in the audio business doesn’t, on its own, keep the doors open. Meridian Audio has continually succeeded by being one of the best audio and acoustic engineering companies in a market known for intense competition.

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Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha DAW Loudspeakers

Given its heritage and historical importance to Wilson Audio, the most appropriate subject for a homage to David Wilson is Sasha (the momentous WAMM Master Chronosonic also has a powerful past significance and, therefore, culminated as Wilson’s magnum opus). David Wilson’s commercial launch into high-end audio came via the Sasha DAW’s blood line descendant, the audio universe singularity that was 1985’s now iconic WATT (Wilson Audio Tiny Tot) and its subsequent augmentation via the twin driver ‘Puppy’ bass module.

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Chord Electronics Hugo M Scaler Digital Upscaler

As the great Robert Plant sang, “…there are two paths you can go by…” and when it comes to upsampling audio, whether from disc or files-based, there are even more. Chord Electronics’ way, via the highly skilled Robert Watts, is by way of proprietary FPGA and filtering methodologies combined with Watts’ drawing-out of as many ‘taps’ as possible from the digital signal. Now, the company offers its Hugo M Scaler standalone upscaling component (a technology previously only available via the disc-based Blu Mk.II) which has been made to reach the one million tap mark. How will this translate to the M Scaler’s sonic abilities when handling your source material? We take a look at the latest digital wizardry from the tech alchemists at Chord Electronics.

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KEF R11 Loudspeakers

When KEF’s all-fibre prototype ‘Blade’ project was introduced to the audio world a few years ago, the press went gaga over the tall and svelte form of this high-tech, state-of-the-art loudspeaker which heralded the direction the company was to take going forward, as far as its high-end offerings. Blade has since spawned a Blade Two sibling and the lessons learned as KEF developed these advanced speakers eventually began to trickle down to the company’s more affordable fare. KEF’s new R series bears the fruit of driver and other technologies employed to take this important middle-ground line to a whole ‘nuther level to the previous-gen products. Here, we take a look at the R series flagship in the elegantly tall and graceful R11 loudspeakers.

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