Perreaux Audio VP4 Phono Preamplifier

Today, in a digital age no less, the turntable enjoys an arguably stronger market presence than ever among audio enthusiasts. Based on just product choice too, let alone materials and technology developments. Yet, as we know, the turntable is a part of an analogue playback system. It requires a set of supporting ancillaries. To fill that requirement, there are a plethora of tonearm, cartridge, and phono cabling choices. Heck, there’s even an embarrassment of options for just pucks, dust brushes, and other accessories/tweaks. Yet, once the TT’s support team is assembled, the final component of necessity, the music delivery conduit, is the phono preamplifier. For the most part, the ‘Phono Stage’ has seen little change in decades. Until now. I’m looking at Perreaux Audio’s VP4, the company’s newest, and one which truly differentiates itself from the vast majority of its competitors. How? Well, by offering innovative features – perhaps even unique – elevating it above the maddening crowds. VP4 is a phono stage intelligently engineered for 21st century analogue playback.

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DALI Epikore 11 Loudspeakers

I love Nordic design. The aesthetic simplicity, the elegance, the uncomplicated style. In audio, that near-minimalism belies a profoundly deep engineering intellect farmed from advanced public education. From folkeskole to University higher education, the system mines and develops social and technological advancement. The Danes are at the pinnacle, punching way, way above their mere six million population. In high-end audio, and likely other industries too, Denmark’s an authority. Driver design near-ubiquity and an abundance of powerful, prestigious brands collectively verges on market domination. DALI is the Danes’ biggest market-wide flag bearer, growing from a seedling, nurtured to evolved bloom, by the entrepreneurial spirit of industry trailblazer Peter Lyngdorf. And the Epikore 11 is the loudspeaker giant’s latest offering. Oh, and did I mention I’m a Nordic Noir fanatisk? Looking at you Sarah Lund and Birgitte Nyborg…

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REL Acoustics No.31 Reference Series Subwoofer

The world of subwoofers is often somewhat muddied by the fact that subs seem to be viewed as both an afterthought, or add on, to “more desirable” components, or indeed be completely misunderstood with regards to their function, and the overall expected outcome, from their integration to a hi-fi system. Let’s clear up some of the myths, perceptions, and questions, and dig a little deeper into the REL Acoustics No.31 realm of sub bass.

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Innuos Pulsar Network Music Player

In an age where music streaming now accounts for around 65% of total music revenues [source: The global music market was worth $26bn in 2021 - BBC News], the link to the internet has become critically important. Much like the move to separate the input stage and output stage of the integrated amplifier in our parent’s generation, the last decade has seen the emergence of high-quality music streaming devices designed to complement high-end stand-alone DACs. Products like Innuos’ Pulsar, an upper tier music server/player, allow for the optimal retrieval, decoding and signal preservation of today’s high-resolution recorded music.

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Ideon Audio eos DAC, eos Stream, eos Time

As the choices for digital music consumption expand and content providers continue to proliferate, as does high-resolution music availability, hardware makers have had to evolve in synchronicity. The net result has seen a maturing of streaming, clock and digital conversion technologies, with many brands offering multi-box solutions which have elevated the sonic outcome. A native of Greece, relatively new company Ideon Audio is rightfully earning a reputation for excellence via products which provide innovative proprietary technologies, comprehensive functionality and solid build. Importantly, of course, Ideon Audio’s products have also been widely hailed for their excellent sound quality. Here, I’m looking at the company’s entry point 3-box combo featuring eos Stream streamer/server, eos Time (a dedicated USB clock regenerator) and eos DAC digital-to-analogue converter.

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Stenheim Alumine Two SE Loudspeakers

Stenheim was founded in 2010 in Switzerland by five founders, all of whom were intensely passionate about music and its reproduction in the best possible quality at home. Now, and for around a decade in fact since Stenheim's first years, the company's helm is guided by CEO and owner Jean-Pascal Panchard. Music, of course, is where you may find yourself intimately connected to each of the emotional components which curate the soundtrack to your life. Stenheim’s motivations are based around principles of a love for music and a deep and well-practiced knowledge of the engineering ideologies required to bring such aspirations to fruition, and give a voice to the imagination, also a company of which I had very little knowledge prior to this review sample being sent to me.

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Sonus faber Serafino G2 Homage Loudspeakers

Oh. My. Goodness! That was my primal auto-response. It was an instinctive reaction for the intro to this review of Sonus faber’s insanely beautiful Serafino G2 Homage. Man these things are jaw-dropping, eye-popping, stunning. Master violin artisan Santo Serafino would be like “Now that, is a tribute…” In its newest iteration, Serafino is perfectly proportioned, exquisitely built and masterly styled. As part of the Homage series, it stands as the penultimate offering topped by the larger Amati Generation 5. Yet, Santo Serafino would also be asking “like my instruments, does its beauty also allure with irresistibly seductive sound?”. Well, let me tell you the Serafino G2 story…

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Aqua Acoustic Quality La Diva M2 CD Transport

“A pure CD machine”. That’s the headline grab Italian digital specialist Aqua Acoustic Quality uses for La Diva M2. The CD transport thoroughly expresses the company’s digital engineering chops; it’s a no-holds-barred disc spinner aimed at uncompromisingly extracting the best possible performance from the polycarbonate pits. It has also been made to couple to the company’s acclaimed resistor ladder-based digital-to-analogue converters. The silver disc is at the cycling point of ‘old-is-new-again’. Much like the gloriously sounding yet cumbersome reel-to-reel tape, and the nostalgic yet tragically flawed cassette (really?). Let’s not even mention the ongoing and celebrated vinyl renaissance. CD’s popular resuscitation? Yep, vibing that way. How timely then, that La Diva M2 CD Transport is here for a spin. It may be a convincing rejuvenation of the still excellent four-decade old laser reading technology.

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Titanic Audio Model A Moving Coil Cartridge

One of the more recent arrivals to Australian shores in the analogue space is the Titanic Audio’s line of cartridges and analogue accessories from Ireland. The company’s main core products are a new range of Moving Coil cartridges which have been a welcomed addition to the product selection available to Australian vinyl lovers. With a nod to the rich history of ship construction in Belfast, Titanic Audio have produced cartridges with ship-like profiles, complete with portholes, lines and machine cut body art. This review explores the sound and construction of the Titanic Audio Model A Moving Coil (MC) cartridge which has a medium voltage output, features cutting edge construction and an unusual conical shaped stylus.

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Weiss Engineering HELIOS Digital-to-Analogue Converter

Switzerland’s Weiss Engineering is renowned for its no compromise approach to gear for professional mastering studios around the world. For years Weiss has been at the forefront of digital engineering, and each generation of its products has raised the bar even further. The new HELIOS digital-to-analogue converter is the company’s latest high-end Hi-Fi flagship product.

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Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista PAS Power Amplifier

“The most important invention of the 20th century”. That was said of the semiconductor after its introduction in 1947. The device then went on to ubiquitous application in transistor radios through the 1950s. Then, in the late 1960s, very early 1970s, the transistor saw increasing implementation in Hi-Fi. Valve audio amplifiers’ decades-long reign was now being challenged. Soon after, the new technology became all-pervading, promising longevity, reliability, higher output power and improved sonic accuracy. Yeah, well… in early designs, that last one was mostly… so, so. It wasn’t until well into the 1970s, that skilled engineers procured the transistor’s potential for high-end audio. Those transformative events actually overshadowed the development of the Nuvistor tube in the late 1950s. The promising device came… and went. Forward to 1997 when British audio specialist Musical Fidelity unearthed the Nuvistor and harnessed that missed opportunity. The aim? To marry the best traits of both valve and solid state amplification. In the Nu-Vista PAS power amplifier, will the two worlds coalesce into a new powerhouse fusion?

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Crystal Cable Diamond Series 2 Reference Loom

When it comes to cables, we’ve all seen products with gregarious designs, from ones approximating ornamental garden hoses to those resembling a python that has just devoured its prey. Bulky cables with a "bigger is better" mentality are often perceived as superior or essential for greater dynamics and powerful bass. Among other desires, having more bulbous-looking cables would be on most audiophiles' wish lists. Anything less might diminish their pride, with most believing diminutive cables would not suffice. In that case, they’re disregarding the significance of substance over appearance, with the most critical factor being how cables sound and integrate within our systems.

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