Naim Audio Uniti Nova PE Streaming Amplifier

I’ve long been a fan of Naim audio, having owned a plethora of products over the years, beginning with what could be considered as one of my first serious systems. That was the NAC 150, NAP 150 and CD 150X running a pair of Sonus faber Concerto speakers. That system had many friends and visitors in awe whenever I spun their favourite tunes. Realising this was only the entry point to the Naim sound, I thirsted for more and quickly contracted the upgrade bug… from those early days, the audio voyage now sees me once again enjoying the music making skills of a Naim product: the new Naim Uniti Nova PE.

Read more ...

Gryphon Audio Designs Diablo 333 Integrated Amplifier

Large amplifiers… yeah, digital amplification notwithstanding, high-end amps tend to be bulky. Think Oscar Wilde’s “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess” – that phrase sums up most top-tier high-end integrated amplifiers. As big and bold integrated amplifiers go, there are only a few units mixing it up with Gryphon Audio Designs’ monumental Diablo 333. It’s the Danish company’s newest, and by gosh, meanest-looking integrated amplifier. Yet paradoxically, it combines brutal brawn build with industrial design elegance. It’s a Helluva statement piece… now, beyond its magnetically charismatic aura, how does the Diablo 333 sound?

Read more ...

Microphase Audio Design SAT MK3 Loudspeakers

In the ever-evolving landscape of audio excellence, the Microphase Audio Design SAT MK3 loudspeakers emerge as a beacon of true passion and craftsmanship. Crafted by the visionary Australian-based, French speaker designer Jean-Marie Lière, these bookshelf loudspeakers stand as a testament to his dedication to pushing the boundaries of sonic artistry. With a blend of technical precision and artistic flair, the SAT MK3 speakers promise to captivate audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike.

Read more ...

Hulgich Audio Nina Statement Loudspeakers

When the box arrived, I thought… this is a company that cares about product safety and presentation. Two speakers were contained in one reenforced wooden box, very neatly made and finished, with subtle but effective company labelling on all sides. There were strong straps around the box as well. You could easily get the speakers out through the side labelled “front”, without removing the straps. Inside, the box was padded with thick Styrofoam that cradled all sides of the speakers. Each speaker was then in its own padded bag. So, who goes to all this effort before you even get to listen? With the new Nina Statement loudspeakers, Hulgich Audio does.

Read more ...

Soulnote A-3 Integrated Amplifier

What do you get when high-level ex-Marantz, Philips and NEC personnel, with a combined experience into three-figures, join forces with a fervent desire to penetrate the higher echelons of high-end audio? You get Soulnote, that’s what, a Japanese company HQ’ed in Kanagawa, Japan. Soulnote has hit the market with a stream of analogue and digital components featuring innovative engineering, a mature design language, and world-class build quality. The company is highly revered in its home country while also receiving high praise, and increasing interest, from audio enthusiasts around the globe. Yeah, it’s also earning some sideways glances from high-end competitors, I’m sure. So, here, I present Soulnote’s top-tier, solid-as-a-brick A-3 integrated amplifier.

Read more ...

Dellichord FR2035 Active Loudspeakers

The concept of coupling a fully realised monitor speaker and a matching powered low-frequency module, as a cojoined loudspeaker architecture per channel, has been somewhat underapplied in the industry, despite its ample merits. When crafted by a skilled designer, the capabilities of that unified configuration can be manifested through excellent sonic performance. Evidently, young Australian design house Dellichord thoroughly understands the principle. The company has crafted the amplified, uniquely styled FR20 ‘IsoActive Bass Module’, which also serves as a complementary platform for the accompanying FR35 ‘Bookshelf Monitor’ perched above. Dellichord calls it the FR2035 IsoActive system.

Read more ...

Estelon AURA Loudspeakers

When I heard Estelon’s brand new AURA speakers at High End Munich 2023, I thought, “Note to self: These, I need to review.” In a rare experience, AURA presented the most ‘outside the speakers’ enveloping soundfield I’d heard at any show. Anywhere. Ever. And then there was that auric glow, that magnetic attraction from what, in my humble opinion, must be one of the most striking loudspeaker designs in high-end audio. Well, some months after that memorable show encounter, AURA materialised in my listening room, aglow in radiant white. Will AURA sonically enchant as it did at that remarkable Munich showing?

Read more ...

Gold Note DS-1000 EVO Streaming Digital-to-Analogue Converter

Man, clutter is… old. Your average high-end system espousing separate dedicated components could see a head count of eight or nine boxes, each needing power and interface cable. That’s a lot. Partly with those aspects of placement and cabling logistics in mind, Italian audio specialist Gold Note devised a high-end digital hub which greatly reduces your component inventory while saving you some hard-earned. The promise is there too, for elevated sound quality. Gold Note is renowned for high performance products – whether analogue or digital – with build quality and engineering being consistent trademarks. Enter the DS-1000 EVO Streaming DAC.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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…

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

SoundStageAustralia.com