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Vol. 8, No. 1 Summer/Fall, 2005

Welcome to the latest news in audio and home theater from Audio Nexus.  We have a lot of cool news about exciting new products and brands that have arrived at Audio Nexus since the last newsletter.  Especially notable in this issue is the number of manufacturers who have brought out lower-priced models or who have simply dropped prices, thus making their products accessible to more people.  We just love when that happens!  For late-breaking news and important developments that crop up between newsletters, please check out IMPORTANT BULLETINS to find out the latest about what's happening at Audio Nexus.  If you would like more information on any of the products mentioned here, please feel free to call and/or go to the BRAND NAMES & LINKS page for direct links to the relevant manufacturer's web site.

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(You can click any manufacturer's name in the Table of Contents to jump directly to that section, or just scroll down to the start of the newsletter.)

Anthony Gallo Acoustics Audience AV Clearaudio Shunyata Research
ARCAM Audio Physic Audio Research Balanced
Chang Lightspeed Conrad Johnson JM Lab-Focal NAD
Quad Revel Speakers Richard Gray's
Power Company
Rogue Audio
Rotel Runco Simaudio-Moon Vandersteen


Anthony Gallo Acoustics

Gallo Nucleus Reference 3Anthony Gallo Acoustics (Gallo for short) has been around for many years, designing both high-end speakers and very compact, lifestyle stereo and home theater speaker packages starting well under $1,000.  For example, their Micro home theater package consists of 5 spherical satellite speakers less than 4 inches in diameter and a companion subwoofer for only $999.  The sound of this system is far better than the highly-advertised competitors we've all heard about.  That's because it was designed by a real high-end audio guru, Anthony Gallo.  His newest product is the Nucleus Reference 3 floor-standing speaker, a true audiophile masterpiece.  It isn't often that one finds a speaker this remarkable at any price, much less at under $2,600 per pair.  As you can see from the picture, the internal construction is very unusual, using a free-air, minimum baffle design with midrange and woofer drivers mounted in round, aluminum enclosures which are acoustically dead and which minimize diffraction and reflection artifacts.  The tweeter is made from a thin sheet of Kynar polymer which is coated with silver and formed into a cylindrical shape that yields 300 degrees of horizontal dispersion.  There's lots more to talk about regarding the technical details of this speaker, but the important part is the sound.  It's so open, clear , spacious, and involving that it has already set new standards in its price range.  In fact, it recently received a rave review in the October/November 2004 issue of The Absolute Sound that couldn't have been better if Anthony Gallo had written it himself!  For example, the review said, "...a landmark product whose performance will blow minds throughout the high-end audio community, recalibrating upwards our notion of what a $2600/pair of loudspeakers can be and do."

Here's what one of our customers wrote to us a few days after bringing his reference 3s home:

I wanted to share some thoughts on my new and amazing Gallo Reference3 loudspeakers, recently purchased from your fine establishment.

These speakers are the fifth upgrade to my home stereo over the pasteight years or so.  With each of the previous four cases, I experienced thesame result: some recordings sounded better, and some didn't.  Itdidn't bother me, because it made sense.  After all, any givenrecording only has so much audio information to offer.  The betteryour system becomes, the more of this information you hear.  Eventually, as your system improves and revealsmore and more detail, it stands to reason that you will behearing everything there is to hear on some recordings, and therewill simply be no new detail left.  But the Gallo Reference 3 speakers have defied this logic becauseeverything I play, and I mean everything, sounds better on thesespeakers.  Why these speakers should be revealingmore detail in recordings that previously seemed to have "bottomedout", I don't know.  But this is precisely what's happening.

These speakers are also doing some spooky things with the sound.  Ihad read the reviews and knew the Reference 3s were lauded for their spatial imaging properties, But I had no appreciation for howthis would actually be experienced.  When I played the recent Rhinoreissue of Yes's "Fragile,", Jon Anderson's vocal on "Heart of theSunrise" appeared to be floating in space, about 3 feet in front of myface.  When singing "They Can't Take That Away From Me", LouisArmstrong and Ella Fitzgerald seemed to have taken up residence in myliving room.  Brandford Marsalis' saxophone on "Trio Jeepy" was realenough to picture the light glinting off the brass.  Most remarkable.

The bottom line is this.  With the Gallo Reference 3 speakers, everyrecording I play, new or old, gives me the impression that I'mhearing it for the first time.  That's how different, how much richer,clearer, more dimensional, each recording sounds.  It's like peeling athin layer of grime from a photograph you've had hanging on the wallfor years, and seeing a whole new level of detail you never knewexisted.  If they sound this good now, I truly cannot waituntil they are fully broken in.--D. Riemer, Whippany, NJ

We enthusiastically invite you down for an audition or, if you're not local, call for more information.

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Audience AV

Audience AV AU24 cableAudience AV manufactures some of the most interesting and surprising interconnects and speaker cables we've seen in a long time.  In an era when cables are usually big, beefy, and macho, the Audience products are quite slender and flexible.  The theory behind these products is that too much bulk in the conductors creates magnetically-induced eddy currents that smear the sound.  So Audience designs for the lowest possible characteristic impedance of the cable rather than trying to reduce simple resistance by using a large gauge wire.  They believe that this approach yields a much more even and natural sound across the entire frequency range.  The Audience cables are remarkably clear, open, and detailed without being harsh or overly-bright.  The products range from the very affordable Conductor series to the middle-ranked Maestro series up through their best Au24 series.  The Au24 products use the OHNO continuous-cast, single-crystal copper conductors for the best possible signal conduction and sonics.  The Absolute Sound (October-November, 2002) named the Conductor interconnect "The closest thing to a best buy in the group" in a shoot out of 13 interconnects.  Very recently, Audience has added custom power cords and the very well-received Adept Response power conditioner.  In fact, the number of superb reviews the Audience products have been receiving in print and on the Internet is quite overwhelming.  We invite you down to listen to these cables or borrow them to try in your own system.

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Clearaudio Champion turntable in blackClearaudio is a well-respected manufacturer of turntables, tonearms, cartridges, and phono preamps that are designed and built in Germany.  Their turntables range from the beautiful and affordable Emotion/Satisfy turntable/arm combination at $995 all the way up to their flagship Master Reference turntable that sells for $19,000!  Of course, there are many models in between, so there's a Clearaudio turntable for almost everyone's needs and budget.  Certain elements are common to all Clearaudio turntables.  For example, motors are decoupled and shielded to eliminate any negative impact on the turntable's chassis and the cartridge.  Also, all models have an inverted main bearing made of bronze, brass and hardened steel.  These factors guarantee that all Clearaudio turntables will run smoothly, without wow or flutter.  The first turntable series above the Emotion/Satisfy is the Champion at $1,500.  The turntable chassis is built from GS-Acrylic, the best and most expensive acrylic material available, and its shape is optimized to minimize resonances.  The platter is precision machined from Silicon-Acrylic, chosen to match, as closely as possible, the mechanical properties of a vinyl record.  Once you own a Champion, you can upgrade it to the Champion Level 1 or Champion Level 2 any time you want to improve your phono system.  Similarly, the Solution series has three models, and you can upgrade from the Solution to the Master Solution to the Maximum Solution.  There are even higher end models such as the Revolution, Reference, and Master Reference as well as pivoted tonearms such as the Unify and Satisfy and tangential tracking tonearms such as the Tangent, TQ-1, and Master TQ-1.  There's just not enough room here to discuss all of them in detail, but we'll be glad to do so on an individual basis.

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Shunyata Research

Shunyata Research Python VX power cableAudio Nexus is proud to announce our appointment as an authorized dealer for the Shunyata Research Hydra (line conditioner) and PowerSnake (power cord) products.  To put it simply, these products prevent the corrupting effects of noise and distortion present in your home's AC power or generated from within the circuitry of your own audio/video components from infiltrating other components and degrading their performance.  In fact, the Shunyata philosophy is that the noise generated within your own components can often cause more sonic damage to your other components than the noise which enters your system from the outside world.  When Hydras and PowerSnakes are used together, the unique isolating properties of the Hydras and shielding properties of the PowerSnakes shut down noise infiltration with an efficiency not achievable by other methods.  That's why Shunyata products have received so many awards and recommendations from audiophiles, high-end audio manufacturers, and recording professionals all over the world.  If you're a skeptic about the value of line conditioners and properly-designed power cords, please come down and give them a listen or borrow them to try at home.  How can you lose?  For more information on the design philosophy and details of these marvelous products, please follow the link to the Shunyata website on our Brands & Links web page.

Shunyata Research Hydra 8

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ARCAM DV29 DVD playerIn our last newsletter (Vol. 7, No. 1), we discussed how ARCAM is one of the rare high-end companies that designs and manufactures their CD and DVD players from the ground up, rather than adding performance enhancements to stock units.  This allows them to design every aspect of the player exactly as they wish and to select every single part to be optimal for its purpose.  They've used this approach in two new CD players, the CD192 and FMJ CD36 at $1,699 and $2,499, respectively.  The CD192 is a 24 bit, 192 KHz up sampling unit which offers improved performance over its predecessor, the CD93.  Likewise, the CD36 offers significant performance advantages over the previous CD33 by virtue of an all new mother board, a new dual toroidal power supply, and ARCAM's latest developments in "Mask-of-Silence" technology (including some things borrowed from stealth fighters).  ARCAM's two newest DVD players are the DV79 at $1,799 and the DV29 and $2999.  Since the vast majority of players on the market simply derive an audio clock from the video clock using circuitry built into the MPEG decoder chip, the resulting sound is pretty bad, especially for CD playback.  In both of these new models, ARCAM uses three totally-separate master clocks for DVD video and audio and for CD audio!  That's why ARCAM DVD players sound so much better.  Both of these new models feature improved audio and DVD-Audio quality over the previous models, and they've both added HDMI outputs for direct transfer of digital video information to those video displays with compatible inputs.

ARCAM Solo receiver/DVD playerThere are also two new receivers, the AVR250 at $1,599 and the AVR300 at $1,999.  These are the best home theater receivers ARCAM has ever made, and they owe a lot of their performance quality to knowledge gained in the design of the flagship AV8 processor.  The main difference between these two models is that the AVR250 is 75 watts/channel whereas the AVR300 is 100 watts/channel.  Sound quality and features are almost identical.  Speaking of home theater processors, the new AVP700 processor at $2,199 with balanced outputs and HDMI input switching has just been released.  This can be combined with the P1000 7-channel amp (130 watts/channel) at $2,299 to create a superb system for those who want performance superior to a receiver without breaking the bank.  Finally, for those who want a superb but compact and affordable music system, the new Solo receiver/CD player combo unit is now available at $1,599.  All you need to add is a pair of speakers to be able to play FM, AM, CDs or any other source you wish to connect to the Solo such as an iPod or MP3 player.  This is a very serious but convenient way to build an excellent system, and the Solo has already received excellent reviews in the press and on the Internet.  For example, see the July 2005 issue of Stereophile.

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Audio Physic

Audio Physic Tempo 4 loudspeakerAudio Physic, the master of imaging and clarity, has made significant improvements to many of its models.  The new Tempo 4 is a true 3-way design with a tweeter and midrange on the front panel and two high-performance woofers on the sides in the traditional Audio Physic push-push arrangement used in their more expensive models.  Thus, the two woofers are arranged back-to-back, mounted magnet to magnet, to avoid cabinet resonances and to allow for a narrow front baffle.  The cabinet design and driver technology have been improved and taken from the amazing Avanti III.  For example, the Tempo 4 has the Avanti's rounded cabinet sides which eliminate the resonance colorations associated with flat, parallel cabinet surfaces.  This slim, rounded design has the added advantage of being beautiful and elegant to look at.  Best of all, the price of the Tempo 4 remains unchanged at $3,995.  As with the Tempo 4, the new Spark 4 incorporates much Avanti technology and sound improvement without any change from the old price of $2,995.  The Spark 4 has the same rounded cabinet and driver improvements as the Tempo 4.  The Spark 4 uses a single, forward-facing woofer instead of the side-mounted, push-push configuration of the Tempo 4.  The result is a slightly scaled down version of the Tempo 4 which, however, gives up nothing in terms of imaging and clarity.  The new Padua RR at $5,750 replaces the Padua discussed in our last newsletter.  It is essentially a scaled down Virgo and has many of the Virgo's traditional sound qualities.  However, it uses the same ring radiator tweeter as the Avanti III and, thus, has superbly clean and extended highs.

Finally, Audio Physic has made significant improvements to its entry-level Yara line.  This is most important to us since we are always looking for the best possible sound for our customers on a more restricted budget.  The new Yara Evolution Floor standing, bookshelf, and center channel models use the same, double-magnet tweeter and woofer as are used in the Tempo 4 and Spark 4.  This gives the new Yara models better clarity and detail in the highs, better dynamics, more stability at high volumes, and better bass punch and definition.  The floor standing model has been reduced in price to $1,745, while the bookshelf and center channel models come in at $1,245 and $995, respectively.  The Yara subwoofer remains unchanged in design but has been reduced significantly in price to $1,245.

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Audio Research

Audio Research Reference 3 preamplifierAudio Research has just made a major improvement in their top preamp with the release of the Reference 3 at $9,995.  It's more transparent than its predecessor, presents an immense sound stage, gives voices and instruments real body and weight with pinpoint focus, and has deep, powerful bass which is fast, articulate, and controlled.  It also possesses a breathtaking dynamic swing.  Most importantly, there are a directness and immediacy that pull the listener into the performance.  Functionally, the Reference 3 combines traditional Audio Research cosmetics with a modern display and control system which can be easily integrated with multi-room system controllers.  Its remarkable level of performance has been achieved with all new audio (four new circuit boards) and power supply circuits (two new transformers and 20 amp IEC power cord).  The new audio circuit is pure tube, Class-A, zero feedback and uses four 6H30 twin triodes.  The hybrid power supply has over 50% greater energy storage than its predecessors, greatly contributing to its tremendous dynamic capability.  Audio Research also has a new phono preamp, the PH5.  At $1,995, this model replaces both the PH3 and PH3 SE.  The PH5 has several packaging and cosmetic improvements, such as the ability to adjust cartridge loading via front panel buttons or its remote control.  The PH5 is a hybrid design with no overall feedback, and the gain and output stages use four 6922 twin triodes.  Total gain has been increased to 57.5dB, more than sufficient for low output moving coil cartridges.  Sonically, the PH5 surpasses the PH3SE in every way, with wonderful clarity, higher resolution, an abiding musicality, more inner detail, and improved macro and micro dynamics.  It is also very, very quiet.  Audio Research has also extended both its tube and solid state power amp lines with new products.  The VM220 is a mono block, tube model at $4,995 and is the logical extension of the VS55 and VS110 stereo models.  In addition to providing higher power of well over 200 watts/channel, the VM220 has new capabilities such as balanced inputs and improved sound.  This is achieved with the use of a super-wide-bandwidth (1 Hz to 140 kHz) output transformer that provides better frequency extension, explosive musical dynamics, and more powerful bass extension and speed.  Finally, the 300.2 Class-T, digital switching amplifier extends the range of the Audio Research solid state line with a 300 watt/channel model at $3,995.  (Our previous newsletters have discussed the other models in this series such as the 150.2.) The 300.2 will satisfy the need for high power by the most demanding music or home theater listener while providing that power with the sound quality that Audio Research has long been famous for.

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Balanced Audio Technology

Balanced Audio Technology VK55 ampOne of the factors that makes Balanced Audio Technology preamps sound so great is the simplicity and directness of their circuit designs.  All their preamps are "single gain stage, no buffers, no followers, no feedback" designs, an approach which BAT pioneered back in 1994.  Simplicity yields better sonics.  Their two newest preamps are the VK3iX at $2,495 and the VK31 at $3,995.  The basic circuitry of the VK3iX is similar to its predecessor, the VK3i, but contains many, many upgraded parts in critical locations, including the volume control.  That, alone, results in a significantly-improved sound quality.  The new design also allows for the addition of upgrades such as the SIX-PAK, the SUPER PAK, or the SE option.  The SE option turns the preamp into a VK3iXSE using the 6H30 supertube and is Bat's least expensive SE model.  Similarly, the VK31 has improved parts and sound quality over the VK30, and the VK31 can also be upgraded all the way to a VK31SE.  As with all Balanced Audio Technology upgrades, they can be purchased with the preamp or added later when you are looking for a way to improve your system.  By the way, if you are already a BAT preamp owner, please consider calling us to find out what upgrades are available for your unit.  It would be a shame to be able to improve your system for a modest cost but never take advantage of that capability.  Balanced Audio Technology has also introduced a new power amp as a companion to these preamps or to any other fine preamp.  The VK55, a 55 watt/channel, tube model, was designed to have very similar sonics to BAT's original VK60, but at a much lower price than the current VK75 and in a much more compact chassis.  The VK55 is a fully-balanced, push-pull, very low feedback (5dB) design using the same output tubes as the VK75.  Other features of the VK55 include high current, very high bandwidth (100 KHz), toroidal power and output transformers, and auto-biasing for the output tubes.  BAT has packed a whole lot of sound and convenience into this product at a very fair price of $3,995.  To learn more about all Balanced Audio Technology products, please listen to the interview we did with Geoff Poor, BATs National Sales Manager, which is featured on our ONLINE LECTURES web page.

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Chang Lightspeed

Chang Lightspeed CLS605 line conditionerChang Lightspeed has revamped their entire line of power conditioners.  The new models use an improved filter core that yields better audio transparency and superior pictures on video displays.  They've also added models that have specialized applications for analog, digital, and large power amplifiers.  So, now you can get models starting at $349 that handle all types of components or that can be dedicated to particular component needs.

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Conrad Johnson

Conrad Johnson MET1 tube 6-channel preamplifierMulti-channel, ultra-high-end audio with vacuum tubes?  You won't think that's an oxymoron when you hear what Conrad Johnson has been up to.  They've just started shipping the MET1 (Multi-channel Enhanced Triode) tube, 6-channel preamp.  This is a totally-analog, multi-channel preamp which can be used to play stereo or surround sound sources with all of the fidelity that Conrad Johnson is famous for.  All you need to do is hook up, for example, a DVD player with a decoded 6-channel output to one of the MET1's inputs, hook up your multi-channel power amp and speakers, and you have the ultimate in surround sound fidelity.  The MET1 comes with full remote control and the ARM (Ambience Retrieval Mode) circuitry that lets you synthesize center and rear channels from a 2-channel source.  This is the first in a series of multi-channel products that Conrad Johnson has been developing.  A tube-based universal disk player and 5-channel amp will join the MET1 later this year.

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JM Lab-Focal

JM Lab-Focal iCub media centerJM Lab-Focal is one of the first audiophile companies to come up with a way to integrate the convenience of music stored on an iPod, MP3, or computer with a high quality, simple-to-use music playback system.  This new $750 product is called the iCub, and it is a compact powered subwoofer containing an 8 inch woofer driven by a 200 watt amplifier.  What makes the iCub different from other subwoofers is that it contains two additional 100 watt amps for driving a pair of stereo speakers as well as three types of input connectors that can accept analog via a pair of RCA jacks, digital audio via an optical input tied to a 20 bit D/A converter, and the output from a portable player (iPod, MP3, etc.) via a stereo mini-jack.  So, all you have to do to set up a system using the iCub is to hook up a pair of speakers and plug in the sources of your choice.  Plug in your CD or DVD player and get the highest quality playback from your disk collection.  Plug in your portable player and enjoy the same music collection you carry around but with much better fidelity and with hours of uninterrupted play.  Plug a digital output from your computer into the optical input, and you can listen to your collection directly on the iCub.  If you prefer the convenience of a wireless connection and your computer has Wifi capability, just plug a Wifi receiver into the iCub, and you're ready to go.  And, of course, JM Lab-Focal has speakers that match very well with the iCub.  You could use their Sib bookshelf models or either of the two newly-introduced models, the Sib XL and Sib XXL.  The Sib XL is a long, thin design approximately 20" long by 5.5" wide by 4.25: deep that is primarily intended for wall mounting next to a wall-mounted video monitor.  The Sib XL can, however, also be used with a separate tabletop or floor stand if wall mounting isn't for you.  The Sib XXL is a compact, floor-standing model approximately 33.5" high by 6.5" wide by 6" deep.  Whether you choose one of these models or any other pair of high quality speakers, the iCub is ready to play your digital music collection with a new level of fidelity and convenience.

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NAD L53 receiver/DVD playerNAD has always had a formidable reputation when it comes to high performance, affordable receivers.  Building on the performance of such past classics as the 7020 and 740, NAD has just released their latest offering, the C720BEE, at $599.  This receiver has 50 watts/channel of power, features NAD's PowerDrive power system, has 2-zone capability that lets you play an independent music source in a second zone by simply adding an outboard amplifier, comes with two remote controls, one for each zone, uses all discrete, Class-A circuitry in its gain modules, and boasts many, many other features.  The combination of flexibility and sound quality is quite remarkable in such an affordable product.  Like all models in the "BEE" series, it was designed by NAD's Director of Advanced Developments, Bjorn Erik Edvardsen.  For those who want a top quality stereo receiver and DVD/CD player but who have very limited space or just need a compact system at a budget price, NAD's new L53 may be the perfect answer.  At $599, the L53 combines a 50 watt/channel receiver with a progressive scan DVD/CD player in a single, elegant package.  All you have to do is hook it up to your speakers and TV to be able to play your favorite CDs or DVD movies.  Also, the L53 features virtual surround technology from SRS, which creates an enveloping surround sound experience from only two speakers.  There are many other features, including a learning remote that can control your other components as well as the L53's compatibility with almost all disk formats, a clock/timer to turn the L53 on or off at scheduled times, a subwoofer output for driving a powered subwoofer, and, of course, the same high quality of design and construction as all other NAD products.

Their latest DVD player, the T534, also offers a remarkable list of features for its $499 price.  It plays almost every disk format and has bass management for DVD-A and Dolby decoded programs.  There are an MP-3 decoder that displays song titles on your video monitor, audiophile quality 24 bit 192kHz DACs, an audiophile quality 5.1 analog output, and progressive scan with 3:2 pulldown.  It also has an HDMI output for direct digital transfer of video and audio to other HDMI-equipped components, a Faroudja chip for DDCi video up conversion to 720p and 1080i to give the best video for your HDTV, and many other advanced features too numerous to list here.  Come on into the store for a demo of how good looking and good sounding all of these new NAD pieces are.

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Quad Sub L subwooferThe long-awaited Quad Series L subwoofer is finally available.  Anyone who has been down to the store to see and hear the superb looking and exquisite sounding L Series loudspeakers will readily appreciate the level of craftsmanship and sonic performance available from this new sub.  The Sub L uses a 12 inch Tri-Lam woofer cone designed by Quad which consists of three layers, a layer of fiberglass sandwiched between two layers of carbon fiber.  This yields a very stiff cone that can provide high excursion without flexing internally.  The woofer is driven by a 300 watt amp, again designed by Quad to the same high level as other Quad electronics.  There are controls for phase adjustment, crossover frequency, crossover bypass, and volume.  In addition, a very nice feature is the presence of 4 memories which can be used to store different setups for different listening situations.  For example, you might want to have one setup for maximum bass flatness to be used for music playback while another setup might be juiced up a little in the bass for enhancement of home theater effects.  All of these controls, including memory recall, can be accessed from your listening chair via the included remote control.  So we now have a subwoofer that is worthy of inclusion in an L series audio or home theater setup.  Furthermore, it is so clean sounding that it's a viable companion for the Quad 988 and Quad 989 electrostatic speakers.  At $1,500, the Sub L comes in the same piano black, rosewood, and birdseye maple finishes as the other Quad L Series speakers and is finished in a high gloss piano lacquer.  Gorgeous cosmetics and sound come together once again in this newest Quad L Series product.

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Revel Speakers

Revel F12 loudspeakerRevel has long been known for making truly exceptional sounding speakers in the mid price (Performa series) and no-holds-barred price range (Ultima series).  Many of their speakers have been recognized as representing the best sound possible with current technology, but even the Performa models, representing superb value for money, have not made Revel sound affordable to those on a budget.  Now things have changed with the introduction of the Concerta series.  This is a full line of speakers that includes the M12 monitors at $648 per pair, the F12 floor-standing model at $1,298 per pair, the S12 surrounds at $998 per pair, the C12 center channel at $499, and the B12 powered subwoofer at $999.  The quality of the sound that comes from these speakers is truly representative of what we've come to expect from Revel, and is more than competitive with anything else in their respective price ranges.  It is obvious that Revel has applied all of the engineering know-how gained from their higher end models to the design of the Concerta series.  Examples of this are the C12 center, a true 3-way design, and the B12 subwoofer which even has a parametric equalizer built in that can be used to tame room resonances or frequency response problems.  You just don't normally see these kinds of features at these prices.  So, whether you're looking for a single pair of bookshelf or floor-standing speakers or whether you want a whole home theater package, you can now access Revel sound quality at a wholly-affordable price.  Think about combining a pair of these speakers with the new, budget-priced electronics from Rogue (see below), and you'll begin to understand how much more quality you'll be able to get from your music collection without busting your budget.

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Richard Gray's Power Company

Richard Gray's Power Company 400 ProRichard Gray's Power company has upgraded the 400, 600, and 1200 to the 400 Pro, the 600 Pro and the 1200 Pro.  The improvements come in two areas.  First, the new models use a 12 gauge, 20 amp power cord connected to a 20 amp IEC connector on the chassis.  The ability to transfer more current more quickly makes an audible performance improvement.  Second, the internal wiring configuration has been redesigned so that now each of the outlets that feeds your components is directly wired to the power source and, therefore, gives the best possible performance.  Basically, Richard Gray's Power Company has taken their great products and made them better.

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Rogue Audio

Rogue Audio Cronus integrated ampRogue has always been known for making high-end tube equipment available at reasonable prices.  But, inevitably, as labor and parts costs have gone up and Rogue has tried to improve performance, their prices have crept up also.  Now, with the introduction of three new products comprising the Rogue Titan series, they have created their most affordable offerings ever.  The Titan series of tube products presented Rogue with a significant engineering challenge: to create truly high-end products at entry level prices.  The Titan series offers outstanding performance and build quality that is accessible to almost anyone with a love for great sounding music.  Entirely hand built in the USA, the Titan products are assembled to the same exacting standards as Rogue's most expensive amplifiers.  The new products are the Metis preamp at $995 ($1,095 with remote control), the Atlas power amp at $1,395 (55 watts/channel), and the Cronus integrated amp at $1,795 (55 watts/channel).  The Metis and Cronus come with a phono preamp and a headphone amp built in, and the Cronus has remote control at no extra cost.  This is a real breakthrough for any music lover who has been denied the purity of tube sound built to the high standards of a U.S.A. audiophile company, and we hope you will take a look at these Rogue Titan products for your next purchase.

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Rotel RX-1052 receiverRotel has taken an excellent product and made it better.  For years we've recommended the RX-1050 as the best sounding stereo receiver on the market.  Now the RX-1052 takes that excellent performance and adds 4-zone capability for those who want to be able to play different music sources in different rooms simultaneously.  What this means is that the same receiver will allow you to play, for example, FM radio in one room, your CD player in another room, and two other sources such as cassette, satellite radio, or whatever you choose in third and fourth rooms.  Moreover, Rotel also has keypads designed for use with the RX-1052 that will allow you to control the volume and source selection remotely from each room.  So, now you and your spouse or kids can listen to different music simultaneously without buying multiple systems or a very expensive, multi-zone controller.  The RX-1052 sells for $899, only $100 more than the RX-1050.  That's a lot of extra flexibility for the cost of dinner for two in a good restaurant.  Not bad!

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Runco CR-32HD LCD televisionThere's big news from Runco in three areas: (1) an exciting new class of products, the Crystal Series LCD flat panel displays, (2) a new, less expensive DLP projector, and (3) price drops on all of their plasmas.  This is very good news for anyone who's wanted the superb video of a Runco product but found the prices intimidating.  The new LCD displays, which include all of the advanced video processing capabilities which make Runco displays so superior, are the 40 inch CR-40HD at $6,995, the 32 inch CR-32HD at $3,995, and the 26 inch CR-26HD at $2,595.  Thus, these high-definition HDTV-ready displays incorporate Runco's exclusive Vivix digital video processing, which produces outstanding picture quality from both standard and high-definition sources.  In addition, all models are engineered with ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) calibration standards for the purest video performance.  Their advanced TFT active matrix LCD displays offer an honest 1000:1 contrast ratio with 1366 x 768 resolution and include Runco's discrete aspect ratio control with VirtualWide mode.  VirtualWide fills the 16:9 screen with standard 4:3 images without loss of picture quality.  The Crystal Series is also multimedia-ready, with simple computer connections that make gaming, internet browsing, and other computer applications quick and easy.  The new DLP front projector is the Reflection CL-410 which comes in at $3,495.  This brings Runco's video performance to a new level of affordability.  As with other Runco projectors, Enhanced GEN 3 technology in the CL-410 produces deeper blacks, greater contrast ratio and brightness, and richly saturated colors.  Among the CL-410's features is the industry's best gray scale tracking, vital to vibrant, true-to-life color reproduction and superior black and white level performance.  Once, again, Runco's Vivix video processing and scaling assure pristine video imagery.  Finally, Runco has dropped the prices of all of their plasma displays by several thousand dollars, and they now have 42 inch models starting at $4,995.  So now, whether you want a projector, a plasma, or an LCD display, you can get the best, Runco, for a price which was previously impossible.  Think about combining one of these video displays with the new, affordable Concerta speakers from Revel (see above) and a receiver and DVD player from ARCAM, NAD, or Rotel, and you can have a true high-end home theater system at a price that would have been impossible until now.

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Simaudio Moon Orbiter universal disk playerSimaudio has released their Orbiter universal disk player ($7,200) to superb press reviews (Stereophile, March, 2005,, February, 2005, The Absolute Sound, Issue 152, 2005).  This product provides superb playback of conventional CDs while also providing access to SACD, DVD-Audio, and many other formats.  It uses an extremely-advanced and shielded power supply combined with advanced digital circuitry and Simaudio's always-excellent analog audio stages to yield a player with uncompromised audio and video performance with all formats.  Obviously, the reviewers agree.  Simaudio is also extending the top of their product line with their new Evolution Series.  The new models are the W8 power amp at $9,200, the P8 preamp at $9,500, and the Andromeda CD player at $9,800.  They have all new amplification circuitry, killer cosmetics, and battleship build quality as well as the fabulous Simaudio 10-year warranty.  The CD playback digital circuitry of the Andromeda has also been improved with twice the processing rate of the Eclipse.  That makes the Andromeda a 24-bit, 705.6 kHz upsampling system.  And, for installation convenience, all models are RS-232 controllable.  So, these new products will allow you to have ultimate performance whether you're a single- or multi-room type of person.

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Vandersteen Quatro loudspeakerEver since its introduction in 1997, we've considered the Vandersteen Model 5 to be one of the finest loudspeakers ever created.  Now there's really great news for anyone who's longed to own model 5s but just couldn't fit them into their room or couldn't afford them.  Vandersteen has finally released the long-awaited Quatro which spans the gap between the 3A Signature and the Model 5.  The Quatro uses the same 1-inch, dual chamber, critically-damped, ceramic-coated alloy dome tweeter and the same patented, open basket, 4 inch curvilinear, filled, polycone midrange as the 3A Signature and the Model 5.  The Quatro also has a 6 inch woofer which interfaces between the midrange and powered, subwoofer section.  This woofer is comprised of a woven fiber cone and a precision- formed magnet assembly, with a copper Faraday ring.  The Quatro also uses the same type of power amp to drive its subwoofer section as the Model 5, so it also can be individually equalized to remove the sonic degradations caused by bass resonances in your listening room.  The main physical differences between the Quatro and the Model 5 are the smaller subwoofer drivers (two 8 inch drivers in the Quatro) and the more compact size, of 43 inches high by 10 inches wide by 19 inches deep.  Even so, the Quatro has a frequency response of 24 Hz to 30 kHz, + or - 2 dB.  And, like every other model in the Vandersteen Signature Edition (SE) series, the crossover of every single speaker is individually tweaked and adjusted to compensate for the inevitable small unit-to-unit variations in driver performance.  This means that every Quatro leaves the factory with the same frequency response and sound as every other Quatro.  The bottom line is that, for $7995, you can get the most natural, completely convincing, and non-fatiguing presentation short of the Model 5 and 5A, a presentation which is the most musically-correct we know of.  Richard Vandersteen has worked very hard for over two years to bring you this level of honest performance at such a reasonable price, and we feel confident that his efforts will be appreciated by all music lovers who value naturalness over flash.

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VPI Super Scoutmaster turntableBuilding on the fabulous success of the Scout (e.g., lowest priced turntable in Stereophile's Class B), VPI has introduced two upgraded models, the ScoutMaster at $2,500 and the Super ScoutMaster at $5,200.  The ScoutMaster (2004 - Hi Fi Product of the Year,2004 - Stereophile Magazine Runner-up Analog Product of the Year, 2004 - Positive Feedback Online Product of the Year) combines key features from several of VPI's most successful tables.  It uses the Aries 2 platter and inverted brass and Teflon bearing, a larger version of the steel Scout motor assembly with new 300-RPM motor, and a dual Scout chassis with a steel center.  The Scoutmaster also comes with the JMW-9 tonearm installed.  VPI has never made a more musical and involving turntable at such a bargain price.  The Super ScoutMaster (2004 - The Absolute Sound Golden Ear Award Winner) came about one day when VPI wondered what they could do to make the ScoutMaster better.  The end result was to cross the Scoutmaster and the HR-X, producing the Super Scoutmaster.  The Super Scoutmaster uses the most accurate motor drive in the business, the HR-X system.  The massive flywheel and dual motor drive, controlled by the revolutionary Synchronous Drive System (SDS) power supply, give the smoothest rotation in the business.  (Yes, the $1,000 SDS comes with the Super Scoutmaster.) The finishing touches are the specially designed, totally non resonant laminated chassis and the periphery ring clamp.  The ring clamp lowers warp induced speed variations to near zero, making the combination of the HR-X flywheel drive and a perfectly level record sound like a master tape.  Best of all, VPI has a liberal trade in/ trade up program so owners of Scouts can upgrade to the new models for greatly-reduced prices.  Analog lives in New Jersey!

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Well, that's about it for this issue.  Remember to check the IMPORTANT BULLETINS page on our web site regularly for timely updates and important announcements.  See you in the store.

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