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Hello, and welcome to our first Internet newsletter. What we're going to be doing here is to talk about exciting new products and brands that have arrived at Audio Nexus since the last newsletter. Obviously, since this is the first edition, we have a little leeway and will talk about all new developments that have occurred recently. We'll also be announcing current events such as seminars at the store, sales, and other interesting events we hear about. We'll post these whenever they come up, so check back often to make sure you don't miss anything. If you have any suggestions about items you'd like to see posted here, please use the E-mail link to let us know.
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As you probably already know, it's extremely important to keep the vibrations and resonances in your listening room from getting into your components and blurring their sound. The guys at Black Diamond make some superlative devices to do just that. Choose from their famous Racing Cones which are rounded tip cones, Racing Shelves which are available in many sizes, Those Things which are small sections of Racing Shelves and can be used with or in place of Racing Cones, and the new record clamp designed for VPI turntables. All of these isolation devices are made of dense graphite fiber and offer many times the isolation of other brands or even of many inches of heavy concrete. It's amazing how much clearer and cleaner components sound when one or more of the Black Diamond isolation devices is placed under it. We invite you to take some home and try them out.
The Symphonic Line of electronics has long been known to audiophiles, but their cost has placed their performance beyond the reach of many. The importer, Klaus Bunge, decided, about a year ago, to solve this problem by manufacturing two of their products, an amplifier and a preamplifier, in the U.S.A. We now have these two fabulous products ready for you to audition. The Stratos is a 150 watt/channel powerhouse that has the heavy duty construction of an amp that costs many times its price. The companion preamp, the Tempest, is an equally impressive, full function unit, and the pair makes sonic mincemeat of any other solid state gear selling at their unbelievable price of $1195 per unit. When we saw how these units were built and heard how they sound, there was no way we could believe this low asking price. These are not just copies of Symphonic Line models, they are Symphonic Line in design and performance. They go by the name Odyssey, but a rose by any other name .
We are in the process of assembling a major, new home theater demo in our large sound room, and there was only one possible choice for the video projector. Runco has long established itself as the leading manufacturer of high end projectors, and so we had to go with them. Their line includes everything from affordably-priced offerings to the most advanced, line-quadrupled, high definition ready models you could possibly want. We expect to have this new home theater system up and running in the near future, so keep in touch and get ready to see how fabulously clear and impressive a high end video projector can be.
Update as of August 26 - Our high end, home theater display is now installed and fully functional. It includes a Runco 770 projector, an Enlightened Audio Design Ovation home theater processor (see below), a California Audio Labs CL-20 DVD/CD player (see below), and, of course, a motorized, drop-down, Stewart Screen (see below). The picture from this very affordable, front-firing projector is wonderfully clear and sharp, and we think you'll be very impressed by the audio and video of this system. At the moment, we can do the audio through a complete Von Schweikert or Vandersteen 5-channel, speaker array. What you'll experience through this system puts any theater you've ever been in to shame!
Well, if you're going to have the best projector in the business for your home theater, you'd better have a really fine screen to project the picture on to. That's where Stewart Screens comes in. These are the folks who make the huge screens for movie theaters, and they can use that same skill to customize any size or style of screen for your home. They provide each dealer (that's us) with sophisticated computer software that allows us to enter the model of your projector, and all of the other viewing factors for your particular room, and this software calculates all of the parameters necessary for Stewart to build the exact screen needed for your environment. Then they custom manufacture that screen to those exact specifications. That way you get a product exactly tailored for your needs. There are many features and options, too many, in fact, to list here. But no matter what style you decide on, the picture will be brilliantly clear and worthy of the images Being displayed on it.
This is really neat stuff. There's so much boring, "me too", audio furniture around that it was tremendously refreshing to find the creative styling of the Salamander line. You can use their many building blocks to construct a simple, stand alone rack or a whole, personalized wall of audio furniture. It can be an open style design, or you can finish the sides with rich woods or fine leather. Leave the front open or add solid wood or frosted glass doors. This furniture is good and solid and easy to assemble. And because of its design flexibility, it goes with a wide variety of decors. And best of all, it's a lot more affordable than it looks. Come see and admire it, and then we'll help you plan out a design that fits your needs and styling requirements.
One of our most difficult jobs is finding great sounding speakers at affordable prices. And yet, this is an area we take very seriously. We have to find such speakers so that audiophiles on a budget or those who want good audio in a second or third room can have truly musical sound. We have our values when it comes to recommending ultimate, high end speakers, and these same core values are used to select our lower cost offerings. Tannoy is one of the oldest companies in the speaker business, and they have recently introduced the very affordable Mercury series of products. These speakers range in price from $250 to $800, and they all are worthy of your attention and serious audition. There are two bookshelf models, the M-1 and M-2, and three compact, floor standing models, the M-3, M-4, and M-5. They offer a whole lot of sound for the money, and we think you'll be quite pleased at what you hear. And if you're doing a home theater system, they have the center channel model needed to complete the job. Come check out these little gems, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much performance you get.
NEW PRODUCTS FROM
Von Schweikert Research
Far from sitting back and relaxing over the great success of his first two models, the VR-4 and VR-3, Albert Von Schweikert has been burning the midnight oil designing a whole slew of new models, both for stereo and home theater. The VR-6 and VR-8, his two new reference speakers, take the fabulous sound of the VR-4 to new heights. These two models differ only in the size of their base cabinets and drivers. They share an incredible lucidity and spatiality and are true benchmarks of high end accomplishment. The VR-8 recently received an unmitigated rave review by none other than Harry Pearson, editor of The Absolute Sound and father of the high end audio movement. For those of you not familiar with Von Schweikert, all of their speakers use a special circuit technology called the Global Axis Integration Network (GAIN) system. GAIN launches the sound into your room with the same dispersion pattern of the microphone that was used to record it. This puts a sound field into your room which is a much closer replica of the original than can be obtained with other speakers. The result is a hauntingly believable presentation which allows the walls to fall away and lets you enjoy the image as it existed in the concert hall. There has also been a redesign of the VR-4, resulting in the new VR-4 Gen II. It's trimmer looking than its predecessor, and some aspects of the internal cabinetry have been improved. An excerpt from the July, 1998, rave review of this speaker which appeared in Sound Stage magazine is shown below.
Music through them transcends the mechanism of reproduction, allowing the listener to hear past the medium and back to the true message of the music. They function as time machines, providing the most direct path back to the musical event I've ever had in my listening room. Such crystalline clarity, vivid detail, articulate and extended bass, equality of balance, realism of presentation and emotional involvement have never been more successfully integrated into one more attractive and affordable package in my near 30 years of searching. The VR-4 Generation II may well be the first true landmark or milestone product I've had the pleasure of reviewing over the last decade. This speakers ability to completely get out of its own way and resurrect only the recorded performance is unrivaled in this extremely competitive price range, finally bringing previously unbelievable levels of performance below the $4000 mark. It, in fact, bests some well-known entrants from some very respected manufacturers selling for nearly twice as much. I still find it next to impossible to give over to the music and do anything else when my system is playing with the alluring Von Schweikert VR-4 Generation IIs. From me, there is no higher recommendation.--Greg Weaver, Sound Stage, July, 1998
Then there are the many new models designed especially for home theater. There are three new center channels, three new surround models, two new fronts, and a subwoofer. These are true, high end home theater products. They tackle the demands of reproducing soundtracks by being accurate, not by exaggerating parts of the audio spectrum for special effects. These speakers are equally comfortable reproducing music and soundtracks because they are neutral. This is a great way to build a home theater/music system.
We tried to wait patiently during the several years it took Richard Vandersteen to complete the design of the Model 5, but it wasn't easy. We knew it would be a great speaker, and that made the wait all the more difficult. But in our wildest musings, we never dreamed of how truly exceptional this fine instrument would be. Sometimes audio products impress you at first but wear thin after increased exposure. Sometimes you don't realize how truly marvelous a particular product is at first, but you grow to appreciate it over time. Neither of these was true with the Model 5. It blew us away the first moment we played it (even before it was broken in), and it continues to amaze and delight us in every aspect of its performance, every time we play it. It is a stunning culmination to the Vandersteen line, and it shows how a great designer can evolve a great speaker by continuously refining and evolving his designs and by obeying and manipulating the laws of physics, not by trying to break them. This is actually a 4-way design. There are a woofer, midrange, and tweeter in the top half and a powered, 300 watt subwoofer in the bottom half. There isn't sufficient room here to enumerate all of the technology that went into this speaker, but here are a few of the high points. All of the cabinet walls are composed of many, many layers of extremely inert and neutral materials, resulting in construction so inert that there's no hint of resonance. (Don't rap on it too hard, or you'll bruise your knuckles.) Every part of the speaker is modular, so it will be simple to update your pair with any future improvements. All of the drivers and crossover parts are simply the best that Vandersteen could find. The design of just the midrange driver cost over one million dollars! The powered subwoofer section contains a pair of opposed, bonded, 12-inch metal cone woofers with one drive element extending from one magnet structure through both cones and into the other magnet structure. There is a 10-band low bass equalizer built into each subwoofer amplifier that allows each speaker to be tuned to the room so bass resonances are completely eliminated. It is simply the most spacious, clear, deep, and coloration free reproducer of music we have ever experienced. Music just floats out, without any sense of effort or "hi fi" strain. Because of the special features present in this speaker, it is possible to position it easily in any room for both best sonic balance and best image. Thus, anyone who buys it can easily achieve optimum performance in the home environment. Even if you are not contemplating the purchase of a speaker system in the $10,000 price range, we urge you to come and listen to it and learn what it is now possible to achieve in home music reproduction.
Rotel is always adding to and upgrading their product line, so there are too many model changes to cover them all. Here are a few. The newest version of their top-of-the-line power amp, the RB-991 has been joined by a 3-channel version, the RB-993, which has the same great sound. Now you have three choices for multi-channel amplification from Rotel. The RB-975 6-channel model, the RB-985 5-channel model, or a combination of the RB-991 and RB-993 for the best performance and highest power. There are two new processors/adapters for use with the RSP-980 and RSP-970 surround sound processors and the RTC-970 tuner/processor. These are the RDA-975 Dolby digital AC-3 and the RDA-985 DTS surround sound models. You can add either or both of these two the above-mentioned A-V processors and move your home theater system from Dolby Pro Logic to AC-3 and/or DTS capability. We've been selling Rotel products for almost 15 years, and the company is as dedicated to quality sound reproduction in the home theater environment as they have always been in the two channel environment. Bells and whistles have always been eschewed in favor of designs that maximize sonics. So Rotel continues to promote the component approach over the severely compromised receiver approach in home theater, just as they did in audio. Finally, Rotel has made controlling all of these units simple and convenient with the RR-990 programmable, touch screen remote control. This is a universal remote and can learn the codes of virtually any other remote, even non-Rotel models. And all of the buttons are portrayed as images on a liquid crystal, touch screen panel. And the screen is even back lighted so it can be seen in the dark. It's a big improvement over clunky remotes of the past, and is available for only $200.
Well, we probably shouldn't really talk about the forthcoming MAT-100 amp since it isn't out yet, but it's such an exciting concept that we decided to go ahead anyway. How about this? A pure triode, 100 watt per channel amplifier selling for $1895? That's verging on unbelievable, especially when you consider the kind of sound quality Melos is famous for. Well, if that's not enough to excite you, how about this? You can flip a switch and turn it into a 175 watt mono block which is still all triode! Not jumping up and down yet? Then flip a different switch and turn it into a 25 watt/channel, pure triode, pure class A, pure single ended stereo amp. And finally, you can also use it as a 40 watt, pure class A, pure triode, pure single ended mono block. Again, remember we're talking about an amp that sells for $1895, not $5000! This is going to be one heck of a product. We can't tell you much about the sound because we haven't heard one yet. But stay tuned. We have a sneaking suspicion this one is going to be something special.
If you're not thoroughly familiar with McCormack's fine reputation for manufacturing wonderful-sounding components at quite reasonable prices, then it's time for us to tell you. They've been providing discriminating music lovers with the best in preamps, amps, and CD sources for years now, and the reputation of their DNA series of amps is well known. It's rare for solid state products to have both a musical midrange and an extended high end that doesn't glare or shout at you. But that's what McCormack products do, and that's why they receive such glowing reviews, year in and year out. Now they have taken the DNA (Distributed Node Amplification) design concept to new heights with the DNA-2 power amp. This is not only a higher powered member of the DNA family, but also a seriously cleaner, clearer, and more dynamic member of that family. Effortless and hugely dynamic power is coupled with delicacy and strain-free macro- and micro dynamics to produce a wall of sound that envelops and transports the listener. McCormack did not get its fine reputation for amplifier design by accident, and this newest creation is a testament to the DNA series. We hope you'll consider a DNA-2 or any of the fine DNA amps if you're looking to upgrade your system's performance. If you want to know more about the DNA design theory, just give us a call, and we'll explain the details.
Important Update as of August 26 - In case you haven't yet heard the news,Bill Conrad and Lou Johnson, the owners of Conrad Johnson, have announced their acquisition of the name, McCormack Audio, as well as the physical and intellectual property of the company. They are in the process of moving everything to Virginia, where they will continue manufacture of all the current McCormack products under a new company named Mccormack Audio of Virginia. In addition, Seve McCormack is working with the new company, and it is wonderful to have him back with the organization that bears his hame. The new owners have emphasized that the products they will start releasing shortly will be identical to those manufactured in the past. In addition, they will be honoring any existing warranties for products already in the field. We look forward to an even better McCormack as Mssrs. Conrad and Johnson add their wonderful talents to the mix.
Any of you who have been to the store and heard the delightfully musical, integrated amps from Magnum, the IA-170 and IA-200, know why we think these products are so special. It's more than rare to find such wonderful performance at such affordable prices, $750 and $1150, respectively. Well, after a lot of encouragement from us, Magnum has released a remote control version of the IA-200. This unit can be controlled remotely for volume and the switching of sources between the CD direct input and any other source that has been chosen from the selector switch. Of course the dedicated designers at Magnum made sure that the remote control capabilities in no way impinged upon the excellent sonic performance of this product. So now you can have your high end integrated amp from England, and you can remotely control it, too. Please come by and give these wonderfully musical products a listen. High end performance doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Holy Moly!! Kimber Kable Select interconnects and speaker cables! This isn't like any other cable we've ever heard before. Ray Kimber has told us that he now has instrumentation so advanced that he can measure the differences between cables that have been broken in and those that have not. He can even measure the sonic effects of the color of the dye being used in the insulation! Now, for the first time, it's possible to correlate differences we hear among cables with actual measurements. The Select cables are an entirely new product line for Kimber. He has used this advanced instrumentation and his ever excellent hearing and musical discrimination to design products which are so exquisitely clear and detailed that, once you get used to them, you cannot listen to any system with other cables without being disappointed. We cannot tell you exactly what's going on inside these cables because, quite frankly, most of the information is still proprietary. There are advanced weaving geometries, antistatic yarns, new materials, and we just don't know what else. When we asked one of our customers who had heard the cables how to describe them for this newsletter, he said, "You just can't explain what these cables do without sounding preposterous." Well, unfortunately, that's pretty well on the mark. If we tried to tell you what these products do to enhance the sound of a system, it would just sound too unbelievable. Please, please come by and audition some of the Select series. But be warned. No other cable will make you happy after you do.
The Golden Tube offerings by Solo Electronics have already set records for providing audiophiles on a budget with the kind of musical value normally only found in extremely expensive products. Where else, after all, can you find a 40 watt per channel, pure Class A, pure single ended tube amp for $998? Only in the Golden Tube SE-40, that's where. This is the company we point to when customers ask why audio manufacturers don't produce high end products that are affordable by normal people. Well, Golden Tube does, and now they have a couple more offerings to add to the mix. The brand new SI-50 Mk II is a 50 watt per channel, EL-34 based tube integrated amplifier that not only sounds great but also has the convenience of remote volume control and source switching. The sound has the wonderful presence and midrange lucidity of quality tube gear, but it also has good clarity and punch at the frequency extremes. And this package of fabulous tube sound and remote control is only $1198. If you want a built-in phono section, just add $100, and it's yours. You should also check out another new Golden tube product, the SE-85. This is an 85 watt per channel, push-pull tube amplifier designed for speakers that need a little more power than the SE-40. Like all Golden Tube products, this amp sounds clear, present, and spacious, but, because of its higher power rating, it allows more of music's punch to come through. And, of course, like all Golden Tube products, it's built like a tank. But no military vehicle we've ever heard of sounded so good.Enlightened Audio Design
This is a very unusual opportunity for those of you who want to build a home music system with the very best sound quality. Enlightened Audio Design (EAD) first established itself as a high end manufacturer of some of the world's finest sounding D/A converters, CD and laser disk transports, and stand alone CD players. Now they have turned their sights towards producing home theater processors of the most impeccable quality. Of course, EAD has been building the finest possible A-V processors for years now, and they were the first to incorporate Dolby AC-3 and DTS processing into their products. But the previous line of Theater Master processors ranged from $7000 to $10,000 and therefore, were not accessible to everyone. Now, EAD has released three new units, the Encore at $2495, the Ovation at $3995, and the Signature at $5995. The incredible thing is that all of these units, even the Encore, come with Dolby AC-3 and DTS built in at no extra charge. They also all come prepackaged with a fully programmable, touch screen remote control. The Encore and Ovation also have video switching capability for all of your video sources. What happens as you go up the line is that EAD uses ever better sounding D/A converters and other circuitry and more advanced designs in the audio and other decoding sections. But even the Encore is built around EAD's tradition of fine sound and fine video. What's more, you can start with the Encore and have it upgraded at any time to either of the other models. That's right, these products are completely upgradable to higher models and will be upgradable to future technology levels as they become available. These processors won't become obsolete because EAD, as they have always done in the past, will make advances available to their present customers at very fair prices. We'll be using the Ovation as the center piece of our new, high end home theater demo that will be on line very soon, so come by any time to learn more about these very advanced products.
Celeste and Moon by SimAudio
SimAudio, one of Canada's best kept, high end secrets, is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves in this country. These folks have been making wonderful sounding amplifiers and preamplifiers north of the border for 19 years, and it's about time that American audiophiles began to discover what this company has to offer. As a matter of fact, when we first heard the Celeste products a couple of years ago, we were so impressed that we immediately took on the line even though we didn't really need any more brands of amps and preamps. Of course, you always need a product that sounds great, so we couldn't let this one go by. Well, SimAudio now has more than one line of electronics. The original line was called Celeste, and there have been many model changes and improvements recently. These have included the introduction of the HT-3 and HT-5 three and five channel amplifiers, specifically designed for home theater applications. You can start with a two channel setup and expand it later to five channels by adding the HT-3 for $2895. Or, if you're starting from scratch, you can get the HT-5 five channel beauty for only $3795. The Moon series is very much related to the Celeste series, but has improved circuitry for even better sound and much more striking cosmetics. In fact, we think these products should be nominated for some sort of modern art award. There are two amps at 100 and 175 watts per channel (the W-3 and W-5), two preamps, a single chassis P-3 and a two chassis P-5 (separate power supply), and a fabulous integrated amp, the I-5, with 70 watts per channel. If you're looking for great, solid state sound with looks and build quality that will impress the heck out of your friends, stop by and check these Moon units out.
California Audio Labs
We admire companies that focus their efforts on one product area and do their utmost to make those products the best available. California Audio Labs (CAL) makes CD playback equipment, and they have been concentrating their efforts on that one, very important area, for many years. The result has always been that they manufacture some of the finest products of this type that are available. After all, where else could you find a company that invented a CD changer, the now famous CL-10, that's gotten reviews better than most single play machines in its price range? Well, now they've taken that sonic masterpiece one step further and given us the CL-15, a single play machine that further enhances and builds upon the sonic accomplishments of the CL-10. They have, for example, improved the D/A converters and incorporated a dual mono power supply for superior resolution and channel to channel isolation. So now, whether you want a changer or a single play machine, CAL has something extraordinary to offer you. But what if you're putting in a home theater system, and you want a DVD player that's head and shoulders above the mass market models? Well, CAL has something for you, too. The brand new CL-20 is not just a DVD player, it's also a CD player with sound quality in the same league as the CL-10 and CL-15. And the CL-20 plays all of the latest DVD movie and music formats, including AC-3, DTS, and 24 bit, 96 kilohertz encoded audio disks. So now, for $2495, you can have a state of the art DVD and CD player in one package. Why, even a pretty good CD player from another company and a mass market DVD player would cost about that much! This new CL-20 is, very soon, going to be part of our best home theater demo, and we hope you'll come by to experience it.
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