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Hello, and welcome to our latest 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. We'll also be announcing current events such as seminars at the store, sales, and other interesting events we hear about. We'll also post frequent updates as often as possible, so check back often to make sure you don't miss anything. Furthermore, we have initiated a separate page for late-breaking news, so check out IMPORTANT BULLETINS to find out the latest about what's happening at Audio Nexus. If you have any suggestions about items you'd like to see posted here, please call, write, or use the web page E-mail link to let us know.
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Bryston has a complete line of amplifiers, preamplifiers, and integrated amplifiers. The newest release from this company is the 9B ST, a 5 times 120 watt per channel beauty at $3695 that, along with the 5B ST 3-channel and 8B ST 4-channel models, brings the Bryston sound into the world of home theater. So, pick your favorite home theater processor and couple it with a Bryston multi-channel amp, and you'll have home theater sound quality that was previously available only in high end audio systems
Well, this is one brand of electronics that we've wanted to represent for a very long time. Everybody knows that Conrad Johnson is one of the longest lived producers of vacuum tube electronics and, in fact, was one of the companies primarily responsible for the reemergence of tubes as a de facto standard for high end music reproduction. So when a C-J dealership opening became available this past fall, we grabbed it instantly. Conrad Johnson, of course, no longer makes only vacuum tube equipment. They also have solid state offerings that help to fill out a full line of products. There are tube preamps starting at $1195 and going all the way to $14,995! (Sort of takes your breath away, doesn't it?) There are tube amps starting at $1995 and solid state amps and preamps starting in the mid-teens. And, of course, there are CD players, transports, and D/A converters as well.
Four of the newest offerings from C-J are the Premier 16 preamp at $7995, the MF-2250 2-channel solid state amp at $2295, the MF-2500 2-channel, solid state amp at $3495, and the MF-5600 5-channel amp at $3995. The Premier 16 is a very slightly scaled down version of the ART preamp, that $14,995 beauty that's been accepted as the reference standard of what it's possible for a preamp to do. The 16 costs slightly more than half of the ART, but it represents 95 to 98% of the performance of that magnificent product. The three solid state amps represent the latest thinking of Bill Conrad and Lew Johnson, and they bring that superb C-J sound to very affordable prices in the stereo and home theater regimes.
We've got two neat little best buys for audiophiles on a budget. The first is a new phono preamplifier called the Black Cube from Lehman. This diminutive black box houses a first rate phono section which is clean, quiet, and, above all, highly musical. Just plug it in between your turntable and preamp and, voilà, a level of LP playback that you'd never expect to achieve for only $695. If you've wanted to rejuvenate your phono reproduction or add it to a line level preamp that has none, this is a no brainer that will quickly impress you with its performance. For those who are still skeptical, check out the recent rave review in Stereophile.
The second little goody is a brand new D/A converter call the Link from MSB. This unit is a great-sounding way to upgrade the sound of your CD player by the addition of an outboard, superior digital processor. So what would you expect for only $350? A modest performance improvement to your CD player's sound, right? Not quite. Not only does this unit add a very significant amount of quality to most CD players, it's a 24 bit, 96 kilohertz converter that's capable of decoding the latest and greatest digital audio outputs of the most advanced CD and DVD transports. So whether you want to spiff up the sound of your CD player or experiment with the latest, highest resolution audio DVD recordings, the Link may be the piece for you. By the way, this guy also got a great review in a recent Stereophile.
This company has come up with an absolutely astonishing black box device called the Harmonic Recovery System or HRS for short. We had been told this device, when hooked up between a CD player and preamp or between a preamp and amp, would improve harmonic detail, clarity, spatiality, and recovery of musical nuances. To say we were skeptical is a massive understatement. To say we were flabbergasted at what we heard when we inserted the HRS in between a modestly-priced CD player and integrated amp doesn't even begin to describe our reaction. Ladies and gentlemen, this one is not subtle. It sounded like we had replaced a $3000 system with a $10,000 system! The walls fell away, depth of field doubled or tripled, clarity, delicacy, and ambience went through the roof, and decays lasted far longer and were much more natural. We've really never heard anything quite like what this component does, and every single person we've played it for has heard the same benefits. And best of all, the HRS only costs $449 or $499 with the optional Black Nite power cord. We wouldn't blame you for being skeptical since it sounds too good to be true. If you are anywhere within reach of our store, please come on down to hear the HRS and experience it for yourself. We know you won't be disappointed. Shown below is a quotation we recently received by E-mail from one of our customers who had just received his HRS.
The HRS is now broken in (it seems to take about 72 hours) and i would like to add an observation concerning the effect it has in the system. It surely does provide all of the sonic enhancement(s) claimed for it. It is as if one made an upgrade from a very good/musical to a state-of-art/ohmygod! preamp. The thing that struck me as really wonderful (after HRS was broken in) was the way it allowed the "intention" of the performers to manifest itself. Whether it is the choices made by the producer in the mix of a classic rock album or the dialog between musicians in a jazz or blues session the HRS allows one to hear and experience these choices in a connected and natural way. Without any sense of falsity the HRS presents not only an increased sense of the presence of the instruments but also of the players "in action." There is actually a sense of the musician's personality which comes across. If there is any real magic in this particular "black box" then this is it! This box allows not just music but "feeling" to escape all those wires and boxes which fill the room. Damn wonderful say i. Best to you and many thanks for helping to illuminate the path.--B. Meade, Naples, FL
For a more complete description of how this wondrous box works its magic, please go to HOW HRS WORKS.
NEW PRODUCTS FROM
Balanced Audio Technology
In our last newsletter we said that one of the amazing things about Balanced Audio Technology (BAT) is that their designer, Victor Khomenko, is equally capable of producing great tube and solid state designs. As if to prove our contention, BAT has just come out with three new preamps, the VK-20, the VK-30, and the VK-40. The 20 and 40 are both solid state designs, and the 30 is a tube unit. All of these preamps have several things in common. First, they all have optional phono stages and remote control systems that can be built in or added on in the field by anybody who can plug in a circuit board. Second, they all use BAT's brand new user interface which is very sophisticated but has controls that are simple to understand and easy to use. This interface adds many new capabilities to the preamps such as the ability to control any of the functions by remote control. Third, like all BAT products, these new preamps are exquisitely engineered to produce some of the finest sound available today. Yes, of course the 40 is better than the 20. It had better be at twice the price. But the 20 offers a level of sonic performance that has never before been available in a solid state preamp selling for under $2000. And the 40 is unparalleled. Its all-out design yields results that will challenge any other preamp at any price. Meanwhile, the VK-30 is the tubophile's sweetest dream. It's got that lovely, mellifluous tube sound combined with performance at the frequency extremes that is usually associated with solid state units. So now, for the first time, you have your choice of an all solid state or all tube BAT system. And you can make that choice knowing you won't have to put up with the compromises usually associated with either of those regimes.
California Audio Labs
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. Last issue we talked about the introduction of their best CD player, the CL-15 and how impressed we were with this machine's performance. Well, it looks like our opinion has been borne out in the audio press, because the CL-15 has been getting rave reviews in several magazines such as Stereophile. This is truly a contender for the best-sounding CD player available under $2000, and it only costs $1695. We invite you to audition it and hear what we're all raving about. CAL also recently announced an upgrade to its famous Alpha, which is a tube-based D/A converter. The new Alpha 96/24 has that same, sweet tube audio section it always had, but the digital front end has been replaced with the most advanced technology available, D/A converters capable of decoding digital information with a 24 bit word length and 96 kilohertz sampling rate. The improvements come in the areas of clarity, detail, and a lower noise floor. This new decoder makes conventional compact disks sound better than ever before, and they can also handle 24 bit/96 kilohertz digital data streams from DVD transports. Owners of older Alphas can upgrade for only $450 (contact us for details), and new units can be purchased for $1495, the same price as the old Alpha. Those of our customers who have upgraded have been delighted with the results and reported significant improvements over the older Alpha. Oh, and if you happened to have purchased a CL-15, CL-20, or CL-25, CAL will give you the Alpha upgrade for free! How's that for an unbelievable deal?
The cables designed by George Cardas have long been renowned for their smoothness and articulateness. Now George has come up with some products specifically-designed for systems which are either extremely neutral or in which longer cable runs are required. Cardas states that the new Neutral Reference and Golden Reference cables are so neutral that they can be used in systems that are themselves extremely neutral without altering the sound. In addition, these cables have been designed so that they sound the same in very short or very long runs, allowing users to employ long runs without sonic degradation. It is also claimed that these cables can provide optimal performance irrespective of the input or output impedances of the components they are connected to. The Neutral Reference interconnects fall in the middle price range of the Cardas line at $480 for a one meter pair, whereas the Golden Reference is now the top model at $825. Neutral Reference speaker cables are also available at $840 for an 8 foot pair, and we expect to see a Golden Reference speaker cable announced soon.
SimAudio and its two brands of electronics, Celeste and Moon, is another of those Audio Nexus discoveries that we took on because it sounded so great and because we knew it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world discovered it as well. Now that's starting to happen. The Moon I-5 integrated amplifier has just received a rave review in Fi magazine, and this review joins a number of other excellent ones on SimAudio products which have appeared in the last few months. Now this company has a real treat for those who want this high level of sound quality but are on a budget. The new Celeste model I-5080 integrated, remote control amplifier was just announced at the winter Consumer Electronics Show. This product offers an amazing amount of performance at 80 watts/channel of true, audiophile quality music reproduction. In addition to its sound quality, this piece sports the racy Celeste styling, rugged construction, and full remote capability for all control functions. If you've been looking for an unusually high level of performance but haven't known where to look to find it, this amp could be your answer.
The problem with owning high end components, no matter what their brand or price, is that the user is still plagued by the poor quality of the AC power coming out of the wall. While your AC current is supposed to be pure, 60 Hz, it is inevitably polluted by radio frequency noise and square wave, sawtooth wave, and other garbage dumped there by all of the motors, light dimmers, computers, etc., that the rest of the world has connected to the power grid. You don't really have any idea how much your sound is being degraded until you plug your system into a Chang Lightspeed power line conditioner and listen to the difference. the improvement is instantly audible and is characterized by the quieter background, more vibrant quality of each note, and the shockingly-vivid imaging. Chang has a whole line of power line conditioners starting at $295, and they have just added to the line with the new CLS-6600. This unit has improved performance over its predecessor and has two additional digital outlets (for a total of four digital and four analog) to accommodate systems with many digital components. We urge anyone who wants to improve his or her sound to try one of these conditioners. We sell them with a 100% money-back guarantee because we know how much better a Chang will make your system sound. Nobody has ever returned one to us.
Enlightened Audio Design
Here it is again. Audio Nexus scores yet another great performance recommendation well in advance of all the reviewers. We've been telling everyone for years how superb the EAD home theater processors are in an absolute sense and in comparison to the rest of the competition. This superlative performance was brought to new heights with the release of the latest series of Theater Master home theater processors less than a year ago. Well, the rest of the world is finally catching up to the recommendations we've been making to our customers for many moons. The Theater Masters have recently received rave reviews in Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, Audio, Home Theater Magazine, and Wide Screen Review as well as several foreign publications, and all of those who have to see a good review before they buy are discovering what we've long been telling our customers. In fact, Home Theater gave an award to EAD's least expensive processor, the Encore, and included it as the preferred processor for their dream system! For those still unfamiliar with the lineup, there are three processors, the Encore, Ovation and Signature. And they've been significantly upgraded since our last report. Two of the new features are a greatly enhanced digital flywheel which sharply reduces the high level of digital jitter inherent in DVD transports and an improved automatic setup system that not only instantly balances the volume levels of all of your speakers but also checks that each speaker is in correct phase to the rest of the speakers and corrects the phases of any speakers that are out of phase. The automatic detection and correction of phase problems is particularly important for those using speakers from more than one brand, but even surround and center channel speakers from the same brand as the main speakers can sometimes be of mixed phase. Proper phasing of your system is extremely important for correct imaging. Unfortunately, these improvements have come at the cost of a price increase, the new prices being $2995, $4495, and $6495, respectively. The good news is that all owners of older units can have them upgraded for the cost difference between the old and new models. EAD is also introducing three new 5-channel power amplifiers to go with their processors. The first out will be the Powermaster 2000,a 400 watt/channel beauty selling for $4995 and possessing all of the sonic and cosmetic beauty for which EAD is renowned. We saw this unit at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, and it was very impressive. A more upscale model using ultra-premium parts, the Powermaster 3000, selling for at least $7000 will be second on the market. Shortly thereafter will come a 150 – 200 watt/channel Powermaster 1000 version selling for about $3000. This will have the same attributes as the first model at slightly less power. We're sure you're going to be very impressed when you see and hear these new products.
Do you want to get the most out of your Grado (or other) headphones without spending a fortune for one of those megabuck headphone amps or having to settle for someone else's cheap model? Grado has the solution. Their brand new RA-1 headphone amp sells for only $350 but yields performance that rivals or surpasses the most expensive headphone amps available. Stop suffering the sonic degradation you get when plugging your headphones into a stock headphone jack on a receiver or amplifier. Connect them up to this new amp, and you'll hear what your headphones can really do, maybe for the very first time.
Jeff Rowland Design
Jeff Rowland has just announced the introduction of two brand new amplifiers, the Model 10Ti stereo amp and the Model 12Ti mono blocks. While this company has always been renowned for producing peerless, audiophile quality sound in cosmetically gorgeous and graceful packages, we've never seen anything quite like these pieces. Both models are built on the same slimline chassis which is only about three inches high. This chassis is milled out of a single chunk of aluminum, so there are no seams and no bolts to hold it together. This results in unparalleled rigidity and immunity to vibration. The entire chassis acts as the heat sink for the output devices, so there are no additional heat sink fins required. Of course, the entire package is a tour de force of stunning eye appeal. The sound and circuitry represent Jeff's latest thinking in amplifier design and performance, so the resulting products are both wonderful to look at and thrilling to listen to. The best news is that Jeff has listened to our appeals to make his fabulous performance available at more affordable prices. The 10Ti lists for $3950, and produces 150 watts/channel, while a pair of 12Ti mono blocks costs $7800 and produces 200 watts/channel. When you realize that the now-discontinued Model 2 (which the Model 10Ti effectively replaces) cost $5800 and produced only about 100 watts/channel, it becomes obvious what kind of value is represented here. The Model 10Ti costs less than, sounds better than, and looks better than its immediate predecessor. Way to go, Jeff!
Those of you who read our last newsletter may recall that we were positively ecstatic about the introduction of Ray Kimber's Select series of cables last year. We said that, "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." Unfortunately, the Select cables are beyond the budget of many music lovers, so we are pleased to announce the availability of much of the Select performance in much less costly products. The new series of speaker cables consists of six products, Monocle X, Monocle XL, Bifocal X, Bifocal XL, Trifocal X, and Trifocal XL. The Trifocal models are meant for triwired systems, the Bifocals for biwired systems, and the Monocles for systems where a single cable is appropriate. The difference between the X and XL versions of each is that the XL is designed to deliver the last iota of bass power and depth in larger speaker systems which are capable of that level of bass performance. The Monocle X cables go for $580 for an 8 foot pair, so they are much more affordable than the entry level Select cables, which cost $1550 for an 8 foot pair. We can't praise Kimber enough for bringing so much of the advanced performance of the Select series down to the price range of these new products. We've always believed Ray Kimber and his design team to be the most knowledgeable cable designers around, and the performance of these new models strongly reinforces that belief.
McCormack Audio (of Virginia)
The great news from McCormack isn't about new products, it's about a new organization. For those who haven't yet heard the news, the rights to the designs, name, and other intellectual property of McCormack Audio were purchased last year by Bill Conrad and Lew Johnson of Conrad Johnson fame. They moved the entire operation to Virginia where Conrad Johnson is located, and have recommenced manufacturing under their new name, McCormack Audio of Virginia. And the best part of this story is that Steve McCormack, who had left the company several years ago, is back doing the design and engineering. So we have the best of both worlds. We have McCormack under the aegis of one of the most respected and stable audio companies around, and we have Steve back, designing for the company that bears his name. The famous McCormack amps, preamps, and other products are rolling off the assembly lines, and they are the same products with the same great sound that has garnered so much praise in the past. As for future products, we'll just have to wait and see. But we have great expectations!
Pat McGinty, the designer of the Meadowlark speakers, has spent a lot of time recently making great products even better. His three main speakers, the Kestrel, the Shearwater, and the Heron now have new siblings. A "hot rod" version of each is now available for an additional cost over the standard model. These new versions are "hot" because the use of superior parts in critical locations has noticeably improved performance. Typical improvements are the use of better wiring, better (Cardas) binding posts, superior capacitors and inductors, and improved driver and cabinet damping. The Hot Rod versions cost about 20% more than the standard models, but few are quibbling when they hear what these products can do. Pat has also been working on his tour de force and flagship speaker, the Nightingale. Each of these 300 pound speakers comes in three pieces which are assembled into one incredible whole in the user's listening room. This speaker, slated to sell in the mid teens, offers the most refined performance ever achieved by a Meadowlark product, coupled with the practically unlimited dynamics and power handling capabilities of superior transducers in large transmission lines. We heard this speaker at the winter Consumer Electronics Show, and we were mightily impressed by both its subtlety and its drama. This is another remarkable achievement from a man who knows how to do it right.
The folks at NAD have augmented their line with a number of new audio and home theater products. These include the C340 remote control integrated amplifier at $399, the C740 stereo receiver at $499, the C440 AM/FM tuner at $349, the 522 CD player at $299, and the T750 and T770 home theater receivers at $699 and $1699, respectively. While everyone knows about the very high performance per dollar that NAD products have always provided, it is gratifying to see this great sound quality continued into the latest products, especially the home theater receivers. The T770 is an all out, 5-channel product that includes Dolby digital AC-3 circuitry and two zone capability, in case someone in another room wants to listen to music while you're watching your favorite movie. And the best news is that NAD didn't skimp on performance and sound. This unit has all of the features you need to run your home theater system, and it has that great sound quality that made NAD famous. It makes us happy to be able to offer such an all around great performer to those assembling a home theater system.
Rotel has been working very hard on the CD player front to produce some first class units at very affordable prices. The new RCD-951 sells for $500 and, in addition to great overall performance, is the world's least expensive machine to include high definition (HD) processing. The RCD-971 is the next machine up in the line, and for $200 more, gives you dual differential D/A converters, a better audio section, and other goodies that result in improved clarity and imaging. The top unit is the very-long-awaited RCD-991 which should be out by the time you read this. This CD player will significantly outperform its widely-acclaimed predecessor, the RCD-990 and will come in at $1200, $300 less than that old model. That's what we call progress! We expect this unit to give serious competition to anything on the market under $2500. Rotel has also released their first home theater receiver, the RSX-965 Dolby AC-3 and DTS model. This unit is 5 times 75 watts/channel and sports just about every feature you could want, including video switching. This has got to be the industry's most-affordable, full-featured home theater receiver with audiophile-quality sound. It's on display at the store, and you're more than welcome to come hear it or any of the other Rotel products.
As we said last time, one of our most difficult jobs is finding great sounding speakers at affordable prices. 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 has added to its excellent Mercury line of speakers with two new models. The first is a powered subwoofer, the PS-110, which can be used to add quality bass extension to any of the Mercury models, whether they are being used for music or home theater reproduction. The second new product is a very classy, upscale version of the M-1. This new speaker, the Revolution R-1 has upgraded components and is covered in real cherry wood. This speaker, selling for only $500 per pair, is perfect for those who want an upgrade in the look and performance of what is already an excellent speaker and who don't mind paying a little more for the privilege. Of course, this speaker can be used either by itself or with the new subwoofer, but either way, it offers a lot of performance and eye appeal for those who must or prefer to use the smallest speaker possible.
Most of the news from Richard Vandersteen has to do with Signature versions of already-existing models. After our last newsletter was released, Vandersteen introduced a Signature version of the legendary 2CE which has improved performance by virtue of improved drivers and crossover parts. The success of this upgrade was so great that Signature versions of most of the models have now been announced. This includes the 3A, VCC-1 center channel, and VSM-1 on walls. The prices of Vandersteen speakers are so low compared to comparable competition that virtually no one is begrudging the small added cost for the very significant improvements offered by the Signature upgrades. In the area of new models, there are a new subwoofer called the V-2W which is primarily intended for video applications and a soon-to-be-released minimonitor, the VLR. The V-2W is designed to be driven by the subwoofer output of home theater electronics and offers a little more kick for the bass special effects so prevalent in movies these days. The VLR is the same size as the VCC-1 center channel and can be used either by itself in a small system or with the V-2W or the original subwoofer, the 2WQ. In any configuration, this long-hoped-for addition to the Vandersteen line will allow users with space constraints or who simply do not want a floor-standing speaker to partake of that fabulous Vandersteen sound.
Do you love your VPI turntable but hunger to make it even better? Now you can. Harry Weisfeld has just started shipping his new SDS power line conditioner, an improved model which is a direct replacement for the previous PLC model. By storing and purifying the current drawn by the turntable's motor, this unit significantly improves the stability and clarity of the sound generated. In addition to having better performance than the prior model, this new unit also has a display which reads out the line voltage and frequency of the AC mains so the user will know if his power is non-optimal at any time. Harry reports that the first users to receive this product have been delighted with the improvements in sound. At $995, it's a very affordable way to soup up your table, and it can be used on any brand, not just VPI.
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