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Hello, and welcome to our latest newsletter. As in past issues, what we do here is to talk about exciting new products and brands that have arrived at Audio Nexus since the last newsletter. We also announce current events such as seminars at the store, sales, and other interesting events we hear about. We 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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Audio Physic manufactures a full line of high end speakers, starting with the Step minimonitors at $1795 per pair and the Spark towers at $2495 per pair. Other models include the Virgo, Libra, and Avanti II. These exquisite sounding and beautifully-crafted music reproducers represent the pinnacle of German acoustic engineering. The combination of wonderfully clear detail and layer upon layer of image depth presented by these slim, attractive speakers presents a musical experience so compelling that it is hard to imagine how it could be improved. It is wonderful that sound this magnificent comes from such aesthetically-pleasing packages with such a wide choice of rich wood finishes. All models are quite compact and offer a perfect opportunity for those who want superb sound without a physically-overwhelming package. In fact, the Virgo model continues to be the least expensive speaker in Stereophile's Class A, Recommended Components category. And for those who would wish to use them in a home theater setup, there are a center channel and two subwoofers to choose from. Both of the subwoofers have powerful responses down to 10 Hz! Audio Physic speakers are distributed in the U.S.A. by Alan Perkins and his associates at Immedia in California. These guys are ardent music lovers and audiophiles of the first caliber. It is a pleasure to expand our association with them.
Words fail us! What can we possibly say to introduce a company which has been around as long as there's been a high end to audio? For those of you who may be relative newcomers to the hobby or who may not yet have heard the beauty of music reproduced by vacuum tube amplifiers and preamplifiers, let's just say that Audio Research has been there practically forever and has been one of the major creative forces in the never ending search for sonic perfection. They have a complete line of vacuum tube products as well as a selection of solid state products for those who prefer that genre. In addition to a wide selection of tube and solid state amps as well as four different tube, line level preamps, there are also two phono stage preamps and a CD player to fill out any need you might have in your system. And, of course, Audio Research products always get top honors when reviewed by the audiophile magazines. For just a few examples, check out the review of the CD-2 CD player which recently appeared in the online magazine, Soundstage, at www.soundstage.com. Also you might want to see the review and Class A rating of this same component in Stereophile, or the recent review of the LS-8 preamp in Listener.
The latest news from Audio Research is that they have just released two new tube preamps, the LS-8 Mk II at $1995 and the LS-16 at $2995. Both represent significant sonic upgrades to their predecessors, the LS-8 and LS-15, and the LS-16 is fully remote controllable. We have both of these new models on display, and we think their sonic achievements will speak for themselves. Anyone who owns an LS-8 can get it upgraded to the Mk II for $495--call us for details. We are extremely honored to have been named as Audio Research dealers and to have become a member of this very exclusive family. Please come down and help us to celebrate this occasion by auditioning either of these new models or by acquainting or reacquainting yourself with any of the electronics in the Audio Research line.
Richard Gray's Power Company
Anybody who's been even slightly involved in high end audio for the past decade should be aware that the purity and, therefore, the quality of the AC power coming out of your wall outlets is usually severely compromised by all of the radio frequency interference and spurious noise being dumped into the power grid by virtually everything connected to it. There have been many brands of power conditioners designed to filter out this line noise, some more successfully than others. But even the best of these has not addressed the problems caused by line resistance between your components and the utility company's main step down transformers. Even having a dedicated AC line for your audio system installed, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, can't do that. So, when is a power conditioner more than a power conditioner with the ability to solve all of these line problems? When it's a Richard Gray's "Power Positioner". Imagine how fabulous your system would sound if you could plug it directly into the utility company's power transformer. The Power Positioner uses proprietary technology which reduces the effects of line resistance and interference introduced by the AC wiring between your system and the utility company's transformer, effectively reducing the distance between your system and that utility transformer. This enables your equipment to operate at maximum performance, much more as the designer envisioned it. If you'd like to hear what this marvelous new device can do, come down and let us play you a system with and without it. Or, better yet, take one home and try it out for yourself. We bet you'll be back for one or two more.
NEW PRODUCTS FROM
In our last issue, we alluded to the future appearance of a new minimonitor from Vandersteen, the VLR-1. Well, this product is now shipping, and we are very pleased with the result. The VLR-1 is the same size as the VCC-1 center channel and can be used either by itself in a small system or with Vandersteen's home theater subwoofer, the V-2W, or with the original subwoofer, the 2WQ. Furthermore, the VLR-1 comes in both unshielded and magnetically shielded versions, so if you need to place a speaker very near to your television, you won't have any problems with picture tube distortion. So, this new product can be used as the heart of a very compact system where shelf mounting is necessary or as part of a full range, home theater setup where the deep bass is provided by a subwoofer. In any configuration, this long-hoped-for addition to the Vandersteen line will allow users who have space constraints or who simply do not want a floor-standing speaker to partake of that fabulous Vandersteen sound, a sound that is always spacious, clear, and supremely musical. For those who have been looking for a wall mount speaker that can be made to match the color of their walls, the VSM-1 in either the standard or signature version can now be obtained with white painted wood and perforated metal grille. This version can easily be painted to match your décor even more closely. Finally, we just paid a visit to Vandersteen's web site (www.vandersteen.com), always an educational experience, and noted that there's a reprint of an excellent review from Soundstage on the Model 1C. The site also has reprints of many other reviews, as well as an excellent description of why Vandersteen continues to use their boxless, minimum-baffle, fabric covered design approach in the face of competition from the current trend towards slim, wood-veneered towers. We can't reproduce all of that here, but here's a small excerpt explaining how their enclosure design frees up much more money for the utilization of better speaker components than does a conventional, box design. Please visit their site for a more thorough rendering.
Beyond the sonic advantages, our design also allows a distinctive look that is cost effective and visually pleasing. In a conventional speaker, the wood veneered cabinet is often the most expensive component. (Over 65% of the total manufacturing cost.) The veneer takes considerable time and skill to finish and the entire cabinet is useless if it is even slightly scratched or dented during assembly. With their unique construction and grille cloth wrapped finish, our cabinets account for less than 16% of the total manufacturing cost. We are able to invest these huge savings in the drivers and crossover parts directly responsible for sound quality. With better critical components than many speakers costing three times as much, each Vandersteen model is an exemplary value offering superior performance, reliability and consistency. The design and physical appearance of our speakers have proven to be very flexible as the small amount of exposed wood allows them to blend into and complement a wide variety of decors. Due to our popularity and wide acceptance, other companies have imitated our look, but don't be fooled, behind the grille there is a box speaker with all the box speaker problems.
Last issue we introduced 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 gave the buyer the option of acquiring a very small, bookshelf speaker with both upgraded cosmetics and sound. Now, Tannoy has added to this line with the R-2 and R-3. The floor standing R-2 is the second model at $1000. Its tall and elegant real wood veneer cabinet is made using only the finest components. The bi-wiring capability and tunable port allow fine acoustic adjustment. A twin bass driver configuration provides exceptional dynamic performance and power handling capability, ensuring a superb listening experience. In addition the enclosure can be mass loaded (i.e., sand filled) to provide additional stability and enhanced bass control. The tall, elegant, and stylish cabinet of the R-3 at $1500 has extensive internal bracing to ensure extreme rigidity of the cabinet structure and to minimize panel resonances. The bi-wireable crossover, utilizes an impedance compensation network and an auto transformer to ensure optimal acoustic performance. Exceptional dynamics are delivered by two 7-inch bass drivers and a 1-inch tweeter, the latter being rear vented into an isolated cavity to improve impedance response. Extraordinarily deep and controlled bass, incredible midrange clarity and treble detail are the hallmarks of this latest Tannoy model.
Source Components HRS
Last issue we introduced a new product, the Harmonic Recovery System or HRS for short. This device, when hooked up between a CD player and preamp or between a preamp and amp, dramatically improves harmonic detail, clarity, spatiality, and recovery of musical nuances. To say we were flabbergasted at what we heard when we first inserted the HRS in between a modestly-priced CD player and integrated amp doesn't even begin to describe our reaction. 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'd really never heard anything quite like what this component does, and every single person we've played it for has heard the same benefits. In fact, we've sold dozens of HRS units to date, and every person who's reported back continues to be inordinately pleased. Here's a quotation from one of our customers:
So why are we presenting this information all over again? For three very good reasons. First of all, we want to make sure that anyone who didn't see the last newsletter is made aware of this unique product. Second, we want you to know that all of our early opinions and observations have been substantiated by many other listeners since we first reported them. And third? Well, there's big news. The only problem with the HRS has been that it's only been available in a single ended version and, thus, couldn't be used by anyone running balanced cables between their components. Thanks to a cooperative design effort between Source Components and Audio Nexus, that problem has now been solved. The manufacturer has just released a new, balanced version of the HRS, and all of our customers who have been waiting can now also enjoy the benefits described above. The new version will be a two chassis, dual mono block version with the concomitant advantages of totally-isolated circuitry and power supplies. We can't wait to hear what this new model does for some of our high end, balanced systems. All of you are invited to come hear both versions or try the appropriate one at home. For more information on how the HRS system performs its magic, please visit HOW HRS WORKS.
Two issues ago we first introduced this highly clever modular furniture. Both the Archetype and Synergy lines are very solid and good looking. The Archetype line is the simpler and less expensive, consisting of attractive wooden shelves attached to metal rods. The Synergy line is noticeably more sophisticated and provides many more design options. You can use the many building blocks to construct a simple, stand alone rack or a whole, personalized wall of audio furniture. The result can be an open style design, or one that has sides finished with rich woods or fine leather. Finally, you can leave the front open or add solid wood, perforated metal, or frosted glass doors. Now, Salamander has added a number of new options which make the Synergy line even more flexible than before. For example, there are now both fixed and adjustable length bridges that can be used to adjoin two of their vertical racks at distances of up to several feet apart. These bridges allow the user to create a full-fledged, audio-video cabinet where either a standard television or a floor standing projector can be placed within the bridged area between the cabinets. Practically any size television or projector can be accommodated. For those who need a smaller solution to house their standard TV, there are now stand-alone monitor cabinets that can house a TV set along with a couple of components. And, of course, either Salamander line allows the owner to grow the cabinet with new modules to allow for new components or storage in the future. All in all, the Salamander furniture is the best solution we've found to date for audio furniture, and it's been selling better than any other line of furniture we've ever offered. Samples are always available in the store for your examination.
Rotel has been so busy announcing and releasing new products that there's not enough space to talk about all of them. Here are some highlights. In the 2-channel category there's the RCD951 CD player at $500, the least expensive, HD-capable machine we know of on the market. We remember when the HD (High Definition) chip set from Pacific Microsonics used to add $400 to $500 to the price of a CD player. Now you can get a complete HD machine for that price. There's also a new, high performance CD changer, the RCC-955, at $600, and this one has HD capability as well. And, at long last, the patiently-awaited RCD-991 is now available. This is Rotel's best machine and is the successor to the highly-acclaimed RCD-990. This CD player is very impressive indeed, and, at $1300, is the best sounding machine we know of in its general price range. In the receiver category, we recently received our first shipment of the RX-975, a stereo receiver with 100 watts/channel, full remote control, and a price tag of only $700. We've been listening to this unit for a few weeks now and are very pleased with the level of performance it offers for a very affordable price. In fact, it could be the best sounding receiver on the market for less than $1000. The big news in home theater from Rotel is that they've finally released two new processors, the RTC-965 processor/tuner/preamp and the RSP-985 processor/preamp. Both units are fully-functional for Dolby AC-3 and DTS decoding. The former is a complete control center and needs only the addition of a multi-channel power amp to drive your home theater system. The latter is a more sophisticated unit with even better sonics and a 2-zone capability. This means that, with the addition of an external, stereo amp, it can drive remote speakers with 2-channel music while the main, multi-channel amp is playing a video in your main listening room. This unit offers a lot of flexibility for $2000 and, like all other Rotel products, never sacrifices sound for the sake of features.
Odyssey Design Lab (ODL)
We recently showed the Odyssey Stratos power amp (150 watts/channel) to a very knowledgeable person in the high end audio industry and asked him what he thought it cost. After listening to its superlative sound quality and looking at its heavy duty yet refined build quality, massive, back lit front panel, and beautiful fit and finish, he guessed at around $3000. When we told him it was only $1295, we thought we'd have to revive him with smelling salts! And now, as if this weren't enough, ODL has improved the Stratos with an improved chassis, power supply, and circuitry, making it even better than before. This is really the best buy in solid state amplification around. And there's even more news. You can buy the Stratos in mono block versions for even more power and better sonics. And the 5-channel model at 5 times 150 watts/channel should be shipping by the time you read this. Finally, ODL is working on a remote control version of their Tempest preamp scheduled to sell for $1349, and this should also be out momentarily. We've never seen this kind of sound and build quality combined in products of such low price. Please come down to view and audition them, and you'll see that we're not exaggerating.
PSB is releasing an entire new line of speakers this fall called the Image series. This is a full line of audio and home theater products. It includes three models of bookshelf speakers ranging from $269 to $469 per pair (the Image 1B,2B, and 3LR), four models of towers from $599 per pair to $1299 per pair (the Image 4T, 5T, 6T, and 7PT, the latter having powered woofers built in with 100 watt amps), two center channels at $269 and $369 (the Image 8C and 9C), and a powered subwoofer with a 12 inch woofer and a 130 watt amp selling for $549 (the Subsonic 6). All models except the subwoofer are magnetically shielded, and the Image 3LR comes prepackaged with wall mounting brackets. In the Alpha line, there's a new center channel called the Alpha Center at $179, and there are two new subwoofers, the Alpha Subsonic Zero at $299 and the Alpha Subsonic 5 at $439. Both have built in power amps, phase controls, and auto sensing features which turn them on when they sense a musical signal. These products should be readily available towards the end of October.
Seldom have we encountered a product which is both as cute and good sounding as the NAD L-40. This unit, designed for those who have severe space limitations or who just want some top quality music without having to set up and interconnect several components, is a combination of a well-designed receiver and CD player in one compact chassis. This means that all you have to do is hook up a pair of speakers, and you have a complete stereo with CD, FM, and AM radio for sources. The L-40 can be purchased by itself for $599 and hooked up to speakers of your choice, or it can come prepackaged with a pair of PSB Alpha Mini speakers and speaker cables for $799. Upon first hearing the L-40, we were very pleasantly surprised at how good it sounds, and we think its an excellent choice for a bedroom, dormitory room, or even as a main system in a small to medium sized room. When you think about it, it's only slightly more expensive than some of the well-known table radios that are now being pitched to the public, yet it's much better sounding and much more flexible. It's on display at the store any time you'd like to see it. What are not on display quite yet (as of this writing) but are promised for delivery this fall are five more new products. The most exciting is an affordable DVD player from NAD, the T550, scheduled to come in at $799. Some features of this unit include built in Dolby decoders, Dolby 5.1 analog outputs, DTS compatibility, S-video and component video outputs, and 24 bit/96 KHz processing. We are very much looking forward to this fourth generation DVD product because, finally, we will have an affordable, superior sounding DVD player from a well-respected manufacturer which will offer a real alternative to all of those mediocre, mass market DVD players. Keep checking the IMPORTANT BULLETINS page on our web site. We'll post an announcement as soon as it's available. Other new products from NAD include two new CD players, the C520 at $299 and the C540 (with 24 bit D/A converters) at $499, a very affordable home theater receiver, the T760 at $999, sporting 5 channels at 60 watts/channel, full Dolby Ac-3 and DTS support, and an on-screen display, and a new preamp, the C160 at $599.
We are eagerly looking forward to the release of three new designs from Steve McCormack, the first of which is scheduled for release in mid-October. This will be a brand new amplifier, the DNA-125 at 125 watts/channel ($1695). Then, in mid-November we should be seeing another, larger amp, the DNA-225 at 225 watts/channel ($2795) and a preamp, the RLD-1 with full remote control capability ($1695). These are the first new designs from Steve in several years, and they incorporate all the advancements in his thinking that have accumulated since the original DNA amps were released. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, DNA stands for Distributed Node Amplification. This means that, instead of using one, large capacitor bank as an electron reservoir for all of the output transistors, Steve has placed multiple, smaller capacitors directly adjacent to each transistor. This is almost like giving each transistor its own power supply, and contributes greatly to the superb clarity and dynamic contrast achieved by his designs. All three of these new products, we have been told, are sonically superior to the models they replace, the DNA-.5 Deluxe, the DNA-1 Deluxe, and the ALD-1. Since the original products were pretty impressive in their own right, these new ones should be something very special. We'll have them on display as soon as they start shipping, so keep in touch if you're as intrigued as we are.
Magnum Dynalab, a company long recognized as an industry leader in the design and manufacture of world class FM tuners, has introduced another member to its line of analog tuners, the MD 102. This product is based directly on their no-holds-barred, reference tuner, the MD 108,and brings most of that model's advanced technology down to a much more affordable $2200. the MD 102 with its many advanced features such as separate RF and audio circuit boards, is able to produce realism from a live performance broadcast that even the best CD players cannot match. Listening to broadcast music through this type of product makes one realize how plastic and two-dimensional sounding most other tuners can be.
The most unusual new product we've ever seen from this company has to be a new receiver, the MD 208. This product was designed and built for the customer who wants the highest level of music reproduction without having to worry about matching separate components and cables to get the best synergies. Essentially, this receiver consists of a separate tuner, preamplifier, and amplifier housed in a single cabinet. The three sections of the MD 208 receiver are perfectly matched and contained in a rigid chassis, thereby eliminating noise, losses and colorations of the sound caused by interconnect cables and connectors. To ensure that the separate sections operate in isolation, the tuner and amplifier have their own shielded toroidal transformers. In fact, the MD 208 has been designed so that any of its three sections can be used independently. This receiver will outperform many combinations of separate components that cost considerably more. Finally, there's a user-friendly, full-function remote control. The MD 208 sells for $2775.
Now that the Kimber folks have filled out their line so nicely with all of the fabulous new interconnects and speaker cables we talked about in the last couple of issues, they've turned their attention to some very important, new areas. In audio, they've supplemented the wonderful but fairly expensive select tone arm cable with three new models, the TAK-CU (all copper), the TAK-H (copper/silver hybrid), and the TAK-AG (all silver). The prices for these are $200, $350, and $550, respectively, for one meter lengths. If you love Kimber Kable as much as we do and want to bring its sonic quality to your turntable, you now have three excellent ways to go. We have the TAK-AG on display at the store for audition or loan. And for the videophiles among you, Kimber has at long last released their high end S-video cables. We've been waiting for this with great expectations since, as many people have learned the hard way, most S-video cables leave a lot to be desired, especially when longer runs are needed. Here there are two models, SV-CU and SV-AG at $160 per meter and $320 per meter, respectively. (Guess which is the copper and which is the silver.) Anyone who's looking for a serious improvement in the quality of the video he or she is getting should consider giving these cables a try. And, like all Kimber products, we can arrange for an in-home audition of any one which is of interest to you.
Enlightened Audio Design
Those of you who have been following our previous newsletters may recall our descriptions of Conrad Johnson's absolutely state-of-the-art preamps, the ART at $14,995 and the Premier 16 (ART Junior) at $7,995. The obvious problem was that these units are beyond the budget of many music lovers. To solve this, CJ has announced the brand new Premier 17, projected to sell for $4495. This preamp, like the Premier 16, is based directly on the circuit topology and sound technology of the ART and brings much of its sonic mastery to a much more affordable price range. In addition to having a sound quality very close to its bigger brothers, the 17's styling will also be based on those units. For example, there will be a clear section to the front panel which allows the tubes inside to be seen. And, of course, it will be completely remote controllable. This unit is scheduled for October release, so it should be available by the time you read this. We expect this preamp to bring new levels of quality to a price where many more of you can afford to buy in. Also scheduled for late October or early November release is an updated version of the PFR solid state preamp. Here, too, there are both sonic and cosmetic improvements. The volume control has been upgraded to a computer-controlled, resistive matrix like those used in the Premier line, and the cosmetics have been altered to match the new solid state amps which were released late last year. So whether you prefer tubes or transistors, CJ has something new to offer.
Balanced Audio Technology
We want to tell you about a new product from BAT which is such a sonic blockbuster of a breakthrough that all of the conventional norms we use to judge audio quality had to be thrown out the window the first time we heard it. When the VK-50 SE preamp walked through the door, we unboxed it, plugged it into an amp and CD player, put a CD on repeat to start breaking it in, turned it down to a soft volume, and walked back to the front office of our store (about 80 feet away) to do some work. (We normally never audition products before breaking them in at least three or four days.) From that distance the sound was just audible as low background music. Even so, a couple of minutes later what we heard from the other end of the store was so startling that we dropped everything, jumped up, ran to the back of the store, and spent the next several hours listening to every one of our favorite CD's we could lay our hands on. The sound was so vibrant, so clear, so spacious, so immediate, so beautifully-balanced, and so vitally-compelling that we had never experienced anything remotely comparable before. Then we started calling some of our customers to come down and hear this thing, just to make sure we weren't hallucinating. Everybody we've played it for has heard the same things we have--performance at a whole new level, previously unexperienced. This is the first preamp we have heard which uses a newly-released Russian tube, the 6H30 supertube, and it's a very exciting introduction, indeed. Even if you aren't in the market for a $7000 preamp, please feel free to come down and give this guy a listen. We expect you'll go home with a whole new view of what high end audio can be. For a detailed description of all the technology in this preamp, visit www.balanced.com and follow the links to preamplifiers, the VK-50SE, and then the guided tour.
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 next time.
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