High End 14 pt.1

Devialet votes for SAM
Devialet has come up with a way to match its amplifiers to specific loudspeaker models so that each pairing delivers linear phase at low frequencies. Speaker Active Matching (SAM) is achieved by Devialet measuring individual loudspeakers and creating software that its amplifiers can use to compensate for abberations in phase response “up to a few hundred hertz”. Vote for SAM is its campaign for highlighting this feature and offering end users the opportunity to vote for speaker models to get a SAM profile. At launch Devialet had created profiles for 10 loudspeakers but plans have downloads for 200 models in the near future. President Pierre Emmanuel Calmel says that it had the option of either correcting phase or frequency response and chose the former because it delivers deeper bass from smaller speakers and provides protection for the speaker at the same time. SAM is a free upgrade for the Devialet amplifiers introduced last year.
The line-up has had its power outputs increased across the board and now consists of the 120 (€4,990), 200 (€6,990), 400 monos (€12,900) and 800 monos (€23,900). Each number indicating power, the monoblocks now have multiple inputs on each channel as well.

Brinkmann Spyder
German turntable maestro Helmut Brinkmann has built a new model which can accommodate up to four tonearms. The Spyder (roughly €9-10,000) is a belt drive design that allows arm boards to be added as required and can be used with different length arms to boot. It has the same balanced motor drive concept as found in the direct drive models and a 10 kilo platter similar to that on the Oasis. It sounded extremely good on the end of Brinkmann electronics and Vandersteen 7 loudspeakers, bringing life and breath to Diana Krall’s rendition of A Case of You.

Ifi Micro iDSD
Ifi showed a pre production sample of its most ambitious DAC to date. The ‘crowd designed’ converter claims to be the first to offer Quad speed DSD256 alongside PCM support up to 32 bit/384 kHz. Features wise it has headphone and line outputs with a volume control for the former, USB and coax inputs and alternative filter options. Pricing will be as follows: £435/€499/$499.

Cambridge Audio Aeromax
Following the Aero loudspeaker range Cambridge is building hardcore versions dubbed Aeromax. These feature reinforced bracing, better crossover parts, cabling and terminals and a next gen BMR driver. The Aero is a fine speaker hampered by an affordable cabinet, by increasing price and improving the isotropic nature of the BMR Cambridge has increased its dispersion and enhanced power handling. I’m very keen to hear both the Aeromax 2 (£500) and floorstanding 6 (£1,000).

Audio Research G-series
Fans of classic Audio Research will either be horrified or charmed by the styling that Fine Sounds Group’s Italian design department have brought to the new G-series. I rather like it but suspect that it will prove a ‘marmite’ series in the market. Based on original Audio Research models and designed by Livio Cucuzza there are three G-series models. The GSPre (c.£20,000) is a line and phono preamplifier with a “revelatory” headphone amplifier that uses a balanced tube circuit in true ARC style. The GS150 (c.£25,000) is a 150 watt power amplifier that employs the new KT150 output tube and has meters to indicate output on both channels alongside incoming mains voltage.
For those after a one box solution the GSi75 (c.£20,000) is an integrated amp with phono stage and onboard DAC that also uses the KT150. All that and looks too, I want one.

Neat Momentum SX
Neat’s Bob Surgeoner took a triumvirate of new Momentum SX speakers to Munich. SX3 (£2,485) replaces the 3 model and has a forward firing isobaric bass/mid, SX5 (above) replaces the 5 with a 2.5-way with downward firing isobaric bass drivers and an optional slate plinth for £3,785 while SX7 is a new bigger two-way model also with isobaric mid/bass at £5.5 - £6,000, here the slate plinth is part of the package.

Sound Kaos D12
Sound Kaos make distinctly different loudspeakers. They use tonewood, ie wood that’s intended to resonate in harmony with the music. They also have attitude as the poster reveals. The Wave 40 oval design has a full range 8 inch paper driver based on a Telefunken design allied to a ribbon for treble above 6.5kHz. They showed a new subwoofer called D12 which is barrel shaped and in two parts with two 12inch aluminium drivers and 400 watts of ice power. The system in the wooden cabin sounded lively and enjoyable with Trafomatic tube electronics.

Systemdek Precision
Having re-established itself with the big bucks 3D models Systemdek has brought out a slightly more approachable turntable in the Precision at £10,000. This has a machined aluminium chassis, 50mm Delrin platter and the easiest set up process in the world of suspended subchassis turntables. Precision also has an AC motor and external power supply with fine adjustment for speed. The main bearing has an opposing magnet thrust pad in a PTFE journal. This sample is finished in Rolls Royce Metropolitan blue, plush.

Heed Thesis
Not satisfied with the pundits garnered for its Obelisk models Heed has rolled out Thesis, a rather more attractive and necessarily more expensive range of compact units. Alpha (€3,000, above) is an analogue and digital preamp with remote and USB plus BNC among its inputs, it can be used alone or with the Pi twin outlet, external power supply (€1,700). Phi is an MM/MC phono stage with two inputs and external gain/impedance jumpers (€1,800) and Omega (€2,400 each) is an AC coupled monoblock power amp rated at a “conservative” 70 watts (it will give 160 watts into 1.5 Ohms) so bigger than it looks.

Living Voice Vox Olympian/Elysian
I know that we reported on these speakers last year but as they produced by far the most dynamic and inspiring sound of the show they warrant a second showing. Not much had changed in the system everything was coming from a CEC CD transport and Kondo electronics, but the battery power supply had been upgraded to lithium ion making it even more powerful but not a lot smaller. With everything from Schubert lieder to Sly & Robbie dub this system hit the spot with a smile inducing solidity, purity and honesty that is extremely rare.

Cambridge One
This cute system is built for the man on the Clapham omnibus. It plays CDs and is not a streamer, controversial stuff I know but it might be what the real world wants. At £329 the 22cm wide unit does have a Bluetooth receiver and a Wolfson DAC alongside asynchronous USB should non-audiophiles have the inclination to try it.