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The Newsletter of Len Wallis Audio

Summer 2011/2012

IN THIS ISSUE PrimaLuna – a glowing recommendation... Savant SmartSystems Musical Fidelity’s M1 family Smart & slimline Marantz B&W PM1 – an instant classic Yamaha’s new Aventage receiver range... and more!


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BEST SOUND! YEAR AFTER YEAR “This is a superb SACD player, one that will bring you many years of listening pleasure.” Australian Hi-Fi, Oct 2011


Product Of The Year MARANTZ PM6004 & CD6004 “It balances refinement, insight and attack perfectly and has the composure to make instrumental stands easy to follow. It’s a truly terrific amp” What Hi-Fi, Awards 2011

“This is a player that impresses in every single way: it’s build and finish could easily be from a player costing twice as much. It’s the complete budget player” What Hi-Fi, Awards 2011

Best Network Player MARANTZ NA7004 “It is delightfully easy to operate and it integrates with both hi-fi systems and computer networks. AirPlay functionality makes this a simple streamer for the uninitiated. This is a product that virtually demands our recommendation” Hi-Fi Choice UK Apr 2011

Experience the best sound ... from Marantz. See these Award-Winners at Len Wallis Audio.

Distributed in Australia by QualiFi P/L – (03) 8542 1111 –

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CONTENTS SOUND+IMAGE AWARDS – KRELL & MUSICAL FIDELITY Award-winning amplifiers from two of the best names in the business – and a Custom Installation Award for ourselves... see p23


Yamaha’s Unfair Aventage Yamaha has been back to the drawing board for the premium Aventage series, redesigning everything to ensure not just a mass of advanced features but amazingly good sound quality as well.


Focal’s Bird of Prey Focal’s Bird system is no tiny tweety bird — it’s more of a hawk, minimising size while maintaining musical quality.


SpeakerCraft get their box on The US in-wall speaker specialists make a return to more traditional ‘box’ loudspeakers.

8 10

Peachtree ‘D’ speakers

20 22 23



Starter system The times they are a-changing... our recommendation for the classic ‘Starter System’ needs redefining.

Marantz – more than just receivers...


Cabinet meeting SydneySide Media Furniture is your perfect AV platform.

Making the most of Sonos Upgrade the sound, expand your system — many ways to get more from the Sonos multiroom audio system


Small items & accessories Small sound systems and essential accessories...


Elektra power amplifiers An Australian brand of multichannel power amplifier that challenges the big names from the States.

New Sennheiser headphones From home headphones to portable Bluetooth noise-cancellers, Sennheiser has a model to suit everyone.


The M1 series of half-width components have replaced the X-Series, in most cases expanding on their abilities.

Glowing recommendations... Meet PrimaLuna’s gorgeous valve-laden CD player and amplifiers — it’s vacuum-tube sound with a twist.

Peachtree makes beautiful speakers, as well as their amplifiers and electronics of renown.

Musical Fidelity’s M1 family

Savant SmartSystems Savant’s stunning home-control solutions leverage the power of Apple’s software and iDevice control.

Networked receivers, ‘Slimline’ receivers, and the company’s first 3D-equipped Blu-ray player.


Simply the best – and hidden! Our client’s brief was to provide a multi-purpose Media Room with top-quality audio — but with all the video displays hidden when he’s playing music.

B&W PM1 — an instant classic Bowers & Wilkins presents a two-way stand mount of high quality priced at just $3299 a pair, and we think this is something special...



Loewe TV specials Great prices on these top-quality premium German TVs.


Specials! Our deals on headphones, music servers and cables.

64 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove NSW 2066 Telephone 02 9427 6755 TRADING HOURS Monday Tuesday Wednesday Friday: 9 to 5.30 Thursday: 9 to 8; Saturday: 9 to 5; Sunday: 10 to 4

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30/11/2011 11:27:02 AM


Newsletter Spring 2011



amaha have been making great surround receivers for a long time now, and as one of the first movers into this field they have always been at the front of the pack. A year ago they decided to go back to the drawing board for the premium Aventage series, redesigning everything to ensure not just a mass of advanced features but amazingly good sound quality as well.


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We were impressed, and so were our customers — sales have been phenomenal. People upgrading from pre-Aventage models are really noticing the difference in sound quality, and are thrilled with it. At the same time, we had been wondering what was going to happen with the other heavyweight models: the RX-Z9 and Z11. The new RX-A3010 and RX-A2010 models are the partial answer to that question, as they pick

up where the Z9 left off, being ninechannel models. (Note: the RX-A1010 shares most of the smart features of the upper models, but is a 7-channel x 110w amplifier, with Zone 2.) These new models both have a full 9.2-channel capacity at stated power of 150w and 140w per channel respectively. This opens up various possibilities, such as running a full 7-channel surround set in the theatre with two channels left over for Zone 2,

30/11/2011 11:27:59 AM


or run five channels in the theatre and have two other powered zones available. The host of connections and control options is the other intriguing aspect of this series. Apart from the network (LAN) giving you access to stored content around your local network, it enables internet radio and music services like Anubis FM. Direct connection of iPhones and iPods via USB bypasses the DAC in the device and uses the much better one in the receiver. DLNA and Windows 7 certification gives better compatibility with other certified audio networking components, while control apps for iPhone/iPad (and eventually Android) give a whole new ease of operation. This is revolutionising the way we use our surround receivers, and is making the usual remote control obsolete. While not all of our readers can get to the store easily, it is worth the trip to see these fantastic features demonstrated. Onboard processing, so critical to modern high-res systems, is of the very best standard, namely 192kHz/24bit for audio and HQV Vida processing for video. All sources can be upgraded to 1080p, and for audio you can engage ‘Pure Direct’ for sound uncluttered by any excess circuitry, tone controls or displays. Room EQ is also at an advanced stage now, and the multi-point Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimiser (YPAO) makes a number of adjustments to your speakers to correct frequency responses and compensate for placement and uneven room boundaries. You could say that the Aventage series has it all — plenty of power, a myriad of connections, amazing networking, processing and control capabilities. Above all, there’s the great sound. It’s downright unfair to the competition.

YAMAHA RESTIO ISX-800 Self-powered iPod/iPhone systems have bred like rabbits, but too many of them are still basic boxes with no styling pizzazz, whatever they might offer in sound. Yamaha have usually managed extremely good sound for the money in their offerings, but this time, with the ISX-800 Restio ($999), they have hit the jackpot and made a really superb-looking piece which will blend in to a minimalist décor or sit unobtrusively among your fine furniture. It is so flat — the body is 410 x 410 x 90mm — and it stands (literally, on a stand) just under a metre tall in total but only 295mm deep, the depth of the half-circle base plate. This makes it easy to locate it close to a wall. The looks have made it a winner with everyone who’s seen it, but apart from the looks, Yamaha have also filled it with features. Having two 30mm tweeters and two 100mm woofers enables it to deliver similar sound to a pair of bookshelf speakers driven by (presumably) compact digital amplifiers. Sources are no problem, with a dock for iPhone (original/3/3GS/4), iPod classic, nano 2G-6G, or iPod touch, a slot-loading CD player, a USB socket (MP3 and WMA files), a built-in tuner with both DAB+ digital radio and FM, and an auxiliary 3.5mm stereo input. Easily moved around on its slim floor stand, the total height of 997mm is ideal for good sound propagation. The power cord can be hidden in the stand tube for a neat finish; alternatively you can remove the stand and use the unit as a desktop sound system. The inbuilt clock gives you Alarm, Snooze and Sleep functions, with ‘Intellilarm’ waking you to music, then after a short while changing to a more convincing beep! Colour schemes available are Black, White, Green and Purple.


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30/11/2011 11:28:34 AM


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012



ocal’s Bird system is no tiny tweety bird — it’s more of a hawk, a solution for those who want to minimise size while maintaining music’s quality and dynamics. Other companies have tried this with varying degrees of success over many years, but not usually gaining the approval of discerning audio consumers. Focal’s expertise in speaker design gives it the edge in this sort of project. Focal have been involved in designing and manufacturing some of the highest quality domestic loudspeakers ever seen — or heard! They have also produced high-end, self-amplified studio monitors for the professional market. This depth of knowledge and experience is invaluable in a project which seeks to bring to the everyday user a high level of performance in an extremely compact system. Focal make other superb small speaker systems which can be used with a range of amplifiers, but the Bird is exceptional,

bringing all the necessary parts together to form this diminutive system which nevertheless delivers amazing sound. The Power Bird amplifier has 2 x 35w channels plus one channel of 80w for the inbuilt subwoofer. The subwoofer consists of a downward firing 6.5”/ 165mm woofer, with a vent on the front panel of the amplifier. With this system, all the effort has gone into sound quality. There are very few control knobs on the Power Bird, but there are a range of inputs available. One coaxial and one optical digital input are complemented by two analogue (RCA) stereo inputs and one analogue stereo 3.5mm input. A Focal Kleer Technology dongle for your iPhone, iPod or iPad makes wireless transfer of music to the system easy and effective, while a USB dongle does the same for computers around the home.

There are three speaker options — the Bird, the Little Bird, and the larger, flat-format Super Bird. Mounting options include wall mounting (no additional hardware required) or free-standing on optional floor stands. The assortment of sizes and mounting possibilities allows considerable tailoring to suit your personal preferences in sizing and placement, as does the fact that the amplifier can be sat flat or on its side, or even upright — that’s with the front panel facing upwards! The Little Bird 2.1 system is $1,199, the Bird 2.1 system $1,399, and the Super Bird system $1,599.


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30/11/2011 11:31:00 AM


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012

SPEAKERCRAFT BOX ON Not content with being continuously voted “Best Supplier” by the USA custom installers, and having a vast range of products to suit every conceivable situation, Speakercraft have once again ventured into a range of ‘box’ speakers as opposed to their usual in-wall and in-ceiling offerings. I say ‘again’ since back in the mists of time they did make conventional speakers before moving into — and virtually owning — the custom speaker scene. The new series called RooTs (as in back to their…) has three sets of satellite speakers to choose from, priced from $449 to $849 a pair, one centre channel ($399) and two subwoofer options: the 10”/250cm 300w model 310 at $1199 and the 8”/200cm 200w model 208 at $999. Speakercraft’s summary reads as follows: “Making a small speaker that creates big sound is no easy feat. Fortunately, freestanding loudspeakers are where we got our start. Carefully designing individual components from hand-selected parts, we have created a series of high power handling small satellites that have all of the fidelity and sonic accuracy today’s digital sources demand. “After addressing the sound quality and durability of the speakers we set out to wrap them in an incredible cabinet that not only supported the speaker’s performance but also presented it like a precious gem. Available in black and white high gloss piano finishes, the RooTs satellites will blend in or stand out at your discretion.”




owers & Wilkins (B&W) have been producing sensational speakers for as long as we can remember, so it goes without saying that any new and somewhat upmarket offering from them will be special. In two-way standmount monitors, the 805D holds its own against anything in that price range ($7.5k) where it is the one to beat — but sadly just a little beyond the reach of many who lust after it. So we all sit up and take notice when this company turns out a one-off model which is a two-way stand mount of high quality priced at just $3299 a pair — plus an additional $699 if you want the extremely nice matching stands. When you look at the build standard and the finish you are already impressed. When you have a listen, you’re sold. Now you can afford one of the world’s great bargains in high-end compact monitor speakers. B&W’s small monitor PM1 speaker is squarely aimed at musical quality, with many of the aspects of the 800 Series trickling down to a product sitting above the existing CM series. This model stands alone, intended for music, with no matching centre or rear-effects on offer! “We decided we wanted a loudspeaker that specialised in stereo and concentrated our effort into producing an exquisite small speaker,” says the company. “Small monitors image

very sweetly. This isn’t a replacement for the 700 series; think of it more as a smaller 805S.” The extensive cross-bracing of the cabinets and thick cross-ply side walls ensure minimal resonance to blur the sound. The front baffle and curved top panel are constructed from a thermoset plastic composite material, strengthened by an additional layer of mineral-filled resin. A carbon-braced tweeter constructed along similar lines to the Nautilus tweeter (with rear tapering tube) is mounted on top of the cabinet. Below that is a Kevlar cone bass/midrange sporting a newly-designed phase plug to dampen resonances in that area too. We couldn’t believe the stated efficiency of just 84dB, as it seems to be easier to drive than that would indicate. The recommended power (from 30-100w) also indicates that it’s no power-sucking beast, while the 8 ohm impedance will avoid anxious palpitations from man or amp. Frequency response on paper is 48Hz-22kHz, with the in-room bass again giving a more weighty impression than the spec sheet. The crossover has been kept as simple as possible (one of the benefits of a twoway design) and uses top quality Mundorf M-Cap Supreme capacitors and air-core inductors. Binding posts are oxygen-free copper and allow for biwiring. Conclusion: the PM1 is an instant classic!


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30/11/2011 11:34:45 AM


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012



eachtree have a great reputation as the manufacturer of stereo amplifiers with onboard digital-toanalogue converters and multiple digital inputs. What has been less obvious is their stable of speakers, which can be used with any good amplifiers but go beautifully with Peachtree amps, as you’d expect. Just because you like small speakers or have to fit a system into a restricted space,


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you don’t have to choose inferior sound or build quality. Peachtree speakers (previous models were branded Era) are superbly built, with real wood finishes like book-matched Rosewood, Cherry — and Piano gloss black. These rich veneers are sanded, smoothed and hand polished, giving the cabinets the finest finish you’re likely to see on speakers at any price. (The finishes also match the Peachtree Audio amplifiers, enabling a close match there too.) Each cabinet is constructed from ¾-inch to 1-inch MDF and heavily braced. The cabinets are cut with the finest European CNC machines, so joints are measured to the micron and each joint is absolutely perfect. A great deal of craftsmanship, care and attention to detail goes into every speaker, making a product that you’ll be proud to own and that is built to last a lifetime.

The goal for Peachtree was to build audiophile-grade speakers that extend low enough for a subwoofer to be considered optional. Custom drivers were required to meet the demanding specifications. Long-time friend and master speaker designer Michael Kelly of Aerial Acoustics graciously agreed, and was commissioned to engineer the custom drivers. After almost a year in development, the drivers were finally ready to be fitted in their new cabinets and be voiced by Peachtree owners Jim Spainhour and David Solomon. Peachtree speakers reproduce astonishing bass. The Design 5 satellites ($999) have an in-room response down to 50Hz. They also do a smooth and airy treble via the silk-dome tweeter. The midrange is perfectly balanced between, being neither too prominent or recessed. Awards include Stereophile’s coveted Recommended Components, The Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Award and Home Theater’s Editors’ Pick Award.

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Re-Setting the Benchmark in Home Entertainment

RX-A3010 AV Receiver of the Year over $2,500

Yamaha has improved on the ground breaking AVENTAGE Series which brought studio-grade sound and sophisticated video enhancements to the home. Driven by obsession, Yamaha’s finest engineers painstakingly refined every design aspect to ensure unparalleled audio and video performance. The AVENTAGE Series brings together cutting edge technology, innovative engineering and uncompromising construction to deliver an entertainment experience like no other.




RX-A2010 RX-A3010


Introducing five new receiver models and Blu-ray player to the AVENTAGE range in 2011.

For more information, visit *4 year warranty valid on AVENTAGE receivers only

YDS-12 iPhone / iPod Dock included





ARANTZ SR5006 & SR6006: Marantz has two new 7-channel networking audio-video receivers that bring users a host of exciting options for up-to-date home entertainment systems. The 110 watt-per-channel SR6006 (RRP: $1,970) and the 100 watt-perchannel SR5006 (RRP: $1,460) both offer leading-edge feature sets, while delivering heightened levels of performance, convenience and flexibility. Notably, both new receivers allows users to stream their


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iTunes music from their Mac or PC, as well as music stored on their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch with Apple’s AirPlay*. With an aesthetically-pleasing elegant design featuring the recognisable Marantz star and porthole display, they have multiple HDMI 1.4a inputs (6 in the SR5006, 7 in the SR6006), Bluetooth capability and more. Thanks to the network connection, these AV receivers can easily be controlled through a free Marantz Wizz App for Apple’s iDevices.

Marantz’s ‘connected AV receivers’, with on-board Internet Radio, offer lots of inputs for virtually every device with entertainment content. This includes wired and disc-based media players and new Smart TVs — as well as being able to receive music content wirelessly from a smartphone, tablet device or PC/ Mac via Wi-Fi (including AirPlay) or Bluetooth streaming. No matter what audio/video format is plugged in, these new AV receivers will up-convert to allow a single HDMI connection to the flat-panel display. And now with ARC (Audio Return Channel) technology, the same HDMI cable can carry the audio back from a Smart TV. Both models provide upscaling of the HDMI signal to HDMI 1080 video signal. The SR6006 includes seven HDMI v1.4a inputs (one located on the front panel) and dual HDMI outputs with 3D (all mandated formats), as well as DLNA v1.5 (Digital Living Network Alliance), ensuring smooth content sharing among connected devices. The SR6006’s dual HDMI outputs allow users to connect two separate displays and switch from one to the other without changing cables. The SR5006 features six HDMI inputs and one output. Both models also feature front-panel USB inputs that are compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch, and support playback of MP3, WMA and WAV files, as well as providing playback control via remote (Play, Stop, FF, BWD, Skip Forward, Random and Repeat Play), while showing music track information on the unit’s newly designed Graphical User Interface. For unprecedented ‘out-of-thebox’ ease of use, both receivers feature Marantz’ onscreen ‘Setup Wizard’, an easy-to-use instructional feature that includes language select, speaker connection and calibration guide, speaker calibration, plus Dynamic Volume/EQ settings, source setup and more. Both support audio bit-streams up to 320kbps, and feature the latest Dolby Pro Logic llz, Dolby True HD, and dts HD decoding. Additionally, both models accept LPCM 7.1

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Newsletter Summer 2011/2012 signals from a Blu-Ray player, and have DC triggers and RS232C. The Marantz SR6006 and SR5006 are Bluetooth capable simply by connecting the optional Marantz RX101 Bluetooth receiver ($199). Powered by the receiver itself, the RX101 receives audio signals from Bluetooth-enabled devices (PDAs, PCs as entertainment devices, etc.) and sends them directly to the connected receiver. MARANTZ NR1402 & NR1602: For those who find full-sized AV receivers a bit bulky, Marantz have two new ‘Slim-line’ audio/video receivers, the NR1402 ($780) and NR1602 ($1080), both priced very competitively. For the extra money the NR1602 gives you seven

channels of amplification and a host of features flowing from its “network connected” capability. The NR1402 is a five-channel amp and leaves out the network capability, so is more for those people who have no need for networking, while still seeking a good compact surround receiver solution. With their stylishly sculpted front-panel designs, both receivers feature Marantz’ sleek ‘Slim-line’

BLU-RAY WITH BENEFITS: MARANTZ UD7006 Marantz have been consistently building

the fast-loading mechanism. Standard

advanced players that handle multiple

DVDs get a quality boost too — thanks

formats, and now that means Blu-ray

to Anchor Bay’s ABT 2015 VRS video

plus CD, DVD, DVD-A and SACD.

processing, which outputs 1080p from

Despite this demanding role, the

standard material via the HDMI 1.4a

Marantz players perform to a very

port. But as with all Marantz players

high standard in all areas, be it audio-

it’s musicality that remains supreme,

or video-oriented.

and to ensure the best from CDs there’s

The UD7006 ($1195) is their first

a ‘Pure Direct’ mode.

3D-capable Blu-ray Disc player that combines HD surround sound with

Features: 3D compatible • Supports

3D picture. Not only that, it is also

Blu-ray Disc (3D), DVD, DVD-Audio,

DLNA1.5-certified, which means it

SACD and CD playability • Supports

can stream audio and video stored on


your home network. Also, to ensure

• BD-Live • HDMI 1.4a (3D) • Network

top audio quality, it includes a special

streaming audio and video (DLNA 1.5)

decoder for HD sound formats and uses

• Dolby True HD and DTS-HD decoding

a 32-bit audio DAC with 7.1 analogue

• Deep Color • High quality upscaling

channel out. The audio stage uses

to 1080p by Anchor Bay ABT2015 •

customised components, and the unit

32-bit DAC with 7.1ch analogue

can even play high resolution SACDs via

audio output • USB input • RS232C

chassis design (just 105mm high), making them more placement-friendly in the modern setting. Both the NR1402 and the networkcapable NR1602 are built on the foundation of the company’s 2010 receiver line, and have features such as multiple HDMI 1.4a inputs (with 3D pass-through capability), Dolby Pro Logic IIz featuring Front Height Effects Channels and Bluetooth connectivity via MX-Port. Notably, both new receivers feature a dedicated 2.1-channel programmable preamp output that allows for a variety of customisable system upgrade possibilities. Additionally, both models feature Audyssey Dynamic Volume, Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Audyssey MultEQ to ensure premium audio performance in every system configuration and home entertainment space. The network-connected NR1602, with on-board Internet Radio, offers plenty of inputs for including wired and disc-based media players and new Smart TVs — as well as being able to receive music content wirelessly from a smartphone, tablet device or PC/Mac via Wi-Fi (including Apple’s AirPlay) or Bluetooth streaming, as well as accessing online music services like LastFM**. Again there is a full onscreen Setup Wizard with straightforward instructions, and thanks to the network connection, the NR1602 can also easily be controlled through a free Marantz Wizz App for Apple’s iDevices. Full RS232 control ensures compatibility with the best third-party remote control systems, while a front-panel USB connection is provided for digital iPod/iPhone playback. * AirPlay requires iTunes 10.1 or later and iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.2 or later. A home Wi-Fi network is required. **These services require a separate subscription and fee. A home network is required for networking functionality.


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30/11/2011 11:37:06 AM


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012



usical Fidelity’s M1 series of half-width components have replaced the X-Series, and in most cases expanded on those capabilities. At the time of writing there are four components available and one on the way, but we expect more to appear over the next year — we’re guessing at pre-amp and power amp options, and there may be other surprises in the pipeline. The latest model is the M1 CDT ($999), which is a dedicated CD transport. It has no DAC, being intended as a complementary unit for the M1 DAC or CLiC. This frees up the design brief to concentrate on getting the best reading of the data on the disc, together with optimally sending this to the DAC stage via (preferably) balanced AES/EBU digital (what we know as XLR connections) as used on the M1 DAC and CLiC. It also has optical and coaxial outputs, so can be used to feed any equipment that has digital inputs.


Arriving soon will be the M1 ViNL ($999), a premium quality phono preamp with adjustable input capacitance, input resistance and RIAA/IEC equalisation curves (while you listen!), as well as switchable impedance — there’s an LED display on the front panel to show what settings are in place. Outputs are either single-ended or fully balanced. It employs ultralow noise instrumentation amplifiers (the highest quality available). The RIAA EQ curve extends up to 50kHz within 0.2dB. Distortion is almost nonexistent, noise is on the threshold of what can be achieved, and the crosstalk is outstanding. In every technical parameter, the ViNL is state of the art. Of the current crop, the M1 CLiC ($1999) is the one which breaks the old mould most completely. It allows you to access stored music, Internet Radio, front USB, iPod (rear connection), two coaxial digital inputs, USB DAC, and three analogue auxiliary inputs.

While there are various ways of getting your media streamed around the house, doing it while maintaining very high audio quality is the trick. The CLiC does this so well that Paul Miller of HiFi News found it excellent on all sources, even the WAV files played from his iPod Classic: “Bit-perfect, non-compressed 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV files ripped from CDs and stored in a 160G iPod were replayed by the CLiC with the kind of unsullied freshness normally associated with a very good CD player replay — or better. Frankly, I was astonished!” The M1 HPA Headphone amplifier ($899) directly replaces the X-CANSv8, and is a pure Class A headphone amp which has exactly the same sonic characteristics with headphones as the company’s pure Class A amplifiers with loudspeakers. Technical performance is outstanding, with distortion incredibly low (less than .0005% across the band), frequency


response ruler flat and noise ratio outstanding. The HPA has very low output impedance (below 1 ohm), a very important measurement, meaning that it can drive any headphone with complete linearity and low distortion. It can also take a USB digital input, and has two headphone outlet sockets. The M1 DAC ($699) as MF themselves say: “…will lock on to any SP-DIF signal at 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88kHz, 96kHz or 192kHz. The input sampling frequency is displayed on the front panel. The M1 DAC upsamples to 24-bit at 192kHz. This is genuine, true upsampling. The M1’s technical performance is pretty well as good as any at any price. We know this sounds an incredible claim but it’s true. Musical Fidelity’s state-of-the-art circuit design and PCB layout with the use of top quality digital components gives state-ofthe-art performance. There’s no secret or mystery about this. We use top-quality digital components in carefully designed circuit configurations which are subtly implemented on brilliant PCB layouts. Unsurprisingly the result is state-of-theart performance. It’s just that the price is competitive so many people find it hard to believe. The M1 DAC has vanishingly low distortion, typically less than 0.005% across the band, ruler-flat frequency response, and extremely low jitter. The noise ratio is outstanding — one of the quietest DACs in the world regardless of price. Looking at the M1 DAC’s total measurements and comparing them to any DAC up to ten times its price you will see that, on balance, the M1 DAC is equal to or better than any.”



hile every brand makes a surround receiver, it is only the specialist companies that do multi-channel power amplifiers, and apart from Marantz and NAD, most of these cost quite a bit. Bridging the gap between brands like those two and the high-end offerings, we have an Australian brand we have worked with very successfully before — Elektra. They have been refining their already excellent designs and have come to the point where their performance can be measured in terms we previously only associated with high-end brands like Halcro. This is how they explain it: “HD Audio is the new audio standard, capable of supporting bit rates of up 24 bits and sample rates of up to 192kHz, which delivers new audio content of unprecedented clarity and quality. “The Elektra Theatre HD amplifier completes the audio chain for full high definition audio-visual systems by incorporating innovative high-definition low distortion circuitry to provide audio performance not previously available in multichannel amplifiers. “Low distortion is maintained across the entire audio bandwidth (20-20kHz) by using new state-of-the-art discrete circuitry. The distortion at 1kHz is less than 120dB (1ppm) at high power levels. “The Elektra Theatre HD amplifier delivers the new audio performance standard for all audio visual reproduction.”

Furthermore, Elektra sensibly offers you the chance to say how many channels you want, from two to seven. Here are the specifications for the seven-channel amplifier:

SPECIFICATIONS Elektra Theatre HD Technical Data • Power per channel (watts RMS): 7 Channel at 8 ohms: 190 7Channel at 6 ohms: 225 • Dynamic Power (watts RMS): 8 ohms: 200 4 ohms: 400 • Total Harmonic Distortion: THD @1kHz < 0.0001% THD 20-20kHz <0.001% • Frequency response: 3Hz-250kHz ±3dB • Input type/impedance: balanced 47kohm +47kohm; RCA 47kohm • Single Potted Silent Power Transformer: Yes • Discrete Power Amplifier Circuitry: Yes • Banana Plug Compatible Speaker Connectors: Yes • 12V Trigger: Yes • Dimensions (hwd): 160 x 445 x 370 mm • Weight: 25 kg Note: Specifications subject to change without notification.


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30/11/2011 11:39:00 AM


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012


Elipson Music Center / Planet L



ikipedia tells us the following: “In geometry, an ellipse (from Greek) is a plane curve that results from the intersection of a cone by a plane in a way that produces a closed curve. Circles are special cases of ellipses, obtained when the cutting plane is orthogonal to the cone’s axis.” Is that clear? If you’ll forgive my elliptical approach to the subject, serious hi-fi people are not too fazed by the shape of their gear, as long as it looks (and is) well built and sounds fabulous. We do, however, have customers wanting a stereo system that breaks out of the usual pattern of several rectangular boxes, while still delivering performance of a good standard, well above the common herd. Elipson’s round, brushed silver metallic Music Centre and spherical speakers are anything but everyday in either appearance or sound quality. The appearance is more like a space station suspended between two planets — the speakers are actually called Planet L, by some amazing coincidence. What makes this system


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exceptional is that it caters for most of the modern sources of music, sounds fantastic, looks great, and costs a lot less than other ‘Eurostyle’ brands. The console contains the amplifier and includes FM and DAB+ radio, plus a CD player. There are additional analogue and digital inputs on the back panel, while a ‘dongle’ (a small transmitter that connects to the iPod) enables wireless connection of your iPhone or iPod for direct playback of music. The Planet L speakers pack plenty of punch along with lots of fine detail, and can be sat on a table or bench top, placed on optional floor stands, wall mounted, or hung from the ceiling. The centre console can be purchased on its own for $1999, the speakers for $1199, or console and speakers as a system for $2999. The speakers are available in Black, Red or White, with speaker mounting hardware available at additional cost — ceiling or floor stands $299/pair, wall brackets $229/pair, Music Centre console stand $149.

SPECIFICATIONS: MUSIC CENTRE Inputs: Aux 1, Aux 2, MP3, optical, wireless, USB, Outputs: Pre-out, Speakers, Headphones, Subwoofer, Power: 60w x 2 into 8ohms, 120w x 2 into 4ohms, Radio Tuner: FM & DAB+, Dimensions: 330mm diameter, 73mm high, Weight: 3.8kg SPEAKERS Woofers: 165mm paper cone, ferrite magnets Tweeters: 25mm soft dome, neodymium magnets, Impedance: 6 ohm, Sensitivity: 90dB, Power: 30-80w Dimensions: 290mm diameter

30/11/2011 11:39:43 AM

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Newsletter Summer 2011/2012



he client’s brief here was to provide a multi-purpose Media Room solution with a top-quality audiophile music system. The catch was that he didn’t want to see any of the video displays when they weren’t in use, so that he could just enjoy his music. We’ve installed numerous ‘hidden’ systems before, but the biggest challenge here was that it was going into a recently purchased, fully complete house that was to undergo only minor renovations. The first step was to conduct a site visit with one of our key builder partners, Trade A Management. During this visit we determined that an out-of-floor plasma lift (to sink down into the garage cupboard directly beneath the Media Room) and an in-ceiling projection system were viable, if somewhat challenging — but we’re not ones to shy away from a challenge!


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Next we set about selecting the main front floorstanding speakers which were to be the core of the system. After auditioning a number of top-quality brands and models, the client settled on the excellent Focal Maestro Utopias. These sound beautiful and, with their custom-made white fascia, would look stunning as well. Obviously these bad boys would need some serious amplification, and after auditioning a number of mono block amplifiers the client selected the excellent Electrocompaniet Mono Block Power Amps which boast 400w per channel. Coupled with this we had the Electrocompaniet 3 x 120w Mono Power Amp, which would drive the B&W In-Wall Centre Channel and In-Ceiling rear speakers. A Velodyne DD10 Subwoofer would round off the surround sound system.

30/11/2011 11:44:10 AM

CUSTOM INSTALLATION In addition to the audition process, we also assisted the client in his choice by mocking up some 3D visualisations of the speakers with the out-of-floor lift and outof-ceiling projection screen. This process also helped us determine the maximum screen size that would be possible to fit between the speakers whilst still being viewable from every sitting position. It was agreed that a 92” 16:9 aspect ratio screen would be the best size, and in line with the required quality spec, we selected the best screen maker in the world — Stewart Filmscreen. As the room would have a fair bit of ambient light we selected the Greyhawk fabric, which would ensure the best possible contrast. As nothing was to be seen when the system is not in use, we used the excellent Stealth Trapdoor Electriscreen model. One slight bit of customisation was to provide extra side masking, so that as much of the rear wall as possible was covered, again to provide the best contrast in a room with a lot of reflective surfaces. The easiest choice was the projector — JVC, by far the best residential 2D and 3D projector on the market, and recently given 5 stars by Empire magazine. Again, this had to be hidden when not in use, so the obvious choice was Ultralift, who custommade a ceiling-lift for the projector. Ultralift again rose to the challenge for the out-of-floor lifter. This was custom-made, and had to rise 1.4m so that the top of the TV would be level with the top of the speakers. We also had the lid custom-made, so that the existing stonework could be cut and inserted into the lid to leave a seamless finish when the screen was hidden away. Trade A Management deserve all of the credit for installing this lifter (which took four men to get into

position), and for doing a great job of the stonework. All of the video source equipment was to be located in a cupboard in the garage (next to where the lifter mechanism would be located), and this equipment included the phenomenal Kaleidescape Movie Server system. The client had more than 500 DVDs and a number of Blu-ray discs, so the Kaleidescape was the right choice. Its excellent user-interface and picture quality meant that the client could now have his entire movie collection at his fingertips, and could find the movie he wanted without delay. Back to the audio, and as you can probably tell by now, quality was high on the list. To be able to enjoy his SACD and CD collection we proposed the sublime Marantz KI Pearl Series SACD player, which would be the only piece of equipment located within the Media Room. This presented a challenge in itself, as it required a 20-metre run back to the equipment rack. Fortunately AudioQuest produce a 20-metre RCA which would connect to the AV receiver for SACD, and also a 20-metre coaxial cable which would connect to a Bryson DAC for when he listened to a regular CD. We live in a digital world, and in addition to the SACD player we also installed the excellent Sonos system, which would provide instant access to the client’s harddrive based music library, as well as internet radio stations from around the globe, and a myriad of on-line music services. In the Media Room we ensured the highest audio quality by passing the Sonos through the Bryston DAC. All of the cables and interconnects were by AudioQuest — again the best in the world. The only exceptions to this were the HDMI cables. The cable lengths


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30/11/2011 11:44:40 AM


required to the plasma and the projector were both very long, so we used the QED Reference (10-metre) to the plasma, and the Gefen HDMI Over Fibre (30-metre) to the projector. All sources were fed through the Marantz AV7005 for maximum processing power and the ability to output two HDMI signals (one for the plasma, one for the projector). This output via AudioQuest Balanced XLRs to the Krell Evo222 PreAmplifier and on to the Power Amplifiers. The power for this equipment, as well as the equipment in the Media Room, was managed by the PS Audio IPC9000 10-Zone AV Power Centre, so that the Foxtel box could be reset from the Media Room should it lock up, while in the event of a power failure the PS Audio UPS1500 Intelligent Uninterruptible Power Supply

the client could start watching a movie downstairs, pause it and then continue watching in the bedroom...” 18

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Newsletter Summer 2011/2012

would kick in. The client can also manage the power consumption by remotely switching off non-essential items in a controlled fashion. Space and access were an issue, but by selecting the excellent Middle Atlantic AXS Rack with the Cable Track System, this was overcome. This also meant that the rack is easy to maintain, whilst being locked in place for safety.

Multi-Room Audio The previous owner had a multi-room audio system, so we were able to utilise the existing speaker cabling in most areas. We replaced the system with Sonos, and the speakers with a combination of B&W and SpeakerCraft In-Ceiling speakers in six rooms. In the Dining/Lounge room we used two pairs of the same B&W CCM7.3 Dual 130mm 3-Way In-Ceiling Speakers that we used as rears in the Media Room, and powered these with a Rotel power amp. SpeakerCraft’s excellent speakers were used in all other areas, including two outside areas.

Master Bedroom Last but not least we moved onto the Master Bedroom, and the rule of ‘being

hidden when not in use’ applied here as well. The Panasonic 42” plasma was to be hidden in the ceiling, but the challenge here was that the ceiling was on a fairly steep pitch. Once again Ultralift accepted the challenge, and customised their already excellent Mercury lift to have extra drop and increased motor power. The Kaleidescape system was available in this room also, which meant that the client could start watching a movie downstairs in the Media Room, pause it and then continue watching it in the comfort of the bedroom. Alternatively he could watch something completely different to what the kids were enjoying downstairs. As you can see the final result is stunning. Unfortunately, what you can’t experience from these pages is just how great it sounds! The next best thing would be to pop into our showroom and have a listen! The Team: Salesman: Dee Bubeck Project Manager: Michael Dreyer Lead Installer: Mark Young Builder: Trade A Management Electrician: Mainpower Electrics

30/11/2011 11:44:57 AM


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

AUDIO VISUAL – IN RACK 2 x Electrocompaniet NADA Mono Power Amp, 400w 1 x Electrocompaniet AW-3X120M Mono Power Amp, 3 x 120w 1 x Krell EVO222 Pre-Amplifier 1 x Marantz AV7005 AV Processor with Network Streaming 1 x FoxTel IQ2 1 x Sonos ZP90 1 x Kaleidescape KSERVER-5000 3U Movie Server 9 x Kaleidescape KDISK-2000-L 2TB Disk Cartridge 1 x Kaleidescape MPLAYER-500 BlueLaser Player 1 x Bryston BDA1 Digital-Analogue Converter 1 x Netgear 16-Port Unmanaged Switch ProSafe Gigabit Ethernet Switch 1 x Netgear GS103 ProSafe Wireless Access Point 1 x PS Audio IPC9000 10 Zone AV Power Centre - Web Enabled 1 x PS Audio UPS1500 Intelligent Uninterruptible Power Supply 1 x AudioQuest Columbia Pair RCA, 20m 1 x AudioQuest Coaxial Cable, VDM5 20m 1 x AudioQuest Gibraltar Speaker Cable, 10m 4 x AudioQuest Columbia Pair XLR, 2m 3 x AudioQuest Columbia Pair XLR, 1m 50m AudioQuest CV4 Speaker Cable 1 x Gefen HDMI Fibre Optic Cable 50ft (15m) 1 x Gefen HDMI Fibre Optic Cable 100ft (30m) 1 x QED Reference HDMI Digital Interconnect, 10m 2 x QED Reference HDMI Digital Interconnect, 3m 1 x QED Performance Optical Audio Cable 1 x Sherbourn Triple Fan 1 x Middle Atlantic AXS Equipment Rack, Cable Management and Power Boards

LIVING/MEDIA ROOM • 1 x Pioneer Kuro Plasma • 1 x Ultralift Custom Made Floor Lift for 50” Plasma • 1 x Stewart 92” Projection Screen, 16:9 (with extra Side Masking), Stealth Trap Door Electriscreen

• • • • • • •

1 x JVC DLA-X9 3D Ready Projector 3 x JVC PK-AG1B 3D Active Glasses 1 x JVC PK-EM1 3D Emitter 1 x Ultralift Projector Lift LCAV5555-28-2 1 x Marantz KI Series SACD Player 1 x Sony PS3 1 x Focal Maestro Utopia, 3 Way Bass Reflex Floorstanding Speakers (Front Pair) • 1 x B&W CWM7.3 Custom In-Wall Dual 150mm 3 Way Speaker (Centre Channel) • 1 x B&W CCM7.3 Dual 130mm 3-Way In-Ceiling Speaker (Rear Pair) • 1 x Velodyne DD10 10” Subwoofer

• • • • • • • •

LOUNGE/DINING AREA 4 x Sonos ZP120 2 x Sonos ZP90 1 x Sonos WD100 Wireless iPod dock 1 x Sonos CR200 Controller 1 x Rotel RMB-1575 5 Channel Amp 2 x B&W CCM7.3 (Pair) 1 x Netgear GS108 8-Port ProSafe Gigabit Switch 1 x Thor 7 Way Power Board

BALCONY • 1 x SpeakerCraft Aim-MT7-THREE In-ceiling speakers REAR ENTERTAINMENT • 1 x SpeakerCraft Aim-MT7-THREE In-ceiling speakers MASTER BEDROOM 1 x Panasonic THP42V20A 42” Plasma TV 1 x Kaleidescape MPLAYER-500 Player 1 x FoxTel IQ2 1 x Sonos BR100 Zone Bridge 1 x Sonos CR100 Controller 1 x Netgear GS108 8-Port ProSafe Gigabit Switch • 1 x SpeakerCraft MT8-THREE In-ceiling Speakers • • • • • •

MASTER EN SUITE • 1 x SpeakerCraft MT8-THREE In-ceiling Speakers CONTROL SYSTEMS • 1 x Philips Pronto TSU9800 (Media Room) • 1 x Philips Pronto TSU9400 (Master Bedroom)


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30/11/2011 11:45:36 AM


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012 making the set-up of such systems both faster and more reliable than the earlier generations of smarthome controls, which had more proprietary programming and needed to be programmed quite laboriously. The touchscreen is the interface, but the modules which do the work in the background (sitting in a cupboard or a rack out of sight) can be tailored to suit domestic or larger-scale commercial applications, and control just about anything. You want Video Switching up to 24 or more zones of HD? Audio Switching up to 144 stereo zones or 18 surround-sound zones? Can do! From a home theatre to whole house or commercial, Savant can be specified to do it on a large or small scale. What follows is how Savant themselves see it:



hat is a savant? It’s from the French — a man of learning, scholar (old present participle of savoir, ‘to know’). The departure of Steve Jobs from the driving seat of Apple has left many wondering if his expertise, his intuition about what products to develop, his skill in marketing, can be replaced by anyone else. Steve was truly a savant despite being, by his own admission, a college drop-out, although that was for other reasons! From the iPod to the iPhone, the iPad and the MacBook Air, Apple under his guidance led the market into new ways of using products that those with less foresight could not see coming. Now that the iPad is incredibly successful (despite the nay sayers) and other manufacturers scramble to catch up, its ripples are spreading across the technological pond in ways that some foresaw, but many didn’t.


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‘Apps’ have transformed what could have been dismissed as just another abbreviated form of computer with a touch screen. In our line of business the apps that count are related to audio and video gear, and the use of an iPad, iPod touch or iPhone as a remote control is booming. With a minimum of fuss you can get free downloaded apps to turn your touch device into a remote for a whole raft of brands, including Marantz, Yamaha, Sonos, Olive and Meridian Sooloos. But this is only the beginning. Remote control companies like RTI, Crestron and Push are all offering programs which use these Apple touch screens to control their “smart” control devices. But there’s another very advanced company which has moved into this field, namely Savant. What they have to offer is a vast array of control systems using the Apple OS as the basis of their programs, thereby

“Savant transforms your Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and even your traditional HDTV into your very own personalised control portal for everything that matters most in your life or business. Savant becomes your light switch, your thermostat, your personal media player, your on/off, open/close, up/down button from just about anywhere in the world. “What was once complex and confusing technology is now progressively smarter with Savant. “From the luxury home theatre to the classroom, the living room to the boardroom, Savant offers the industry’s only Apple-based control, automation and media system for the residential and commercial markets worldwide. “A series of intelligent control and media products fused into one innovative solution that: • unites control, automation, media, multi-room and home theatre audio/video and telephony into a single system; • harnesses the latest smart home technologies and intelligent subsystems (audio/video, intelligent lighting, climate control, security, communications, etc.) available; • delivers the highest performance and quickest response time of any competing control platform;

30/11/2011 11:47:16 AM

SAVANT CONTROL SYSTEMS • connects with the unlimited media content from iTunes and the Internet; • offers the latest advances in the user experience — simple and familiar navigation of your Savant SmartSystem; • assures proven reliability, scalability and customisation.” By electing to build their systems on the Apple platform, Savant have enlisted the strength of that company, its easy-to-use products and its well-proven operating system, thereby “providing users with an unmatched level of responsiveness and a rich line of customizable user interface options limited only by their imaginations...”: “No longer will customers have to rely on automation products that possess a significant and costly gap between hardware and software. And that have a strong dependence on pricey third-party programmers and set-up experts for control activation. At the core of every Savant Smart Home control or commercial installation is a reliable and maintenance-friendly open platform combining the most advanced and revolutionary media and computing products from Apple, a breakthrough configuration and control software called RacePoint Blueprint, and the power of a Savant SmartSystem. “Without the need to write a single line of code, Savant’s pioneering Blueprint software solution configures and controls any AV component or sub-system in a fraction of the time it would take to program competing AV control systems. Built upon Apple’s latest Mac OS, Blueprint provides for the CE, CEDIA, and commercial channels, offering an intelligent solution that overcomes the lack of standards in the industry and the complex nature of integrating various audio/video and environmental sub-systems. “A SmartSystem from Savant is an intelligent AV control system that boasts an integrated iTunes-based digital media server providing a familiar digital jukebox experience. All of the family’s favourite music, movies, television shows, and more can be securely stored, quickly accessed, shared, displayed, and selectively distributed throughout the smart home — up to four independent and simultaneous iTunes media streams to any area in the home, seamlessly providing whole-house audio distribution.”


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30/11/2011 11:47:41 AM


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012



alve (or tube) amplifiers still enchant many people with their very characteristic sound compared to your average solid-state design. Whether that translates into a more realistic ‘live’ sound or a more romantic ‘warm’ sound will depend on individual designers and the tubes used. But one thing is certain, valves still have the same mystique and attraction for people from top guitarists down to audio fans that the venerable LP has. It should, by now, come as no surprise that high-quality hi-fi components are being made in China. We have been selling the Plessis ‘Model A’ valve amplifier for several years now — it is beautifully made and sounds superb. Peachtree is another company who marry US-based design expertise with Asian production facilities, just as Musical Fidelity have quite a few of their UK designs manufactured in Taiwan to remain price competitive. Let’s face it, everyone’s doing it. As you’ll see below, quality control is not a problem. A name like PrimaLuna immediately suggests Italian origins, and this company is indeed European. Their chief designer Marcel Croese is formerly of Goldmund, and their chief executive Herman van den Dungen is a fastidious overseer of design


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and production quality. Reviewers are fulsome in citing the cabinet construction, lacquer finish and neat circuitry of PrimaLuna products. Even their entry-level models are extremely well made, right down to the neat individual point-topoint wiring solders, and the little dabof-red-lacquer seal on screws and bolts. Custom-made toroidal transformers are used, along with ALPS volume pots, Philips diodes and Nichicon & Solen capacitors — all good audiophile parts. When 6moons audio reviewed PrimaLuna they said: “The execution of the point-to-point wiring is text-book perfect. Ditto for the precision of the wire routing.” Sound+Image said “It’s not too many pieces of audio equipment that get so reluctantly returned to their boxes, but this PrimaLuna was one such amplifier that left a musical hole when removed from our resident system…” The relatively simple appearance also hides a lot of clever and advanced design, such as the automatic self-bias circuits for each tube. These make sure your amplifier continues to sound at its best over time, while also prolonging valve life by keeping them all within prescribed limits of heat and power. Thermal protection is provided

as a safeguard against any meltdowns that might occur, so damage will be limited to specific areas, such as one valve, while other parts are protected by the amplifier shutting down until the issues are resolved. The valves are also treated gently by a soft-startup circuit which warms them gradually whenever the amplifier is switched on. More innovative circuitry is employed in the company’s Prologue Classic CD player ($2999) in the shape of a SuperTubeClock for reduced jitter, backed up by proven digital circuitry from Burr Brown in the shape of their state-ofthe-art SRC4192 upsampling circuit and PCM1792 DACs. The Prologue Premium Preamplifier ($2299) uses 4 x 12AU7 valves and 2 x 5AR4 rectifiers, has 4 x line-level inputs, HT throughput, and two sets of pre-outs. The Prologue Premium Monoblocks (70w) use either 4 x EL34 for a pair price of $4599, or 4 x KT88 for a pair price of $5399. We earnestly encourage you to come in and audition these PrimaLuna products. They are among the most affordable of this type of hi-fi around, and you may find yourself falling for that special sound and ambience. Be warned, it is addictive!

30/11/2011 11:49:03 AM







D598 Retro: The new HD598 headphone (rrp $399, special $299) looks radically different to the HD595 it replaces, although the difference is more in the colour and the little timber trim pieces than in the shape. The combination of cream and brown give these a trendy ‘retro’ look which people warm to right away. The sound has also benefited from the trickle-down of technologies developed for the superlative HD800 ($1999) and shows a more lively top end and spaciousness than previous models in this price range. Although they can be driven from portable devices, we’d recommend that they be used with larger home-based things like amplifiers, CD players, or (ideally) dedicated headphone amps. PXC-310 Noise Reduction ($499): This has to be the ideal noise reduction headphone. For starters, it’s not too large, so won’t give you problems including it in your carry-on luggage. Secondly, it does actually reduce 90% of the ambient noise, which otherwise ruins your trip. Thirdly, it allows you to control things via handy buttons on one earpiece, as there’s no separate NR module as with older models: on-off, volume, talk-through, track advance (BT version). Recharging the lithium battery is done via a USB lead. There’s a wired and a Bluetooth (BT) version of these heapdhones as well. And, of course, the sound quality is superb!

PXC 250-II Noise Reduction ($299): Another very compact noise-reduction headphone, this one has the separate NR module that you turn on and off as needed. Priced at a lower level, it doesn’t offer quite the same features or performance of the PXC310, but remains excellent value for those who do not want to outlay $499 for that model. They fold

PX21 BT up to a very small package so again will not cause any anguish to the traveller’s luggage load. PX210 BT ($399): These Bluetooth 2.1 headphones do away with the wired connection, meaning you can play wirelessly from your iPhone/iPod touch/ iPad. The battery is rechargeable via USB and is replaceable, and you can use a wired connection to listen if you want to. These are a closed mini headphone, folding type, with optimisation for portable devices and compressed music formats. While they are not cheap, they will give you some of the best sound in their class.

SOUND+IMAGE AWARDS: KRELL & MUSICAL FIDELITY The annual Sound+Image Awards saw us winning Custom Installation of the Year (see pages 16-19 in this edition), while the Krell S-300i ($3499) took Stereo Amplifier Of The Year under $5000, with another of our favourites, the Musical Fidelity M3i integrated, being runner-up in that category. The Sound+Image judges comment: “Krell is an unashamedly high-end brand, and the S-300i is no exception, with its direct-coupled, fully balanced Class A pre-amp circuitry and its high-current 2 x 150W output stage. But what most amazed the judges was that Krell has included an iPod connection and attached a pricetag so low that it had not only Krell’s competitors, but also audiophiles, shaking their heads in wonderment.”

Our comments: “The runner-up, MF’s M3i ($1895), amazes us with its liveliness. This new ‘entry level’ member of the Musical Fidelity family is a 76w/ channel integrated amplifier with inputs for CD, Tuner, Tape, Aux1/Home Theatre throughput (switchable), Aux2, and Aux3. There are outputs for one pair of speakers, pre-outs and Tape Rec outs. As usual, MF have paid close attention to the pre-amp section, and the inclusion of pre-out sockets means that you can upgrade in future to a bigger power amplifier, using the M3i as the pre-amp. The power section has been made as robust as possible within the price level, with a current capacity of 25amps.”


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30/11/2011 11:49:22 AM

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e used to promote what we called the ‘Starter System’, which was based around an entry-level stereo integrated amplifier and CD player (or/and turntable) and a pair of bookshelf speakers. It was the perfect introduction to proper audio — back then. The sound quality of even a basic hi-fi like that is so far ahead of the plasticfantastic ‘shelf systems’ that once you’ve started down this road there’s no going back. But what nowadays constitutes a basic system? Technology has advanced now to the point where the starter system takes a whole new shape and draws on alternative sources.

We’d say it’s something like this: ... A Peachtree digital amplifier, such as the iDecco with iPod Dock, or the Decco2... plus a pair of compact speakers like the Focal Chorus 705V or the Sib/Cub 2.1 satellite/subwoofer system. These systems, priced from $1,698 (as long as the Decco2 is still priced at $999), can take music from your computer via USB, they can use an iPod/iPhone/ iPod touch via the inbuilt dock (or use the Pure i20 digitally), or have any other digital source connected via coaxial or optical input.

If you need to connect an analogue source, that can be done too. For good measure these amplifiers also feature a tube stage in the pre-amp section which doubles duty as an excellent headphone amp. Add a Musical Fidelity V-LPS and you can even connect a turntable, or get the Project Essentials USB Turntable that connects directly. In fact the combination of amplifier, speakers, turntable and computer (or NAS drive) is a lot more popular than many would believe. Some ‘tuners’ now can do a lot more than the old AM/FM radio tuner. You can get a DAB+/AM/FM tuner, or go a step further and get something which is also network connected for streaming your stored music, or for online sources like Internet Radio, Last.FM, and so on. Any amplifier can be turned into an audio streamer with internet radio access by the addition of a Sonos CONNECT (ZP90) and a BRIDGE (Zonebridge), provided you have an internet connection (modem/router) it can connect to. The modern starter system has lots of possibilities in this brave new digital, networked environment. We can help put one together for you from all the exciting new components now available!


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Newsletter Summer 2011/2012


ith today’s continuallyevolving world of digital living, entertainment units need to be designed to truly address the changing needs of modern home entertainment systems. SydneySide Media Furniture’s range of AV storage is all about organisation and multi-functionality, their extensive range incorporating carefully-crafted features into a uniquely flexible system, catering for the functional and aesthetic storage demands of today’s modern AV equipment. Models are available in both freestanding and wall-mounted solutions where a myriad of compartment sizes and configurations have been carefully designed to accommodate audio-visual


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set-ups of all calibres. Serious AV enthusiasts will warm to features such as oversize rear cut-outs and ventilation slots to mention a few – but the build quality and sleek styling is what will distinguish these cabinets to the discerning. SydneySide carry over 300 unique models, including low line and sideboard configurations concealing sensible compartment sizes generously designed to cater for AV equipment from the majority of today’s market leaders. Manufactured to order in their own facility right here in Sydney, the Lifetime Guarantee attests to their commitment to innovation and a devotion to excellence in the field of serious entertainment units. Visit one of their showrooms and you will immediately see that the level of service on offer is rare. To view the complete range of entertainment units available from SydneySide, visit one of their four showrooms or

uestion: How good does Sonos sound? Answer: As good as you make it. There are several ways to get the best out of Sonos, the most successful multiroom audio system of recent years. You can have more access via more zones, better quality music files, or simply make your zone audio equipment sound better. We’ll let you into some secrets here — getting the best out of Sonos depends on what you link it to, in both hardware and software terms. Firstly, what quality of music file are you tapping into? If you are reading your own CDs into a hard-drive storage library, be it iTunes or anything else, you have the opportunity to set the quality at which those copies are made. For instance, in iTunes you should use nothing lower than the 320k setting for MP3, and preferably use Apple Lossless, WAV or AIFF. They’ll take up more space than the lower MP3 settings, but they sound so much better. If you’re using, the new online library, you can select their 320k setting for improved sound. Not all online libraries have this yet, so we think Anubis will score highly on this, and the fact that it is readily available in Australia. There’s no doubt that Sonos is a good method of spreading the music around, and the Sonos Connect:Amp (ZP120) or the self–powered speakers are a fair enough starting point. But by no stretch are they audiophile standard. The good news is that with Sonos, you can create a music zone at any level of audio excellence you choose, from basic starter system

through to high-end ‘cost no object’. You see, it’s possible to make up all your zones using the ZP90 Connect unit running into whatever DAC, amp and speakers you like. This opens up a multitude of possibilities. Without spending a fortune you can step up from the basic sound level by using an amplifier by such manufacturers as Peachtree, Marantz, Yamaha or NAD, and speakers by Focal, B&W, Orpheus, Peachtree or Richter, to name a few. Some Peachtree amplifiers even have a space in the back for the Sonos Connect (ZP90) to sit! But even if you want to step up further to Musical Fidelity, Electrocompaniet, Plessis or PrimaLuna valve, or even a Krell amplifier, you can still connect Sonos to it. Of course at these higher levels of equipment, the quality of the source music matters, and needs to be attended to as indicated above. You can also, at this level, justify further mods to the Sonos gear itself, or the addition of specialised offboard DACs. But making this strategic connection of concepts is important if you want to combine the convenience of streaming music around the home with the quality of sound you are used to or would like to enjoy. A flexible approach to these things is what enables us to arrive at the right combination of equipment for each of our customers. That ability to assess, adjust and to be innovative with system design is what keeps people coming back to us for their audio and video needs. How good does your Sonos sound? There’s every chance we can help it to sound even better!


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30/11/2011 11:51:40 AM


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012


GENEVA’S XS BAGGAGE The new Geneva XS is at once totally modern and retro, recalling those travel-sized clock-radios that folded up in a similar fashion. It packs two tweeters and a small woofer, a digital amplifier and a DAC into that slim case, along with clock-alarm functions. With Bluetooth, inbuilt FM and an auxiliary 3.5mm stereo input, you have plenty of ways to make it sing. Power is by 2700mA rechargeable battery. Available before Xmas in Geneva’s trademark colours of Red, Black, or White, for $299.


Vibrapods have been designed to soak up the internal vibes that all sorts of players generate with their motors and transport mechanisms, as well as those coming up through the furniture from other things. The Vibrapods ($39.95 per set of 4, plus $5 postage to anywhere in Australia) are replacement feet for your various components which can be attached (after removing the original, screwed-on feet) or on which they can simply sit. The structure is a bit like a doughnut, with external walls of whatever thickness suits the weight of the component, to give more or less resilience. Alternatively, there are the Vibrapod Cones ($11.90ea) which suit heavier items such as amplifiers and speakers, being weight tolerant up to 25kg.

Using this before you play an LP will reduce the amount of surface lint and dust that will end up clogging the stylus if you don’t use it. They last for years and are well worth the money.

MILTY DUO PAD ($20): The Duo Pad is back in stock! It’s the best little cleaning pad for LPs, having two sides, each covered in velvet over stiff foam, so you can use one damp and one dry. First use the dry side to collect dust in lines, then use the slightly dampened side to collect them all and remove them from the surface. In more extreme cases you can use a cleaning fluid on the wet side.

TIVOLI’S BRIGHT IDEAS The much-loved Model One radio ($299) now has a range of exciting new colour options, which will see it appealing to a whole new generation of listeners. Along with that, the new DAB+ version of the PAL (called the PAL+) is now available for $399. This brings it up to date and will see a whole new round of people buying portable radios.


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YAMAHA PDX-11 $129 A rugged, portable self-powered speaker which has a dock and an auxiliary 3.5mm stereo input. This is a go-anywhere sound system for the big outdoors.

YAMAHA’S THREE-PIECE MICRO SYSTEMS In contrast to Yamaha’s Aventage AV receiver range (see pages 4, 5), they also have new systems and speaker docks with colours and digital connectivity that are sure to appeal widely to those with music on portable devices as well as CD.

MCR-550 $899 Above is the three-piece MCR-550, a step up from the MCR-332 (left), with more power (2 x 32w) and two-way bookshelf speakers to deliver a fuller sound than the small units. Sources include direct iPod docking, CD player, USB port, DAB+ digital radio, FM tuner, and 3.5mm aux input.

MCR-332 $699 This small three-piece stereo consists of a central electronic unit with dock, USB, CD player and FM radio, plus two compact speakers (two-way) powered by the centre unit’s 2 x 20w amplifier. An ideal step up from the one-piece units, while still compact and very affordable.

MCR-755 $999 Micro Hi-fi with Blu-ray! This system has so much to offer: CD/DVD/Bluray player, iPod Dock, iPad via USB, DAB+ digital radio, and… wait for it… Network Connection! It even has 3D capability and virtual surround.

YAMAHA TSX-140 $649 Essentially this has even more comprehensive functionality than the TSX-130 and a new, more space-efficient shape. It has the dock, a clock, CD, DAB+, FM and AM, USB and Aux Input, using twin 79mm speakers and 2 x 15w power to deliver excellent sound for a very compact system.


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Modus L32 $1,699


Newsletter Summer 2011/2012

Xelos 42 SL $2,199


remium German technology and styling, with a very non-German price! That sums up the 42”/106cm Xelos SL. Loewe is known to put special emphasis on high quality and at the same time minimalist design — you can see that with the Xelos. The Xelos SL is not only equipped with advanced 100Hz image frequency, the LCD TV also has the innovative image-enhancement technology Loewe Image+, which is simply the best out of everything you see — in terms of contrast, colour and sharpness. It is, of course, a full HD 1920x1080 pixel screen, with 5 millisecond response time. The inbuilt audio system is also above the standard of other brands of TV, with two genuine full-range speakers for stereo, and tone effects including ‘Panorama’ and 3D Surround. It has a full range of AV connections including audio in and out (analogue and digital), HDMI, component video and Euro-SCART. Power consumption per year is on average a low 256kwh, while in standby it is a tiny 0.9w consumption, and the set can be turned off totally when you are away from home. The Xelos SL shows its class: it is available in two elegant and timeless colours, Black and Chrome Silver. And with its cable management keeping everything tidy, you can allow its back to be seen!

or those wanting an excellent second TV, or those who don’t need anything bigger but would like a high quality set with excellent picture and sound performance, the Modus L32 (80cm) is a high definition 1080i screen with HD tuner inbuilt, and also has a HDMI input. Note: at this size the 1920x1080 resolution is very fine, and the result is magnificent picture quality from HD broadcast or attached PVR or DVD/Blu-ray player. More space within the frame is allowed for better speakers, with excellent sonic results. It has an Electronic Program Guide (EPG), Electronic Help Manual, and Teletext functions included. There are a variety of AV inputs and outputs, including HDMI, Component, Digital Audio, Euro Scart, and Headphone out.

FREE WARRANTY EXTENSION For any Loewe set, register your warranty with the distributor within 14 days and get the LCD warranty extended from 2 to 5 years, and the Blu-ray from 2 to 3 years.


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SPECIAL ITEMS $2,399, and more so when they dropped to $1,999, so while at the new price of $1,499 they are still an expensive pair of headphones, they offer excellent value. 2) HD650. Hardly a new special – these phones retail for $949, but we have been offering them for $499. We have never been able to say when this special would come to an end, but it has been so successful that it appears it will now continue for some time into the future.



ith Christmas just around the corner there is no better time for us to launch a series of specials on Sennheiser headphones. 1) HD800. The HD800 is regarded by many as the finest dynamic headphone in the world. They proved popular at their initial release price of

3) The newest promotion that we have is on their superb wireless headphones. The RS180 and RS170 phones use Kleer uncompressed digital wireless audio transmission technology, and this is the first time where we can confidently state that you can use a cordless headphone without a major compromise in performance. The HD650 mentioned above may be a better performer, but a) they cost more, and b) you still need to battle with the cables. These are an excellent buy at the best of times, but at these prices they are exceptional value. RS180 rrp. $549 – Sell $399 RS170 rrp. $449 – Sell $329 Plus: We will ship anywhere in Australia for free. Simply phone your order to 02 9427 6755.

KOSS TONY BENNETT SIGNATURE These Koss Tony Bennett Signature Edition Stereophones ($199) are a new design from Koss celebrating their association with Tony Bennett — they’ve both been around for a long time! These headphones are beautifully styled, sound great and can be used at home but are able to run off portable devices as well. As a bonus you’ll get to download Tony’s latest album “Duets II” featuring a stellar cast of singers.



s if they weren’t already three of the great temptations on the market, the three Olive models are now coming with special bonuses. The O3HD at $1699 will come with an extra 500GB external Hard Drive, while the O4HD at $3599 and the O6HD at $6499 will each come with a bonus Apple iPod touch 8GB, which can also become the controller by virtue of the Maestro app. Digital storage of music is all the go now, not just for the convenience, but with HD tracks taking off it is also about quality.

AUDIOQUEST CABLES We have a wide range of Audioquest’s superb cables currently available at some very special prices. They include HDMI, optical and CAT5e digital cables, many at well below half their retail

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prices — some even at a quarter of RRP! Stocks are limited, so contact us for full details: visit us in store, call us on 02 9427 6755, or visit for full details of the available cables.


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All New The New 2011 range is available at your authorised 800 Series Diamond dealer. For more information visit or call 02 9700 0111

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Len Wallis Audio Headlines Summer 2011/2012  

audio news, Len Wallis Audio