Reviews

Bryston BR-20

Bryston is one of the companies that use a very logical naming scheme for their products. Thus, amplifier symbols usually contain the letter "B", DACs start with "BDA", network players - "BDP", home theater processors - "SP" and preamplifiers - "BP". They are supplemented with numbers, which may indicate their output power (the B135² integrated amplifier delivers 135W per channel into 8 ohms) or inform us which generation of a given model we are dealing with (the BHA-1 is the first headphone amplifier from the Canadian factory, and the BDP-3 already had two predecessors - BDP-1 and BDP-2). Devices that cannot be assigned to any of the existing categories are scarce. So when Bryston decided to break the current pattern and release a preamplifier that should have been called the BP-18³ (because it is the successor to the BP-17³) but was given the BR-20 symbol, it was clear that this was no accident. The reason for this sudden change turned out to be, unfortunately, very sad. The Canadians wanted to honor their colleague and long-time company president, Brian Russel, who died in his sleep of a heart attack last year. At the time, Bryston's team was putting the finishing touches…

Norma Audio Revo IPA-140

The history of Norma Audio began in 1987 in Cremona - the hometown of famous composers, such as Ponchielli and Monteverdi, and great violin masters - Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri. It was a man with an equally Italian-sounding name - Enrico Rossi - who created the apparatus on which you can listen to such wonderful music in the comfort of your living room. The first device manufactured under the Norma Audio brand was the NS 123 amplifier. It was not a spectacular commercial success, but nobody expected that. A completely new chapter in the company's history began when it was acquired by Opal Electronics, a manufacturer of electronic measuring devices. In 1991, Norma's owner started a research project to understand how audio equipment can degrade sound and how this can be avoided. Seven years later, he found what he was looking for. It was certainly not one brilliant solution but rather a collection of rules and general guidelines. Unlike manufacturers who have built their reputation on a particular technical solution, Norma doesn't base its entire business on a single patent. But if you would like to know what you can expect from this gear, Enrico Rossi makes it clear -…

Hegel H20

Hegel Music Systems is a perfect example of a company driven by good ideas, rational decisions, and putting the most important thing first - the sound. The Norwegians can boast of many interesting technical solutions, but neither care for selecting the right components for each model, nor hours spent on designing circuit boards or pursuit of functionality distracted them from that universal goal. Although it may seem improbable to those who know the hi-fi market very well, Hegel's team consists of only seven people. We can add professionals working for external subcontractors, but on a daily basis, you'll find four, maybe five people at the company's headquarters in Oslo. Nevertheless, we are talking about a brand that has won probably all the most important awards in the industry and whose actions have been watched closely for many years even by more successful and experienced competitors. What is so special about Hegel then? Maybe it is the simplicity typical for Scandinavian manufacturers? Maybe it's a specific mixture of proprietary technologies, love for music, and business sense, thanks to which the factory founded by Bent Holter got on a roll when all the others were hiding in corners, fearing economic crisis? Maybe…

Enerr Transcenda Ultimate

I have long got bored by the discussions on whether or not the power cords actually work. Maybe it's because, unlike some of their participants, I have experienced all or almost all the stages of this adventure. Just like many audiophiles, I have started as a skeptic. It cannot be done in any other way, since one gains expertise in this field through time-consuming experiments and listening sessions, not sudden enlightenment or the purchase of the most expensive accessories on the market. To hear the difference, one has to reach for hi-end products. Buying a cord that is more expensive than the appliance it's connected to seems ridiculous, yet, the system does not sound the same way it used to, and the thought of improving the sound returns like a boomerang. Over the years, I have tested many cables and conditioners. I have participated in many listening sessions and different sorts of experiments. I have compared standard 'computer' cables to hi-end wires worth thousands of dollars. That is why I am not particularly interested in purely theoretical discussions. Been there, done that, have a t-shirt. I prefer to check power accessories in practice. And that is what I'm going to…

Tellurium Q Blue II

It has been a while since I had a brush with Tellurium Q products, however, I regularly receive questions from audiophiles who ask which of their cables will be the most suitable with this or another system. I even get the impression that some music lovers try to solve this puzzle in the worst possible way - not based on the listening but rather the reviews, users' comments, and comparing weird figures found online. Yet, they are still convinced that they should buy Tellurium Q cables. They just wonder whether they should choose Blue, Black, Black Diamond, or Ultra Silver series, even though there are lots of other very interesting cables on the market. Why these, then?

Pylon Audio Ruby Monitor

We became interested in the products made by a Polish company, Pylon Audio, when it had just started being successful and their loudspeakers - Topaz and Pearl - gained recognition. Then, other products followed, such as Sapphire, Diamond, and Opal. Not to mention the floorstanding loudspeakers manufactured for Unitra or Audio Physics's Classic series, both using cabinets made by Pylon Audio in Jarocin - a city in which, in the 80s, the biggest rock music festival in Europe used to be organized. Testing their products was always a chance to catch up on Pylon's latest achievements. It seemed as if the company had been, step-by-step, checking off the next points on their earlier prepared plan. Launching a new series of speakers, adding glossy lacquers, entering international markets, designing their own mid-bass speakers, establishing collaboration with the award-winning partners, awards, exhibitions, honours, expanding wood veneer palette, extending the factory… Every now and then a thought comes to my mind that reportage about the Pylon factory would be something worth making, yet every time one problem arises - such article would have to be often updated, since in one year the situation may change so dramatically that a huge part of knowledge…

Auris Audio Fortissimo

Watching the development of companies representing the audio industry can be very interesting. With time, you can make predictions of certain trends, and after many years check whether they turned out to be true. Today's review is not just another description of an interesting product, but also the continuation of my adventure with Auris Audio, which four years ago provided us with one of the first amplifiers in their history - the Adagio 300B. We didn't expect it to be perfect, but in many ways it was. Considering that the company was founded just a year earlier, it was hard to believe. This elegant and very refined amplifier using famous directly heated triodes wasn't made by accident. In the following years, the Serbian company proved it wants to continue making hi-end gear for true audiophiles, or even go a bit further. The latest Fortissimo integrated amplifier is a good case in point.

Klipsch Heresy III 70th Anniversary Edition

We live in strange times when people often throw away old stuff to buy something new, not always better. Everything gets replaced faster and faster, sometimes just for the sake of making small changes in our lives. Not surprisingly, some people are not taking part in this process anymore. Instead, they started looking for true quality in products that have been manufactured long ago. The only trouble is, these things are not easy to find.

Chartwell LS6

British monitors gained an exceptional appreciation in the audiophile world. Many manufacturers of such sets have rich and interesting history, often intertwined with famous recording studios. Even today, in the offer of PMC or ATC there is a sharp line dividing the consumer and professional segment. Obviously, every manufacturer dealing with professional equipment likes to boast about it everywhere, but it is also fair to say that many British companies have the right to do so. Among many institutions, one has become the real breeding ground of speaker talents - the British Broadcasting Corporation. Boxes originally developed for the BBC have 'that something' - the sound which is difficult to replicate even today. Most of the engineers have abandoned the old way of building the speakers, but a few companies are still faithful to those proven solutions. Graham Audio is one of them.

Meze 99 Neo

Meze is a rarity in the world of headphones and all audio equipment. It's unique that a small company focused on one type of product has gained so much attention, in just a few years. Okay, maybe it's not on a par with the biggest players like Sennheiser, AKG or Beyerdynamic yet, but probably this is not the point here. Factory located in the town of Baia Mare in Romania started from making simple, but nice headphones with ear cups made of natural wood. Is it just an interesting idea that hasn't been supported by any other success? Well, not exactly. The founder of the brand, Antonio Meze, had to think about everything in all its detail because today his company can be an example for other manufacturers.