StereoLife - Displaying items by tag: analog

John Franks - Chord Electronics

Just as we were finishing the review of two DACs by Chord Electronics, we had an opportunity to meet the founder of the company and ask him some questions about the technology used in the latest devices and his idea of a perfect sound reproduction so to speak. John Franks is not a musician or self-taught electronical engineer as it often happens, but an avionics engineer who knows his trade very well. This job and everything that goes with it, has been translated into the world of high-end audio equipment. The company was founded in 1989 and since then it has been associated with technical innovation and brilliant design. Chord's sources and amplifiers are not only intriguing to look at, but also full of stuff you won't find anywhere else.

Chord Hugo & Hugo TT

Mission, B&W, KEF, Castle, Celestion, Rogers, NAD, Acoustic Energy, Naim, Spendor, Harbeth or ProAc are only a few companies whose names all audiophiles should associate with what might be called the British school of sound. Absolutely, this does not mean that the products of all these brands sound the same. You can distinguish here, at least, a couple of trends, but there is no denying that in this part of the world a lot of audiophile legends were created. Recently, another British company reminded us about itself. So far Chord Electronics were mainly engaged in hi-end gear for home use, but thanks to a small, functional headphone DAC everyone heard about it. This DAC was of course the Hugo. Hugo TT is its bigger brother - a typical desktop model, with an expanded functionality. Since we didn't have a chance to review any of them, we took both and decided to compare them.

AVID Ingenium

Ingenium is the most basic turntable in AVID's offer. This statement could either start this introduction or end it. However, despite it's true, it may also mislead readers who haven't been interested in analogue technology so far, or to whom the name AVID says very little. Why? When we talk about the base model, it is commonly associated with devices built down to a tight budget, and have been literally stripped of everything that could raise the production costs. Speaking about turntables, there are many models costing only two hundred dollars, but this comes at an expense of both sound and the quality of materials used to build such a turntable. In AVID's case, it is different because in the brand's catalogue there are no cheap models looking like a board with a platter and a miniature electric engine. The concept of "the cheapest AVID" thus carries the same message as "the cheapest Bentley" and is quite positive in its meaning.

Hegel HD30

When the D/A converters conquered the market, some saw it only as evolutionary dead end. For traditionalists, a DAC could only be a part of a CD player. However, people who ten years ago saw the future in combining the hi-fi with music files stored on a computer, were also not convinced that DACs are a final solution. Some time later, the servers playing music from built-in hard drive or external memory sticks were born, and then the first streamers appeared. Today, the situation is quite predictable. DACs are on the rise - they are better, bigger and more advanced. Hegel is one of the companies that knows the world of DACs very well. The Norwegians produced them when the market was not so big, and since then they have been constantly developing their products in this segment. I had a chance to review most of them - the HD2, HD11, HD 12, HD20 and HD25. Now the company has decided to reach even further with the new flagship model - the HD30.

Heinz Lichtenegger - Pro-Ject

Heinz Lichtenegger is one of the most interesting and forward-thinking people in the audio industry. The founder of Pro-Ject is known for his unwavering love for vinyl records and turntables. He is one of those who always believed in the power of vinyl and more - he's probably largely responsible for the renaissance of this medium. All turntable lovers should know his products - many of them have started their analog adventure with a Pro-Ject, and even those who do not use vinyl certainly associate the company with Box Design units. Where did it all come from, and what plans does Heinz have for the nearest future?

Lumin D1

The name Lumin should be familiar for audiophiles and music lovers. While the company started its business not so long ago (the first product was launched in 2012), it quickly gained the worldwide brand recognition. The beginnings of Lumin were controversial because the first streamer was very similar to another product in this category, manufactured by Linn. However, it soon became clear that despite some external similarities, Lumin is a completely different device in terms of sound and its possibilities. From the very beginning Lumin's streamer had the ability to play DSD files and music from USB drives connected directly to it. These options weren't offered by the competition.

PS Audio Sprout

PS Audio is an American company, specialising mainly in the production of the high-end power components and accessories. Especially its regenerating power stations enjoy good reputation. They convert energy from the wall socket to the DC, and then rebuild it as an ideal sine wave, thus creating a perfect electricity to supply the best audio devices, which are extremely sensitive to power quality, such as analogue and digital sources or preamplifiers. A few years ago a completely new series of components appeared in the catalogue - things like digital-to-analog converters and phono preamplifiers. Here the Americans focused on modern functionality and sound quality, so that this line has grown to five devices and two extra boards. Some time ago we saw an information about the planned launch of an integrated amplifier equipped with a full DAC, phono stage for MM cartridges, headphoneoutput and Bluetooth connectivity - all in an elegant, modern box and at an extremely attractive price.

Denon DA-10

Until recently Denon's catalog centered on devices almost exclusively dedicated to usage in stereo and home cinema systems - amplifiers, players, streamers and micro-systems. The offering was supplemented with accessories and a wide range of headphones, very interesting headphones, we have to say. However the increasing trend pushing many sectors towards mobile devices caused also a change in the catalogue of this Japanese company, causing an avalanche of propositions with different purpose. So last year we saw a few novelties, like the CEOL series of systems, the Envaya speaker looking like a lady's purse, the elegantly sleek soundbar DHT-T110 or the HEOS wireless speakers. But Denon seems not to be stopping there, as they recently presented their first DAC/headphone amplifier. This device is not only small, but also looks splendidly placed on a desktop.

Marantz HD-DAC1

Marantz is a company which managed to successfully penetrate the area of home cinema, receivers and modern streamers while preserving audiophile roots and an aura of exclusivity at the same time. It seems that they've found a recipe how to balance between the world of modern technologies and this what is proved, classic and desired by the lovers of high-quality sound. If you are interested in the gear from previous ages, and if you like internet profiles with vintage audio, you have surely seen loads of Marantz's equipment there - beautiful amplifiers, tuners with backlit scales and oscilloscopes, CD players with massive trays and advanced optics, all in metal, wood and glass. No wonder that in times of omnipresent plastic a retro fashion came back, bringing stereo equipment to where it should be.

Hegel HD25

In a relatively short time Hegel gained the status of the audiophile brand. It would seem that designing a big amplifier with shiny tubes and bright power meters is the best way to enter the market in such a spectacular way, but it's not the only one. It is hard to deny that many people still buy audio gear with their eyes, and the thickness of the wallet doesn't always go hand in hand with good taste. Norwegian devices have always been extremely modest. Matt fronts with at most two knobs and display do not promise anything revolutionary. But remember that sometimes the inside of device is the most important part.