StereoLife Magazine - Displaying items by tag: review

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.

Fezz Audio Titania

Fezz Audio is an example of a brand that has kicked-off fairly recently, but the onset of the launch of their very first product, it has already had a considerable baggage of accumulated experience, facilitating a strong, heads-on jump-start. From the very beginning, it seems that the manufacturer has not only embarked upon the right concept when it comes to the design of the device itself, but he has also pointedly targeted an extremely attractive price range. The tube amplifier in question, called Silver Luna, has perfectly blended into the demands of audiophiles, a product trait which we have witnessed only very rarely in recent times. From the outside - it holds the traditional looks of stereo tube amplifier, made available in a range of intriguing color schemes. From the inside - a respectable powerhouse built of components stemming from the companies in-house production. And all of this comes at a price that would, under normal conditions, restrict us solely to a product range comprised of middle-class solid state amplifiers or, possibly, to some Chinese tube amplifiers, of questionable quality at that.

Egg-Shell Prestige PS5

Careful readers of StereoLife should already know the equipment of Encore Seven company, makers of the Egg-Shell Prestige PS5 phono preamplifier. Encore Seven is not only known because of their tube amplifiers, but also other activities connected with music. What emerges from the information on their website is an image of a young, but very dynamic company whose actions aren't limited to the production of audio gear, yet this part is certainly the most important one.

XTZ SUB 12.17

Subwoofers are very specific products. It might seem that the market was dominated by speakers manufactures, but this is not entirely true. Specialized companies often offer much more interesting, more powerful subwoofers than those which can be found in catalogues with common speakers. What do we want when choosing a subwoofer? Obviously - it has to be big, powerful and able to bring out frequencies which will significantly extend the capabilities of our stereo or home cinema system. And that's what XTZ SUB 12.17 is.

G Lab Design Fidelity Block

5.5-watt tube amplifier made by a young, little-known company? It doesn't sound like a recipe for success, does it? But when we saw this amp, we knew we have to review it. Block is a product of G Lab Design Fidelity company, whose aim was to design a tube amp for the 21st century. The device looks spectacular, but is simple in its form, which - according to the manufacturer - is also reflected in its internal structure. Maybe the company is young, but obviously people with experience and clear vision stand behind it.

Meze 99 Classics

The sector of headphones and products designed to accompany them evolves so quickly as if they were invented yesterday. But in fact it's over a hundred years of history - the history of two loudspeakers connected by a stick designed to wear them over the ears. Sudden development of mobile devices seems to have pushed new possibilities into this invention. With the appearance of cassette decks, CD players, and finally DAPs, we saw a huge demand for headphones and now it has happened again thanks to smartphones and tablets. The looks of headphones became important too and many people started to pay attention to the quality of sound as well. Many new manufacturers found their place on this growing market. One of them is Meze offering outstanding wooden headphones.

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.

Egg-Shell Prestige 12WKT

Encore Seven is a typical example of creating and building the brand completely from scratch. The passion, knowledge, experience, and willingness to act were the fundamentals here. In these few words, you can describe the genesis of this manufacture, but we should go back in time 25 years to start the story from the very beginning. As Encore Seven's founders say, the best way to get something good back then was to build it yourself. As teenagers wishing to play the electric guitar, they needed an amplifier, so they used some components from tube receivers and their first amps were created. The owner of the company assured me that, already at this point, his brother came up with the Egg-Shell name and logo, because he dealt with the design of amplifiers for their own needs. In the subsequent years, the passion moved to stereo systems for listening to music at home. Finally, five years ago they started designing new amplifiers and began regular production.