Friday, December 23, 2011

Velodyne EQ-Max 15 Subwoofer Video Review

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NAD VISO 1 Wireless Digital Music System - Speaker System, Made for iPod

NAD raises the quality bar for iPod docks

Given how popular iPod docks have become in recent years, it’s surprising that hi-fi specialist NAD has taken so long to launch one of its own – but its new Viso 1 system has been well worth that wait. In fact, it’s good enough to worry class-leaders such as the Geneva Model M, which is some achievement for a first-time effort.

Of course, not being the first to market does have its advantages, and it’s clear that NAD has spent a lot of time poring over its competitors’ efforts to help hone its own product. If you can see hints of the B&W Zeppelin in the Viso 1’s design, we’re not at all surprised: everyone in the office made precisely the same observation the moment the NAD emerged from its packaging.

That’s not necessarily a disadvantage, mind you. The Zeppelin is a looker, so it follows that the Viso 1 is, too; while it’s surprisingly light, especially compared with the hefty B&W, it certainly looks as upmarket as it ought. As an added bonus, its slightly squarer proportions (48cm wide and 26cm high, against 64cm and 17cm for the Zeppelin) mean it occupies a smaller proportion of your desk, shelf or table.

The Viso 1’s docking cradle provides further evidence of NAD’s thorough benchmarking. Like the similar assembly on the B&W Zeppelin Mini, the Viso 1’s can rotate through 90 degrees to allow for landscape orientation of your iPhone or iPod Touch, a desirable asset for fans of iTunes’ Cover Flow feature. But here, it’s made all the more attractive because NAD has incorporated a clever clamping mechanism to lock your portable in place, avoiding the unwelcome ‘sagging’ effect that can afflict the Zepplein Mini’s dock.

Friday, December 16, 2011

First Look At PSB Speakers M4U 2

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Five Stars! More than Just Hot "Air"

Tech Specs

  • Type Steamer
  • Wireless Yes
  • Inputs USB, iPod dock, ethernet, Wi-Fi, FM, DAB and AM antennae
  • Outputs Line stereo, optical digital
  • File formats MP3, WAV, FLAC, AAC, WMA
  • Size (hwd) 44 x 10 x 34cm
  • Weight 4.7kg

Friday, November 18, 2011

Velodyne EQ-Max Now Available In All A&L Audio Station Branches

Features

  • One-touch Auto-EQ
  • Maximum output and impact
  • Remote control
  • Efficient green digital amplifier
  • Superior digital performance
  • Digital Distortion Limiting system

More Details

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Unison Research S6 & Simply Two Anniversary Now Available In All A&L Audio Station Branches

Simply Two Anniversary's Technical characteristics

  • Type: Stereo Integrated Valve Amplifier
  • Output Stage: single-ended, ultraliner, A class
  • Output Power: approx. 10 watt/channel
  • Inputs: 4 line, 1 tape
  • Input Impedance: 47 kOhm
  • Outputs: 1 tape, loudspeakers
  • Output Impedance: 4 – 8 ohm
  • Feedback factor: 5dB or 12dB (selectable)
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 25000 Hz
  • Valves: 2 x ECC82, 2 x EL34
  • Remote Control: IR for volume
  • Power Consumption: 85W max
  • Dimension: 26 x 39 x 18 cm
  • Net Weight: 16 Kg, 35 lbs

S6 (New)'s Technical Characteristics

  • Type: Stereo Integrated Valve Amplifier
  • Output Stage: single-ended parallel, ultraliner
  • Classe: pure A class
  • Output Power: 30/35 Watt/channel
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 50000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 6 Ohm
  • Input Impedance: 47 kOhm
  • Inputs: 5 line
  • Outputs: 1 tape, loudspeakers
  • Power Consumption: 265VA max
  • Dimensioni : 35 cm x 21cm x 49 cm (L x H x P )
  • Net Weight: 55 lbs

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NAD C356 DAC & DAC1 Now Available In All A&L Audio Station Branches


Data Sheet - C 356BEE DAC Integrated Amplifier
Data Sheet - DAC 1 Wireless USB Digital-to-Analogue Converter

Friday, September 30, 2011

Alpha Speakers Attain Golden Status

We are proud to announce that our Alpha T1 Tower Speaker has been honoured with the prestigious Diapason d'Or award from French hi-fi magazine, Diapason. In Diapason’s September issue, our Alpha T1 was all the rage for loudspeakers with great consistency, beautiful clarity, and a very good stereo image. The T1s continue to be an economical benchmark for high performance loudspeakers!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Introducing The All New P5 & P10


PerfectWave Power Plant 5

Features
  • Regenerated AC power
  • Low distortion sine wave
  • 100 times lower output impedance
  • MultiWave and CleanWave
  • Quiet running
  • Regulated AC
  • 1000 watt continuous output power
  • 50 amps peak power
  • THD analyzer
  • Real time oscilliscope
  • Touch screen
  • Variable output voltage
  • Web control for scheduling and reporting
  • Individual zone controls from front panel
  • Nano Crystalline filters
  • 8 Power Port AC receptacles (US unit)
  • Solid copper delivery system


Benefits
  • True dynamic voltage regulation
  • Better bass from equipment
  • Real isolation
  • Protection for everything connected
  • Lowers distortion by 10 times
  • Ultra low output impedance
  • Superior noise reduction
  • Delayed turn on for proper startup
  • Scheduling equipment shut down and turn on saves energy
  • Protect satellite or TV as well
  • Harmonic analyzer gives complete visibility of your power
  • Real time oscilliscope gives before and after results

PerfectWave Power Plant 10

Features
  • Regenerated AC power
  • Low distortion sine wave
  • 100 times lower output impedance
  • MultiWave and CleanWave
  • Quiet running no fans
  • Regulated AC
  • 1250 watt continuous output power
  • 70 amps peak power
  • THD analyzer
  • Real time oscilliscope
  • Touch screen
  • Variable output voltage
  • Web control for scheduling and reporting
  • Individual zone controls from front panel
  • Nano Crystalline filters
  • 10 Power Port Premier AC receptacles (US unit)
  • Solid copper delivery system


Benefits
  • True dynamic voltage regulation
  • Better bass from equipment
  • Real isolation
  • Protection for everything connected
  • Lowers distortion by 10 times
  • Ultra low output impedance
  • Superior noise reduction
  • Delayed turn on for proper startup
  • Scheduling equipment shut down and turn on saves energy
  • Protect satellite or TV as well
  • Harmonic analyzer gives complete visibility of your power
  • Real time oscilliscope gives before and after results

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DALI ZENSOR 7-DALI ZENSOR 1 review, STEREO Magazine, Germany

The new ZENSOR series is very well-received. ZENSOR 7 & ZENSOR 1 now gets 2x5 stars in STEREO.
Solid technique and great sound are some of the words for ZENSOR 7 and ZENSOR 1 in German STEREO magazine.

Here's a couple of quotes from the review:
"The strong drivers and four-layer voice coil of copper-aluminum are above class standard."

"And how do the Danes do sonically? Nothing to complain about!...even the small [ZENSOR, ed.] 1 trumped at Cambridge electronics with a balanced, crisp, and open sound, that is instantly fun to listen to."

"Even the most discerning customer should have a closer look at the favourable siblings...A damn good investment."

2x5 stars for DALI ZENSOR 7 and DALI ZENSOR 1.
Read the full review HERE

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

A&L Audio Station wishes everyone has a wonderful and happy mid-autumn Festival!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Imagine mini is an EXC!TE Award Winner!

We're very proud to announce that CustomRetailer has awarded PSB's Imagine mini with a 2011 EXC!TE Award as an innovative, high-performing product for the custom installation professional. Though small in size, the Imagine mini is making a big impression on the industry. With five attractive finishes and a whole lot of sound, it is no wonder the Imagine mini is one of CustomRetailer's recognized products for 2011.

CustomRetailer's EXC!TE Awards recognize products for their outstanding design, engineering, innovation and market presence. The overall custom electronics community, including custom retailers, installers and integrators, in addition to the CustomRetailer staff, measure the impact and presence these award-winning products have had in the industry.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hari Raya Wishes From A&L Audio Station

Selamat Hari Raya to all our Muslim friends and hope everyone has a wonderful holidays!

Monday, August 22, 2011

EISA Awards - European Audio Design 2011-2012 - DALI FAZON F5


EISA Awards - European Audio Design 2011-2012 - DALI FAZON F5 from EISA.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DALI FAZON F5 wins EISA Award!

The FAZON F5 is now officially winner of the international EISA Award, "European Audio Design 2011-2012".

Last year, the DALI IKON 6 MK2 won the EISA, and DALI is now very proud to hear that the new FAZON F5 has won this acclaimed award for 2011-2012. The DALI FAZON F5 is a unique product that has already attracted a lot of attention due to its brilliant sound capabilities and sculptural design unified in one product. The international committee behind EISA states the following about the FAZON F5 on their website:

"If you think all hi-fi loudspeakers are built into rectangular wooden boxes, then DALI makes us all think again with its stylish FAZON F5. Rather than use orthodox materials, DALI, the Danish speaker specialist, has worked with die-cast aluminium to achieve a highly novel and elegant loudspeaker shape.

Not only conceived to be pleasing to the eye, its curved cabinet is also ideal for minimizing internal reflections while offering great rigidity. Not just a pretty face, the FAZON F5 also benefits from DALI’s tried-and-tested wood-fibre cones and light silk dome tweeter. Available in high gloss red, black and white, this 86cm-tall sculpture comes with a purpose-built stand that allows your cables to be hidden from sight."

Source From www.dali-speakers.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

KLIAV 2011

The A&L Audio Station just drew its curtain in the KLIAV 2011 with great success. Hereby, we would like to take this opportunity to show our gratitude to all our supporters, customers, photographers and bloggers who came to support us during the show. We have a great time and we hope you all enjoy yourself too. This very year, we had 3 rooms for our demonstration with 2 rooms for HiFi demonstration and 1 room special for the Audio Visual demonstration.

Starhill 2, Level 4



This year, we have our guest of honor - Bartolomeo Nasta from Unison Research, Italy to join us for the show. Our main attraction for the show is Unison Research S6, which has won great reviews from reputable HiFi magazines couple with a pair of Dali Helicon 400 MKII and Unison Research Unicon CD Primo. The matching is made into perfection and they delivers stunning audio to the crowd.

The next attraction of our show is definitely Focus Audio’s Prestige Series – the all new FP70, FP80 and FP88. Without doubts, they are few of the top class loudspeakers range we have to offer to our customers. Those who are interested do give us a call to our branches nearest to your location to make arrangement for the audition.

The other HiFi demonstration includes Focus Audio FP 88SE pair with Unison Research Unico CDE, VTL MB-125 Monoblock and the all-new PS Audio P5 Power Plant.

Room 7030, Level 7

In this room, we feature NAD and PSB for the audiovisual demonstration. The pairing of the system is as follow:
  • NAD T747 AV Receiver
  • NAD T557 Blu-ray Player
  • PSB Image T5
  • PSB Image C5
  • PSB Image S5
  • PSB Subsonic 5i

Room 7032, Level 7

The next room features Unison Research, Elac and Lead Audio – a new DAC brand from Denmark. The LA-100 alone, has won many great reviews from HiFi & Musik, Fedelta del souno as well as Tinman. Therefore, make sure you don’t miss them! They are selling like hot cakes during the KLIAV shows and we still have a few of them left so get yours now before it is too late. For further information regarding the Lead Audio DAC, visit www.lead-audio.com

The showcase of this room is as follow:
  • Unison Research Primo
  • Unison Research CD Primo
  • Elac FS-248
  • Lead Audio LA-100
  • Lead Audio LA-200

NAD C 446 Digital Media Tuner Introduction

Monday, July 4, 2011

KLIAV 2011

Event: Kuala Lumpur International Audio Visual 2011
Date: 29 July 2011 - 31 July 2011
Location: J.W. Marriot Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lead Audio | LA-100 & LA-200 Now Available

LA-100 & LA-200 now available in all A&L Audio Station's branches. Do visit us at our nearest store for audition.

LA-100 Specification

Input

USB 2.0 compatible to PC
S/PDIF RCA 75ohm input (Coax) to CDP/DVD
S/PDIF Toslink input (Optical) to CDP/DVD
(Toshiba component for Toslink are used, safety
& quality are maximized)

Output

Line to amplifiers
Phones to headphones

DA Converter

Burr Brown 24bit/192KHz

Digital Input Sampling Frequency

USB:44.1KHz to 48KHz
Digital Input: 20KHz to 216KHz
Frequency Response: dc to 20KHz

THD at 1KHz

<0.001% by design

S/N Ratio

>120dB by design (A weighting)

Jitter

<100ps by design (ASR)

Line Output Level

1V RMS max. 600R Load

Headphone Output Level

max. 3.6V RMS in 600ohm
max. 0.5V RMS in 32ohm
(zout = 25ohm)

Power Consumption

<5W

LA-200 Specification

USB

44.1kHz, 48kHz

Digital Input

up to 216kHz Coax, 96kHz Optical

Analog Input

2VRMS/10kohm

Frequency response

15Hz to 20kHz (analog input)
3Hz to 20kHz (digital input)

THD at 1KHz

<0.03% (6dB below maximum output)

Output Power (1% THD)

2x25W 8 ohm
2x14W 4 ohm

S/N ratio

>100dB (A weighting)

Jitter

<100pS by design (ASR)

HeadPhone Output

32-600 ohm drive 100mW

Power consumption

<5W at normal playing (max 60W)
<0.5W standby
<0.1W off

Thursday, June 16, 2011

TAS Editors Choice Awards 2011 - NAD

Integrated Amplifiers $3000 and Above

NAD M2
"Five years in development, the innovative M2 is a "digital" amplifier in the true sense of that word. It takes in PCM data (up to 192kHz/24-bit) and converts it to a pulse-width-modulated signal that turns the output transistors on and off. The signal path has no digital filter, no DAC, no analog gain stages, no analog volume control, no preamplifier, and no interconnects. The M2, which functions like an integrated amplifier in practice, sounds remarkable, with tremendous dynamics, extremely low noise, richly textured and defined bass, and three-dimensional soundstaging. "
Reviewed by RH, Issue 198.


Integrated Amplifiers Under $1000

NAD C315BEE and C326BEE
"The entry-level C315 is still the go-to amp for audiophile newbies who crave sonic neutrality, good power output, nice tactile feel, and NAD's characteristic quality-control. Looking for a little more oomph? The 50 Wpc C325 will make BEElievers of even the most jaded audiophiles."
C315 reviewed by WG, Issue 140; C 325 reviewed by NG, Issue 183


NAD C 356BEE
"The 80Wpc C356BEE borrows technologies from NAD's Master Series M3 dual-mono integrated. It's tonal balance leans slightly to the darker side, bringing a bit of extra wood to strings and burnish to brass. The soundstage is large, with a good sense of air around instruments, and a nice sense of depth. "
Reviewed by WG, Issue 210.


Disc Players Under $1000

NAD C515 BEE
"Joins the C 315 BEE integrated amplifier as the entry-level tandem in NAD's BEE line. In both cases the BEEs hold their own, revealing orchestral minutiae, dynamic thrills, and timbral details that would have escaped a sub-$300 player a short while ago. There's more bloom in the treble, although it's still on the dry side. Inner lines may not be as well-defined as higher-priced units, but the sonic delights of the C 515 BEE should make all listeners look long and hard at their options in the under-$1000 range."
Reviewed by NG, Issue 183.


Stereo Receivers, CD Receivers, and All-In-One Systems

NAD VISO TWO
"A 50Wpc DVD-receiver that is not only drop-dead gorgeous but features discrete amplifier output stages, a progressive-scan DVD player (with 1080i upscaling), and provisions for an XM module or iPod docking station. Sonically the VISO TWO hews to the NAD philosophy of top-notch dynamics and a tonal balance with a mellow character near the frequency extremes. "
Reviewed by NG, Issue 188.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Brilliant New Budget Dalis Demand a Listen

These speakers represent a new entry-level for the Dali. While you never expect really affordable speakers to have the sort of styling that really gets the juices flowing, the Zensor 1’s compact dimensions, unfussy styling and quality fit and finish make for a very positive first impression.
Significantly more positive than that, though, is how they sound. Play Eric Bibb’s Saucer ‘n’ Cup – an old test favorite – and what immediately strikes you is how crisp and precise these Zensors are, and how assuredly they deal with the complex, organic dynamics of Bibb’s playing. You feel every strum, and the harder plucks on his acoustic guitar really stand out. Bibb’s playing and singing is all about soul – and that’s what the Zensors give you.

An airy, spacious presentation

They provide a wide, open soundstage, and it’s worth toeing them in a little more than usual in order to focus vocals. Even then, the presentation is airy and spacious, with nice separation to instruments. Putting them against a wall increases the bass, and while that slightly diminishes the spot-on tonal balance of the presentation, the bass remains tight and punchy, so if you prefer a weightier flavor you may actually prefer them positioned in such a way, and they can in fact be wall-mounted if you so wish.

What’s also impressive is that, while the dalis are detailed and precise, they’re not so clinical and analytical that they make poor recordings sound horrible. The Strokes’ Angles, for instance, is kept well under control and remains eminently listenable at high volumes, yet the Zensors leave the essential lo-fi charm intact.

Perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay them is that they don’t sound like a pair of budget speakers- they’re more detailed and precise than that, more grown up and more downright musical – and that makes them a serious bargain.


Ratings 5 Stars

FOR
Brilliant detail, punch and dynamics; excellent tonal balance; the compact and flexible design

AGAINST
At this price? Nothing

VERDICT
Do not buy another pair of sub speakers until you’ve heard these Zensors


Technical Specifications

Frequency Range [+/- 3] dB [Hz]
53 - 26.500

Sensitivity [2.83V/1m] [dB]
86,5

Nominal Impedance [ohms]
6

Maximum SPL [dB]
106

Recommended Amp. Power [Watts]
25 - 100

Crossover Frequencies [Hz]
2.900

Crossover Principle
2-way

High Frequency Driver
25 mm soft dome

Low Frequency/Midrange Driver(s)
1 x 5¼”

Enclosure Type
Bass reflex

Bass Re?ex Tuning Frequency [Hz]
51,5

Connection Input(s)
Single wire

Recommended Placement
Wall/shelf/(Stand)

Magnetic Shielding
Semi shielding

Dimensions (H x W x D) [mm]
274 x 162 x 228

Weight [kg/lb]
4,2/9.3

Thursday, May 26, 2011

S6 - Irresistible Force

Gutsy sound

Like most modern amplifiers, the S6 keeps things simple. It offers five unbalanced line inputs, a set of tape outputs and a single set of loudspeaker outputs. There’s no built-in phone stage and no socket for headphones. The volume and input selector knobs have a nice solid feel and the amplifier comes with a handsome wood-clad remote control that looks like a late ‘80s mobile phone.

Six El 34 output tubes are used (three per channel) along with a pair of ECC 82s. Each output tube features user-adjustable bias and there’s a moving-coil meter to help the value to be set correctly.

Crisp dynamics

The S6 produces a very rich smooth alluring sort of sound that is found immediately likeable. It delivers a big weighty sort of presentation that’s full-bodied and solid. There’s something ‘right’ about the combination of incisive clarity and rich pungent depth it offers.

At the same time, bass and treble extremes remain beautifully balanced and integrated, so that the higher frequencies never ‘lead’ the midrange and bass. The bottom end is clean and firm – maybe not quite as deep and powerful as certain direct-coupled transistors designs, but solid and weighty when it counts and free smearing and boominess.

Absolutely gorgeous

Unison Research’s S6 sounds absolutely gorgeous, delivering that sweet glowing richness that tubes are famous for, without loss of bite or immediacy. Indeed, it’s the combination of silky smoothness and crisp immediacy that is so alluring.

S6 is one of those tube amps that’s very good at covering its tracks. It recreates the music with little sense of strain and sounds as though it has power to spare.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TAS Editors Choice Awards 7 to PSB

Leading audiophile magazine, The Absolute Sound, honours PSB Speakers with a total of seven awards for loudspeakers and subwoofers in its annual Editors' Choice Awards. Reviewer Neil Gader is left questioning, "How does he do it?" as Paul Barton continues to introduce outstanding speakers. PSB scooped up awards in multiple price categories, cementing our reputation for designing high-value, high-performance speakers.

Loudspeakers From $3000 - $5000

PSB Synchrony Two

A sonic extrovert, with dark voluptuous tonality, the Synchrony Two Tower offers bone-rattling dynamic exitement in a sleek, four-driver, two way, bass-reflex design. Two of its woofers high-pass to the tweeter at differing frequencies, giving this PSB marvelous coherence and extension from bottom to top... Neil Gader, Issue 177

Loudspeakers From $2000 - $3000

PSB Imagine T

Tonally neutral and Dynamically turbocharged, this short, two-and-a-half-way Tower offers a balance of audio virtues that is classic PSB. from the vivid midrange to the powerful midbass, nothing seems out of joint - and that goes for the Imagine T Tower Loudspeakers seamless curvilinear enclosure. Not as nuanced as the Synchrony but more then good enough to make you feel like a big spender. Neil Gader, Issue 189

Loudspeakers From $1500 - $2000

PSB Synchrony Two B

Another Brilliant two-way compact from Paul Barton and crew. The "mini-me" to the larger Synchrony Two Tower, the Synchrony Two B Bookself Loudspeaker is more of a classic "voice" speaker and windfall for chorale listeners and singer / songwriter aficionados. Capable of solid 60Hz extension... Neil Gader, Issue 177

Loudspeakers From $1000 - $1500

PSB Imagine B

Think Imagine T Minus a midbass driver and a floorstanding enclosure. There's the same voice in the expressive midrange and treble and, with only minor exceptions, the same superb balance. The B can't quite quite chew on bass lines like the Imagine T loudspeaker can, but as if to compensate the B seems a bit lighter and fleeter of foot in the upper mids and lower treble. Neil Gader, Issue 189

PSB Image T6

Paul Barton's latest creation again sets a standard for performance in this class. The Image T6 Tower Loudspeaker's dual 6.5" woofers deliver realistic bass down to 35Hz (-3dB) coupled to a very clean, pure, transparent midrange. The bass tends toward the warm and "boomy" rather then dry and tight site. The treble is clean and extended, albeit with a bit of exess energy. Th Image T6 Tower Loudspeaker's low-diffraction cabinet has paid off in outstanding imaging; the Image T6 Tower Loudspeaker's easily disappear into the soundfield. Robert Greene, Issue 200

Loudspeakers Under $500

PSB Alpha B1

Yet another "how does he do it?" loudspeaker from the prolific mind of Paul Barton. The new, more curvaceous Alpha combines mind-bending dynamics and rich mids in a speaker barely a foot tall. Even the midbass has power and pitch definition rare in this modest price range. Neil Gader, Issue 170

Subwoofers

PSB SubSeries 5i

At this point no one should be surprised at what this Canadian speaker company can do in the lower-price range. Even so, the performance of this econo-sub is semi-unbelievable. Extension, dynamic slam, and good musicality from this 10" bass-reflex design make it the perfect match for misers with the Midas touch. Neil Gader TPV Issue 48, and CM, TPV, Issue 69

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

VTL MB-450 Series III Signature monoblock power amplifier

The VTL MB-450 series began life in the late 1980s as the Deluxe 300, a pair of which I once owned. Over the years the basic design has been improved and modified, in the forms of the MB-450 (1996) and the MB-450 Series II (which I reviewed in January 2008). The tube complement remains the same: eight 6550s in the push-pull output stage, a 12AT7 input tube, and a 12BH7 driver. Into a 5 ohm load, the MB-450 III is claimed to produce 425W in tetrode mode or 225W in triode, from 20Hz to 20kHz.

The Series II added VTL's Smart Tube technology, also found in the company's flagship Siegfried line. This optimizes tube performance through the use of logic-controlled auto-biasing, which continually monitors each tube, and adjusts its bias on power-up as well as when the system is idling. It also includes a diagnostic system: If a tube malfunctions, the amp indicates that with an adjacent LED and shuts down if the tube draws excessive current.

VTL's goal for the Series III Signature revision was, first, to improve the MB-450's ability to better drive a wider range of loudspeakers. These changes include a redesigned, fully balanced differential input stage driving a differential phase splitter, and a lower-impedance push-pull output stage terminating in an output transformer that is now fully balanced, and claimed to be "dramatically improved." The Series III also has a shorter, faster, fully balanced negative-feedback loop. VTL claims that this circuit completely eliminates ringing and maintains phase integrity without using capacitor compensation.

Precision-regulated power supplies for the output tubes' bias supply and screen voltage maintain the tubes' operating-point consistency, even when the AC supply fluctuates. VTL claims that this produces tonal stability and "sonic integrity" in the reproduction of complex, dynamic signals.

A front-panel button allows the MB-450 to be switched between tetrode and triode operation for the output tubes. Although there is a Mute button, switching the operating mode can be performed without having to mute the amplifier. The four settings of the Damping Factor toggle switches behind the glass window on the front panel vary the MB-450's output impedance by changing the amount of negative feedback in the circuit. The Low setting minimizes damping and to produce the "most natural sound," per VTL, while Med (Medium) has a minor impact on the overall sound but produces somewhat better speaker control. The Hi setting further improves speaker control, but has a greater impact on the sound; and Max applies the iron fist of maximum feedback, but with a noticeable negative sonic impact, according to VTL.

VTL claims that the addition of pricey premium Mundorf silver-oil capacitors produces a sweeter, more extended top end, a more relaxed-sounding midband, and superior midbass control. An MB-450 Series II can be upgraded to Series III status.

Description

The Series III looks very similar to the Series II, with one significant exception. Now, to access the tubes, instead of removing the entire cover, which was unwieldy, VTL has cut from it a pair of small L-shaped sections directly above the output tube sockets, making them far easier to remove and replace.

Otherwise, with its gracefully curved front panel of matte brushed aluminum and tinted glass, the MB-450 remains a substantial piece of kit built to an extremely high standard—which is what you should expect to get when you plunk down $18,000 for a pair of them. The beefy speaker terminals can take a hard torqueing, and everything else on the rear panel, as well as what's inside, is industrial grade.

Setup

While VTL's instructions suggest that unpacking each MB-450 Series III Signature is a two-man job, I managed it myself (thanks to the gym). No doubt your dealer will do this for you, but if not, be careful. Not only does each amp weigh 93 lbs, but because its transformers concentrate most of its mass in the rear, lifting and carry can be awkward and tricky.

The manual is usefully detailed, helpful, and informative, but sometimes makes the simple seem complicated: "For the MB-450 amplifier, there should be a total of 8 sockets for the output tubes. . . ." Should be? Is someone at VTL worried that a tech might have omitted a few sockets?

The output-tube sockets are numbered 1 through 8, but all of the 6550C tubes, which were separately shipped in another box, were labeled "#2," while two spares packed with the amps were labeled "#7." This caused some confusion, particularly as the instructions tell you to "Insert the output tubes into each of the output tube sockets from tube #1 to #4 on the left side of the cover and 5 to 8 on the right side of the cover."

VTL's CEO, Luke Manley, told me that the manual was written by his wife, Bea Lam, who feared that a more direct tone would sound bossy. I say go for it, girl! Don't be afraid to write: "Remove the covers and insert output tubes into the eight sockets." We'll know not to insert more than one in each socket. Of course, the auto-biasing circuit makes matching the tubes irrelevant, a point Manley reiterated when he visited my listening room to make sure everything was going well. Why even mention the socket numbers?
Manley had brought along four spare B+ fuses, and extra input and driver tubes. Better to be prepared in the event of a tube failure, in which case the MB-450's microprocessor-controlled design helps ensure that, at worst, you'll be replacing a tube and a fuse instead of shipping the amp back to the factory for more extensive and expensive repairs.
The MB-450 Series III Signatures were in my system for three months, during which we experienced a severe windstorm; the power came and went, and there were many brownouts. The amps proved completely reliable; they ignored the brownouts, while each interruption of power caused them to revert to Standby mode.

Pushing the Power button turns the amp on. Hitting Mute both mutes the input and draws down tube current to a trickle. VTL suggests leaving the amps in Mute mode overnight, if you plan on listening the next day. Then, on startup, they'll be warmed up and ready to go. For extended non-listening periods, hit the Power button to completely shut down the amp. From a cold power-up, don't expect the MB-450 III to sound its best for an hour or so.

Sound

Luke Manley switched among the four settings of the Damping Factor control so I could hear the results of each from my listening position. Low sounded too sloppy for my tastes and my Wilson Audio MAXX 3 speakers, but Med tightened things up nicely. The other positions sucked the air out of the room, so Med it was. Your preference may vary with your taste and speakers. It's nice to have the flexibility.

Going from a megawatt solid-state amp to a powerful, competently designed tube amp no longer produces a seismic sonic shift—at least in tetrode mode. In fact, there was somewhat of an unexpected role reversal. Forget about warm, soft, rolled off—the MB-450 Series III's top-end extended smoothly out to the highest reaches. By comparison, my big Musical Fidelity Titan reference sounded somewhat less exuberant in the high treble, if equally refined.

Overall, in tetrode mode, the MB-450 Series III ran a fast, tight, lean, rhythmically nimble ship—the opposite of what "tube sound" is supposed to denote. Running the amplifier in triode mode did indeed produce the soft, tubey sound some like, but I don't. I ran the VTL in tetrode throughout the review period.

Do you like gobs of air and superior spatial projection? Do you like it when everything floats effortlessly in space, freed from the confines of the speakers? The MB-450 IIIs did that with ease. Their top end was as generous and expansive as you'd expect from the best solid-state amps, with unusually fast, precise attacks, but without any of the grain, glare, and etch that often accompany those attacks in the solid-state realm. The MB-450s didn't miss a molecule of air or a single cymbal rivet. VTL's specs show flat response to 20kHz. I believe it.

The clarity, transparency, and physical refinement of the VTL's reproduction of high-frequency transient information produced realistically sharp edges—the kind I don't normally associate with "tube sound," or with all that much solid-state sound, either. The MB-450's sustain was what I do expect from tubes: extended and expansive, with overall decay structures that were graceful and generous, even if the fade was more to dark gray than to the black you get from the best solid-state amps. I'd noticed this quality of the MB-450 in VTL's room at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, and now I heard it in my listening room.

Classic Records' reissue on nine single-sided, 200gm, 45rpm LPs of The Royal Ballet: Gala Performances, with Ernest Ansermet conducting the Royal Opera House Orchestra (RCA Living Stereo/Classic LDS-6065), puts the listener in the airy space of Kingsway Hall, the orchestra arrayed on an ultrawide and ultra deep stage. This recording lets me hear into the stage's deepest recesses, and layers ranks of instruments from front to back with great precision, and the MB-450s reproduced all that it offers.

The MB-450 III's crystalline finesse in the treble never ceased to excite. Cymbals, bells, and celeste were reproduced with effervescent precision and sophistication: tiny when appropriate, but always precise. It's almost impossible to go ice-crystal precise on top and not pay a price in terms in the richness of string tones lower in the audioband, but the MB-450s managed a fine, realistic sheen on massed and solo strings alike, producing an ideal balance of bow on string and the resulting woody resonance.

Like the Series IIs, the Series IIIs produced "enhanced holographics" compared to my current reference amp, the Musical Fidelity Titan, which couldn't match the 450's airy expansiveness. While the VTLs' reproduction of space was more generous and their soundstage wider, deeper, and more vivid, it was never bloated, nor were images on that stage diffuse or lacking in weight or body. Still, the solid-state Titan was superior in the latter regard, producing greater body and weight and, especially, image solidity. Which you'd prefer would be a matter of taste.

Like the MB-450 II's, the III's low-frequency extension was seemingly complete—deep, solid, and especially well controlled—with the result that the sound of the III was rhythmically nimble and texturally revealing. It gave ground to the MF Titan in terms of bass weight and, especially, bass dynamics, where it seemed lighter and somewhat more polite, and less able to produce visceral, stomach-slamming drive. Of course, one listener's "drive" and "weight" are another's "sludge."

Source

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hi-Fi News -The digital amplifier coming of age

I find it very odd that the M2 is the most technically advanced and subjectively successful digital amplifier yet to grace my listening room. Until recently, right now in fact, NAD was not a company likely to spring to mind for its cutting edge technical innovation. The brand saw me through my penniless student days with a host of hi-fi products that majored on simplicity, great value and a remarkable immunity to spilt beer. But the M2 is very different. It is an end-to-end digital amplifier producing over 250W per channel and offering a technical performance that evidently sets it apart at the price.

MAKING WAVES

The story starts some four years ago with the creation of an innovative'wave-form' amp by US company, Diodes Zetex Semiconductors. Talk ensued between Zetex and NAD, culminating in a collaborative architecture development at Zetex's UK-based R&D facility in Lancashire's very own silicon valley. Well, Oldham actually. From CD's 44kHz/16-bit signals through to off-server 192kHz/24-bit high-resolution audio the signal remains in the digital domain with all controls happening in DSP. Even the final analogue output to speakers is a gain by-product of the PWM switch-mode output stage rather than a conventional DAC. The M2 is not an evolution of the classic 3010, it's a revolution in amplifier design.

Understandably the M2 has more digital inputs than analogue ones. Consider the average CD-transport, DAC, preamp and power amp set-up. Along the signal path there are an incredible number of state and voltage changes, DACs, op-amps, filters and output transformers, each adding some sort of signature and a lot of noise to the mix. Conversely, feed the M2 a PCM signal via S/PDIF or an AES/EBU output from a transport or, arguably better still, a server and the signal remains in a single state until the output. The result is spectacular technical specs and a noise floor that is seriously and unnervingly low. Play digital silence from a test CD at the M2's max volume setting and you'll hear nothing from the speakers - even with your ear pressed close to the tweeter. It is surreal.

The build quality, fascia display and day-to-day operation is everything we have come to expect from a £5k integrated amplifier. It is weighty, solid and high-end looking with only the unusual selection of terminals along the back to mark its unique design. It even gets quite toasty warm in use. On the analogue side there is just one pair of RCA stereo connections and one balanced XLR pair, both of which are immediately converted to PCM.

On the digital connectivity side you get an XLR AES/EBU bus and five S/PDIF inputs, two electrical and three optical, and an S/PDIF output of each flavour. As S/PDIF is pure-play PCM, those hoping to feed the M2 with a DSD stream from an SACD player are out of luck.

The two sets of 4mm banana plug binding posts are gold-plated with their fashionable clear-plastic bodies offering wings to aid wrenching home onto spades or bare wire. In a world where custom install and multi-room commands a lot of the high-end business, the M2's back panel is equipped with an RS232 control port, 12V triggers and an IR remote connection.

For party animals NAD's soft clipping mode can be switched on from the back panel to reduce current as the amp approaches distortion.


OFF THE MENU

The front is no less well-appointed with an array of buttons along the fascia for direct source select and menu access, and a large blue two-line display that can be dimmed if not turned off completely. At it's dimmest it is unobtrusive in a darkened room, which is more than can be said for the laser-like blue power LED that draws the eye like a super-nova. The display itself shows input source, volume level and input signal sampling frequency - although the latter frustratingly disappears a second or two after source selection.

The handset is very much old-skool NAD-dull with chunky and translucent rubberised buttons that look like they should be back-lit but aren't. The brushed aluminium top trim does elevate it above the plastic OEM parts-bin stuff but considering Unison Research can create a remote of substance and beauty for the £1300 Unico II integrated, the NAD's unit is far from special.

More annoyingly still, the handset's 'Menu' button is actually one of the controls included for other Masters Series products and pointedly refuses to allow entry to the M2's menus.

On the plus side, the remote volume is responsive and the gain is nicely paced (continuous speed, non accelerating) in 0.5dB steps taking about eight seconds from mute to max. This is mirrored on the main volume knob, offering a well-weighted three turns lock to lock.

Crawling over to the rack to access the menu button on the fascia is a pain. Once in the menus you can adjust for speaker impedance, input level trim on a source-by-source basis, polarity of the balanced XLR connection and upsampling rate from direct-input mode to 192kHz. The fascia buttons are suitably firm but each has its own 'click' noise, varying from solid and positive on the far left to alarmingly tinny and accompanied by an uninspiring metallic twang on the far right. This indicates something not particularly well secured or damped mechanically and I can't help thinking that the same item will be vibrating in tune with some upper-mid frequencies in use.

As the overall build quality is top notch, the buttons and remote let the side down on a five grand amp. Perhaps you can take the brand out of the budget market but not completely take the budget market out of the brand?

SOUND OF SILENCE

Although these issues soon become a moot point, because the M2 is the most exciting integrated I have listened to by a country mile. Frighteningly dynamic, immensely detailed, astoundingly neutral and graced with a musical articulation that compares favourably with pre/power combos costing many times the asking price. Digital amplification has come of age.

The first quality you hear of the M2 is its silence. Simply getting your ears used to the lack of background hiss is quite an experience and one that will have you setting the volume way, way too high before the music starts. Shoot me now for ever writing that an amp offered 'inky black silences' - they were all rather grey and wishy-washy by comparison.

Suddenly the recorded noise floor becomes prevalent, all those re-mastered '70s and '80s CDs showing their analogue heritage as clear as day. Even with modern discs, little hiccups and artefacts of the recording process are laid bare to analyse and ropy pressings are given no quarter at all. Harsh recordings sound harsh, grainy recordings sound grainy and flat recordings sound flat. The M2 is as simple and as ruthless as that. Of course, this accuracy is not achieved by a low noise floor alone and is testament to the M2's fabulous resolution of detail across the spectrum from its potent and expressive bass to its smoothly extended top end.

LET'S RIP...

After some convoluted high-tech shenanigans (and several calls to our resident audio server guru Keith Howard) I ripped Eleanor McEvoy's Yola stereo SACD to a NAS Drive in 96/24 and outputted it via a quality PC-sound card as electrical S/PDIF to the M2... where the signal is upscaled to 192kHz. But this digital faffery really does not seem to affect performance as the results are spectacular, presenting an absolute showcase for all the M2's abilities.

The first keyboard notes of track one, 'I Got You To See Me Through', emerge dramatically from the cavernous silence offering a immediate rush of hi-fi wow-factor dynamics. By track two, 'Isn't It Late', the opening drum sequence shows the M2's bass as incredibly tight and articulate with a depth that no integrated has the right to plumb. The bottom end has an addictive combination of dryness, textural detail and sheer scale that is so very rare in audio equipment without mortgage-size price tickets. It urges you to dial in volume to really feel the transient attack, whereupon the M2 rewards such behaviour with simply more of everything. The balance, scale and dynamics simply increase linearly without a hint of tonal-change - which is quite strange if you are used to listening to analogue transistor amps. Such is the cleanliness of the high-gain performance you will almost certainly find yourself listening at much higher levels than usual.

By 'Did I Hurt You' the M2 brings forth its analytical talents, ruthlessly exposing the over-saturated recording of the tracks' harder hit piano notes. I know this track intimately but I suddenly felt my warm and cuddly feeling towards its emotional charms being diminished by an urge to shoot the recording engineer. In fact, by the time I had listened to the entire SACD I could tell that it was recorded at either two different times or even in two different studios. There are a number of subtle balance changes and differing levels of recorded hiss between tracks, something I had never noticed before despite playing this disc through probably 50 different amplifiers. Wow. No, really, wow.

TIME TO REFLECT

Playing the same disc through my Sony SCD1 affords direct A/B/C comparison between digital, single-ended RCA and balanced input, and the results proved interesting. Switching to either of the analogue sources immediately added a thickening in the upper bass that congested the mix, accompanied by a subtle reduction in imaging width.

This reflects on everything from the CD player's DACs and type/length of analogue interconnect to the M2's ADCs, and made no sense at all. This is a digital amp and the analogue inputs are pure legacy fitment, perhaps for an outboard RIAA stage. Otherwise, don't go there, the M2 offers so much more with a digital input.

Which leaves me reflecting on the M2 as an overall product. There is no denying its stunning analytical abilities and ultra-flat balance but I do wonder if some might not prefer a more rose-tinted presentation. The very top of McEvoy's voice has a level of natural sibilance that is quite prevalent if you hear her live, and the M2 doesn't hold back in exposing that on her recordings. Likewise a romp through my AC/DC back catalogue on CD reveals the brightness and splashiness in every recording with merciless precision, somewhat detracting from this classic rock's fun demeanour. Back In Black sounded great but I never found myself wanting to wind up the volume, drink Super Strength lager and stage dive off the sofa. Happens all the time usually.

Don't get me wrong, this I not a bright or forward-sounding amp. Its lack of coloration and sheer resolution throughout the top end bring every note into stark relief - even the ones that might have been better left rolled off or swamped by other frequencies. For that reason I suspect the M2 will absolutely polarise opinion. If you are a fan of vinyl character and tube amplifier warmth then the M2 will hold all the appeal of root canal surgery. If you like your hi-fi dynamic, analytical and, above all, accurate, then start saving for an M2 as there is nothing else like it at the price.

VERDICT

The M2 is the first digital amplifier I have listened to, but the best integrated amplifier - period. A revelation in almost every audio respect, its accuracy, dynamics, instrumental separation and detail resolution set new standards at the price. Revealing epiphanal micro-detailing and recording rubbish in equal measure, it is as ruthless as it is stunning. NAD can be proud of this digital engineering triumph.

Source

Friday, April 15, 2011

Benchmarking: Compact Speakers

In the benchmarking, all speakers have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, Dali Lektor 2 is one speaker, which delivers the best results in the benchmarking.

Dali Lektor 2 is the one of the compact and budget speakers in its series. It has slightly simpler construction as compared to Ikon series with its dual tweeter elements. Nonetheless, the philosophy of quick response and good efficiency remains. Dali Lektor 2 emerges as the most musical and all-round friendly speakers in the test. The instrumental will be better while its tonality is more accurate. Since the bass is not that deep, it can be put close to the wall without worrying the bass being too dominant. The treble response is so crisp that it makes audio experience more engaging.

Plus:
  • Play easy and musical
  • Magical midrange
Minus:
  • Appearance

PSB is very popular for its cheap but exceptional good speakers. The small Image B5 is playing big and tough in this test.

The Image series is newly designed and developed at the National Research Center NRC while they are manufactured in China to keep the price down. It implements titanium with ceramic coated bass/midrange element at its tweeter. PSB is well-known for its broad and rich bass, which you can be mistaken yourself for listening to a pair of larger speakers. For anyone who likes music with strong bass, then PSB Image B5 is naturally your best choice.

Plus:
  • Super tough bass
  • Wide and precise soundstage
Minus:
  • Some "loudness"-like sound

Read More Reviews

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Limited White Ikon 6 MKII

Dear Our Value Customers,

We would like to announce that we have a limited edition of Ikon 6 MKII - white color. Grab it fast while stock last!

Regards From A & L Audio Station

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Career Opportunity

A & L Audio Station

Sales Representative

  • Enjoy meeting up with people
  • Fresh graduates are encouraged to apply
  • Advantages are given for candidates with
    • Passion for Hi-Fi and Audio Visual setup
    • Knowledge of Hi-Fi and Audio Visual setup
    • Good communication ability
    • Experience in sales
  • Candidate must possess at least Secondary School/SPM/"O" Level or Higher Secondary/STPM/"A" Level/Pre-U in any field

Inventory Control Executive

  • Preferable female
  • Fluent in Chinese, English and Malaysia both in writings and verbally
  • Responsible, good working attitude, positive and independent
  • Experience in controlling inventory stocks
  • Able to handle normal computer usage and capable to communicate with clients/staff

You may email us directly with your resume at info@alaudio.com.my or call us at 03-9283 6884