New Mark Levinson Pre Amp for those who need the ultimate

I am not a number, I am …..

…………. A World Reference status Pre-Amplifier

Mark Levinson is close to releasing the much awaited successor to the famous two box design Pre Amplifier that ran successfully for a long time.

The new unit will have nothing in relation to the
Nº 326S Pre-Amp which will continue as a more affordable but still excellent alternative.

The all new
Nº52 is set to be their Pièce de résistance and has been designed from the ground up, or more importantly, from the ear out. Weighing in at around £30,000.00, it’s sure not to be an impulse Friday night late shopping item. However, ML are putting their heart and sole into making something that will offer an audiophile open window for the true Hi-Fi connoisseur.

With World beating build quality, looks and feel will be a tactile experience of the highest order, but the sonic capabilities will be the ones that set this unit apart.

Their products have recently been receiving upgrades throughout the range, with the stunning
Nº 512 CD/SACD Player with its Dual Mono design finding many dedicated followers already. This will receive a partnering Integrated amplifier somewhere towards the end of the year, said to be based around one of the already successful power amps that are in production as dedicated units.

Amplifiers like the legendary
Nº53 mono blocs have made ML an industry standard in high end audiophile reproduction, and the new pre-amp looks sure to boost their reputation even further.

We'll post a full listening test as soon as we’ve had a chance to hear it.

In the mean time, people with a large spending allowance should book their demonstrations with us now. The rest of use, should set our looks to drool mode.

New Synthesis Roma series

In the wake of the new Synthesis Action series comes the no less desirable but more affordable Roma series.

Similar in size to the
Actions, the new very handsome Roma 753AC and Roma 510AC integrated amplifiers offer excellent sound but unlike the Actions do not include the built in DAC, which is based upon the now famous Matrix valve DAC. This obviously makes for a very affordable product. £2995.00 and £2695.00 respectively.

The launch was very well received indeed by the trade and public alike when shown at the recent Sound & Vision show in Bristol. Demonstrated in a room with EBTB speakers, the room was frequently packed to the gunnels.

The Roma is available in two flavours, the
753AC and the 510AC. Keen observers will realise that 510 was actually the year of the formation of Rome - which I’m sure you all picked up on straight away! Using a compliment of four KT88/6550 valves, the 510AC doesn’t lack punch. Indeed power output is a very healthy 80Watts, making it very speaker friendly indeed. This also gives plenty of reserve control to stop the bass from becoming intrusive. Full specifications can be seen on the website here.

Although not show in the photos, it comes with a very nice grill (which we realise most people take off the moment they get home) with the Synthesis logo cut into it. Very stylish. There is also a choice of colours, the wood as shown (available in dark wood or light wood), and a high gloss black.

For those who have more efficient speakers, or who don’t require the out and out power associated with KT88 valves, the
753AC, comes fitted with a pair of familiar EL34’s per side. These still offer a more than ample 50Watts, but EL34’s of course have a different sound signature to KT’s. So the sound is perhaps slightly more lively, but still open and airy. Full specifications can be seen on the website here.

Fit and finish for Synthesis products are reaching new levels that put them well ahead of the class and both units come with a remote for input selection and volume control.

As you may expect there is one set up in the dem room, so please come and treat yourself to a listen. You never know how the music will take you.

It's taken an age to arrive - but the wait was worth every second

There are many out there, and you could include us in this one, that thought the new Synthesis integrated amplifier would never arrive.

It was always “about to leave...” and “On the way....”, but, it never actually seemed to be HERE.

Well, as if by magic, in the last weeks of December, Santa came early, because our brand new
Action series 100 arrived.

For those who don’t know why we were all so excited, we should tell you that this is a full 100 watt valve amplifier that incorporates inside the name famous
Matrix Valve DAC.

This is such a substantial bit of kit that we thought we would spend the next three to four weeks getting used to it, running it in and any other expression you could think of, and would then give you a Worlds first full and exclusive review.

This is now complete and so to read the full review, please click “

To download the full manufacturers brochure that covers both the
A100 and its slightly less powerful sibling the A50 version, please click Here.

New Primare features innovative Design

Primare has launched a new I32 integrated amplifier which boasts a whole host of features.

Excellent sound quality and fine build quality aside, which you can take for granted with pretty much any
Primare device, it comes with a unique optional sound board.

This board gives a number of very handy inputs. Notably 2 x Digital Coaxial inputs, 1 x Toslink optical digital input, 1 x USB input, 1 x SD memory data input with convertor to USB (optional), 1 x LAN input, 1 x Composite or SVideo output for iPod playback, Digital and Analogue audio for iPod/iPhone interface as well as a WiFi/DAB+ interface.

With this optional board in place the whole amplifier becomes more of a media handling centre than just a mere integrated amplifier.
Primare have obviously put a lot of thought into this design.

With its great looks and excellent build aligned to excellent audio qualities and technical finery, this looks to be a truly integrated system in more than just the usual sense.

Synthesis launches moster valve amp

Synthesis is preparing the release of two new monster valve integrated amplifiers. The Metropolis 100i (and the later to be released 175i) are hugely powerful integrated valve amplifiers. The 100i, due immanently, features 8 x KT66 power valves, 2 x 12BH7 driver valves and 2 x ECC83/12AX7 input stage valves.

The outcome of this is a massively powerful 100W with real World driving capabilities. Inputs for a DAC, Tuner, DVD, CD and an XLR offer more than enough for most people, with the addition of a Pre Out, for those who may wish to use it in a Home Cinema loop.

The 100i weighs in at a hefty 50 Kgs. So don’t expect to be lifting it up with one hand free to do the dusting.

The amplifier offers all of the subtleties and depth you would expect from this manufacturer of valve amp extraordinaire. However, what you also get is a vice like control over the lower bass notes that previously you just couldn’t expect from the lower powered range of Tube amps. You also therefore get the chance to use speakers that would not have been available to the lover of Valve sounds because of either speaker inefficiencies or driving problems. With the new Metropolis range this is not really an issue.

So, awesome control and bass reproduction aligned with fluid valve depth, detail and musicality. All boxes ticked we think.

Audio Analogue raises to a Crescendo

Audio Analogues latest product is a warm and friendly addition to an already excellent range of products.

The introduction of the new
Crescendo range brings about a pleasant surprise for would be owners of the High End Italian audio brand, in as much as the components are very well built, featuring a good wealth of inputs, a fine build quality with a great feel in operation as well as a fine sound quality, all at a very un-expected price point.

Their smooth delivery, when matched to a good pair of revealing speakers, is just the ticket for a relaxing time in front of your hi-fi. Although with ample power on tap, don’t think that you can’t raise the game play if you want to. There’s certainly enough grip and excitement there when you need it.

At just £599.00 they represent top drawer quality at a very affordable price indeed. Enough to raise a bit of a din, a
Crescendo in fact!

The Kandy man can.

Roksan have just released their heavily updated Kandy integrated amp and CD Player.

The new K2 look is very funky and professional looking aligned to the familiar
Roksan family sound, but with a whole host of improvements.

Available in a choice of Black or Silver anodised brushed finishes, they have better bass control and more depth in the sound stage than the models they supersede. More authority also makes them stand out from the crowd.

You'll also get a very nice programmable
Roksan learning remote control with a very handy built in back light (why aren't other people doing that?).

Roksan were always top for build quality anyway, and this has continued on with the new designs, and if possible, maybe even improved.

Many manufacturers may have struggled to upgrade what was already a great little package, but evidently, the Kandy man not only can, but has.

A Myriad of great performances

Myriad have launched the new MI, and it's a stonker.

The have endowed this unit with just about as many things as is possible.

Top class FM tuner, DAB tuner, CD Player that's well above the crowd, iPod digital interface, it also has inputs for other MP3 players and as the finishing glory a full 100 watts on board amplifier.

What's bound to be popular is the very easy to read on board 3.5" full colour display, so you can easily negotiate your way through your packed iPod player.

Setting up is very easy indeed using the full function remote control.

Once up and running the surprises keep coming. It full sounding with plenty of control and a smooth but open soundstage. There's also plenty of go.

Almost certainly aimed at the Arcam Solo it does a fine job and is sure to find plenty of fans.

Tom Evans Audio Design Vibe Pre-Amp Astouds Reviewers Test Gear

Most of you are already aware of how dedicated to Tom Evans Audio Design (TEAD) products we are. In fact, it's no small coincidence that both myself and Doug have TEAD Eikos CD players.

It's also well known that the Groove family of phono stages are pretty much the measuring posts for the ultimate playback of the black stuff.

Many of you will not however, be aware of just how phenomenal the Vibe pre-amplifier is. It would also seem that almost no-one, including the Australian reviewers of their best read high end magazine "Hub" were prepared for the measurement they would get when they tested the Vibe on site. They were, to put it mildly, suitably impressed with figures that no other product at any price had ever come close to. So good were these in fact, that they had to invent a new way of testing things like channel balance and signal to noise ratios, because the Vibe was so quite that their own measuring equipment made more noise than the item they were testing.

For the full review press "

For the test sheet along with their astonishing findings, press below to get the PDF of their results.

If ever you wanted the finest pre-amp that money could buy, then book an appointment with us to try this incredible piece of kit.


Synthesis Magnus CD Player & Magnum Amp - Worlds first review

Synthesis, always one of our very favourite Hi-Fi brands, has just begun shipping a new CD player and Integrated Amplifier. The Magnum Amplifiers are transistor and come in 50 and 100 watt guises, and we are pleased to welcome the Magnus CD Player.

They both look very classy when we first took them out of the boxes, the front in particular has a graceful curve across its length, and the wood finish is nicely understated. On the back of the CD is the usual fare, a pair of gold plated single ended phono sockets for left and right audio, a single gold plated coaxial digital socket and finally an IEC socket for mains. The amplifier has four gold plated se line inputs plus a record out and also, rather unexpectedly, a pre out. Even more unexpected is a front 3.5mm jack input for an iPod or other MP3 widget. We're pretty impressed with these inputs not to mention the Remote control volume, which is used from the same remote that works the CD Player. The volume itself is a large dial which feels very nicely weighted when you turn it. The inputs are selected by a small row of push buttons. All in all a well finished product.

The remote is the standard Synthesis system remote, which is also unexpected given this systems lower than usual price.

Plugged in for the first time the first thing of note is the display. It features an extremely attractive blue background with large, easily readable figures (a frequently complaint of ours is that you can't read a display unless your right on top of it - and no, I don't need glasses.....well all right, I do, but that's not the point).

The next thing that we notice is that when you turn on the CD the display reads "heating". This only last for 30 seconds but it's enough to send us scurrying for the hand book to check and, yes, unbelievably it's got a valve output buffer stage.

Now we're really excited. We set it up into our system with it's matching Magnum 100 watt amplifier and Synthesis Debut speakers and try the first track - naturally I've got to try my Mindy Smith album "One moment more". Anyone who's been in the shop in the last four years will know it's one of my absolute favourites.

Vocals are well presented, it's also beautifully detailed with an airy open feel. There's also a real smoothness about it - I don't mean a boring laid back presentation, but a fluid sound. We switch discs to the rather more busy sound of 10CC's "How Dare You". There's lots of space here, the first track on this album has a great deal of different things going on, and they are nicely placed with no struggle to differentiate between the various pieces. When the bass comes in it's reasonably full and controlled, not what you would refer to as bone crunching, but we're not in that price category here so that's certainly no complaint. Finally we try our Telarc disc of the Fantastic Stokowski. In particular we play Bach's "Little Fugue" in G minor. At three minutes and forty Eight seconds it's around three minutes of beautiful violins followed by the best forty eight seconds of growling rumbling kettle drums. The Synthesis manages it with aplomb.

Quite frankly at a thousand pounds each we would be struggling to find anything wrong with this dynamic duo, except they are not a thousand pounds each. They are in fact less than thirteen hundred pounds for the pair. Which seems to us to be outrageously good value.

Only time will tell, but it looks like Synthesis has taken the fight straight back to the Chinese and beaten them at their own game.

Long may they continue.

Ayon and on....

We're trying out a new Valve integrated amplifier from Ayon Audio at the moment from Scandinavia. Perhaps not the first place that springs to mind as an audiophile capital of the World, but the Worlds an ever changing place as you know.

It certainly looks good with it's chrome transformer covers and fine brushed aluminium shell.

It also sound very nice indeed. Rather unusually it has a switch to enable you to choose between Pentode or Triode operation mode. It also has tappings on the back for four or eight ohm speakers to enable you to suit it to your speakers better.

It even comes with a nice remote control. It's in the window at the moment, so if your passing by, pop over and look in at it.

Sugden A21a now in mkII guise

After just a pultry 30 years in production the near legendary Sugden pure class 'A' A21a integrated amplifier has been upgraded.

Now converts to what is without a doubt one of the Hi-Fi industries best kept audio secrets might look on in shock and horror. "Don't fix something that ain't broke" I hear them cry.

Well, as that great book by the genius Douglas Adams said - "
Don't panic".

They have retained that which we hold so dear about the original
A21a, but they have given it a stylish new look, more power and better handling of lower impedance speakers. Oh and also, and I'm almost frightened to tell you this incase it puts some people into shock but, well......... they've given it a remote control volume! There, I've said it.

Pure class 'A' has always been something that
Sugden has excelled at and the new A21a is just what you would expect from a company with such a wealth of knowledge in this area.

Listening to our latest demonstration unit we are glad to report that none of the old charm has been compromised. However, expect greater dynamics with better bass handling, especially when things are getting busier. Also with the improved current drive you have a much bigger choice of matching speakers.

Check out the new spec


Few people will have heard much until recently about the LSA group. But they have certainly hit the ground running. Their integrated amplifier comes in three different specifications, but even the standard model offers a real grip on sound quality. We've already sold several and they have only been with us a short time. Great dynamics and revealing soundstage are just a few of this brutes attributes. Fancy a try - there's one here ready for you to hear. Just one word of warning, you'll need to give us a hand to lift it into the dem room as it weighs a ton!

Who says we don't care what it looks like....

Who says we don't care what it looks like so long as it sounds good? Well lots of people say it, but very few people mean it. Fortunately for us Hovland seem to be of the opinion that it should sound great AND look stunning. The Radia power amp and HP200 pre amp certainly are gorgeous to behold. This is almost a case where the exact opposite rule applies. Who cares what it sound like when it looks this good! However, don't be concerned, this stunning combo sounds sublime. Form an orderly cue.