Earthquakes, snow, calving and a whole lot more. At least we've got September behind us and in between that we’ve busy with some cool new products.
The Tivoli Connector is finally here - it’s the nicest little iPod dock made - perfect for your Tivoli but also brilliant for other systems - It’s right up to the minute and will charge all the new iPod and iPhone models, has a nice little remote and comes in lots of finishes to match the numerous Tivoli models. And being Tivoli it’s both great sounding and affordable at just under $200. Next month we’ll be celebrating 10 years of Tivoli with what else but… the new Model 10
Some are using the increase in GST as little more than an excuse to pump up prices. The reality is that weekly currency movements have a greater impact and for many products we sell there will be no change at all.
In fact some of our suppliers are being far less mercenary - we’ve just got a great deal going on the new versions (Rev2) of the Italian Audio Analogue tube hybrid integrated amplifier and CD combination - the Verdi and Rossini . At just $2250 each these are phenomenal products - beautifully made and oozing character. If you want a big, lush sound then this combination delivers in spades with remarkable detail and finesse. Most strikingly the sound is alive, in the best possible sense. So many modern products can be a bit bland, afraid to step slightly out of line. Audio Analogue suffer no such constraints and make music with rare enthusiasm. The fact that they partner so well with our NZ made Image loud speakers is a happy bonus. Their hybrid design gives the best of both worlds - that lovely tube sound but with plenty of power. And most importantly, the tubes aren’t run flat out to achieve this so there aren’t any heat or reliability problems. Being Italian, how they look is almost as important as how they sound - these are thoroughly modern products, beautifully engineered, easy to use, reliable and very, very affordable. Reviews of the MK1 versions here and here.
There is a bit of synergy going between our Grado headphone range and the new products from Firestone audio - designers of an almost bewilderingly large range of compact low cost/high performance specialist components. The ‘Cute Beyond’ is a headphone amplifier that at the recently sharpened price of just $399 is made to measure with any of the Grado models. The Fubar III is a multi-talented little beast: Headphone amp with volume control, USB input and pre-out to amplifier or even active speakers. Read the review here . But get this - we've also got the new MK2 version which includes extra analogue inputs for just $499 - As we said - some of our suppliers really are thinking of you. You can take it as a given that we'll be carrying more of the new Firestone Audio range - the performance and value is just stunning. Right now we have the new 'Libby' (silly names, we know) high end DAC and headphone amp on audition - this is startlingly good and will really shake a few trees. You can enjoy a level of sound quality and access to music with an iPod and pair of headphones that we could only dream of a couple of years ago. We always remember that even a set of headphones can be a significant purchase so we are continually looking for products like Grado and Firestone that are affordable, but really do measure up in terms of sonics.
On the theme of multi-talented we’ve just received the newest addition to Quads Active speaker range - the little 9L is a serious compact speaker in it’s own right, sharing the qualities of the bigger 11L and 12L Active which we find so compelling. And like more and more products we deal with, there is a USB connection included. This allows enhanced sound quality when using the 9Ls directly connected to any computer, but it is also clear that the Quads should not be lumped in the category of tinny PC speakers - they are very solidly constructed, use drivers of the same standard of their more up-market active and conventional speakers and the inbuilt amplifiers draw on an unparalleled level of long term experience in electronic design. All for under $1200 the pair.
The Quads will fit on your mantlepiece or desk but Images newest model - the Revelation Mark 2 - is going to demand floor space. The arrival of the Petite Performa 2 a couple of months ago created the need to re-visit what had been Images top model. To be specific it is the qualities of the Morel Rohacell coned driver used in the PP2s that have been harnessed to make the Revelation a greatly improved model. We’ve been investigating all the notable alternatives at the price level of the Revelations - the new Dynaudios, Theophany etc - it seems clear to us that the Images are easily the best sound by a considerable margin - this is a reflection of Chris Balls tremendous experience - over 30 years of design and production, his willingness to seek out the very best components from around the world and his commitment to build the very best value for money product here in NZ for New Zealanders. His approach is honest and hype free and he maintains a commitment to having his speakers sold by specialist retailers who share his values and make sure his speakers are always matched with the best possible components.
We recently stumbled across a review* of a wonderfully affordable record cleaning option. While we swear by our Nitty Gritty, it cost more than many turntables - the Spin Clean is a cheap and cheerful device that really works - it comes in a happy yellow box, includes everything you need to thoroughly clean a large number of records and costs just $180. (*they did have to go up a little since the review was published as the supplier has underestimated freight costs).
One of our clients tells us - “Hi sharon please convey to john that i am very pleased with the results of the 30 or so LPs I have cleaned so far, it has reduced the hiss and improved the clarity significantly. many of these LPs have not been cleaned for near 30 years but have always been well treated, says a lot for the longevity of vinyl”
We’ve got everything you need for vinyl playback - great new turntables from Thorens, Well tempered and Project, a selection of cartridges from Ortofon, Dynavector and Nagaoka, phono stages from Dynavector, Cambridge and Project, cleaners, anti-static record sleeves and more.
And just in - also from witchdoctor - a great review of the new Well Tempered Simplex Turntable we introduced in the last newsletter.
The Sonos wireless music system just got even better. Now you can use the new Apple iPad to control Sonos. Best of all, the Sonos ap for iPad is free. No other system makes it so easy to listen to music anywhere in your home. And Sonos sounds really good. We've been trying Sonos in many different combinations and settings. The new S5 wireless speaker system is a great start but you can do really cool things like teaming Sonos components up with Active speakers (the Quads are an obvious choice) or run the lossless digital signal through a good DAC from Cambridge or Firestone to get sound that will rival a serious CD player. Visit the Sonos website to learn more.
In the world of specialist audio, there is always a conflict between features and performance. It takes a company with a heritage in both sound quality and affordability to produce any kind of product that can tick all the boxes. ‘All-in-one’ solutions are the most difficult of all - how do you make something that does almost everything yet is easy to use? That sounds good yet is affordable? In the past we’ve had some companies make a good attempt - the Linn Classik Music System and Arcam Solo being two that we have enjoyed. Now Rotel have come up with something really special. Rather than aim low, they have combined elements from their new 15 Series range - the excellent RCD 1520 CD player, the high performance 100 watt Class D amplifiers and the soon to be released ‘Digital Gateway’ products. The RCX 1500 system is a completely modern take on a single box solution that takes on separate components and wins - as a CD player, FM Radio and amplifier combination it comfortably beats any comparably priced 3 box system. At just $2500 this is significant enough. But when you combine internet radio, wireless and LAN network connectivity, digital and analogue inputs the equation becomes even more compelling. That said, all this would be for nothing if it didn’t sound good - the fact of the matter it does. It’s quite a lot better than Rotel’s own 06 SE series separates. It annihilates what we have previously regarded as worthy component alternatives, both new and old. Rotel have been quietly perfecting their Class D amplifiers over the last few years and the new generation is everything you could want - powerful, smooth, detailed and cool running. It’s this 100 watts per channel that is really at the heart of the RCX 1500’s performance - everything becomes easy and you are going to get the most from any speaker system. The RCX 1500 is a game changer for us - in combination with quality speakers from either Image or Monitor Audio, it redefines our expectations of what an easily affordable music system can do. Find out what it will do for you soon.
and finally - a new product that is so far from conventional hifi that we first had to think 'why?' But then after talking with the distributor (who just happens to have a few clues) we thought 'why not'. The Luxsound 'Light Speaker' is a multiroom music system that comes in the form of a speaker unit (and brilliant LED downlight) that screws into your light socket and communicates wirelessly with both source and remote control. It's cost effective, dead simple to set up (how many... ), requires no extra wiring, is power efficient and can place sound and light exactly where you want it. Think dining tables, bathrooms, studies, restaurants bars and more. It's been designed to sound sweet, and lets face it - none of this was even possible a few years ago. It's cool new technology, and unless you see and here it in action, you'll never know. So I guess that says a lot about why we are here. No matter how simple, how ambitious or how seemingly unique your requests might be, we want to help you enjoy music more and we'll explore every avenue to find just the right solution.
have a great month,
John & Sharon at Totally Wired
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