Quadraspire Sets The Stage With The New Soundstage

Unveiled at Sound & Vision - The Bristol Show this year, Quadraspire's Soundstage is not to be underestimated. Retailing at just £100, we consider it to be one of the most affordable and versatile upgrades you can implement into your Hi-Fi system.

If you consider that the price of dedicated Hi-Fi furniture can quickly mount up, £100 gives you the ability to turn any existing desk, table, cupboard, sideboard into a Hi-Fi shelf.

The science behind the Soundstage follows suit with Quadraspire's approach to reduce mass and retain rigidity. Also, the soundstage uses unfinished bamboo, no oils or lacquers are used, just raw bamboo, that has been gently sanded. Alester from Quadraspire pointed out that coating the Soundstage with anything would hinder its performance.

The Bamboo cut out, reducing the mass of the platform whilst keeping the original strength of the shelf. 

The solid bronze feet have a bamboo insert that won't scratch your lovely desk or sideboard.

That looks comfortable chromey,  take a seat.

That looks comfortable chromey,  take a seat.

The solid phosphor bronze feet plant the SoundStage to any surface. With the option to have 3 or 4 feet simply by unscrewing them. So, for example, a Linn Sondek would require 4 feet and a Rega turntable would need 3. All other pieces of Hi-Fi like CD players and streamers would work with 4 feet. 

Chromey and his Bronze minions

Chromey and his Bronze minions

The Quadraspire Soundstage gave a tighter, more controlled bottom end, whilst expanding (you guessed it) the soundstage. Doing an A to B demo with our Rega Planar 1 really made a difference, night and day between listening sessions. Quadraspire say “a Hi-Fi system from amplifier to source including record decks, CD players and streamers are microphonic and produce resonance that will distort the quality of the music reproduced by a Hi-Fi system” we agree, and to this end the results were nothing short of impressive.

Alester, the design guru at Quadraspire, has come up with another well designed product, you may have a hit on your hands here Alester, well done. 

The Soundstage is on demonstration at Manchester now, as well as other dedicated Hi-Fi furniture from Quadraspire.

Quadraspire racks and stands are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrightonBristolCardiffCheltenhamManchesterOxfordPortsmouthPrestonReading
SouthamptonSwanseaSwindon

The New Ruark MR1 MK2 Speakers Have Landed In Oxford.

Over the last couple of years if a customer asked for inexpensive desktop speakers, our recommendation had always been the brilliant Ruark MR1 speakers. These compact speakers were fantastic value for money and could not be bettered for the price. The MR1 desktop Bluetooth speakers are now four years old, so Ruark has decided to update them and here we will review the new MR1 MKII.

The drivers are the same as before, but Ruark has made changes to the crossover to help give the MK2 version a bigger more open sound.  Style wise Ruark have done away with the removable grilles of the MK1s and in their place is a fixed version. There is no denying that the appearance and quality of finish is a marked improvement over the Mk1s.

The MR1 Mk2 are a two-way bass reflex speaker system utilising a 20mm treated textile dome tweeter and a 75mm long throw bass driver, with a powerful neodymium magnet. The MR1s have a built in 20W Class A-B linear amplifier incorporating a high quality switch mode power supply.  

The MR1 Mk2s now have an optical input so you can connect external devices such as  your TV or Chromecast Audio etc, to improve the sound. They also offer apt-X Bluetooth for CD-quality streaming from compatible devices (Laptops, Phones, some TVs etc) and an analogue input for connecting a turntable.

To complete the package and to offer a great upgrade path they also have a subwoofer output for connection to an active subwoofer.

The Mk2 Speakers provide a sound quality and scale that belies their price and size. We listened to a variety of music from Ella and Louie singing “Summertime” to more testing music from the likes of M83s “Hurry up we're dreaming” and the Mk2s never skipped a beat. The performance was superb without any hint of boxiness and the bass extension was deeper than expected for such a compact design. These speakers may not be able to fill a large room but if required you could partner them with an external powered subwoofer to provide a great compact speaker solution.

The MR1 Mk2s are available in Rich Walnut and Soft Grey Lacquer finishes. An optional BackPack II power pack is available to free the MR1 Mk2 from the shackles of mains power (the slave speaker can be removed completely for ease of portability).

We have them on active demonstration in store, so please come by and have a listen.

Ruark Audio products are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldManchesterOnlineOxford
PortsmouthPrestonSouthamptonSwanseaSwindon

Bluesound Node 2 Hi-Res Music Streamer Featuring Master Quality Authenticated Playback

Feeling bluesy or kind of blue or any type of music genre for that matter? Then that nodes well, because we may have the tonic you're after...read on.

Turn your Hi-Fi into an intelligent 21st century all singing all dancing triple threat*. Bluesound is now on sale and available for demonstration in Manchester and we couldn't be happier. *Broadway speak for someone who is multi talented.

Here we take a look at the Node 2 streamer. With all the usual connections you would expect from a mid to high end streamer, optical, coaxial, analogue audio out, subwoofer out too. And of course a digital and analogue input.  With a 1GHz ARM cortex processor as its brain, the speed of Bluesound never ceased to impress, loading album art, playlists and Hi-Res media to multiple devices is flawless. Having plenty of inputs and outputs means there really are no limitations to the Node2's capabilities.  Stemming from a partnership with NAD, Bluesound has evidently taken on board application advice from NAD, who have been in the audio business since 1972.

Hi-Res audio in all your rooms simultaneously is Bluesounds unique selling point, and MQA is one of the options available via Tidal. MQA Tidal streaming is simple and rewarding. The Bluesound app is speedy and intuitive, you are free to edit and manage playlists on the fly, whilst browsing MQA selections. Being able to easily demonstrate back to back red-book 16bit 44.1KHz, to 24 bit up to 192KHz, tracks felt more immersive and dynamic. Roll-off and reverb from snares, claps and vocals seemed to hang on just a moment longer compared to that of CD, sounding far more natural and almost painting the picture of the room in which they were recorded in your mind.

In regards to the app, there are really no complaints from us. In fact we all agree that it is very evident that a lot has been invested into the development of it.  Locating our files from our NAS with ease, as well as other album suggestions on Tidal in the same window offered trouble free and seamless streaming. Combined with a little emoticon indicating the resolution of the file type currently playing, this kept us informed of the tracks we were playing in real time without having to open the 'Track Info' page. This made demonstrating CD vs MQA quality simple and eye opening too! 

Overall though, we were impressed with how the Bluesound makes the most from its software, and in this digital age of iPhones and tablets, applications and Airplay, it is easy to forget about the hardware side of things. Bluesound breaks down this barrier between software and hardware with a solution so simple and innovative it is almost charming. Being able to code your Bluesound to work with any IR remote for example, the ability to assign functions on your TV remote to control the volume of your BlueSound,  Pause, Play, Power off and on, let's say someone calls you while you are listening to music through the BlueSound but have the TV on in the background, you use the TV remote to pause the the music, while you take the call. This, simply put, is a lovely feature. Hats off to  Bluesound.

We have a healthy selection of Bluesound streaming products in Manchester, from the range of all in one wireless speakers like the Pulse 2 and Pulse Mini, to the amplified version of the Node2 the PowerNode 2 integrated amplifier and also the Vault 2 which lets you rip your CD's and store your music on the 2TB music server.

Feel free to pop in and ask Simon, Munir, Mike, Dave and Haden to get rid of your blues...

Bluesound Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:
CheltenhamManchesterOnlinePortsmouth
 

A Compact Entry Level Desktop Vinyl Based Hi-Fi System

If you don't have space for a full size separates Hi-Fi system but you want to dust off your record collection or to experience the wonderful world of music on vinyl the answer is here...

Lets start with the TEAC TN-300 record player.

It has a removeable headshell allowing experimentation with various cartridges so there is an immediate upgrade path available to those who like experimenting; a speed control switch making swapping from 33 to 45 simple and it comes in a wide range of finishes. The most important element in relation to this set up is the integrated phono stage, which means you can plug it straight into an amplifier and away you go. The USB port also gives you the option to digitise your vinyl collection if you wanted to.

TEAC TN-300 rear view

TEAC TN-300 rear view

From the red and white audio output we used an Audioquest Evergreen 2RCA to3.5m Jack interconect to connect to the amazing, and i do mean amazing, Ruak MR1 MK2. We will take a quick look at the main features of the MR1s then we'll get to the sound.

MR1 Rear view

MR1 Rear view

A hugely versatile pair of active (amplified) desktop size Bluetooth speakers with an optical input, so you could plug your television into them or any other device that has an optical output. In this system it is the Aux input we used, which is next to the Subwoofer output, a nice touch if you want to upgrade the sound with the addition of a subwoofer. The far right connection is the output to the left hand speaker, a quality 1.5m lead is supplied. There is also a battery pack available making them portable, for use in the garden on a fine summer's day or at least if mains power is not available you can still listen to music. Operation is straightforward, using either the multifunction button on the right speaker or the simple remote.  Linking your phone via Bluetooth is fast and easy.

Performance! For a system that comes in at £660 including the interconnect it is really quite remarkable. We used Georgia Ruth "Fossil Scale" as our dem disc, a great album, well produced and will give your system a good workout, with plenty of bass. How did we hear this you may ask, as the speakers are so small. Don't let that fool you, what these little speakers can do is quite astonishing. So much detail and control, every nuance and internation was revealed a really well balanced sound and thorough delight to listen to. One might expect them to get a little fatiguing after one side but this was not the case. In fact the only reason we didn't keep going after the first listen was it was home time.

The TEAC TN-300 and Ruark Audio MR1 MKII are a perfect combination to create a compact and great sounding vinyl system. They are on demonstration in our main showroom, so just pop in, bring an album with you or we can put Ruth back on.

We look forward to seeing you at Audio T Portsmouth.

Nick, Joe and James

Sonos Playbar vs Sonos Playbase

We are going to take a closer look at the new Sonos Playbase and compare it to the established and accomplished Sonos PlaybarDoes the Playbase leave its older brother trailing behind? Read on to find out...

So to start with the Sonos Playbar has been designed to either sit in front of your TV or to be wall mounted whilst the Playbase sits underneath your TV.

You will need a rack or TV stand 72cm wide & 38cm deep to fit this BEAST.

The Playbar's is 90cm wide (which is very close to the width of a 40" TV to look uniform) and 14cm deep to house comfortably.

The Playbase features newer style controls as seen on Play:5 Gen2. Touch control volume -, + and Play/Pause/Skip Track can be found in picture 1. The Connect button is shown in picture 2. Whilst the Sonos Playbar in picture 3 uses buttons towards one side, allowing for the same level of control as the Playbase.

The connections are still very similar between the 2 products. Uncomplicated and straight forward. You can find power, ethernet in (or out, to feed other devices with an Internet connection.) and optical in (to take the sound directly for your TV or Sky/Virgin box).

So what do they sound like...?
We love our job and we are fortunate to have comfortable demonstration rooms, which we can use to evaluate Hi-Fi products and so that our customers can hear the product for themselves so they can make an informed choice when buying.

After our comparative listening session we found that both are not surpisingly excellent performers. The Sonos Playbar gives a wider more detailed sound presentation whilst the Sonos Playbase has better depth of bass, However this is just our opinion, what matters most is yours, so why not come and listen and find out for yourself.

SONOS products are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldManchesterOxfordPortsmouth
Preston,  SouthamptonSwanseaSwindon

Many thanks.

Simon, John & Claire - Audio T Enfield

Tel:0208 367 3132

Linn Sondek LP12 Open Day On Saturday 27th May At Audio T Brighton.

Join us and explore the delights of the Linn Sondek LP12 turntable, one of the most iconic Hi-Fi products ever produced, and still in production after more than 40 years, albeit highly evolved from the original design

On demonstration will be a full top specification Klimax LP12 and the introduction to the range, the Majik LP12. There are many options between these two turntables that we will be happy to discuss, and LP12 owners will be able to book a future listening session with their own turntables, and a view to upgrades and improvements.

Linn Majik LP12

Linn Majik LP12

Linn Klimax LP12

Linn Klimax LP12

Bring along a favourite album or two and discover more music from your records.

Please use this ticket booking link if you wish to attend.

The many parts to the Klimax LP12

Linn Klimax LP12 Components

Linn Klimax LP12 Components

We look forward to seeing you and talking Linn LP12 turntables!

Julian, Paul and John

Linn LP12 turntables are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrightonBristolManchester

Convert Technologies Plato Class A All In One Music System At Audio T Bristol

We auditioned the Plato Class B about a year ago and thought that it was a fantastic product well thought out and well engineered but we had some misgivings about the sound quality. Not that it sounded bad but it didn't quite hit the mark when factoring in what our customers expect us to be selling.

At Sound & Vision - The Bristol Show Convert launched the Plato Class A all In One Hi-Fi system which we are taking a closer look at here.

Essentially it's the same product as the earlier model but with a better Class A amplifier.

Normally a class A design would generate a lot of heat and as such you will find that they are usually large with an array of heat sinks to dissipate the heat. Convert have used some clever technology to avoid this and as result you get class A performance without the bulky box. In fact we think that it looks very modern, uncomplicated with clean lines and just the right amount of curve. It would even look good on a sideboard we think.

The 15 watts you get with the class A operation doesn't sound a lot, and indeed it isn't when you turn up the wick, the Plato caters for this scenario by switching to A/B operation when needed pushing out 50 watts of A/B power. What do they say, “when the going gets tough...”

So, what else does the Plato do? It would probably be easier to describe what it can't do. The initial idea Convert had was to create a device that will record Vinyl in a sophisticated no nonsense way.

Plenty of ins and outs on the rear.

Plenty of ins and outs on the rear.

That initial idea is delivered in spades as there is not a better vinyl ripper on the market. It will handle both MC and MM cartridges and records up-to 24bit 192khz. When you drop the needle on the record it will intelligently look up the recording online and deliver the album art and track names as well as split the recording into tracks. This is very clever and couldn't be simpler.

As well as recording Vinyl you can also record your cassettes or any other analogue format just plug in and away you go. The Plato is also a streamer and a ripper. The observant amongst you will have noticed from the picture that it doesn't have a CD draw. They get round this by supplying a USB drive along with an android tablet which gives complete control over the unit. The 2TB of internal storage you get should be enough for most but as it is a streamer as well it would be easy to expand on that if needed.

We listened to the unit using a variety of music including ripped vinyl (which sounds really good) recordings from the hard drive and recordings off our network. The class A 'sound' smothered us not in a soft gooey way but in way that is very pleasing to the ear. Nothing we played tripped the unit up. So the Pixies Doolittle album didn't sound harsh at all as it often can. Massive Attack's Mezzanine sounded great with a very pleasing bass that was not necessarily as tight as some A/B amps can muster but with texture that those amps only hint at. The all important mid range is handled excellently, with Teardrop off Mezzanine touching the back of the spine if you know what I mean.

All in all we think the audio performance is excellent and that coupled with it's massive feature list the Convert Plato deserves a place in the shop. You may not need all the features it offers but even if you just need storage and streaming in an attractive package it is well worth a listen. As always don't take our word for it, come and have a listen.

Convert Technologies Plato Class A is available for demonstration at Audio T Bristol.

The New Leema Quasar Is Out Of This World!

This month we are looking at Leema Acoustics newest addition to their renowned ‘Spectrum’ range, the combination, Streamer/DAC/Amplifier the Quasar.

Leema acoustics are a British company and have been going since 1998 and have always been renowned for their high quality Hi-Fi gear, recently however the mid Wales based company have really stepped it up a gear. We’ve reviewed the excellent Essentials phono stage before and we’re huge fans of the Tucana Anniversary integrated amplifier and their Pyxis and Hydra Pre and power amps from their constellation range. At the Bristol Show in February they revealed their newest addition to their Spectrum range, the Quasar.

The Quasar serves as a great all in one system, featuring a streamer, DAC and amplifier. The amplifier is a dual mono design and boasts a huge 180w per channel into 8 ohms, there’s not many speakers about that it’s going to struggle to drive.  

The Digital to Analogue conversion is taken care of by Leema’s renowned Quattro infinity topology and can handle digital files up to 24bit/192kH. The DAC is served by three co-axial spdif inputs and two optical inputs. Leema’s M1 asynchronous USB interface is also included allowing the user to play music directly from a computer or laptop. There are analogue inputs as well of course, a balanced XLR input and four phono inputs give you plenty of flexibility. Just in case you already haven’t got enough ways to play your music the Quasar also has a high quality Bluetooth interface, which will handle advanced codecs such as aptX.

On the streaming side of things the Quasar can handle up to 24bit/192kHz from a NAS drive or DLNA/UPNP device as well as streaming services Tidal and Deezer, with more scheduled to come via a software update soon. This is all controlled with the MControl app with is available on both Android and Apple devices.

When reviewing the Quasar we mostly concentrated on its function as an ‘all in one’ system, not forgetting however its excellent array of inputs. Because of its powerful amplifier there are very little restrictions on the type of speaker it will drive, so we tried a few ranging from stand mounts like the B&W CM6's to Spendor’s floor standing D9's and the Quasar drove them all to their full potential. The streaming via the app is very slick and quick to respond which Is a huge plus. We tried a range of music from both our NAS drive and from Tidal and we’re impressed with the Quasar’s versatility, subtleness abounds when required but the amp can also provide that punch you need when listening to electronic or rock music.

All in all the Leema Quasar is a fantastic way of reducing down the amount of boxes needed in a system while at the same time not restricting you in any way due to its different inputs and its ability to drive a large range of speakers. We currently have one available for demonstration so please get in touch if you’d like to give it a listen.

Leema Hi-Fi Products are currently available Audio T Cardiff store only.

New Ruark MR1 MKII At Audio T Cheltenham

Updated in 2017, the Ruark MR1 MKII are a compact active high fidelity loudspeaker designed and can be used in different ways.

The MR1 MKII are a two-way bass reflex speaker system utilising a 20mm treated textile dome tweeter and a 75mm long throw bass driver with a powerful neodymium magnet. Power is provided by a 20W Class A-B linear amplifier incorporating a high quality switch mode power supply. Most compact active loudspeakers available today use digital amplifiers, which in many cases give an artificial sound when compared to the Class A-B amplifier used in the Ruark MR1 MKII.

Ruark MR1 MKII

Ruark MR1 MKII

The Ruark MR1 MKII offers a Line audio input and a digital optical input. They also incorporate Bluetooth APTx for wireless CD quality playback from Bluetooth enabled devices (Phones, Laptops, etc) They also offer a subwoofer output for connection to an active subwoofer enabling increased bass response.

Rear of MR1 MKII Master Loudspeaker

Rear of MR1 MKII Master Loudspeaker

The MRI MKII is capable of providing great sound throughout your home and can be used in several different ways:

TV
Connect the MR1 to the audio out (Line or Optical) to provide HiFi quality sound far beyond the capability of the built in TV loudspeakers. Attach a subwoofer and get true movie sound from your chosen movie. (We have found that the MR1 will outperform most reasonably priced TV sounders / Sound bases on the market).

Turntable
Connect a turntable to the line input via a phono stage and experience the outstanding quality of vinyl through a truly compact system.

Sound On The Move
Add a BP2 battery pack (Optional Accessory) to the master loudspeaker and you have a truly portable HiFi system. Get graeter sounds when you are having a Barbecue or take it on holiday to provide a true HIFi system in your Caravan. If you travelling you can disconnect the stereo loudspeaker and the Master will revert to an active mono loudspeaker which you can take with you when you travel.

Other features provided include a compact remote control for source, volume and function selection. Auto standby is also built in (Ideal when using with a TV as the MR1 will turn on when the TV is switched on and turn off when the TV is switched off).

Sound Quality
Christopher Frank - Latano Mystery (Pacific Coast Highway) - Playing via Bluetooth the high end detail is very impressive and is coupled with a very open and expansive midrange. For such a compact loudspeaker there was no hint of boxiness and the bass extension was extended and tight. We then added a REL T-Zero Subwoofer to the sub out socket and were amazed at the results. We now had a compact system that was performing as well as a well integrated full size Hi-Fi system.

Sade - Hang On To Your Love (Diamond Life) - Sade's vocal was extremely realistic and lifelike. Again detail retrieval was extremely impressive and the MR1 offered a very good sound stage. The bass was extended and very tuneful. (We then added the REL T-Zero we again got outstanding results.)

KungFu Hamster listening to Sade... he's a smooth operator!

KungFu Hamster listening to Sade... he's a smooth operator!

The MR1 MKII are available in Rich Walnut and Soft Grey Lacquer finishes. If you are looking for a affordable compact active (doesn't require an amplifier) loudspeaker system the Ruark MR1 MKII really should be on your audition list. 

Ruark Audio lifestyle and portable Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:

BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldManchesterOnlineOxford
PortsmouthPrestonSouthamptonSwanseaSwindon

Audio T Southampton And Hundred Records, Romsey, Celebrate RSD 10th Anniversary!

Just a quick reminder that Record Store Day 2017 is nearly upon us.  The tenth anniversary of vinyl celebration, supporting local independent record stores, is on Saturday 22nd April.

We are happy to, again, be linking up with Hundred Records in Romsey and encouraging all of our customers to visit Mark's store during his third (already?) Record Store Day.  Those who have met Mark will know that he is very passionate about music, especially vinyl!  If you haven't visited Hundred Records then RSD would be a great time to do so, with many exclusive, limited edition releases available only at Record Store Day participating stores.  Mark is extending RSD for the whole weekend this year, opening 11am to 3pm on Sunday as well as 8am to 5pm Saturday to give you even more chance of finding a rare vinyl release!

Don't leave Mark's store without an RSD bag, the contents of which will include an exclusive to Audio T Chandlers Ford (Southampton) RSD discount voucher, and our latest Music at Home Guide!

And what better way to enjoy your exclusive new RSD vinyl than playing it on a limited edition Rega RSD 2017 turntable!

Rega have pulled out all of the stops for RSD's tenth anniversary, producing an exceptional turntable at the same £250 price of a standard Planar 1.  The RSD17 is limited to a production run of 500, and combines the high quality plinth, glass platter, bearing and mat from the RP3 with the tonearm and cartridge of the P1, making this the best Rega limited edition RSD deck so far.

In the unlikely event that the performance, price, and great looks aren't quite enough to persuade you, around 40 of the 500 are signed by some great musical artists!

We are taking orders now for the Rega RSD17 now but they are going fast so best contact us to reserve one now and ensure that you can collect your turntable on Record Store Day as soon as you've bought your new vinyl from Mark at Hundred Records!

Good luck tracking down some vinyl rarities.  We look forward to giving them a spin here and helping you to get the very best sound from your precious albums.

See you soon,

Alan and John