New Oppo UDP-203 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player

We  love home cinema because the sound and picture quality is getting better and better from year to year.  So what makes for a great home cinema experience?

Well, in addition to good sound quality, you definitely need a brilliant picture! Oh yes, no doubt about that. This is why we ordered the new Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player.

So what's in the box ?

The UDP-203 is supplied with a remote control , a power cable , a hdmi cable and a user manual.

In terms of connectivity , the Oppo has a lot to offer:

It has two HDMI outputs (one for audio only, just in case your av receiver doesn't pass through 4K) , an HDMI input (for passing another 4K source through, 2x USB-3 inputs on the back, 1x USB-2 input at the front , RS-232 , digital optical and coaxial outputs, trigger in and out ports and 7.1 channel analogue outputs.

We connected it up to our Panasonic TX-58DX902B 4K TV and we loved it straight away. In comparison to our shop Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player DMP-UB900, which is good, the Oppo's loading time is faster and once the movie is loaded and played, the picture quality is staggeringly good with better black levels and finer around the edges of objects.

Put in the 4K Blu-Ray with "The Revenant" and you see what I mean. This player draws you in when you look at the water in the beginning of the movie, it looks soooo realistic and cinematic like we haven't seen before.  This is also due to HDR. It means High Dynamic Range and through that, you see more levels of white and black (the contrast). Stunning!

We want to watch all our movies again in 4K! I know that some people might wonder, why you would want to do this, but do it and you'll see why. We are hooked by the quality of this player and even playback of your standard Blu-ray's won't disappoint. We have been waiting for a player like this one for some time and now it is here.

The supported disc formats are UHD (4K) Blu-ray, Blu-ray (2D & 3D), DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD and AVCHD.

Anything not to like? We can't think of anything...

So what about the support of online services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and so on, that you get with so many Blu-ray players and 4K Blu-ray player these days? The answer is - No. This player has been designed to play movies to the highest standard, with the best possible picture and sound quality. Most of these online services are available through modern smart TVs and set top boxes these days.

The Oppo UDP-203 can also be used as a media streamer and set up either via ethernet or wirelessly. I connected a 500GB usb-drive with tons of music on it to one of its usb3 sockets on the back of the player and used the remote control to select music via the TV screen menu. There is also a free app for IOS and Android that turns your phone or tablet into a remote control.

The app allows you to browse and play from  NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives or usb drives with all your music or photos on. Tidal is shown on top of this screen shot but according to Oppo, it is not available on this player. 

We think this is a very good 4K Blu-ray player and should be on your short list.

Please come and see us here at the Swindon shop and we're sure you'll be blown away by its sound and picture quality.

Cheers and see you soon

Stefan and Andy

Leema Essentials Phono Stage Review

In this months blog we are taking a look at Leema's High-Resolution 'Essential' phono stage. We have been mightily impressed with the clarity and definition it brings to a huge variety of vinyl setups. Let's take a closer look..

The Essential's technology has been trickled down from Welsh company Leema's top of the range and award winning Agena phono stage and it shows. The Phono stage is switchable between moving magnet and moving coil making it suitable for any cartridge which is a lovely feature at it's price point. The Essentials also provides a switchable low frequency filter which can help cut out noise under 20Hz that can come from warped records or noisy bearings.

Innards

Innards

Some really impressive figures are thrown up by the Essentials.  The moving magnet gain of 36db and moving coil gain of 62db gives you plenty of headroom and a distortion of less than 0.02% (at 1Kh) really helps with the clarity you want from your vinyl.

We've been able to try a huge range of turntables in the shop and have not found a single one that does not shine when paired with the Leema, from Regas entry level Planar 1 with it's moving magnet Carbon cartridge right up to Project's Signature 10 with it's Ortofon Cadenza Red, which is a moving coil.

The setup we used for this review was a Project Classic with an Ortofon 2m black MM cartridge through the Leema into the Nytech CP202 and CPA402 pre and power combo and we used Spendor A6r loudspeakers. Our review vinyl of choice these days is the superb 'If You Wait' by London Grammar, a record we are all very familiar with, yet the Leema managed to reveal things we hadn't noticed before. Small things maybe, the reverb tail after vocalist Hannah Reid's line or the slight modulation in a bass line in album opener 'Hey Now' that before seemed to be one note. It's these small things that add up and only to serve to envelop you in the music and improve your experience.

'Revealing', can be seen as a negative word sometimes and yes if a poor recording is put through the system it can show up its faults, but in this case the Essentials brings the music to life,  showing all the intricacies and details that the artist and recording engineers included but maybe aren't always that easy to hear. It's not all about detail, the Leema has plenty of warmth as revealed by the opening verse of 'Strong' which instantly and totally involves you in the music experience. The phono stage brings plenty of excitement too, the big hooks of the choruses standing even larger than life than they usually do.

Leema's Essentials Phono stage has certainly caught the attention of us all here at Cardiff and is certainly worth a listen, so as always please give us a call to arrange a demonstration.

Leema products are available at the following branches of Audio T: Cardiff, Oxford

Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones

When it comes to headphones, Bowers & Wilkins have garnered quite a reputation. The original P5 was a barnstormer, earning plaudits throughout the Hi-Fi industry and tech publications alike.

The world wide web is still awash with reviews of how elegant they look and how great they sound.

P9 Chromey (11 of 14).jpg

Since then, Bowers & Wilkins have released a plethora of stunning headphones including the the travel sized P3 and the larger P7's, but none have had the Signature moniker attached to them.

Enter the B&W P9's.

Designed using high quality materials such as the as cross-hatched Italian Steffiano leather, composites and beautiful aluminium, the Bowers & Wilkins P9 signatures simply ooze class. 

And to prove they mean business when it comes to high end headphones, Bowers and Wilkins have angled the drive units to improve the stereo image, you will find this method employed in many a high quality headphone. They've even managed to de-couple the cans from the headband to isolate the sound. This reduces outside vibrations that may come back through the headband. The memory foam ear pads (wrapped in leather of course) isolate even further and are very comfortable.

Another nice little touch is the fact that you can replace the cable with the new fangled lightning connection for your shiny new Iphone 7. (B&W will supply the new cable to those of you that register your product on the Bowers & Wilkins website)

Ok, so, how do they sound ?. Well, if you're a fan of B&W speakers then you'll absolutely love the P9's. There is a distinctive Bowers & Wilkins sound here. The P9's have plenty of detail and a solid mid range, very B&W, all rounded off nicely with oodles of bass.. 

Take a peak a some online reviews here. 

What Hifi in particular gave them 5 stars.

Trusted Reviews rated them highly.

The Independent thought they were worth every penny.

Now, to make absolutely sure before you make a purchase, you can pop into our store on Bridge Street, Manchester and try a set on and have a listen.

If you spot Munir, Mike, Dave or Simon loitering around the shop just ask them to plug you in.

Cheers and see you soon.

Bowers & Wilkins Hi-Fi products are available at the following branches of Audio T:
BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffEnfieldManchesterOxfordPortsmouthPrestonReadingSouthamptonSwanseaSwindon   

Chord Company Sarum Super ARAY Arrives At Audio T Preston

We are very proud to be one of only 38 dealers nationwide who stock the very impressive Chord Sarum Super ARAY. This cable is an upgrade for your Hi-Fi like no other!

Chord Sarum Super ARAY Digital

Chord Sarum Super ARAY Digital

There are a great many technical reasons as to why this range of cables are a must for your Hi-Fi system from the new PTFE RCA plug covers, teamed together with the micro polished silver plated conductors, to the tuning process that this cable has gone through which arguably has been one of the biggest steps forward in cable manufacturing in recent years, and it is all brought together in this amazing cable. However, the real magic happens when you add one of these cables into your Hi-Fi system, sit down and listen to the music that you thought you knew. This stunning cable by lowering the noise floor and reveals new levels in the sound stage that simply has to be heard to be believed.

Chord Sarum Super ARAY Speaker Cable

Chord Sarum Super ARAY Speaker Cable

The Chord Sarum Super ARAY is available in a wide variety of cable formats with a range of different connectivity from the humble RCA analogue cable to mains and even USB to suit any requirement for any system.

Chord Sarum Super ARAY Analogue RCA

Chord Sarum Super ARAY Analogue RCA

These cables are available in store for demonstration and we can arrange for you to try these cables at home in your own system, where you will be able to truly appreciate how this cable can make you rediscover your entire music collection.

Chord Sarum Super ARAY Power Cable

Chord Sarum Super ARAY Power Cable

Chord Co Cables are also available from: 
BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldManchesterOnlineOxford
PortsmouthPrestonReadingSouthamptonSwanseaSwindon

Dynaudio Focus 600 XD Amazing Active Speakers At Audio T Oxford

The Dynaudio Focus 600 XD are speakers that redefine the high-end loudspeaker and high-end audio system: The perfect combination of a full-size floor standing loudspeaker and high performance digital amplification.

Both of the newly developed Focus XD ultra-long-throw Esotec+ woofers feature extremely large and powerful magnets, and each is driven by its own individual 150W power amplifier to ensure that an impressive low frequency output (down to a staggering 20 Hz) is always delivered at the highest level of precision and accuracy.

The Esotec+ midrange driver and tweeter in the Focus 600 XD are also each individually driven by a high-performance 150W power amplifier, and the four drivers are perfectly harmonized through the highly sophisticated, state-of-the-art DSP.

In practice, you connect a digital source to one 600 XD, and then run an RCA cable from that 600 XD’s digital output to the other speaker’s digital input. If you don’t run this cable between the speakers, the speakers will connect to each other wirelessly. The 600 XD includes both analogue and digital inputs. They can be operated via remote control and expanded to deliver wireless and or multi-room playback and the firmware can be updated.

dyn 600 Back.jpg

With regard to our listening experience:
Having decided that digital active speakers were the way forward we researched the market and came across these gems and immediately contacted Dynaudio's UK Sales Director Bill Livingstone to arrange to borrow a pair.

We eagerly awaited their arrival and duly wired them up in our demo room to a high quality CD transport.

We were immediately bowled over by their excellent integration, dynamics, timing and accurate wide bandwidth frequency response. We heard a precision and musicality in the bass that we have never heard before especially on some of our favourite dub reggae and EDM tracks.

They have an open window accuracy to them that allows you to enjoy all recordings, music genres and sources with equal aplomb, in fact I was so impressed I ordered a pair for myself and I have been thoroughly enjoying them ever since!

I have tried them with CDs, high-res recordings on DVD/Bluray music formats, TV broadcasts etc and they sound consistently excellent.

Another huge bonus, other than not needing multiple amplifiers/DACs/cables etc is the variable bass output control on the rear that allows you to tune them to your chosen room location rather than having to fit your room around them.

They have settings for freestanding/wall and corner positions,  using their advanced onboard DSP to adjust the bass output accordingly or just to personal taste.

Overall we are exceedingly impressed with these marvels and with 600 watts of amplifiers on board they also go exceedingly loud if you get a bit carried away after the pub!

And it would appear that the Worlds audio Press have similar thoughts....

The Absolute Sound:
Dynaudio has looked into the future and seen the dawn of a new era for active wireless digital loudspeakers. The 600 XD actually offers technical and sonic advantages not possible in traditional passive systems of this price. A case in point is the 600 XD’s spectacular bass reproduction, which is the direct result of Dynaudio’s active digital technology. The overall tonal balance was quite neutral, with very low coloration. The midrange was flat and smooth, with excellent rendering of timbre.

Image Hi-Fi :
Without any doubt, the Focus 600 XD is one of the very best speakers in this price class. More than that, it is close to ‘the last ever loudspeaker needed’ because it authentically reproduces the music and the recorded room, and it recreates the atmosphere and timbre in your own listening room.

Sound & Image:
The clarity of the sound issuing from the 600 XDs was jaw-droppingly good… The bass is almost bottomlessly deep and can deliver anything from the sledge hammer - like impact of an aggressive kick drum to the subtle caress of a viola with equal authority and with unparalleled accuracy. Vocals in particular are delivered with a crispness and a ‘you are there’ liveness that will have you shaking your head in wonderment. It’s a different way to do hi-fi — perhaps even the future of hi-fi. Simply magnificent.

The Dynaudio Focus 600 XD are £7995 (as of typing) and are available to order in the following finishes: Maple, Walnut, Rosewood, Black Ash, Piano lacquer Black and Piano lacquer White.

If you would like more information or would like to arrange a personal demonstration please contact us or call us on 01865 765961

Dynaudio loudspeakers large and small are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrightonBristolManchesterOxfordPortsmouthReadingSouthamptonSwindon

Auralic Aries Mini Wireless Streamer / DAC Audio T Bristol

The Auralic Aries Mini streamer and DAC has a very small footprint (13.5cm x 13.5cm x 2.8cm). It is a wireless streaming node that is full of features fit for music lovers and audiophiles at a real world price.

Auralic.jpg

It is designed to fit seamlessly into an existing Hi-Fi system by either plugging straight into your amp via its RCA outs or connecting to a DAC. The Mini supports all your usual file formats, with PCM resolutions of up to 32bit 384Khz and DSD 256 (FULL FAT NO COMPRESSION, yes come on). The unit can be set up, via an ethernet cable or via WiFi, to stream from either a local network, attached storage, Tidal, Qobuz and Internet Radio.

Despite its small dimensions Auralic have left room inside for a hard drive so you can store your music on the device itself. You can also connect to it via Airplay and Bluetooth there isn’t much this thing can’t do!

Control is everything where network devices are concerned and Auralic have produced, and continue to improve, a fantastic app (Lightning DS) that can be used with any IOS device. This user friendly app is a dream to operate, look at and is easily one of the better apps out there. It comes with a simple in-app set up guide to activate the product and sync up everything you want to use it with.

We have used the mini in the shop for a couple of months now and it has not let us down once. Connected via its RCA outputs it performs really well considering it's price. Even on a system costing thousands it does not draw unwanted attention to itself. Connected to a DAC in the same system it will perform even better making it a good choice if you plan to upgrade your system in stages. We also used it in a headphone setup feeding a Naim DACv1 using the £800 Focal Elear and it proved to be an excellent combination with an expansive detailed sound that just made you want to sit and listen.

Auralic Aries, Focal Elear Headphones and Naim DAC V1

Auralic Aries, Focal Elear Headphones and Naim DAC V1

We tried it with a wide range of music from Pink Floyd to Dvorak and pop to full on EDM. It delivered a balanced presentation that didn't lean toward any particular genre it just played everything really well.

We absolutely love the Auralic Aries Mini, so if you're looking for a simple plug and play streamer then please come and have a listen.

DEVICE CAPABILITIES

  • Local UPnP/DLNA Network Player
  • Tidal, Qobuz and WiMP online streaming
  • Internet Radio
  • Airplay, Songcast and Bluetooth
  • USB Playback with optional internal HDD/SSD

Auralic Hi-Fi products are also available from the following branches of Audio T:
BristolCheltenhamReadingSouthampton

RNLI Music & Hi-Fi Evening

We are very proud to announce that Audio T Southampton will be assisting the RNLI to host a charity music & Hi-Fi evening with support from key manufacturers, Naim Audio, Dynaudio and The Chord Company plus local independent record store Hundred Records.

The Hi-Fi system for the event will be of the highest quality with Naim's now legendary Statement amplification providing more than adequate power!

Dynaudio's stunning Evidence Platinum will be the suitably elegant speakers to match Statement and to ensure that the venue is filled with perfect sound.

Linking it all together The Chord Company's high end ChordMusic cables and interconnects will ensure that this £250,000+ system will really sing!

A wide range of streamed music and vinyl will be played with demo albums generously provided by Mark Wills from Hundred Records in Romsey.

What better way could there be to spend an evening? This will be a unique opportunity to hear a truly awesome esoteric Hi-Fi system in a comfortable and spacious venue whilst supporting one of the most vital and highly valued of all charities, the RNLI.

Tickets are now available for £10 in store at Audio T, Chandlers Ford and at Hundred Records, Romsey and from RNLI Romsey, tel: 01794 323602  

Tickets are now available for £10 in store at Audio T, Chandlers Ford and at Hundred Records, Romsey and from RNLI Romsey, tel: 01794 323602

 

Details of money raising prize draws and raffles are still being finalised so please check our store blog regularly for updates.

We look forward to working with the participating Hi-Fi manufacturers, Hundred Records and The White Horse Hotel, Romsey, who are generously providing a superb venue free of charge, to ensure that a great evening is enjoyed by all and, most importantly, that it is a very successful fundraising event for the RNLI. 

Alan and John

Kudos X2 Speakers Small And Perfectly Formed At Audio T Brentwood

We've just taken delivery of our Kudos X2 speakers for demonstration and wow! This tiny pair of floorstanders is having no problem filling either of our dem rooms with music.

They're only 780mm x 166mm x 206mm (hwd) but boy do they produce the goods. Put them on the end of a Naim system, or a Rega Saturn/Elex and they really sing. We've also had great results on the end of the Unison valve amplifiers.

The Kudos X2 drive units are specially designed by SEAS and the cabinet is cleverly tuned to produce a big expansive and, most importantly musical performance.

Boswell for scale!

Boswell for scale!

They're at home with all types of music from the expansive electronica of Malia and Boris Blank's album "Convergence" to the acoustic blues/country sound of Chris Jones' "Roadhouses and Automobiles" two of our favourite dem albums of the moment.

So, tiny speakers, room friendly, huge sound, and available in a variety of finishes: what's not to like?

Their bigger brothers the Kudos X3 will be arriving shortly as well.

Visit us at Audio T Brentwood and have a listen, we think you'll be very impressed.

Kudos Loudspeakers are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrightonBristolManchesterPortsmouthReading, Swindon

Martin Logan Electromotion Electrostatic Loudspeakers At Audio T Cheltenham

We are very pleased to announce that we are now stocking the new Martin Logan Electromotion Electrostatic loudspeakers. These use electrostatic panels rather than conventional dynamic drive units to produce the mid-range and high frequencies.

How an Electrostatic Works:
Electrostatic loudspeakers comprise of three basic components - Stators, diaphragm and Spars all assembled as a sandwich structure. The diaphragm is an electrically conductive plastic film that is stretched taught between the stators. The stators are are perforated steel sheets coated with an insulator. When in operation the diaphragm is charged to a fixed positive voltage by a high voltage power supply. (This is why all electrostatics are mains powered). The stators are connected to the speaker outputs of the amplifier via a step-up transformer. This converts the amplifiers output to a pair of high voltage signals of equal strength but opposite polarities. As the positive charge in one stator grows the negative charge in the other grows an equal amount. As like charges attract and negative charges repel the positive charge on the diaphragm will force it to move forwards and backwards depending on the charge. Therefore the stronger the charge the greater the movement and produces the movement of the diaphragm normally seen in a conventional drive unit. To help stiffen the panel and prevent the diaphragm from coming too close to the stators non conductive strips called spars are placed along the length of each panel.

The Benefits of an Electrostatic Loudspeaker:
Conventional loudspeaker drivers use a cone attached to a voice coil; the centre of the cone is only being driven and the rest of the cone is just following along. This means the cones have to be made as rigid as possible creating additional weight. The tweeter however needs to be as light as possible to enable it to achieve higher frequencies. Electrostatics overcome this as the diaphragm is driven across its entirety so it does not need to be rigid and can be made of an exceptionally light material. This enables the panel to produce sonic details with exceptional precision. The panel can operate over an exceptionally wide frequency response which eliminates the need for a crossover network between the mid range and the tweeter. Conventional loudspeakers can have the the problem of cabinet colouration and there will always be an effect on the drive units from the cabinet. This is eliminated in the mid to high frequencies of an electrostatic as there is no cabinet. Another key benefit of an electrostatic is that it operates as a true dipole. This enables them to offer exceptional clarity and an astonishing deep open sound stage.

The only drawback to the electrostatic is that they cannot reproduce the deepest of bass sounds. Martin Logan have overcome this by utilising a hybrid design. The very lowest frequencies are reproduced via a very high quality dynamic woofer. These are crossed over to the electrostatic panel via a carefully tailored cross over network. The critically damped woofers used ensure a seamless transition between the two types of drivers.

Electromotion ESL:
The ESL incorporates an Xstat Electrostatic panel with a total radiating area of 129 square inches. The panel is coupled with an 8 inch high excursion doped fibre coned woofer designed exclusively for the ESL. The lightweight cone achieves remarkably low distortion levels allowing seamless integration with the electrostatic panel. Connection to the amplifier is via high quality binding posts and the speaker is supplied with heavy duty spikes allowing tighter coupling between the speaker and the floor.

Electromotion ESL-X:
The ESL-X features a larger electrostatic transducer and utilises dual 8 inch woofers. The Xstat panel has a radiation area over 50 inches larger that the ESL and is coupled with two 8 inch doped paper high excursion woofers housed in a non resonant bass reflex enclosure. This achieves a frequency response of 41Hz to 22kHz. Offering an easy load of 6 Ohms and power handling of 20 to 400 Watts.

Listening:
We have had the Martin Logans set up with numerous systems. These have included Naim ND5XS Streamer coupled with an Arcam A39 class G amplifier, Clearaudio Performance DC turntable coupled with a Unison Research S6 valve amplifier. In all the systems we have tried the speakers have provided exceptional mid range clarity and high frequency performance. The sound stage provided is almost holographic. There have been instances when you could not tell where the speakers were as the sound stage was so expansive that the speakers appeared to disappear. As a hybrid  the integration of the bass is of paramount importance. To test this we played 'Drones' by Muse and they produced exceptionally deep and tight bass akin to a conventional high end loudspeaker. However at no time did you feel that this was at the expense of the open midrange and top end performance. 'Pacific Coast Highway' by Christopher Franke (Tangerine Dream) again has thundering bass with a very open midrange that at times just sounded truly astonishing. Vocals are also truly lifelike. We played Tracey Chapman 'Fast Cars' and the emotion portrayed in her voice was up there with the best I have ever heard. Classical music is somewhere these speakers really do excel, playing a string quartet the players are so well positioned you can place them to within inches to such an extent that you really do feel that they are in front of you. Full scale orchestra such as Shostakovich Symphony No 8 also has exceptional power and depth.

We really do feel that these speakers are capable of producing certain aspects of music that conventional loudspeakers find very difficult to attain. A demonstration is highly recommended.

Contact Jon and Farid, Audio T Cheltenham 01242 583960 to book your personal demonstration.