Musical Fidelity Encore 225 All In One Music System

When you open the box for the Encore you are presented with an 18.3 Kg beast of a unit! This 225 watt box of musical delights is really solidly built and as such fills you with confidence even before you plug it in.

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The Musical Fidelity Encore 225's purpose is to provide a one box solution designed to take away the fuss that usually entails when you take your first steps into streaming. There is no need to have a separate storage unit such as a network attached storage (NAS) drive as the Encore has its own 1TB (upgradeable) hard drive built in. You can connect the Encore to your network and you can drag and drop music onto it. Not only that, but it comes equipped with a CD drive which can work as a CD player but is also a ripper. Copying your CD collection could not be simpler, just put it in the drive and the Encore takes care of the rest. Using the Apple or Android App you then simply find your music and press play. The large high resolution display on the front panel will then show the artwork and track you are currently playing. It's not limited to playing music from the hard drive or CD though, as the Encore integrates the music subscription service Tidal through its App allowing CD quality playback from their large jukebox in the cloud. Also around the back of the unit you will find 3 pairs of RCA inputs, 4 digital inputs and a couple of USB inputs for expanding the units storage. Also on the front panel it has a high quality headphone output.

As previously mentioned the Encore has 225 watts per channel plenty enough for the vast majority of speakers out there and enough to always keep things under control. We have tried it on a number of different speaker makes and models including Dynaudio, Neat, Bowers and Wilkins, PMC and it worked well with all of them so it's certainly not a fussy amplifier. We also tried a variety of music genres. Playing Antonin Dvorak Op. 77 Scherzo performed by the Berlin Philharmonic String Quartet showed just how much grip on the speakers the amplifier has as the dynamics of the performance shone from the first bar onwards. Tippers Gulch from his Backwards Forwards album memorised with the scale of the sound stage and again this showed the amplifiers control as the speakers didn't trip up once as the sounds in the track twisted and turned. It not all about power though, as the Encore is really good at resolving the detail. On Agnes Obel's Aventine you could hear every last nuance in her voice and the strings giving the impression the artists were in the room with you. All in all we think the Encore is a great sounding product and perfect for the modern ways of music consumption. The Encore 225 offers a lot of product for the money. Of course you can come and hear it for yourself, Just give us a call for a demonstration on 0117 926 4975.

Thanks for looking.

Martin, Max and James. Audio T Bristol 

Musical Fidelity Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrentwoodBristolCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldManchesterOnlineSouthamptonSwanseaSwindon

New Rega Ania Moving Coil Cartridge

Rega have been pushing the boundaries of cartridge design for a good number of years, and none more so than the moving coil type.

The Rega Apheta was the first of these in 2005, and that was re-worked and improved when the Apheta 2 was introduced in 2014. The top of the range Aphelion followed in 2015 and demonstrated just how far Rega had progressed the design and manufacture in this highly specialised discipline.

All these turntable cartridges are manufactured by Rega at their UK facility in Southend-on-Sea is quite an accomplishment.

The Ania is the new addition to the moving coil range which opens up ownership due to the wider compatibility with tonearms and turntables, and of course its price, which offers great value and exceptional sound for the money.

http://www.audiot.co.uk/products/rega-ania-moving-coil-cartridge-11615.aspx

Indeed the Rega Planar 3 combines very well with the Ania, and as you go up through the Rega turntable range greater musical delights become apparent.

Rega moving coil cartridges are the low output type and require a moving coil phono stage. It just so happens that Rega are also introducing the Fono MC that is an obvious partner, although other MC stages will work.

The newly announced Rega Planar 6 completes the perfect package of Planar 6 (inc Neo PSU), the Ania MC cartridge and the recently released Fono MC stage.

The Ania and Fono MC are already the beneficiaries of a fine review by Jason Kennedy in the-ear.net where he extols the virtue of their performance partnered with the Rega RP8 turntable.

We have the Ania, Apheta 2 and Aphelion on demonstration and expect the Fono MC in mid July and the new Planar 6 around the end of July.

So, give us a call to hear the combination of your choice, and we will arrange that for you.

Julian, Paul and John at Audio T Brighton  Tel: 01273 609431

Rega Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldManchesterOxfordPortsmouth
PrestonReadingSouthamptonSwanseaSwindon

Acoustic Energy AE1 Active Loudspeakers Just Add Music!

Taking advantage of their pedigree of designing loudspeakers for the domestic and professional markets Acoustic Energy have now released the AE1 active monitor loudspeaker.

The AE1 active is a two way reflex enclosure utilising an aluminium dome tweeter with a unique WDT wave guide for seamless integration into the room. This is coupled with a pure piston ceramic aluminium cone bass driver developed from the original and legendary AE1 studio monitor. Both drivers are driven by two internal 50W class A/B amplifiers via a fully active filter networks per loudspeaker.

Taking advantage of many products now available on the market the AE1 active can be coupled with any equipment that has a variable pre amplifier output. One of the major benefits is you no longer need multiple Hi-Fi components to achieve high end sound quality. In the age of network streaming, Bluetooth and music streaming services, a fine sounding music system can be achieved of diminutive size. As an active (speaker with an amplifier built in) monitor the AE1 Active can also be used as a loudspeaker connected directly to you computer offering sound quality rarely heard from computer loudspeakers. They are also ideal for improving the sound of from your TV (In fact I don't think there is a soundbar on the market that will come close to achieving the sound quality you can get when using the AE1s).

Below we set up a few different music streaming systems with the AE1 actives.

Arcam rBlink - AE1 Active:

The Arcam rBlink is a Bluetooth receiver that can be connected directly to the the AE1 Actives via the audio out of the rBlink. Any product that is Bluetooth enabled such as a mobile phone, IPad or tablet can then be used to play directly to the AE1 Active.

Sonos Connect - AE1 Active:

Connect the Sonos Connect via its variable pre-amplifier output to the RCA input of the AE1 and you have a system capable of network streaming (music files from a computer / external hard drive), Internet radio and music streaming services such as Spotify Premium, Tidal and Qobuz.

Auralic Altair Pre-amplifier - AE1 Active:

The Auralic Altair is an exceptionally high quality network streamer. This can be connected via the balanced XLR outputs on the Altair to the Balanced XLR inputs on the AE1 Active. This will provide with a system of diminutive size that produces exceptionally high sound quality.

Each AE1 Active is equipped with an independent volume control and +/- 2dB adjustment for both bass and treble. They are available in Piano Black, Piano White and high Gloss Real wood cherry finishes.

Sound Quality:
We connected the AE1 Active to the Auralic Altair music streamer. Playing files recorded in FLAC (44.1 kHz) via an Innuos Zen Mini hard drive and the sound quality achieved was outstanding. Playing Mike Oldfield 'Not of this Earth' the sound stage was expansive with great sense of depth. The high frequencies were detailed with no sense of hardness, mid range detail was excellent and the bass went down to depths you really wouldn't expect from a speaker of this size. We then played 'Fast Cars' by Tracy Chapman. Vocals were extremely clear with a great sense of emotion. All the instruments were clearly defined with great power and attack.

All in all the AE1 offer superb value for the sound quality achieved at the price and is available now for demonstration.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Farid, Andy and Jon - Audio T Cheltenham

Acoustic Energy loudspeakers are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BristolCheltenhamOnlinePortsmouthPrestonReadingSwindon

Chord Cable Upgrade Workshop at Audio T Preston Thursday 7th September 12noon-8pm

Join Ian Gavin and Andy at the Preston store as we demonstrate the Chord Company cable range. Come and hear how this cost effective upgrade can bring you even more enjoyment from your music and film collection.

Snacks and refreshments will be provided and there will be exclusive special offers for attendees. If you are uncertain about the difference that cables can make then this is the opportunity to listen and make your own mind up.

Click HERE to reserve your place.

Pioneer Special Edition Monitor 5 Headphones

The Pioneer SE-Monitor 5 headphones are the new closed-back premium headphone from the Japanese electronics company. They compliment the excellent open back SE-Master1.

Great build quality adds to the appeal here, not only do they sound great but look good too. The magnesium alloy frame and the leather headband secure the headphones firmly to your head. Maybe a tad weighty, but very comfortable all the same. The copper ring on the capsules and copper coloured plugs on the braided headphone cable add that extra bit of class to the Monitor 5's.

The elegant new Pioneer SE-Monitor 5 headphone.

This beautifully constructed headphone exudes quality. The headband adjustment is reassuringly solid. Magnesium alloy and leather!! Lovely.

Enter Chromey!!. Those velour headphone cups look really comfy Chromey, and did you know they also come with an extra set of leatherette cups to go with your tight leather pants. splendid.

Enter Chromey!!. Those velour headphone cups look really comfy Chromey, and did you know they also come with an extra set of leatherette cups to go with your tight leather pants. splendid.

The leather headband looks and feels great.

The leather headband looks and feels great.

The 3.5mm jack allows to you disconnect the headphone cable and use a highend aftermarket cable.

Sound Quality
The SE-Monitor 5's sound like a £1000 headphone should, well defined bass that doesn't bloat and stays in check is welcome for a closed-back headphone. The midrange is very well controlled and isn't shouty at all, meanwhile the treble is also lush and well detailed with a hint of warmth. Overall, the stereo image produced by the SE-Monitor 5's can't be faulted and is very accurate.

Fancy a try ? well, why don't you do like Chromey, and zip into Audio T Manchester and give the Pioneer SE-Monitor 5 headphones an audition. We have a dedicated area for our headphones where we use a headphone amp, you can also plug the Pioneer's directly into a portable device such as a phone or a portable audio player if it's how you roll.

Munir, Mike, Dave, Simon and Haden will be on hand to help.    

The Legendary Bowers and Wilkins 800 Series Return To Cardiff.

With a 35 year history and an iconic place for a long time in such institutions as Abbey Road Studios, it’s safe to say the B&W 800 series is one of the most renowned speaker ranges in the world. We are ecstatic to have the newest version of the entire range here at Audio T Cardiff.

The Bowers and Wilkins 800 series has a long and illustrious history, the original 801 was released in 1980. The idea was to give engineers absolute free reign to come up with the very best loudspeaker they could without the usual restrictions placed on them. In fact in the original 801 manual there is a quote that says:

‘‘the first commercial effort to develop and produce a loudspeaker that would reflect the highest standards attainable without regard to any of the so called “practical considerations” that inevitably compromise conventional designs.’’

This is exactly what they did, the use of ultra-rigid Matrix cabinet construction and the idea of separate enclosures for high-frequency drivers or Flowport bass-reflex tuning was brand new innovative technology at the time and was filtered down through the generations of 800s over the years. The new series, 800 D3 to be precise has followed that same philosophy of their forebears but with the very most up to date cutting edge technology that ensures they are on the top of their game.

Words can’t explain how excited we are to now have the vast majority of the new 800 range in store including the HTM1 centre speaker, the stand mounting 805 D3, the more traditional looking floor standing 804 D3, the most compact of the classic 800 look the 803 D3, the immense 802 D3 and the astonishing head of the family the 800 D3.

There is far too much incredible technology that goes into these speakers to cover everything in this blog but let’s go through at least some features. B&W claim that their diamond tweeter technology that they have been using since the beginning and has continued to be improved, provides the most realistic treble possible. The use of diamond means that the tweeter is both as light and rigid as possible which is a very difficult balance to achieve. On these newest versions the tweeter sits in an all new solid body housing which brings even further advances to performance.

A big development in the new range is the abandonment of the iconic Kevlar cone for the new Continuum cone. These are essentially the next stage of evolution in B&W’s cone technology being able to ‘deliver pristine midrange performance by effectively negating the break-up behaviour that can adversely affect this all-important part of the spectrum.’ The fact B&W have done this when the Kevlar cone was already so innovative and unique show just how much they are striving for perfection.

We are still getting to grips with the whole range but what we have found out so far is that everything B&W are claiming about the sonic properties of this series is absolutely true. The ability to bring out the performance of the music you are listening to is exceptional the clarity and realism of these speakers make you feel like the musicians are right there in front of you. This is true for both stereo and home cinema settings, we have the 800’s, HTM1 centre and the 805 stand mounts setup in our cinema room with Dolby atmos and the result is nothing short of mind blowing.

We have several pairs of the range setup and ready to go for demonstration, so please get in touch if you would like a listen to what are frankly some game changing speakers.

Bowers and Wilkins 800 Series are currently only available at Cardiff store.

All other Bowers and Wilkins Speakers are available in the following Audio T stores: BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffEnfieldManchesterOxfordPortsmouthPrestonReadingSouthamptonSwanseaSwindon

Musical Fidelity Encore 225 Music Streamer Offers Stunning One-Box Simplicity

After last month's introduction to Musical Fidelity at Brentwood, here is a more in depth look at one of the stars of their range the Encore 225 Music Streaming System

This beautifully built machine is a complete system in one box. The Encore 225 comprises an amplifier with the same power amplifiers as the Musical Fidelity M6si integrated, and CD drive which can rip your discs to internal storage (1TB and 2TB versions are available). It can also play CDs, has a host of inputs for external devices, can access Internet radio and Tidal and can even be seen as a network storage device by other products such as Sonos!

The build quality is exceptional with  very solid casework edged with heatsinks which are necessary as this baby runs weighted very much into class A.

The Encore 225 has a beautiful high resolution display which will show your album artwork as it plays.

In its simplest form just pop in a CD which it will rip automatically to internal storage in a high quality file, go to "my music" and playback from the usual sorted list, but it can do so much more, acting as a digital and analogue hub with enough inputs to satisfy most people.

So what does the Encore 225 sound like? Put simply it is just superb!

Seen here with the Dali Opticon 5 floorstanders it is currently filling our dem room with a big, warm, detailed and expansive sound, full of rhythm and music whether you're listening to the Bruckner Motets or the latest album from Deadmau5. We've been loading ours up with music and playing with the control features, both from the front buttons and the dedicated app and it has been a delight to use.

This one definitely has the Boswell seal of approval!

So in conclusion the Musical Fidelity Encore 225 is a gem of a system, all in one box and a breeze to use!

And there's more......

At the moment Musical Fidelity are offering a trade in for a limited time, where you will get the cost of your old Musical Fidelity amplifier (up to £1550) off the Encore 225 which is a great deal!

Come and have a listen!

Paul Francis Jason and Boswell

Musical Fidelity Hi-Fi products are also available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrentwoodBristolCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldManchesterOnlineSouthamptonSwansea
Swindon

The Arcam rPlay Music Streamer

With the current surge in popularity for streaming music (Sonos et al) we were pleased and intrigued when Arcam announced that they were bringing to market a dedicated music streamer.
After the success and positive feedback of the streamers in their AV amps and Arcam CDS27 CD player it appears to be a natural step for such a music first company.

The Arcam rPlay allows you to add network audio streaming services and internet radio to any system using DTS PlayFi, Apple Airplay or UPnP enabled music sources such as a Network Attached Storage (NAS).

As well as a co-axial (SP/DIF) digital audio output and a fixed line level analogue output, the rPlay also features a variable analogue output which uses the same volume control as their A49 flagship amplifier. This is really handy for connecting to a power amplifier or a pair of active loudspeakers; multi-room audio aficionados also should take note. The rPlay is very nicely built out of satin black aluminium and is a visual match for the other Arcam “small r” components.

At £399 it's fifty quid more than the unit it's going to be compared to - the Sonos Connect Zoneplayer.

So how does it sound? Very good indeed! It was an obvious improvement over the Sonos Connect. 'Solid' is the term du jour; the rPlay has way more body, depth and richness. Meaty and musical. Operationally it isn't quite as slick as the Sonos, but this is just a matter of getting used to the operating system (OS). The dramatic improvement in sound quality more than makes up for it, even using just 16bit (CD quality) files. The rPlay will play back 24bit (studio quality) files, lifting its performance again. By comparison the Sonos units top out at 16bit.

If you needed any more of a testimonial, both Nic and I have bought one. It's on demonstration in our music salon as we speak. Why not come in and have a listen?

Arcam Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:
BrentwoodCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldOxfordPortsmouthPrestonReadingSouthampton
SwanseaSwindon

Panasonic TX-55EZ952B OLED - Plasma Is Dead Long Live OLED!

John and I have both been eagerly awaiting a new TV which would persuade us to upgrade our now ageing Pioneer plasma screens.  

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The new Panasonic TX-55EZ952B OLED precisely fits the bill.

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This high end 4K Pro HDR TV is Hollywood tuned and equipped with Studio Colour HCX2 and THX certified processing to produce a full, rich and natural spectrum of colours.  The multiple HDR formats supported include Hybrid Log Gamma, the broadcast HDR format jointly developed by the BBC and Japan's NHK.

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Panasonic have fully utilised their plasma experience to great effect with this TV, ensuring it is capable of incredible shadow detail and displaying the deepest blacks.  

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These positive plasma attributes are enhanced by the many advantages of OLEDs such as higher brightness, natural colour rendering, much lower power consumption and elegant slimline design.

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The high specification includes all iPlayers, Freeview Play, inbuilt Netflix and Amazon 4K. 

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The supplied compact central stand avoids the cabinet overhang issues of many TVs and we both appreciated the ease with which we wall mounted our demo screen. It was far less stressful than the back breaking task we recall with our Pioneer plasmas many years ago!

Just phone or email to book or just call in to see the Panasonic TX-55EZ952B OLED with an awesome home cinema system in our Dolby Atmos equipped demonstration room.  We are sure you will be as impressed as we are with this brilliant TV!  

See you soon,

Alan and John

Panasonic TVs are available from all branches of Audio T.

Chord Electronics Hugo 2 DAC Headphone Amplifier 'Knocks It Out Of The Park' Again!

It has been a long wait, but oh boy was it worth it. We now have the all new Chord Electronics Hugo 2 portable DAC and headphone amplifier available for demonstration.

Chord Electronics Hugo2

Chord Electronics Hugo2

A complete re-design of the multi-award winning benchmark DAC, the MK2 Hugo raises the bar once again. In truth, they hardly needed to, as the old one still has the gong but that isn't Chord's way; if it can be bettered then they're 'gonna' do it!

Hugo 2 inputs

Hugo 2 inputs

We are hearing significant improvements in detail, dynamics and timing over the old model thanks in part to the dramatic increase in the number of taps within the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) silicon.

All inputs and filter options are displayed via coloured LEDs much like that of the Chord Electronics Mojo for ease of use. Although initially designed to be the world's best portable DAC and headphone amp in reality the original mostly found it living amongst the best home Hi-Fi systems as the primary DAC, such was its giant killing credentials. This fact was not lost on Chord, so one of its new features is that it automatically stops charging the internal battery when it's plugged into the charger for 24hrs which extends battery life. 

Additionally Hugo 2 is now fully remote controlled, another nod to non-portable application.

Full feature list and technical specification can be found here.

You can read the latest What Hi-Fi? review of the Hugo 2 here.

Hugo 2 is available in black or silver.

Now with remote control

Now with remote control

Come in and have a listen at Audio T Reading.

Chord Electronics Hi-Fi products are also available at the following branches of Audio T: 
BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffEnfieldManchesterOnlineOxfordPortsmouthPreston
ReadingSouthamptonSwanseaSwindon