Audio Note UK Level 2 System

Our Audio Note UK brand launch back in November 2018 at the Roseate Hotel here in Reading, where we demonstrated their flagship £800K system proved to be an overwhelming success. Equally the response we have had from those who have visited our store and heard a more affordable system in our all new dedicated Audio Note UK demo room has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Level 2 system in our new dedicated Audio Note UK room

Level 2 system in our new dedicated Audio Note UK room

In this demo room we have in permanent readiness, two full systems of vastly different costs to showcase the Audio Note UK sound; it is the lower cost system I would like to describe in this post.

 This system, all hand built in Hove, Sussex, comprises of a choice of source components in the form of a CD player and/or a turntable, an integrated amplifier and a pair of loudspeakers.

 At this point I would suggest reading Audio Note UK’s philosophy to better understand the designs and choices they make. (Saves me from a lot of typing too).

 The CD Player.

Audio Note UK CD3.1x/II

A Red Book integrated CD player designed specifically for sonic performance rather than specifications, it features a vacuum tube output stage being driven by an Analogue Devises AD1865 18bit chip set with no over sampling or digital filters whatsoever. Typically for Audio Note UK, their own in-house wound copper foil capacitors and tantalum resistors are used when commercially made components that meet their exacting demands are not available.

The Turntable.

Audio Note UK TT2 Deluxe

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The TT2 origins are founded in the highly acclaimed Dunlop Systemdek of the 1990s but completely re-engineered to meet today’s exacting standards and expectations.

At the heart of the TT2 is a two motor drive system designed to take full control of the lightweight acrylic platter by means of high torque enabling this deck to have superb speed control and pitch; essential for accurate reproduction of music, especially acoustic, be it piano, orchestral or jazz.

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The cartridge, their IQ3 is the top of a three model MM (moving magnet) range. It features their very own stylus profile mounted to a unique tapered titanium cantilever as found on their £3k and £6k moving coils. This in turn is mounted onto the top of their three arm range; Audio Note UK Arm 3. A highly rigid, in-house build tonearm featuring pure silver wiring throughout. Arms 1 and 2 differ by use of two grades of copper wiring to reduce costs but the mechanicals remain identical.

 The Amplifier.

 Audio Note UK Oto Phono SE Signature

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Representing something of a sweet spot in the middle of the Oto range of amplifiers, the SE (single ended) Signature features an all vacuum tube phonostage, a perfect match to the IQ3, and an 10wpc output stage comprising of 4 matched EL84 pentode tubes in pure class A single ended configuration with in-house custom designed and built iHib output transformers. Four inputs plus tape monitor, balance and volume controls complete the classic uncluttered aesthetic.

 The Loudspeakers

 Audio Note UK AN-E Spe HE Hemp

The AN-E is the top and largest of a three model series constructed not from MDF but Russian birch ply. These speakers feature a minimum of damping and bracing to allow the the cabinets to enhance the drivers performance to the maximum ensuring the highest level of musical performance possible rather than the usual totally inert designs of their competitors.

 Another sweet spot in a vast range of AN-E options, the Spe HE Hemp feature all silver internal wiring and voice coils. Paper bass/mid cones are replaced with stiffer and lighter HE (high efficiency; 98dB ) Hemp bass/mid drivers and horn loaded silk dome tweeters. The key to the design is high efficiency, full range bandwidth (18Hz -23kHz) and high dynamic range making them perfect partners to low powered, high quality tube amps such as the Oto.

The speakers sit atop a 10” mass filled custom designed stands and are available in 20+ high quality exotic veneers at no extra cost unless one specifies high gloss lacquer. They are designed to be placed close to a wall, indeed preferably in the corners whereby they pressurize the room for maximum efficiency and an optimal tonal balance.

 The Cables

 Audio Note UK ISIS LX Reference

Isis LX Reference  interconnects  and  speaker cables

Isis LX Reference interconnects and speaker cables

Finally, the system is wired with a complete loom of Audio Note UK’s own custom designed cables. Isis Reference represents their flagship in copper and only topped by their ranges of all silver cables at considerable cost too.

All cables are copper litz in configuration and hand built to order.

 The Sound

Rather than attempt to dissect this into describing the sound of the individual components I shall allude to the system as a whole, indeed, as good as any Audio Note UK components are, it’s when they are assessed as a collective then their true magic shines.

 The first thing that strikes you is the sheer sense of scale, that an event is taking place before you.

Instruments, singers, indeed the whole ensemble is present in the room, or rather, when the recording allows, you are present in the recording space; often almost life size.

The second, is the dynamics. No one expects the sudden change in volume this system can muster, from the tiny sound of a triangle to full blown orchestra in an instant, (Scheherazade, Living Stereo, Analogue Productions AAPC 2446). With such high efficiency speakers this comes easily and without any trace of distortion or strain promoting the desire to increase not decrease the volume; low volume listening is equally rewarding though. 

What grabs next is timbre accuracy. Instruments sound like they are supposed to, not Hi-Fi caricatures; each and every one in its own space with its own correct scale.

PRaT (pace rhythm and timing) come so naturally that you don’t even think about it leaving your grey matter to concentrate on the composition or the musicians’ virtuosity whilst the dense harmonics course through each piece with ease; it all adds up to a natural, unforced sense of completeness and above all in a totally coherent fashion; in a word, effortless.

Think not that a valve based system necessarily sound overly warm and soft, many do but not Audio Note UK; this system astounds in it’s ability to rock when required; John Bonham’s drums pound, Jimmy’s guitar soars as if his amp is in the room (‘Heartbreaker’ LED Zeppelin II, Atlantic 588198) or play some dub-step such as Noisia’s ‘Split The Atom’ (Maustrap MAU5CD010P) and the sheer force almost bowls you over; the bass shakes both you and the room.

 Music should surprise and be unpredictable, be immediate and involving otherwise the killer of all killers, boredom sets in. At any volume this Audio Note UK system delivers in spades and at the cost offers supreme value for money and promotes long term satisfaction.

Our most recent Audio Note UK customer commented when first hearing the above system “my God, I’ve wasted the last 20 years faffing about with HiFi”. Says it all really. Needless to say, he bought it.

Audio Note UK components are categorised by levels 1-5, 1 being entry and 5 being state of the art, albeit that there are many products of different performance and cost within each level. They recommend not mixing between levels beyond one above or one below so as to maintain system performance. The above system falls within level 2 with the exception of the speakers, which are level 3 in this instance.

So why not pop in anytime, no need to book a demo, and have a listen. Bring an LP or CD you like and maybe make a new discovery?

 We’re thrilled to be in partnership with Audio Note UK and hope you’ll enjoy it too.

 The cost

 TT based system £24,400

CD based system £23,400

TT&CD based system £30,300

Each includes 3.5 Isis single run bi-wire speaker cables and Isis cabled mains block.

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PMC Cor Integrated Amplifier - The Heart Of A Hi-Fi System

PMC’s integrated amplifier, named Cor ( which means heart in latin ) has arrived here with us in Swindon. PMC, known as a speaker manufacturer of many award winning speakers , launched the Cor last year as their first stand-alone domestic amplifier.

Designed and hand-built in the UK, the Cor is an analogue Class A/B amplifier that produces 95W per channel (which rises to 140W into a 4ohm load ) and it is very well built indeed.

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On the front panel it has a large volume control knob, a headphone socket and buttons for input selection . There are controls for bass, trable and balance and these are operated by motorised slider switches. Each of the switches has a led in the middle and they turn white when dead centre or red when adjustments have been made. You press the bypass switch if you don’t want to use tone controls.

A nice metal remote control is supplied with the Cor.

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There is an on/off switch on the back and when switched on, the PMC logo on the front panel turns red, meaning it is in stand-by. Touch the logo to turn the amp on and it turns white.

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On the back, there are 5 line-level inputs and a single balanced XLR input. A pre-amp output if you want to connect the Cor to a power amplifier of your choice and direct in sockets for integration into a home cinema, leaving the Cor to power the two front speakers.

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This Cor is a neutral sounding amplifier that doesn’t add or take away anything from your music. This heart of a music system offers control and it is pure fun to listen to.

We have connected various speakers and sources here in the shop and it sounded superb.

Please bring some of your music and come in for a listen. Coffee and tea will be provided.

For more specification please click this link —> PMC Cor

PMC Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T: Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Enfield, Manchester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Swindon

Sleek Stylish and Scintillating New SONOS Amp

The new SONOS AMP has arrived and it is a thing of beauty.

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This AMP is an exercise in industrial design, sleek looking, lovely soft touch finish and touch sensor controls on the front edge.

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When we look round the back of the AMP it has the same elegant and minimal approach. There is a pair of phono sockets for analogue in, an HDMI socket for interfacing with your TV, a subwoofer output for traditional subs and a couple of Ethernet sockets. The speaker sockets are 4mm banana type and plugs are supplied in the package.

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This is definitely the best AMP SONOS have produced sounding wonderful streaming Woodkid -The Golden Age from our library on a pair of Dali Zensor 5 floorstanders. It handles the intricate percussion of this album with ease and manages to reproduce the scale of the production effortlessly. On more intimate material like Chris Jones - Roadhouses and Automobiles there is real delicacy and resolution

The AMP also adds a lot of flexibility to an existing SONOS system, use it to connect an external source into the SONOS chain like a turntable or CD player, it will also integrate into SONOS surround systems with its HDMI input. It has Airplay 2 and a healthy 125 W per channel unlike the old Connect amp which is 55W.

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All in all the new SONOS AMP is a big hit with us here at Audio T Brentwood.

Come in and hear for yourself!

Paul, Francis, Jason, and Boswell

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SONOS is available from the following branches of Audio T: Brentwood, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Online, Oxford, Portsmouth, Preston, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon

Change The Record And Keep It Clean! Pro-ject VCS MKII & Record Cleaning Accessories

OK, so you either you bought yourself or you’ve been gifted that lovely new turntable and you’ve been busy buying up lots of lovely new records to play on it. Now what if you discover that your recent purchase is in less than perfect condition?

Well you could of course go down the route of buying yourself a dedicated record cleaning machine. The one that we always keep on coming back to is the Project VCS Mk2. Hailing from the same company who are world famous for producing top notch turntables this cleaner is built like a tank and is super easy to both set up and to use! The VCS Mk2 has the remarkable ability of being able to rescue some of the crackliest sounding second hand purchases, making them sound and look like they are fresh out of the shop!

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Sometimes even brand new and shiny looking LPs can suffer a little from stray clicks and pops caused by specs of dust that have managed to embed themselves deep in the records grooves and here a quick spin on the VCS Mk2 can reap rewards. We have two local second hand record stores who have both invested in this miraculous little machine and both of them swear by it and use them daily!

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Now what if those dusty records have clogged up your brand new stylus with a little ball of tricky to remove fluff? You need one of these rather nifty little stylus cleaning brushes imaginatively named Clean-it!

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The brush boasts a pad of short carbon fibres and all you do is run the brush down the cantilever and over the diamond stylus. This will remove dirt deposits and stray fluff from the stylus tip. And remember removing dust, dirt and fluff from the stylus not only prolongs the life of you cartridge but will also improve sound quality and most importantly of all protect your records from wear. And hey…..they are not expensive!

Logically it follows that the best way to stop your stylus from fluffing up at all is to give your records a good clean up before playing them. For this very purpose comes the carbon fibre bust that Project call Brush-it. I sense a theme here! This is every vinyl lovers’ essential piece of kit; a brush specially designed to keep your precious vinyl in optimum playing condition, free from atmospheric and residue blemishes.

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As the record is spinning you simply drag the brush lightly from the inside to the outside and it will drag any dust out with it. It is also genius at reducing static charge in the vinyl too!

And talking of reducing static charge I come on to the phenomenon that is the anti static inner sleeve! Our preferred brand is the Nagoaka.

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Coming in packs of fifty, not only will these prevent the build up of a static charge which can manifest itself as random audible clicks and pops that can interfere with your listening pleasure, they also provide a huge degree of protection from scratch damage when taking records from or putting them back in to those hideous cardboard inner sleeves that most record labels seem to deem adequate protection for their shiny new slices of vinyl (that happens to be one of my pet hates that one!) These sleeves are also an essential item for when you have just given your record a rejuvenating spin on the VCS Mk2 record cleaning machine!

Pro-ject turntables & accessories are available at the following branches of Audio T:

Brentwood, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Online, Oxford, Portsmouth, Preston, Swansea, Swindon

Riders On The Stream! Marantz NA6006

If you've been contemplating how best to incorporate streaming into your existing system, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater and starting again, we may just have the perfect solution.

Allow us to introduce the Marantz NA6006. A stand alone network audio player that offers everything you need to enjoy the vast array of title's that streaming services, such as Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify offer, and all without leaving the comfort of your armchair.

A nice, bright, clear display and straight forward front panel controls in matching Marantz casework, a thing of beauty.

A nice, bright, clear display and straight forward front panel controls in matching Marantz casework, a thing of beauty.

Derived from the outstanding ND8006, the NA6006 boasts improved Digital to Analogue conversation, via the ESS Sabre 9016 chip set, offering high resolution audio up to 192kHz/24 bit and DSD 5.6MHz. The DAC, coupled with Marantz’s unique HDAM - High Definition Amplifier Modules are designed to lower the noise floor and provide a wider bandwidth. It starts to sound like an exciting prospect.

The rear panel.

The rear panel.

The NA6006 is compatible with Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as Apple Airplay 2, the Marantz also offers Bluetooth for connection from a phone, tablet or PC.

Control is delightfully straight forward via the free HEOS app, Simply download it to your phone or tablet and you're away. The vast array of Internet Radio stations are readily available via Tune In, and if you have a network attached storage (NAS) device on your home network, your music can be searched, selected and streamed, all from within in the HEOS app. Popular streaming services such as Deezer, Spotify and Tidal all work within the app, ensuring a smooth selection of your chosen artist without frustration.

In addition there are two optical connections, one input and one output (should you wish to use an off board digital to analogue converter (DAC). There are fixed and variable RCA outputs allowing volume to be controlled via the amplifier or via the app. But if you prefer to keep matters simple the NA6006 also comes with a dedicated remote control.

A good, old fashioned remote control makes operation a breeze.

A good, old fashioned remote control makes operation a breeze.

We are are big fans of the Marantz 6006 range here at Audio T Oxford. The amplifier and the CD player both offer a superlative performance, that belies their respective asking prices and after some critical listing it appears that the NA6006 is no exception. 

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Marantz NA6006 with Rega’s sublime Brio integrated amp, if Cheeky Mouse had thumbs, he would definitely show his approval

With our evaluation, we choose to use matching Marantz electronics in the 6006 range, coupled to pair Bowers and Wilkins 707 S2’s (an outstanding pair of speakers), priced at £800.  We also used Chord Clearway speaker cable at £10 a metre and the entry level C-line interconnect, also from Chord (just £40 for a 0.5 meter), to deliver an improved performance over the "in-the-box" cable. We started with the Marantz CD6006 SE and then selected the same track via Tidal and what we heard was a tighter bass presentation and a definite sense that the presentation sounded fuller , various elements of the recording we more firmly fixed in the soundstage, it was a genuinely nice surprise. After listening to a few track, we took the opportunity to try another one of our favourite components and swapped out the Marantz amplifier for Rega's Brio. The improvement in presentation was immediately apparent; this is clearly a component that will work well when connected to more exotic equipment.

We have the Marantz NA6006 on display at the Oxford store and we are always pleased to offer a demonstration at your convenience. Contact on 01865 765961 and ask for Chris, Jon or Andrew.

Marantz Hi-Fi products are available at the following branches of Audio T:

Brentwood, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Online, Oxford, Portsmouth, Preston, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon

Time For A Little ZEN Courtesy of Innuos

Just arrived into Preston store we have the all new Innuos ZEN mini MK3. With all the all the CD ripping convenience of the MK2 but with added upgrades to make it even more appealing to home digital music streaming enthusiasts.

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As before the ZEN mini is available with 1/2/4/8 Tb internal storage, we opted for the 1TB at £899.

Innuos have made connectivity upgrades by adding a custom motherboard to include two Ethernet ports for network pass through to other network devices that are close by, this helps with audio playback performance.

The ZEN Mini MK3 now incorporates analogue/coaxial and optical outputs, we have used these in store and partnered it up with the Cyrus One HD and used the Neat Iota Alpha speakers and we were blown away with how it performed, whilst being so neat and compact.

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As for controlling the ZEN simply type my.innuos.com into your browser and up it pops!

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Taking around 5-10 minutes to copy an album (depending on which ripping mode is selected), all you need to do is pick the file format you require supporting DSD, FLAC and WAV, we tend to stick with FLAC as it takes up less space.

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All the album artwork is found making for easy navigation of your collection.

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If you want to control the ZEN from a tablet we have found a great free app for Android called Squeezer, if your using an Apple IOS product iPeng can be purchased for £8.99.

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Also available is the new dual-linear power supply if want to get even more performance from the product at £499 or £449 if purchased together with the ZEN at the same time.

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A great addition to any multi-room music system whatever the level your at. We look forward to demonstrating it for you. Ian & Gavin - Audio T Preston

Innuos Hi-Fi products are available at the following branches of Audio T: Brentwood, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Online, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon

Rega, QUAD and Spendor Hi-Fi System Focusing On Vinyl And CD!

We realise that not everyone wants to stream their music, some people like to keep it simple with CD and Vinyl. With this in mind we put together a quality mid range system (Under £4000 excluding cables) for a small to medium room that sounds great and focuses on more traditional formats.

Quad Solus, Rega Planar 3 & Fono MM

Quad Solus, Rega Planar 3 & Fono MM

The honest shot showing the connecting cables!

The honest shot showing the connecting cables!

Starting with the hub of the system, we have the Quad Artera Solus. The Solus is an amplifier / CD combo in the very high quality Artera casework giving it a really solid, hefty feel.

Quad Artera Solus

Quad Artera Solus

For our record spinner we chose the latest version of the iconic Rega Planar 3 with Elys cartridge and the Rega Fono MM phono stage. The Planar 3 is available in Black or White as well as the Red finish shown below, and without cartridge if you would prefer to choose your own.

Rega Planar 3 with Elys

Rega Planar 3 with Elys

Rega Fono MM

Rega Fono MM

And last but not least, one of the most compact floorstanding speakers we have, the Spendor A2 in black. The Spendor’s are also available in Dark Walnut and Natural Oak. White is available at a premium. Grills are available as an optional extra.

We tried several pairs of speakers with the system and liked the Spendor’s the most. Although they struggle to fill a big room, the combination of subtlety and a very natural musical presentation won us over against some of their bigger rivals.

Spendor A2

Spendor A2

Although this system is excellent with CD and Vinyl it does have potential to expand. The Quad Solus does have Bluetooth if you want to dip your toe into the streaming world. It also has digital inputs, and analogue outputs for the Quad Artera Power amplifier for a bigger room / speakers.

Quad Artera Solus Rear

Quad Artera Solus Rear

Feel free to come in and have a listen. Thanks for reading Nick, Joe & James - Audio T Portsmouth.

Rega Hi-Fi products are available from all branches of Audio T

QUAD Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T: Brentwood, Brighton, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Oxford, Portsmouth, Preston, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon

Spendor Loudspeakers are available from the following branches of Audio T: Cardiff, Cheltenham, Portsmouth, Swindon

New Ruark R5 Coming Very Soon!

Ruark have been hard at work and a super new model is being added to the range. We are expecting a full complement of features and the sound quality that Ruark have become renowned for.

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To be launched at the Bristol Hi-Fi Show (organised by AUDIO T) 22nd to 24th February.

We would love to tell you more but we are sworn to secrecy until the launch date!

Ruark Audio

Available at
BrentwoodBrightonBristolCardiffCheltenhamEnfieldManchesterOnlineOxfordPortsmouthPrestonSouthamptonSwansea

The Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 - Ripping Your Music CDs With Ease

My skepticism of high end ripping units has always been true but the Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 has swayed me to say the least. The simplicity of feeding it a CD and seeing magically appearing on your streaming platform can’t be underestimated.

Capable of storing up to a thousand CDs on even it’s smallest 1TB hard drive the Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 gives you ample room to grow your music collection.

Simplifying your music collection has never been easier

This is not to say that it doesn’t have the nerd out stats and control that many of us (including myself) desire. Simply type my.innuos.com into your browser and there it is, supporting DSD, FLAC and WAV at CD native bit rates.

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USB External DAC Support

The Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 isn’t simply a music server, it competently takes on the role of streaming as well. Having both digital and analogue output makes the price tag very appealing and working with Squeezebox gives you access to Tidal, Spotify and Qobuz at hi-res with no limitations. It also has a Roon core built in as standard.

Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 Phono

Built in 192kHz 24biti

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The Zen Mini is built with fantastic precision having hardware that quite literally outperforms the very computer I’m writing this blog on! An Intel Quad Core with 4GB Ram is more than you could ever need.

The slot loading TEAC disc drive rips through a CD in about 5 minutes, getting you through your collection quickly. The auto metadata collection is accurate and foolproof. Any unrecognised albums are conveniently put under ‘quarantine’ for later review and manual tagging.

Considering it costs less than many streamers that exist today it’s a hard product to dismiss, killing two birds with one stone. I simply can’t find anything to improve being one of the easiest Hi-Fi products I’ve ever used and with excellent sound quality to boot!

if you’re in the market to digitise your music collection and de-clutter without compromising on sound quality, then we would certainly recommend giving the Innuos Zen Mini serious consideration. As always, we’re happy to give you a demonstration.

Innuos products are available from the following branches of Audio T: Brentwood, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Online, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon

Don't Be Afraid to Catch Feels (Again): The Arcam SA20 Amplifier

Those of you who read our previous blog post about the Arcam SA20, mostly with regard to its performance with a Rega Planar 3 turntable, I’d hinted at the SA20's DAC but postponed elucidation to a later blog; this one!

To recap, the Arcam SA20 has two co-axial and one optical digital input, with a sophisticated 7-step filter selection which is fun to experiment with. I left it in position 3, Arcam’s default.

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A long-standing customer of ours (he knows who he is), brought his Bryston BDP-3 network audio player in for me to update and set-up. It has no DAC of it's own, so to check its function (and get a sneaky audition), I connected it to the SA20 that was warmed up in the dem suite with a Black Rhodium Rondo coaxial digital interconnect. (One of our favourites.) The speakers were the Monitor Audio Silver 200s I had connected for the Rega Planar 3 turntable demo earlier.

Our Mr K remembered how fond I am of Norah Jones, so he brought in a 24-bit download from HDTracks of 'Come Away with Me', plus Diana Krall's 'Turn Up The Quiet' for good measure. (What a nice man.) All in all, about £6k for the system, with an unusually high 2/3rds of the budget given up to the front end.

Wow!

What initially grabbed our attention was the soundstage. Just before Lee Alexander starts playing bass on "Cold, Cold Heart", it pops out, almost holographic. Norah's delicate piano playing and delicious, breathy vocals (steady now - ed) firmly held in their own space, the swing of the bass washed over, melted us into the sofa and had me longing for a glass of something restorative.

This Arcam SA20 amplifier continues to impress...

Thanks for reading. - Audio T Swansea.

Arcam Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T: Brentwood, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Oxford, Preston, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon