UK Exclusive......Acoustic Energy Do It Again With Their New AE 500 Standmount Loudspeakers

Acoustic Energy have been very busy of late and the latest fruits of their labour come in the guise of the brand new 500 series loudspeakers. And here in Cheltenham we have a UK exclusive as we are the only store in the whole country to have these in stock and ready to listen to until September!

The ones I have the pleasure of blogging about here are the AE 500’s which are a compact stand mount featuring some rather clever newly developed carbon fibre drive units designed to offer unparalleled levels of performance, quality and value. Acoustic Energy say that their aim is to make the speaker sound smoother and more transparent. Shall we see if they have succeeded?

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I connected the AE500’s up to a Rega Brio amplifier and Apollo CD player using a Rega Couple interconnect and Chord Company Odyssey speaker cable then sat down with a cup of tea and a pile of my usual favourite demo CD’s.

The first thing that struck me about these little marvels was how open and detailed they sounded and how they managed to image from way left and right of the speaker cabinets. This is something quite rare in a speaker at this price!

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I played the title track of the album Starfire by Jaga Jazzist and about half way through it gets all complicated and very proggy and throughout the little AE500’s it sound fully controlled and powerful. No one part of the music was being coloured by any of the rest making it so easy to hear and follow everything all at the same time! This piece of music is always a good test and the AE500’s made it sound totally engaging.

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Next into the Rega Apollo CD player was the totally gorgeous piece of musical loveliness that is Angelina by Marillion from the equally marvellous album Marbles. The AE500’s again opened the sound-stage up. I closed my eyes and the speakers totally disappeared leaving the music just hanging in the air in front of me. This piece has a very deep bass line throughout and a soaring guitar motif and is recorded in such a way that puts the music in a huge acoustic space. This comes over convincingly on the AE 500’s. This is one album you must own if you have even just a casual interest in rock music of the prog variety. A majestic masterpiece from a band at the peak of their powers! Just make sure you get the double CD version!

Now a sizeable chunk of this magic comes from the carbon fibre drive units. Their very rigid but lightweight nature ensuring great mid-range definition and increased transient speed and clarity. Acoustic Energy have succeeded in their goal to make a smooth sounding loudspeaker, which is a great thing in this age where most companies make their speakers sound way too bright. This makes the AE500’s the type of loudspeaker that you can listen to for hours as they are not at all fatiguing.

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The cabinet construction is rather special too using Acoustic Energy’s new 18mm Resonance Suppression Composite or RSC for short. This is basically a method of putting one cabinet inside another with a damping layer between them thus greatly reducing cabinet resonances which would otherwise colour the sound.

These speakers are a must listen if you are interested in a really high quality but still small solution to put on speaker stands (preferably) or bookshelves (at a pinch). If you have a yearning for owning a pair of those classic Acoustic Energy AE1 from the old days then look no further these little marvels will put a grin on your face a mile wide!

Finished in a choice of Piano Gloss Black, Piano Gloss White or American Walnut wood veneer finishes the AE 500’s will look great with any home decor. Come in to the Cheltenham store for a demo and a cup of tea or coffee …… we might even have biscuits! Let your ears be the judge, but we’re sure you will be very pleasantly surprised.

Acoustic Energy Hi-Fi products are available at the following branches of Audio T: Brentwood, Bristol, Cheltenham, Online, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading, Swindon.

Time To Selekt. Audio T Bristol Takes A Look At The New Linn Selekt DSM Network Streaming System

Linn have always be renowned for creating innovative and superb sounding 'source’ components. The newest addition is the Linn Selekt DSM, which is a dedicated all-in-one network streaming and upgradeble Hi-Fi system, that can improve and modernise an existing stereo system and offer multi-channel surround sound as well.

The built in space optimisation software feature allows the system to be configured for different types of loudspeaker, which ensures you always get the optimum sound quality for your speakers and listening space. It does this by having a wide range of speaker configurations to choose from, but It doesn't stop there…

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Space optimisation has its own room builder, so you can replicate your listening environment within the easy to use Linn app. The app includes a wide range of variables and settings, such as the build of the room, wall types, windows, doors, height, depth and much more. Space optimisation has been designed to allow you to improve your entire system and get the sound tailored to your preference, no matter what speakers you have or where they are positioned in the room.

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The Linn Selekt DSM is a modular and an upgradeable Hi-Fi system. It has the Linn family trait running through it – a design that can be completely and easily upgraded from the base model to the top spec amplifier with Katalyst DAC.

The base model includes a pre-amplifier, enabling you to connect all your sources, including turntable (MM / MC inputs). Like all Linn products there is always an upgrade option, whether that’s adding the Katalyst DAC to further enhance the sound quality or offering multi-channel surround sound or higher output amplifiers.

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The sleek design is complete with customisable smart buttons to provide immediate access with just one touch. Accessing your favourite playlist has never been easier! Sources range from; the normal streaming services (24bit 192 Khz) from local hardrives or music , internet radio, podcasts, your turntable or Blu-Ray player. This is a fantatstic sounding all-in-one with great flexibility, brilliant design and providing an upgrade path to ensure long term enjoyment of your music collection.

But don’t take our word for it, give us a call or email us to arrange your personal demonstration - Audio T Bristol.

Linn Hi-Fi products are available at the following branches of Audio T: Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Oxford, Preston, Swindon

Neat Acoustics Add Something Ekstra To Their Range Of Loudspeakers.

The Neat Ekstra is an elegant 2.5 way floor standing loudspeaker incorporating an integral subwoofer and is supported on three feet.

It is available in American walnut, black oak and satin white with an option for either silver or black feet, also included are magnetic cloth grilles for the upper box section.

Neat Ekstra in Satin White

Neat Ekstra in Satin White

The design of the Neat Ekstra, uses a configuration first employed in the Ultimatum XL6 and is made up of two sealed boxes. 

The upper box houses the ribbon tweeter and bass mid driver which is attached to a sub-baffle which in turn is mounted, via a decoupling polyethylene membrane for the reduction of unwanted vibrations, to the main cabinet making this section work as a two way infinite baffle.

Neat Ekstra Upper Box inc Ribbon tweeter and Bass Mid driver

Neat Ekstra Upper Box inc Ribbon tweeter and Bass Mid driver

The lower box is ported half way down its length and terminates internally with the first of the two bass drivers facing to the floor, the second driver is immediately below in its own section. These two drivers work as a sealed iso-baric arrangement acting as an internal subwoofer system. The low-q port in the mid section is also specially tuned to enable close to the wall placement of the loudspeaker in most rooms.

Rear view showing Low-Q port and single wire speaker terminal

Rear view showing Low-Q port and single wire speaker terminal

We hooked the Neat Ekstra’s up to a Naim NDX2 network player and a Naim Supernait2 amplifier for testing purposes after a week of running in.

These are a very undemanding loudspeaker, an easy listen, whatever we played through them they rewarded us with a detailed musical presentation, never edgy, but with a sweet insightful top end and rhythmic tuneful bass, a very well balanced speaker in our view.

One of the Ekstras’s downward facing bass drivers

One of the Ekstras’s downward facing bass drivers

The Neat Ekstra offers a lot of loudspeaker for the money, the elegant lines and attention to detail in tuning make them ideal for most locations.

Ready for action, just turn up the volume

Ready for action, just turn up the volume

This may be the speaker you’ve been waiting to hear, so come along and talk to Julian, Paul and John at Audio T Brighton and we'‘ll set them up for you.

Neat Acoustic Loudspeakers are available from the following branches of Audio T: Brighton, Cheltenham, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading

Audiolab 6000N Network Player Completes The 6000 Series

We are big fans of the Audiolab 6000 series components here at Audio T Brentwood. They offer amazing value and excellent sound quality for the money, but one thing that was missing in the range was an option for music streaming.

Enter the Audiolab 6000N Network Player.

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The 6000N is a deceptively simple looking box with just a power button and some preset buttons on the front.

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The back of the Audiolab 6000N is a little more “busy”.

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There are analogue and digital outputs, a network connection, although it will do wi-fi, and USB for software update and for synchronising with a Audiolab 6000A amplifier.

The Audiolab 6000N operates in conjunction with the PlayFi app from Google and it does a great job. We had it up and running playing tracks from Tidal and from our shop music library in minutes and it sounds great! PlayFi gives the user access to many music streaming services, internet radio, and upNp. Spotify Connect is also included.

Whether from its digital or analogue outputs it sounds crisp, clean, and with lots of space and dimension to the sound. Florence and the Machine sounded full of energy, the frequency extremes of The Gate by Bjork were brilliantly handled.

This really does complete the 6000 series system alongside the Audiolab 6000A amplifier and 6000CDT CD player. We have found that the Audiolab series works particularly well with KEF Q series and Dali Oberon speakers and gives a lot of performance for the money!

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Come and have have a demonstration at Audio T Brentwood, we know you will be impressed!

Audiolab Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T: Brentwood, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Portsmouth, Southampton

Linn Selekt DSM Streaming Hi-Fi System Has Arrived At Audio T Manchester.

Not since the original Linn Classik from the nineties has there been so much excitement about a high end one box Hi-Fi system. For those of you who insist on not having multiple boxes on a hi-fi shelf the appeal is even greater, especially if the need for high quality music is a must.

We introduce the Linn Selekt DSM.

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Designed as a lifetime product and perfect partner to the Sondek LP12, the Linn Selekt DSM has a variety of modules and upgrades to allow you to increase the joy and performance of the system over time.

It has launched with four options.

Source (to cater for the addition of CD, Record Player, Music Server)

Source with Katalyst DAC

Amplified

Amplified with Katalyst DAC.

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Linn have also recently added a surround sound module options that add HDMI switching and either line level outputs or power amplifiers for all 5 channels of a home cinema system.

Don't be surprised to see other options available in the future

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The Linn Selekt DSM has all of the usual control options, phone/tablet app, desktop app, remote control, as well as full front panel control. So if you ever find yourself without your phone and unable to find the remote, which happens to me far too regularly, then you can still get your favourite music playing.

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The front panel controls consist of two parts, a multi function dial and six, two position, switches.

The dial primarily works as a volume control but can be pressed in 5 positions too, which allows full access to the menus of the Selekt. This mean tast you can change settings, access all inputs and even choose tracks and playlists.

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There are even some proximity sensors which mean the screen comes to life as your hand approaches the dial.

The six switches can be programmed through the Linn Kazoo app to be quick links to playlists, tracks, inputs. When pressed half way, the screen will show you what is assigned to the button, when fully pressed it takes you where you want to go. These six switch functions are mimicked by the 6 buttons around the dial on the remote control unit.

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Having listened to the unit in our demo room, we can honestly say that we were impressed at how well the Linn Selekt DSM worked with different brands of speakers. Dynaudio to Bowers and Wilkins, Neat and Acoustic Energy all worked well with the Linn.

Our unit was space optimised, which is a software feature of the Linn Selekt. This function allows for the sound to be optiimised for the listening space it is operating in, which made a big difference to the overall sound quality in our demo room. However, on that note, the space optimisation is something we will need a little more time and space to talk about. So we'll save it for another blog.

All the superlatives are there, great soundstage, 3D depth to the sound, oodles and oodles of detail.

So, as we usually advise all our customers, the proof of the pudding is in the listening, so come on over and have a talk to Mike, Munir, Dave or Haden at our Manchester store.

LInn Hi-Fi is available from the following branches of Audio T: Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Oxford, Preston, Swindon

Naim Mu-So 2nd Generation Wireless Speaker System

It’s almost 5 years since the first generation of the Naim Mu-So wireless streaming speaker system arrived in our stores. It impressed all that heard its might and simultaneous finesse, and set a new benchmark for build quality, sound quality and performance from an active (amplifier built in) streaming speaker system.

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Now the bar has been raised again as we welcome the new, redesigned from the ground up, 2nd generation Naim Mu-So.

While only a few of the differences are immediately obvious such as the new grey finish and a sleeker look new grille, the Mu-So 2nd generation is packed with new features. Naim have maintained the room filling 450 watts from the original Mu-So but each of the individually amplified drivers have been improved as has the amplifier components of all 6 amplifiers that make up the Naim Mu-So.

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Once we powered up the Mu-So we immediately saw that there are new features, 15 of them in all, that have ease of access within the iconic volume dial on an intuitive, touch sensitive control panel. The new Mu-So still has Tidal, Spotify connect and internet radio, it will still play your digital music collection from your home network via UPnP or USB and will still do multi-room with other Naim streamers on your network. You can even play your music over Bluetooth but the Mu-So 2nd generation now supports Roon music player and controller, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast so it will integrate in to a smart home effortlessly.

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You can set up favourites by using the Naim control application on any smart device on your home network and then access them by using the favourites button on the touch sensative control panel. The Mu-So also comes with a remote control for ease of use.

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Internally the cabinet volume has been increased to allow an ever deeper richer bass without making the overall size noticeably bigger which helps to maintain its unimposing visual presence in the home.

Mu-So 2nd Generation Connectivity.

Mu-So 2nd Generation Connectivity.

Physical connectivity on the 2nd generation Mu-So has been improved also by adding an HDMI socket that supports ARC (Audio Return Channel) so you can connect your TV to it which will greatly improve the sound. It also still has a 3.5mm analogue input and an optical digital input for connecting other components should you wish to do so.

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You can also tailor the sound to suit your room by using room compensation within the settings in the Naim application to optimise it to your taste and for increased performance through the volume scale there is a loudness feature as well.

Also supplied is a IR remote with all the basic functions for you to control, great if your phone or tablet is not around.

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Come along and have a listen. We look forward to playing it to you.

Ian, Gavin & Andy - Audio T Preston

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

New Dynaudio Evoke Loudspeakers at Audio T Oxford

Dynaudio have now launched the Evoke series: This brand new, five speaker range, takes advantage of technology from their ultra-high-end Confidence models.

The sound has been optimized at Dynaudio’s, state of the art Jupiter lab. You really need to listen to them, to hear how good they sound!

Dynaudio Evoke 20. Blonde Wood

Dynaudio Evoke 20. Blonde Wood

The Cerotar tweeter is a totally new design, heavily based upon that of the money-no-object Confidence series. The Esotec+ woofers, feature improved magnets and surrounds, that improve both frequency response and low range dynamics.

Dynaudio Jupiter array

Dynaudio Jupiter array

Every single part of the speaker design has been addressed: Solid build, finish and quality, all go part and parcel, with these exceptional loudspeakers.

These new model Dynaudio Evoke speakers, in comparison to their (already fine) predecessors, have a deeper and tighter bass, with a more communicative and open treble.

Dynaudio Evoke 30. Walnut Wood

Dynaudio Evoke 30. Walnut Wood

We have the Evoke 20 standmount and Evoke 30 floorstander available for demonstration. If you would like to hear these great sounding loudspeakers, then please call in or contact us at Audio T Oxford.

The Audio Technica AT-VM95 Family. Cartridges With A Built In Upgrade Path

Audio Technica have a very long and illustrious history in the cartridge world and their little AT95e which this replaces was for years the go to entry level cartridge.

The new AT-VM95E is a completely different beast eschewing the old plastic body for a metal one with threaded inserts for the cartridge bolts.

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Above is an Audio Technica AT-VM95E cartridge. It’s £45 and probably the cheapest upgrade you could make to an old turntable.

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The At-VM95E is a marked improvement sonically over the older model too with loads of detail and resolution for the money.

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The fun doesn’t stop there though. With the VM95 series Audio Technica have cleverly produced a single body and a range of styli which can take this from a humble budget moving magnet cartridge to something really quite special.

The range includes Conical (C), Elliptical (E), Nude Elliptical (N), Microlinear (ML) and Shiabata (S) styli.

Each one giving a marked improvement over the previous thus forming a nice logical upgrade path, there is even a 78 stylus for all you bakelite lovers out there.

To say that we are impressed is to put it mildly, even the humble AT-VM95E sounds wonderful with old classics like Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and more recent albums like Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer alike.

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We will happily fit one to your turntable, and maybe sell you some new records while we’re at it!

Thanks for reading, we look forward to seeing you at Audio T Brentwood soon.

Audio Technica Hi-Fi products are available at the following branches of Audio T:
Brentwood, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Swansea

Audiolab 6000CDT CD Transport & 6000A Integrated Amplifier - The Sound Of Science

Going back in time to 1983 (!) Audiolab gifted the audiophile world the rather lovely amp that was the original 8000A. It was an iconic design way ahead of its time and sound for pound was not equalled anywhere else. It also cemented Audiolab’s reputation as a maker of great sounding, well built products at affordable prices.

Thirty five (!) years on we have more lovely gifts for modern day music lovers in the shape of the new 6000 series. Here in the Cheltenham branch we have just taken delivery of the 6000CDT and the 6000A.

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The 6000CDT is a dedicated compact disc transport with a slot loading mechanism designed to be robust and reliable. It uses a very clever method of reading the disc ahead and buffering it. This way it can very cleverly play scratched and damaged discs that a lot of other players would not be able to.

The 6000A is not only an amp, it also has a built in digital to analogue converter with three filter settings, four digital inputs (two optical and two coaxial). It also sports three line level inputs and a rather good phono input for turntables, a built in headphone amp and it does Bluetooth too!

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Of course all of this looks great on paper but the really important bit is how they perform. Do they make sweet music or are they just another hi-fi system!? After a jolly good running in period, we connected the CDT to the A with a good quality optical cable from Audioquest and hooked up a pair of Neat Acoustics SE2 floorstanding loudspeakers.

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We sat down with a cup of tea and some cake (as you do) to have a critical listen. First to play through the system was Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead from the great album that is Kid A. A very dense piece of music with multi layered vocals but the Audiolab pair made it sound open and detailed with a big airy soundstage that flows way to the far left and right of the speaker cabinets. This is often a very difficult trick to pull off with this particularly wonderful piece of Radiohead weirdness!

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Next we played the title track from Bright Size Life by Pat Metheny. Always a good tester for revealing how good a system is at with all that pitch and timing stuff. Once again they passed with flying colours! Jaco Pastorius sounding soooooooo delicate and nimble amongst Pat Metheny’s guitar cascades. I only intended playing the one track but this system was sounding so good that the whole album passed by really quickly and sounded gorgeous.

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After that I fancied something a little different and alighted on the title track of an album called Fossil Scale by Georgia Ruth. Georgia is one of that new breed of folkies who is not afraid to mix in a bit of modern electronicness and distorty guitar to her sound. The track Fossil Scale features a delicate soaring vocal performance with a fascinating and floaty bass line that at times really plumbs the lower depths (you should look her up …she’s good!).

The Audiolab combination was both fast and bulbous (thanks Don) and in combination with the Neat speakers really laid bare the mix and presented the music in a big and open soundstage.

This is one of those combinations that brings true meaning to that phrase “system synergy” It can cope with whatever you play through it and is superbly detailed in its presentation bringing out lots of subtle nuances in the music that you would normally only expect from much more expensive systems.

For what it costs this is one of those set ups that you just have to audition. It will really surprise you and have you going through your music collection so you can hear all those details revealed that you never even knew were there!

For the boring techy stuff it’s probably a good idea to have a look on the Audiolab website……. for the fun stuff come to us at Audio T Cheltenham. There may even be some cake left!

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Buy this album now …..its wonderful!

Audiolab Hi-Fi products are available from the following branches of Audio T:
Brentwood, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Enfield, Manchester, Portsmouth, Southampton

Neat Acoustics loudspeakers are available from the following branches of Audio T:
Brighton, Cheltenham, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading

Three Into One Does Go! The All New Audio Note (UK) TT3 Turntable

It seems as though a new turntable is launched every day such is the plethora of new decks hitting the marketplace. Many are true Goliath’s, incredibly sophisticated designs made of the most exotic materials costing ever more outlandish sums of money and many more are clearly ‘wannabes’ cashing in on a buoyant market.

Audio Note TT3, Arm3, PSU3 & iO Gold

Audio Note TT3, Arm3, PSU3 & iO Gold

First announced more than four years ago, Audio Note (UK) started work on what would be their first in-house all newly designed ‘affordable’ turntable. Many of the design principles have been taken from their ultimate deck, the Reference but as with all good engineering projects, simplified; thus proving the original concept to be sound.

Finally after many supplier set-backs and delays the final result, the TT3 is with us and oh boy was it worth the wait?

Outwardly the deck looks very simple; a solid plinth on top of which are mounted not one, or even two, but three motors! These turn a lightweight acrylic platter by means of a flat belt around its circumference, each of the three high torque AC motors being mounted equidistant from each other. Within the gaps between each motor is the suspended sub-chassis that is ‘Y’ shaped; one leg of which is mounted the arm and the other two terminates with a weight the mass of which is exactly that of the former. This sub-chassis is suspended buy means of three ‘Pram’ springs mounted on hidden turrets beneath the sub-chassis each of which is adjustable for levelling but no ‘tuning’ is needed as the weight is evenly distributed.

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Suspension Turret

Suspension Turret

Power is provided by one of three external power supply options PSU1, 2 & 3, each more sophisticated, accurate and costly than its predecessor; all have switchable 33 & 45.

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Unlike the vast majority of turntable designs that feature ever more massive platters that rely on the flywheel effect to keep the rotational speed at a constant, the TT3’s platter is intentionally light to reduce the flywheel effect to the minimum. The overriding principal here is total control of the platter’s rotation via high torque motors and a highly accurate power supply governing them. This may seem at first an easy task but in practice is anything but, as the motors must be very finely toleranced and the power supply equally so or the motors will oscillate with disastrous results.

With this arrangement the platter’s equivalent mass is many times greater but without the potential over-shoot associated with the flywheel effect.

First listen immediately confirms that they have got it right such is the absolute solidity of the presentation. There are very few decks at any price that can produce such incredible pitch accuracy in my experience let alone in such a compact and easy to live with design.

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From such an impressive foundation every other element of the sound reproduction sits. Pitch and timing are flawless as is the pace. Weight of sound when called for is in abundance, which is especially necessary for large scale orchestral work or rock music, yet the most delicate of sounds are easily rendered, such are the dynamics on offer. Sound-staging is rock solid too.

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When asked by Audio Note (UK) MD ‘ how does it sound’ I replied ‘I can’t hear it’ which is the best compliment I can think of as the TT3 just allows you to be immersed in the music

One of only two in the U.K. at present, the TT3 is now available for demo with either PSU1 or PSU3.

£5950-£10450 excl. arm & cartridge

Audio Note arms from £806

Audio Note cartridges from £380

Come on in and have a listen at Audio T Reading.