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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 16, 2010 9 comments

The human hearing system is exquisitely sensitive to directional cues that let us instantly determine where a sound is coming from. This was critical for our survival in prehistory when the snap of a twig or a low growl might be the only harbinger of impending doom in the jaws of a hungry predator.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 15, 2010 5 comments

When it comes to hotbeds of high-end audio, South Africa is not the first place that comes to mind. Yet this is the home of <A href="">Vivid Audio</A>, maker of beautifully curvaceous speakers, including the flagship Giya, which is available in two versions&#151;the original G1 and the new, smaller G2 introduced at CES 2010.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 12, 2010 45 comments

Reader K. Reid asked for a profile of ultra-high-end cables from <A href="">Nordost</A>, and I'm only too happy to oblige. At the pinnacle of the company's extensive product range is the Odin line, which includes power cords, tonearm cables, analog and digital interconnects, and speaker cables.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 11, 2010 0 comments

North American distributor <A href="">Aaudio Imports</A> was quite busy at CES last January, introducing many audiophile products to the US market. Among them was the 882 integrated amplifier from German boutique maker <A href="">Lindemann</A>.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 08, 2010 2 comments

Horn-based speakers have been around since the earliest days of audio reproduction, and they continue to find favor among audiophiles today. Germany's <A href="">Avantgarde Acoustic</A> is no stranger to horn speakers, basing its business on them since 1991. At the top of the company's considerable lineup is the Trio, shown above in the Classico configuration with a massive Basshorn subwoofer.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 04, 2010 9 comments

When I first heard about the flagship 069 CD player from German high-end manufacturer <A href="">Burmester Audio</A>, I was surprised to learn that it is belt driven. Of course, many LP turntables use belt drives, but I'd never heard of a CD player with such a mechanism, which is said to decouple the platter from the rest of the chassis, eliminating vibrations and allowing the data to be read with considerably higher precision and less jitter.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 02, 2010 0 comments

Most of the products on display at CES are new to the world market, but there are a few exceptions. For example, the Sunray speaker from Germany's <A href="">Tidal Audio</A> has been available for several years, but not in the USA&#151;until now. North American distributor <A href="">Aaudio Imports</A> used CES 2010 as the venue to introduce the Sunray to the American audiophile community.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 25, 2010 24 comments

Considering all the recent brouhaha about the $3500 Lexicon BD-30 actually being a rebranded Oppo BDP-83 (list price $500), I was suspicious when I saw a CES press release introducing the MVP881 universal disc player from <A href="">McIntosh Laboratory</A>. But then I read that the MVP881 uses the HQV Realta video processor, whereas the Oppo/Lexicon uses VRS from Anchor Bay, so it can't be another more-expensive knock-off.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 23, 2010 6 comments

AC power has long been the bugaboo of high-end audio&#151;necessary to power the electronics, but prone to polluting the audio signal path with unwanted noise. American boutique manufacturer <A href="">Veloce Audio</A> has come up with a unique and elegant solution to this problem in its LS-1 vacuum-tube preamp&#151;put the power supply and audio electronics in completely separate boxes and run the electronics with a rechargeable battery.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 22, 2010 3 comments

At CES last January, <A href="">Snell Acoustics</A> announced the availability of its Phantom B7 speaker, which was first shown at CES 2009. What makes the Phantom B7 special? It's engineered to provide much of the performance of the company's flagship Illusion A7 at a fraction of the price and size.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 19, 2010 6 comments

Data compression is probably the single most important factor in the meteoric success of digital audio, especially when it comes to online downloads and portable players like the iPod. Lossy compression formats such as MP3 discard as much as 90 percent of the original data&#151;hence the term "lossy"&#151;so that music tracks can be quickly downloaded. In addition, such files require very little memory, allowing thousands of songs to be stored in a device no bigger than a matchbook.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 18, 2010 5 comments

<A href="">NBS</A> is perhaps best known for high-end cables&#151;its URL is, after all&#151;but this American boutique audio company also makes a few unusual speakers and electronic components. I'm especially intrigued by the Universal Power Amplifier (UPA), a unique monoblock that is truly universal in design and operation.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 16, 2010 3 comments

<A href="">Naim</A> is a name well known to audiophiles. This British high-end company makes virtually all types of audio products, from CD players and hard-disk servers to preamps, power amps, speakers, and everything in between (except cables). New to Naim's speaker lineup is the flagship Ovator S-600, which has taken three years to bring to market and features some innovative elements.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 11, 2010 8 comments

Among the maladies to which music lovers are especially susceptible, hearing damage caused by prolonged exposure to loud sounds is perhaps the most pernicious. When you're young, you normally don't think about the consequences of cranking up the volume, but if you do that routinely, you are sure to suffer some form of hearing deficit in your later&#151;or, in some cases, not so later&#151;years.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 10, 2010 4 comments

Glass isn't the first thing I would think of as an ideal material for speaker cabinets, but French manufacturer <A href="">Waterfall Audio</A> disagrees. Its new flagship Niagara is a thing of crystalline beauty that boasts impressive specs.


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