When I first heard an electrostatic loudspeaker, a Quad ESL-57 re-dressed by Braun, I found its sound puzzling. It was only when I returned it to a friend after a few months and went back to my Goodman's Magnum Ks (yes!) that I suddenly heard its box colour and accompanying 'box sound'. It was an unsettling experience.
It was also one that lead me back to electrostatics – Quad ESL-63s. In this issue my love of electrostatic loudspeakers continues, moving forward yet another notch with the awesome new Martin Logan Classic ESL 9s – see p11. You should hear this loudspeaker (book a dealer demo) and if you do please write to say what you think about its sound. I believe it is too good (revealing) for most modern hi-fi – what a bizarre situation!
NAD long ago came up with affordable but fine amplifiers like the classic 3020. Now they've gone back to producing an innovative new design in the form of the C368 Martin Pipe reviews in this issue – see p20. It uses a customised Hypex Class D output stage to give vanishingly low distortion at all frequencies our measurements showed, confirming NAD's claims. With an on-board DAC too it accepts digital – and there's even a decent phono stage.
We have been assiduously reviewing new entry-level turntables for a long time, but none seem to have been as popular and drawn so much attention and debate as Sony's recent PS-HX500. Our review last month of this fascinating if slightly controversial product has attracted no end of reader's letter – see p28 – and at present I am in an amusing conversation where Sony insist it does produce DSD and I am asking them to explain how, when our review sample clearly does not. I think we have a 'misunderstanding' here! All will be resolved in due course. Meanwhile readers are alert to the fact that with a better cartridge this turntable offers excellent sound from vinyl.
Will the cassette make a comeback? Unlikely. Very few plants still coat tape and those that do are not high-end. It could happen if Sony and Panasonic teamed up to do so, for example. Since both now seem to be back in the analogue turntable business and making a success of it, who knows? Tape may fly. If this does happen we will be chasing it. In the meantime I hope you enjoy reading what is happening today in high fidelity.