Is it me, or are events unfolding twice as fast in the brave new world of digital, all of a sudden? Vinyl fans see a steady progression of new decks, the occasional nice new tonearm or the odd interesting cartridge turning up. But if you're a digital man or woman, all of a sudden you're being assaulted with a vast range of new kit, some of which is quite intriguing...
This issue is a case in point. Luxman's D-05 [see p12] is an SACD playing CD player that's also a DAC too; it has an excellent disc transport, and great sound via SACD. Marantz's SA KI Pearl Lite [p46] reprises this formula at one quarter of the price and adds USB functionality too, so you can squirt your computer files to a memory stick and plug it directly into the Marantz. These are great crossover features and show how designers of digital sources are falling over themselves to be flexible in today's hi-fi world.
Then we've got Wadia's i70/152 [p54]; the i170 was the first unit to pull a direct digital audio feed straight out of an iPod, bypassing its mediocre sounding digital convertor and analogue output stage. In our feature it's being used with its matching 152 DAC/amplifier; together the two make a neat little system that sounds really nice too. But if it's real esoterica that you want then look at the iXtreamer [p17]; best described as a 'hybrid media player', it gives a direct digital output from an Apple iPod or iPad, streams HD movies or audio via the internet and can even store content on an optional internal hard disk drive. If there was ever a twenty first century music centre, this is it!
Still, lovers of more traditional hi-fi pleasures need not despair, as we've not neglected our vinyl loving readers. Origin Live's super sounding and innovatively tweaked Technics SL-1210 gets the treatment [p100], as does Hadcock's classic GH-242 Export tonearm [p109]. Both modern variants on classic themes, we were amazed at how good they can sound given the right ancillaries. 'Traditional values in a modern setting', is a great way to describe these. Elsewhere, this issue is packed with some great amplifiers, receivers, loudspeakers, style systems, audiophile CDs - and even a classic high end cassette deck. Enjoy!
David Price, editor
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