OPPO, we say, are based in the USA – sort of true. In fact, the company is Chinese but it has a base in Menlo Park, California – the heart of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley does electronics like nowhere else on this planet, attracting the world's top companies, so OPPO have plenty of good company – and one of them is silicon chip maker ESS, based in Milpitas – a stone's throw away (by American distances!). Their close co-operation with ESS told me that when the latter announced a new range of audio DAC chips in 2016 we would soon be seeing new products from Oppo based around them in 2017. I did my utmost to get their rumoured new Sonica DAC as soon as possible and am pleased it is reviewed by Jon Myles in this issue – see p55.
A product like the Sonica is a great complement to a portable hi-res player, especially one like the new FiiO X5 Mk3 we review on p15. Haul in from a long commute after work, collapse on the settee, wave your portable around and – presto! – you get music from the hi-fi, courtesy of the Bluetooth equipped Sonica. OK, Bluetooth is technically inferior to CD people like to point out, but listen and you'll find the novel compression system it uses has little influence. Optical and electrical connections are available for the full hi-res monty. But streaming is now the big thing – so both units also stream, showing us where hi-fi is heading. This is the cutting edge.
Why bother to quartz-lock your turntable when you can quartz-lock your mains? I never thought of that! But vinyl enthusiast Nick Gorham of Longdog Audio did – and has come up with an intriguing mains regenerator power supply. It holds frequency perfectly, locked to provide 50.004Hz I found. Bet your local power station can't do that, no matter how high the bills. It also stabilises voltage and reduces distortion. See p90 for what I found when using it. It made me a convert to the idea of mains purification and regeneration.
Interesting that audiophiles know all this in any case, as they write in to tell us. There's nothing quite as astute as Hi-Fi World's readers. At which point I'll thank all those that visited us at Bristol's Sound & Vision Show this year, to similarly give us their views. I hope you all enjoy this issue.