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Meridian F80 Portable A/V System - Hy Sarick Looks at what Happens when High End Audio Meets High End Auto

Meridian F80

“A combined CD and DVD player, AM/FM receiver and sound system in a single convenient unit.” So says the introduction to this remarkable little AV system. Remember the aptly named “Boombox”, which was to be seen perching on the shoulders of urban youth? These moulded plastic monstrosities were often played at levels which caused grief to nearby unwilling listeners, as well as causing permanent hearing damage to the carrier…”

NAD L53 DVD/CD Receiver [AIG Archives]

NAD L53 Small

“This DVD/CD receiver feeds only two speakers with its 50 watts rms, but adds SRS TrueSurround two-speaker enhancement for quasi-surround sound, something I’ll comment on below. It plays DVDs, of course, and, naturally CDs (it also plays CD-Rs and variants, MP-3, JPEG, and WMA discs), and can be the centrepiece of a reasonably priced home theatre system…”

Sangean WR3 Tabletop Radio, Tivoli Audio Model Two AM/FM Stereo Radio and CD Player

Tivoli Radio (small)

Sangean is a Japanese company that’s well known to ham and shortwave enthusiasts, but is not so much in the awareness of radio and tuner fans. Recently the company has brought to North America some very interesting and innovative products, including an HD Radio equipped FM tuner, and a range of high performance radios, of which the WR3 is one of the most interesting…”

NAD Masters Series M55 Digital Disc Player and M3 Dual Mono Integrated Amplfier

NAD M3 Integrated Amplifier

“There is no question that they do look quite classic (more so than the previous Classic series they replace), and somewhat permanent, in a rather bank-like manner. Here’s how the elaborate brochure goes on to describe their build quality: “Mechanical construction is to a very high standard to assure a lifetime of trouble free use. With 2mm thick steel panels, combined with extruded aluminum and die cast zinc parts, the chassis forms an incredibly solid foundation to reduce air and structure born [sic] vibration from reaching any sensitive electronic components within. Specialized vibration damping feet employ silicon rubber to further isolate the chassis from vibration…”

Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1 Blu-Ray & DVD Player

Pioneer Elite Blu-Ray“It seems Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are fighting their marginal little format war in a dusty corner of some video arcade, Blu-Ray quite literally, as its main growth is in game consoles. Pioneer’s Elite division, arguably designer and manufacturer of the most consistently outstanding players of video discs in general, and DVDs specifically in recent history, has embraced the Blu-Ray format with this machine…”

Bryston BCD-1 CD Player

Bryston BCD-1 CD Player (Tray-small)

“If you had suggested to most audiophiles in 2000, about the time that SACD and DVD-Audio were digital newborns, that in late 2007 a Redbook only CD player from Bryston would be introduced, coinciding with the CD’s 25th birthday, most would have thought you’d inhaled a little too much solder smoke. Surely by then, format war or not, the CD would be on its deathbed, coughing and sputtering its last 44.1 kHz breaths as we basked in the sonic glory of a more perfect sounding format, whether it was forever or just a product cycle or two until something even more perfect came down the pike…”

Samson ZOOM H4 Handy Recorder

zoom-h4“This “handy” little unit does so many things that any review will have to be selective, and I will concentrate on its stereo portable uses, as well as its non-portable ones, leaving the admittedly limited multichannel capabilities for a followup, or perhaps another reviewer. My interest in it, which made me purchase one, is the portable recording capability, especially in high resolution digital…”

Bryston B100 DA SST Integrated Amplifier

Bryston B-100 DA Integrated Amplifier

“The Bryston B100 sits in a line of revered preamplifiers and integrated amplifiers, outstanding for their sonic performance and operational flexibility, and the latest version provides 6 analog inputs (TV, CD, AUX/PHONO, AUX 2/SPDIF [A/D or ANALOG/DIGITAL on DA remote and faceplate, respectively] VIDEO, and TUNER), with RECORD IN and POWER AMP IN complementing the RECORD OUT and PREAMP OUT RCAs. A slide switch on the rear panel allows disconnecting of the normally direct preamp/amp path…”

Pioneer Elite System: PRO-1140 HD Plasma, VSX-84TX Receiver, DV-46AV Universal DVD Player

Pioneer Pro 1140 HD Plasma

“A company that still beats the drum for plasma while others cut and run, as our temporary prime minster would say, Pioneer has certainly made its statement in the quality of picture offered, and the progressive improvement since the introduction of these big screen flat panels. Price points have dropped at retail, though not quite so quickly as those of the competing technologies, for example, LCD, which has made a big charge in its various iterations by the different manufacturers, most recently Sharp, with its Aquos series. The Pioneer Elite PRO-1140HD TV/monitor is therefore a statement product in quality, if not in price, from Pioneer Elite…”

OPPO DV-970 Universal DVD/SACD Player

Oppo 970 HD

“A better mousetrap catches more mice, and the designers at OPPO seem to have started with that premise in this product’s development. The DV-970HD catches more design goals in its brief than most of its competitors, ranging from high quality multichannel audio to upsampled video from DVDs, with a surprising number of added features in between, both audio and video.”

HeadRoom Total BitHead Headphone Amp / USB DAC

HeadRoom Total BitHead

“If you do a lot of commuting, and/or like to use your computer listen to music at work, the folks at HeadRoom have your number. I myself fall into this group, and while my commute might vary quite a bit job to job (the film business is not for those who prize consistency and predictability) I listen to music at work as often as I can. A couple of years ago I reviewed the Echo Indigo laptop sound card, a device which will fit just about any laptop and offers two 1/8″ mini outputs to drive headphones or powered speakers…”

Sonos Digital Music System

Sonos Wireless Music System

“The real jewel of the system is the remote, or as Sonos calls it, the Controller. Ipod owners will be immediately comfortable with the Controller, the 3.5 inch full color screen and scroll wheel menu system making it feel very much like a large Ipod turned on its side.”

KEF Instant Theatre System

KEF Instant Theatre System

“To many the very idea of a high-end home theatre in a box may seem like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what renowned British loudspeaker maker KEF has set out to do with the Instant Theatre. At first glance it looks dangerously like a “lifestyle” product, and I suppose that in the minds of marketers and retailers it most certainly is, but it’s important to remember that we’re dealing with a company that has produced more than its fair share of high-end, and highly regarded, loudspeakers since its founding in 1961…”

Roku SoundBridge M2000 Network Music Player

Roku Labs M2000 Network Music Player

“Like the Creative Soundblaster Wireless Music system the SoundBridge is a digital link between your audio system and your computer, designed to stream audio files over a home network. Unlike the Soundblaster the SoundBridge can do this wirelessly or via Ethernet connection and features a large display right on its face instead of on the remote…”

Aurum Acoustics Integris CDP CD Player and Linestage

Aurum Acoustics CDP CD Player/Preamp

“I don’t think I ever expected to get my hands on a piece of audio equipment as fine as this. In fact, there aren’t many as good as this. When it comes to the cost of an audio component (or anything else, for that matter) I want only value for money. But that is not as easy as it sounds and, one must be cautious, a bargain isn’t necessarily value for money…”

Bryston BP-25 DA Stereo Preamplifier

Bryston BP-25DA Remote

“Occupational hazards are minor and few when it comes to reviewing audio equipment. Perhaps one of the most common occurs when a product under review is updated by the manufacturer during the review process. This scenario played out before I could finish with Bryston’s BP-25 DA preamplifier, the fully loaded version of the venerable BP-20 series with its own built-in digital to analog converter…”

Anthem Statement D1 Surround Processor and P2 / P5 Home Theater Amplifiers

Anthem Statement D1

“The Statement D1 is among the most expensive home theatre processors in our experience, but offers just about every imaginable feature, as well as exceptional build quality. It will take much of this review just to outline its complement of capabilities. As their brochure claims, it is “nine high end components in one”: “preamplifier, 24-bit/192 kHz precision upsampler, analog-to-digital converter, digital-to-analog converter….”

Echo Indigo Laptop Sound Card

PSB Platinum M2 Loudspeaker

“More than just a headphone jack (the Indigo actually has two 1/8″ gold plated mini jacks) the Echo Audio card is a D to A converter as well as a high quality analog output stage. It supports up to 24 bit, 96 kHz signals, uses a 100 Mhz Motorola DSP chip and has a nice, chunky analog volume control knob right on top. For those looking to use their notebook as a recorder, Echo also makes an Indigo with an analog input as well as a model aimed at DJs, featuring two independent stereo outputs.”

Creative Sound Blaster Wireless Music

Creative Sound Blaster Wireless Music

“This is the kind of product you’re likely to start hearing more and more about in the coming years as computers make greater inroads into home audio. If it hadn’t been clear already, the success of Apple’s Ipod and Itunes player/music store have driven home an unmistakable trend: Commercial music is not going to be bound to a physical carrier forever, and there is already a large and growing group of people listening to their music as files on computers and portables instead of on little silver discs…”

Rotel RSP-1098 Home Theater Processor / Preamp

Rotel RSP-1098 Surround Processor

“I can remember this brand in the days of quadraphonic sound for their monster receivers; they weren’t alone, as companies like Marantz, Akai and others also offered giant 100-pound-plus receivers in the 70s. It was, I guess, rather like all those muscle cars during the same period (is history repeating itself?)…”


  Outside the Speakers

    Random Thoughts on the Music Mask
    NPR on Whether Audiophiles Still Exist
    Audiophile Grade Mics?
    CDs Sales Die, LP Sales Fly
    Some High End 'Phones from CES

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