High End 2019 pt.3

 

Living Voice showed the forthcoming R80, an 80 litre reflex loaded two-way due for release in late December. It’s a four Ohm design with a generous 95dB sensitivity and equipped with ScanSpeak Elipticore 8 inch drivers in parallel and the Elipticore 38mm tweeter. These are a new design with oval voice coils and domes, we only saw one other example at High End on the huge Kaiser Kawero Grande. The R80 shown had high gloss book-matched ebony veneer and is expected to retail for £33,000 with inboard crossover (IBX) or £45,000 outboard (OBX).

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Audioquest put on an evolution of speaker cable sound demonstration. Starting with Monster Cable (just in shot at bottom right) from the seventies which was was a giant step forward over the bell wire that was ubiquitous until that point. Then moved to Wild (top) from their last range before a switch to the new William Tell (middle: red is Zero, black is Bass) at about quarter the price of the Wild, and blew it away. And finally went to the range topping Dragon. William Tell Zero is £3,159 for a 3m pair while Zero and Bass in the same length comes in at £5,209.

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Esoteric have upped the machined aluminium digital ante with their most ambitious transport and DAC combo yet, and their top models have always been elaborate. The Grandioso P1X transport (€48,000) is a two box transport that plays SACD and CD with multiple digital outputs and clock link. TheD1X DAC also inhabits two chassis, is fully balanced and can accept a DSD signal from the partnering transport alongside the usual PCM formats up to 32-bit, 768kHz via the USB input. The two chassis are for separate left and right channels and weigh over 100lbs between them. Price is also €48,000, but you get both channels for that.

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Art du Son from France are big Garrard fans, their Transcription Reference is a heavily reworked 301 that you’d be hard pressed to identify as a British turntable from the sixties.

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Melco have caved into demand for a black finish on their half width models which here comprise the N100 server, D100 optical drive and E100 external disk drive. Looks good to me.

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Laurence Dickie was keen to explain some of the workings inside the Vivid Kaya series of subtly curvy speakers, but he also managed to put across his feelings about Brexit in the process.

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Kuzma has made an isolation base for its turntables, or anyone else’s for that matter. The Platis 54 and 65 are good for up to 90kg and 120kg respectively and keep vibration at bay with silicone and aluminium dampers.

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Hemiolia is an Italian reel to reel tape label that has recently released an all analogue recording of Pavarotti using original master tapes duplicated entirely in analogue using Otari and Studer recorders. This is available for €380 per metal reel or €480 in the prestige wooden box.

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Cube might just have built the largest full range driver yet for their Model 15, it’s a whizzer cone wonder.

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I mentioned the new Aqua Acoustic LinQ modular network interface in part 2 of this year’s High End coverage but this shows the entire system with big KR Kronzilla monoblock tube amps and Blumenhofer Gioia horns, it sounded pretty sweet.

Jason Kennedy