High End pt.1

Naim DR power amplifiers
Naim has revised its power amplifier range to incorporate two big upgrades. The NAP series amps now have DR regulated power supplies, a technology first rolled out for sources and preamps last year but now installed in power amplifiers to provide a lower impedance supply that is 30x quieter than previously. The other much hoped for change is the move to NA009 output transistors, this you may remember is one of the key elements developed for the Statement S1 power amplifier. The devices for Statement are more highly selected but nonetheless this heralds a dramatic move that should give the NAP 200, 250, 300 and 500 a serious performance lift. Prices have increased by around £100 for each so a NAP 250 DR (below) will be £3,495. Owners of existing tryptich or new look cased NAP 250, NAP 300 and NAP 500 power amps will be able to have their amps upgraded to the new standard at the end of the year. Most of the new power amps will be on sale in June with the NAP 500 available in August.

Yamamura Crawley Dionisio
Bé Yamamura is something of an underground legend of the tube and horn scene so it was great to see a new speaker system bearing his name and that of associate Alan Crawley. The Dionisio (above and below left) is a substantial full range horn that is made out of steel and copper with lead damping, it’s driven by an ALE compression driver that sits underneath and has a compression tweeter from the same brand facing forwards. The whole thing weighs over 200kg with drivers and is supplied with a digital crossover that incorporates phase and room correction facilities, each speaker has its own DAC. Given that tubes are pretty much exclusively associated with tube amps and purist signal paths this is unusual, but it might counter the problems that such speakers have in producing an even tonal response. The presence of class D amplification in the system also indicates fresh thinking and it was a pity that the display was only static.

Turkish company Once made its High End debut with the fabulous looking Nar horn loaded floorstander (above right). Built out of GRP this leggy beauty comes in custom finishes and will cost you €18-20,000 per pair. The Su (below right) is equally stylish and slightly more accessible, this is a Bluetooth speaker/amplifier with hybrid tube/transistor power that also has custom finish options and comes in at €8,000.

Vivid B1 Decade
Vivid Audio decided to celebrate its 10th anniversary by facelifting its first speaker the B1. But designer Laurence Dickie got carried away and instead of merely replacing the polymer concrete cabinet with a vacuum infused balsa cored sandwich decided to give it a tweak as well. The result has a newly formed front baffle and a new magnet on the mid/bass, a combination that Dickie says has given the B1 Decade (above left) more punch. So what was planned as a Special Edition may well end up usurping the original B1 altogether, price has yet to be firmed up but looks like being in the region of £16,500.

Van den Hul The Point
It wouldn’t be the High End show without a good selection of substantial turntables but I didn’t expect Van den Hul to join in. The Point One is the cartridge and cable maker’s first record spinner and it has an angle in magnetic platter isolation. The platter sits on opposing magnets above a larger second platter that is belt driven underneath by an AC motor with little or nothing in the way of a power supply. The disconnect is obvious because the platter wobbles when touched, so best not to do that when it’s playing. Price has yet to be confirmed but it looks like being around £30 - £35k, quite pointy then!
Van den Hul had fitted a new cartridge to the 12inch SME arm, this was a Colibri XGA with an amber and titanium body. The thinking here is that if amber powder was good enough for Stradivarius to use as a violin lacquer it’s perfect for a moving coil. The Colibri XGA (below) is £9,000.

Isotek Genesis 1
Isotek showed a prototype of an entry level model for its Genesis mains conditioners that brings price down to a new low by having a single output. Genesis 1 is for sources and preamps and produces a 100 Watt output with its linearly power supplied, class D circuitry. The slim profile means that six can be fitted into a standard rack, price looks like being around £2,000.

If you’ve every struggled to choose between belt drive and rim drive turntables, Reel from Lithuania has the answer in a turntable that incorporates both options. Not only that but there are two motors as well, the theory being that stability is enhanced by opposing them either side of the sub platter. This approach is easily undermined by differing speeds in the motors so Reel has designed a processor to control them. The platter is POM engineering plastic with peripheral weighting in aluminium, price is €15,850.

Horch House reel to reel
Austrian tape meisters Horch House is offering 1:1 analogue tape copies of master tapes alongside native digital copies of the same. The range of material is currently small but if you’re a fan of Oscar Peterson, George Duke or JS Bach/Gulda you are in for a treat. The 15 IPS reel to reel tapes start at €275 for single tapes while the digital copies vary in price according to resolution with Ella Fitzgerald’s Sunshine of your Love priced at €19 for 24/96 PCM up to €34 for a DSD64 version. The full catalogue is at www.horchhouse.com.

Trilogy 931& 925
Trilogy showed two new products at High End, the most accessible being an entry level headphone amplifier dubbed 931. For £895 you get a less expensive case and less fancy but still linear power supply than their 933 model but you still get Trilogy quality and some nice colour options. The 925 (below) is the company’s first integrated amp, in essence it’s the 909 preamp combined with 990 power amps in one box. The hybrid circuitry offering 135 Watts from a zero feedback output stage in a fully balanced design priced at £8,995.

Jason Kennedy
High End pt.2