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No.73 June 2010

This is not how it should have been, completely not… The April tragedy shadowed everything else, at least in Poland. I must confess, that I have not seen anything similar in our social life, and even my first voting was a completely different thing. And although this was a dramatic event, a bad event (each death is a bad event), it brought us all together in a way, and woke up a new wave of patriotism – at least I perceive that what happened like that, when I am looking at people from my son’s generation. And I hope this attitude will stay with us for a longer period of time. A second thing, which we should keep, is the renewed esteem for the highest functions in Poland. Earlier, the politicians made whatever they could, to make any ideas of the state disgusting, what did also mean depreciation of the value of the state functions. But now there is a chance that this will now change. And I can only concur with that, myself being a loyalist. And I just want to mention, that it is not about any particular party, I am just plain patriotic.
Now trying to combine the esteem for the national flag with esteem for presidency, we decided that the cover of September issue of “High Fidelity” – should combine the national emblem with elements of the presidential flag. We did not want to transfer it 1:1, because the flag rather rectangular than square, like our cover, and secondly we did not want to offend anyone with such a straightforward adoption. So we will have our pride, and a message to the world. Because there are many things we can be proud of.

The initial plans, based on information provided by the manufacturers, are as follows:

  • Nowe Audio monoblocks 3.5,
  • AVCON Levanther loudspeakers,
  • new products from Gigawatt – a conditioner (a novelty, without separating transformers, only with passive filtering) PC-2 EVO (with LC-1 mkII), power cables LS-1 and LC-2 mkII,
  • floorstanding speakers Sound&Line Medius,
  • stereo power amplifier Audiomatus AS250,
  • loudspeakers from Harpia Acoustics (not yet defined which ones),
  • JAG Electronics 300B tubes amplifier,
  • CD player Ancient Audio Air.

The design of the cover is above.

6 years

The lead article had to start like this: “The sixth year was better for “High Fidelity”, than the five years before it. Although I write something similar each year, being somewhat afraid, that at some point in time, I will be forced to write something different, it holds true for the moment.” Thanks to your presence, help and loyalty, we are now one of the biggest Polish magazines related to audio, and one of the biggest in Europe. I do not write “the biggest”, although statistics show something like that, but because there is no added value in bragging. But the most important thing is, that I am not praising myself, but all of us – the makers of the magazine, the editor, the cooperators, readers, manufacturers, distributors, audio salons: in short – everybody, who is in some way related to “High Fidelity”. This is our mutual success. It was known, that reading of press, the daily and hobby – and audio is part of that area – will move to the internet. But it is surprising, how quick it did that, and to what extent. With print of the press related to the audio hardware on the level of 6500 – 15000 copies, and the real sales (print = sales + returns, and many magazines include free subscriptions in that, that are given out as promotional items) at a level 30 to 40% lower, the 20000 readers of “High Fidelity”, 90% of them returning, makes an impression. And I do not want to bash anyone, I am addicted to printed magazines myself, and I am buying “Stereophile”, “Hi-Fi Plus”, “Hi-Fi News”, etc, on a regular basis. Another thing is that many times I am disappointed with their contents, but that does not change the main thing: printed items are so much imprinted in my brain, that even when creating an internet magazine, I am using printed words. But the facts are telling me, that this will change sooner than I think.

The topic of the anniversary issue is Japan, and this did not happen by coincidence. In the devices coming from that country (at least in the best ones), in the culture of their audio, we can find the most important trends, the most vivid ideas, and at the same time the farthest going madness and oddities. But most important is the is the agitation that is created there, which, in combination with the technological capabilities, results in incredible things. It is not coincidence, that the best pressings (in 99%) come from Japan. XRCD, K2, K2HD, HQCD, Blu-spec CD, SHM-CD and others, are a result of an obsessive drive to perfection. And the cables? From a long time I am enchanted by Acrolink cables, and I am using them in my system – the cover, and Krakow Sonic Society meeting were devoted to their newest power cable: it looks, that in Poland we have the highest number of red 7N-PC9300… We could not obtain devices from Kondo/Audio Note, or 47 Laboratory for testing, and this is a pity, beautiful examples to what I am trying to say. We conducted talks with the distributor, but unfortunately, nothing came out of it – this is really a pity. I am calling those names to show you two, incredibly vivid ideas, that came from there: using tubes, whenever possible, including power amplifiers based on power triodes in SET setting, and the urge to apply as simple solutions as possible, often in small enclosures, using NOS components and using technologies, which – one could think – were already dead. On the other hand, Japan is a country of technological perfection and power. Hence the brilliant Acrolink cables, but also the Furutech we tested. Metallurgy, and dielectric science are knowledge closely related to big money and large scales.

But we should not forget, that this country is also the homeland of the biggest companies, like Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Yamaha or D&M Holding. Keeping the hi-end formula of this issue, we decided to take the split Marantz amplifier (the “M” from D&M Holding) – a solid state, and through and through modern piece of equipment. As you probably noticed already, Japan is a country full of contrasts, where next to hi-tech products we find technologies coming from XIX century. But everything comes from an incredible attention to detail, from an almost mystic connection with the product, from the belief, that only perfection can produce perfection. And this is what this branch is all about.

Current issues

The plans for next month:

  • Metronome Technologie – CD player
  • Avalon Ascendant – floor standing loudspeakers
  • Harbeth Model 40.1 – stand mount speakers
  • Krakow Sonic Society, meeting #73
  • Black Stork + Reed 3Q – turntable + tonearm
  • Zen Acoustic Adagio – floor standing loudspeakers
  • Manley SHRIMP JUMBO – line preamplifier
  • Pro-Ject CD BOX SE + DAC FL – CD player + DAC

We will see what will come of that, as always… Now I have the Avalon, Manley, Black Stork, Pro-Ject at home, the Zen will also be there for sure. The Harbeth are also ready, but I am not sure what will happen with the stands. There is also a very interesting meeting planned of the KSS, with a very unusual guest, but we are not sure, if everything will happen.

Regarding the test, incredibly promising are the first listening session of the Nowe Audio mono 3.5 monoblocks. It is clear, that their input sensitivity is very low, and without a potent preamplifier, it will not work well. But it could have been expected, having only one transistor (!) in the sound path. With the Harpia Dobermann (86dB) and the Ayon Polaris preamplifier, I had to turn the volume up almost to the end. I do not have a problem with that, but it can be seen, that the amplifier begs for loudspeakers with higher sensitivity. It is really interesting, because the unit is rated at 10W (at 8Ω), while when I listened to the Air Tight ATM-300 with 300B tubes, a day earlier, it played much louder. Here we can observe the main difference between the tubes and transistors – the first distort in a smoother way, so they can sound louder, although with higher distortion. And although the amplifiers are waiting for other loudspeakers – the Harbeth 40.1 – we can say a few words about them even now. The sound is incredibly natural. It is not “tubey”, “transistory”, but just its own. This is slightly soft sound, but not by softening the edges, but through lack of hardening and venomous sharpness. Everything is well balanced in that sound, maybe except the light bass. But this needs to wait for different speakers. The top range is incredibly resolved. A bit in the direction of 300B tubes. The sound with the Dobermann was not as palpable as with the ATM-300, not even mentioning the Jota Sentry Art Audio. But the differentiation, the ability to show microdynamics! Those are brilliant! I am waiting for the Harbeth impatiently, maybe I will be able to tell you more. The test of those splendid amplifiers will appear first in the Italian “The Absolute Audiophile”, and then, with some changes and in a longer version in the September issue of “High Fidelity”.

I have also made first listening of the Avalon Ascendent loudspeaker. I know loudspeakers coming from this company for years, but I had never the opportunity to listen to them with my system. Although those loudspeakers are inexpensive – for the company standards – they have surprised me with their rich sound. And I have never before heard the Avalon sound well enough to justify their price. Were those problems with the electronics? With the setup? Maybe, there are some things, that point in that direction. Those at my home sound really nice, and they look also splendid. The test will appear in June.

One more thing – lately I received a book, I waited for very long, about the history of Thorens - The fascination of a living legend, by Gerhard Weichler. It was issued in 2006 in German, looked shabby and had low print. Now we get it in two languages, German and English, nicely bound, is now available at the Polish distributor, the Lodz based company Best-Audio. I warmly recommend it. It is maybe not so exclusive, as the one written by Ken Kessler, about McIntosh, …”for the love of music…” (available at the distributor Hi-Fi Clubie), but it is equally fascinating. On 180 pages, Gerhard Wichler describes the history of Thorens, most of their products – some not related to audio – and tries to define, from where comes its grandeur. Really recommended!

And now a few more thing regarding my reference system. As you probably noticed, I exchanged my player, the Ancient Audio Prime for the model Air. But this is not the end of the changes – probably I will exchange also the amplifier and the loudspeakers. The amplifier already has a new owner, the loudspeakers probably also do. So what will replace them? Frankly speaking, this is not an easy question. I only know, that those items must be better. Because the Harpia are really splendid, I will give a try to the new loudspeakers made by this company, based on midrange and treble section of the 300B model, and using the same woofer as my Dobermann. The loudspeaker is to have 91dB effectiveness, and a flat impedance curve at 8Ω. And the amplifier? I really do not know. On one hand it could be a tube amplifier, like the Reimyo CAT-777 or the Grand Silver Mono Ancient Audio. But the problem is, that I test many different devices, and I need a stable and strong solid state amplifier… Well, nobody said, that an audiophile-music lover life is nice and easy!

Wojciech Pacuła

P.S.

Related to those changes I have some items to sell:

  • Power cable Acrolink 7N-PC7100 – for 5000 zł
  • Interconnect Wireworld Golden Eclipse 52 (1m) – for 4000 zł
  • System all-in-one DVD/SACD/DVD-A Arcam Movie 5.1 – for 5000 zł
If anybody is interested – please feel free to contact me at: opinia@highfidelity.pl

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Our reviewers regularly contribute to  “Enjoy the Music.com”, “Positive-Feedback.com”“HiFiStatement.net”  and “Hi-Fi Choice & Home Cinema. Edycja Polska” .

"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

"High Fidelity" is an online magazine, i.e. it is only published on the web. For the last few years it has been published both in Polish and in English. Thanks to our English section, the magazine has now a worldwide reach - statistics show that we have readers from almost every country in the world.

Once a year, we prepare a printed edition of one of reviews published online. This unique, limited collector's edition is given to the visitors of the Audio Show in Warsaw, Poland, held in November of each year.

For years, "High Fidelity" has been cooperating with other audio magazines, including “Enjoy the Music.com” and “Positive-Feedback.com” in the U.S. and “HiFiStatement.net”  in Germany. Our reviews have also been published by “6moons.com”.

You can contact any of our contributors by clicking his email address on our CONTACT  page.

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