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Hi-Fi ChoiceHi-Fi Choice

Hi-Fi Choice October 2019

Hi-Fi Choice is the essential guide to audio excellence in the home. It is a no-nonsense guide to the finest products available, from vinyl and valves, to multi-channel digital audio and high-fidelity video. Hi-Fi Choice sorts the best from the rest with rigorous test processes and a highly experienced team of reviewers.

United Kingdom
AV Tech Media Ltd
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As the audio world moves to active speaker systems with streaming capabilities built-in, you'd be forgiven for thinking passive loudspeaker designs are a bit old hat. But despite technology moving things on considerably in recent years with ever more sophisticated and elegant all-in-one solutions to experience music at home, listening to a pair of traditional two-way standmounts is still the way to go for plenty of us. Many readers will have started out on their hi-fi journey with a pair of 'bookshelf' loudspeakers partnered to a source and amplifier of matching separates to satisfy their quality audio goals, and it still remains the well-trodden path towards hi-fi nirvana for many budding audiophiles today. There's nothing old hat about the models in this month's Group Test and our six thoroughly modern mid-priced…

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quality matters

Without doubt, one of the fastest growing sectors in the audio market at the moment is the smart speaker. While for audiophiles the prospect of being able to pick and choose music using just their voice is a novelty at best, the real concern is the poor sound quality that the likes of Amazon’s Echo Dot (HFC 421), Google’s Home Mini (HFC 434) and Apple’s HomePod (HFC 444) offer. Encouragingly, it’s not just hi-fi enthusiasts that feel this way as it has come to light that more than half of existing owners of said devices have expressed dissatisfaction with the audio quality of their speakers and have stated that they would be willing to pay more for a superior sonic performance. The revelation came to light following market research carried out…

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mola-mola tambaqui

PRICE: £9,000 AVAILABLE: NOW CONTACT: 0800 0096213 WEB: MOLA-MOLA.NL DISTRIBUTED IN THE UK by Cardiff-based Sound Design Distribution Ltd., Mola-Mola is a big fish when it comes to Class D amplification. It’s best known for its ground-breaking use of Ncore modules – designed by engineering wizard Bruno Putzeys (see Insider HFC 426) – as found in its Kaluga monoblock power amplifier, which seriously impressed us when we reviewed a stereo pair alongside the partnering Makua preamplifier in HFC 427. The Tambaqui DAC is its latest development and the standalone connection hub employs two mono chips to handle digital audio input signals (upsampled to 32-bit/3.125MHz) via USB-B, S/PDIF coaxial, optical, AES/EBU (on XLR), HDMI and Ethernet ports with support for up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and native DSD files up to DSD256. It’s Roon-ready…

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chord’s epic usb cable

Said to utilise some of the lessons learned from the recently developed upmarket Signature Super ARAY USB cable (priced from £800), the newly introduced more affordable Epic USB-A-to-B cable is a hybrid design that employs ultra-low resistance silver-plated copper Ohmic connectors to the signal runs of silver-plated copper conductors. Hand soldered and assembled at its Wiltshire factory, it features Chord Company’s proprietary Tuned ARAY technology with two conductors individually shielded and the earth shielding connection further protected from high-frequency noise with a two-layer braided screen. Priced at £400 for a 1m standard length, custom runs of up to 5m are additionally available to order. CHORD.CO.UK…

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mu-so qb 2nd generation

PRICE: £750 AVAILABLE: NOW CONTACT: 01722 426600 WEB: NAIMAUDIO.COM Following the introduction of Naim’s Mu-so 2nd Generation one-box system reviewed in the August issue, it’s no surprise to learn that the Mu-so Qb compact wireless speaker system has also received the 2nd Generation update treatment. Like the full size Mu-so, the Qb uses Naim’s slick music streaming platform, developed for its Uniti all-in-one systems and dedicated network components all the way up to the £20,000 flagship ND 555, to bring format and sample rate support with 32-bit/384kHz PCM file handling and DSD up to DSD128. Gapless playback is supported throughout along with AirPlay 2 and Chromecast connectivity, plus Spotify Connect, Tidal and internet radio streaming too. Claiming 300W power output, the all-new speaker drivers are optimised by French speaker partner Focal, and…

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spendor revision

PRICE: £4,500-£7,700 AVAILABLE: NOW CONTACT: 01323 843474 WEB: SPENDORAUDIO.COM BUILDING ON THE success of its D7 and D9 floorstanders, UK loudspeaker maker Spendor has introduced updated versions of its two-strong D-Line models in the form of the D7.2 and D9.2. Priced at £4,500 and £7,700 respectively, the D7.2 is classed as a mediumsized 2.5-way, while the D9.2 is a full-size three-way, four-driver design. Both benefit from improvements made to the cone material of the 180mm speaker drivers employed for bass and mid/bass duties, along with crossover network refinements, damping material improvements and re-engineered cabinet structures. Spendor’s 22mm LPZ (Linear Pressure Zone) tweeter and 5G Linear flow port incorporating a tapered twin-venturi port still feature. Both claim 90dB sensitivity into 8ohm and finish options are black ash, cherry and oak.…