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Audio Research Now At HiFi Lounge!

posted on Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:31:55

Hi All,

As part of our expansion plans I am really pleased to announce that we have now added Audio Research to our portfolio and along with dCS and Wilson Audio this now completes our line up of new Highend Brands that will hopefully add another string to HiFi Lounge’s bow :-)

In reality Audio Research really do not need any introduction as they are one of the most respected, established and oldest manufacturers of Audio Components trading today and are credited by many as the founders of the ‘Highend Audio’ world that we now enjoy. They were founded in 1970 by William Z. Johnson and are located in Minnesota, USA and are known best for their preference of the use of Vacuum Tubes for their Class A amplifier designs.

More importantly though Audio Research is all about making HiFi that their owners will really enjoy and be proud to own, they only bring new equipment to market when there are true advances in technology and produce some of the most musically engaging products available that constantly get glowing reviews worldwide. Audio Research really do sum up everything that is great about Highend Audio offering beautifully made products that push the boundaries but they always put the music first and foremost so it really is an honour to add their products to our lineup.

We have decided to jump in at the top of the tree with Audio Research by putting their Reference line on demo so for now we have the Reference 75SE power amp, Reference CD9 CD Player  / DAC and Reference 6 Pre-amp. The Audio Research lineup is pretty straightforward nowadays with 3 clear lines, the new Foundation series which is the entry lever for AR,then there is the mid level G Series and then the Reference lineup, once our bank balance has recovered a little from buying all this new kit I will look to bring on the Foundation Series Pre / Power and the G Series integrated GSi75.

I have spent that last few hours un-boxing our new AR demo kit and installing all the Valves, its a tough life :-) so below are a few pictures, probably too many to be honest, then once I get to 5.30pm tonight I will be having a good listen, I have been reading reviews about AR for years with it always being described as the most natural and realistic sounding HiFi there is so I really can’t wait to find this out for myself.

Obviously it goes without saying if Audio Research is something you’d like to demo at any time please come in for a listen, I really can’t wait until our new Highend Audio Showroom is complete in a couple of months so that we can put our AR demo kit in pride of place :-)

http://hifilounge.co.uk/audio-research

Another tough day at the office :-)

Reference 6 Pre-Amplifier Un-boxing

Reference CD9 CD Player / DAC Un-Boxing

Reference 75 SE Power Amplifier Un-boxing

Time to Install The Valves into the Ref 75 SE.

Next the Ref 6

I forgot to take Pics for the CD9, Doh!

Time to get it all hooked up -

Phew, well I think that is enough pictures for anyone :-)

Cheers,

Paul.


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dCS Network Bridge Now On Demo!

posted on Thu, 16 Feb 2017 05:26:08

Hi There,

I just wanted to write a quick blog to say that we now have the dCS Network bridge on demo, personally I have been looking forward to this one as it has the potential to be the perfect device to link your digital music collection to your favourite DAC or digital amp, especially as it is Roon Ready.

So in a nutshell the dCS Network Bridge is a very powerful piece of hardware that links to your network and will see the data on your NAS and using the dCS app or Roon can then be passed onto a DAC of some kind, you can also attached a USB Hard Drive to access your music + it has streaming service like Tidal and Spotify built in and is AirPlay compatible.

One the hardware front it has a powerful FPGA chip at it’s heart and can even have a clock attached like with the Rossini and Vivaldi to reduce jitter and help timing, having seen how effective this is with our demo Rossini this is actually a great feature. It will also play all files up to 24 / 384 as well as DSD 64 and 128 in native or DOP and can also down sample for older Dacs.

What really excites me about the Bridge is that it is ROON ready, now I know a lot of my customers have been using ROON for some time now but I have just started using it when we got our dCS Rossini and I have to say that there is no going back now, basically it is an extremely powerful piece of software that brings all your digital music together into one very metadata rich interface so whether using Tidal, Quboz or Upnp for a Nas you can see it all in one place with links to similar artists, lyrics, a radio station that will play similar music once your playlist has finished, I could go one but once you have experienced Roon everything else does seem quite lacking, and for a life time subscription for around £400 it really is worth every penny.

When I get a chance I am quite keen to compare the dCS Network Bridge against the Aurender X100L, one of my favourite sources, as they are similarly priced but considering dCS used to distribute Aurender they know what they need to beat on the sound quality front so that should be very interesting, but inevitably it is a different solution how to access your digital music Library but one that looks to tick all the boxes.

If this sounds of any interest please feel free to get in touch to arrange a demo or even a home demo if that would be more useful.

Please find some un-boxing pics below and a link to the Network Bridge on our website -

http://hifilounge.co.uk/dcs-network-bridge

Cheers,

Paul.


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PMC Launch AVM Into The UK, Soon to be at HFL!

posted on Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:02:52

Hi All,

Just got back from an interesting day at PMC Speakers HQ just over the road in Biggleswade as they announced plans to launch and distribute German electronics brand AVM into the UK marketplace. Now I read a lot of HiFi mags but I must admit I had never heard of AVM until today which after spending a day with the the guys from AVM and PMC I find this quite astonishing as worldwide they are a huge brand, especially in their home country of Germany, where they are pretty much one of the largest HiFi manufacturer’s, they really reminded me of a German version of our Naim Audio.

There are quite a few similarity’s to PMC, they are family owned and of a similar size of employees and are around 30 years old, a little older than PMC but share many of the same work ethics and especially strive towards accurate and neutral sounding products but still engage musically.

So it may seem strange to some that PMC have chosen to distribute AVM alongside their long time relationship with Bryston, this was my first thought but in reality both companies offer very different products for different solutions. I won’t go into too much detail here but the first thing you realise when you get up close and personal with AVM’s equipment is how well built and sturdy it is, I don’t know how the Germans do it but they really do push the boundaries on fit and finish and the overall feel of a product. After speaking to Udo Besser who is the owner of AVM he was very keen to mention also that their equipment is designed to be modular so once DAC or Streamer technology moves on then it is a very simple job of unplugging one small board and inserting a new board with the latest spec, I don’t know that many HiFi companies that offer that level of flexibility to be honest.

Now AVM do offer quite an extensive range of HiFi components covering most bases but PMC and AVM are quite aware that the best way forward is to build the brand slowly and steadily in the UK so they are starting by offering 4 key products that are AVM’s best sellers, basically to start with there are going to be 3 different levels of all in ones and a MM/ MC phono stage.

I will go into more depth at a later date but basically there will be the Inspiration Phono Stage at £699, the Inspiration CS 2.2 Streamer / CD Receiver all in one at £3995, then the Evolution CS 5.2 Streamer / CD Receiver all in one at £5750 and finally the Ovation CS 8.2 which is a Valve Streamer / CD Receiver all in one priced at £11,695.

As you can see AVM and PMC are starting with 3 all in one units that progressively offer more performance and refinement with the top of the line Ovation CS 8.2 bringing Valves to the pre-amp stage as well as 500 Watts Per Channel, streaming, CD Playback, DSD Dac’s + Tidal and Qobuz etc + more so this really in a highend all in one that will drive pretty much any speaker.

We listened to all 3 products + a media player into an integrated amp and it was clear to hear the performance increases through the range but the starter Inspiration CS 2.2 really did drive the PMC Twenty5.26′s with ease giving a lovely open and spacious sound with bags of detail and complemented the PMC speakers extremely well.

So that is the big news of the day and for us being such big PMC fans it was a really interesting one and to me it looks like PMC have found a brilliant untapped partner with AVM in the UK which I am still struggling to see why they haven’t been seen in the UK before but if PMC are behind AVM then I am really looking forward to getting the 4 products into HFL shortly to put them through their paces.

The big AVM / PMC launch is going to be at the Bristol HiFi Show this year in a couple of weeks but all being well we’ll have our demo stock before then. 

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch and please find a link to AVM’s website below -

http://www.avm-audio.com/

The 4 UK Launch Products - 

Inspiration Phono Stage at £699

http://www.avm-audio.com/products/inspiration/inspiration-p-12.html

Inspiration CS 2.2 Streamer / CD Receiver all in one at £3995

http://www.avm-audio.com/products/inspiration/inspiration-cs-22.html

Evolution CS 5.2 Streamer / CD Receiver all in one at £5750

http://www.avm-audio.com/products/evolution/evolution-cs-52.html

Ovation CS 8.2 which is a Valve Streamer / CD Receiver all in one priced at £11,695

http://www.avm-audio.com/products/ovation/ovation-cs-62-cs-82.html

Cheers,

Paul.


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Focal Utopia Headphones with Nordost Heimdall II Cable Thoughts!

posted on Sat, 04 Feb 2017 03:38:42

Hi All,

This week I bought the Nordost Heimdall II cable for the Focal Utopia headphones, more for myself to be honest as an experiment but I thought I would just scribble down my thoughts for other Utopia owners who may find it useful.

Basically as many of you will know I love listening on headphones and have been enjoying the Stax SR-009′s for a few years now, like many though once the new Focal Utopia headphones were released I found myself using them more and more as my headphone of choice, but, and this is only a but because I was coming from SR-009′s, I just wished the Utopia’s were a little more open in their signature, I never expected to be able to achieve that sweet top end of the SR-009′s but then the Utopia’s bass weight and mid range really do take some beating so if I could just get a bit more from them then I could see myself going over to the Utopia’s full time.

In the past we have had great results swapping stock cables that come with headphones for the Nordost Heimdall II cable, but it does seem to work better on some headphones than others, for example in my opinion it transforms the Audeze LCD-3 into a much better headphone but didn’t really seem to make much difference on the Sennheiser HD800S’s, so I was hoping that adding the Heimdall II to the Utopia’s would give the same gains as you get with the LCD-3′s.

So last night I hooked up an Aurender into Chord’s DAVE which fed my favourite headphone amp, the Trilogy 933, then lined up a few of my favourite demo tracks and quite excitedly started listening to see how the Heimdall II effected the Utopia’s with everything crossed hoping for the result I wanted, I spent around 10 mins with the stock cable then swapped to the Heimdall II.

Starting with Massive Attacks Teardrop as usual as the opening minute really is an excellent demo piece, the fist thing I noticed was the better definition and attack on the bass notes, everything seemed to start and stop more precisely, this was a good start, then as the track grew you could definitely hear better seperation between all the notes, Teardrop is quite a busy song so this really was quite apparent and then when Elizabeth Frazer’s vocal comes in it really was crystal clear.

So this really was a good start so I went back to the stock cable and admittedly it still sounded great but I just didn’t feel quite so involved with the music then after 15 minutes I went back to the Heimdall II and to sound quite cliched it really did sound like a Veil had been lifted, for me the Heimdall II really does make the Utopia a far more enjoyable listen, it definitely give better clarity, separation and attack but the word that kept coming to mind to some it all up is that it just gives better definition, whereas the the stock cable is probably a little more forgiving and warmer in it’s presentation which I guess I could see some preferring.

So if you are a Utopia user and would like a more open sound with better definition then I would most definitely recommend trying the Heimdall II, I just couldn’t use them now with the stock cable knowing what an improvement it brings as for me using the Heimdall II really unleashes the performance of the Utopia and really shows what they are capable of, it is almost as if Focal went with the safe option with their stock cable.

For my final SR-009 v Utopia shootout I listened to Lorde’s Royals and yes the 009′s gave a wider soundstage with a beautiful airy and open top end but about 1 minute from the end there is a great driving bass segment and the Utopia’s with Heimdall had so much depth that the difference was quite shocking, so for me I still think there is a case for owning both the SR-009′s and Utopia’s if the budget could take it but for an all rounder then the Utopia with Heimdall II really is tough to beat.

Needless to say I will be buying another Heimdall II for demo for the shop as the one I currently have will be staying at home :-) so if you do fancy coming in to try it on the Utopia’s anytime please feel free.

http://hifilounge.co.uk/focal-utopia-headphones

http://www.highendheadphones.co.uk/nordost/nordost-heimdall-2-headphone-cable

Cheers,

Paul.


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We’re Expanding - HiFi Lounge Upgrade - UPDATE 1!

posted on Fri, 03 Feb 2017 03:26:07

Hi All,

Well it was certainly a big week this week, after what seems like ages of waiting work really started in earnest with the builders coming in to start knocking through the walls and building the partition walls.

Obviously when you start knocking around a really old building you don’t really know what you are going to find but other than the adjoining wall between HiFi Lounge and the new Naim Showroom being extremely thick which took far longer to break through than the builders expected and the fact that our downstairs demo room is a foot lower than the new Naim Showroom meaning some kind of steps are going to have to be put in place, but other than that everything went really smoothly and it really feels like we are making progress now :-)

Please find a few pictures below of the progress so far, next week the partition walls should be up then there will be a small break whilst the doors are made. -

Time to find out how thick the walls are where the door is going!

Here we go!

It’s quite a drop from here into HFL

Time to knock through to Highend Headphones!

MMM, Thought it would be a good idea to support the ceiling, wouldn’t want the MB2′s coming through the floor know half the wall is missing :-)

Cheers,

Paul.

——————————————————————————————-

Hi All,

Many of you already know this but in true HiFi style we are upgrading :-) Well we are opening 2 more showrooms to be exact so I thought I would start a blog that I will update regularly with progress reports and pictures.

We are now in our 5th year, not quite sure where that time has gone to be honest but firstly Wendy and myself would like to thank everyone for your support over that time, it really has flown by and has been great fun. Looking back I would say We have tried to grow HiFi Lounge organically during that time adding brands that we think will fit in well with our portfolio with not too much crossover so over the last 4.5 years I feel we have grown steadily. A couple of years ago we took on another building and started Highend Headphones which is Wendy’s domain and has become a very popular part of HiFi Lounge, and then a couple of months ago the 2 stables that link HiFi Lounge and Highend Headphones came up for rent so it was decision time, now for the last 12 months HiFi Lounge has really been running out of space so we thought we would go for it and make a substantial re-investment in pushing HiFi Lounge forward again and signed the lease on the new buildings and started to think on what we would do with the new space.

So the master plan is 2 knock a few walls about to link HiFi Lounge and Highend Headphones to create one big space with several demo rooms offering HiFi and Headphones at many different price points, hopefully offering something for most people who are interested in quality music playback.

So the good news is that work started seriously a couple of weeks ago with the police monitored alarm and security camera’s going in which it could be argued is the most important part being how isolated we are, then all being well the builders are starting next week which could cause a little disruption as they have got to knock through into HiFi Lounge’s downstairs demo room to create a door into one of the new demo rooms + another one through to Wendy’s but then at least once that is done it will feel like real progress has been made. Then finally they have to got to put up a partition walls in each demo room.

In theory this should take a couple of weeks, then it is just a matter of installing appropriate electronics and networking, then making good and decorating, getting the carpet down and then start kitting out the new rooms, bizarrely enough it is the new sofa’s which could let the whole process down as they are going to take around 12 weeks to come in. Funny really as when the units came up I thought yes we’ll go for that but it isn’t until you get stuck in that you realise how much work and cost is involved into getting them converted for use as HiFi demo rooms, it will be well worth the effort though in the end, well hopefully :-)

So what are we going to use these new showrooms for? Well the first one that is going to lead off from HiFi Lounge is going to be a dedicated Naim room, we have most of the Naim range on permanent demo so it will be nice to have it all set up in one dedicated space. The 2nd new room is the cause for most of the investment as we have decided to dip our toe into the higher end of audio by bringing on brands such as Audio Research, dCS and Wilson Audio so that will be our Highend Room, so really looking forward to getting that up and running :-)

Needless to say we will announce plans for Open days once we have a better idea on how the work is going but we plan to hold 2 launch events hopefully around April time, one for the Naim room where Naim are going to bring along a Statement which we will hook up to a pair of PMC MB2 XBD’s or BB5′s and we will do another event to launch the highend room shortly after.

So that is the master plan for 2017, I will try to update this regularly with progress reports and pictures as the rooms start to take shape but here are a couple to get it all started.

External Views - From HiFi Lounge

image

The 2 New Stables

image

From Highend Headphones

image

Internal - The Naim Lounge

image

The Highend Audio Lounge

image

Let The Work Commence!

image
image

Hopefully things will progress pretty quickly now.

Cheers,

Paul.


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Arcam AV860 Now Installed In Full Arcam 5.1.4 Atmos Setup!

posted on Sat, 28 Jan 2017 13:27:05

Hi All,

This is just a quickie to say that on Thursday we installed the new Arcam AV860 Processor in to our cinema setup, once we have the new showrooms opened then the upstairs demo room many of you will know will be mainly used as our cinema room so we decided to kit it out in style with a full Arcam rig with the new AV860 processor at its heart, I can see one of these ending up at home to be honest, as I have had the AV888 and AV950 that proceeded it and with the AV860 having Dirac on board then I don’t think I can resist :-)

So for our main cinema setup we now have an Arcam FMJ P349 driving the front 3 speakers and a FMJ P49 driving the rears with a FMJ P429 driving the 4 Atmos speakers as well as the AV860 controlling it all, so a pretty potent system to be honest that really does sound epic, and once again Dirac proves it’s worth.

If you’d like to experience this rig at anytime please feel free to get in touch to arrrange a demo.

http://hifilounge.co.uk/arcam-av-860-processor

Cheers,

Paul.


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dCS Join HiFi Lounge’s Portfolio!

posted on Sat, 28 Jan 2017 04:38:10

Hi All,

When looking for a select few new brands to add to our portfolio for our new demo rooms dCS sprung to mind straight away, I have been reading for years how dCS have been pushing the boundaries of what is possible from digital so I was really keen to have a listen, they have been working in the digital domain for over 25 years now constantly improving and refining the digital experience and needless to say once I had listened I was keen to add them to our portfolio.

dCS, or Data Conversion System to give them their full name, are based just up the road in Swavesey, Cambridgeshire and started some 25 years ago manufacturing highend DAC’s and ADC’s for the telecommunication industry and for the military where precision and reliability were key considerations, a few years later dCS moved into making DAC’s and ADC’s for the recording industry where they where massively popular and hugely respected then as a natural progression they moved into domestic home hifi where they have won countless awards and always receive glowing reviews.

For now we have started with the dCS Rossini Player and clock for demo but hope to add a full Vivaldi system at some point, but at nearly £80,000 that is going to have to wait a little bit, so for those who don’t know the dCS range, firstly what is the Rossini? Well really is could be described as the ultimate all in one source as basically it is a CD Player, a Streamer, a DAC, a Pre-Amp, an Upsampler and World Clock, I think that is everything, so in theory you just need to add a quality amplifier and speakers and you have one of the best digital solutions on offer today. 

Just un-boxing the Rossini you realise that you are dealing with quality through and through here, it is an absolute work of art when you see it, the case work really is a think of beauty, I had a days training last week when Rav from dCS came in and spent a day going through what dCS are all about, it really was fascinating, their attention to detail must be second to none, dCS products like the Rossini or Vivaldi components take around 10 days to built each box then undergoes scrupulous testing to make sure everything is 100% perfect before leaving their factory.

dCS are best known for their patented Ring DAC technology, this is no ordinary DAC bought of the shelf but is a DAC that has been refined over 25 years by dCS engineers to give you a detailed but very natural and engrossing sound that really does just sound very natural.

Finally we have got the matching Rossini clock on demo, to be honest this was my first experience of a clock and I really didn’t know what to expect and what the point was to be honest but oh my god once the clock is connected to the Rossini the difference is not subtle, don’t get me wrong the Rossini sounds amazing without the clock but once this is added there is another level of focus and timing with better seperation and a much larger soundstage which makes me wonder why other manufacturer’s don’t go down the separate clock route.

It goes without saying that this is all app controlled with a very well thought out and intuitive app but it is also ROON compatible, this is my first taste of ROON and I have to say it is pretty awesome, basically it brings all your music together into one app, whether you stream form a NAS or use Tidal you see it all as one big meta data rich library, it really is a feast for the eyes.

So if Rossini is so good, then what does the Vivaldi system add for nearly 4 times the cost? Well it is most probably the best digital from end in the world, whereas the Rossini is an all in one the Vivaldi separates this over 4 boxes to apparently really lift the performance to another level, can’t wait to find out for myself to be honest.

So to wrap up, if you want to experience dCS then please feel free to get in touch to arrange a demo, as I said we have the Rossini and Clock here but if Vivaldi interests you we can borrow that from dCS at any time, that is until we get our own system that is :-)

Please see the product range below and a few un-boxing photo’s.

http://hifilounge.co.uk/dcs

Rossini Player Un-Boxing

Rossini Clock Un-Boxing

Cheers,

Paul.


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