Classé Audio's CP-800 reviewed

Thursday, 16 October 2014 |


When Classé Audio launched their CP-800 stereo preamplifier a few years ago, it was revered for its vast array of connectivity options and a number of features other stereo preamplifier manufacturers at the time hadn’t even thought of.

Classé introduced parametric EQ, innovative bass management, tone control and cutting-edge audio processing all done in the digital domain, surpassing the typical analog processing of their rivals.

Last year, Classé activated the Ethernet port on the back of the unit, and unlocked even more features including IP control and the ability to stream DLNA sources from a network. 192 kHz sources are supported via the network and the USB port. The CP-800 also supports Apple’s Airplay technology to allow control via iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

There have been a number of reviews published on the CP-800 over the last few years, so we’ve taken some excerpts from a few of them to highlight how impressive this unit actually is.

Stereophile – John Atkinson, Sept 2012

“Classé Audio’s CP-800 is that rare component: a multi- function device that, despite its versatility and extensive use of new technologies, doesn’t appear to compromise the quality of the sound.”

“I highly recommend the CP-800 as a straight, future-proof, two-channel D/A preamplifier. It offers more than its purchaser expects, at a price lower than any would expect to pay.”

Hometheaterhifi.com - John E Johnson, Jr – April 2012

“This is one hell of a preamplifier. You get world class performance when used strictly in analog mode, and still quite excellent performance if you want to use subwoofers and some room EQ. In my opinion, this is a benchmark product.”

The Absolute Sound – Jacob Heilbrunn/Robert Harley – 2013

“Classé is justly proud of its preamp, which Classé’s president Dave Nauber told me is the most sophisticated piece of equipment it has ever produced. He won’t get an argument from me.”

“In my view, anyone searching for knockout performance at a reasonable price need look no further”

“The CP-800 offers and astounding array of features and capabilities not usually found in a preamplifier – and at an eminently reasonable price, particularly wen you consider Jacob’s enthusiastic reaction to its sound quality.”

We say:

“We’re great fans of Classé Audio and their products – we choose to use them as one of our preferred high-end brands for their forward thinking products that offer great performance and connectivity options. It’s important to have products that are as ‘future-proof’ as possible, and here’s a great example. Nearly five years after it was launched, it’s still as popular as ever and as current as anything else on the market”

Give us a call or visit us at either branch to experience the CP-800 for yourself.

Sound & Image Menlyn 012 368-1440
Sound & Image Sandton 011 884 5165



Marantz NR1605 Reviewed

Monday, 29 September 2014 |


Marantz have recently announced the launch of their revised slimline AV receiver, the NR1605.

So for those of you looking for a feature rich slimline AV receiver, this might be the unit you’ve been waiting for. It ticks all the right boxes in terms of connectivity options with WiFi and Bluetooth now as standard, as well as delivering on the promise of excellent sound delivery.

Admittedly, it’s not the most powerful AV receiver available, but it is by far the slimmest, so there has to be some compromise somewhere. If you want power, you can’t have slim, and if you want slim, you can’t have power. And that is true here, although it does a more than a decent job of driving bookshelf speaker based systems and HTIB packages.


Home Cinema Choice (www.homecinemachoice.com) recently reviewed the unit and they say:

"The system’s user interface is slicker than an otter’s pocket. From the outset, the NR1605 guides you through configuration, gently prompting speaker set up and sources, as well as Audyssey calibration…"

"The AVR’s powerplant, still rated at 50W into 8ohms, is deceptively agile. As Vin Diesel races through the gears at the start of Fast & Furious 6 (Blu-ray), the NR1605 has no problem keeping pace and accelerating hard."

"Wi-Fi functionality works well. The receiver didn’t drop a connection during our audition…"

"This Marantz proves to be an enjoyable high-res listen…"

"This update to Marantz’s NR line is entirely successful. There’s seemingly no overt sonic penalty incurred by building in the wireless radio, and the enhanced feature spread and connectivity options make this an easy receiver to live with. Capable of an energetic multichannel performance, dynamic stereo and decent streaming functionality, this AV receiver is a real-world star. I rate it the best Marantz slim model yet."

We say:

“We’ve always rated Marantz for their great sounding equipment and although this NR is one of their entry-level models, it certainly isn’t entry-level in sonic performance. Connectivity is the latest buzz-word with more and more of our customers wanting WiFi/Bluetooth and this unit makes the integration process simple. It’s a pleasure to setup. And in terms of sonic ability and performance, you won’t be dissappointed.”

Give us a call or visit us at either branch to audition the Marantz for yourself.

Sound & Image Menlyn 012 368-1440
Sound & Image Sandton 011 884 5165




Yamaha A-S3000/CD-S3000 Reviewed

Sunday, 21 September 2014 |

Yamaha is not the first brand people think of when talking about high-end stereo audio amplifiers and CD players, but they have produced a statement combination to show the audio world that they shouldn’t be ignored in this competitive segment.




The A-S3000 integrated amplifier and CD-S3000 CD/SACD player have been recently reviewed by What-HiFi?, so we’ve selected a few snippets of each review to give you a general overview of their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses.

What-HiFi? Says of the A-S3000:
“We’re impressed the moment we unpack this unit. The A-S3000 is a beast of an integrated, weighing in at a hefty 25kg and taking up as much space as a baby hippo. It’s beautifully built too.”

“This Yamaha is generously equipped as far as the high-end is concerned. Not only has the company included six line-level inputs, but a switchable moving magnet/moving coil phono stage too – unusual in a high-end integrated.

“This amplifier is as solid and immaculately finished as we’ve seen at this price”

“Its terrific level of detail means that it has no trouble capturing the harmonic richness of a complex instrument like a piano (on Satie’s Gymnopedie No.1) or the rasp of Miles Davis’s trumpet.

What-HiFi? Says of the CD-S3000 
“It’s the little things that make a difference. In the case of Yamaha’s CD-S3000, it’s the disc drawer.
Most rivals are happy using off-the-shelf rickety plastic drawers; the aluminium unit on the Yamaha glides out with grace.”

“Yamaha has even engineered the player’s feet so they can be used spiked or unspiked. This thoroughness continues to the casework, where fit and finish are absolutely top class.”

“It’s agile, detailed and delivers a decent dose of punch. Like its partnering A-S3000 amplifier, this player sounds really well balanced. There’s a hint of excess warmth, but all it does is to give the player’s sound a likeable solidity.”

“This is an understated player that just gets out of the way of the music. While it may not be the last word in any one respect, bar possibly build quality, it has enough talent to let the music shine.
And, when you think about it, that’s what good hi-fi is all about.”

We say:
“An excellent stereo combination that puts Yamaha in an audio league that most people had not considered. This pairing shows that the Japanese outfit can offer the serious listener a superbly built stereo system as the worthy front-end of any high-end music system.”

Give us a call or visit us at either branch to audition them for yourself.

Sound & Image Menlyn 012 368-1440
Sound & Image Sandton 011 884 5165



Velodyne SPL12 subwoofer reviewed.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 |

When choosing a subwoofer for your room, there are a lot of factors to consider. Among them, the size, colour, position of the sub, and most importantly for us, the performance. Trying to get the best performance out of your subwoofer while keeping the interior decorator happy is not as easy as you think. This is because the best performing subwoofers tend to be big and bulky and not very interior-decorator-friendly.

Fortunately, this is a generalization and not all great performance subwoofers are big and bulky. Enter the Velodyne SPL12 subwoofer.



Velodyne Acoustics have been rated as the #1 subwoofer company for over 25 years and know pretty much everything you need to know about bass and producing copious amounts of it. Velodyne have always focused on tight, accurate, musical bass that has made their subwoofers world famous. Velodyne’s SPL-Ultra range of subwoofers use an active system that limits the amplifier’s audible distortion, keeping the woofer from being overdriven, all the while reducing the overall output distortion levels. And because they’re experts in their field, squeezing 2400 Watts (dynamic power) of heart thumping bass into a beautiful, compact (only 40cm x 45cm) interior-decorator-friendly cabinet was no big deal for them.

Besides being powerful and compact, the SPL12 has an array of clever features, enabling easy setup and customization for all music and movie aficionados. Starting with an intuitive interactive front panel. The display allows you to configure an automatic 7-band digital room equalization program, as well as start an automated room bass correction system with a single button press, optimizing the bass performance of the subwoofer in your room and right to your exact seat.

The SPL12 Uses Velodyne’s patented “Energy Recovery System” amplifier that delivers 2400 watts dynamic power, 1200 watts of continuous RMS power at over 95% efficiency. You get all the impact and excitement of the most dramatic special effects and the lowest frequencies with detail and definition without wasted energy.

The SPL-Ultra drivers feature Kevlar reinforced, multi-layer resin cones mounted in die-cast aluminum baskets with colossal magnet structures. The drive units incorporate Velodyne’s unique inside/outside wound “Dual-Tandem” voice coils assuring linear drive unit travel, and very limited distortion.

The combination of a beautifully stylish, low distortion, ultra-powerful compact subwoofer with incredible dynamic output and unrivalled performance ticks all the right boxes for us. So if performance is key in your system and you want to keep the interior decorators happy, this is a subwoofer you certainly need to audition.

We have them in both our Sandton and Menlyn branches, ready to literally blow you away.
Call Sandton 011 884 5165
Call Menlyn 012 368 1440


Monitor Audio - New Silver Series

Sunday, 24 August 2014 |




Monitor Audio released their latest Silver Series in South Africa earlier this year and now that we’ve had a few months to evaluate them, we can give you some feedback.
Lineup
The line-up is comprehensive with three floorstanding options (Silver 6, 8 and 10) , two bookshelves (Silver 1 and 2), a centre channel, dedicated surrounds (FX) and a subwoofer. Colour options include real black oak, walnut, natural oak, and rosewood veneers, and for a slight premium a high gloss black or white finish is available. The model and colour variety enable us to configure a system to suit most room shapes, sizes and décor.
Technology
The latest version of C-CAM gold dome tweeters and C-CAM dimpled, ultra-rigid cone drivers have been used throughout the range. The result is that the range offers a higher sensitivity, lower distortion and increased impedance than their predecessors, allowing them to be paired with a wider choice of amplifiers. The overall look is also enhanced by the use of magnetic grilles so the speaker has a cleaner look when the grilles are removed (which we prefer).
Models:
Silver 1 – a two-way bookshelf featuring a 6” mid/bass driver with C-CAM gold tweeter. They’re small and thus perfectly able as a surround speaker. Because of their small size and 45Hz bass extension, the sensitivity rating is 87dB.
Silver 2 – the larger of the two bookshelf models, also in a two-way configuration but using an 8” mid/bass driver and C-CAM gold tweeter. The bigger bass driver allows the Silver 2’s to get down to a highly respectable 40Hz.
Silver 6 – the smallest floorstander is a 2½ way design featuring dual 6” drivers and a C-CAM gold tweeter. We’ve found the Silver 6’s combine really well with the Silver Centre channel and Silver 1’s and subwoofer as a package.
Silver 8 – a smaller version of the Silver 10 uses two 6½” bass drivers and C-CAM tweeter. Frequency response is a noteworthy 32Hz.
Silver 10 – the Flagship model in the range is a towering three-way system featuring dual 8” bass drivers, a 4” midrange driver and a C-CAM gold tweeter. This combination results in a full-range model that plays all the way down to 30Hz, and with a 90dB sensitivity means it doesn’t need a hefty amplifier to get it singing.
Silver Centre – a dedicated two-way design with dual 6” drivers that matches up to any of the above models for surround sound applications.
Silver FX – switchable dipole/bipole surround speakers using a 6” bass driver and a pair of tweeters. Optimally mounted for surround duties, the FX’s are excellent at diffusing the surround channel information and making it difficult to pick out where the sound is coming from.
Silver W12 subwoofer - a compact sealed subwoofer featuring a 12” C-CAM bass driver coupled with a 500W digital amplifier. It features advanced DSP processing to optimize its response to your room, and a room correction system called APC (Automatic Position Correction). With a bass response rated from 20Hz, the W12 combines perfectly in surround sound applications with the rest of the Silver range.

Our thoughts
The Silver range aims to offer “an exceptional balance of performance, versatility, lifestyle appeal and value” and we think they’ve achieved this. They are undoubtedly attractive, well–built speakers that can be mixed and matched to fit into almost any living room and they also tick the audio performance box where they seem to get things right. A highly recommended audition.

Sound & Image Sandton (011) 884-5165
Sound & Image Menlyn (012) 368-1440

Sound & Image gears up with the new B&W 600 Series.

Saturday, 26 July 2014 |



We’re proud to offer you the latest version of the Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) 600 Series range of high-end speakers which improves on its predecessor’s legendary combination of outstanding value and exemplary audio performance. The new 600 Series brings high-end sound quality within the reach of more people than ever before, using the cutting-edge technologies and class-leading design for which B&W is world renowned.

B&W’s previous 600 Series speakers won numerous international awards for its mix of value and performance, but it was time to raise the bar again. The new range consists of six new speakers with improvements in virtually every element of their design. The new range is versatile, discreetly stylish and able to compete against far more expensive rivals. All models in the range are available in the traditional black ash finish or the new satin white finish.

Technology

On the technology side, the new 600 Series offers a new Decoupled Double Dome tweeter assembly, Anti-Resonance Plugs used for mid/bass drive units, and, of course, the iconic B&W Kevlar cones are once-again employed. Added to these proven technologies are new advances developed specifically for the new 600 Series, comprising new Dual Layer aluminium bass drivers and new tweeter decoupling technology. The Decoupled Double Dome tweeter is a major technological advance, and consists of two separate aluminium domes. The second dome’s centre portion is cut out and the hollow dome is glued to the first dome. This creates a remarkably light, stiff tweeter dome with double the strength on the edges where it’s prone to breakup. The entire tweeter assembly is then completely decoupled from the cabinet using an anti-resonance gel. This is the first time in B&W’s history this technology has been used with an in-cabinet tweeter.

The Decoupled Double Dome tweeter has stunning clarity and tonal purity, plus outstanding imaging and dispersion. Combined with the other advancements, the new 600 Series sets an all-new standard for affordable loudspeakers and is a serious contender in this price class.

Model lineup

The new 600 Series range is at home in either stereo hi-fi or home theatre applications and comprises of 2 floorstander, 2 bookshelf and 2 centre channel models. The 3 subwoofer options from the previous 600 Series remain unchanged.

·       The 683 floorstander - the largest speaker in the new 600 Series –designed to deliver outstanding power, accuracy and musicality. Featuring 6,5-inch FST Kevlar midrange driver and 2 x 6,5-inch aluminium bass drivers and the Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter.

·       The 684 floorstander – much slimmer than it’s predecessor, yet still offering a great combination of spectacular audio performance and unbeatable value. Featuring smaller 5-inch Kevlar drivers and the Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter.

·       The 685 bookshelf - The new 685 speaker is destined to follow in the footsteps of its highly acclaimed predecessor – the outgoing 685 – and it is set to become recognized as the definitive affordable stand-mount loudspeaker. Featuring 6,5-inch Kevlar midbass driver and the Decoupled Double Dome tweeter.

·       The 686 bookshelf/wallmount - At just 16cm-wide, the 686 speaker is the most compact speaker in B&W’s new 600 Series. It features a 5-inch midbass driver and Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter. It now has a front firing port and a built-in bracket for wall mounting – making it ideal as a surround speaker.

·       The HTM61 centre channel - is the larger of the new 600 Series centre speakers – a perfect match for the mighty 683 floorstanders. Employing  two powerful 6.5-inch bass drivers, and an FST midrange driver. The result is a serious centre speaker ideal for the biggest on-screen action.

·       The HTM62 centre channel - is a slimmer centre speaker, but it still provides considerable power and exceptional precision. It has two 5-inch Kevlar drivers for ample punch and the Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter.

·       The ASW610XP, ASW610 and ASW608 are the three subwoofers that complete the range’s home cinema credentials. These are carried across from the previous 600 Series, but have updated finishes to match the new 600 Series speakers.

Conclusion

The new B&W 600 Series combines unbeatable value and best-ever performance. Vastly improving on every facet of its predecessors, the new 600 Series comfortably surpasses the outgoing range’s already excellent reputation for outstanding value and exemplary audio performance.

We’re more than happy to discuss your unique system requirements with you and how to integrate the new 600 Series into your home.

Speak to one of our consultants at Menlyn on (012) 368-1440 or Sandton on (011) 884-5165.



Marantz SR-6008

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 |

See the link below for an excellent online review of the Marantz SR6008 by Danny Philips for Trusted Reviews.

The SR6008 is awarded with the Trusted Reviews RECOMMENDED logo and rated 9/10 overall and with 4.5 Stars. For Performance and Sound Quality, the SR6008 is rated 10/10.
http://www.trustedreviews.com/marantz-sr6008_Surround-Sound-System_review

TRUSTED REVIEWS SAID;

"It’s not often that you can describe an AV receiver as ‘elegant’ but that’s exactly what the SR6008 is – although that’s no surprise as Marantz has been crafting the best-looking receivers on the market for years."

"What also makes the SR6008 incredibly easy to use is the remote. At first glance it’s more like a Blu-ray remote, avoiding the button gridlock you get from most AVR zappers – there’s space around each key and the labels are full words, not cryptic abbreviations."

"After spending a few days in its company, we’ve fallen in love with the SR6008 in a big way. It’s a beautiful-sounding receiver, reproducing our favourite movies and music with spine-tingling sophistication and blistering power….Dynamic shifts are expertly handled too."

"But that’s what’s so impressive about the SR6008’s sound – even when it’s flexing its considerable muscles during a hyperactive action scene, everything sounds smooth and controlled. There’s excitement in spades but your ears don’t take a battering at loud volumes. That’s the Holy Grail right there."

"And true to form, Marantz tops off this terrific performance with stunning stereo music playback."


Verdict "The SR6008 is a fantastic receiver in every respect, offering killer sound, extensive features and a slick operating system."


Marantz CD6005 and PM6005

Monday, 20 January 2014 |



David Price of H-Fi Choice Magazine did a 4-page in-depth review of the Marantz CD6005 and PM6005 as featured on the front cover of the latest issue of the magazine. Both units are awarded with 5 STARS and the Hi-Fi Choice RECOMMENDED logo.

HI-FI CHOICE SAID;
"They simply don't sound like your average, cheap, screechy budget hi-fi separates. Indeed, they're so good that you can put them through some pretty accomplished high-end speakers and they still won't give the game away."


"…the new Marantz CD6005 sounds very nice indeed. Treble is crisp and spacious….while the midband is smooth and open with a good sense of image placement. Bass does its own thing happily, sounding surprisingly strong and tuneful…and the overall result is a very enjoyable rendition of REM's 'Maps and Legends'." 
PM6005
"…you'll not fail to like the big-hearted nature of this integrated. It seems to bounce along with a smile, determined to enjoy whatever you play through it, without a care in the world."

CONCLUSION
…I'll be surprised if you aren't beguiled by the sound that this recently tweaked dynamic duo can make."

VERDICT – CD6005
"Excellent budget CD player, you can't ask for more" 

VERDICT – PM6005
"Strong budget amplifier with surprisingly fine sound"
The full Review can be read in the February Edition of Hi-Fi Choice (available at your favorite news agent) Or contact your nearest  Sound & Image branch to audition them.