Christmas, for me, means just one thing: A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector. The wall of sound maestro, for all his horrific lady-killing failings, sure knew how to craft a tight little seasonal ditty. But you know what...
The floppy-disc may have gone the way of the Dodo, but there is one ageing technology that may yet prove to be as resilient as a cockroach; the cassette tape. Maybe it's the sentimentality that we attach to our favourite...
UK audio manufacture gods Naim is taking a step into the unknown this morning with the launch of their first all-in-one unit. The NaimUniti comprises an integrated amplifier, CD player, DAB/FM tuner, internet radio player, iPod & MP3 dock, digital to analogue converter, USB & network-stored music file player and network streamer. Kitchen sink not included.
You get 10 inputs with 50-watt-per-channel amplifier action and the idea is that it sits as your all purpose box in pride of place in your living. Under the telly springs to mind. You can play music from USB, stream media over your network and you can start plugging in your satellite box, DVD player and games console too.
It's available now for a pretty reasonable £1995 with the n-link iPod connector cable for another £95. While you've got your wallet out, Naim also recommends a pair of £770 Naim n-SAT speakers as the perfect accompaniment.
Audio Outputs - Speaker output Line output (L+R RCA) Sub output (2 Mono outputs via RCA) Pre-amp output (DIN)
Tape Output Fixed - 275mV, 600
Preamp Output load -10k to 8
Frequency response - 20Hz - 50 kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio - 80dB
Phase response on CD - Linear phase, absolute phase correct
Power output - 50WPC into 8Ù 90WPC into 4 Ù
Other outputs - Headphone 3.5mm jack
Antenna inputs F type
Analogue inputs - 3.5mm socket on front 3 x RCA 1*DIN with power to support
Stageline phono stage
Digital Inputs - 5 SPDIF (2xoptical, 2xcoaxial, 1*3.5mm jack) Input overload 27 dB (Rear panel connections) (Front panel: 33.8 dB) USB Front panel socket
Other inputs - Ethernet and iPod (analogue)
Remote input - Rear panel
RS232 - Rear panel
Audio files supported - Internet radio (WMA, MP3 Streams, MMS) Playlists (M3U,
PLS) MP3, AAC (up to 320 kbps, CBR/VBR) Apple Lossless (from iPod) Windows Media-formatted content (up to 320 kbps) WAV, FLAC, OGG Vorbis CD formats disc compatibility Redbook and CD-R Supply Voltage 100-120V or 220V to 240V, 50/60 Hz
Dimensions (H x W x D) - 87 x 432 x 314mm
Weight - 11.3kg
Finish - Black
Most products from Marantz usually get me nodding with approval and their CR502 CD/Tuner mini-system has already got my neck muscles twitching.
First up, it looks great and, if you're after something compact that'll fit into the right kind of space in your luxury pad, then aesthetic concerns are probably fairly high up your list. It's got a nice sleek aluminium chassis and all the cables are carefully tucked in around the back.
Tick. So what about the...
Top-end audio manufacturer Harman Kardon has just announced the "most powerful" amplifier that the company has ever produced, as well as a matching CD player, for those of you still trading in plastic discs.
I could happily regurgitate the press release about how the amplifier's power is achieved with its "EzSet/EQ room optimisation", but all you really need to know is that it sounds lovely. The CD player sounds similarly lovely, thanks to a built-in digital sound processor, and linear smoothing to stop jitters.
Both models are available now from your favourite local Hi-Fi retailer, and they'll cost you £1000 for the amp and £500 for the CD player. That's relatively affordable, so if you're looking to start up a separates collection, then this would be a great place to start.
I'm not sure how many all-night-rave organizers read Tech Digest, but you can never tell with the internet. The SW915 Digital Audio Travel Partner is a whopping great big box on wheels that contains, variously, a speaker, an amplifier, a CD player, SD card slot, and wireless microphone.
Basically, you roll up in an abandoned warehouse, pop Rave Anthems 2 into the cd drive, and then go nuts, occasionally shouting "Bo! Bo! Bo!" over the wireless microphone. 250 watts over up to a 30,000 sq. ft. area should ensure that the complaints start rolling in and the police show up sooner, rather than later.
Still, when they do, you'll be able to flick it off, grab the handle and leg it before the fuzz can catch you. Then start up all over again the following weekend. I wouldn't try dragging it through the Glastonbury mud, though - those wheels don't look like they can take that kind of punishment.
Amplivox (via Born Rich)
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Although Pioneer's CDJ-1000MK3s are the standard CD player in every nightclub across the UK, Denon produces a range of DJ-standard CD players, too. They've just announced a new iteration, too - the DN-S3700. It's got a rotating 9" platter on the top with vinyl emulation, so if you can't mix CDs with the buttons, then you can do it using the platter.
Additional features include USB and MIDI control, internal USB sound card, five built-in effects, and loop functionality, as well as your standard pitch/speed adjust and slot-loader. It certainly competes with the CDJ-1000 on features, but it lacks a lot of the style of Pioneer's rival player - the DN-S3700 is covered with garish buttons and flashing lights. It doesn't compete much on price either, costing £900 new, compared to £770 for the Pioneer. I'd love to give it a spin and see how it compares when actually 'in the mix'. You can buy it 'soon' from from HTFR.
Denon (via Akihabaranews)
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Pioneer is launching another Blu-Ray player, called the BDP-LX91. The company is referring to it as its 'flagship' player, and for good reason - it's got a freshly-developed 16-bit video engine which will perform decoding, conversion, scaling and other adjustments at a rapid pace, as well as upscaling DVD content to 1080p.
As well as lovely video, the player delivers crisp audio with 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and bit stream output. There's dual HDMI outputs, too, and it's been certified as sounding really rather good by none other than legendary Beatles producer George Martin's AIR studios.
This player's available now, but it'll set you back £1,700. Ouch. Still, it's a damn fine machine, and if you're even considering it, then you won't bat an eyelid at that price.
Pioneer BDP-LX91Related posts: Panasonic launches three new Blu-ray players including one with VHS! | Pioneer unveils new Blu-ray and upconverting DVD players, new AV receivers
Yamaha continues to push out its high-end audio products with the introduction of the A-S700 amplifier and CD-S700 CD player. Mercifully, both come without an iPod dock.
The amp can pump out 90W RMS power over two channels with a SNR of 98dB and frequency response of 10Hz-100kHz, and features Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology....
In stark contrast to the ugly ugly speakers we saw earlier, this all-in-one audio unit is considerably prettier. All-in-one isn't an empty promise, either. It's got an iPod dock, a CD player, FM radio, speakers, and a clock radio. Basically, sit this on your bedside table and you'll never be wanting of audio entertainment ever again...