Monday, April 27, 2009
Need to add some horsepower to your stereo system? Cayin Audio USA has the solution with the H80a Hybrid Intregated Amplifier. A front end of two (2) 12AU7 vacuum tubes gives the warmth and dynamics of tube amplification, while a MOSFET solid-state amplifier backline pushes out 80 watts per channel of pure Class A power.
The result? A stunning synergy of solid-state responsiveness and power combined with the detail and warmth of tubes.
Cayin's hybrid circuitry utilizes the best of both stereo worlds, in an aesthetically-pleasing brushed aluminum industrial casings, with the matching blue-lit power meters on the front provide accurate usage tracking.
"I'm a tube guy, but I like power too. The H-80A has 12AX7 input tubes feeding a MOSFET output stage. It sounds sweet, but it'll drive just about any load. It's rated from 10Hz–40kHz," VAS Audio's Steve Leung told Stereophile magazine.
As usual, Cayin's attention to detail is impressive, with gold-plated input and output jacks including a pair of line-level RCA jacks for pre-amplification, if desired, and a pair of balanced input XLR jacks. The matching polished aluminum remote control provides control of the triode and ultralinear modes, with 80 watts per channel of pure class A on tap, rising to 150 wpc in the Class A/B mode.
"…The H-80A integrated amplifier strikes me as a landmark Cayin product – one that will more firmly imprint the company's name on the map of the world's premier hi-fi manufacturers. Don't tell your friends, who might think you spend $5000 or $6000 for this thing, but the H-80A retails for $3295…the H-80A fulfilled its promise of delivering the best of tubes and the best of solid-state. The sound was sweet, smooth and exquisitely extended in the treble, with nary a trace of hardness or harshness. Nor was there any lopping-off of the top end; it sparkled…Most impressive was the H-80A's harmonic presentation…With classical or with jazz, it was right on…For a $3000 integrated amplifier, this kind of performance is phenomenal…Put the Cayin H-80A up against anything. With any speakers." – Sam Tellig, Stereophile, August 2007
We couldn't agree more, Sam.
Remote Control Full function including Triode and Ultralinear. Also,
Preamp Bypass for using A-300B as a power amp
Power Cord Detachable power cord with IEC chassis mount receptacle
Tube Compliment Two 12AU7 Input Tube
Frequency Response 10Hz-40kHz
THD = <.2% 1kHz, 80W, 8?
S/N Ratio 91dB
Input Sensitivity 380mV
Input Impedance 100k Ohm (RCA)
Output Impedance (WBT Style) 4, 8, 16 Ohm
Power Requirement AC 120V +/- 5%, 50~60Hz
Power Consumption 280W
Weight 80 pounds (96 pounds shipping weight)
Dimensions (WxDxH) 17" x 19" x 8"
Warranty 90-day guarantee for tubes; 3 year parts & labor (shipping not included.)
Other Dual 450W power transformers, extra large cooling radiator, black acrylic decorated panel, heavy duty knockdown amp feet, each foot can adjust the height independently, index type peak VU value ampre meter with blue background light
Thursday, April 23, 2009
After a substantial break-in period, our KEF XQ-20 standmount monitor speakers have really come into their own, with an amazing ability to fill our (admittedly) big and boxy room with a sweet, deep soundstage and impeccable resolution.
I swear, never again will I scoff when a rep tells me that speakers need to be broken in - after four or five hours of mid-volume play the resolution began to grow seemingly every 15-20 minutes and now after two weeks, these 20 lb. beauties push out a sound that would make most floorstanders blush with envy.
The first two sets (the wonderful Khaya Mahogany and the lighter Birdseye Maple) have already found happy homes and both purchasers are ecstatic with the results.
I can't state enough how beautiful these speakers are, with flawless fit and finish and an unmatched attention to detail that even extends into the packaging in dynamite-proof shipping cartons. Even the isolation feet come with little cups to keep things perfectly symmetrical.
The new Absolute Sound (April/May 2009 CES Issue) gives a brief rave and photo on page 18 - can a full review be in the making?
Stop in for an audition today, bring your favorite disc or record, but don't say we didn't warn you...the value at a low $1999 list price is amazing - KEF definitely outkicked their coverage with this one (American football reference).
Puretone Audio is now an authorized KEF dealer and we can obtain in the line right through the Stereophile Magazine Product of the Year 207/2 Reference loudspeakers.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Beatles' Entire Original Recorded Catalogue Remastered By Apple Corps Ltd. And EMI Music For Worldwide Release On September 9, 2009
Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of the widely anticipated “The Beatles: Rock Band” video game. Each of the CDs is packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.
The albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilising state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.
The collection comprises all 12 Beatles albums in stereo, with track listings and artwork as originally released in the UK, and 'Magical Mystery Tour,' which became part of The Beatles’ core catalogue when the CDs were first released in 1987. In addition, the collections 'Past Masters Vol. I and II' are now combined as one title, for a total of 14 titles over 16 discs. This will mark the first time that the first four Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact disc. These 14 albums, along with a DVD collection of the documentaries, will also be available for purchase together in a stereo boxed set.
Within each CD’s new packaging, booklets include detailed historical notes along with informative recording notes. With the exception of the 'Past Masters' set, newly produced mini-documentaries on the making of each album, directed by Bob Smeaton, are included as QuickTime files on each album. The documentaries contain archival footage, rare photographs and never-before-heard studio chat from The Beatles, offering a unique and very personal insight into the studio atmosphere.
A second boxed set has been created with the collector in mind. 'The Beatles in Mono' gathers together, in one place, all of the Beatles recordings that were mixed for a mono release. It will contain 10 of the albums with their original mono mixes, plus two further discs of mono masters (covering similar ground to the stereo tracks on 'Past Masters'). As an added bonus, the mono “Help!” and “Rubber Soul” discs also include the original 1965 stereo mixes, which have not been previously released on CD. These albums will be packaged in mini-vinyl CD replicas of the original sleeves with all original inserts and label designs retained.
Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalogue will continue. There is no further information available at this time.
The Stereo Albums (available individually and collected in a stereo boxed set)
The stereo albums have been remastered by Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee
All CD packages contain original vinyl artwork and liner notes
Extensive archival photos
Additional historical notes by Kevin Howlett and Mike Heatley
Additional recording notes by Allan Rouse and Kevin Howlett
* = CD includes QuickTime mini-doc about the album
Please Please Me* (CD debut in stereo)
With The Beatles* (CD debut in stereo)
A Hard Day's Night* (CD debut in stereo)
Beatles For Sale* (CD debut in stereo)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band* (also includes 1987 notes, updated, and new intro by Paul McCartney)
Magical Mystery Tour*
Yellow Submarine* (also includes original US liner notes)
Let It Be*
Past Masters (contains new liner notes written by Kevin Howlett)
‘The Beatles in Mono’ (boxed set only)
The mono albums have been remastered by Paul Hicks, Sean Magee with Guy Massey and Steve Rooke
Presented together in box with an essay written by Kevin Howlett
+ = mono mix CD debut
Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Help! (CD also includes original 1965 stereo mix)+
Rubber Soul (CD also include original 1965 stereo mix)+
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band+
Magical Mystery Tour+
Re-mastering the Beatles catalogue
The re-mastering process commenced with an extensive period conducting tests before finally copying the analogue master tapes into the digital medium. When this was completed, the transfer was achieved using a Pro Tools workstation operating at 24 bit 192 kHz resolution via a Prism A-D converter. Transferring was a lengthy procedure done a track at a time. Although EMI tape does not suffer the oxide loss associated with some later analogue tapes, there was nevertheless a slight build up of dust, which was removed from the tape machine heads between each title.
From the onset, considerable thought was given to what audio restorative processes were going to be allowed. It was agreed that electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance and bad edits should be improved where possible, so long as it didn’t impact on the original integrity of the songs.
In addition, de-noising technology, which is often associated with re-mastering, was to be used, but subtly and sparingly. Eventually, less than five of the 525 minutes of Beatles music was subjected to this process. Finally, as is common with today’s music, overall limiting - to increase the volume level of the CD - has been used, but on the stereo versions only. However, it was unanimously agreed that because of the importance of The Beatles’ music, limiting would be used moderately, so as to retain the original dynamics of the recordings.
When all of the albums had been transferred, each song was then listened to several times to locate any of the agreed imperfections. These were then addressed by Guy Massey, working with Audio Restoration engineer Simon Gibson.
Mastering could now take place, once the earliest vinyl pressings, along with the existing CDs, were loaded into Pro Tools, thus allowing comparisons to be made with the original master tapes during the equalization process. When an album had been completed, it was auditioned the next day in studio three – a room familiar to the engineers, as all of the recent Beatles mixing projects had taken place in there – and any further alteration of EQ could be addressed back in the mastering room. Following the initial satisfaction of Guy and Steve, Allan Rouse and Mike Heatley then checked each new re-master in yet another location and offered any further suggestions. This continued until all 13 albums were completed to the team’s satisfaction.
New Notes/Documentaries Team
Kevin Howlett (Historical and Recording Notes)
Kevin Howlett’s career as an award-winning radio producer spans three decades. His music programmes for the BBC have included many documentaries about The Beatles, including 'The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes.' He received a Grammy nomination for his involvement with The Beatles’ album 'Live At The BBC' and, in 2003, produced the 'Fly On The Wall' bonus disc for 'Let It Be… Naked.'
Mike Heatley (Historical Notes)
Mike entered the music business via HMV Record Stores in 1970, transferring to EMI Records' International Division three years later. He eventually headed up that division in the early Eighties before joining the company's newly created Strategic Marketing Division in 1984. In 1988, he returned to International, where he undertook a number of catalogue marketing roles until he retired in December 2008.
During his career he worked with many of EMI's major artists, including Pink Floyd, Queen, Kate Bush and Iron Maiden. However, during the last 30 years he has formed a particularly strong relationship with Apple, and has been closely involved in the origination and promotion of the Beatles catalogue, besides solo releases from John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Bob Smeaton (Director, Mini-Documentaries)
Bob Smeaton was series director and writer on the Grammy award winning 'Beatles Anthology' TV series which aired in the UK and the USA in 1995. In 1998 he received his second Grammy for his ‘Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys’ documentary. In 2004 he gained his first feature film credit, as director on the feature documentary ‘Festival Express.' He subsequently went on to direct documentaries on many of the world's biggest music acts including The Who, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Elton John, Nirvana and the Spice Girls.
Julian Caiden (Editor, Mini-Documentaries)
Julian has worked with Bob Smeaton on numerous music documentaries including 'Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys' and the 'Classic Albums' series, featuring The Who, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Elton John and Nirvana among others. He has worked on documentary profiles from Richard Pryor to Dr. John to Sir Ian McKellen, Herbie Hancock and Damien Hirst and on live music shows including the New York Dolls and Club Tropicana.
The Abbey Road Team
Allan Rouse (Project Coordinator)
Allan joined EMI straight from school in 1971 at their Manchester Square head office, working as an assistant engineer in the demo studio. During this time he frequently worked with Norman (Hurricane) Smith, The Beatles’ first recording engineer.
In 1991, he had his first involvement with The Beatles, copy¬ing all of their master tapes (mono, stereo, 4-track and 8-track) to digital tape as a safety backup. This was followed by four years working with Sir George Martin as assistant and project coordinator on the TV documentary 'The Making of Sgt. Pepper's' and the CDs 'Live at the BBC' and 'The Anthol¬ogy.'
In 1997, MGM/UA were preparing to reissue the film 'Yellow Submarine' and, with the permission of Apple, asked that all of The Beatles’ music be mixed for the film in 5.1 surround and stereo. Allan requested the services of Abbey Road’s senior engineer Peter Cobbin and assistant Guy Massey and, along with them, produced the new mixes.
Two years later, he proposed an experimental stereo and surround mix of John Lennon's song 'Imagine' engineered by Peter Cobbin. Following lengthy consultations with Yoko Ono, the album 'Imagine' was re-mixed in stereo and the Grammy award-winning film 'Gimme Some Truth' in surround and new stereo. This led to a further five of John’s albums being re-mastered with new stereo mixes and the DVD release of 'Lennon Legend' being re-mixed in 5.1 surround and new stereo.
Further projects followed, including The Beatles ‘Anthol¬ogy', 'The First US Visit' and ‘Help’ DVD and the albums ‘Let It Be…Naked’ and ‘Love’ along with George Harrison’s 'Concert for Bangladesh' DVD and album.
For a number of years now, Allan has worked exclusively on Beatles and related projects.
Guy Massey (Recording Engineer)
Guy joined Abbey Road in 1994, and five years later assisted on the surround remix for The Beatles film 'Yellow Submarine.' This led to The Beatles’ 'Anthology' DVD and later, along with Paul Hicks and Allan Rouse, they mixed and produced 'Let It Be… Naked.' In 2004 he left the studios to become freelance and has engineered The Divine Comedy: 'Victory for the Comic Muse,' Air Traffic: 'Fractured Life,' James Dean Bradfield: 'The Great Western' and Stephen Fretwell’s 'Magpie,' co-producing the last two. Since leaving, Guy is still a vital member of the team, and has been the senior engineer for the re-mastering project and was responsible for surround and new stereo mixes for the DVD release of 'Help!'
Steve Rooke (Mastering Engineer)
Steve joined Abbey Road in 1983 and is now the studio’s senior mastering engineer. He has been involved on all The Beatles’ projects since 1999. He has also been responsible for mastering releases by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
Paul Hicks (Recording Engineer)
Paul started at Abbey Road in 1994, and his first involvement with The Beatles was assisting engineer Geoff Emerick on the Anthology albums. This was followed by 'Yellow Submarine Songtrack,' 'Anthology' DVD and 'Let It Be… Naked.' Like Guy Massey, he has also become a freelance engineer and since leaving the studios he has been responsible for the surround mixing of Paul McCartney’s DVD 'The McCartney Years' and The Beatles' 'Love.' Paul has been in charge of the mono re-masters.
Sean Magee (Mastering Engineer)
Sean began working at Abbey Road in 1995 with a diploma in sound engineering. With a wealth of knowledge in analog and digital mastering, he has worked alongside Paul Hicks on the mono re-masters.
Sam Okell (Recording Engineer)
Sam’s first job as a member of the team was in 2006, assisting Paul Hicks on Paul McCartney’s DVD 'The McCartney Years,' and during that same year he was responsible for the re-mastering of George Harrison’s 'Living In The Material World' CD along with Steve Rooke. This led to him restoring the soundtrack to the Beatles film 'Help!' in surround and stereo, in addition to assisting Guy Massey with the song remixes.
Sam has re-mastered 'With The Beatles' and 'Let It Be.'
Simon Gibson (Audio Restoration Engineer)
Simon joined Abbey Road in 1990. He has progressed from mastering mostly classical recordings to include a much wider range of music, including pop and rock, with his specialized role as an audio restoration engineer. Apart from the re-mastering project, his other work includes George Harrison’s 'Living In The Material World,' John Lennon’s 'Lennon Legend,' The Beatles’ 'Love' and the 'Help!' DVD soundtrack.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
It's not often that we get genuinely, jump-up-and-down excited about new products here at Puretone Audio in sunny/overcast/snowing Litchfield, Connecticut, but we have the store staked out for the FedEx guy awaiting the arrival of our first few pairs of the KEF XQ20 speakers.
The short list:
- High Resolution
- Compact Size
- Expansive Soundstage
- Immaculate Finish and Construction
- Bi-Amp Compatible
- Fantastic Value
here is what AV Review (UK) has to say...
High on designer attraction, the XQ20 was sent to us in faultless piano black and is arguably the best-looking monitor of the group. It was certainly the focus of attention for most visitors to the listening room. Its metallic-finish cone also added to the smartness of the presentation. Equally impressive are the other two finishes, Birdseye Maple and Khaya Mahogany.
KEF uses its famous Uni-Q mid/bass driver with centre-mounted tweeter. There are some notable changes here, including cone shape upgrading to match the new 19 mm elliptical tweeter and 'tangerine' wave guide. The woofer also uses a redesigned voice coil assembly with new materials. These changes to the main driver include extra cone excursion.
The enclosure features a large front-mounted reflex port which means that tonal changes are likely to be less noticeable in response to room shape and positioning. Stability is assured with three-point mounting using substantial metal feet which are height adjustable at the front. A fairly wide stance means that not all speaker stands have a large enough platform to accommodate them.
Passing from one monitor to another, the KEF demands attention during listening tests with a high gain and accurate attack. Everything about the speaker's sound suggests that it has been carefully voiced and is the recipient of a massive research and development programme to produce instant listening satisfaction. There is no doubt that this is a speaker designed to impress, particularly with its finely-drawn sound stage capabilities.
* Full bandwidth two-way stand mount/bookshelf speaker
KEF's latest 165mm (6.5in) Uni-Q midrange/HF 'point source' array with new 'tangerine' waveguide
* Natural-sounding high performance elliptical dome 19mm (0.75in) tweeter
* Low distortion 165mm (6.5in) driver
* Magnetically shielded, with a choice of three superb high gloss finishes and optional stand
* $1999 suggested list price