Dr. Feickert Analogue Volare Turntable

Right now, two turntables sit side by each on my custom double-wide equipment rack. On the right is my VPI Prime Signature, and to the left is a newcomer, Dr. Feickert Analogue’s Volare. Each is illuminated by its own 3000K potlight. They look quite dramatic.

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PMC Fact.8 Signature Loudspeakers

Here in Toronto, Ontario, we live in a small community of nine townhouses set back from the main road in a private cul-de-sac. We each have our own parking spots, and from our kitchen table I have an unobstructed view of our courtyard. The cars out front are mostly what you’d expect to see: a couple of Honda CR-Vs, three Subarus, a Hyundai, an Audi, a BMW -- with one outlier. One day last summer, my next-door neighbor Felix pulled in driving an Aston Martin Vantage. Just like that, our cul-de-sac’s property values went up by 15% -- or so I like to think. Felix has put an abrupt stop to any attempts at one-upmanship in the car department. He’s trumped us all.

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Vivid Audio Giya G2 Series 2 Loudspeakers

Reviewers' ChoiceOn a recent trip to the UK, I interviewed Laurence Dickie, Vivid Audio’s cofounder and chief designer. He told me that every Vivid loudspeaker is an extension of his work at Bowers & Wilkins, where he was employed from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. His work there culminated, in 1993, with B&W’s revolutionary Nautilus loudspeaker, which Dickie had begun designing in the late ’80s. As a testament to how advanced the Nautilus was in its day, consider this: B&W still makes it.

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Lyngdorf Audio TDAI-3400 Integrated Amplifier-DAC

Reviewers' ChoiceAt Audio Video Show 2019, in Warsaw, Poland, Peter Lyngdorf sat down to chat with Doug Schneider, publisher of the SoundStage! Network websites. Of the many audio brands he’s been associated with over the years, Lyngdorf is probably best known for having founded TacT Audio and, in 2005, Lyngdorf Audio. Both companies produced the Millennium, an amplifier that was ahead of its time when it was launched in the late 1990s. Throughout its long production life the Millennium featured two proprietary Lyngdorf technologies: Equibit pulse-width modulation (PWM), RCS speaker equalization, and, later, the RoomPerfect room-correction system.

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Hegel Music Systems H120 Integrated Amplifier-DAC

Hegel Music Systems, of Norway, does things a little differently from many audio manufacturers. They make pre- and power amplifiers, standalone D/A converters, even a CD player, but they’re best known for their integrated amplifier-DACs, of which they currently have five models in production. Their SoundEngine technology uses feed-forward correction, a type of circuitry quite unlike the negative feedback used in most class-AB amplifiers. And since long before the practice was as common as it is today, every Hegel integrated has included an internal DAC.

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Luxman LX-380 Integrated Amplifier

Reviewers' ChoiceFor nearly a hundred years now the Luxman Corporation of Japan has continuously manufactured high-quality, specialty audio products. The sound quality of many of these products have stood the test of time -- including that of the SQ-38 tubed integrated amplifier, which debuted in 1964 and is still sought on the used market. Its “38”-badged descendants have fared similarly, culminating in the 11th iteration, the SQ-38u, of a decade or so ago.

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Magico A1 Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceFor years now, Magico has taken a military-grade approach to making loudspeakers. Aluminum is the material most often used for their speaker cabinets, no construction method seems too extreme, and no expense is spared for the parts. All of this makes Magico speakers very heavy, and handling them as difficult as it is to afford them.

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Linear Tube Audio Z10 Integrated Amplifier

Mark Schneider founded Linear Tube Audio, aka LTA, in 2015 to “bring life back to music at an affordable price.” All Linear Tube Audio amplifiers are designed around David Berning’s patented Zero hysteresis, Output Transformer-Less (ZOTL) amplifier technology, and so march to the beat of a very different drum than do non-Berning designs. While the full details of Berning’s patent are beyond the scope of this review, in short, the ZOTL technology does the job typically performed by output transformers: converting the high-voltage, low-current signal from power vacuum tubes to a lower-voltage, higher-current signal capable of driving loudspeakers to sufficient volume levels.

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Rogue Audio Atlas Magnum II Stereo Amplifier

Reviewers' ChoiceRogue Audio has been designing and building tubed electronics in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, for over 20 years. In that time, the company has established a reputation for exceptional performance at reasonable prices. To achieve his performance goals, Rogue’s president and chief designer, Mark O’Brien, believes in applying solid engineering principles, careful parts selection, and attention to details and in manufacture. What O’Brien doesn’t believe in is showy marketing, smoke and mirrors, and coming out with new models just to keep his customers on the upgrade carousel. As such, when Rogue introduces a new edition of a model that has been in their portfolio for over a decade, it’s because he and his team think they’ve found a way to make improvements to something other than the nameplate.

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Focal Sopra No1 Loudspeakers

Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceIn May 2015, Focal introduced their Sopra line of loudspeakers with the Sopra No1 minimonitor ($9990/pair, all prices USD) and the Sopra No2 floorstander ($18,990/pair). In October 2015, Doug Schneider reviewed the Sopra No2 and liked it so much that it was named a Reviewers’ Choice. Then, in 2016, Focal released a larger floorstander, the Sopra No3 ($23,990/pair), as well as the Sopra Center ($3990 each) and the Sopra Surround BE ($6990/pair).

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