by: Jason Kennedy
Publisher’s note: Jason Kennedy is a renowned and respected reviewer and photographer. Since 1988, his works have appeared on Hi-Fi Choice, Hi-Fi Plus and Hi-Fi Critic. Jason hails from the United Kingdom.
Dr Feickert Acoustics Firebird
Dr Feickert brought his latest and most substantial turntable to the High End. The Firebird is a twin arm design that has three motors around its mass loaded Delrin platter and sits on a plinth made with a sandwich of materials in order to keep resonance to a minimum. The motors are three phase DC types that use a phase locked loop to keep them in sync, they will spin the platter at 33, 45 and 78rpm. To make cartridge installation easier the doctor has designed a protractor and pin system that allows precise alignment with ease alongside an arm base that makes it very straightforward to position the stylus in exactly the right spot. He describes the Firebird as an evolution of his existing designs that produces darker backgrounds and greater image focus.
Audio Physic Virgo 25 Plus
I was lead to the Audio Physic room by AJ van den Hul who was keen for me to hear his new Emerald line stage and The Grail SB phono stage which were in action. The sound was both taut, detailed and yet relaxed at the same time, no doubt a result of the Acoustic Solid turntable with SME V-12 arm and vdH Colibri cartridge at the front end and the Aesthetix Atlas power amps driving Virgo 25 Plus speakers delivering the result. This new speaker from the German brand incorporates ceramic foam panels on the inside between the two volumes within the speaker. There is also perforated wood damping on the interior of what is a rather more sophisticated cabinet than it appears. On the outside you can see a metal dome tweeter with a ring type construction around a dust cap and a 6.5inch metal cone woofer taken from AP’s top model the Cardeas. The junction between internal cable and tweeter is made by damped silver connectors from WBT, the same company providing NextGen cable terminals at the back of the cabinet.
MAD The Duke LE
London based speaker brand My Audio Design or MAD for short brought along a beautifully veneered and highly patriotic limited edition version of it’s the Duke model to show off. This is a two and a half way floorstander with a ring radiator tweeter and doped fabric woofers built into a cabinet that’s hand built using composite DRC materials. MAD’s main madman Timothy Jung lured me over to his booth by playing Jimi Hendrix at suitably mad levels, a technique that always works in a show where musical variety is a little hard to come by.
Purist HDR 5D
German streamer specialist Purist hauled a truckload of hardware to the High End for 2012. They had the biggest and most spherical subwoofer yet encountered and coupled it with two solid state monoblocks for good measure, it’s a stereo sub so it’s only a little over the top. Then they brought in two pairs of Kronzilla DM monoblocks to drive their ESL twin tower speaker system. The result was an extremely substantial yet open and revealing system that delivered the full weight of the music. Going through the system it became clear that the whole thing was made by Purist save the KR Audio tube amplifiers. The source was a Purist HDR 5D streamer with iPad app operation and 1.5GB cache for digital source material of just about any variety.
KEF continues to celebrate its anniversary with a rather desirable and yet affordable new model called LS50. This was inspired by the classic LS3/5A monitor for which KEF made the drivers but it’s hard to see the similarities save for size. The LS50 has a single Uni-Q full range driver finished in rose gold with a tangerine wave guide at the centre of the 5.25inch unit. The cabinet has a curved front baffle with braces built using constrained layer damping techniques to minimise resonance Finite Element Analysis was used to establish the elliptical flexible port shape which has lower resonance than traditional designs. This diminutive circa $1200 speaker made a strong positive impression at the show with more than a few fellow reviewers commenting on its capabilities.
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