Archives for February 2003

Blue Circle Audio Now Distributes Audiomeca Reference-Quality CD Player & Turntables in Canada

Blue Circle Audio, the Canadian manufacturer of high-end tube and hybrid tube/solid-state audio electronics, has announced that it is now the Canadian distributor for Audiomeca products.

Audiomeca's Mephisto CD Player features a custom-built transport mechanism, low-jitter performance, all-gold connectors

The Audiomeca line-up of reference-standard analog and digital sources, developed by Pierre Lurne in France, make a great complement to Blue Circle’s own range of audiophile electronics.

Audiomeca makes several CD players and transports (Keops, Mephisto II.X), a DVD player with enhanced audio capabilities (Kimera), a digital-to-analog convertor(Enkianthus.X), turntables and tonearms (Romance, J1), generally priced in the $3,000 – $10,000 (CDN) range.

Blue Circle specializes in amplifiers in a wide variety of configurations, including preamps; monoblock, stereo and multichannel power amps; and integrated amps. Blue Circle also makes a solid-state phono stage, power line conditioning systems, cables and related accessories.

Blue Circle Audio Web Site

Audiomeca Web Site

Audiomeca's Romance Turntable and Romeo Tonearm

Manley’s New MAHI 40 Watt Monoblock Tube Amp is Now Shipping

Esoteric tube gear manufacturer Manley Laboratories has begun shipping the new MAHI monoblock amplifier. The MAHI is an update of the EL84-tube-based 50 watt monoblock design Manley has been producing under one name or another since 1993.

This latest revision comes in all-new styling, looking like a mini version of Manley’s Snapper 100 Watt mono amp. Conceptually (and electronically) however, the MAHI is a mono version of the Stingray stereo amp introduced last year.

"They are so cute," says Manley Labs CEO EveAnna Manley of the new MAHI mono amp, which features Triode/Ultra-Linear mode switching, and high energy B+ rail capacity

Like the Stingray, the new MAHI can be switched between ultra-linear operation (40 Watts) and triode mode (20 Watts). It is designed around a quartet of EL84/6BQ5 tubes, driven by a 6414 dual triode driver and a 12AT7WA input dual triode.

“The Ei Yugo EL84 has been one of our very favorite tubes for many years,” says Manley CEO EveAnna Manley. “They are extremely long lasting and reliable, and can be considered the smaller brother of the much-beloved EL34: really quick-sounding both in the bass and especially in the top end. And of course this has a lot to do with our Manley Output transformer, the same one we build for the Manley Stingray.”

Another key design feature is the MAHI’s increased B+ rail capacity. The earlier Manley 50 watt monoblocks had around 49 Joules of energy storage in the B+ rail. Now the MAHI’s have nearly 180 Joules of energy storage, and you can hear this improvement especially in the bass region: tighter, faster, deeper.

The Manley MAHI monoblocks are now available with a suggested retail price of $2500 (US) per pair.

Manley MAHI Features and Specifications

  • Vacuum Tubes: 4 x EL84 Output, l x 12AT7WA Input, 1 x 6414 Driver
  • Output Power: 40 Watts
  • Freq. Response +.5 dB: 10 Hz – 90 KHz
  • Input Sensitivity: 460 mV nominal
  • Input Impedance: 100 Kohm
  • Load Impedance: 5 ohm
  • S/N Ratio @50W: -80 dB
  • Dynamic Range: 86dB
  • Power Consumption: 100 Watts (idle)
  • 168 Watts (Full Power)
  • Dimensions: W=12″, D=10″, H=5″
  • Shipping Weight: 17 Ibs. each

Manley Laboratories Web Site

Arturia’s New Moog Modular V for Macintosh and Windows Will Have Approval of Bob Moog

Early announcements of Arturia‘s new software emulation of the classic Moog Modular synthesizer referred to it as the Modular C3. But it turns out that the original Modular’s creator, Bob Moog himself, is going to be involved in the marketing of Arturia’s emulation, and that has led to a name change. Henceforth, it is the Moog Modular V (the ‘V’ is for Virtual).

Arturia’s software reproduction of the legendary Moog, one of the most influential and recognized synthesizers of all time, appears to be thoroughly faithful to the original. It replicates all of the functions and parameters of the original Moog Modular, including modules such as the Moog 921 oscillators, the Moog 911 envelope generator, and the Moog 960 3×8-step sequencer.

The Modular V uses TAE®, a new set of synthesis algorithms created by Arturia’s engineers, specifically addressing the peculiarities of emulating classic synths. TAE stands for True Analog Emulation, and Arturia says the new algorithms deliver superior audio quality when reproducing analog circuits.

In particular, TAE avoids any sort of aliasing, and provides alias-free oscillators with wave forms indistinguishable from those generated by analog hardware circuits. It is also able to emulate the notorious instability of hardware oscillators, including the soft-clipping and micro-variations typical of vintage hardware oscillator and filter circuits. Arturia says this is the secret to recreating the warmth and character of vintage synths.

The Arturia Modular V is a stereo synth, and it can be run as a stand-alone application, or as a plug-in virtual instrument. It runs at 32-bit, 96 kHz resolution. The package includes a 450-page manual in 3 languages (English, Japanese, French), and a bundle of more than 400 presets, developed by top sound designers.

The Modular V will be available in March for both Mac and Windows PC environments, with a street price of $299 (US).

Features of Arturia’s Moog Modular V:

  • 9 oscillators (921 Moog series)
  • 2 dedicated LFOs
  • 3 filter slots can be chosen among classic Moog 904 series (low-pass 24 dB, high-pass 24 dB, filter coupler), and an additional 20 dB multimode filter (7 modes)
  • 1 noise generator (white and pink — 923 Moog module)
  • 6 ADSR auxiliary envelopes (911 Moog module)
  • 2 VCAs (with their own envelopes, and 1 panoramic potentiometer for natural stereo effects)
  • 16 auxiliary VCAs with modulation inputs
  • 1 sequencer (3×8 steps — 960 Moog module)
  • 1 filter bank (14 bands with their own bandwidth)
  • 1 stereo delay
  • 1 chorus
  • Mono/polyphonic (up to 64 voices)

Arturia Web Site

Platinum Phase II Completes PSB’s New State-of-the-Art Home Theater Speaker Series

PSB Speakers showed off their newest loudspeaker series at CES last month, demonstrating 3 new models in the Platinum Series, alongside the original 4 designs that were launched late last year.

The new Phase II group, shown for the first time at CES 2003, consists of the T6 Tower ($4,700 US per pair), the C2 Center Channel ($1,200 US), and the SubSonic10 subwoofer ($$2,000 US). The new models will begin shipping sometime in the first quarter of 2003.

The original Platinum Series speakers, already available in stores, include the T8 Tower ($6,500 US per pair), the M2 Mini Monitor ($1,700 US per pair), the C4 Center Channel ($2,000 US), and the S2 Bipolar Surround ($2,300 US per pair).

PSB says that every speaker in the Platinum Series will meet and exceed the expectations of high-end speaker buyers who want both maximum musical realism and maximum home-theater impact.

“The PSB Platinum Series is our answer to the many listeners who have wondered how much further we could go beyond the celebrated qualities of our Stratus models,” comments PSB founder and chief designer Paul Barton.

“We looked long and hard at that, and identified ways to make meaningful, really audible advances in performance, yet still maintain the value that has always characterized our speakers. I think there will be quite a stir about these speakers.”

The company points to its sophisticated design and measurement techniques as reasons for the Platinum’s superior performance. They have been designed from the ground up using the most advanced design tools, such as Finite Element Analysis (FEA), laser vibrometry and computer optimization.

More importantly, the drivers, crossovers and the final products were designed and developed by Mr. Barton through objective measurements and critical listening tests at the world-renowned facilities of Canada’s National Research Council.

The flagship tower speaker, the Platinum T8, uses seven new drivers: three 8-inch woofers, two 4-1/2-inch midrange drivers (all with woven fiberglass cones and rubber surrounds), plus two 1-inch aluminum-dome, low-resonance tweeters. One tweeter faces forward and the other (which can be enabled or disabled by use of a jumper) fires to the rear. The midrange drivers and the front tweeter are placed in a D’Appolito array that focuses their wide and smooth range to provide exceptionally open, lucid, and dynamic sound over an unusually large horizontal and vertical “sweet spot” with superb clarity, so that groups of listeners can enjoy maximum definition of movie dialog, effects and music.

The three woofers employ 40-ounce magnet structures for exceptional bass control and power handling. The midrange drivers use a 20-ounce magnet structure, while that of each tweeter is 16 ounces. The 10-1/2 W x 46-1/2 H x 16 D-inch enclosure is available in black ash or cherry, with a distinctive die-cast aluminum base, top, and side extrusions that, as in the other systems in the new series, help provide structural rigidity for reduced cabinet resonance. The system’s striking appearance is “form-follows-function.”

The new, smaller T6 tower is a three-way bass reflex design also using the D’Appolito Array configuration consisting of a 1″ aluminum-dome tweeter flanked by two 3 1/2″ midrange drivers. Three 6 1/2″ woofers complete the driver complement.

“The transparency and dynamics of these speakers is going to get audiophiles talking,” Mr. Barton says, “as will the pristine midrange and low-frequency impact. And the appearance and build quality are going to turn some heads as well.”

The Platinum C4 center channel speaker employs the D’Appolito-array, with two 3-1/2-inch midrange drivers flanking the same 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter used in the T8 and T6. Two 6-1/2-inch drivers flank the three-driver D’Appolito array.

The new C2 center channel is considerably smaller, employing a two-way bass reflex design with a 1″ aluminum dome tweeter flanked by two 6 1/2″ woofers.

The midranges and woofers on both center channel designs utilize woven fiberglass cones and rubber surrounds. They are meticulously “timber-matched” to preserve the tonality and dimensionality so critical to convincing surround sound performance.

Also new in the Phase II group is the SubSonic10 Powered Subwoofer. It consists of two 12″ high power, long-throw woofers in a bass reflex design powered by an internal BASH, Class H amplifier. This subwoofer yields 500 watts RMS of remarkable power with 1500 watts dynamic peak power – a powerhouse for even the most sophisticated home theater systems.

Proprietary “smart bass” circuitry prevents amplifier overload even under the most extreme drive conditions. The SubSonic 10 high-impact, accurate ultra-deep bass is rated at an earth moving 22 Hz and below.

For the many listeners who value the imaging and spatiality of mini-monitors, as well as the way they slip into a modest-sized listening-viewing environment, another Platinum entry, the M2, combines a new 6-1/2-inch woven-fiberglass-cone, rubber-surround woofer with the series’ new 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter. The enclosure measures 9-1/4 x 15-1/2 x 12 inches.

Completing the Platinum line-up, the bipolar Platinum S2 surrounds place two sets of the same drivers used in the M2 mini-monitor (6-1/2-inch woven-fiberglass-cone woofer, 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter) at a 90-degree angle to each other. This provides a combination of sonic diffusion and excellent localization of effects and instruments – for the best of both worlds in surround sound. The enclosure measures 15 x 15-1/2 x 9/24 inches.

All Platinum Series loudspeakers are available in real wood veneer, with distinctive die-cast aluminum ends and extrusions, contributing to the overall visual appeal of the speaker, in addition to lowering cabinet resonances. The aluminum clad front panels are both a structural feature and striking visual presentation for listeners who prefer to listen with the grille removed. These speakers are provided with dual, 5-way gold-plated, solid metal binding posts plus adjustable spikes and levelers, and are magnetically shielded, for use in proximity to video monitors. All woofer midrange drivers utilize woven fiberglass cones. The finishes and cabinet construction are consistent throughout the line for easy mixing and matching of various models.

“These are exciting products,” says Mr. Barton. “We think they are going to redefine a lot of people’s expectations of high-end performance.”

PSB Speakers Web Site

More News from CES 2003

Secret Sound Adds All-Digital Lexicon 960L to Complement Extensive Pro Tools System

Composer/producer Chas Sandford is enthusiastic about computer-based digital recording. His personal studio, Secret Sound, is built around a massive Digidesign Pro Tools HD 7 system, with 48 channels of 192 kHz I/O and a 32-fader ProControl system with Edit Pack.

When it comes to reverb, though, Mr. Sandford finds that software plug-ins just won’t do. “A lot of plug-ins are great,” he says, “but on any digital audio workstation system it’s hard to allocate the processing power needed to make great, dense-sounding reverb effects.”

His solution is Lexicon. In January, Mr. Sandford installed a Lexicon 960LD Multi-Channel Digital Effects System at Secret Sound. He has been an ardent fan of Lexicon reverbs for many years, and feels that only the 960L could offer the classic reverbs and other audio effects he wants, while still matching the performance of Secret Sound’s all-digital environment.

Secret Sound has served as production venue for many top artists, including Chicago, Stevie Nicks, and Roger Daltrey. It has gone through several re-fits, both in its original location in Los Angeles and more recently in the Nashville area. Through the re-locations and re-designs, Mr. Sandford has stuck with Lexicon.

“No other outboard processor sounds as natural as a Lexicon. So as my recording system evolved and grew, I knew I wanted a 960L to keep up with it,” says Mr. Sandford. “The 960L does the dense-sounding reverb effects I need, and since Lexicon made a version without the analog I/Os, I can access that kind of DSP quality at a more cost-effective price.” (The 960LD is identical to the 960L, except that it provides digital-only inputs and outputs, no analog).

Dave Malekpour, president of Professional Audio Design, which supplied the Lexicon 960LD for Secret Sound comments: “No other system has ever achieved what Lexicon algorithms have. Engineers and producers can spot a Lexicon reverb on a record in a second. So it makes sense that when you’re working in an all-digital environment, especially one as complex and large as what Chas has at Secret Sound, you’d want a 960L, which can give you both the digital interface you need and the great-sounding effects that you want.”

The addition of the Lexicon 960LD at Secret Sound also had something of a back-to-the-future effect for Sandford. “I plugged it in and used it on some older recordings and it just brought new life to them,” Sandford remarks. “It’s just an awesome machine.”

Lexicon Web Site