3A: CES served as my introduction to the latest speaker from Reference 3A,
I really like Reference 3A speakers. There’s just something very
“right” about the sound – tonality, resolution, sound
staging, they all come together to make these speakers
enjoyable. The single term that comes to mind is “satisfying.” From the moment I walked into the room, the Veena had me hooked,
and they kept me seated for quite some time.
The form factor is a small two-way
floor stander speaker. The size, attractive
styling and fine finish will make the Veena look
right at home in almost any listening room. But don’t let
their stature fool you; the Veena throws a huge sound
stage. And like other Reference 3A speakers, the panorama is
beautifully fleshed out with images that are precisely
localized, focused and unwavering.
A new 7” carbon fiber woofer/midrange
driver gives the Veena remarkable bass extension for
a modestly sized enclosure. I played a range of cuts and was surprised by its’ capabilities. Short of room shaking, the bottom end was, for me, quite satisfactory. $2995, the pair.
– Designer Chris Sommovigo introduced two new interconnect
cables at the CES. The Vespa, based heavily on and replacing the HDSE, comes in at
$249 for a 1M pair. The HDSE was such an incredible cable I can’t wait to get my hands on
Maybe even more exciting is the
Colibri, the next step up in the line from the Vespa. Available in both RCA (Colibri-R) and XLR (Colibri-X) terminations, the
Colibri cables are said to represent a substantial
improvement over the Vespa. That certainly sounds enticing! $549 for a 1M pair, with either
cables should be here by the time you read this so call for my
AUDIOPHILE FUSES: A recent tuning tweak, first discovered in
Europe and Asia, has proven remarkably
effective in improving performance of both audio and video
components. It’s been found that replacing power fuses with
ones specially designed for the task can be a revelation. What’s that you say, replacing a fuse improves performance?
A few years back Shunyata recommended
changing the fuse provided with their original Hydra to
another version, same rating just a different model. Wow! The difference was huge, everything about the performance was instantly better (those of you that made that swap know what I mean). That change was in a line conditioner, so you can imagine replacing that
weak link in a component.
We learned long ago that the
“freebie” cables included with electronics of years past
dramatically limited performance. By the same token, why would we want to use a 5¢ fuse in a $500 or $5000
component? Don’t believe it would make that much difference? I
wouldn’t have either if I hadn’t experienced for myself.
The fuses are made by HIFI Tuning,
a German company. Their Audiophile grade fuses are so far
removed from stock fuses that the only shared resemblance is
the shape. Inside the ceramic tube is a pure silver filament, precisely calibrated
for its rated capacity.
The end caps are also made of silver, but with heavy gold
Why does changing a fuse make
so much difference? Beats me, but it does. Give them a try. $29 for 1.25” fuses, $25 for the
smaller 20mm size.
GCA: All components are affected by
vibration. Vibration control and isolation will improve performance of virtually
every piece of gear in the signal chain. But what about a line conditioner? Though it may not seem like a line
conditioner would be sensitive to vibration, I can assure you
they are. Shunyata line conditioners in particular, because of their potential
performance enhancements, should be given the same
consideration as the rest of your gear.
Ideally you would place your Hydra on an equipment shelf. Many of us, though, don’t have the room, which generally means the line
conditioner is relegated to a less than ideal location, often
on the floor. Not a great spot, and you are definitely sacrificing performance.
Cones or spikes are the obvious answer, but how
to secure them? Fortunately there are threaded inserts on the
bottom of the Hydra, unfortunately the thread size is such
that available spikes won’t fit. So we decided to make our own. The design marries a hardened steel spike with a hardwood buffer. Simply unscrew the rubber feet on the bottom of the Hydra and screw the
spikes in their place.
The spike allows floor or shelf placement and will enhance
All Hydra models require four spikes, except for the Hydra 6 which requires
three spikes. $22 for
3, $29 for a set of 4.
AUDIO AERO: Known for
their superior CD players, Audio Aero introduced an Integrated
amplifier. The new Prima Integrated shares the handsome
faceplate and cosmetics of the Prima CD player. Priced at a reasonable $2750, the Prima Integrated
offers 100 watts per channel.
The Prima tube CD player
has become a very popular item here. Sound quality is
excellent (very dimensional), construction is solid and finish
quality first rate. $2395
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