非常榮幸和感謝LP雜誌頒發 Thorens 新型號TAS 1500 MC唱頭 “product of the year” 年度產品獎項。
Thorens 最新出品TAS 1500 唱頭外型與之前另一款 TAS 1600 唱頭相類似，是經典的低輸出 MC 動圈唱頭。更令人振奮的差異之一是 TAS 1500 零售價不超過 900 歐元。在外觀上，由於這兩種唱頭的配色不同 (TAS 1600 紅色、TAS 1500 藍色)，兩者很容易區分，但實際上它們所配的唱頭殼是相同的。
Thorens 是日本 Audio Technica 的長期合作伙伴，無疑是 Thorens 定製唱頭最為理想的工廠。一方面，可以依靠那裡數十年的專業知識，另一方面，Audio Technica 是少數幾家能夠以自動化方式製造唱頭的公司之一，以達到唱頭的品質穩定性，各項技術測量數據的一致性。
Thorens 老闆 Gunter Kürten 不僅委托 Audio Technica 代工生產，還在產品型號上印上了他的品牌標誌。唱頭由設計師 Helmut Thiele負責，他知道高傳真音響行業的所有技巧，我們一次又一次地見到他的優秀作品，尤其是在模擬音響世界中。Helmut Thiele 為 Thorens MC 唱頭所量身定制的鋁合金唱頭殼，有別於一般唱頭所堅持的螺絲配絲母固定在唱頭殼的設計，因為 TAS 1500 和 TAS 1600的唱頭殼之安裝螺絲孔帶有螺紋， 因此，不僅為固定唱頭提供方便，更因減少了絲母而減輕了重量，非常感謝 Helmut 頗有見地的設計。
TAS 1500 的預期配搭目標是全新 Thorens TP 150 唱臂和唱頭殼，但也絕不是必須的。憑藉 20 μm/mN 靜態和 16 μm/mN 動態柔順性，唱頭在與唱臂配合的適應性方面並不挑剔，並且在不是特別重的唱臂上都能夠適配。其他參數也符合標準。推薦的循跡力為 2克，負載阻抗不低於 100 歐姆——這些都是完美的平均值。對於唱頭內阻 12 ohms 的負載阻抗 100 ohm 有點偏高，因此您需要多一些嘗試。順帶一提，TAS 1500 的低阻抗應歸功於使用優質“PCOCC” 銅製成的線圈繞組，這種單結晶材料在線材領域也有出色的聲音特性。由硼製成的針桿負責移動 TAS 1500 的內部線圈，對於此類系統來說當然不是理所當然的事情。帶有 “Microlinear” 切割鑽石針尖安裝在針桿的未端，這是經典橢圓形針尖的精緻變體，被認為是擁有輸出較多的音樂細節針形。
由於唱頭殼上有許多直邊，對於TAS 1500 的調校更容易。唱頭與唱臂的安裝精度高，調整不困難。很快就找到了固定在唱臂的正確位置，因此不妨礙聆聽音樂的興趣。TAS 1500 從一開始就發揮到這一點。完全不需要刻意調整諸如負載阻抗或唱臂高度之類的參數，輸出的第一個音符是如此自信和平衡。
TAS 1500 的聲音輪廓分明，發聲點準確地站在兩隻揚聲器之間，這也 100% 完全符合樂器與人聲的音色，音樂背景寧靜，聲音細緻、愉快、莊重，音埸寬闊、富有戲劇性和鮮活感，音樂表達充滿激情和情緒化。 TAS 1500 聲音表現非常中性，不偏重在某一方面。聽 Kenny G 色士風令人難以忘懷，鋼琴伴奏平和、溫暖，鼓鈸營造出恰到好處的光彩。重現出音樂會熱鬧的現場氣氛，這種聲音令聽者迷戀。TAS 1500 不是一款最高級動圈唱頭，但聲音連貫，可產生令人難以置信的誘惑和直觀迷人的音像，是各方面表現恰到好處的全能唱頭之一！
了解 TAS 1500 技術資料: https://bit.ly/39L2W0V
荷蘭 Siltech（銀彩） 擁有兩大高階導體技術，分別是金銀合金（Silver-Gold Alloy）與單結晶銀（monocrystal Silver）。對於金銀合金，早期市場上大多採用銅作為導體，原因在於銀導體在高頻段容易有刺耳及不耐的聽感，大家解決不了就乾脆都用銅導體。但Siltech發現銀導體之所以會有這樣的問題原因出於銀結晶之間的間隙，於是他們利用了金來填補銀導體間隙，將不悅耳的尖刺感消除了，因此金銀合金的製作是其最重要的技術。
來到2021年，Siltech重磅推出其Classic Legend系列線材，率先搭載獨家 G9 金銀導體。 Classic Legend系列產品涵蓋廣泛，代表Siltech 的完整產線，包括訊號線，喇叭線和電源線等。得益於Siltech全新開發的超低失真G9金銀合金導體，以及採用的獨有的杜邦化工鐵氟龍（Teflon）和PEEK絕緣組合，該系列擁有極高價值。 Classic Legend系列代表了Siltech在對導體和絕緣材料進行了三十多年研究的又一個高峰，新系列線材具有低電容、出色的高頻特性和極低的失真這些特點。
此外，如果屏蔽不正確的話，即使是世界上最好的導體也不救不了一條聲音表現差的線材。這就是為什麼Siltech在屏蔽材料和線材拓撲上的選擇細節會像法醫鑑證般專注。 Classic系列傳統上使用Kapton絕緣材料 ，一種由杜邦化工（DuPont）開發的穩定物料-聚酰亞胺薄膜 (Polyimide)。它被發現可以導體提供更好的保護–而新的Legend是使用一種聚四氟乙烯(Polytetrafluoroethylene)，即鐵氟龍（Teflon）。然後再添加聚醚醚酮(Polyether ether ketone)，一種稱為PEEK的無色有機熱塑性聚合物而形成三層絕緣物料。 Siltech的研究發現了，結合不同的材料可以顯著地改善聲音表現。這些多層物料具有多種獨特的性能，例如出色的熱穩定性和物理堅固性，以及在音頻頻譜內及更高頻率擁有更好的電屏蔽性能。......
written by Michael Holzinger
The new Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II is the next generation of streaming systems from Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH, a solution that has already stood out with its outstanding features, and which has now been further refined in all essential respects, according to the manufacturer’s promise.
After Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH recently introduced the latest generation of amplifier systems, the Lindemann POWER II 500 and Lindemann POWER II 1000 solutions, the Lindemann Musicbook Series is now presented in its entirety in refined new versions.
Lindemann Musicbook Series
The Lindemann Musicbook Series presents itself as an extremely elegant high-end solution that enables high-quality hi-fi enjoyment in a comparatively compact form factor.
The German company has succeeded in creating a truly exciting product portfolio, which, as already indicated, now consists of a source device in combination with a preamplifier and the power amplifiers.
The user can thus put together a fine chain that takes up little space, yet stands for everything that makes high-end hi-fi.
Making good things even better
The philosophy of Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH has always been based on the principle that there is nothing that cannot be made a little better. Thus, the solutions of the Lindemann Musicbook Series have already undergone several revisions and the concept of the product range has been constantly refined.
The introduction of the two power amplifiers Lindemann Musicbook Power II 500 and Lindemann Musicbook Power II 1000 already made it clear that a change of generation was imminent, and now it is a fact that the Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II is the latest generation of the central component of the Lindemann Musicbook Series.
As with the power amplifiers in the range, they have been carefully refined to create a solution that delivers even more musical information while maintaining a tremendous sense of timing and interaction. The German high-end hi-fi manufacturer even goes so far as to state that the Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II offers sound quality at the limit of what is possible.
The basis of the Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II is, of course, once again the streaming client implemented here, relying on a proprietary platform that is supposed to be characterised by absolute perfection in signal processing, but also by maximum flexibility and convenience in operation.
Focus on analogue preamplifier
All in all, the Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II has been systematically developed further, according to the manufacturer, but the focus has been placed specifically on the analogue preamplifier.
Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH states that the headphone output now sounds even better and can easily drive headphones with very low impedance up to 16 ohms.
Optimisation and expansion in many areas
According to Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH, even more effort was put into the further development of the firmware, where initial bug fixes and corrections finally turned into a completely new stack, according to the company.
Among the most important innovations is the implementation of Spotify Connect and TIDAL Connect. In addition, there are other small and large innovations, such as the elimination of the Lipsync problem when connecting a TV, network standby, fixed line output with bypass of the analogue volume control, dB-linear 80-step volume control, sample rate display for the digital inputs, selection of Spotify via the remote control without using the app and much more.
With 1-bit re-sampling, the excellent-sounding converter modules from specialist AKM and the upgraded preamplifier, the new Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II should once again raise the bar for the best streaming DACs in terms of sound, Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH is convinced.
With or without CD
As before, Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH is offering the Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II in two versions, one with and one without an integrated audio CD player.
The background to this is that Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH initially decided against integrating a drive in the last generation, although audio CD playback was always possible via the outstanding D/A converter, including all the associated advantages.
However, external USB drives were used for this purpose, which the user could simply connect. For some customers, however, this was not enough, so that Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH finally decided to offer a version with an integrated high-quality drive on request.
This is also the case with the new Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II, which can be purchased with or without an integrated drive.
100 percent Made in Germany
Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH also addresses the general situation on the market in this context, and not without reason. Attentive readers will probably have noticed that the Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II is one of the few newly introduced components that is based on a D/A converter made by Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation.
After a fire at the Japanese specialist’s factory caused massive delivery problems and thus upheavals on the market, many companies were forced to switch their products to other D/A converters, which was by no means easy, and in many cases involved very far-reaching changes.
Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH, on the other hand, still has a well-stocked warehouse with the corresponding components and will therefore, according to the manufacturer, continue to rely on components from AKM, which, according to the company itself, are probably the best-sounding converter modules and the already legendary 1-bit re-sampling process.
The same applies to availability, which is also a hot topic these days, above all due to the lack of numerous other electronic components on the market in general, and also the tense situation around worldwide logistics in general.
Despite considerable bottlenecks on the electronics market, the manufacturer says it is continuing to build the Lindemann Musicbook Series in series. Production is secured for the next few years, says the company. This works not least because it is 100 per cent “Made in Germany”.
Getting to the point
Making good things even better has always been the principle of the German high-end hi-fi manufacturer Lindemann audiotechnik GmbH, which is naturally also applied to the latest generation of the central component of the Lindemann Musicbook Series, the new Lindemann Musicbook SOURCE II. This is certainly not a revolution, but rather a successful evolution that raises this already very exciting solution to a new level of quality and, in combination with the latest Lindemann Musicbook POWER II 500 or Lindemann Musicbook POWER II 1000 power amplifiers, turns it into an outstanding hi-fi chain in the smallest of spaces.
卓越音效、奢華設計 – TIDAL Grand Piano 座地揚聲器
TIDAL 專為大中華地區而製造的新型號 Grand Piano，不應該與 Piano 相提並論，兩者在結構上的概念非常不同。 Piano 可能是 22 多年來成為世界上許多人的偶像，它能夠在較小的房間中盡情發揮，在放置位置和調整方面更加靈活，基本上是一款帶有超低音的二路揚聲系統，而 Grand Piano 是真正的三路揚聲系統，事實上更像是Contriva的縮小版本和相對 與 Piano更接近。
Tidal Piano的箱體採用多腔室結構，由Tidal專有的箱體材料Tiradur™ 製成，結合了不同密度纖維板 (HDF、MDF)、corian和大理石粉等材料混合的吸收共振特質，當音樂播放時，用手按住 Grand Piano 音箱時幾乎沒有感到震動，證明TIRADUR音箱的諧振相當輕微。這是唯一的先進箱體材質，可使用 TIDAL 馳名的抛光飾面的有機物質表面，以及真正的聚酯鋼琴漆。因此，您可以見到 Grand Piano 音箱如藝術品的Pyramided Mahogany (金字塔桃花心木) 裝飾面，保護箱體表面的20層聚酯有種說不出的通透感覺，而且反射人影也不變形，表面有如鏡面般平滑，除了外觀漂亮和保持恆久不變之外，亦可降低聲箱諧振和增加聲音密度感。
Grand Piano 所採用的單元全由Accuton 提供，這是 TIDAL 與 Accuton兩家公司保持緊密合作的成果，Grand Piano 所用的30mm直徑的黑鑽石高音單元，也是 TIDAL 率先採用的單元。這枚以強力釹磁推動超硬鑽石震膜單元，較大的鑽石高音，雖然犧牲一部份人耳聽不到的超高頻伸延，以取更有質感和厚度的高頻，而這枚高音單元與同廠旗艦型號是完全一樣。Grand Piano 所採用的中音和低音 7吋單元，其黑色音盆是Accuton和TIDAL共同研發的名為BCC（Black Coated Ceramic）黑陶瓷單元，這種在陶瓷音盆上塗上一層黑色的石墨層物料可以抑壓單元自身的諧振，更能提升處理大功率的能力。 TIDAL廠方更強調，7吋黑陶瓷中音單元是短音圈長磁隙設計，其好處是減低失真，但必須用到足夠強大磁力的釹磁才能做到理想效果。在中音單元之下就是兩隻7吋長衝程BCC黑陶瓷低音單元，組成了 Grand Piano 三路四單元低音反射式的設計。
廠設計團隊提到，除了要選擇適當單元外，每個單元的輸出相位也非常重要，所以Grand Piano 的設計在物理上做到稍微向後傾斜，藉此平衡各頻段可同時到達聆聽位置的時間一致，而且在分音器上也花費了不少心機。不但採用低誤差率的零件來組裝分音器，大部份零件更是來自 Duelund和Mundorf等發燒零件供應商，裡面包括銀箔電容、金屬膜電阻和純銅電感等昂貴零件，此分音器經電腦精密計算之後，再憑人耳試多次來回聽調校，務求令各個單元的相位一致而完全聽不到單元各自發聲。整份分音器是安裝在 Grand Piano 下方的獨立密封空間內，再由厚重的金屬板加海綿承放減低震動干擾，喇叭線接線柱則是TIDAL以純銀製作而成。
TIDAL 原廠提供 Grand Piano 八條大型不銹鋼底座橫桿和隔離腳座，橫桿每一件都是由巨大的實心不銹鋼製成，並經過完美手工拋光處理。揚聲器可安裝成平行或帶傾斜的角度。毋庸置疑，這些重型的金屬部件也是100％在德國手工製作的。
- 由 TIDAL 專有的箱體材料 TIRADUR 製成的多腔室箱體
- 1 x 30 mm (1.2") 鑽石高音揚聲器
- 1 x 173 mm (6.5") BCC 黑色陶瓷振膜釹磁中低音單元，低失真長衝程設計
- 2 x 173 mm (6.5") BCC 黑色陶瓷振膜釹磁低音揚聲器，低失真長衝程設計
- 線性頻率響應的 TIDAL 分音器，消除驅動器共振及優化RC步階響應和群組延遲
- 採用超低偏差值元件的無源分音網絡，獨家使用 Mundorf 銀箔電容、金屬膜電阻、空芯電感、超低電阻低音電感
- 8粒 TIDAL 不銹鋼隔離腳
- 8 條人手拋光不銹鋼地座橫桿
- 每隻揚聲器採用 ATA 空運箱包裝，確保運輸上安全
- 額定承載功率：150 / 300 W
- 推薦的功率放大器：> 15 瓦。
- 容易驅動，阻抗不低於 4 ohm
- 揚聲器尺寸：121 mm x 25 mm x 41 mm (高 x 寬 x 深)
- 飾面: Pyramided Mahogany (金字塔桃花心木)
Lindemann Musicbook Source II 是對屢獲殊榮的第一代 Musicbook Source 升級版。它是一部非常通用的音樂播放設備，由於其內置的 DAC，能夠從音樂伺服器播放最高分辨率的音樂檔案或所有最好的網上音樂串流服務平台。您還可以通過選擇內置 CD 播放驅動器或簡單地通過本機 USB 連接外置 CD ROM，將 Musicbook Source II 變成高級 CD 播放器。
Musicbook SOURCE II 是一款多功能的音樂播放機種，可滿足發燒友對音質的高要求。無論是來自網絡串流服務平台上的音樂，還是來自所建立的音樂伺服器、CD 或 LP 的音樂，一切都可以透過 Lindemann 專用應用程序輕鬆進行操控。高級耳機發燒友也物有所值，Musicbook SOURCE II 內建有高級耳機放大器，奠定了該級別的新標準。錦上添花的是為黑膠唱盤建立了出色的MM唱頭放大器！
將您的 Musicbook Source 連接到合適的功率放大器（如 Musicbook Power）或直接連接到有源揚聲器。從現在開始，您將以最輕鬆的方式，欣賞細節豐富而優美的音樂播放，無論是恢宏的大型音樂會或小規模的室樂，都能重現出動力澎湃或柔情似水的情感。
Streaming 4.0 使之成為可能。全新 LINDEMANN 串流平台以 24 bit 提供高分辨率音質的網上音樂播放，以及所有通過 WLAN 進行的無線傳輸，使 WPS 與路由器的連接成為一件容易的事情。ARM 內核高性能處理器和網絡更新功能，使該平台絕對有空間對應未來的發展。
從技術上來說，Musicbook SOURCE II 遠遠領先於其它競爭對手：所有數碼輸入訊號全都轉換成 DSD格式，當重新取樣功能打開時，內建專用重新取樣晶片 AK4137 會將輸入的數位檔案，重新取樣為 DSD 256 格式，而 DSD 訊號只經過簡單的濾波，送入兩顆單聲道模式工作的 AKM4493 DAC，直接解碼為類比格式。這是一種深受全世界發燒友歡迎的無損音樂格式。這種新方式，將「普通」CD 格式提升到極高的音質水平。
Musicbook SOURCE 內建的耳機放大器具有強大的輸出級，可以驅動 16 到 200 Ω的耳機。由於採用A類放大模式，加上高阻尼係數和超短的訊號路徑，使音質達到極高水平。
再者，Musicbook SOURCE II 還提供內置 CD 驅動器（額外收費）。集合高質素 D/A 轉換器，將 Musicbook SOURCE II 變成了絕對頂級的 CD 播放器。發掘出您 CD 中從未聽到的細節！
一個特別的亮點是 multi-room 功能，它能在不同房間同時或單獨運行多個串流設備，LINDEMANN 應用程序提供更方便的操控。
LINDEMANN 應用程序適用於 Android 和 iOS作業系統，適用於智能手機和平板電腦的橫向顯示模式。以專輯為導向的編程以流暢的速度瀏覽和簡單、直觀的操作而著稱。該應用程序可控制 Musicbook SOURCE II 的所有功能和設置。
通過 USB 介面，Musicbook SOURCE II 支援連接外部 CD-ROM 驅動器，因此無需高成本即可輕鬆轉換成高級 CD 播放器！當然，這是即插即用；該驅動器通過 LINDEMANN 應用程序自動識別和集成，操控 CD 功能和資料顯示。
Musicbook SOURCE II 的藍牙功能，支援從智能手機或平板電腦（無需網絡）直接無線播放音樂。A2DP藍牙音頻傳輸協定確立了重播的極致音質。
Musicbook SOURCE 的內置 MM 唱頭放大器，源自我們著名的 Limetree PHONO，可提供來自黑膠唱片的卓越音質。輸入噪聲非常低，也可以由高輸出 MC 唱頭驅動。輸入靈敏度可通過應用程序調節。
兩個數碼 SPDIF 輸入提供其它數碼設備連接，例如 CD 轉盤。兩個模擬線路也可連接電視、Tuner或錄音機等訊號源。
隨附的紅外線遙控器，不僅可以設置音量，還可以在播放列表或 CD 上導航。
Musicbook SOURCE II 的所有功能都可以透過新開發的 LINDEMANN 應用程序方便操控，此應用程序適用於 Android 和 iOS 作業系統，平板電腦也可以在橫向顯示模式下更清晰使用。應用程序易於對各種訊源的理解和直觀的控制。設定的綜合菜單使 Musicbook 的操作像 1-2-3 一樣簡單。集合 multi-room 功能，可在不同房間同時或單獨運作多個串流設備。支援網上音樂串流服務商既廣泛而多樣化，明確著重於高分辨率音質的串流媒體。您可以在 Spotify Connect、TIDAL Connect、Qobuz、Deezer 和 HighResAudio 之間進行選擇。除了互聯網廣播之外，還有來自許多不同服務商的播客，所有相關功能也可以使用隨附的遙控器進行控制。
Musicbook SOURCE II 的電路是圍繞高性能串流媒體平台而設計，並經過微調以獲得最佳音質。
在Musicbook SOURCE 的 D/A 轉換器中，我們使用了有史以來音質最好之一的解碼晶片，選自日本數碼專家 AKM 的 AK4493，以極低的數碼失真和自然音色、完美的時序和輕鬆的節奏在音樂上表現出色。解碼器模塊以單聲道模式運行，即每個聲道都有自己的 D/A 轉換器。在進入解碼之前，所有數碼輸入訊號都通過 MEMS 飛時鐘進行精準再取樣。這樣生成的數據絕對沒有抖動，這是數碼音樂得到完美聲音的基本前提！另一項改進是提供了將所有數據轉換成為 1 bit (DSD) 的可能性。
SOURCE II的模擬前置放大器使用了純模擬音量電平控制。模擬訊號以模擬模式上進行處理。內置 MM 唱頭放大器提供了非凡的音樂重播音質，並且在結構上與備受推崇的 Limetree Phono 相同。Musicbook的耳機放大器還可以為您帶來最好的聲音，即使對於要求苛刻的耳機也有充足的輸出功率。
Musicbook的電源為無干擾和無噪音性能設定了新的基準。所有功能區都配備了專有的超低噪聲穩壓器，噪聲電壓低於 10 µV。因此，可以排除 Musicbook 的各個元素之間的相互影響。
- 最高分辨率：768 kHz/32 it和 DSD 512
- 動態範圍：>125 dB
- THD + 噪聲：<0.001 % (@ 0 dB FS)
- 主時鐘：超低抖動 MEMS 飛秒時鐘
- 重新取樣：具有 180 dB 動態和 32 Bit分辨率或 DSD
- 重新取樣抖動阻尼：>60 dB
- 轉換器架構：兩枚 AK4493 DAC，雙差分單聲道模式，AK4137 重新取芯片
- 輸出電壓：3 V @ 0 dBFS RCA，6 V @ 0 dBFS XLR
- 乙太網：100 Mbit/s
- WLAN：雙頻 802.11a/b/g/n/ac，支援 WPS
- USB：用於硬盤、USB記憶棒、DVD ROM 驅動器，最大 輸出電流 1.5 A
- 播放格式：WAV、FLAC、AIFF、ALAC、MP3、AAC、Ogg Vorbis、WMA、DSD
- 支援 UPnP 和 DLNA
- PCM 分辨率：44.1 kHz 最高 384 kHz、24 Bitr（WLAN 最高 192 kHz）
- DSD 分辨率： DSD 64 至 DSD 256（WLAN 至 DSD 128）
- 串流服務：TIDAL Connect、Qobuz、Deezer、HighResAudio、Spotify Connect
- Internet radio 和 podcast
- Roon Ready
- 輸入：兩組模擬線路輸入，輸入阻抗為 50 kOhms，最大輸入電壓 3 V RCA，MM 輸入47 kOhms / 150 pF
- 輸出：一組 XLR 輸出和一組 RCA輸出。兩組輸出可獨立使用。輸出阻抗：RCA：100 歐姆，XLR：100 歐姆。最大輸出電壓：3 V RCA，6 V XLR
- 音量控制範圍：0 至 80 dB，每級調整 1 dB
- 平衡控制：+ / - 6 dB，每級調整 1 dB
- 頻率響應：2 – 200 kHz (-3 dB)
- THD + Noise : < 0.001 % @ 3 V 輸出
- 耳機插孔：6.35 mm（1/4“）
- 耳機增益：0 dB / 12 dB 可切換
- 推薦耳機阻抗：16 - 200 歐姆
The Chord Company specializes in making cables that get the signal from point A to point B with the lowest amount of distortion or loss possible. And in that capacity, they are best-in-class in doing so. But, in recent years, they've been expanding their product line, while keeping their mission the same. First, they spun off a new brand of hardware under the English Electric nameplate that focused on network switches (the 8Switch and 16Switch) that reduce signal noise in the network and improve sound quality. Then, they also introduced their ChordOhmic Transmission fluid to ensure all contacts are clean and getting the maximum amount of surface area contact further cleaning up the signal. Now, Chord Company has released a new product that can pull out even more noise from the system and give you a cleaner, more pure sound throughout your system.
The GroundARAY is a next-generation high-frequency-noise-reduction device that can connect to any unused socket in your system to provide a low-impedance route for messy high-frequency signal disruptions to pass through. Able to connect to nearly any socket in a hi-fi or AV system, the GroundARAY directly improves the sound quality of the system by reducing the noise floor of any piece of equipment it is plugged into. Attractively machined from thick-walled aluminum, each GroundARAY cylinder hosts five separate noise reducing systems that work together to convert all ranges of undesirable HF signal noise to heat. In essence, each GroundARAY pulls HF noise from the system's signal ground and evaporates it away.
Of course, you may think this all sounds like smoke and mirrors, but Roy Gregory at The Audio Beat begs to differ. In his recent review, he compared the GroundARAY's performance to other parallel grounding solutions on the market and found the GroundARAY not only to be a great alternative to the current solutions, but an even bigger assistance to any grounding solution you might already employ. To begin, Roy briefly touched on some of the current products on the market before contrasting their technology and approach with the GroundARAY:
What sets the GroundARAY apart from the crowd is that it’s designed to be applied directly at the noise source (rather than attached remotely via a wire), plugged straight into an unused socket on whatever component you choose. The advantages that accrue from eliminating that cable connection, both as a source of increased ground impedance and a possible aerial for further induced noise, help overcome the GroundARAY’s inevitably limited capacity. But more importantly, the direct-input approach makes the GroundARAY a natural for targeted intervention and significantly broadens its appeal and application.
- Roy Gregory, The Audio Beat
Afterward, he begins playing around with the GroundARAY, plugging different GroundARAY units into various system components and sockets, as well as testing it directly against some of the competing technology out there. To truly put the GroundARAY through it's paces, Gregory even used the HDMI GroundARAY unit on his television and had a notable—and "startling"—visual improvement. In his final words, Gregory states, "Whether you are new to system grounding or want to take your existing solution even further, the Chord GroundARAY is pretty much the perfect way to go." We couldn't agree more!
To my knowledge PMC is the only audio manufacturer of any repute to have used Townshend Seismic bases under its loudspeakers at a hi-fi show. It’s a brave move given the tendency for the audience at such events to ascribe disproportionate benefits to ancillary components. But PMC clearly understand the improvements that genuine isolation can bring to a loudspeaker and earlier this year unveiled the first models to incorporate an integral system of isolation. The two floorstanders in the the twenty5i range have anti-vibration spacers between the bottom of the cabinet and the stainless steel bars that extend the footprint. At first glance these look much like the bars supplied with the previous twenty5 series models but the addition of damping spacers mean that they are anything but.
This approach derives from the work that the engineers at PMC did on the flagship Fenestria loudspeaker announced in 2019, this included placing accelerometers on the cabinet to establish where the greatest vibrations were occurring. For twenty5i range they used the same accelerometers to measure energy travelling from the cabinet into the floor and vice versa. When a speaker is spiked into the floor energy is transmitted from the cabinet into the floor and travels to the other speaker as well as the furniture in the room, including the equipment rack. This is why isolation platforms make a difference under source and amp components. The energy also travels back into the speaker that transmitted it with a delay and all this vibration joins the energy coming from the drive units and muddies the resulting sound. See our review of Seismic bases for a greater explanation.
The isolation system that PMC have come up with is not as broadband as the Townshend one because that requires a spring system with 30mm of compression, instead they have concentrated on isolating the speaker where it is most beneficial; the midrange. By auditioning isolating materials that worked at different frequencies they discovered one that significantly reduced vibration at 470Hz and proved to be very effective at reducing both measured and perceived distortion. It consists of grommets either side of the plinth bars which isolates the fixing bolts from the bar as well as the bar from the cabinet. You are discouraged from overly tightening the bolts as that would compress the grommets and create an energy path. The waterfall plots overpage show vibration in the cabinet without (red) and with (green) the isolators in place, the significant change is the reduction in the ridge above 400 (Hz).
The twenty5.26i is the largest model in its range and the only one to feature a midrange driver, a dome at that. We reviewed its predecessor three years ago and got a great result, the combination of the 50mm midrange dome and PMC’s long throw 6.5inch g-weave bass driver is powerful and revealing. For the twenty5i range the company has introduced a new tweeter which as we discovered when listening to the twenty5.22i is a remarkably refined drive unit that brings a high degree of sophistication to the range. The tweeter has a small 19mm dome in the middle of a large roll surround, an arrangement claimed to deliver both wide dispersion and high power handling. Both qualities that are close to PMC’s acoustic heart. The dispersion factor is also enhanced by the metal grille, it’s not just there for protection.
As with all PMC speakers the cabinet has transmission line loading rather than the more common reflex loading, this means that the rearward output of the bass driver is channelled through a relatively long conduit within the box to the vents you see at the bottom. By using specific damping materials in the ‘line’ as it’s known it’s possible to ensure that only the lowest frequencies emerge from the vents, and equally importantly, those bass notes are in phase (in time) with the output from the front of the driver. As with the earlier twenty5 series the vents have fins in to reduce turbulence and improve airflow at this juncture, a technology derived from F1 racing where PMC’s head of engineering cut his teeth.
I have to admit that the majority of speakers that I review are perched on Townshend Seismic Podiums for the duration of the auditioning process, this is because I use these podia under my reference speakers when reviewing source and amplification and not using them would put new speakers at a disadvantage. However, with a speaker that has its own isolation system things aren’t so easy and I decided to listen with the PMCs on the ground. They needed to be fairly close to the wall, 17cm to the nearest corner, in my slightly bass light room and I initially hooked them up to a Rega Elex-R integrated amplifier. This is not the most sophisticated amplifier tonally but it does timing and musicality better than many more pricey alternatives and worked remarkably well with the twenty5.26i despite a low ish 86dB sensitivity. The result was tremendously open and rhythmically clearcut, the timing on these PMCs is spot on which makes for a very engaging listening experience. Tonally the pairing with the Rega was on the dry side but that’s to be expected and does little to hamper detail resolution. Voices in particular are comprehensively rendered, you can hear all the texture and much of the nuance of inflection which makes lyrics very clear and feelings easy to understand.
I love the way that the sound escapes from the boxes on what are fairly large speakers, this is something that is always improved by good isolation, so those grommets must be working well. Low level resolution is very good too, the coughs in the audience on Keith Jarrett’s recent Budapest Concert release were made apparent for the first time, fortunately they didn’t upset the musician on this occasion. I love the bass girth they produce with Bob Marley’s Natural Mystic too, it’s rock solid with real shape in the bass line and monster drops in the background. This speaker goes low, very low even without a muscle amp at the helm. I turned the volume up on the Elex-R and hooked up a Townshend Allegri+ passive pre to control output just to see how far the power amp element could be pushed. This increased openness and clarity significantly and produced a gripping rendition of Nick Cave’s powerful Jesus Alone, the grumbling electronica behind the beatific voice creating an atmosphere of low frequency menace, a high voltage restraint that could not be resisted.
I switched to my regular power amp, an ATC P2, and this brought a degree of extra control and a sense of power to proceedings, Natural Mystic became a lot more subtle with more going on than was previously apparent. The immediacy and presence on the World Today from Hooker ‘n Heat was vivid in its realism and this quality was audible on all sorts of music, these PMCs clearly enjoy an amplifier with some grip. There were also benefits in terms of vocal subtlety, Thom Yorke’s voice on Radiohead’s Decks Dark sounded totally effortless and the many layers of the recording were at once clarified but without sacrificing sonic unity. There seemed to be more character than usual in a Brendell piano piece too, the nature of the recording was as clear as the virtuosity of the playing. The system was really starting to sing and made me wonder if it was a case of the PMCs finally starting to run-in.
A rather interesting amplifier happened to turn up while these speakers were in the system so I tried that as well. It’s called a Moor Amps Angel 6 and is a large solid state design with very low feedback and a quite extraordinary transparency, the twenty5.26i made this clear when it was partnered with a Townshend Allegri Reference preamp and my usual sources. It took a while to establish which sources worked best, the Stack Link II network bridge and iFi iDSD Pro DAC were a little on the lean side with this amplifier andspeaker but the Auralic Aries G1 and Vega G2.1 with their full bodied character and high resolution proved a perfect partnership. The twenty5.26i is both extremely revealing and musically addictive, the combination of ease and transparency means you can listen to anything at pretty well any level and it’s enthralling. The Angel 6 is a powerful amp with a very light touch, it has no audible sense of grip, and these PMCs make that very clear.
The twenty5.26i makes an interesting contrast with PMC’s fact.8 which is a similar sized loudspeaker albeit less expensive and with smaller main drivers, which sounds more refined but is ultimately less revealing and powerful. That said the latest Signature version of the fact.8 is probably more transparent so it may well equal the wider speaker’s resolving powers, or it could do if it had the isolation system which is clearly advantageous.
The i series updates to the twenty5 series have increased prices but the results warrant the extra outlay, the twenty25.26i is a speaker I could quite easily live with thanks to a fabulous combination of transparency and musical engagement. My music is just more thrilling and enjoyable in its hands than it is with an awful lot of speakers, and while it’s big enough to produce serious bass it’s not so big as to dominate the room. The twenty5.26i needs careful partnering in both source and amplification departments which is always the case with a revealing loudspeaker, but get those right and it’s a very hard act to beat.