Author Archives: Jason Tavares
Check out my video introduction to Amphion loudspeakers from Finland:
This is a review on Amphion’s entire lineup of speakers.
This is a quick video to show how to program scheduled lighting scenes in composer HE. If you have any (more…)
This is a quick review of the new McIntosh universal player…the MVP891
This is a review of Hegel’s top of the line power amplifier
The Rogers High Fidelity EHF-100 vacuum tube integrated amplifier is one of the newest additions to our showroom. Designed to uncompromising specifications and hand-made in Warwick, NY, with military-grade components, the EHF-100 is one of the finest tube amps I’ve heard for under $10,000 (and at $6335.00 it’s truly a bargain). It’s also a finely-crafted piece of electronics whose build-quality can rival amps costing many times more. How well built is it?—the manufacturer offers the best warrantee I’ve ever heard of: lifetime, transferrable. What this means is that—as long as you don’t drop it, spill your bourbon on it, or otherwise abuse it—Roger Gibboni guarantees that his amp won’t break: ever (excluding the tubes, of course).
So how does it sound? Exquisite. Unlike almost any other tube amp on the market, Mr. Gibboni chose to use a pentode input stage rather than the typical triode design. Why? I’ll let him explain: “Using a pentode input stage yields all of the amplifier gain in a very short signal path; this reduces phase induced distortion and layout anomalies with very controlled linearity. [This results in] lots of bandwith, detail, depth of soundstage and incredible transient response.” I don’t have Mr. Gibboni’s engineering background, but after listening to his amp for several weeks now, I have to say that my ears are convinced: this tube amp is truly second to none, especially at this price. It has the rich, liquidy sound that tubes are famous for, but combines it with a fast, punchy (and ample) bass response that is remarkable in the world of relatively inexpensive integrated tube amps. Very conservatively rated at 100 watts per channel, the EHF-100 seemed ready to blow the front windows out of my showroom when mated to the Totem Wind loudspeakers. Of course, if you DO need more power, two EHF-100 amps can be run as a monoblocks.
Curious? Come in and have a listen! You WILL be impressed.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of Hegel Music Systems. They are a manufacturer of audio electronics based in Oslo, Norway famous for their amps (featuring patented SoundEngine technology) and, more recently, their phenomenal line of external DACs. Check out their excellent web page at www.hegel.com. If you have heard of them, you probably haven’t actually heard them (and you should!). They are new to the American market and currently only have a dozen or so dealers. I am happy to report that Adirondack Audio & Video is now one of them.
As a longtime audiophile, I’m thrilled whenever I have an opportunity to listen extensively (and intensively) to new gear, but I have rarely been this excited about taking on an entire new line of electronics as I am with Hegel. Owning a HiFi store allows me lots of opportunities to demo new products, but deciding to become a dealer (with the accompanying financial commitment) involves making business calculations that are often more stressful than fun. With Hegel, none of that mattered. The sound quality of Hegel electronics is so good that I felt compelled to offer it to our customers. If you live nearby and you love music, you need to come in and listen. And then you’ll know what I’m writing about.
For those of you who are too far away, let me try to explain. I’ll start with the amps (and discuss the DACs in a future blog entry). We have the two least expensive Hegel integrated amps on display in the showroom (the H70 and H100). Before you even listen, you will notice that the look of the amp is “Scandinavian minimalist”—simple and purposeful while at the same time looking exquisite and expensive. The quality of design and workmanship is evident immediately. Press the large, central power button and the amp turns on with a satisfying ka-thunk. No matter what source or volume you might have been previously listening to, Hegel will always revert to the balanced input and a moderate volume—a thoughtful touch. Then there’s the sound. I can think of no other amp—at any price—that exhibits as much control over loudspeakers as Hegel does. Each instrument, each note, is clear and distinct, like there are no electronics in-between you and the musician. The base, even at moderate volumes, is balanced and tight—powerful while at the same time articulate and controlled. Hegel amps are exceptionally neutral, so you’ll easily hear any imperfections or tonal coloring coming from the source or your loudspeakers. You’ll want to pair these amps with the best speakers you can afford.
With high-quality loudspeakers, the Hegel amps are truly magical in their ability to present music with all its original dynamic punch and tonal balance. The SoundEngine technology—found only in Hegel products—undoubtedly has a lot to do with this. I’ll let Hegel explain:
The HEGEL SoundEngine™ local error cancelling system prevents distortion in the audio amplifier circuit stages, preserving the original details and the dynamic range in the original music signal. The end result is a much cleaner music signal with a larger dynamic range and lower distortion.
The unique and patented Hegel SoundEngine™ audio technology is combining the advantage of class AB-amplifier and the advantage of class A-amplifiers, without having the draw backs of class A- and class AB-amplifier technologies.
What this means for the listener is a level of clarity and resolution in sound that is immediately apparent. You will find yourself re-listening to your entire music collection, hearing nuances that you never knew were there.
As you can tell, I’m very enthusiastic about Hegel and I hope to play my small part in helping them become as successful in the United States as they already are in other parts of the world. With sound quality like this, the task should not be difficult. You’ll understand what I mean as soon as you listen.
The current, updated version of the EDGE G3, now $7088.00 is a very nice 115 wpc, which retains all of the accomplished attributes and accolades raved about in the below reviews from other astute sources, of its lower powered predecessors.
I had made an exceptional statement in my FB post just before our Grand Opening in early July that the G3 in my very first listen, was “THE BEST INTEGRATED I’VE EVER HEARD. I would like to say in my own defense of this premature statement, that in all fairness however, that it was amazingly obvious from the moment I unboxed it and plugged it in. Fortunately, our audition copy was Steven Norber’s (Edge National Sales Manager) personal amplifier, so was already broken in, only requiring the typical 20 minute warm up to be fully ready to strut it’s stuff. At this point I would like to try to put that previously unqualified statement into some perspective. Obviously, from the following reviews, everyone who’s ever tested an EDGE Amp, including the G3’s previous editions, have also been extremely impressed.
I feel that at this juncture, it is important to mention that too often people do not fully appreciate just how important an amplifier is to the overall system performance. So when you get a really good one, or in this case, really exceptional, you sort of cannot put a fine enough point on it! For instance, too often I hear the comment that it is the “speakers” which make the biggest difference in a system, almost as if, that’s all that is really important. But to be frank, that is only a half truth. Speakers will certainly “establish the type of sound” you will get, however, the true character, integrity, and by far, its believability, “or likeness live sound” is absolutely up to the “amplifier”. So underestimating this, often results in an under qualified amplifier being paired with the speakers. Sadly this results in your inability to ever put together a true high end/high performance system. Not to mention, you usually NEVER HEAR what your speaker can really do…EVER! One reason for this naturally is that unless you have a particularly abstinent speaker to drive, such as one of very (low efficiency, impedance, stability, or that requires tremendous power), you can get “sound” from almost anything you plug into them, even a cheap AV receiver, especially if they are of the “very efficient” variety. This does not however, in any way, shape or form, let you hear anything close to what a really good speaker can do. You may quite literally be missing up to 50% of what that speaker can do. So knowing exactly “what a given amplifier is doing” if very important for the best speaker matching.
So to really put an amplifier through the paces, and establish just how good it really is, a competent tester uses an average of about 20 individual values of comparison. Some of these are, sound stage depth, width, and height(measured individually), dynamics, micro dynamics, detail, imaging, a balanced representation of the frequency response (from ultra low notes to extreme highs), and its ability to place various sounds at points in space(and give those sounds a sense of size). These standards are the most commonly talked about, as they can be easiest to identify without the employment of a test bench. And of course, any tester worth their salt should have a qualified reference system to which standards of measurement can then be authenticated. At ADK AV our reference electronics are a complete McIntosh system, amp, pre, and CD, and reference speakers are Flagship PSB’s (Synchrony One), or Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2’s, both 5K a pair (which speaker used depends on what’s being tested). The Mac amp & pre, which weighs in at a cool 11K. The Edge G3 being tested, at $7088.00, or almost half the price. Try to imagine my amazement when I found that with the right speakers, as the EDGE is 115 w/p/c, compared with the MAC’s 350 w/p/c, the EDGE performed as well as the MAC in EVERY CATEGORY!!! That my friends is such a rare feet, that it is extremely difficult to credit. Normally even with two completely matched amps in terms of overall quality, the one with the most power, will sound better. So how on Earth can I qualify this?. I personally believe, that EDGE (as mentioned in my spoof blog – reverse alien technology) may simply be, the best darn design available today, at ANY PRICE, and is clearly built with equivalent quality as is used by McIntosh. Ironically, both companies “literally hand build their products in house” – another extremely rare quality today, especially in the electronics industry. In summation, the EDGE G3 wins my absolute highest admiration, honor and recommendation. I can unequivocally state, it would be my amplifier of choice for any high quality speaker system appropriate to it’s power output. I might even suggest, depending on your own listening habits, it may be the amplifier of choice even for more difficult to drive speakers, as when I mated it with the extremely difficult Totem Wind’s (9K), which normally require a much more powerful amplifier, like our 350w/p/c MAC, to both my amazement and elation, I could find NO DIFFERENCE IN INTEGRITY between the two, other than “the G3’s inability to reach the same volume level” as the more powerful McIntosh.
I cannot give higher praise for the EDGE G3, it is simply, the best Integrated Amplifier that I have EVER heard.
Finally, Hard Cold PROOF of the use of REVERSE ALIEN ENGINEERING in closely guarded, but advanced US Technology!!!
Here at TheSweetSpot@adkav.com we sometimes get to experiment with the most advanced bleeding edge technologies, in this case, virtually right off the BLACK OPS drawing board! We found evidence from a company calling itself EDGE, which, we believe through no small coincidence, is located in an area of Colorado, not far from a Top Secret underground military instillation, call it NORAD or Area 51, it makes little difference. All of these Top Secret Military Facilities according to the United States Congress, DO NOT EXSIST! We believe however, that proof positive is evidenced by the employment of super advanced technology, specifically found in EDGE, to bias high current electromagnetic power transmissions devices. Edge claims by utilizing a unique method of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emissions of Radiation, they’ve engineered a methodology which results in a totally linear simultaneous output of high current electron transmissions. Yet, for some reason, NO OTHER TERRESTRIAL amplifier company has ever even imagined such advanced circuit topologies in amplifier design. How is it that NO ONE has ever conceived of anything like this technology!?! Coincidence? We think NOT! But to cover their tracks, EDGE claims they didn’t actually “invent” the Light Amplification by Stimulated Emissions of Radiation technology, but only developed a unique circuit topology to harness and control such extreme high tech forces. So, here’s an entity mysteriously close to Top Secret underground military instillations, that is actually employing “LASER Beams”, yes “RAY GUN Technology” in the design of their amplification devices, which also I’d like to point out “coincidently” resembles, the suspicious stories about electromagnetic based propulsion systems used in Area 51’s advanced REVERSE ALIEN TECHNOLOGY research, which as we mentioned above, according to official sources, does not exist!
Astute researchers, like Erich Von Daniken, proved that not only have aliens been visiting Earth for the past 12,000 years, or more likely, 70,000 years (evidenced recently in the 70,000 year old mining operations discovered in South America & South Africa). But, very recently, hard evidence has been unearthed that shows they have bestowed vast engineering knowledge to early man, like the Sumerians and Native Americans, then later, the Egyptians, allowing them to not only fashion batteries to light the interior of the pyramids, but to build the pyramids, and other megalithic structures themselves. New evidence suggests, these pyramids were NOT burial chambers, but HUGE ANCIENT POWER GENERATORS, capable of powering an entire city. Which of course helps explain how you can have 50,000 people thriving in a DESERT! I find it hard to believe that not only is EDGE’s most advanced amplifiers Laser biased, but their “super amplifiers”, actually emulate those ancient “pyramids” themselves (see photo). Is all this just a coincidence? Just how many “coincidences” are we to believe in these mysterious yet amazing super power generation devices?
Clearly, EDGE’s most mysterious, and closely guarded technological triumphs are deployed only in their Signature Amps (very limited distribution). Scientific scrutiny of the totally unique circuit design utilized in the their Laser Optical Bias Circuitry deployed in this MEGA 400 WATT Audio Engine, is suspiciously similar to the Laser guided electromagnets used to stabilize the Super Advanced Magneto-hydrodynamic Hyper Drive System (a.k.a. Inertial Drive) that was discovered aboard the captured Alien Flying Saucer under guard at Area 51. Yes, the very one that crashed at Roswell New Mexico, in 1947. According to EDGE, this advanced circuit incorporates a 630nm wavelength laser in each channel operating directly on the silicon substrate of the bias transistors. The laser bias circuit in turn is part of a servo feedback network. As the signal rises, the output of the laser increases, and as the signal decreases the laser output falls. This keeps the bias at the optimum operating point allowing a tenfold increase in gain. The additional gain is achieved while maintaining signal integrity (linearity) — at light speed – “another first ever”. The result is the clear musical nature of the NL Series as observed by well-informed reviewers and buyers. Well informed? Informed by who? MIB???
Unfortunately, EDGE has left no evidence of REVERSE ALIEN TECHNOLOGY in the black box technology I have the pleasure of testing here at The Sweet Spot. Though not one of the Pyramid power amplifiers, it’s still a MUST AUDITION. No Earthly born technology that I have ever encountered comes close to the surreal experience this power amplifier is capable of! It could well be a life changing experience in the appreciation of just how amazingly authentic, a reproduced musical experience can be! Or at least, that’s what a Gray recently imparted to me, as he claimed that when you have to travel 38 bazillion miles to get home, you have to have an OUT OF THIS WORLD SOUND SYSTEM ONBOARD…
Well, we’ve had quite a busy and exciting summer here at ADK AV, with our very successful Power of Music Art Show, and of course, the official Grand Opening of the Hi-End Audio store, AKA the “Sweet Spot” on July 9th. (Please see comments from some of our guests, previous blog). It’s been a busy seven months since our initial “soft open” just after Thanksgiving last year, and we’ve had the pleasure of auditioning several fine brands of electronics and speakers. It’s been quite a process, as many of the brands we tested are very, very good. My objective was to find not only the best brands, but of those, to cherry pick their best offerings to compliment our particular product mix, and to allow us to offer price points to suite virtually any budget. Of course, we already had many fine brands to start with, which we had brought over from custom, such as Sony ES, Marantz, Sherbourn Klipsch and PSB.
So, I would like to welcome our new additions by naming them; they are, Hegel of Norway – DAC’s and Amps, NAD, Jolida Tube Audio, Nordost Cables, Teac and Marantz Reference, Music Hall turntables, Grado & Schiit Headphones (USA), Golden Ear, Totem, Revel, and Fidelity Acoustics speakers, and as of this week, one of my all time favorites and most esteemed, McIntosh Labs, U.S.A.
We very much wanted to have a “reference” level system, so from Mac we went with separates, MC302 Amp and C48 Preamp. I must say, that with the Mac gear driving the “Wind” Speakers (on loan from Totem Acoustics of Montreal, pictured in the below blog), the caliber of sound, be it Symphonic, Jazz, Vocal, or what-have-you, is nothing short of absolutely awe inspiring. I’ve been in this business for quite some time, and I must admit, I was extremely impressed! While listening to a very robust symphony for instance, I felt I was actually transported to the very place I had first heard it live, the Power Symphony Hall, St. Louis, Missouri. Every nuance of detail was there in its proper place, and even the secondary harmonics were absolutely filling the room, making the sound stage to my ears as if it was HUDGE’A. I had to remind myself I was sitting in an ordinary retail space!?!
Please, I invite you to come in soon (even if you are not in the market for anything) and give your favorite music a spin on this system, it is utterly mind bending. You owe it to yourself to hear your beloved music, on a system of this caliber, at least once in your lifetime. To appreciate what the “High-End” has to offer today, compared with even ten years ago, is simply stunning. It could even be a life changing experience!