Category Archives: Released in 2009

Danish High Fidelity shuts down

high-fidelity  A beacon in the Danish hifi community has decided to turn off the lights. Dating back to 1971, High Fidelity was the pinnacle magazine from Forlaget Audio for many years. In 1997 the magazine was sold to its editors and now a poor financial foothold turns the final page.

Linn Majik DS-I

Linn Majik DS-I I may be pushing the icons above a bit on this one, since Linn has not yet disclosed anything specific on their new compact. Following in the footsteps of Naim and their Uniti, Linn has gone and committed a similar product. A complete unit, albeit sans the radio and the transport. Okay, so it isn’t a complete system. It does, however, appear that the Linn Majik DS-I has everything in the realm of in- and output. Even a phono input. All you need is a tuner for the BBC must-haves, a CD transport for the not-yet-ripped CDs and a pair of speakers that can receive the angel dust from the DS and sprinkle your abode with magic.

Bowers & Wilkins P5

Bowers & Wilkins P5 British hi-fi deluxe company Bowers & Wilkins have spawned a first born of a new family of products – headphones. People have cried for years and begged for the mighty islanders to get on with it and build a pair. Now they have. Specs are sparse at the moment, as are all sorts of availability data. But the photos are portents of good things coming this way. Indeed.

Efforts has been put into verbatim sound reproduction instead of meaningless enhancements that could never fit two persons anyway, let alone thousands. The ear pads are semi-closed to allow some ambient sound to pass and covered in leather. The cable has an inline iPod remote control and, what is quite a rarity, the cable is user changeable. If that means that there is an optional remote-free cable is unclear but that would definitely be something to hope for.

Sonos ZonePlayer S5

sonoss5 Sonos have ruled the streaming kingdom seemingly for eternities now but have been subjected to more and more frequent bashings for stubbornly sticking to less than standalone-friendly ZonePlayers. In others words: Why don’t they make a real standalone player for the kitchen (or wherever this makes sense)? Now they have… The ZonePlayer S5 is one such thing. A monolithic heat fan from appearance; a well spec’ed transistor radio beneath.

Each driven by a D-class amplifier of unknown grandeur 5 drivers form the bessel. One of these is a 3½” center positioned subwoofer [remember 3½” floppy disks? Woof!]. Otherwise it appears to be spec’ed like its brethren ZonePlayers. Like these the S5 can be controlled by the dedicated CR100 or Cr200 controllers, or from a PC or an iPhone.

Parrot RKi8400

Parrot RKi8400 There are many more or less curious ways to get digital sound into your car many of which involve some sort of iPod connectivity. With this car sound system, Parrot have brewed themselves a concoction that raises itself above the rest, at least in terms of user experience.

All the standard stuff such as FM radio, Bluetooth hands free  and Bluetooth audio streaming (A2DP), and MP3 playback from memory card is there, in a 4x50W package. On top of that it can play music from an iPod. Not through some old fashioned analogue jack but through a genuine iPod dock that lets you browse music complete with album covers and track information on a built in colour display. Nice.

Copenhagen Records offers 24-bit lossless

Danish record company Copenhagen Records announced 30th June that they will offer their releases in 16-bit and 24-bit lossless resolution. Which sample rates will be available, however, they do not reveal. Presumably 44.1KHz is what they mean when they say CD-quality. Master-quality would then likely be 96KHz or perhaps even 192KHz. Their ambitions, though, are much more well defined: They intend to offer their coming releases as 24-bit – directly off of the master. File formats are Apple Lossless, WMA and Flac.

Copenhagen Records already sell CD-quality 16-bit  WMA and Apple Lossless covering most of their backlist. What the new formats are concerned, so far only Nephew’s new album Danmark Denmark is available as 24-bit master quality. A brilliant band so perhaps I will just buy this album as Flac and tell you what rate it is.

Sony NAS-Z200iR and CMT-Z100iR

Sony CMT-Z100iR Now we are back to some bona fide digital news. Sony just announced a new system consisting of a media streaming apparatus called NAS-Z200iR. As to why Sony have chosen to use the term NAS in the name is a bit of a conundrum, since the device does in fact not have any storage to share. What it will do, however, is receive music from a DLNA compatible server (meaning pretty much everything), host an iPod in a docking station or play a CD. It even has an old fashioned AM/FM radio for when the internet radio stations are not enough. How about that?

On a curious note aside, the NAS lets you control an iPod from a wireless remote roughly twice the size of an iPod Touch. I know, I know. You get speakers and amps and stuff. But still. If you look past all that.

At the same time Sony announced another device called CMT-Z100iR. It looks roughly like the big sister NAS, but instead of having everything remote controlled, controls are mounted on the base of the iPod dock. This one comes in white as well. Pretty cool looking too.

Specs have not been revealed yet for either device. Can’t be long, though.

The Beatles Complete On Ukulele

cover

January 2009, Roger Greenawalt and David Barratt declared that by 2012 they would re-record each and every one of Beatles’ 185 recorded songs – on ukulele. Being a ukulele lover in general and specifically a great fan of Brook Adams’ highly memorable covers of, to name a couple, Django Reinhardt, Metallica and Jimi Hendrix, I immediately took a fancy to the idea.

Now the project has been under way for 6 months and I have to say that the results are impressive. Generally speaking the covers are great and some even surpass the originals. Excellent job!

“But 185 songs?”, you may say – “…on ukulele?”. Luckily they didn’t mimic aforementioned Brook  Adams. He gave us a variation of songs and put them in an unfamiliar setting. The range of styles and the limited number, made it work and very well so, indeed. It wouldn’t work with 185 songs. Instead Greenawalt and Barratt teams up with a multitude of musicians and it is they who are doing the actual cover – featuring Greenawalt on uke on all songs. That works. That works big time. Greenawalt, by the way, did something similar before, playing all 185 songs at a concert in benefit of fellow ukulele player, billionaire Warren Buffet.

The new project is based around a weekly recording accompanied by a causerie on said song and its history. These writings are hilarious! They alone could justify the project.

I urge you; go have a listen and a read. It is absolutely brilliant.

I may be transgressing the boundaries of this blog, writing about something so definitely not digital, but it is after all my own set of rules I am breaking.

Iggy Pop – Préliminaires

preliminaires This has absolutely nothing to do with streaming music. Not in the least. I have to mention this new album from Iggy Pop, though.

On 25th of May Iggy released his newest album. Our own super punk rocker proclaimed it to be a reference to Michel Houellebecq’s neo classic novel La Possibilité d’une île. Exactly how this reference would manifest itself was unclear, and indeed still is – even when you hear the master say “if there is a god, then why are his followers thus”. One thing is certain, though. This is the most wonderful piece of music ever to come of the master’s hands. Simply wonderful.

There are French chansons crooned in the most wonderful kitchy manner. I doubt even Maurice Chevalier could have out-smoothed Iggy there doing his French version of Autumn Leaves. The omnipresent Louisville jazz notes are particularly notable on the track King Of The Dogs, also released on YouTube as a three way interactive video. A brilliant music video, by the way, even if the interactivity is a bit of a fad. A tune reminiscent of Louis Armstrong’s King Of The Zulus. The dog’s bollocks, if you will, and pardon the pun.

Back to Préliminaires, what stands out is an uncanny atmosphere, lavishly spread out across all tracks, making the album a wholesome experience. The punk has finally grown up… at least until his next concert.

Right about now Iggy kicks off a tour with his new band, doing a live radio show from Paris which will include such wonderful classics as Cab Calloway’s swinging Minnie The Moocher and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell You. Quite a novel repertoire in all its altmodischness.

Peachtree Audio Nova

novaThe rather unusual integrated amplifier, Peachtree Audio Decco has now been granted an older brother (entsippled?) which has yet to have its specs properly disclosed. What is clear is that it sports 80W under the hood and a 24bit/192KHz DAC. The design is sligtly purer than the Decco but otherwise the same.

One thing is new, though. This is what they say on the web site:

“Even compressed MP3 files sound almost indistinguishable from the original CD when played through the Nova or Decco”.

What? Have their brains melted? That’s like saying that snow chains will keep your ears warm*.


*Which in fact they might when used outside the recommendations normally given in the manual.

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