High End Hi-Fi
We made our name as the experts in high end hi fi. It’s part of our DNA and the inspiration for our whole business. The high end is about a tireless search for the very best sound, and more recently vision: for hi fi that gets closer to the original source, that crosses the boundary between reproduced and real.
The very best hi fi is more than just a matter of plug and play. There are literally thousands of products out there which claim extraordinary performance, but only a select few actually deliver. And it’s not just about the individual components: it’s all about systems. The best way to lose a small fortune on hi fi is to attempt to assemble a system from magazine “best buys”. And at the higher end the risk is even bigger since high end hi fi is necessarily revealing and will magnify mismatches between components in the final sound.
This is where our decades of advice and experience really bears fruit: in building systems where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Of course, any great dish starts with fine ingredients. Here are some of our highlights.
Classe Audio continue to go from strength to strength. Classe’s power amps have always been their leading products and we have many of their legendary Cam 400 monoblocks driving B&W 802s and 801’s. Classe’s Pre Amps have always been excellent but perhaps slightly overshadowed by the power amps. All of this is about to change with the CP 800. Somewhat like the Devaliet, the CP 800 demonstrates the growing trend towards the fusion of DACs and PreAmps.
As such, the CP 800 contains a high end DAC with a full complement of digital inputs, along with a high end analogue pre amp which is fully balanced from input to output. Anlaogue signals can be digitised on input or remain full analogue, offering the best of both worlds. Control is fully remote or by the latest generation of touchscreen on the preamp, but with the ergonomic convenience of a rotary volume control. A pretty unique feature of the preamp is the availability of tone equalisation. Now while tone controls used to be a dirty word, these controls operate entirely in the digital domain meaning that there is none of the degradation with old style analogue pots.
They can also operate much more precisely and can be used to address shortcomings in individual recordings or to calibrate the full system for flat response by addressing anomalies the the listening room acoustic. The CP 800 also contains a revolutionary new power supply which is the underpinning for its superb sound. Its rare in hi fi we get to have our cake and eat is but the CP 800 proves we can. To make matters even better, it is complemented by a new range of power amplifiers which run cooler, consume less electricity and sound better.
The Arcam D33 DAC is a game changer, it offers a true high end performance at an amazing price point. It will act as a digital hub in your music system allowing you to connect your laptop via its USB input along with your iPod, CD player and pretty much any other digital source you can think of.
There are lots of alternative products on the market that on paper do exactly the same job – as of yet we have not hea anything that can compare with the D33 at anywhere near its price point.
A DAC is a great way to upgrade an existing HiFi system, almost all modern CD players are suitable for connection as they have a digital output.
Once in a while genuinely groundbreaking products appear – The Parisian Built Devialet D Premier amplifier is one such product. Hi end hi fi often borrows technologies from other fields such as medical technology and telecommunications and Devaliet was founded in France by two former employees of Nortel. The Devaliet H is an amplifier like no other, its sleek chrome enclosure being little larger than an LP record sleeve.
Imagine a super high quality stereo amplifier putting out 240 watts per channel, using a ultra high quality small Class A amp – putting out around 25 watts per channel – in use most of the time – with a high quality power amplifier operating in parallel providing the extra watts when required.
The idea is not new Quad used a system called current dumping in their 405 amplifier decades ago, however the D Premier is bang up to date and works in an very different way. Add to this the high quality Phono Section sounds far better than the majority highly regarded stand alone designs – which can be configured via an SD card for gain and cartridge impedance – on individual channels!
The D Premier also includes the usual analogue line inputs, but also features digital inputs and an internal D/A section and includes a Wi Fi audio streamer using Devialet’s Asynchronous Intelligent Route (AIR) client for Mac’s and PC’s plus the amplifier can be factory updated via the web at any time.
The D Premier can be configured to operate in a number of different ways including the option of bridged mono providing 400 watts per channel. Sound quality is superb and this unique product can be summed up in the words of John Atkinson of Stereophile magazine.
“The D Premier is the most extraordinary product I have ever reviewed for Stereophile. Superb sound quality, future proof design, everything you need in one box – it is the epitome of what a high end audio product should be – Wow!”
Denmark has a long musical and hi fi tradition, coupled of course with being world leaders in design. Nowhere is this better represented than by Copland Audio Products.
Designed and built in Denmark, Copland are notable in their ability to bring together the best of valve and transistor technologies, using each to maximum effect.
The Copland range includes the superb CTA 405 Integrated valve amplifier, the 90 Watt per channel CTA 506 all valve power amplifier (specifically designed around the stunning new KT120 valve) and the CDA 825 Compact Disc player which uses dual 24 bit 192Khz digital to analogue converters, the latest apodizing upsampling filters and the legendary Philips Pro 2 mechansim.
All are superbly built and reflect the most striking of Scandinavian virtues: minimalism, simplicity and clarity. Sonically, these virtues shine through with sound that is simultaneously refined and musically detailed.
On account of its superb sound and reliability, Copland Hi-Fi tends to remain in the hands of the original owners for a very long time – which is why you rarely see it turn up on our used hi-fi pages for sale second hand – or elsewhere either.