Cyrus Audio CDi-XR CD Player

Cyrus is back. Well, maybe they never really went away, but it’s been a while since they had much of a presence in the North American market. It’s been almost four decades since the introduction of the Cyrus One integrated amplifier from this electronics brand offshoot of Mission loudspeakers. The two companies haven’t been affiliated for years, and Mission is now part of the International Audio Group (IAG), which has purchased a number of different brands, including Luxman, Wharfedale, Audiolab, and Quad among several others.

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miniDSP SHD Power Integrated Amplifier-DAC

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceSince 2009, miniDSP has developed a plethora of audio products relating to its namesake technology. The company’s current offerings include the UMIK line of measurement microphones, digital room correction systems, active crossovers, and many other DSP platforms for audio applications. Hong Kong–based miniDSP’s products are relatively inexpensive and are known for their excellent value. The subject of this review, the SHD Power, is the company’s most expensive product at $1549 (all prices in USD), but it is the least-expensive streaming integrated amplifier-DAC I know of that incorporates Dirac Live room correction.

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Atoll Electronique IN200 Signature Integrated Amplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

Atoll Electronique was founded in France in 1997 by brothers Stéphane and Emmanuel Dubreuil, with the goal of producing “reasonably priced true high-end audio electronics” for the audiophile market. Atoll manufactures preamps, power amps, integrated amps, DACs, CD players, and music streamers. Unlike many other audio manufacturers today, Atoll has been steadfast in upholding the ideas of hand-crafting its wares in-house and sourcing parts nationally (80% of parts are made in France). What isn’t sourced in France comes from the EU, except for some specialty and custom-made parts. All Atoll products use discrete components that are hand soldered and tested throughout each phase of production; assembled products are rigorously tested before being declared ready to ship.

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Simaudio Moon Voice 22 Loudspeakers

Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Simaudio was established more than 40 years ago as an electronics manufacturer. Today, employing more than 60 people in its facility in Boucherville, Quebec, the Canadian company is best known for producing preamplifiers, power amplifiers, integrated amplifiers, and phono preamplifiers sold worldwide under the Moon brand name. Earlier this month, the company surprised everyone by announcing that it would enter the loudspeaker market—a bold move, because that’s a tough nut to crack, even for an established brand, since there are already so many speaker manufacturers the world over. But there’s a legit reason for the move—the people at Simaudio felt that the company simply had to enter the segment with a speaker to mate with a product they call ACE, which was introduced about five years ago and currently sells for $4200 (all prices in USD).

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Sumiko Reference Celebration 40 Moving-Coil Phono Cartridge

My analog life can be divided into three acts. Scene 1, Act I, circa 1976, began at Christmas when I received a Juliette all-in-one audio system, with a record changer on top and an 8-track player built into the front panel. The Juliette became landfill a few years later, but I still have my first record—Lighthouse’s 20 Great Hits on K-tel.

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Simaudio Moon 310LP Phono Preamplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

Reviewers' ChoicePhono preamplifiers are something of an oddity in audio, in that many non-audiophiles don’t even realize they exist. They perform a function as critical as any other component in one’s system, but because they’re often a built-in feature of the turntable, receiver, or integrated amplifier, they typically aren’t visible. This is particularly true for entry-level systems. The ability to disappear, at least physically, is not a skill that your amplifier, sources, speakers, cables, power conditioner, isolation devices, and more can lay claim to. However, much like a built-in DAC, phono preamplifiers can easily be hidden away.

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Reavon UBR-X200 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player

Most audiophiles don’t give a lot of thought to the playback of Blu-ray Discs, let alone 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs—or any other type of video format for that matter. But for some of us, our stereo rigs do double duty as multichannel home-theater systems, so an optical disc player capable of playing back a variety of high-resolution audio formats in addition to 4K Ultra HD video is a desirable commodity, even if it’s not exactly a necessity. And if you don’t have a high-quality external DAC or an integrated amplifier or preamplifier with a built-in DAC, you’re going to want a player with a capable DAC and analog output section.

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Saturn Audio 401 Phono Preamplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceThere’s a new hi-fi hatchery located an hour and a half west of my home in Toronto, Canada. Cambridge, Ontario, is the headquarters of Saturn Audio, a fairly new company that’s booting up a full suite of audio components. That’s cool, and the more the merrier—it’s great to have more choices for audio equipment, and a new Canadian company is most welcome from my viewpoint. But take a quick look at the region surrounding Cambridge—it’s a short drive from Innerkip, Ontario, which was the home of Blue Circle Audio and still is home to Gilbert Yeung, the company’s owner. Blue Circle was the manufacturer of almost-bespoke high-end amps, preamps, DACs, and phono preamplifiers up until 2019, when Yeung decided that his heart was really in the circuit-design end of things and wanted to reduce the front-end customer-facing part of his business. This is no coincidence.

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Focal Aria K2 906 Loudspeakers

Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

In November 2020, Focal announced a special-edition update to its Aria line with the Aria K2 936 loudspeaker, which Doug Schneider reviewed on this site in May 2021. The three-way floorstander was an update to the existing 936 model (which is still available), with side panels in the high-gloss Ash Grey finish from the flagship Utopia line and K2 cones in place of the Aria line’s usual flax-based midrange and woofer cones. According to Focal’s website, K2 cones are “composed of a very light foam layer, between a layer of aramid fibres and a layer of fibreglass, ensuring clear and precise sound void of any colouration.”

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Klipsch La Scala AL5 Loudspeakers

Reviewers' ChoiceThere’s no replacement for displacement. It’s a North American thing.

I grew up on the tail end of the big-engine era. Around my neighborhood, we were all in awe of the older kids who had managed to stuff large V8 engines into cars that were entirely unsuited to them.

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