Vivid Audio Giya G2 Series 2 Loudspeakers

Reviewers' ChoiceOn a recent trip to the UK, I interviewed Laurence Dickie, Vivid Audio’s cofounder and chief designer. He told me that every Vivid loudspeaker is an extension of his work at Bowers & Wilkins, where he was employed from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. His work there culminated, in 1993, with B&W’s revolutionary Nautilus loudspeaker, which Dickie had begun designing in the late ’80s. As a testament to how advanced the Nautilus was in its day, consider this: B&W still makes it.

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Lyngdorf Audio TDAI-3400 Integrated Amplifier-DAC

Reviewers' ChoiceAt Audio Video Show 2019, in Warsaw, Poland, Peter Lyngdorf sat down to chat with Doug Schneider, publisher of the SoundStage! Network websites. Of the many audio brands he’s been associated with over the years, Lyngdorf is probably best known for having founded TacT Audio and, in 2005, Lyngdorf Audio. Both companies produced the Millennium, an amplifier that was ahead of its time when it was launched in the late 1990s. Throughout its long production life the Millennium featured two proprietary Lyngdorf technologies: Equibit pulse-width modulation (PWM), RCS speaker equalization, and, later, the RoomPerfect room-correction system.

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Hegel Music Systems H120 Integrated Amplifier-DAC

Hegel Music Systems, of Norway, does things a little differently from many audio manufacturers. They make pre- and power amplifiers, standalone D/A converters, even a CD player, but they’re best known for their integrated amplifier-DACs, of which they currently have five models in production. Their SoundEngine technology uses feed-forward correction, a type of circuitry quite unlike the negative feedback used in most class-AB amplifiers. And since long before the practice was as common as it is today, every Hegel integrated has included an internal DAC.

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Luxman LX-380 Integrated Amplifier

Reviewers' ChoiceFor nearly a hundred years now the Luxman Corporation of Japan has continuously manufactured high-quality, specialty audio products. The sound quality of many of these products have stood the test of time -- including that of the SQ-38 tubed integrated amplifier, which debuted in 1964 and is still sought on the used market. Its “38”-badged descendants have fared similarly, culminating in the 11th iteration, the SQ-38u, of a decade or so ago.

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Magico A1 Loudspeakers

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

Reviewers' ChoiceFor years now, Magico has taken a military-grade approach to making loudspeakers. Aluminum is the material most often used for their speaker cabinets, no construction method seems too extreme, and no expense is spared for the parts. All of this makes Magico speakers very heavy, and handling them as difficult as it is to afford them.

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Linear Tube Audio Z10 Integrated Amplifier

Mark Schneider founded Linear Tube Audio, aka LTA, in 2015 to “bring life back to music at an affordable price.” All Linear Tube Audio amplifiers are designed around David Berning’s patented Zero hysteresis, Output Transformer-Less (ZOTL) amplifier technology, and so march to the beat of a very different drum than do non-Berning designs. While the full details of Berning’s patent are beyond the scope of this review, in short, the ZOTL technology does the job typically performed by output transformers: converting the high-voltage, low-current signal from power vacuum tubes to a lower-voltage, higher-current signal capable of driving loudspeakers to sufficient volume levels.

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Rogue Audio Atlas Magnum II Stereo Amplifier

Reviewers' ChoiceRogue Audio has been designing and building tubed electronics in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, for over 20 years. In that time, the company has established a reputation for exceptional performance at reasonable prices. To achieve his performance goals, Rogue’s president and chief designer, Mark O’Brien, believes in applying solid engineering principles, careful parts selection, and attention to details and in manufacture. What O’Brien doesn’t believe in is showy marketing, smoke and mirrors, and coming out with new models just to keep his customers on the upgrade carousel. As such, when Rogue introduces a new edition of a model that has been in their portfolio for over a decade, it’s because he and his team think they’ve found a way to make improvements to something other than the nameplate.

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Focal Sopra No1 Loudspeakers

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

Reviewers' ChoiceIn May 2015, Focal introduced their Sopra line of loudspeakers with the Sopra No1 minimonitor ($9990/pair, all prices USD) and the Sopra No2 floorstander ($18,990/pair). In October 2015, Doug Schneider reviewed the Sopra No2 and liked it so much that it was named a Reviewers’ Choice. Then, in 2016, Focal released a larger floorstander, the Sopra No3 ($23,990/pair), as well as the Sopra Center ($3990 each) and the Sopra Surround BE ($6990/pair).

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Clarus Aqua Mark II Interconnects and Speaker Cables

Clarus is described as the sister brand of Tributaries, the cable manufacturer best known for their extensive lines of A/V products. Founded just a few years ago, Clarus offers high-end cables based on the work of audio designer Jay Victor. Their products are made by hand in the US from proprietary materials, except for their power cords and USB links, which are made in China due to the machinery required to manufacture the molded plugs. Clarus’s Aqua line comprises balanced and single-ended interconnects, a subwoofer cable, a digital coaxial audio link, two power cords, and single and biwire speaker cables. Their costlier Crimson line has similar models, and adds AES/EBU digital and USB links. Clarus also makes two models of power conditioner.

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PMC Cor Integrated Amplifier

The Professional Monitor Company Ltd., aka PMC, was founded in the UK in 1991 by Peter Thomas, of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Adrian Loader, of audio distributor FWO Bauch. Their first product, the BB5-A active minimonitor, helped PMC become known for what would become a long line of monitors designed for use in recording studios. Since then PMC has ventured into consumer audio, and now offers many passive speakers in various model lines aimed at audiophiles. However, the subject of this review is not a PMC speaker, but the only consumer-electronics component PMC makes: the Cor integrated amplifier ($6000 USD), which was created to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

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