From the 1970s into the 1990s, a stereo receiver -- an AM/FM tuner, preamplifier, and stereo power amplifier in a single enclosure -- was the first component most newcomers to hi-fi would buy. Some receivers -- models from Marantz, Pioneer, and Sansui come to mind -- are still sought by collectors, who eagerly refurbish and use them. I’m a proud owner of a circa-1972 Marantz. And though it’s been years since I’ve listened with it, I remain in awe of that receiver’s tank-like build quality, stylish gyro-touch tuning dial, and cool-blue meters.
Wires are not long for this world -- no one wants to be tethered if they don’t have to be. Soon enough, our cell phones and tablets will rely on wireless charging, wireless earbuds will be commonplace, and perhaps even our hi-fi systems will be freed from the shackles of unsightly cords.
In recent years, Definitive Technology has produced many lifestyle products: sound bars, wireless speakers, headphones, and their Mythos line of elegant but still very-high-performance speakers in gorgeous enclosures of curved aluminum. In the 1990s, however, DefTech’s very first speakers were bipolar designs, and they continue to develop that technology. Their latest products are from their new BP9000 series of bipolar models, many of which include built-in powered subwoofers.
Founded in Menlo Park, California, in 2004, Oppo Digital built its early reputation on its high-performance DVD players. It wasn’t until 2014, however, that Oppo began branching out into personal audio, with products like the PM1 headphones and the ultra-portable HA-2 DAC-headphone amplifier. I reviewed the HA-2 (since replaced by the HA-2SE), as well as Oppo’s PM-2 over-ear headphones (discontinued). Each product earned a Reviewers’ Choice award, and I bought the HA-2 review sample, which I’ve since replaced with an HA-2SE.
It’s been about four years since Oppo introduced their last top-model universal Blu-ray player, the BDP-105, later replaced by the BDP-105D -- essentially the same player with DarbeeVision video processing. That’s a long time for an optical-disc player to remain in production, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that things settled down in the world of Ultra High Definition (UHD) video, and now Oppo has released a new top model, the UDP-205 4K Ultra HD universal BD player. As in their previous lines of BD players, the 90 and 100 models, the UDP-205 is a step up from its own line’s entry-level model, the UDP-203, with several enhancements, most notable being a much more advanced audio output section.
Emotiva BasX S12 subwoofer measurements can be found by clicking this link.
Anyone who’s been involved in audio for a couple of decades has to look at this product with a sense of wonder. Twenty years ago, there were only a few really good subwoofers on the market at any price, most from sub specialists such as M&K and Velodyne. Models like the Emotiva BasX S12 ($399 USD), with a beefy 12” driver and a 300W amp, typically cost $1000 or more. More recently, competition from a new generation of subwoofer specialists has pushed prices way down, and mainstream speaker manufacturers are launching new subs to compete with the specialists. It’s a good time to be a basshead.
It’s a great era for analog, with accessibly priced record players that let you join the fun without betting the farm. Many audio manufacturers, new and old, are entering or reentering the field, and we’re covering as many of their offerings as possible.
SVS began some 20 years ago as a small company selling, via the Internet, a few models of high-value, cylindrical subwoofers. While SVS still sells direct to consumers online, they now have a dealer network as well, and make several lines of loudspeakers. Those early cylindrical subwoofers were nothing fancy but were excellent value, pumping out tons of great bass for not a lot of money. SVS continues to make cylindrical subs, but most of their subwoofers -- including some relatively high-end models -- are now the more common box type. They recently released the latest models in their top line, the Ultra series, of which I received the SB16-Ultra for review.
Recently, iFi Audio, a companion company to British ultra-high-end equipment provider Abbingdon Music Research (AMR), has made a name for itself with lines of affordable DACs, headphone amps, small music systems, and the subject of this review: the Micro iPhono2 phono stage ($499 USD). But its utility extends far beyond simply adding phono capability to an amplifier.
Along with Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, and Yamaha, Onkyo has been one of the mainstay Japanese consumer-electronics companies building home-theater receivers. Integra is the more upscale sister company of Onkyo. Since 1999, it has been available mainly through specialty A/V integrators, rather than the typical retail channels that carry Onkyo products.