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.
Note: Measurements can be found through this link.
The M32 DirectDigital DAC and integrated amplifier ($3999 USD) is the newest offering in the second generation of NAD’s Masters Series, following the M22 stereo amplifier ($2999), M27 seven-channel amplifier ($3999), M17 A/V processor ($5499), M12 DAC-preamplifier ($3499), M50.2 digital music player ($3999), and M51 DirectDigital DAC ($1999). The M32 is also NAD’s second-generation DirectDigital integrated amp.
Outlaw Audio Ultra-X13 subwoofer measurements can be found by clicking this link.
The Outlaw Audio Ultra-X13 is more significant than its generic black enclosure might suggest. It’s the first subwoofer created under a new program in which original design manufacturer (ODM) Claridy Audio builds THX-certified speakers and subwoofers for brands that lack the resources to get a THX license and pay for the product testing. This could produce a mini-resurgence in new THX-certified speakers and subs, of which few have been introduced in the last decade or so. I think that’s great -- from what I know of the THX Ultra spec, it seems to force manufacturers into safe, sane designs that work well in all sorts of rooms.
Pro-Ject Audio Systems knows its customers well -- the Debut Carbon turntable ($399 USD), while not quite plug-and-play, comes with everything the aspiring vinyl-loving audiophile needs. And while not quite an exit-level turntable, its build quality tells me that Pro-Ject cares about the entry level of the market.
When I consider upgrade options for newbie audiophiles, a name that instantly comes to mind is Rotel. Like many, I bought my first hi-fi as a teen, at a store that, along with audio gear, sold major appliances: dishwashers, air conditioners, washing machines. Later, when I began browsing specialty audio shops, it was components from Rotel and NAD that caught my attention, mostly because they looked cool -- and I could afford them.