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The Pono Player: musically worthwhile or just good clickbait?

I took the leap of faith and order a Pono back in March of 2014.  It arrived just before Christmas. I don’t like the hype around it, the software or the website but I do love the player itself.

I hear a level of sound quality and musical performance, from CD resolution and hi-res files, that I’ve not heard before from portable devices.

Here’s a link to a piece I wrote for Hifi Critic magazine when I was feeling particularly irritated at what I felt were far too many writers using Pono as clickbait. Many having not even bothered to try one.

Pono Opinion Piece

Here is a link to Hifi Critic’s website

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Naim’s new NAC-N 272 Streaming Preamplifier

Naim today confirmed the arrival of a new product in its core range: a performance upgradeable preamplifier including full network audio and zero S/PDIF jitter DAC.

Combining the qualities of a Naim preamplifier and a Naim network audio player in one Naim classic non-magnetic aluminium case is not easy. It has taken time and significant engineering skill to preserve the intrinsic performance of both and create a compelling sound.

More information and images

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New range of Naim high-end interconnects and speaker cables

Today Naim revealed its new Super Lumina range of high-quality interconnects and speaker cables, developed in parallel with Statement, its flagship amplification system.

The brief was simple: design a range of cables that would complement and allow the maximum performance of Statement as well as Naim 500 Series and Classic products. Starting with a blank page, Naim’s engineers specified each element of the cables based on the results of thousands of hours spent in the listening room testing prototypes.

To reach their goal required a deep understanding of material science and the influence of cable and connector construction on sound quality.

Super Lumina pre to power interconnects ship as standard with all Statement systems. The rest of the range is scheduled to enter production in February 2015 and will be available from all Naim specialist retailers.

More information and images

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Keith Monks discOvery mini One Sapphire Limited Edition

Celebrating 45 years of the original – the Keith Monks Record Cleaning Machine

Keith Monks Audio today unveiled the new discOvery mini One Sapphire Limited Edition Record Cleaning Machine.  This exclusive model takes all the benefits of the discOveryOne so successfully launched in 2013, and then improves on it.  The Sapphire is the smallest ever Keith Monks and features a vacuum gauge, hinged lid cover and the Keith Monks Classic precision wash system built in. Each Sapphire machine and its accompanying certificate are individually numbered, and both display a reproduction Keith Monks original signature.

The discOvery mini One Sapphire is a limited edition of 45 production units worldwide.

More information and images

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Bose QuietComfort 20i

I’ve been away in Darlington most of the week and I’m on the train home knackered. I had the foresight to use Radio Paradise’s version 3 on my iPad to download six hours of great eclectic ‘radio’.  Radio is great for travelling and when tired, as it takes away the need for decision making – just let it play and if a song comes along you don’t like, another will be along soon.

The real key to me relaxing on the train is not the choice of music or the sound quality whether it be the 320kbps AAC of Radio Paradise, or the 24/192 wavs I sometimes play on my Fiio X3, it’s my Bose QuietComfort  20i noise cancelling headphones.

The QC 20i’s noise cancelling is superb, they take away most of the roar of the train, the clatter of the tracks and some of the noise of the louder passengers, however there is one small foible with the noise cancelling: on a train when another train passes in the opposite direction the QC 20i’s pop. The odd pop is a small price to pay for the amazingly good noise cancellation.

Sound quality of the QC 20i’s is very good. It’s not quite as good as say my Shure SE535s or even my Etymotic ER-4Ps but still very good.  They don’t quite have the transparency of the best in-ears, they have low colouration once they have run for a few hours. But, and it’s a huge but, they are very comfortable – they are ear bud style rather than true in-ears but Bose have included some little soft plastics wings that mean for the first time ever I can wear buds without them falling out.

In conclusion, the Bose QC20is are my choice for travelling earphones.  Great noise cancellation, truly comfortable, good sound, what more can you really want?

It’s no surprise if you look around at an airport or train station to find the people who look like seasoned travellers are mainly wearing Bose cans.

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Amazon Fire TV in, Apple TV and Sony SMP-N200 out

The Amazon Fire TV arrived on Friday and immediately replaced both the Apple TV and the Sony network media player in my family room system. One box instead of two, one SMPS instead of two and one ethernet connection instead of two.

The beauty of the Amazon Fire TV box is that I can now easily watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Video without changing inputs on my DAC or TV. Less chance for a macro to go wrong.

Harmony Remote with HubThe Amazon Fire TV is fully controllable from my Harmony Remote with the exception of voice search.  For the convenience of only having one remote control for the whole system, I can live without voice search.

The sound quality seems to be as good as the Apple or the Sony and I think the image quality is better than either. No network glitches or buffering so far so it seems well sorted from a networking point of view, which is a little more than I can say about the Sony.

The screen saver images are also stunning.  Super sharpened but without any MPEG/JPG style artefacts that I can see.

I’ve seen complaints about the menu system, the fact that it favours Amazon products (Duh) but it’s easy to use, works well and in two days I’m used to using it.

Highly recommended.

All for £49 delivered if you have a Prime account.

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