As we are now over “crazy season” I thought it would be a good opportunity to have a news roundup of a few things that have happened over the last few months.

AV Amplifiers and Processors.

We have now added Datasat and Storm to our listings on the website. Datasat have advised that there will be some new products in the pipeline which will be very exciting. We have had the new Storm I.ISP 3D.16.12 Integrated amplifier on demonstration for the past few months and we have been really bowled over by it. With DIRAC on board it really is the top of the tree as far as integrated amplifiers go without question.

Denon have also launched their new AVC-X8500H integrated amplifier which has been extraordinarily popular with old owners of the Denon AVR-X7200WA. Redesigned from the ground up with several features internally which make the unit a unique proposition for those who require high end sound with huge channel counts. The addition of the new Audyssey app gives previously unheralded control of the EQ system which was long overdue.  

Marantz being a close stable mate of the Denon have also launched a processor to replace the old AV8802a aptly named the Marantz AV8805. This also includes the ability control the EQ via the Audyssey app. I’ve always been a fan of the Marantz units core sound quality and ran a Marantz integrated for most of last year in my own set-up to great effect.

The all new Emotiva RMC-1 Processor will be with us next month and we should be one of the first to receive one of these units for demonstration. Sonically, the RMC-1 features a full 16 channels of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound (7.3.6 channels), with a decoded audio signal for each channel that is processed by a separate high performance AKM Verita 32-bit DAC, operated in precision balanced mono mode. Support is provided for native audio decoding of single and double rate DSD digital audio signals, accepted from either HDMI or USB sources. Auro 3D will also be supported albeit with an optional license. Analog audio signals are routed by precision circuitry that rivals the most expensive audiophile preamps. The analog signal path features premium audiophile-quality components at all critical locations to ensure the integrity of audio signal is preserved. The RMC-1’s Reference Stereo mode helps to create a two-channel listening experience that is unparalleled at the price point. Dirac Live automatic room correction, running on all 16 channels at a full 192 kHz sample rate, establishes the perfect synergy between the RMC-1, the listening room, and the rest of the system. For those who prefer a more interactive user experience, the RMC-1 includes comprehensive 11-band parametric equalization on every channel, in addition to compatibility with the popular Room EQ Wizard room correction and analysis software. To say we are excited to see this would be the biggest understatement of the year.

We still have no news on the new Anthem products which we expect at some point this year, again as soon as we hear anything we will update the news site.

All of the above-mentioned units are available for home demonstration now, apart from the Emotiva RMC-1 which should be available in late May.

UHD Blu Ray

The biggest shock of recent months was that Oppo will be removing themselves from the physical media market and discontinuing their UHD BD players, Headphones and DAC’s. There have been a few rumors with regards exactly how quickly these units will disappear from the market. Our understanding is that Oppo UK will close, and then an EU distribution center will open in the coming months with stock becoming available again until around late 2018. Oppo have confirmed they will outsource servicing and software updates on these units to not leave customers in the lurch.

The hole in premium high end UHD players will likely be filled by Pioneer who have two new units slated for release later in the year in the similar price bracket as the outgoing Oppo’s. As the Pioneer BD units were arguably better than the Oppo’s in our view, we await more details with bated breath and will update the news page as we get some more details.

Because of this unexpected news we have moved on our demo Oppo 205 which has been residence in the demonstration room since its launch and replaced it with the Sony UBP-X1000es which has a fantastic premium build quality and specification to match.

OLED TV

We expect the imminent arrival of the new Panasonic OLED TV’s;

65" Premium OLED - TX-65FZ952 - £3999

55" Premium OLED - TX-55FZ952 - £2499

65" Entry level OLED - TX-65FZ802 - £3499

55" Entry level OLED - TX-55FZ802 - £2299.

I’ve ordered myself a TX-55FZ802 for the living room so will be writing a detailed review as soon as I can get it on the wall. Given Panasonic’s recent pedigree with OLED, expect a lot. The new Studio Colour HCX² 4K processor represents the pinnacle of Panasonic’s image processing expertise. Built on colour, black level and brightness know-how learned from their reference-quality plasma TVs and professional broadcast equipment, the system has also been tuned by a Hollywood colorist to deliver picture quality true to the filmmakers' vision. They really are the most accurate TV’s out of the box we have ever seen, to emphasize this all this year’s sets carry THX approval and certification.

Speakers

I’m usually drowning in speakers at the shop and this year is no different. We have tied up with ATC to offer their fantastic products to our customers and have already supplied some of their speakers with great effect in two recent jobs.

KEF has an all new range of Q series speakers which are on permanent demonstration in our smaller room at the office. Also, on permanent demonstration are the Goldenear Supersat speakers and Supersub subwoofers. We still haven’t found a small speaker to best these for performance, mainly due to their deployment of a ribbon tweeter which has little roll off up to 20khz in a couple of our rooms which is astonishing for such small speakers.

We will have some further additions to our installation range of speakers in the coming weeks but as the ink isn’t dry on that deal I’m afraid I can’t reveal any details. As soon as I can, it will be on the news page.