There’s a genre of dystopian near future fiction that seems to keep coming home with me from the library. Reading the book with the above title as the pandemic unfolded was just a little bit unsettling. Yet within the bleak scenario that Sarah Pinsker sets the novel in, there’s the promise of things getting better and central to this is what I’ll call the redemptive power of rock ’n roll. This could apply to any genre of music but we’re going to run with what we know.
I get a real kick out of live music and there’s nothing like being in a room with people who really want to be there and enjoy themselves. The nights take on an energy that propels everyone in the room into a kind of shared euphoria. There’s a bit of swaying, a bit of shuffling and spillage as everyone finds a place of their own and looses themselves in the music and the moment. It’s a kind of shamanistic ritual with a loose set of social conventions, but looking back, it’s been central to my life for over four decades now.
To say that we are so lucky to be in New Zealand right now and still have this as a part of our lives is an understatement.
Moments like these are what gets many people into audio. It could be an orchestral performance, a large stadium event or even just a catchy song you hear on the radio. To be able to replicate that feeling is the whole justification for a stereo system. And this doesn’t apply to any particular genre of music or scale of performance – what spins your wheels is likely to be quite different from mine but there are moments we can create that take us some way towards that feeling of being there.
So heading into 2021 we’re looking for more of those moments. We have the means towards this particular end. First up are two components that have crystallised much of my thinking about how we listen to music and the qualities that are important when it comes to really enjoying what we hear.
NuPrime’s new AMG series are a completely modern approach to amplification and the new STA power amplifier (NZ$2850) is their best work yet – ‘By being different and being willing to use their very best technologies in an affordable power amplifier design NuPrime have delivered a remarkable component. The AMG STA sets new standards in fluidity and detail while being completely user friendly and broadly compatible.
It’s also the perfect partner for their equally accomplished analogue preamplifier – the AMG PRA. Separately or together they take NuPrime’s sound and designs to another level. The AMGs are complete vindication for the concepts behind Class D – yet draw upon many other strands with power supply filtering, Class A operation for the input stages, high switching speeds and extremely high input impedance all added to the mix. Each aspect imparts a considerable performance advantage and taken together they add up to something truly special.’ Read our full review here.
What is really interesting with the AMG STA is it has a distinct character relative to other NuPrime models – as another reviewer noted – ‘Changing from the (NuPrime) ST-10 to the AMG STA was like changing to a completely different brand of amplifier.’ Christiaan Punter, the owner of Hifi-Advice.com.
NuPrime have a big year coming up. With the release of the Omnia A-300 streaming amplifier they are starting to edge into the territory staked out by Lumin (see below). There are important differences however and we’ll be exploring these in depth over February.
The A-300 is step up from the NuPrime IDA-8 with more power, and greater capability on the digital front.
The new AMG series is set to expand and this combined with the MCX power amplifiers and Evolution models give NuPrime a full suite of high end electronics. There are refinements and additions in the pipeline for the more affordable ‘9’ series.
Power supply products are starting to look more interesting. It’s no secret that I think we get better results with the KLEI AC power cables. But NuPrime are transferring their experience gained in the design of the new AMG series and Evolution lines to improving the power supplies feeding into other components.
I’ve got NuPrime’s new LPS-205 and 212 supplies which (as you’d expect from the numbers) are dedicated 5v and 12v supplies. The former is intended for many digital products which rely on a USB supply. The latter holds a lot of appeal for many analogue systems – turntables and phono stages such as the Wax Engine, Well Tempered and Dynavector models. Both supplies are very reasonably priced at NZ$700 and I’ll be reporting back on these soon.
The new Sonus faber Minima Amator II speakers (NZ$7000 the pair) look to both the past and future. Inspired by the original Minima from 1992 they are a complete re-working of the concept that honours the original sound which Sonus faber’s reputation is built on. Yet they are a speaker for 2021 and beyond, with resolution that makes the most of today’s best formats and electronics.
Writing about the Minima’s came at a difficult time and for a while I was lost for words. In between doom scrolling and working on the Green election campaign it was just enough to find occasional solace in their sound. But as we’ve come closer to some semblance of normality I’ve found the Minima’s to be rather special and something which we look forward to. They brought in our New Year and now you can read our views on this modern day classic.
But this is just the start of what promises to be a far better year…
Lumin are a brand that you are going to hear more about. Until now the Nativ Vita has done everything we’ve wanted but the time has come to look for even higher levels of performance with a broader range of options and this is what Lumin are promising – the reviews are stellar and there has been enough time since introduction for the development of the components and associated software to fully mature.
Lumin is due to roll into New Zealand in January and we’re very much looking forward to introducing you to their range. There will be a good choice of components that will dovetail nicely into existing systems and form the heart of even better new ones. Start to learn about Lumin now.
In an uncanny co-incidence the Sonus faber Lumina loudspeaker range has also just arrived – While the Minima evokes and builds on the past the new Lumina is a younger take on the Sonus faber story.
Already after only a few days listening, I’m well and truely hooked. The new Lumina I is the smallest and most affordable model in the Sonus stable – just NZ$1500 the pair – but fully Italian made and there’s no holding back on the essential qualities. Expressive and sweet, the little Luminas are making my office a far more enjoyable place to be. We’ve also got the floor standing Lumina III ($4000) on hand so I’ll be doing a double header write up over the next few weeks.
KLEI – Keith Louis Eichmann Innovations
We’ve taken a deep breath and ordered in the absolute best of Keith’s interconnect and power cable options – the QPURITY∞∞∞ ICs and QPURITY∞∞∞ AC/PC. I’m just going to call them the ‘Infinities.’
As with the NuPrime AMGs they have taken us into uncharted territory. After negotiating the long run in period, a process made even more difficult as we were cycling through a series of other components at the same time, I’ve come to regard both cables as an absolute essential in any system I listen to for my own pleasure. There is a certain insanity to this – they can quite often cost more than the components they are connected to, yet the transformational qualities delivered still justify the price.
Putting this all in context is not easy. The entire KLEI analogue interconnect range has both improved and simplified this last year with just 4 models ranging between NZ$550 and $4950. There is a remarkable consistency in the sound and character of the interconnects despite the almost 10 fold difference between entry level and the Infinities. But with the advent of components such as the NuPrime AMGs, the potential to hear worthwhile improvements between the models has been magnified. The same now applies to the four AC power cable choices.
Combined with the introduction of multiple new RCA socket and speaker binding post options, and new digital cables, the KLEI range has become somewhat dauntingly comprehensive. Yet we have most of it here and in stock.
Hearing one KLEI cable is almost always convincing for people and it’s now possible to attend to almost every part of the audio chain with Keith’s cables. I don’t suggest that other cables aren’t any good – just that in my own experience and that of an increasing number of other listeners, the results are consistently positive and beyond expectations.
For us it all started with a pair of humble RCAs fitted to our turntable – the original Eichmann Bullet Plug. For you it may be the same – today’s Harmony RCA plugs are even better. So don’t be afraid to to start small – you will hear a surprising improvement and then every subsequent upgrade will be more obvious as the transparency of your system improves.
You chose the components that make up your system with the best of intentions – KLEI plugs and cables will make them all perform at a higher level than you ever considered possible. More music, less noise and distortion. Drop us a line today and take the first step –