Music brings happiness to everyone. Treat yourself, your family or loved one with a new addition to your home whether it be a bluetooth or WiFi speaker, a new radio, a music streaming system, a new touch screen control centre – scroll on down to find inspiration in our selection of gift ideas, click on the links to find out more …and remember we’ll do a special gift wrapping for you at no extra charge.
The newest thing to arrive at Totally Wired is the Nativ Vita.This is a world class music server and touchscreen control all wrapped into a perfectly engineered and beautifully finished package. It combines digital music replay – storage, delivery and control, and is the best sounding digital source we’ve heard. We love it so much we have no doubt that if this is something for you you’ll love having this particular package wrapped and waiting for you on Christmas morning. You’ll have so much fun!
One of these these divine, absolutely gorgeous looking, new speakers would so totally make the perfect gift! Vifa make portable, wireless speakers with built-in rechargeable batteries and innovative engineering for uncompromised sound. Choose from the range of five – three come under the ‘portable’ banner and the other two ‘home.’ The ‘portable’ ones are stand-alone systems and the two larger ‘home’ speakers can also be multi-room/user/source-systems. From NZ$429.
Is there someone in your household who would like a music system for listening to their digital library of music or internet source like Spotify? On sound quality alone, the innovative D-Stream WAMP-200SB stands as the best sub-$1000 amplifier we’ve had the pleasure of listening to. It’s engaging, balanced, and produces room filling sound. French designed, its astonishing sound, affordability, compact size, and features make it ideal for a number of applications. Simply put it with a pair of speakers, then stream music. Its astonishing sound, affordability, compact size and features make it ideal for discreet living, bedrooms or offices – NZ$795.
A long time Christmas favourite the Tivolis never fail to please. We’ve got the most popular of the range ready to go – the authentic Model One table radio in both standard or with bluetooth; the summer fun PAL BT, portable and with bluetooth; the Model Three BT alarm clock; and the Music System BT with everything, including CD! Tivoli radios from NZ$349.
Headphones always make for a truly thoughtful gift. In a world awash with headphones where do you find ones that will really bring music alive? Well, right here. We have two suggestions, each unique in their own way: Staxis the ultimate for relaxing at home, and the very elegant Pryma for music on the go. Both are of audiophile quality so you can be assured of your choice.
This is a great way to go if there is someone in your life (or you yourself), who loves listening to their stereo. They would be over the moon to get something which would make it even more enjoyable. Putting in better cables is an easy way to do this. We simply can’t say enough about how good the KLEI cables really are and the improvements they make to music listening. We understand that this can sometimes be a tricky one to know what to get so we are very happy for you to ask our advice. There is a range of types and prices.
Everything else….An Aotearoa summer Christmas means many things. For most its family, fun and festivities. A holiday time of cheer, and time to slow down. A time to simply enjoying living. So you can sit back and enjoy, now is the time to consider your music system aspirations. Have you always wanted a turntable? Is it time for a new cartridge? See our Analogue page. Maybe you are keen to upgrade your cables?
Perhaps it’s time for a new amplifier or pair of speakers to replace old tired ones, or you’ve been thinking of adding an outside pair for balmy summer evenings on the deck? Between our two chosen speaker brands – the highly esteemed Monitor Audio and Sonus faber, and the NuPrime amplifiers, we have a variety of excellent options. Or maybe you’d now like to access your music digitally? At Totally Wired there are solutions to all things for music listening.
We have some great and varied ideas on whole systems – check out our Suggested Systems, or see what there is to get down on in our SPECIALS.
Peruse our site(yep, we’ve inserted loads of links…), or tell us of your aspirations, and we’ll point you to the best options, or Shop on-line.
Expressing your individuality – 2 different system choices:
In a one-size-fits-all world where every phone is basically the same, few things can be more individual than your choice of system to replay music in your home. The downside of this is that our choices can seem bewildering. So I’ve been doing some serious thinking about how we put togethera system – even then it’s a challenge to decide what we call it – a stereo or musicsystem, an AV media or surround system? Digital, analogue or both?
It’s become obvious that the old rules that were arbitrarily applied to system design just don’t work any more. Linn had a hierarchy of components starting from source but how does this work when the source is an iPhone? Wattage used to be the go-to specification for choosing speakers and amplifiers but with modern living loudness is hardly a desirableattribute – quality is what counts.
And if you have an existing system, will be the best solution be to upgrade a single component or just to replace as a means to the end of better sound?
With all these considerations in mind I’ve decided to highlight 2 quite different system choices that we’ve been enjoying over the last few months. Working from home has allowed us to spend much more time listening and really coming to grips with how components will perform in your own environment.
The first system centres on the new little French designed D-Stream WAMP-200 SB digital amplifier. This is a completely modern take on the idea of an entry level integrated amplifier and while intended to be a very simple to operate, there is a depth of features and flexibility that simply didn’t exist at any price a few years ago. That, and it sounds insanely good for very little.
The D-Stream hardly even looks like an amplifier – it’s a sleek and compact clamshell with two rear mounted wifi aerials that suggest in a completely reasonable way that this is essentially a network component first and foremost. So while the physical input and output array on the rear panel is modest, this is more than supplemented by wifi, Bluetooth and LAN connectivity and the entire world of possibilities that come with steaming services and shared music collections.
The D-Stream not only opens up all these channels for you, it is more than capable of making great sound with a wide range of speakers. Because it sounds so good, it will make low cost speakers sound better and allow you to build an easily affordable system that doesn’t skimp on quality or features.
But at the same time I’ll point out that the low cost of the D-Stream enables you to select speakers that are better than you might have otherwise allowed for. When carefully set up and connected in the same way we would with a high end amplifier, the D-Stream WAMP 200 SB is the literal giant killer.
As our suggested system, I’ve matched the D-Stream with a pair of rather nice trade in speakers – the Quad 12L.2s which have just come in – these shelf mount speakers have a generous and rich sound which builds on the D-Stream’s clarity and evenhanded presentation. Together they are easily our best sounding entry level system for just $1400 complete.
Now let’s take things up another level – System 2.
There is absolutely a place for a carefully put together component system where each part is purpose built. Because I’m continually evaluating new components I want a baseline system of high transparency at a realistic price point that reflects what I know many of you can afford. Simply put, I want to know that you’ll be able to hear what I do and that you’ll be able to trust what I write.
So I’ve put together a complete system where no individual part is more than $3000 and most are much less – this approach gives a huge degree of flexibility. Each component stands as what I’d hope is best in its class so you can look to put any one of them in your own system.
I’m intentionally using both analogue and digital sources, and the aim is to be able to appreciate both in equal measure.
On the analogue side, we have the Consonance Wax Engine turntable, fitted with the new Dynavector 10X5mk2 high output moving coil cartridge. The digital foil for this is the NuPrime CDP-9 player and DAC – this deals not only with CD but has multiple digital inputs allowing you to stream in from smartphone, network, TV and more.
In keeping with the ethos of separate components we have NuPrime’s remarkable little HPA-9 analogue preamplifier. This is the unsung hero in the NuPrime range – resolutely analogue and running in pure Class A, you couldn’t ask for a simpler product that sounds great and even has an excellent phono stage built in. Originally intended as a headphone amplifier (and there are 3 outputs for this), I’ve found it to be a supremely capable preamplifier that adds quality and drive to almost any system.
Match this with the proven STA-9 120 watt power amplifier and you have a combination that will make the most of almost any form of music coming and and drive any speaker system you wish to connect. And don’t forget the STA-9 can be easily bridged so you can upgrade your system to two mono 280 watt power amps at any stage in the future.
We’ve been completely spoilt for choice with new speakers lately – the new Monitor Audio Silver series or Studios would be obvious choices for this system. But we’ve always loved what Sonus faber do and right now the Chameleon T’s are by far our best value speaker proposition – these are a full sized floor standing speaker the combine the essential ‘voice’ of Sonus faber with the efficiency, depth and solidity you’d expect with two bass drivers in a generously ported cabinet that stands around 1m high. Throw in a choice of Italian racing red or beautifully finished walnut side panels and you have a speaker system that looks every bit as good as it sounds.
Combined with the NuPrime electronicsand the Wax Engine turntable, the Chameleons do pretty much everything you could ever hope for – above all they produce the kind of sound that you can just fall into – rich and warm but always involving enough to keep you coming back for more.
Good as all the individual parts are, it’s the connections that make them work and turn it into a functioning system. The timely arrival of a new generation of cables from Keith Eichmann delivered a transparency and balance that is difficult to describe but easy to understand once you hear it. As it stands, this system includes two of the new ‘special’ gPower3 AC power cables, a couple of pairs of the the new QFlow3 analogue interconnects, a set of 2m QFlow7 speakers cables plus the matching bi-wire jumpers. And from the turntable we use a custom made Mogami interconnect with the KLEI Absolute Harmony RCA plugs – this ensures a complete absence of hum which is often the by-product of in -ine power supplies.
It says something about how I regard the importance of connections that when we do a quick add up of all the cables used, if considered as a component, they are the most costly part of this system. Sound crazy? My question to you would be what do you think would make this system perform at a higher level for less? We could change individual components, but would they really improve the system as a whole? And anyway, it would be easy enough to select Keith’s entry level KLEI cables which deliver a remarkably consistent performance – this would quickly bring the total back in line with the individual components.
The nature of component systems is that they are often built up over time – so you may only take one or two parts of the above system as being relevant to you. Think of it as a bit of a real world testbed.
What you’ll find striking is that you could migrate from the little D-Stream system in my office, to the NuPrime 9 based system above, and then to the boots and all Well Tempered/Nuprime Evolution set up, and not feel short changed at any step. Obviously as we go up there are marked improvements in qualities such as detail and precision, a vast increase in available power and dynamics. But each gets to the heart of music and is genuinely enjoyable. We’re not about audio elitism – I’m happy to work at the level you are comfortable with and will do my best to put together the best sound at whatever that happens to be.
Consonance Wax Engine Turntable $1695
Dynavector DV 10X5Mk2 $1100
NuPrime CDP-9 player and DAC $2800
NuPrime HPA-9 preamp $1250
NuPrime STA-9 power amplifier $1250
Sonus faber Chameleon T speakers – on special – were $5000+ Now $2700 (red panels) $3000 (walnut)
KLEI gPower3 AC cables 1m $750
KLEI QFlow3 Interconnects $900
KLEI QFlow 7 Speaker cables 2m$1575
KLEI Q7 Bi-wire jumpers $320.
At the same time as I’ve been writing this, my partner Carolijn has been working through the new Vifa range of wireless speakers from the remarkable little Reykjavik (just $429) though to their elegantly proportioned Stockholm ($2700). Read her take here.
While loudspeakers which come in at over 20,000 euro are going to be but a dream for most of us, the review linked to below is worth reading, not only to gain an insight into the serious high end, but also to see how some much more affordable products we put in NZ homes rate in this context. You’ll see the PrimaLuna tube amplifiers finds honourable mention and the NuPrime ST-10 gets an even more enthusiastic recommendation.
‘the ST-10 really brings the Sabrinas to life! Where all other transistor amps seemed dynamically a little restrained and only the PrimaLuna provided the kind of subjective dynamic swing that I crave, the NuPrime ST-10 has a kind of energetic presence that none of the other amps (transistor and tube) could match. Transient crispness and dynamic impact are really startling, better than with any of the other amps. Bass with the ST-10 is also incredible, not in a big and fat kind of way, but tuneful and articulate with just the right amount of pressure. Meanwhile the NuPrime’s very pure tonality and open and communicative character further increase the Sabrina’s timbral believability.’
We’ve also got some really exciting news from NuPrime in the last few days – the are 3 new high end amplifier models on the way. First up will be a mono version of the ST-10 above – the new ST-10Ms will be much more powerful, and even better sounding – the perfect upgrade for anyone who wants more out of their music.
Even better will be the new Reference 20E. Like the ST-10M above these are mono amplifiers, but each around twice the size (although this only makes them normal width and they’re still in a slimline profile.) This is a completely new design from Reference 20. which will be a big improvement on ST-10M and that will surpass Ref 20’s 420 watts per channel in power and resolution.
We hope to have the new ST10Ms here before the end of January and the Reference 20Es shortly afterwards. And offer generous trade in’s on existing NuForce and NuPrime models.
Reacquaint yourself with the NuPrime 10 products here.
We’ve continued to enjoy the new Monitor Audio Silver 6G 300s since we first posted the first full review of this model here. Just to show we’re not too far off the mark in our praise of these speakers, the Monitor Audio Silver 300 has received the prestigious Product of the Year award from The Absolute Sound at their High End Audio Product of the Year Awards.
In their January 2018 issue, Robert Harley described the Silver 300 as having “a compelling array of musical virtues”. This included, “terrific speed on transients, effortless reproduction of dynamics, and overall sense of musical coherence.” The bass was also praised, with Robert saying it is “detailed and resolved, providing a clear sense of pitch”.
The full feature will be in The Absolute Sound: Issue #279.
Add this to the fourWhat Hi-Fi Product of the Year awardswhich they have just received for 2017 and it’s clear that these are speakers you should seeking out. We’ve had a number of enquires lately from our original Image pages – we liked these speakers a lot at the time and really felt there was a case for unconditional support of NZ made.
But the reality is that overseas specialists have upped the rate of development, producing better and better products which now eclipse them. That said – we still work with Gary Morrison and Ross Stevens at Pure Audio so if there is a niche for the local product we’ll be there. And it’s worth knowing that there is NZ input in products from Dynavector and the Well Tempered Turntables but these days it’s all about collaboration and going to where the best resources are.
Working from home has given me much more time to both listen and write. For analogue enthusiasts, you may have missed them the first time around but we’ve got new pages up on both the Well Tempered Simplex 2 turntable and the Dynavector cartridges. What has been most striking for me that with all the components and systems we’ve set up in our new home showroom, the improvements made over the run in period (let’s not tempt fate and call it burn in) have been greater than we’ve ever experienced before – and the time involved is also stretching out. It’s not that they aren’t sounding good from the outset – but that one, two or even three months down the track, were still getting moments where it’s become obvious that the sound quality has stepped up significantly from the previous days.
Our partnership with Keith Eichmann and his KLEI cable range has a lot to do with this. I never would have credited the scale of improvements made by these cables unless I’d heard it first had but every few weeks we get vindication in feedback from clients. We’re getting much greater transparency in all our systems because of this, and not only do the cables also have a well documented run in period of 300 hours or more, but they make the progress of all the other components in the system much more obvious. So if you combine the individual effects of each components and cable, by the time we look at a system as a whole, the concept of running in has gone from subtle to transformative – even on systems that we might have regarded as quite modest.
But enough of in-doors pursuits. It’s a much better summer than last and we aim to get out and about in this beautiful island over the next few months. I’ve just discovered Kā Huru Manu – The Ngāi Tahu Cultural Mapping Project. This fantastic site is dedicated to recording and mapping the traditional Māori place names and associated histories in the Ngāi Tahu rohe (tribal area). Place names are tangible reminders of history and values. They represent a significant symbol of the Ngāi Tahu historical association and relationship with the landscape.
My own knowledge of the history of Te Waipounamu has a massive hole in the middle – a degree in geology informed an understanding of the physical island and timespans of millions of years. And I, like many, grew up with a very conventionally edited story of our colonial history. To know where you are going, you have to learn about the ground you stand on and respect the people that came before you – Kā Huru Manu is the perfect place to start.
So that’s it from us for this year – we wish you all the best and look forward to hearing from you in 2018.