since our last e-zine found its way to you in February. To say a lot has happened since is an understatement. Yet despite this we’ve been busier than ever. There have been a multitude of new components, and with many of you spending more time at home there have been a lot of new systems and upgrades going on.
have been upgrading their range at a frenetic pace in 2022. In February we introduced you to the Evolution STA stereo power amplifier which has since gained some excellent reviews, but the real action is at the other, more affordable end of their range. The new STA-9X stereo power amplifier fulfils the same functions as the Evolution STA but packs it in a far smaller box at a fraction of the price, and even has some tricks that the flagship model doesn’t. The STA-9X has the highest switching speed of any NuPrime model and while 130 watts a side is plenty for most, you can bridge it with a flick of a switch and turn it into a fearsome 330 watt mono power amplifier!
The original STA-9 was no slug but the sound quality from the 9X version is next level, and in terms of quality not far short of the AMG series. In fact for some listeners it may even be better. The AMG series are quite distinct in character from the sound of other NuPrime models, yet the 9X takes the lucidity and power of the classic NuPrime and Nuforce designs to something that is way above the entry level intentions of the original ‘9’. While Nuprime have an almost bewildering array of power amplifier options, the new STA-9X is easily the best value of all in terms of performance for the price – NZ$2400.
The all analogue PRA-9X preamplifier (NZ$2300) and it’s digital sibling, the DAC-9X (NZ$2500) do similar things on the preamp front – both are completely new balanced designs to match the STA-9X and stories in their own right. They look remarkably similar, so you can see the the economies of scale happening, but they are radically different inside – the PRA-9X builds upon NuForce’s, and more recently NuPrime’s history in high end preamplifier design. There’s an excellent headphone section, phono preamplifier, and both balanced and RCA inputs and outputs. Not to mention remote control. The DAC-9X is the third iteration of the 9 series DAC and moves to a Sabre chipset – the headphone section and updated array of digital inputs (plus one analogue), make this the effective replacement for the more costly and highly respected DAC-10H.
Even better, is the new AMG DAC– a thing of beauty in both physical and aural senses. Like the other models in this range, the DAC has a fluid and highly refined sonic signature – the resolution is astonishing, and there has been particular care placed on the design of the analogue output stage.
A new IA-9 integrated amplifier is due for release in December, as are flagship Evolution Two mono blocks, the AMG One mono block, and a new twist on the classic STA-100.
The word on streaming network components, Lumin are at the top of their game. The last 12 months have seen Lumin introduce a series of new models and we’ve had our work cut out covering them all so let’s look at some review highlights.
“The Lumin P1 network player (NZ$20,500) is a standout in so many ways. Its feature set, which combines network streaming, a high-quality DAC, and a multi-input preamplifier, is perfectly suited to today’s music systems. With full MQA decoding and Roon-Ready status, the P1 leaves no important item off the table…. Audio products that combine many capabilities into a single component in the pursuit of low cost or convenience often do so at the expense of sound quality—a case of “jack of all trades, master of none.” But the Lumin P1 defies that stereotype—I’ll call it a “master of all trades.” Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound September 2022.
The U2 Mini (NZ$4500) has been an immediate hit with us – being both one of the most affordable Lumin components yet delivering a jaw dropping level of performance when connected to existing DACs. The U2 Mini is the perfect addition to many systems and will show you just how good streaming can sound.
“To put it bluntly, this is not in line with the price level and a similar impression could be expected from [products] at least twice as expensive. ” SoundRebels
The best selling Lumin T2 has just been replaced by the T3 (NZ$9500). This is the sweet spot in the Lumin range. The improvements made are subtle but significant – finish quality lifted to X1/P1 levels, and a new-for-2022 processing system allowing the T3 to do more and be better at it. The price has increased due to exchange rates, but the T3 is now even better value in real terms –
“Two things make it stand out from the crowd. First is the excellent sound quality, its dynamics and sheer drive giving life and excitement to music. Secondly, the ongoing software maintenance and support from the factory provide peace of mind and confidence in the purchase being future-proof. The assurance of timely customer assistance and cost-free feature upgrades for many years is a big drawcard because, in my view, a digital device is only as good as its support. It’s more than just an update to the popular T2, then. In reality, the new LUMIN T3 is an ever better sounding device than its predecessor – with skilful improvements that make it one of the finest players at its price point.” Stereonet October 2022.
“In addition to reproducing beautiful voices and and solo instruments, the Lumin T3 and AMP really shined on one of my favorite pieces of music with quite a bit going on, to say the least. Mussorgsky’s Night on the Bare Mountain, from Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Le Sacre du Printemps, has been a go-to track for me recently. I love the music and I love when stellar audio components reproduce it wonderfully. The Lumin components handled this track effortlessly, while putting its brilliance on full display.” Audiophile Style October 2022
We’ve got several Lumin based systems set up and running here so, if you’re wanting to hear for yourself, just drop us a line.
We’re long time Sonus faber enthusiasts so, it’s been a pleasure for us to build magnificent systems around Sonus faber’s hand crafted speakers this last winter for our clients. From the affordable new Lumina range (which has recently been expanded with the II and V models), through Sonetto, the classic Minima Amator II and Electa amator III, to the even better Olympica Nova collection. If anything the problem is supply – with the combination of Covid disruptions in Italy, long freight times and greater than expected demand we’ve been working hard to keep the most popular models on hand.
Sonus faber pull out the stops with their latest release: the Omnia all-in-one system is evocative of a James Bond lifestyle – curvaceous and sleek with a beautiful walnut top panel inlaid with a series of illuminated strips that also serve as control and display, and the dash panel of a high performance car, the deck of a bespoke Italian speedboat.
Given we’ve also got the latest iteration of the classic Tivoli Music system, which likewise sports a handsome walnut finish and shares a very similar feature set; how do they actually compare? I’ve had both running in my office for the last couple of months and it’s been quite the trip, which you can read about here.
On the analogue front it’s been almost as busy; the new Well Tempered Labs Kauri II MC cartridge, handcrafted from 45,000 year old swamp kauri is an absolute delight. The Well Tempered turntable range has continued to be improved and expanded with models ranging from the latest Wax Engine (a defacto WTL design), the Simplex II, the new Amadeus JR, Versalex and Amadeus 254. The new and very best WTL Phono Stage is also just in.
Nagaoka have released two new affordable, but extremely good sounding Moving magnet cartridge models ($450 and $995) “To keep it short: We have hardly ever listened to a better pickup for this price. The extremely linear top-of-the-range Jeweltone sounds so natural, resolved and fanned out that it provides nothing but pleasure… the “BK” displays an inherently noble perfection, especially since it also does without “artificial freshness” in the form of brightened upper frequencies. In addition, it features a gnarly bass, differentiated down to the smallest facets, which perfectly complements the fine trebles at the other end of the spectrum.” stereomagazine .com
“I can also be enthusiastic about MMs, but only a few have really swept me off my feet. Such as the Nagaoka JT-80 BK. Its black body delivers a scope of colour which is just unparalleled. One of the best MM systems ever.” audio.de
Finally, while our brush with Covid in June didn’t seem too bad at the time, the effects have lingered, and we’re making a concerted effort not to catch it again. Despite this we’ve had a whole lot happening outside Totally Wired. Carolyn has been busy at university tutoring disability students and other classes, the Halo Project ‘Source to Sea‘ planting program on our little farm has continued – we’ve now got over 3000 natives in and a big section of river fenced off. And, after spending almost 4 years as Finance Manager for the Deep South Greens I’ve moved on to become a board member for NZAVS – the New Zealand Anti Vivisection Society.
We’ll be on deck right through to Christmas, and as always, have time to answer your enquiries and requests. Plus we’ve got all the goodies to make your festive season sing 😃
Looking forward to hearing back from you – John & Carolyn at Totally Wired.