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Welcome to Lyric Hifi

429 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7EY Tel: +44 (0)2890 381296, From ROI 04890 381296
Open: 10:00am - 5:00pm - Monday to Friday, 7pm Thursday, Saturday 11:00am to 3:00pm

Call in for a mosey round, tap us for good advice, and have a listen to great sounds

New Sonos Play 5

sonos p5 up

Sonos dont change models very often, and not without going forward

Expectations were high then when we were told that the Play5 was going to be replaced

sonos p5 2

Over the years we have sold many many of these to delighted customers

Whether its your main music player or an add-on for an extra room the Play5's performance and simplicity have been key factors in it's incredible success

With the market overcrowded with me-too wireless music systems it's easy to forget that when Sonos first introduced the Play5 most people in the hifi trade didnt know what it was, let alone consumers. It was Sonos's original all-in-one box music streamer/amplifier/speaker

It really was that ground-breaking!

Replacing this 7 year old design was never going to be easy and an experienced (cynical?) hifi geek like me is notoriously difficult to impress

I'm impressed!

Yes it sounds much clearer,

yes the larger cabinet gives more bass,

and yes the wifi is even more stable,

however there is even more..

sonos p5 new

 

While Linn's space optimisation has been the first such system to really work with no downsides the new Play5 has a feature called TruePlay which gives a simplified ver sion

Sure the limited frequency range compared to a Linn speaker means that the improvement isn't in the same league but what it does do it does very well

It really works, and it's great to see a mainstream company giving real actual improvements!

That's the cynic in me, most products in this range have no new design, copy everything else around and are plain boring

This isn't boring, it's really clever, it will sell extremely well

sonos p5 exp

Arcam Kef AudioQuest Evening

If you missed our recent manufacturer evening then you missed a treat!

We started with a Q&A with Jonathan Johnson from Kef. His message was a fast one about Kef's ethos, the point being that for all the talking he could do, and he can talk, that he wanted the speakers to talk for themselves.

We progressed to..... clients in the shop take precedence, sorry

Back a week later, getting busy now, 

We played the Kef LS50s on the small Arcam system, CDS27 with A29, total 2600 and sounding really sweet

Great comments all around

Then we were meant to have a short presentation by Audioquest about their cables.

If you look at their website AQ make cables of all types and prices from 20 to thousands and that's far too many to demonstrate so we thought let's do something simple and controversial.

Using the Arcam streaming system we had an ethernet cable directly back to the router so we listened to that followed by placing a network switch beside the Arcam and a short AQ ethernet cable from it into the Arcam.

It sounded much better, which is of course impossible.

We then changed from a 30 ethernet cable to an 89 one and it sounded better again.

This is of course impossible

A final change to a 250 cable gave another distinct and obvious improvement

This is of course impossible!

Better earthing, better copper, better screening, yes of course these will make differences to analogue audio cables but how can it do this to a digital networked system?

Actually I dont really care, I just want that improvement!

Moving on to Mick from Arcam giving some background to the company and to where they are now, with some ground-breaking new Class G amplifier designs.

Demonstrations followed, comparing the A29, 999, to the A39, 1499, and then the daddy A49 at 3499

 

In the middle of this we also changed from the small Kef to the new Reference series featuring the bookshelf Reference 1s at 4500 and then the amazing 7500 Reference 3s.

Love them to bits! They're great

Rega RX speakers

If you have been paying attention you will know that we have been looking forward to getting our hands on the new Rega speakers for a few months now.

Rega don't add new speakers too often so when a new range of 3 comes along all at once it's going to be special. Especially when you remember what a roll Rega are on. Sure they are famous for the amazing turntables but now their cd players and every amplifier boasts awards and acclaim worldwide.

rx range

So what has prompted the new models? Well, Rega work away on new ideas, technologies, and production techniques all the time. These three elements have come together to give them some real advances.

Their Reference RS10 speakers launched 2 years ago with a new treble unit designated ZRR. This technology is now adapted into a new lower cost unit designed to match with the heart of the RX range, the all new DX125 bass midrange driver. This amazing unit features in all three RX models. In the compact RX1 it does all the bass. In the RX3 and RX5 it is joined by a dedicated side mounted bass unit, a system previously used on the RS series and now upgraded. This system allows you to easily tailor the sound to your room. Start with the bass units facing out towards the corners. If you have too much bass simply change round left and right, the bass units point inward and the bass is reduced in balance. This along with moving the speakers closer to or away from the wall can give the optimal position for any room, very clever.

To use an amplifier that would be a natural partner I first listened with the £ 898 Rega Elex-r. In truth these can be driven by a lesser amp as they are all efficient but let's see what Rega think RX1s should sound like.

RX1black

Oh-oh, first impressions of the RX1s are really good!

You know I love the Kef LS50 but they have real competition here. I started with Paolo Nutini's These Streets album, just the mood I'm in ok?, and it is lovely. Musical, soft and detailed, and a wonderful voice where you hear all the emotion. Let's try some Radiohead for another great voice, Street Spirit from The Bends album. The guitar sounds great and there's plenty of bass when the bass line comes in. These can really move some air for a small speaker. Something harder next, rock'n'roll from Steve Gibbons Live at the Robin Watching the river flow. Great attack and great drums, these can really rock and are amazing at £ 798

Let's take it up a notch with the RX3 compact floorstanders at £ 1298

RX3walnut

. OMG Rega are clever! The bass/mid no longer has to do bass so we immediately have better bass extension as well as better clarity on vocals.

Steve Gibbons now fills the room with more dynamics and slam from the live recording. And these are only 16cm wide!

Shelby Lynne's beautiful Just a little loving next, and it is superb.

Wants me to see what  more we can get out these tiny floorstanders with the big sound so let's change the amplifier to the £ 1598 Elicit-r amplifier and reall y get them moving.

Playing Shelby Lynne again gives even deeper bass, even more emotional vocals and even crisper drums, really enjoying these special speakers.

Another track before changing to RX5s, Talking Heads Psycho Killer from Stop making Sense. David Byrne's vocals sound superb!

Let's try Burning down the House from the same album, great now let's go £ 400 more to the RX5

Now the bass line on Burning is even more impressive and these speakers are still only 18cm wide!

It is genius to have this sound from such a compact box, love them to bits!

rx5cutW

Let's try a different kind of test. Step right up by Tom Waits from the Small Change album has a really tight double bass lead with drum and sax backing.

Great song, ironic, driving with every possible american sales line.

To summarise, many of you will absolutely love these first for the sound and secondly for the value and thirdly for the domestic harmony!

Call in for a listen, place your order, deliveries start late August/early September

 

Linn Open Day

Thursday 27th August will be a Linn Open day at Lyric Hifi.

Alan Williams from Linn will be around during the day to answer your Linn questions whether it's about LP12s, amplifiers, streaming, or upgrading your Linn speakers. Also you can bring in your LP12 for Alan to check and advise as to your best improvement. We will then do the upgrades you decide on and you can collect your LP12 singing like a bird a few days later

Then in the evening there will be a presentation and demonstration of Linn Exakt technology. This is truly ground breaking and parts of it are designed to improve even non-Linn speakers.

You don't need to book for during the day but if you wish to attend the evening session simply drop me a line with how many there will be.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A great night in prospect, not to be missed for Linn fans and enquirers alike

 

Naim 250 Upgraded

Remember the Naim Nap250?

nap250 3

Back in the early 80s when we were playing Tom Waits, Sheffield Steel and Joan Armatrading this was the best amplifier money could buy. It wasnt too powerful, it had strange connections, it wasn't a looker but it was the daddy of all power amps! I have always loved the Naim 250 for the classic it is. It hasn't gone away you know, just been there, now sitting in the middle of the Naim range overshadowed by newer pretenders.

Naim will tell you the  250 has evolved over the years and it has improved, yet it hasnt really changed. Until now.

New Discrete Regulator circuit and new output transistors from the £100k Naim Statement form the biggest change Ive ever heard in the venerable 250.

So it's been lovely to get reacquainted and to try it in a new system. Also new from Naim recently is the NAC N 272, part of the search for higher performance by putting the streamer physically in the same box as the preamplifier. Is this a value or performance move from Naim and Linn? Doesnt really matter, if you already have a top end preamplifier you will probably add a streamer whereas if you need a streamer and better preamp you will probably save a bundle by buying them in one box.

The 272 can be used with the 250 as a complete system, and you can then slam the performance up now or later by adding the Naim XPS power supply. So how does this all sound?

Unpacking it all from new is fun for me. No hurry, check each piece, get it right. Naim gear is so solid, lovely to work with. What speakers to use? Lets set up the latest Kef Reference 3s, should be a great system

Put it all together, connect to out network and choose some music, let's go back the 80s and give the oldies a whirl. It sounds pretty good but to get the ultimate from Naim gear it needs to run in for a while so let's leave it on and listen tomorrow.

To be continued......................

nac-n272 1 0

Coming back today Ross had connected up a pr of Kef LS50s for a dem so let's give the Naim a whirl with them. The LS50s are an incredible little speaker and straightaway this combination has really gelled.

The effortless power of the NAP250 really get's the speakers moving. On Joan Armatrading's Show some emotion the bass lines are really tight and articulate. On James Taylor's Looking for love on Broadway the vocals are superb. But lets challenge this some more, let's put the Reference 3s on. The new Reference 3s use the Blade technology for the treble and mid, and it's exceptional. James Taylor really comes life. His voice is now so expressive. Let's test it more by changing to a Studio Master of Jimmy Rogers Blue Bird at 24 bit 96kHz. Jimmy gives a brilliant performance. The Blue and lonesome track is awesome, and yet... there is more to come.

On these speakers there is now a ragged edge that shouldn't be there. But I know that's not the speakers.

Today up until now I've just been using the NAC-N 272 directly into the NAP250, a £ 6695 combination. Naim gear at this level is vastly improved with a power supply so now it's time to connect the XPS, the £ 3600 source power supply in the Classic Naim case.

If you are new to Naim Audio you are bound to be thinking " What do I get for £ 3600??" The full technical explanation could be the subject of another blog, or call in to talk through the Naim amplifier philosophy, for now let's just accept that I plugged in another box and it sounds much much better.

And how! Jimmy Rogers gets sadder, the harmonica playing gets tighter and more exciting, and the whole system starts to really rock. Now you just want to play more.

Go back to JT and the whole band is tighter, better, and the harmonies are gorgeous. Let's try modern and the classic track Nadia from Nitin Sawhney gives real bass weight and power unlimited. The Deep Dark Woods acoustic guitars sound  stunning on the title track of The Place I left Behind. The XX VCR just makes me smile, Fratellis' Chelsea Dagger and Henrietta have raw driving power and Bill Evans Peace Piece shows subtlety of touch and timing on a beautiful sounding piano. Chris Smither Kills the Blues, Delbert McClinton Has a Little Faith in me, Luka Bloom says I Need Love, and I believe him!

Can you tell I'm enjoying this?

Must do some work, to be continued...

This combination is very very good, the $64 million question is how does it stack up against the competition?

The obvious competition to a £10300 Naim set-up is the Linn Akurate DSM with an Akurate 2200 power amplifier at a mere £ 9050, so let's play it.

The Linn is immediately a sweeter sound with a more natural balance and really musical.

It doesnt generate the sheer slam of the Naim 250 but neither has it that slightly forward Naim balance which is so good on acoustic music with clean vocals but can also be tiring

Really happy to set it all up and let you choose, or tell you what I would choose face to face!!