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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

BIG FAT BLOG OF THE YEAR



Thanks 2014, you've been a blast.

Our favourite suppliers have come up with some amazing new products and they aren't stopping now!

Naim Audio's Muso all in one system sets a new standard in sound from a single box. It also points to Naim widening their net into more affordable products while keeping their famous performance. Although it isnt as good as having separate speakers it is a great sound for the price, and so handy! The rest of the streaming range is now updated with new features such as Spotify so a UnitiQute with a pair of Kef LS50s is also great value at £ 2200. This what I'll recommend if you ask me for a really great mini system.

Rega continue to amaze. Virtually every product they make is a top recommendaqtion from every mag. You can't go wrong! Turntable sales go from strength to strength, RP1s fly out, is £230 too cheap? The RP3 is the classic one, the RP6 is a touch more clarity and class, looks and sounds superb, and RP8/10s are very serious pieces of kit. Look out for another new model this year. Amplifiers have been a superb growth area for Rega this year. The Brio has always been the best at the price and adding the Elex and Elicit makes this the only amplifier range where every product has the top review. I particularly love the Elex as it is so so good for the price, brilliant value. CD players continue to do well although streaming is often the way forward. Cleverly the Saturn allows you to do both! A real performance solution. Rega speakers are winners too, with simple designs and big sounds from slim cabinets, very home friendly!

Linn's reputation for innovation is further bolstered by the Exakt series. Unashamedly high end this technology reaches new levels of performance. Linn's engineers write new rules again. Soon Exakt will apply to all 'legacy' Linn speakers so your old Isobarik/Kaber/Espek/5140/Akurate242 can also benefit as well as the current range. It's not cheap, it's brilliant! At the same time Linn have been working on the new Kazoo software featuring true uncompressed music streaming from a new service called Tidal. To kick you off in 2015 every Linn DS owner gets a free trial!

Kef's recent domination of hifi speakers continues. The Blade speaker's research has led to a performance leap in speakers that other manufacturers haven't been able to match. From the LS50 to the R300, R500, and R700 there is no competition in the £ 800 - £2000 range. This is now followed by the new Reference range with the same technology as Blade applied to a new range from £ 4500-10,000.  Launched late in 2014, 2015 will be the year that this becomes the top choice in this range. Cant wait for the dems between Kef Reference and Linn Akubarik!

So what's new about all that? It's all happening at once! 

I know Naim have solid engineering, Rega have value and Linn innovate, but usually these companies are slow and steady not working at this rate! 

And dont leave out Arcam. Back to form with the A19 and followed by A49 and A39, Arcam make great amplifiers again

Dont leave out the CDs27 either, a cd player that streams. Is that a great idea to cover both options or is it for people who cant make up their mind? 

Either way it will suit many, especially as £ 799 which undercuts Linn and Naim to allow you to start streaming and see if you like it while still playing cds.

And 2015? What will we see next?

I know some things, but can't tell you here!!

You can bet it will be exciting though

Bluetooth and wifi streaming

When you want to stream to a local speaker many people immediately think Bluetooth.

Why?

Bluetooth is cheap and easy to do, works well in cars, and seems to have become a buzzword for wireless connectivity. It is also good for portable devices, although it is limited when it comes to music. A Bluetooth speaker connects wirelessly to a bluetooth enabled mobile phone or tablet and you can easily control it from your phone. Clever?

There are a few drawbacks though:

1 The sound is just ok. Not a problem with a cheapish speaker but not good enough if you are buying something decent or want to listen to music

2 When you move around the bluetooth link drops as it isnt as stable as wifi

When you have a music system with a network streamer you can control it and play music from your phone/tablet by airplay and play music from your music library/itunes library at much much higher quality and moving around doesn't affect it all!

So here are some good solutions for you:

1      We can supply a portable Bluetooth speaker for £99 that works fine

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2     Move up to a wifi network speaker that sounds better with more flexibility. Options depending on performance and budget at £ 169, 249, 349, 499

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3     Connect to your hifi with network/wifi, better sound again, £ 279, 299, 999 to infinity and beyond!!

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As usual drop us a line using CONTACT US above with any questions, or pick up the phone.

Linn Akudorik Install

Just installed our first Linn Akudorik system, wow!

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Akudoriks are the tiny Linn speakers with a big detailed sound from the new proprietary Linn Exakt technology. Exakt gives the most dynamic, coherent and musical sound you will ever hear with no downsides apart from the price!

For the techies the sound from the Linn Exakt streamer goes directly to the speaker stands in digital form, up to Studio Master quality. What comes out of the studio mixing desk arrives identically at your speaker stands.

The stands house the Exakt engine, which downloads the speaker's super detailed performance parameters from the Linn factory and stores them for the best possible room performance.

We then have a lengthy listening and set-up procedure. This involves tiny speaker movements down to 1cm at a time to ascertain the optimum room position for the speakers. Once complete these positions plus your room dimensions are fed into the Exakt engine. When you then tell the 'engine' where you would like the speakers to be it can optomise for the room so that it sounds just the same. Clever eh?

That's not even the cleverest part!

For Exakt to be able to do all this the active crossover section is carried out fully in the digital domain. These tiny adjustments and splits can then be super accurate and tailored to the speakers. After all these adjustments there is a separate DAC section for each drive unit. Instead of one stereo DAC in a normal Linn DS system this has 8 separate DAC channels and then 8 individual 100W power amplifiers controlling the individual drive units.

That's why the speakers look on the face of it like great value at £ 3999. The stands look expensive at £ 9500 until you understand the engineering, DACs, and power amplifiers that are built into the stands.

The result is a revelation. Exakt trumps all other technologies trying to achieve this performance

You can tell we love it, you will too.

Exakt engines are now available for Linn Akudorik, Akubarik, and Klimax level speakers.

In addition Exakt will be available for all 'legacy' Linn speakers such as Akurate 212, 242, Majik 140,and Isobarik, and later for Keltik, Isobarik, Espek, Ninka, etc

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Turntable and Tidal update

RP3-TITANIUM-WITH-MATJust before Christmas and the most surprising sales phenomenon is turntables. I knew we would be supplying lots of streaming solutions but never expected that over 100 turntables in 3 months wouldn't be enough!

Clients of all ages are interested, fuelled by media articles about the 'vinyl sound' and how vinyl record sales passed the million mark in 2014. Some are choosing Rega RP1s from £ 230 and getting into vinyl for the first time while others are finding vinyl that has been sitting about for years and giving it a new lease of life. The whole experience of lifting an LP from the cover and placing it on a turntable is a tactile delight we thought was disappearing so the resurgence in interest is brilliant.

 We have even been treated to Sir Paul McCartney on a tv interview saying that Beatles' music sounds better on vinyl than cd!

Who knew? Has he not been listening for the past 25 years?

At Lyric we have always said that music sounds great on vinyl and that cds had limitations, even the best ones had a different sound character

That is also why we have been so impressed with high quality streaming, which is better than cd and in some circumstances better than vinyl. I stress the high quality part, while it is great to have so much music on Napster/Spotify/Deezer online the performance is about a quarter of cd. And they dont have most of the Van Morrison collection!

Streaming from a hard drive from an uncompressed ripped cd can be fantastic, comparable to vinyl, and Studio Master quality is even better. The 'can be' caveat applies because we have streamers from Sonos and Denon that can stream through your hifi from £ 279, and do a good job, but a Linn DS is a different world and can also do justice to Studio Master performance.

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As for arguing which is definitively better then it can be very close and can come down to the software choice

I have some cds that sound great and some that sound poor, and the same applies to my vinyl collection.

I can pick particular music to prove it either way but I think that a Rega RP3 or RP6 is a great value way to get excellent sound.

Move above that into a great streamer, Linn/Naim at £ 999+ and it will not only sound superb from ripped cds it sounds amazing from a Studio Master source.

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A new addition to streaming is a service called Tidal. This online stream of music is true cd quality offering a huge range of music and also details of the band that's playing, a fascinating and useful tool.

I thought £ 19.99 was expensive until I started using it embedded in the latest Linn DS software.

 

If you want to hear how good vinyl or streaming can sound, or if you want to find out more about how streaming can work in your system then call in, and if possible give me a call first so that I can have something appropriate setup and ready to go.

Fascinating times!

 

 

 

New Arcam Stereo amplifiers

 

Arcam's recent A19 at £ 649 is a real return to form. It's a completely new design (inside anyway) and the performance is probably the best at the price.

Next Arcam decided to do a no-holds-barred top level integrated, the A49 at £ 3750. While it is technically interesting being a Class G design, Class A for the first 20W, I can send you a White Paper on it if you like (drop me a line), it is an esoteric price for an integrated so the latest A39, a stripped down version at £ 1499, is really of interest.

Many people have a decent sub £1000 amplifier and want to know what's much better at reasonable money, so I decided to compare the four top choices with surprising results:

When you talk about great amps Linn and Naim are both right up there at the top, although the recent Amplifier of the Year in this price category is the Rega Elicit-r, so lets' compare all four.

I put the Kef R700s on, these are the best £1999 floorstanders around and are neutral and easy to drive so none of the amps will have any difficulty. Like a kid in a toy shop I put on the new Arcam first and the surprises started.

This is more punchy than previous Arcams and has real weight to the bass. There is no harshness, typical of Arcam, but neither is there a softness to the sound that characterises previous Arcams. It really is good

The Nait XS at £ 1525 is classic Naim build quality and layout, and the sound is classic Naim too. Punchy and detailed midrange vocals and instruments are impressive but it doesnt have the power and depth of the Arcam. I think I prefer the Arcam! Maybe heresy or maybe you need to go up to a pre and power amp to really get what Naim are all about.

Switching to the Rega brought another surprise, just as detailed as the Naim but with a punch in the deep bass to rival the Arcam, it really is that good. It also weighs a ton, Rega's design philosophy of light and rigid loudspeaker cabinets mustn't apply to amplifier cases.

On to the Linn and more here sy. The famous musical and detailed Linn sound is beguiling but it still doesnt have the dynamics of the Rega or Arcam. 

So which to choose?

Ha, call in and listen for yourself!

So far doing this comparison for 2 people has one picking the Rega and one the Linn. 

It's close.