September 1: Home cinema preampmaestrom9
     Audio Control is best known for high-end car audio and test instruments for installers. It does make home audio components, however. The latest is the Maestro M9.
     Of course it has support for the newer technologies:Dolby Atmos, DTS:XTM and Dirac Live room correction technology. It can handle 4K Ultra HD at 60 frames per second, and it's compatible with HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2. There's nbo men tion of 3D, which appears to be on its deathbed. Again.
     The price? In Canada it's $8,400.
     Yes, we know, though it is by no means the priciest home cinema preamp on the market. It's been tempting to use a receiver as a preamp (Onkyo, Marantz, Yamaha, etc.), and substituting better amplifiers. But receivers no longer come with preamp outputs.

The Flash Sale is extended this weekend, for Labour Day. It features music recordings, digital cables and blank recording tape.

August 31: The end of Nitty Grittynittygritty
     A lot of companies make machines for cleaning LPs. The original is probably the Keith Monks. It is certainly the most thorough, using a time-consuming multi-step process. Its very high cost limits its popularity. You find it mainly in museums and broadcasting networks.
     For many audiophiles, a more affordable alternative has long been one of the Nitty Gritty machines. You put the record on its small turntable, push a button to apply the cleaning fluid, and then turn on the vacuum cleaner to pick up both fluid and dirt.
     The company was founded in 1981 by three audiophiles. In latter years, it has been run by the production manager, Gayle Van Syckle, who is now reported to have health problems. The company will now shut down.
     We reviewed the top model, the one that cleans both sides of the record at once, some years ago. We found it very effective, but deplored its combination of high price and somewhat shoddy construction. We even carried it briefly in our
Audiophile Store, until it became clear that some on-line outlets were underselling our cost price. In the meantime, a number of competing machines arrived, some of them more capable, and others less expensive. Still, Nitty Gritty was first in bringing LP cleaning to a wider audience, and it still has a large fan club.

Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

August 25: McIntosh transportmactransport
     Like many of our readers, we play Compact Discs from a computer hard drive. Why? Because they sound dramatically better that way. But we can't do that with our many SACD recordings. There are several open-source softwares for converting SACD to the native DSD, but what do you play the SACD from? Not your computer hard drive.
     McIntosh now makes a transport — just a transport, not a complete player — for both CD and SACD. The MCT-80 ($3,500 USD) plays both firmats, and connects to a digital-to-analog converter of your choice. Almost. But not quite.
     The transport has the usual coaxial and optical outputs, but those work only for Red Book CDs. To play the DSD content of an SACD, you need a secure connection, one that can't be used to extract the high-definition file for uses the producers don't want. The transport has an "MCT" output, meant to match jacks on a number of DACs and preamplifiers, all from McIntosh.
     This is not McIntosh's fault, but frankly the copy protection makes no sense. You can buy DSD files, unprotected, from numerous sources. Who is really beiong protected?

BY THE WAY: The weekend
Flash Sale is underway once again. It includes several SACDs a turntable and some very high end speaker cables. But it runs only through Monday the 28th.

July 24: Goodbye to Classé?dr3
     Yes, the name of this venerable audio company once has an acute accent on the "e," because its name was a pun on "class A." Dave Reich's original amplifiers were all class A solid state amplifiers, and they sounded wonderful. UHF's original book,
The UHF Guide to Ultra High Fidelity, included a chapter by Reich explaining why and how class A was superior to class AB amplifier operation.
     The amplifier shown here is a DR3-VHC (very high current), one of the last he produced before the bean counters took over his company, dropped the class A designs, took the acute accent off the "e," and — to show their grace — took Dave Reich's initials off the model names.
     The next decades were a mixed bag. We reviewed a Classe CD player and found it unacceptable, which meant we were never again supplied a product for review. We do know some of the later Classe products were very good, and some were not. But...
     Classe was purchased by B&W, the British speaker maker, which was in turn bought by an Asian investor. The rumor has it that the Classe branch was a money loser. A counter rumor says that what is left of the company is moving to Boston, and will continue customer support. Stay tuned.

Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

July 7: Inside your cable


     All right, so what is it?
     It's a schematic representation of a loudspeaker cable. If you think it's just a neutral wire conductor (which is what we wish it could be), look again. It is in fact a complex network of resistors, inductors and capacitors. In UHF No. 98, coming out shortly, Paul Bergman will tackle the physics behind audio cables. And also behind that much ignored part of the cable, the connector.
     We don't have to tell you that cables are a highly controversial part of high end audio. Do they make a difference, or do they merely make money for companies selling them? We think you'll find this article more than a little useful.
     Coming soon.

June 29: UHF's interactive featuresbrystonpage
     We will be completing issue No. 98 of UHF Magazine shortly. At the moment, we're in the fun part, designing interactive featiures into Maggie's electronic edition. Here, for example, is one of the pages from our review of the Bryston BDA-3 DAC. The titles of the music selections we used are in blue. You probably know what that means. Those are hyperlinks.
     Here's the way it will work. Each time a piece of music is mentioned, and it is colored in blue, you can click on it (with a mouse) or touch it with your finger (on a tablet), and a window will open in your browser. And you'll hear an excerpt from the musical piece.
     That isn't all.
     There are other links in our texts as well, connecting to relevant information on the Web. The page we link to can be from our own site, or it can be from Wikipedia, or it can be from the site of a manufacturer. All of this information is a mere click away.
     You expect this sort of interactivity on a Web page, but we have never had it before in our magazine. We think this kind of value-added information will make UHF more useful and interesting than ever.
     One of the other tests, by the way, is of a series of loudspeaker cables. However the review will be accompanied by a technical article (from Paul Bergman), explaining the physics of speaker cables, and especially of loudspeaker connectors. Do connectors matter to a cable? Well, do tires matter to a car?
     More information coming up. Lots more.

BY THE WAY: Although we are hard at work finishing up the issue, this is a long weekend (July 1st is Canada Day, and Canada's 150th anniversary). And so we have an extended version of our weekly
Flash Sale. It's on now.

May 12: Blank tape at the BoutiqueTapeandreel
     At the Montreal show in March, one exhibitor had brought an open-reel tape recorder, a Technics RS-1500. At AXPONA, the other day, there were (by our count) four of them. Long-ignored, open-reel analog tape is making a comeback. But where do you buy tape for these magnificent machines?
     One source, it turns out, is
our own Audiophile Boutique. We haave a good supply of factory-sealed bulk tape, on 2500-foot pancakes. We also have reels, aluminum and fibreglass.
     How much of it do we have? Actually, we're not sure (we haven't completed the inventory), and because we ourselves own several Technics machines, we're not selling it all.
     It's Canadian-made tape, from Pacific Magnetics, designed for normal bias.

BY THE WAY: Don't forget to drop by our weekend Flash Sale, starting today (Friday) at 3 pm.

May 5: TAVES moves to mid-Octobertaves2017
TAVES is, of course, the Toronto show. Originally in late September, it moved to late October (thus annoying exhibitors with children wanting to be out for Hallowe'en). And for the last two years it's been well away from Toronto, in Richmond Hill. The next edition will be back in Toronto. Sort of.
     As you can see, it will be at the Toronto Congress Centre, not to be confused with the Toronto Convention Centre, which is right downtown. Anyone who has spent time in Toronto traffic known that when you're on Dixon Road, you're a long way from the CN Tower.
     Is a "congress centre" a good place for a hi-fi show?
     Thing is, TAVES is much more than hi-fi, or even video. There will be a robotics section, and the ever-popular drones. You can expect other electronic products for the outdoors as well.
     In any case, we're reserving the dates, October 13 to 15, and we plan to be there.

Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

April 28: UHF 98 arrives soonCover98
     We've had a pause in our publishing schedule, not for the first time in our 35-year history. But we're getting the new issue put together. You can see the cover here. What's more, there are changes afoot that will make it easier for us to put out the magazine more regularly. We'll be telling about that shortly.
     The product on the cover, in front of the trees with their Spring buds, is the Bryston BDA-3, the new DAC from this famed Canadian manufacturer. The older BDA-2 is still in the catalogue, but the new unit is worth waiting for. In point of fact we bought one ourselves.
     There will be another Bryston product in our review lineup, the TF2. Years ago (back in the 80's), Bryston was selling the TF1, a step-up transformer for moving-coil cartridges. We still own one, which we use to match a Goldring Excel cartridge to the Copland tube preamplifier that is at the heart of our Alpha reference system. As analog seemed to be fading away, the TF1 was discontinued, though it lived on inside Bryston's own preamplifiers. But analog is back, obviously, and Bryston even makes turntables.
     We might add that making a step-up transformer is harder than it may seem, and in the intervening years, we've heard some duds (the Talisman and the YBA, notably). We're looking forward to hearing the TF2.
     Naturally, there will be far more content than just equipment reviews, because we think that's what makes UHF valuable. We'll be telling you about that too, and you'll soon be able to read the issue for yourself.


Hundreds of recommended products at The Audiophile Store

Bargains on used, discontinued and specially-purchased products at
The Audiophile Boutique

Have you taken our quick hi-fi course?

Get the print edition of UHF Magazine, or Maggie's electronic edition.