Steve Elford's background in aerospace ultrasonic testing has helped him develop the various Vertex AQ devices. Special support platforms help remove vibrations from components, while the various cables incorporate damping blocks to prevent vibration being passed around the system, as do mains blocks which incorporate parallel RF noise filtering. Vertex were demonstrating their products at the Roy Bird Show.
If the Ypsilon kit is anything to go by, Greece could be about to join the high-end community. Engineering Director Dimitris Baklavas (pictured at the Hi-Fi News Show) explained that his company has been around for some 12 years, but had only recently developed the sort of products that could take on international High End. Those massively heat-sinked monoblock power amps, for example, use a tube input stage, a class-A MOSFET output stage, and generate around 300W of waste heat each. To reduce the sonic "grain" that is generated by resistors, the preamp has a transformer-based attenuator, the transformer itself having 32 taps and using cotton insulation.
Finn Anssi Hyronen (left) and Swede Leif Mårten Olofsson (right), stand with their respective new babies at the Roy Bird Show. The tiny Amphion Ion (left) not only sounded remarkable for its size, but has also won a valuable design award back in Finland. At ten times the price of the Ion, Mårten's elegant new Miles III floorstander has tapered cabinetwork and costly Accuton ceramic-diaphragm drivers.
According to the glossy leaflet, the Lizard Wizard on show at the Heathrow Renaissance Hotel is, to quote verbatim: "a PMC amplifier that handles High Quality loudspeakers superior, without the everyday type amplifiers air disturbance [acoustic aliasing distortion]." No I'm not sure either, and the rest of the blurb is similarly opaque. Clearly translating Hungarian into English (or even American!) has its pitfalls, and I didn't get much further chatting face-to-face, either. What is certain is that this colourful amplifier looks cute and is incredibly compact—the actual electronics may be seen sitting on the business card just in front. In this case the PMC bit stands for a "ParaMagnetic Current," or virtual-coil amplifier, which is rated at 60Wpc into 8 ohms, but has a specified output impedance of 0–36 ohms. Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice once remarked.
Exceptionally tall speaker engineer Karl-Heinz Fink, and his more diminutive partner Lampos Ferekedis, stand each side of their remarkable prototype BMR technology demonstrator (balanced-mode radiator; see the December 2005 Stereophile). These two, forming a "gang of four" with original inventor Dr Graham Bank and marketing man John Vizor, have licensed the BMR technology from NXT, and the prototype, using a 3.4" BMR unit upwards from 400Hz, via an active crossover, clearly showed the considerable potential of this radical driver, which in effect automatically reduces the radiating diameter as frequency rises.
A fabulous and fascinating exhibition of classic historic hi-fi equipment made a visit to the ballroom of the Hi-Fi News Show a must. The complete history of Lowther-Voigt seemed to be on display, and a Voigt Corner Horn was actually playing music, from a "vintage" (first-generation) CD player via a compact Pye tube amplifier.
Wood is not an engineering material. It might look pretty, but it's inconsistent and therefore unpredictable. So we smash cheap wood into sawdust and then glue it all together again to create something that can be machined. This is called medium-density fiberboard, or MDF. We then thinly slice some classy hardwood—hopefully harvested from sustainable sources—and use it to cover the ugly MDF. This might have made sense back when Chippendale was making furniture, but it seems strangely old-fashioned in our age of plastics and composites. I haven't seen wood trim on a TV set for more than a decade. Why is it still the norm for loudspeakers?