:: conrad-johnson MF2550SE SOLID-STATE POWER AMPLIFIER
It is not without a reason that the title description of the latest addition to conrad-johnson's amplifier portfolio includes the attribute "solid-state". Traditionally, one expects (and gets) superb sonic results from CJD valve (tube) designs. Decades of CJD's presence brought very good sounding solid-state (read: transistor based) preamplifiers and power amplifiers, too. One of them in particular, now long defunct, but very fondly remembered and still seriously sought after, was a model called PREMIER 350SA. It was one of those 'special' products that simply happen and, often enough, take even the designer/manufacturer by surprise with the final results!
Many years after the Premier 350SA, we are delighted to announce the arrival of another solid-state power amplifier from CJD that has every right to aspire towards such an acclaim and status. And that is the MF2550SE. This new non-valve design develops 250W into an 8 Ohm load (and close to 400W into 4 Ohms), costs considerably less than the 350SA did in it's heyday (UK retail price of the MF2550SE is £7450 inc VAT) and, most importantly, sounds very much better in every imaginable aspect of appropriate judgements than the Premier 350SA possibly could!!!
Being fortunate to have kept one of the last produced Premier 350SA units in our possession, a direct comparison was possible and, after only a few hours of critical listening, it was clear the MF2550SE moved the boundaries into a new zone of true high-end performance!
Using FET (Field Effect) transistors in the input (driver) stage and highest quality bi-polar transistors in the output (power) segment of the circuit design, the new MF2550SE provides excellent resolution and transient response. Those qualities are essential for accurate tonal and harmonic rendition of any kind of reproduced music. As always, CJD proprietary PTFE (Teflon) capacitors and Vishay film resistors are present in absolutely every important position within the power supply and audio circuits. An oversized, carefully conceived and executed power transformer with large capacitance reserve, ensures there is always enough current with no losses within the crucial time domain aspect of any audio component's performance. Finally, the MF2550SE is unbelievably noiseless both through the loudspeakers and from it's own chassis, just as other most recent (valve) conrad-johnson power amplifiers.
:: HRT MUSIC STREAMER III
Two generations of the HRT (High Resolution Technologies) Music Streamer USB DAC were, in many ways, the foundation of everything this, now firmly established and respected manufacturer ever did. Thankfully, creative minds and souls of people like Kevin Halverson never rest and, another positive consequence of that is the new Music Streamer III, which we are pleased to introduce within this page. The easiest way to describe the new product is to say it has been significantly improved in every area of design - from the USB input to the analogue outputs. The cumulative result of this is a USB DAC that remains of most approachable cost (UK retail price is £189 inc VAT) and of a noticeably superior sound quality when compared to the model it leaves behind. The new HRT Music Streamer III is available now in limited quantities through our network of authorised HRT resellers.
:: USB DAC PLAYBACK - TO RIP OR JUST PLAY BACK?
Forgive us if the question seems silly, but we think it should be posed for consideration and further thinking. Since we started working with USB DAC, often called "Streamers", we had many calls and emails where our followers wanted to "learn more about new ways of playing their music..."
We know that we can stream music from various Internet platforms of the kind. We also know we can listen to tens of thousands of Internet radio broadcasters. Both can be done through, for example, our HRT family of Music Streamers and many other products of the kind. However, a number of more discerned audiophiles and music lovers wanted to listen to their CDs at no lesser sound quality than that offered by their "very good" CD players. So, here we have a very simple and logical question: "Why should I rip (copy) my CD collection onto a hard drive of my computer and then play it back through a high quality USB DAC when I can play that same CD from my CD player as I have been doing for years?" Good question indeed. Thankfully, every sensible question should have a sensible answer. And, here is what we propose for your consideration:
Firstly, one assumes that the CD player in a given audio system is of such overall quality, both mechanically (transport) and electronically (digital and audio circuits), that it will be superior to the best USB DAC to be used. If that is the case, we endorse the view one should continue playing CDs through any such CD player for best results.
Secondly, if the existing CD player may not be of sufficient overall quality to outperform best available optical drives (transports) within laptops and desktop computers combined with the very best available USB DAC components, the solution is self-explanatory; one should dismiss the inadequate (traditional) CD player and convert to playback of high-resolution (CD quality as minimum standard) music files through a high quality USB DAC.
And, finally, we come to the crux of the whole point. We must always remember that, unless you wish to be able to play your music on a portable device away from your 'headquarters', then, in actual fact, you do not need to copy (rip) your source material onto your host (computer) storage medium. You can, instead, use your computer's optical drive as an active CD or DVD transport that would send digital data into your connected USB DAC and further towards your speakers? No "ripping", just "playback" as it would have been with an old-fashioned Transport/DAC combo??? Have you ever thought of that? We strongly advise you to, at least, try and consider the results you will achieve in this manner. After all, it could not be easier to compare the "rip" and the "just play" sound signatures...could you tell the difference? And, if so, who won? Have fun and let us know...
:: AUDIOFREAKS PROUDUCTS IN THE PRESS
HRT microStreamer - MacWorld (USA) Shootout – January 2014
HRT microStreamer – 6moons.com
– December 2013
HRT STAGE – Hi-Fi+ - October 2013
HRT STAGE – The Audio Beat - February 2014 (the most comprehensive and informative review of this product so far!!!)
Kuzma CAR-20 moving coil phono cartridge – HiFi+ - Issue 110 (Apr14)
Magnum Dynalab MD807T Internet Media Tuner – HiFi+ Issue 109 (Mar14)