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Sydney Audio Club Meeting - Sunday 12th February 2017 - IFi, Avantgarde, Scheu, Lab 12 from MAXMEDIA

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Our February club meeting sees the very welcome return of Cameron Keating of MAXMEDIA Melbourne.  Without fail, Cameron always brings in interesting and superb sounding gear – and this time looks to be no different..!   This month the emphasis with be on the various iFi products he sells.  iFi is the UK manufacturer of high performance, reasonably priced equipment.  And Cameron will also be bringing an excellent turntable so we’ll hear lots of great vinyl too (don’t forget to bring yours!). 


The system will be: AVANTGARDE ACOUSTIC, IFI, SCHEU ANALOGUE, LAB 12 and KingSound Electrostatic Headphones


AVANTGARDE ACOUSTIC - The ZERO 1 XD is a 3-way active loudspeaker in a 2 x 50 watt and 1 x 400 watt power amplified 3-way active system, configuration, with each of the driver stages receiving a signal that is digitally filtered and then converted to analogue, amplified, and directly connected to the voice coil of the driver systems without any passive filters in between.  A ‘one-size-fits-all’ power amplifier covering the entire frequency range is renounced in favor of amplifier stages optimized for each of the dedicated frequency ranges.  Moreover, the strict division into 3 ranges prevents bass signals from affecting midrange and treble reproduction and vice-versa.



SCHEU ANALOGUE - The CLASSIC CELLO TURNTABLE fitted with Rega 202 and Ortofon Super OM10 $2,499.  It will be running with the new IFI IPHONO 2 $849.   How a `connoisseur´s tip’ came to conquer the analogue world.  What began 20 years ago with Thomas Scheu’s `passion for tinkering´ has grown into a highly regarded company with audiophile customers almost anywhere on this recently revinylized planet.  The SCHEU Cello Classic Line Timbre was awarded `Product of The Year´ by the Cinema Awards  2015 in Russia, it is easy to see why on inspection.  The Cello Classic Line is divided into three models with different features (tonearms and cartridges), different shell structures and different shell designs.  Also see the Scheu website.



IFI, IFI, IFI…  “…UK’s largest manufacturer of high-end audio systems… one-stop shop for computer audio… the greatest depth and breadth in USB power and signal clean-up devices…”


The Micro iFi iPHONO 2.  Only everything has been improved.  Ultra-wide gain range – max gain is an astonishing 72dB, min gain is 36dB.  To suit any cartridge.  Whisper quiet – SNR of > 86dB is an impressive 10dB quieter than the original.  Latest AMR trickle-down; Class A, TubeState® circuit for unrivalled linearity, DriveDrive® servo-less ‘DC infinity’ circuit.  No capacitors AND no DC-Servo means zero added noise and distortion in the audio signal path.  $849.


The NEW Micro IFI iDSD BL edition DAC.  Digital engine upgraded with iFi custom ultra-low noise Op-Amp OV2028 Analogue section upgraded with iFi custom ultra-low noise Op-Amp OV2627.  $925


IFI SPDIF Purifier.  When asked, does it make your system sound better, they answer was in all cases, we cannot listen now without it in place.  SPDIF is ubiquitous, but needs jitter sorting.  SPDIF is back.  With platforms like PS4, Xbox, Apple TV and Google Chromecast etc., SPDIF output has once again become a popular medium for enjoying good sound.  However, such SPDIF outputs are loaded with jitter which effects sub-par sound quality.  The new SPDIF iPurifier runs the SPDIF signal through 4 comprehensive signal optimisation and regeneration stages.  The SPDIF iPurifier eliminates all source jitter and regenerates a perfect SPDIF signal - resulting in warmer, more dynamic, resolving and flat out more life-like sonics.  Quieter than battery iPower 5V included.  $225.



LAB 12 - The Gordian Multifunctional Power Distributor / Conditioner.  Your system deserves clean and abundant power.  Whatever your audio system setup is, clean and abundant power is the nutrition that will make it reveal its strength and virtuousness.  It is well known that an inadequate power distributor may kill the dynamics of your audio system and that a noisy AC power line could affect its performance on midrange and high frequency signals.  Gordian is here to distribute all the power that your system may need even at extreme situations without losing its strength.  It is also here to gently clean up the unwanted artefacts from your power supply using a well-designed, adaptive network of passive components.  Conductors of very large cross section, high quality tight sockets and industrial grade bindings constitute the unshakable electrical network that delivers the power to your system.  The “star” topology of the inner connections reduces to the minimum the noise transfer between your devices while guarantees that no ground loops will be developed. 


The Gordian cares about the quality of your power source more than you may realize.  It incorporates an industrial grade power analyzer which lets you inspect many aspects of your AC power signal.  Some of the available metrics are:

·        Frequency (accuracy 0.0005%)

·        Total Harmonic Distortion (THD - accuracy 0.005%)

·        RMS Voltage/Current

·        Power Consumption

·        Power Factor

·        FFT (Frequency analysis)

·        DC Voltage


A serious power analyser.  PRICE - AS DISCUSSED.



LAB 12 -  The Passive Attenuator / Input Selector TRUE

Some like pure.  TRUE is a pure passive attenuator/input selector.  It is designed to keep every detail of this low level, sensitive signal coming from your source to your power amplifier, unaffected.  Connect it to your system, allow some playing hours to let it get familiar with your devices and finally enjoy the music.  Because at the end of the day this is what we are truly looking for.  Includes features like a Blue Velvet ALPS Audio Grade potentiometer and a high grade input selector.  RRP $799.


KingSound Electrostatic Headphones  – for the headphone lovers, Cameron will be bringing in the new KingSound Electrostatic Headphones.  Likely the KS-2 package which includes the KS-2 headphones ($849 on their own) and the M-10 Amplifier: $1,099 INC GST for the package.


Note:  We will also have an Oppo BDP-105D Universal player on hand to allow the playing of CD/SACD and USB flash drives during our BYO session.  We will be using the Oppo only as a transport.



The second half of the music sessions will be our popular BYO.   Members and guests are welcome to offer music to share with us all.  So bring along your favourite music on vinyl, CD/SACD or USB flash drive.  All we ask is that the music and recordings be interesting.  We'll ask you to tell us a little about the artist/recording before it is played.  Tracks over 6 minutes will be faded out, to give everyone a fair go.

Whether you are a novice or a seasoned veteran, you will have the opportunity to listen, learn and share your experiences with others.  Feel free to come and hear the capabilities of the system, or to just share the experience with like-minded music lovers in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. 


Guests are welcome – we are a very friendly club so you don't need to know anyone to join us for an afternoon of fine music and sound.

Venue:  Epping Creative Centre, Dence Park
Address:  26 Stanley Road, Epping

When:  Sunday 12th February 2017


Doors open 1pm
Meeting starts at 2pm


Best regards,


Tom Waters


Sydney Audio Club




Edited by TomW
Formatting issues

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Edited by TomW

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Just my usual follow-up after our club meeting on Sunday.   Our room at the Epping Community Centre gets real hot when the summer sun is beating down on the roof.  Fortunately the heat wave in Sydney gave a reprieve on Sunday.  We’d been watching the forecast and it looked like it would be cooler on the Sunday, but these things can change quickly.   Cameron drove up from Melbourne the day before, and noted that the temperature was going up degree by degree as he got closer to Sydney.   In our first half session we did the unthinkable – we left the air-con on in our meeting room.  A few people didn’t seem to like it, but the majority seemed to appreciate it.  Fortunately, the forecast was accurate.   We checked outside during our break and the southerly had started to move up to Sydney, so we turned off the A/C for the second half.  In spite of the weather, well over 30 people ventured out for the day.



Cameron brought quite a different variety of gear this time.  The Zero 1 XD speakers were similar to before albeit with an important software upgrade.   The iFi kit sounded very good – it's very good value for the money.   The IFi iPhono 2 was excellent value at $849.  The iFi SPDIF Purifier ($225) was a bit controversial.   Some people liked it – to my ears the sound was smoother with it in place.  Others thought it softened the bass a bit and perhaps softened the dynamics a bit.   The Scheu Analogue turntable sounded very good for the money – it had a beautiful wooden plinth, Rega 202 tonearm and Ortofon Super OM10 cartridge.   All for only $2499.  And I know of at least 1 person that enquired about the new Lab 12 TRUE passive attenuator / input selector.  Looking at the build quality alone, it’s hard to believe it costs only $799.  And the Lab 12 Gordian multifunction power distributor / conditioner didn’t do what many such boxes tend to do – it didn’t restrict the dynamics in any way.



One of the many great things about the Zero 1 XD speakers is that you can tailor the sound to suit your room and listening tastes.  In the first half Cameron asked for impressions about the SQ and made a few changes via the inbuilt equalizer functionality.  The midrange can sound a bit harsh if the bass is curtailed too much – the bass harmonics tend to give body to the mid-range frequencies and smooth things out.  He pumped up the bass a bit and tamed the high frequencies, all to great effect.  I think most listeners would agree that the system sounded better in the second half of the meeting.  I've heard these speakers many times now - at club meetings, shows and in more private settings - they've always sounded dynamic, full bodied and impressive without harshness.  That was certainly the case in the second half session.



We had our usual Members Music segment.  In that segment, a member gets to play 25 minutes of music of their choice.  George Davidson rose to the occasion, and played 5 songs by 5 different women singers/artists.  He’d started out with a Celtic theme in mind, but decided to offer a more broad selection in the end.   It was very well received.  If any member wishes to partake in this mini event, just call me or shoot me an email and I’ll find you a time slot. 



Here are a few comments from the Feedback forms:


System tweak for second half had the gear sounding it's best.



Too much signal processing especially for analogue source.  Prefer external analogue crossovers, analogue amps and external DAC.



Very detailed. Not harsh but troubled at high volume. 



Unlike last time I enjoyed the speaker system today.  Sounded great with Jazz.



Enjoyed the equipment. Couldn't hear the buzzing. Bet they sound great in a domestic space.  [The soft buzzing could be heard by people in the front on vinyl only, likely a grounding issue somewhere - TomW]



Thank God I stayed for the second part.  Once adjustments were made, speakers were brilliant. I could live with them.



Many thanks to Cameron for the huge effort to bring equipment.



 Horn Loading best for very large rooms.  Much better after [half-time] EQ.




Below are some photos taken on the day.  That smiling happy fellow is Cameron…  Thanks Cameron..!!



Edited by TomW

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Guest Arthur

What a great presentation that was!


Cameron should be congratulated for not being hesitant to do A - B comparisons of the equipment at hand. This, to me, indicates confidence in the equipment he made available to us for audition.

The changes in sound were well spotted by many, even though there wasn't' a clear consensus on what sounded "better".  It often becomes a case of how good one's hearing is, what is expected from a sound system and, last but not least, personal preferences.


Overall again, a great meeting with very good music - especially from George - and good company and conversation with like minded people.


Many thanks to Cameron for making the trip over the border, to display such a great sounding system! 

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Yes I thought this system sounded great and it really came to life in the 2nd half, that made the meeting even more special, I was very appreciative that my old LP "Borich 'n' Tilders" got played as I've had this in my collection for over 35 years, after that long you really get to know something and this LP is special being recorded Direct to Disc so that gave me a kind of special moment with Cameron's system, I wasn't disapointed 

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