Most loudspeakers cling doggedly, even obsessively, to marketplace stereotypes, so it's always refreshing to find a model that dares to be different and ploughs its own furrow. When such a newcomer also quickly builds itself a cult reputation as something seriously interesting, it's definitely time to sit up and take notice.
It's no exaggeration to say that Pure's Evoke-1 set the standard for DAB and the new Evoke Flow does the same for Internet radio. It makes listening to stations around the world almost as simple as tuning into Radio Four.
The name of this little box of tricks may ring a bell: Cambridge Audio has had a DacMagic in its range before, but the last one disappeared a while ago when DACs appeared to be in terminal decline. Now they are back and the name has been revived for what is, in fact, an all-new product.
We've covered valve and iPod combis before, but it's still a fascinating mix of old and new technology. It's a bit like getting on a steam train and finding one of its Pullman coaches has been kitted out as an internet café. What's the world coming to – is nothing sacred?
After four years in the wilderness, Sony is back with an incredible new flagship CD/SACD player, the SCDXA5400ES. It bristles with technology, much of which is new, or new at least, to Sony. At first glance, it's a dead ringer for Sony's previous SACD player, the SCD-XA9000ES. From the front they look practically identical, although the control functions have been shuffled around.
A full Linn electronics kit for £1,250? If this is from the same stable as the company's standalone items, it has got to be one of the most attractive bargains of the age. It does no harm, either, that Linn was one of the first of the UK audiophile brands to embrace the one-box concept a few years back. And with that knowledge to hand, we were certainly keen to get our hands on the latest version.
Suppose you store music files on a computer in your study, but you'd like to have access to those sounds while you're in the kitchen, bedroom or any other room in the house (without spending silly money on a whole-house distributed audio installation). The Squeezebox Duet provides a cost-effective solution:
Denon has plenty of headphones currently on offer: this is the range-topper. It's a closed-back model with earcups made of natural wood – the Japanese love natural wood, of course, but apart from its decorative properties it is quite a useful material from an acoustical point of view. Inside the wood are the drive units, which use a microfibre material to counteract diaphragm resonance.
With one of vdH's less bizarre names, but a truly distinctive colour to its jacket, The Wave is a new model from the company's confusingly vast range. It uses silver-plated copper conductors (the more upmarket ones use carbon strands), polythene insulation, coaxial construction and a 'Hulliflex' jacket.