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No. 76 September 2010

The world of accessories is like the Internet – full of shallow places, and sudden depths, but also full of discoveries, emotions and true knowledge. Accessories are defined as tools, or other small objects, necessary or useful for performing a certain activity, action or job. This definition describes quite well what we understand in audio when talking about accessories – either this is an addition, a small bettering or a hardware update, which replaces one element with another, better one, prepared by a specialist company. This is something, which is understood as an important thing by people immersed deep in audio, but by people outside of it, or – most of all – by pro-audio people, regarded as pure nonsense. And based on my experience both sides are right – many of the accessories are humbug, but there are a lot of them, which really improve the sound.

We learn about such companies each day, information about them usually lands in section News. This time it is different. Mr. Yoshi Hontai, the out of Japan representative of companies like Acrolink, Leben, Musica, Oyaide or Acoustic Revive, about which you could read in “High Fidelity” quite often, sent me something new – accessories of another Japanese company ƒo.Q. Both elements – recommendation of Mr. Yoshi and the country of origin – turned on my curiosity equally. I received four elements to have a look at – vinyl puck RS-33R Hall Sound, vinyl mat RS-912, a set of vibration dampening labels Remastering Ring DS-25E, to be glued on CDs, SACDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, as well as GF-53F – vibration dampening rings, to be placed under the feet of small loudspeakers, amplifiers and CD players. Although all descriptions are in Japanese, the company prepared an English version for all, who do not master Japanese (HERE). Why is this company so interesting? I already mentioned two of them: Mr. Yoshi and country of origin, but the third one is most important – this company uses materials developed together with JST (Japan Science and Technology Agency). All of them work using the same principle – turning mechanical energy into electricity and then heat. The company is proud, that it does not use metal and rubber in their products, which – according to them – are not really suitable for this application. Everything has support in physics and mathematics, this is not another “me too” company. The diagrams showing resonances without and with ƒo.Q. accessories can be found HERE.

Because this is my first contact with this company, I want to describe them briefly, leaving thorough testing for later. The more, that I use now the turntable Avid Acutus Reference, where the puck is bolted to the shaft and I cannot use the RS-33R puck or the mat. The RS-33R is available in two color variants – red (with the ‘R’ in the name) and white (‘W’). It has 60mm diameter, 18mm height and weights 85g. It looks really nice. But the most important thing is the material, from which it is made. This is a sandwich construction, made from many layers of organic polymer, ceramic hybrid and Star Silent – a special alloy made by Daido Steel Co., Ltd.. There is a low profile version RS-55 available, wider and having about half the weight. The damping mattes RS-912 are complimentary with the puck, and are designed to replace felt or cork mattes. One has 1mm thickness, the other 2mm, and they were finished in such a way, that makes them as smooth as possible. In addition there are small strips, that are to be glued on the cartridge, headshell and the tonearm.

DS-25E Remastering Ring resembles in some way, at least in terms of the idea, the Harmonix RF-1100 labels, about which I wrote on the occasion of Mr. Kiuchi visiting Krakow (HERE). DS-25E are glued only near the center hole. The rings are made from organic polymer. They are 0.3mm thick and there are ten rings in the box. And finally the G-53F. In the box, a CD jewel box, there are four such discs. Each has a 50mm diameter and is 3mm thick. They were made from three layers of organic polymer and a layer of material based on glass fiber in between. The company declares, that you can place devices weighing up to 20kgs on them. ƒo.Q manufactures also vibration damping tables and platforms.

KISO industry Co., Ltd.
Development sales department
Toranomon 3-3-3 Minato-ku Tokyo Japan
TEL:+81 (0)3 3437 6133 / FAX:+81 (0)3 3437 6185
Website: ƒo.Q

Gerhard Hirt (Ayon Audio) in Krakow

Like I write in this issue of “High Fidelity” in the test of the CD player CD-2s, some time ago in Krakow I met Gerhard Hirt, the head of Ayon Audio. Actually the head of at least four companies. From the interview I made it turned out that those are: Ayon Audio, Ayon Audio Hong Kong Ltd., Lumen White and one more, which I do not remember. This is a renaissance man, what can be felt anytime, but is not hinted at by Gerhard. During the meeting the CD-2s drew my attention, of all his new products, but I was even more interested in the new PCB with USB input. My criticism of the previous version, which worked only with 16/48 files (eg. Skylla or the CD-07) seems still right to me, and is still valid, but was not accepted by everyone… But the most important thing is, that Gerhard quickly reacted to the situation, and new PCBs, using a really nice USB receiver/converter from Tenor Audio, accepts now signals in the 24/96 format, and they will be mounted in all Ayon gear. This PCB can also be retrofitted in all previously released devices, replacing the old one – also in the Skylla and CD-5. The company has also new, smaller and nicer remotes for the amplifiers and preamplifiers, code named RC-4a.

On the other hand I completely and fully recall that what I wrote about the country of origin of the Ayon products – those are not made in China! This is not the company Raysonic marketing its products with the Ayon name! Gerhard told me everything about that, and now I must apologize for the incorrect information I spread. In my defense I can only tell, that Raysonic suggested this. Most similar to Raysonic were the CD-1, CD-2 and CD-3 from Ayon. Each one has a Chinese counterpart. Gerhard told me, that initially they ordered the enclosures and some PCBs in that factory, but they were copied. This is the reason he stopped cooperation with Raysonic and found a new factory in Hong Kong. This was so promising, that he decided to buy it. So Ayon Audio Hong Kong Ltd. came to life. The next step was to buy CNC lines and now Hirt manufactures everything in his own factories. But the final assembly and quality control is made in Austria.

New loudspeakers in the Time Coherent line at Harpia Acoustics

As you can see, for over two years I use in my system loudspeakers from the Krakow company Harpia Acoustics, model Dobermann (New). I immediately learned to appreciate their speed, their lack of coloring. As you can read in many of my tests, I compared this construction to many splendid loudspeakers from other companies, like Hansen Audio Prince v2, KEF Reference 203/2, Isophon Vescova, Avantgarde Acoustic Uno Picco, Bravo! Special Edition, or Avalon Ascendent, just to name a few, but I had some remarks as to their sound. It is mainly about the too weak saturation of the midrange, not so colorful vocals, as elsewhere, and also a delicate underlining of a small subrange on the upper midrange. I did not make a secret out of it, to you and to the manufacturer. This is also the reason he announced a new version of the Dobermann. It took him some time, but finally he created a whole new series. The woofers remained the same, as was the tweeter, the midrange driver was exchanged to a 180mm one, with a phase corrector made by the company itself. Also the cross-over was made from scratch. Also the shape of the cabinet changed – please see the drawings. My newest Dobermanns will have the Ferrari Red color (one of the versions) and will be equipped with the brilliant Furutech FT-808(R) wire terminals, which I mentioned in the previous editorial. The loudspeakers should have been delivered before July 24th, but they did not. I do not know why. I am still waiting, and I am curious. They should have a higher efficiency – 91dB, with an almost flat impedance curve at 6Ω.


I can see you smiling – it was never the case, that all the announcements for upcoming issues were fulfilled in 100%. As you can see, the Metronome Technologies player did not make it in time. But in the last moment we could lay our hands on a small Polish company product, the company Audio Akustyka and their tube amplifier Impetus. It looks interesting – the test will be published on August 16th. And it turned out OK, as this will be the introduction to the “Polish” September issue.

For that issue we planned:

1. AVCON LEVANTHER – floorstanding speakers (we wrote about the model Tivano HERE)
2. Gigawatt PC-2 EVO (with LC-1 mkII), LS-1, LC-2 mkII – AC power conditioner + AC power cable
3. Audiomatus AS250 – power amplifier (we wrote about the more powerful version AS500 HERE)
4. Linear Audio Research – integrated amplifier (we described the model IA-120 HERE)
5. Nowe Audio mono 3.5 – power amplifier
6. JAG 300B Dual Mono – integrated amplifier (we wrote about the previous version HERE)
7. Sound&Line ENIGMA MEDIUS – floorstanding speakers (the stand mounts Enigma Mini HERE)

Something will probably change, and surely for the best :)

Also the October issue is almost completely planned, but not everything is confirmed. That issue will have a lead theme. Since some time I see in your emails the need to describe small devices, fitting into smaller rooms, or just not jumping in the eyes. I have some sentiment for such devices, my beloved amplifier is the Leben CS-300 (you can read about the special version in this issue of HF), so that issue will be devoted to Toy Story..

In planning:

1. Isem CD Ergo 3 + Xtasis – CD player + integrated amplifier
2. Harbeth P3E SR – stand mount speakers
3. Sonus Faber Minima Vintage – standmount speakers (the company has also the model Toy, but Vintage seemed more interesting)
4. Music Hall pa1.2 – phono preamplifier
5. Stello CDT100 + DA100 Signature – transport CD + DAC
6. QBA Sobieski 3 – stand mount speakers
7. Cyrus Audio CD6 SE + 6 XP – CD player + integrated amplifier
8. Last minute addition – probably the smallest tube amplifier in the world, Synergy Audio APPJ-6F3. Pictures above and below. Mr. Ningsheng Liu, representing the company, gave me some technical data (the amplifier is in customs clearance in Poland):

  • tubes - 6F3
  • output power: 2.5W + 2.5W/8Ω
  • frequency response: 30Hz-40kHz (+/-1dB)
  • input sensitivity: 800mV
  • noise: < 0.6mV
  • power supply voltage: 100-240V
  • power consumption: 33W
  • input impedance: 10kΩ
  • output impedance: 16/8/6/4Ω (output transformers Japan Z11-EI4824)
  • dimensions: 132mm (H) x 96mm (D) x 100+70mm (H)
  • weight: 1.7kg &
  • inputs: 2 x RCA

I hope it will be interesting!

Wojciech Pacuła

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"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

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