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Welcome to Lyric Hifi

429 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7EY Tel: +44 (0)2890 381296, From ROI 04890 381296
Open: 10:00am - 5:00pm - Monday to Friday, 7pm Thursday, Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm

Call in for a mosey round, tap us for good advice, and have a listen to great sounds

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REGA Planar 8

We are so used to Rega products recieving multiple awards and great reviews that it's easy to become blase about it.

This new Planar 8 takes good reviews to a new level!

What Hifi says it has "stunning sound" and "pushed the boundaries of performance at this level"

The Ear said "it truly is a triumph of analogue audio engineering" and 7Review said "A superb turntable that delivers stunning performance across a huge swathe of different music".

These are so good I should just refer you to them, and I will at the end, but first here are my observations.

rega 8 record

The first obvious thing is the shape. All mass is paired away to make the entire structure light and very rigid.

Form follows function not the other way round

The only weight is in the platter and even there it is placed at the outside to give maximum flywheel effect. 

While it is a downside that you have no lid when actually playing records there is a dustcover supplied for when you're not. It doesn't worry me anyway as I don't use a lid, it's like a sail for airborne vibration.

You have a choice of two moving coils and a moving magnet from £ 1699 without a cartridge to a top line of £ 2439 with the metal bodied moving coil Apheta2. That's the one I've opened to listen to first paired with a Linn Selekt which is a one-box streamer amplifier with an excellent phono stage, both MM and MC, a cool £ 5500. I've also been impressed with the new Kef R3s recently, a mere £ 1300, so let's try these.

I am a bit of a jazzhead, as well as every other musichead some say, so I'm straight to a classic Blue Note album. Midnight Blue by Kenny Burrell is a great recording dating from 1963 by the legend that is Rudy Van Gelder, one of the greatest recording engineers of all time. Elvis Costello fans will also make the connection that the cover of his Almost Blue album is a homage to Midnight Blue.

This sounds superb on the Rega, tight, expressive, articulate and really giving you all of the character and wailing dynamics of Stanley Turrentine's tenor sax.

Change to the blues and Albert King's Honeybee. Great guitar playing coming to life.

The Planar 8 sounds just as good as it looks

A trip to the classic Lou Reed Walk on the wild side confirms that this turntable can play anything you throw at it.

If you don't have a moving coil input on your turntable Rega can sort this for £ 249. Or to make it much better again use the £ 798 Aria phono stage.

At £ 1900 with an Exact MM this is a steal, with a moving coil at £ 2100 or £ 2400 its even better!

Place your orders now, still some available for Santa to deliver!

What Hifi Review

The Ear Review

7 Review 

 

 

 

 

Sondek LP12 Upgrades Summer 18

So the Linn LP12 Bus service having no upgrades for a while now have been working overtime to bring you some options.

At the highest level the Urika phono stage has gone even further in an Exakt system. This involves doing the RIAA equalisation curve in the digital domain where it can be controlled so precisely that it elevates the Sondek to new heights of musicality. This preserves the delicate signal as early as possible using the same 24 bit technology found in Linn recordings.

Unfortunately it only applies to Exakt systems and costs £2800 so those kind Scottish people have used this research to also launch a brand new power supply.

linn lingo4

While it's called Lingo 4 it bears little resemblance to the preceding 3 Lingo versions and is actually half way to the £ 3000 Radikal. For your £ 1450 hard-earned you get a new motor, a new internal control board and a new external power supply. The result is a quieter smoother motor creating less noise and vibration. And because there is less vibration in the turntable your arm and cartridge can sense those small vibrations in the groove more accurately giving a more detailed and dynamic sound.

Our trade-ins deals will give you some comfort with an allowance on your old power supply and we will also fit the Lingo4 and reset your Lp12 included in the price

In case you missed them there are some other big LP12 improvements around.

The Kore subchassis is a massive difference for £ 800 and if you haven't changed your cartridge in years then you won't believe the improvement from Linn's new generation Adikt cartridge, £430 or £ 380 when fitted at the same time as a Lingo4

For older Sondeks a Circkus Bearing upgrade is still available at £ 490 fitted, as is the Trampolinn baseboard at £ 170, all of these give you a noticeable improvement

Drop me a line with any questions

Michael

Kef Q Blog2, large floorstanders

The larger Q floorstanders are the Q750 and Q950

The 750 uses a 6.5" UniQ unit and a 6.5" bass unit.

kef q750W

So why are there 4 round bits Michael?

That's because the top and bottom ones are ABRs, which stands for Auxiliary Bass Radiator.

ABRs aren't driven, they are passive devices to extend and deepen the bass performance while keeping it under control.

This a technique Kef have used in successfully in several models over the years.

 

Q950 looks very similar, in fact from a photograph it's impossible to tell between them

kef q950w

See what I mean!

All drive units are now 8" diameter so the whole speaker is 5" taller and 1.5" wider.

Listening between them is very interesting, the Q750 from the Q550 is a much bigger warmer sound with a real easy sound to them.

It's not laid back though as it still has real punch and dynamics.

Changing to the Q950 has the same characteristics and also goes deeper again in the bass. At high volumes these can really kick it out.

Radiohead at full volume? Yes please

Low volumes are the most clever part where the increased dynamic capability means that they stay realistic at these low volumes.

You might think it's counter intuitive that the larger speaker is superior at low volumes but it makes sense as it is related to the surface area of the drive units.

Where does this leave us?

Well at £ 1150 the Q750s are excellent and at £ 1430, strange price point, the Q950s are better overall and especially if you play it loud.

A better question is how do these compare to the £ 1499 R500?

The R series are clearer and better but have less bass output until you go up to the £ 1999 R700

I'd take the R series every time, but it's your money not mine, and I'm really happy to let you hear the difference for yourself

That's what we're here for

 

 

 

OLED tvs

Alert!! These opinions are still valid but tv prices change so fast that OLEDs now cost less

For up to date prices give us a call, or look at Currys website, we almost always sell at the same price as them anyway! 

They've been around for a few years now so what's the story with OLED tvs?

I'll try to be only a little geeky!

In 2015 LG showed advance models of OLED tvs available in small quantities. These were widely well recieved as the technology had a very important trick that LED sets just couldn't do.

This was to display blacks well, which hadn't been seen since the last of the Pioneer KURO plasmas.

Unfortunately these early prototypes had other problems with brightness and processing speeds that meant that many people wrongly discarded the OLED technology as the problem.

I know, I was one of them. If it wasn't actually better then Lyric Hifi wasnt going to sell them!

Geek alert!

So what's different from other technologies?  Well, an Organic LED display works without any backlighting. This is more like a plasma display as it can display deep black levels. It is also thinner and lighter than a liquid crystal display (LCD). In low ambient light conditions in a dark room, or most of our living rooms, an OLED screen will achieve a much higher contrast ratio than an LCD, regardless of whether the LCD uses fluorescent or LED backlighting.

Remember that the manufacturers built-up LED as a new technology to replace plasma when it was just the same LCD panels with a brighter whiter light behind it. Plasma had to go as it was more expensive to manufacture and was too power hungry to get through the latest energy consumption limits, not because LCD/LED was better.

Ok back to the story:

Moving on two years picture processing has improved tremendously, due in no small part to the advent of 4k sources not only pushing manufacturers to do better but also these sources meaning that rubbish processing was obvious on sets that 'read' well on the spec sheets but really weren't very good, especially on moving objects.

There are actually quite a few sets available that really aren't too good, but Currys don't often play sources that show this up. Can't blame them though, it suits them for everything to look the same!

While all OLED panels are made by LG they have different processing technologies applied to them in sets by Sony, Panasonic, and Loewe

I've always been a fan of Loewe's processing. Over more than 20 years they have always been at the forefront of making panels made by someone else look better than the originals although usually this carried a price premium of 25%

They're at it again, but with one huge difference.

The latest Panasonic 65" OLED is £ 6999, the new Sony? £ 6999, the Loewe? £ 5999

There are cheaper models from Sony and Pana but for the best picture the Loewe is supreme and cheaper!

How do they do it? Well there is a drawback. Their online stuff just isnt as comprehensive so if you use iPlayer/Itv hub etc add an amazon prime box, which is always a good idea anyway as it also provides 4k content.

loewe bild7 65 on stand

Also when you compare it to the LG the Loewe is still better, although to be fair the LG is £600 less

The biggest player in tv just now is actually Samsung and disappointingly the haven't yet entered the OLED market

Instead they now offer QLED. See what they did there? QLED at a glance looks like OLED but it's actually a normal LED set with a Q in front

It is their best effort yet but it's basically a high brightness LED with none of the performance benefits of OLED

 

So when is the right time to buy OLED for your new set? First that depends on size. The high manufacturing cost of OLED means that it will mainly apply to sets of 55" and above for the next 3-4 years.

And then it depends on money. If you want a decent 55/65" set for £ 750-1999 then I will sort you out with a really good Pana/Sony that you will be happy with

If however you want the best 55-65 right now then shell out £ 3500-5999 for an OLED and you wont be disappointed

The Loewe Bild7 65" is on demonstration in the shop right now, call in for a look

NEW KEF Q

The name Q series has been a part of the Kef range for more than 20 years now and through updates every 3-4 years it has always been one of the leading speakers in its price range.

Q sits between the cheap and cheerful C series and the high performance R range to give 5 performance levels between £430 and £ 1430 per pair, one of the most competitive areas of the loudspeaker market. Every model follows closely the sizes of the outgoing model so Q100, small bookshelf, becomes Q150 small bookshelf, Q300 larger bookshelf becomes Q350 larger bookshelf etc.

The 2 bookshelf models are Q150 and Q350 at £ 430 and £ 530 per pair. The previous version of the 350 won many awards including loudspeaker of the year so the Q350 has rather large shoes to fill. The cabinet is roughly the same size so it is the improved drive units which will tell the tale.

kef q350 room

Putting them on they immediately have the sound signature of the UniQ drive unit with a smooth off-axis response hence giving a big out-of-the box sound. That's what UniQ does. However this latest UniQ is definitely better than the previous version with improved dynamics and detail. Tom Petty sounds excellent, as does another old favourite the Jacqueline du Pre Elgar Cello Concerto. The old Q300 had a bit of a 'bloom' to the bass end which was a pleasant fault to have as long as it's not too boomy and the Q350 retains some of this from the big bass unit in a small cabinet. That said these are really engaging and enjoyable, they will do very well.

Switching to the Q150 shows the same dynamics but with less volume of bass. They are still a great communicator when you play something with emotion, in this case some Nick Cave from The Boatman's Call shows how good they can be, as does some Emily Barker from Dear River.

One unusual part of the new Qs is that they all have single wire terminals instead of bi-wire. The amazing Kef LS50 is single wired so perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise. Instead of spending money on extra sockets and fancy veneers all your money is going into the engineering that provides the best performance.

Talking of the LS50 what will happen comparing them at £ 799 to the Q550 at £ 850? You might know that I am a big fan of the LS50, as is virtually every magazine and journalist around the world!

The Q550s are a slim floorstanding speaker only a mere 7" wide and 3' tall. To gain extra bass from such a narrow cabinet they have a small bass unit flanked by 2 bass radiators beneath their uniQ. They are a good sounding speaker too, more detailed on vocals than the Q350 as well as a deeper and tighter bass.

kef q550 b

 And the LS50 comparison? Well here's the thing, if you want your system to go louder with more bass, to be tall, slim, and elegant, or if you just like the look of the Q550s then buy them.

The LS50s in every other way are just better.

kef ls50 b

Perhaps this isn't so surprising, the UniQ's cone materials in the LS50 are more expensive and the rounded cabinet with it's massive internal bracing gives a seriously rigid enclosure. 

 

There are still 2 more new floorstanders to listen to, the £ 1150 Q750 and the £ 1430 Q950, but that's for another day as I have work to do!

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