One of the oldest hi-fi brands in the world. Until recently, Quad was assembled in Great Britain, but production has moved to Asia. Fortunately, the quality has not suffered.
The idiosyncratic brand has always been inventing other ways of integrating components, ways of strengthening or displaying. This has led to the ESL loudspeaker line and the new ’99 series, which is particularly easy to operate. The brand has always been slightly browned, which is no different with the ’99 series, although it is significantly more neutral than its predecessors.
The site of Quad
Raidho is a Danish high-end speaker brand. Two things are striking about the brand: the design is special and the use of the tire tweeters. From a design point of view we can say: sleek, no-compromise finish and beautiful materials. About the sound: open, fast, airy and very detailed. The match has to be good, of course, because a tape tweeter will let you hear everything. As far as we’re concerned, Raidho is often in the top-3 at shows. Beautiful brand.
The website of Raidho
Regais has been producing hi-fi since 1973. The British brand makes CD players, tuners, amplifiers, turntables and speakers. They also have some accessories. All Rega products are very affordable in their class and therefore very competitive.
Rega sounds neutral, soft, spacious, but somewhat quiet. The smaller amplifiers as the Mira integrated amplifier, may have more body. The CD and record players are true works of art.
The site of Rega
Hifi fanatics also call this German brand ‘The poormans Spectral’. I don’t know if I agree with that yet, but it’s for sure! Now Restek doesn’t sound unpleasant at all. The amplifiers sound wonderfully airy and powerful and know how to create an image with great precision. This also applies to digital sources.
Restek’s offer is wide. The German company makes: preamplifiers, power amplifiers, CD players, digital tuners, analog tuners, phono preamplifiers, etc.
The site of Restek
No, not a Scandinavian company! Roksan is British… The brand reminds me of Naim or Linn. Why is that? Well, they produce everything from amplifiers to CD players, record players and speakers. And that’s very clever, because it allows consumers to buy a coherent whole. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to listen to any Roksan products yet. The reviews are very positive, but that doesn’t say it all. As soon as I know more, you’ll hear from me.
The site of Roksan
Rotel is a British brand that has both products for and in the hi-fi market. The brand has largely focused on the home theater market, although there are still CD players and stereo amplifiers. However, these are no longer the main part of the company.
The Rotel’s multi-channel line is a bit variable. The sources are not particularly exciting, but the reinforcement of the British Rotel is of very good quality. A look true if you like round, robust and warm.
The site of Rotel
Scansonic is a sub-brand of the well-known Raidho. Previously Scan Speak also made complete speakers: Scansonic. Now the brand has been off the market for a while. But no longer… it’s been revived by Raidho who’s now in charge of the design and part of the manufacturing. The result is a very complete line of affordable and high quality speakers. We are less enthusiastic about the ‘all-in-one’ clock radios (or whatever it may be). Fortunately that has nothing to do with the M and MB series.
The site of Scansonic
Seec: Scientific Essential Equipment Company, is a Dutch company based in Mierlo. The company started in 1988 and has been led by Kees van Haaren all that time. Since then it has been working on improving and renewing hi-fi and high-end products. It makes mains filters, a preamplifier and beautiful (active) interlinks. Seec is one of the few manufacturers that has developed a mains filter in which the protective earth is not a requirement for proper operation. In addition, Seec was the first to produce an active interlink. The ASC-2 reference interlink.
A Site about Seec
Probably the best-known headphone and microphone manufacturer in the world. And not for nothing. They produce a competitive product in every price segment. Soundwise the whole thing becomes interesting from the5-series, although the models underneath are also fine, but certainly not neutral. If we look at the top model (at the time of writing the HD650, ?400), we can say one thing: delicious! The slightly warm colour that Sennheiser has added makes it sound wonderfully relaxed, but without loss of detail or obscuring the high. Every headphone has a tan, by the way. Not so crazy, because a completely neutral sound does not tolerate a person…you get crazy from the spraying high, because the speaker sits directly on your ear.
Old Dutch. Wonderful, isn’t it? Siltech was set up by the same men who used to be foreman of Sphinx: Hans de Ligt and Ed de Goei. The cable company makes all kinds of interlinks, speaker and video cables. And most of the cables are still assembled by hand. The Siltech line starts with the MXT professional, continues to the G3 series (soon to disappear), the Classic line (G5) and ends with the Signature series (G6). Siltech cables are made of silver and gold. Only the MXT line also carries copper, which can be heard in the brown tint of the cable, although this is not always uncomfortable. The other cables are very soft in sound, but a bit syrupy. I can’t tell if this is because of the gold. If you like a mild, gentle sound, Siltech is absolutely recommended. The cables are spunky at the price, but that makes sense if you look at the materials used and the perfect finish.
The website of Siltech
Peter Murphy was previously employed by Linn and founded Simply Audio a few years ago. So the expertise must be in order. Simply Audio is dedicated to the marketing of streaming products. It results until now? Roomplayer 1 with 2 x 50W built-in Class D amplification, so connect speakers and play. And Roomplayer II, intended as a stand-alone streamer for integration into an existing audio installation. The desktop and iPod/iPhone controllers look graphically packed. Pricing is favorable, so hopefully this brand will find a place in the market where the streaming violence has now erupted among the big boys as well.
The website of Simply Audio
Sonos is a very nice brand that develops digital multiroom streaming audio systems. The philosophy behind Sonos is clear: combine the ease of use and sound quality of (pure) hi-fi with the possibilities of the computer world, such as a wireless network and streaming audio. And she will. Installation is very easy and the user experience afterwards is pleasant. Moreover, the sound quality is very good! And the price? A joke compared to some hi-fi brands.
The website of Sonos
Yeah, they look like Diapason. And yes, they’re from Italy, too. And yes, the timbre resembles that of a Diapason, where a Diapason is slightly my preference. Sonus Faber is also a high-efficiency speaker. Ideal for a small, subtle tube amp. A Sonus Faber sounds subtle, loose and rich in detail. For the real lover, because it certainly can’t be loud…but it doesn’t have to be loud if it caresses the ears at low volume.
The site of Sonus Faber.
A Japanese brand that everyone associates with the minisets. Make no mistake, however, Sony’s ES line is a very serious line worth listening to. The timbre is wonderfully neutral and the middle / high is beautiful. rich in detail. And when you look at Sony’s CD drives, you’ll immediately see and hear that they’re put together with extreme precision. It’s not for nothing that big brands like: Musical Fidelity, Arcam and Densen sony drives.
Sony’s ES line sounds nicely neutral and soft. Unfortunately the stereo image is a bit shallow and vague.
The Sony website
No, not a German brand, although the name suggests so. Spectral is an American high-end company founded in 1977. The Nasa engineers working at Spectral seem to know what they are doing, because many revolutionary techniques come from the American factory. Thus, the DMA-100 amplifier is a household name in the high-end world. The Megahertz technique hidden under the hood ensures a very fast final amplification, which is of course well reflected in the dynamics and detail reproduction.
Spectral makes not only amplifiers, but also digital sources and cables (together with MIT!). For example, the SDR-1000 CD player was launched on the market in 1987 to offer fans a solid player. Spectral and MIT have a long history when it comes to interconnects and speaker cables. This cooperation is still in place and special MIT-Spectral cables are still available. And these are not ordinary MIT cables with a different sticker. The interlinks are significantly whiter and cleaner in colour.
Click here for the webpage with a product overview
Which headphone enthusiast doesn’t know the brand? Stax is a Japanese headphone brand that has been working with microphones and pickup modules since 1938. In 1960 it started with electrostatic headphones. Today, they are particularly known for their truly beautiful headphones. Not in appearance, because they are certainly not beautiful, but ‘oh my god’ how good they sound! Neutral, soft, subtle and rich in detail. Well, like an electrostate. Qualitatively, the Basic comes on the level of a HD650 from Sennheiser with a nice headphone amplifier. The Classic sits there with its class-A preamplifier far above.
There is a Stax headphone from about ?700 euro. You’ll get an amp. It has to be, because an electrostat works on an increased voltage.
The website of Stax
Swans is a Canadian / American speaker brand that produces its speakers (cabinets, units, filters) in China. (Like so many brands). The product range is huge; far too large to mention. That’s why the motto seems to be: you’re looking for… we got it. And in many cases it is… unless you’re looking for something special. Because of this huge assortment, Swans doesn’t really have an identity. The brand lacks the ‘X factor’. However, make no mistake: Swans produces cabinets and units for the big boys in hi-filand! The difference is: the big boys ask twice as much money. And that’s why it’s quite interesting to think about this brand.
The website of Swans