Shiny new things to play with and listen to

By: Gary Steel


Shiny new things to play with and listen to These BeoLab speakers make a statement Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shiny new things to play with and listen to These BeoLab speakers make a statement Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shiny new things to play with and listen to Bic Runga offers charming, summery covers Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shing new things to play with and to listen to The Azur streamer will banish those CDs cramping your wall space Shing new things to play with and to listen to
Shiny new things to play with and listen to Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shiny new things to play with and listen to All those 1980s Phil Collins hits that you love to hate Shiny new things to play with and listen to
Shiny new things to play with and to listen to REL's No.25 puts the bark back in your woofer Shiny new things to play with and to listen to
Shiny new things to play with and to listen to REL's No.25 puts the bark back in your woofer Shiny new things to play with and to listen to

Gary Steel with more on music in New Zealand

Phil Collins—The Singles

Here is how to drive the kids out of the house this summer: buy The Singles—a collection of hits and non-hits by the dome-plated former drummer of progressive pomp rock perennials Genesis—and keep it spinning relentlessly. No wonder Collins was one of the favourite acts of the murderous Wall St protagonist in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. There is just something indescribably irritating about Phil Collins’ bouncy, intrinsically 1980s-sounding hits that could drive even a card-carrying pacifist to homicidal thoughts.

Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 Speakers

Danish audio-visual company Bang & Olufsen is more famed for its designs than for the quality of its components. Hardcore audiophiles tend to scorn their hi-fi gear because the price-to-value ratio just doesn’t make sense for someone who doesn’t care if it looks like a squashed possum, as long as it is a sonic revelation. But if you have the cash and your other half demands an aesthetically appealing interior decor, then a visit to the B&O store in Newmarket (Auckland) might just be on the cards. One of the most astonishing loudspeakers to hit the market lately is the BeoLab 90. Its 360-degree visage isn’t just for the looks. There are 18 drivers facing in different directions, and this handsome dude comes with what they call ‘active room compensation’ technology, which sneakily adjusts the sound depending on the acoustics of your room. They will set you back $100K-plus (depending on fluctuating exchange rates) but hey, we only live twice. bang-olufsen.com.

Bic Runga—Close Your Eyes

Last month, it was Princess Chelsea, and this month, it is Bic Runga—the recent recipient of the NZ Music Hall of Fame—with an album of charming and slightly oddball cover versions. Collaborating with partner Kody Neilson, Bic serves light and delightful versions of songs by artists as diverse as Kanye West, the Beach Boys, Neil Young, and French chanteuse Francoise Hardy. The album also includes the song that British folk singer Ewan MacColl wrote in the 1950s but which Roberta Flack had the hit with in the 1970s, The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, and 1980s group the Blue Nile’s gorgeous Tinseltown In The Rain. It’s highly irregular, but it is lovely.

REL No. 25 Subwoofer

Have you ever longed for a little more bark from you woofer? REL is a dedicated subwoofer company, so you know they are going to be experts in getting way down low in a way that sounds and feels so good. And No. 25 is a special REL, built to celebrate the first 25 years of the brand with an on-board 1000 watt amp and wireless capability. So it will go anywhere in a room without that dreaded cable clutter. And just look at this beast: slick and handsome but definitely one mean machine that will get the best vibrations out of its reference-quality 15-inch drivers. If you like it low but also want it to sound right, then the REL No. 25 is a mere $12,999 at your local hi-fi specialist.rel.net.

Cambridge Audio Azur 851N Streamer

Its looks are modest, but this svelte machine just won ‘Best Audio Streamer’ in its category in the prestigious UK audiophile magazine’s What Hi-Fi awards. If you are new to the idea of streaming or have only beamed lo-res MP3s or Spotify streams through your system, then be prepared for a revelation. Now is the time to load all your old CDs gathering moss under your house to your computer’s external hard drive and send them streaming wirelessly through your hi-fi. The 851N can access and play anything and everything you own via the nifty smartphone app. And guess what? Because it doesn’t suffer the compromising jitters that the moving parts of CD players cause and runs everything through its high-quality digital-to-analogue converters, the audio quality will astound. There is so much more it can do, including acting as a proper preamp. With its Bluetooth dongle, it can also process and transform internet apps. The 851N costs $2,799, but for those with less disposable income, the slightly less fancy CXN is also available for nearly $1K less. pqimports.co.nz

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