Shiny new things to play with and listen to

By: Gary Steel , Photography by: Images supplied

Deals on Wheels brings the latest in music and technology for this month

Perreaux 255i Integrated Amplifier

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Way back in the mists of time (the mid-1970s, to be exact) there was a fantastic Kiwi band called Ragnarok. Around the same time, the Perreaux brand of amps and speakers was born.

A union was forged, and if you Google hard enough, you’ll find photos of the band blasting out their unique, Viking-inspired progressive rock through Perreaux-branded gear from the nation’s stages. They sounded fantastic, and a legend was born. Perreaux has gone from strength to strength while sadly, Ragnarok are these days little known.

The company has been through a few changes since then, and now operates out of Mosgiel, near Dunedin, where it does all the hard yards of research and development that has led to their newest creation: the 255i, a powerful, 360-watt 255i integrated amplifier ($8595).

Perreaux’s new premium product includes a state-of-the-art DAC (digital to analogue converter) module and many other sound-improving tweaks, as well as the distinctive heat sink that ensures the continuance of the Perreaux design legacy. They’ve even thought of something that will please old buggers with bad eyesight: large read-out displays!

L.A.B – L.A.B


Fusing the talent from two popular Kiwi institutions – Kora and Katchafire – L.A.B’s debut is a stonking great summer play with a bit of everything we could ever want to hear while stoking the barbie. With soulful vocals, low-end dub basslines and even some rollicking guitar rock for the ragers, it’s a bit like Fat Freddys done au natural and shorter songs (although there is one seven-minute epic in "She’s Gone") or Trinity Roots with some more dance energy.

And of course, they’re promoting it in concert this summer in unlikely places like Opononi, Whitianga and Kapiti.

Netatmo Smart Home System

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"Paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep", sang Stephen Stills on the hippy resistance song, ‘For What It’s Worth’, but he could have been talking about our collective Kiwi fear during holiday season, when we’re heading away from our homes with the knowledge that the country’s burglary statistics are shocking.

A number of companies have recently come up with home security packages combining cameras with convenient smart home features, but Netatmo’s is possibly the cleverest and most intuitive to configure and work day-to-day. And they look good, too. With real-time access and alerts through your smartphone, Netatmo’s Welcome indoor camera ($379.99) does what the others don’t: it has face recognition capabilities, so it can tell if the ‘intruders’ are family members or strangers. Meanwhile, the Presence outdoor camera ($499.99) can tell whether it’s a car, an animal or a person moving around your yard.

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And for those who just have to have everything, optional extras include a Weather Station. Available from Noel Leeming.

N*E*R*D – No_One Ever Really Dies

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How great it is to hear a real party comeback record from the hip-hop production crew that helped to shape the genre in the early 2000s. Pharrell Williams appears to dominate their fifth, self-titled album, and although its sound is contemporary, it creatively uses the techniques – lots of fun samples, a real mix’n’match of sounds – that are as nostalgic as they are fun to behold.

A lot of rap records are blighted by simply too many guest MC shots, but somehow, No_One Ever Really Dies stays buoyant despite its plethora of cameos from the likes of Rihanna, Andre 3000, MIA and (gulp) Ed Sheeran.

Edifier R1280T Bookshelf Speakers

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Here at Shiny New Things we specialise in the spectacularly aspirational with spectacular prices to match. But we also know a bargain when we see it, and for their piddling price, Edifier’s R1280T speakers ($169 or cheaper) are simply amazing.

While many are now opting for the convenience and cool form factor of wireless speakers, the fact is that wired speakers still sound better, and these little beauts pack a few surprises. They’re powered (which means they’ve got a built-in amp) so you can stick them straight into your PC, or TV, or connect them to a turntable (or any other source component, for that matter), and they come with a handy remote for volume and muting emergencies. But even cooler, they’ve got two inputs at the back, so that you can easily switch back and forth between, say, a connected smartphone and PC.

To be frank, my chin was on the floor when I first heard the juicy goodness of the sounds emitting from their drivers and tweeters.

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