New music and technology releases in November 2019

By: Gary Steel, Photography by: Supplied

Deals on Wheels brings the latest in music and technology for November 2019

Cambridge Audio AX Range



Cambridge Audio’s pocket-friendly AX componentry

Cambridge Audio has always been a facilitator. Where some audiophile companies rely on snob value to find customers, CA recognises that not everyone can afford to spend a year’s salary on a hi-fi system but that everyone who loves music deserves to hear the joy of a genuine two-channel system.

Hence, its new AX range of entry-level hi-fi gear, where the novice can happily mix and match separate high-quality components.

First off the block in this series are two stereo receivers, the AXR85 and the AXR100, with amps and CD players to follow. The AXR85 packs a decent punch with 85 watts of power, has a
built-in phono stage for record players, and a handy 3.5mm input on the front for connecting phones. But that’s not all.

There’s an FM/AM radio, four analogue inputs, and Bluetooth connectivity. But if you’ve got a little more cash to throw around, there’s the AXR100, with its 100 watts and a dedicated subwoofer output to boot!

Sonus Faber Olympica Nova Speakers


Sonus Faber’s tasty refurbished Olympica Nova speaker range

We’ve featured Sonus Faber loudspeakers a few times on this sumptuous spread over the years and for good reason: they’re not only some of the most handsome-looking noise-emitters in the world of hi-fi but they also sound as great as they look.

Now, the Italian company has completely renovated its Olympica Nova range, each of which includes eight layers of bended wood for extreme rigidity, as well as ‘ribs’ that are used as reinforcement to reduce vibration.

The top panel is made of walnut or wenge wood set in a solid, die-cast aluminium plate. Its Stealth Ultraflex is a porting system inspired by sea waves and facilitates airflow through the duct while controlling its speed and reducing distortion-causing turbulence. While there are many new features we don’t have the space to discuss, it’s the genuine leather that’s applied to the front baffle that’s seals its uniqueness.

NAD T778 Platform AV Receiver



NAD’s T778, their first audiophile surround sound receiver

One of the reasons that the boom in surround sound gear died away during the first decade of the 21st century was that AV (audio visual) receivers sounded good on movies with big explosions but couldn’t satisfy the needs of music lovers. The NAD 778 might be a bit late to the party but it’s a godsend to anyone who loves good sound on movies as well as music.

With technology smarts inherited from the premium NAD Masters range, the T778 is a multi-channel receiver that also promises to deliver pure audiophile-quality sound on its tw-channel (stereo) setting.

With nine 80-watt channels, the T778 promises incredible dynamic range, astonishing headroom, and features a cool new touchscreen that shows the metadata from Cloud services and live performances.

And with its MQA HD streaming and live room calibration for optimal performance for both its two-channel or multichannel performance, the T778 might just prove a viable way to avoid having to compromise on either audio or visual delights.

Charlie XCX—Charli


Charli is as edgy as she is poptastic on her shiny new release

Impress the teens and young adults with your knowledge of cutting-edge, alternative pop by slyly popping this number in the stereo.

This saucy English singer with a Scottish dad and a Gujarati mum has written songs for the likes of Selena Gomez, Blondie, and Iggy Azalea, but it’s her own, hyper-modern, slightly edgy take on pop that has made her an icon, at first through her YouTube performances and then on recordings like Charli, her third, much-delayed album—an early version of which was leaked in 2017, which led to her starting it all over again.

This is a smart, danceable confection that’s inescapably a product of now, and more fun than Taylor Swift.

The Beatles—Abbey Road (50th Anniversary Edition)


The Beatles’ Abbey Road: refreshed and more amazing than ever

It wasn’t so long ago that I was banging on about the superb 50th Anniversary Edition of The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 "white album", and now they’re back with the definitive remixed version of their last and greatest album, 1969 masterpiece Abbey Road.

Whether choosing the 3CD version with Blu-ray (5.1 mix) and hardbound book, the vinyl or simply streaming the album itself, this is a revelation for all, not just those sad old dweebs (like me) who collect box sets.

Abbey Road represents an early peak in the art of studio recording and engineering, but Giles Martin’s remix coaxes completely new sounds out of the multi-tracks and makes existing ones sound almost edible. Apart from the sheer craft of this exquisite album, of particular note is Paul McCartney’s astonishing facility with the bass guitar, something that was barely evident on the original issue.

With songs such as ‘Come Together’, ‘Here Comes The Sun’, and the wonderful segued luminescence of the second side, Abbey Road is as cool now as it was back in ’69.

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