New music and technology releases in May 2020

By: Gary Steel, Photography by: Supplied

Deals on Wheels brings the latest in music and technology for May 2020

Rega Planar P10 Turntable



Rega’s Planar P10 turntable is an aesthetic and sonic winner

It’s possible to buy a Rega turntable for a song (or two), but the all-new Planar P10 comes at a premium price for a reason (or two, or three). While its exoskeleton reveals the P10’s origins in record players of yore, it’s really a feat of leading technology and innovative engineering. And while its undeniable good looks will endear it to the design-inclined, there are solid reasons to expect sterling sound performance as well.

With hand-me-down smarts from the top-of-range Rega, the Naiad, the P10 uses exotic materials to redu​​ce mass and improve rigidity, with vast improvements in hub bearing, sub-platter, motor, and drive belt design. Featuring a unique low mass, precision-bias tonearm and an advanced electronic power supply in a separate box, it’s a statement that once seen and heard can’t be easily shaken off.

Luxman D-03X MQA CD Player



Luxman’s D-03X is proof that CDs aren’t quite dead in the water

They keep on declaring compact discs as dead as dodos, but the format perseveres. Sure, casual music fans can get their fill on Spotify, but for those with substantial CD collections, all that’s required to make musical bliss is a top-quality player. And believe me, the difference in sound quality is demonstrable.

Besides which, the new Luxman D-03X is so much more than just a CD player. Taking advantage of hi-res MQA decoding, it features a superb DAC circuit, and apart from squeezing every inch of juice out of your CDs, it accepts hi-res files via the USB, optical, and coaxial inputs.

It also boasts something called Bulk Pet, which doesn’t involve any furry things but apparently enhances playback stability. It’s not an easy road getting gear freighted from Japan at the moment, but expect this model to hit good high-end retailers as soon as there’s a plane to bring it in on.

Ultimate Ears Hyperboom Bluetooth Speaker


The Hyperboom Bluetooth speaker boasts real bass heft

With names like Megaboom and now Hyperboom, you could be forgiven for thinking that these Ultimate Ears speakers are massive. The truth is that most weather-proof Bluetooth speakers are insanely small, and even the Hyperboom, UE’s biggest, heaviest speaker yet at 5.9kg, can be lugged with one hand from room to room or barbecue to beach.

What really separates UE from the rest is a dedication to both sound quality and resilience. My kids have been torturing a Megaboom for years but somehow, against all odds, it still goes. And what’s more, it sounds good. We’re not talking audiophile-grade good, though, just everyday accompaniment to chores and socialising.

The Hyperboom’s increased girth makes room for two 4.5-inch woofers and two one-inch tweeters, as well as two passive radiators. Like the Megaboom, it’s got grunt but adds way more bass thrust.

Fiona Apple—Fetch The Bolt Cutters


Fiona Apple’s long-awaited fifth album is home-cooked excellence

Who can forget THAT video? In 1997, Fiona Apple shocked and titillated with the risqué ‘Criminal’, a confronting track that helped to launch the singer-songwriter’s career but felt exploitative to many. These days a famous recluse, Fetch The Bolt Cutters is only her fifth album in 24 years, and it’s a doozy. Immediately, the listener is aware of the stark sonic contrast to the prefabricated sound typical of modern pop; this is delightfully homemade, with jaunty piano centrestage and a range of percussion giving the record an enjoyable rhythmic mooring.

These are smart, witty stories, which take a hard look at gender inequality without ever coming across like she’s lecturing. Each song has at its core memorable musical cues and melodies and her voice—now slightly frayed around the edges—carries it off perfectly.



Hamilton’s Devilskin make the perfect album to rage through 2020

Hamilton’s greatest export, Devilskin will never be hip or trendy but they remain one of New Zealand’s most loved bands. And on Red, their third studio album, they show why. This is a blazing hot thing right from the opening shot, and never lets up.

Alternating between death-metal chug and the more recognisable ballsy hard rock they’re renowned for, Red captures a band on fire. They’re are tight as, and they display no weakness. Rhythmically, they’re a heavy rock steamroller, while guitarist Tony Vincent chooses his moments to unleash some excoriating solos. Jenny Skulander’s soaring, powerful vocals are so much more than simply the frosting on a tasty cake. Picturing Devilskin without her is like imagining Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant or The Doors without Jim Morrison.

A raging great time for all guaranteed.

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