New music and technology releases in August 2020

By: Gary Steel, Photography by: Supplied

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

ModWright KWH 225i Hybrid Integrated Amplifier


ModWright’s new hybrid integrated amp uses both ancient and leading-edge tech

I hate to sound prejudiced but at first gaze, ModWright’s new integrated amp struck me as an ugly duckling, visually. The thing about unusual form factors, however, is that they tend to grow on you. And as soon as you hear the soothing, surprising sounds this wonder-box is capable of, you’ll fall in love. ModWright is an American company renowned for carefully handcrafting well-thought-out gear, and the KWH 225i achieves its sonic miracles by combining the best of both worlds.


While its preamp section is run with tubes for that inexplicably beautiful, rich, and captivating sound, the output stage is solid state, which allows it to pack a 225-watt power punch that’ll drive the most demanding speaker. Warm but dynamic, resoundingly loud when required but transparent in the top end when it should be, this hybrid integrated amp is a keeper.

Linn Series 3 Wireless Speaker


The Linn Series 3 wireless speaker is a class above

Shaped like a wine glass without the stem and made out of hand-polished stone glass, Linn’s entry into the wireless speaker market was first launched exclusively at Harrod’s in London with a special gold-rimmed speaker enclosure. While that gives a sense of the speaker’s intended market, what’s in it for the average consumer?


Well, to get a pair for stereo reproduction you’d be forking out close to $12K, which would buy an enormous pair of top-quality floor standing speakers. But let’s face it, few of us have the space for big boxes in our homes, so the Linn Series 3 is answering the call for superb-sounding, leading technology wireless speakers that look great but also blend into a room. Portable beach boom boxes these are not!

And according to the local Linn agent the HiFi Store, the Series 3 has been flying out the
door. Reputedly, the best-sounding wireless speaker available, they can also be
connected via HDMI to a television, and there’s a plethora of clever options for both connectivity and its clever interface.

Tex Tone Speakers



Tex Tone speakers combine the smarts of studio monitors and high-end hi-fi

Tex Houston is one of New Zealand’s most respected sound engineers and has worked with some of our best bands both behind the sound desk at live concerts and on recordings. It’s not often that the worlds of domestic hi-fidelity combine with those of studio monitors, but Houston has incorporated the best of both worlds into his own bookshelf speakers, the Tex Tone.


The Dunedin-based audio expert experimented for years to perfect these beautiful speakers, which, until now, have been making waves by word of mouth alone. The Tex Tone’s sonic secrets include its super-strong curved cabinets, which feature 24 layers of 18-ply Baltic Birch plywood, and incredibly high-quality drivers that go right down to 29Hz.


The standard Tex Tone speakers are gorgeous enough, but for art lovers, there’s also a limited edition series (for $8999) where the likes of Chris Knox (Tall Dwarfs, Toy Love), David Kilgour (The Clean), and Robert Scott (The Bats, The Clean) have created unique artworks right on the cabinets.

Jarv Is—Beyond The Pale

Jarv Is is Jarvis Cocker and the former Pulp singer’s new album is​ ​something else

Jarvis Cocker sounds like gruff old Leonard Cohen on Beyond The Pale’s first track, ‘Save The Whale’ (rhymes, get it?). It’s the former Pulp singer’s first album since 2009, and it seems he’s now Jarv Is in consideration of the odd line-up that’s coalesced around him for this fascinating project, which includes Serafina Steer on harp and keyboards, Emma Smith on violin, and Jason Buckle on synthesizers and electronics.


It’s a rather bizarre mix of organic and synthetic but it sure beats listening to old Dire Straits albums, and Jarvis has always got something interesting to groan on about. Does that sound like a recommendation? It is.

Dalai Lama—Inner World


The Dalai Lama makes his first album at 85!​​

With the whole world getting crazier by the day, should we rage against the insanity or look inward? Here’s something for those who want a calming palliative, and it’s pretty special.
Inner World, the Dalai Lama’s first album, is the result of New Zealand follower Junelle Kunin making an approach to the Tibetan guru in 2015.

Junelle’s husband Abraham (famed for his production work with the likes of Teeks and the Avantdale Bowling Club) slowly crafted the ambient backdrops to the Dalai Lama’s relaxing chants and prayers, which were recorded during multiple sessions over several years. It’s not often we get to hear a debut album by an 85-year-old monk!  

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