New music and technology: October 2020

By: Gary Steel, Photography by: Supplied guru gives us his choice picks for sounds and hardware

Klipsch The Fives Bookshelf Speakers


Feel like bagging a bargain? If your entertainment system revolves around the family flatscreen but you’re disappointed with the crappy sound from that very ordinary soundbar and the limited connectivity options, then Klipsch has come up with probably the most versatile and nicely priced speaker on the market. The Fives are a powered speaker especially designed for TV, and despite their diminutive size, they pack a real wallop.

Apart from their distinctive looks (keep the grilles on for that retro feel, yank them off for that industrial design flavour) these babies are notable for the inclusion of all the latest technology that makes it easy to hook them up to almost anything.


Want to play your turntable through them? No problem, the speakers include a phono preamp.

Need to connect a subwoofer? An output is included. The speakers also include Bluetooth 5, digital optical, HDMI-ARC, and analogue RCA and USB inputs. The crowning glory, however, is that The Fives can decode hi-res sound, which means you get all the crispy punch from movies along with the glory of stereo imagery for music listening.

Auralic Aries G2.1 Streaming Transport


The world of hi-fidelity sound attracts both those who like to tweak traditional playback systems such as turntables or CD transports and increasingly, those who seek to apply high-end principles to the latest digital technology. Beijing company Auralic service the latter market with their range of components for hi-fi buffs whose music exists either on hard drives or in the cloud on streaming services.

While the average smart homeowner might be happy with a basic system as long as they can get music billowing out of speakers in the lounge and the lavatory, Auralic’s G2.1 Series will appeal to the multi-room digital connoisseur with a budget that reflects their musical passion. Even the chassis of the Aries G2.1 Streaming Transport, for instance, is a serious piece of sound-enhancing technology: literally a chassis-within-a-chassis, its outer is made of high-grade aluminium while its inner is made from copper. The result, they say, enhances EMI shielding and produces an audible improvement.

And for those who want to load up their CD collection and improve the sound with careful processing and absence of the dreaded jitter, Auralic utilises the Lightning OS. Auralic’s buffed-up G2.1 series includes the Vega Streaming DAC and the Syrius Upsampling Processor ($11,495 each).

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO Turntable


Pro-Ject’s Debut Carbon turntable was a runaway hit for Pro-Ject, and the entry-level audiophile turntable can be seen in many thousands of homes, from those of students who are getting into vinyl for the first time to older consumers who are getting into their LP collections with renewed vigour.

The Austrian company reckons its new iteration of the Debut Carbon—called the Debut Carbon EVO—is a major refinement that improves the turntable in numerous important ways. Many of these improvements boil down to vibration management and solidity. For instance, the TPE-dampened metal platter has an increased weight
of 1.7kg, and there’s a redesigned motor suspension system for vibration reduction and electronic speed control.

Other improvements include heavy height-adjustable metal feet and an electronic speed switch, but fans of the brand need not fear, as the all-important elegant European design is much the same. Available in an abundance of gloss finishes from high gloss red through to Satin Steel Blue and Satin Fur Green and even Walnut, the Debut Carbon EVO will be turning up in New Zealand in small numbers this month with many more to come in October. 

Hudson Mohawk—B.B.H.E.

Glasgow-born Hudson Mohawk won acclaim as a DJ at an impossibly young age and eventually broke through to international fame when he collaborated with Kanye West—but don’t hold that against him.

Mohawk (or Ross Birchard to his Mum) makes a crazy post-Millennial electronic hybrid that it’s best not to bother trying to categorise and just enjoy, although there hasn’t actually been an album since 2015, as the ingenue has been busy contributing music to the likes of David Lynch (Twin Peaks) and Sacha Baron Cohen (Who Is America?) as well as game soundtracks.

B.B.H.E. is a larger-than-life collection of all sorts of fun and funky stuff that Mohawk made over the past 10 years and then forgot about, a kind of mixtape of brilliant odds and sods.
It’s brilliantly beat-driven and overlaid with some weird and interesting textures. It also sounds really good on a large pair of speakers​!

Jimmy Heath—Love Letter

How about some luscious old-fashioned jazz to ease us into spring reveries? Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath was just short of 93 when he recorded Love Letter, an album that nicely recapitulates his career by revisiting some great jazz standards.

Heath, who died in January, was a legendary saxist, composer, and band leader who played with many of the titans of jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.

Featuring famous guest artists such as Wynton Marsalis and Kenny Barron alongside a crack band that includes vibraphone veteran Monte Croft and drummer Lewis Nash, Love Letter includes a number of pieces Heath wrote for others during his long career as well as affectionate cover versions. It oozes that organic jazz feel and makes for great late-night relaxing. 

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