New music and technology: November 2020 guru gives us his choice picks for sounds and hardware

Martin Logan Motion 35 XTi Bookshelf Speakers


Martin Logan’s famous electrostatic panels sound amazing. Unfortunately, however, their ‘sweet spot’ is very small. So small, in fact, that you need to be sitting in the perfect position between the two speakers to get the desired effect. For the 99% of the population who like to move around a room or even to have a little private dance, Martin Logan have come up with the Motion range.

The Motion 35 XTi is their bookshelf iteration, and these handsome wee devils are amazing. They may not be capable of quite the 3D sonic imagery of an electrostatic panel, but their wondrous Folded Motion XT tweeters sing a sweet top end and ensure that the transition from mid-range to bass is absolutely seamless.


Some smooth sounding audiophile speakers only sound good on Norah Jones records, but the Martin Logan Motion 35XTis are surprisingly boisterous and deal with anything from classical through to electronic techno to heavy metal with aplomb. And they play loud, effortlessly. An all-round great speaker, they get my highest commendation with one suggestion: if you want earth-shaking bass, just add a subwoofer.

ZMF Vérité Headphones


For the music fan who does most of their listening on headphones and wants them to look as good as they sound, here’s a truly luxurious choice from ZMF. The flagship of the ZMF range, it’s named the Vérité to evoke the film genre with its essential naturalism and truth.


Claiming "the utmost speed, accuracy and heightened dynamic range", reviewers have been quick to wax eloquent about its ability to convey a genuine sense of room acoustics and natural decay as well as its surround sound-type imaging.

Cased with beautiful silkwood and featuring a light magnesium chassis and "ultra-thin PEN driver vapour deposed with 20% Beryllium by thickness", the ZMF Vérités are the ultimate choice for music connoisseurs who like to keep it to themselves.

Chord Electronics DAVE DAC Digital Preamplifier


Who ever heard of a digital-to-analogue converter/preamplifier going for that kind of money? Well, hearing is believing and the manager of one of Auckland’s best hi-fi stores has ended up taking one home, so you know its attributes are more than merely smoke and mirrors.

Chord Electronics reckon that this stunning-looking piece of gear is the most advanced DAC in the world, and the best. DAVE makes it seem like a friend but it’s actually an acronym meaning ‘Digital to analogue Veritas in Extremis’.


Doubling up as a reference level headphone amp, DAVE contains loads of proprietary smarts, including Chord’s FPGA (Spartan 6 Field Programmable Gate Array), which gives 1000 times the processing power of a standard DAC chip and contains more than a million lines of code to deal with complex timing issues with speed and precision. Described as "the best noise-shaper performance of any known DAC", DAVE costs a pretty penny, but if we had the cash, it’d be near the top of our wish list.

Prince—Sign O’ The Times

When Sign O’ The Times was released in 1987, it rocked the world. By then, everyone new that Prince was a prodigiously gifted artist, but this was something else: a double album that competed with The Beatles legendary 1968 ‘white album’ for sustained genius over four sides of vinyl. Incredible songs and arrangements and a gob-smacking variety of material, from sleek pop songs to full-on funk and quite a few other stylistic diversions besides.


What many didn’t know was that the album was but a slither of the huge glut of music Prince recorded that year, which is, at last, gathered together on this eight-CD super deluxe edition of the album. The set also includes early versions of songs from the album and others that didn’t make a cut at the time, including a collaboration with jazz titan Miles Davis; and for good measure, there’s also a concert performance from the era. For the legions who consider this the best Prince album, this Super Deluxe Edition will be an essential purchase.


Rising from the ashes of popular Auckland band Sheerlux in 1980, the Techtones existed for a whirlwind 18 months before disintegrating, leaving just one excellent album to remember them by—TT23. Unfortunately, their record company quickly went bust and this important item from New Zealand’s post-punk history remained unavailable until this month.


Now digitally spruced up and featuring a few bonus cuts, TT23 sounds amazingly fresh in 2020. Recorded on rough ’n’ ready four-track tape recorder by Doug Hood a year before he helped to turn the Dunedin bands into Kiwi heroes, the music is a kind of power pop that thankfully eschews slickness in favour of palatable experimentation. We like it. 

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