Top gift ideas for the hard to buy for

I’m regularly reminded by my Wife how hard I am to buy for, and likewise I find it really hard to buy for my Dad. So here’s a list of ideas that might make that hard to buy for person in your life happy, I know I’d be stoked with any of these amazing gifts! And, a number of these are on special until Christmas.

An outdoor speaker for the Summer BBQ’s

The all-weather Melody wireless speaker from Soundcast, is your mobile DJ companion. Take Melody anywhere and have all the control from your phone or tablet. Don’t let Melody’s petite size or elegant looks fool you, it has the power to rock any beach, house, backyard or indoor/outdoor gathering you care to host.

Find out more

Some powered speakers for the office or games room

Audioengine put powered speakers on the map with their A5 and A2 speakers. Now in their second edition’s and even with plenty of competitor options they’re still the best. Powered speakers offer a versatile all-in-one system that doesn’t sacrifice sound. Some models such as the A2+ even feature onboard DAC’s for digital direct connection to your computer.

Find out more

A turntable for your hipster kid, or someone getting back into their old vinyl collection

Vinyl playback doesn’t have to complicated, Music Hall offers the USB TT ($499) which has its own built in phono preamplifier so you can connect it to a regular stereo RCA input and features a USB input for recording straight to PC. Find out more

Of course if you’re looking to extract every bit of detail from your spinning discs, then check out the rest of our turntable & accessories range too.

For the gamer in the family

You may not want to encourage the amount of time they spend gaming, but at least you’ll know they aren’t damaging their ears and are in complete comfort with either of the gaming specific headphones from Audio-Technica. The AG1 and ADG1 are the ultimate gaming headphones! The more popular open back designed  ADG1 allows you to hear sounds around you too, so you can hear the call for dinner.

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For the commuter

For the family and friends on the move, get them a replacement for the horrible earphones that come free with their phone! Starting at $49.95 the Audiofly AF33’s are a huge step up in audio quality and sound isolation making those noisy bus/train/plane rides a thing of the past.

For the frequent flyers the Audiofly AF78 RRP $219.95 include a storage tin and airline adaptors.  Or for the ultimate in sound isolation the noise-cancelling Audio-technica ANC33’s will make you feel like you are in your own world of audio bliss.

For the vinyl aficionado we have a great range of accessories

Now here’s something a vinyl collector might not buy for themselves but will love, the Milty Zerostat Antistatic-gun ($149.95), you literally zap the dust off your precious vinyl making it sound better and protecting it from damaging dust.

We’ve got other brushes and mats too, check out the range.

For the gadget guy, control your music from your smartphone!

There’s no audio component that has changed my music listening more than being able to control my library from my phone. We have a wide range of wireless accessories that allow to stream music from your phone/computer/NAS to your hifi giving you armchair control over your entire library.

With high quality streaming solutions from QED, Audioengine and Soundcast we have just thing to control your digital music wirelessly.

Find out more

If you have any questions about any of these products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

 

 

 

10 new songs we’re loving right now

The War on Drugs – Red Eyes

Liam Finn – Burn up the road

Angus and Julia Stone – Heart beats slow

The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather

Beck – Say Goodbye

Big Data – Dangerous

Ryan Adams – Gimmie Something Good (Album due in September)

Mr Little Jeans – Good Mistake

Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud

And probably my favourite track of the year so far:

Elbow – Charge

First Impressions of the Exposure 1010 Combo

034The Exposure 1010 Amp and CD Player in Black were the first Exposure products I set up, I had a brief listen yesterday and left them on so they could have a bit of time on the clock to bed in. I listened to them again just now…

I really love the simplistic minimalist clean looks, i.e. no bass and treble controls, no balance control, nothing extra that you don’t need. Of course you need a volume control and input selector, but that’s all you need if your amp is up to the task!

The front brushed aluminium face plate finish and the solid aluminium volume control knob make this amp seem much more than an entry level offering. Kudos to Exposure for not skimping on the build quality to get this low price point. I also like the matt rough finish on the rest of the steel casing, it looks very classy. The casing is not aluminium like in the case of the models higher up the range, but that is to save us money on these amazing value for money models. On this note of saving money, it’s not like with most other brand’s entry level products – where “the baby is nearly thrown out with the bath water” – the 1010 is a true blood Exposure product sharing many internal components of its larger siblings. OK it’s not hand built in England like the other Exposure products but to save you money it is hand built in the Malaysian factory and then shipped to England where every unit is rechecked for QC before they’re shipped. The same handmade toroidal transformers are used, the front plate is still brushed aluminium but not as thick as the other models. The rest of the casing is steel instead of the expensive aluminium casing of the other models. The same relay input switching is used and the same high quality ALPS volume control; a nice touch because this gives it a quality feel.  The power and selector buttons also feel nice and solid.

In Use

037The amp powers on immediately with a soft pop on the speakers – this is due to the fact that all Exposure amps are DC coupled on the output stages and not via capacitors like most other designs. I think that is part of the reason why their bass is so much more controlled and fuller sounding than other amps.  It takes about 6 seconds to go through its protection circuit before it clicks on and then the LED on the volume control light up as well as an input LED. Ok I must admit, I wasn’t sure when looking at the photos but in the flesh and in use I like the speaker terminals that can only take banana plugs, not bare wire or spades. This eliminates stray wires with bare wires, thus once connected there’s no chances for a short circuit!

The red LED’s on the black units (blue on the silver finish) look classy as well.  I like the LED on the volume control knob a lot. For the older guys like me I can actually see what the volume is set to avoiding the ghastly piece of blue-tack on the volume control which is usually resort to just to see the position of the volume knob. The volume control turns up and down silky smooth with solid feel just like the more expensive models, not a wobbly flimsy loose feel of so many others in this price bracket.  The selector buttons click in softly with a soft click of the relays that I only heard on some high end gear, definitely never on other brand’s entry level products like this. It’s these small details that shows me the same level of detail went in designing and building this entry level amp as in their upmarket amps. This soft clicking can also be heard when you use the remote to mute or switch inputs, I love it! For me, it’s like the sound a car door makes when it closes, a Mercedes gives you confidence it is built to last, and the same applies here.

The Sound

002Well it’s a true Exposure sound:  clear tops and rich midrange never forward but the bass is where it differs the most compared to other amps. It’s definitely deeper with more control and more tightness. It makes all speakers just sound a bit fuller and under more control when driven by the Exposure, giving you the confidence to turn it up without fatigue. The listed “50w RMS into 8 ohms” gives me the impression of more power than its specs. And given the measured results of the 2010S2 and 3010S2 are far greater than listed, it doesn’t surprise me that it’s ear-popping loud at 12 o’clock, unlike competing offerings that only start to get alive past 12 O’clock.

The same attention to detail applies to the CD player in looks and build quality. The CD tray open fast with dedication and confidence, reading is quick and the display is clear, easily read from 4m away.  A quick comparison with another CD player (at a higher price level) and I got the feeling the Exposure again has more control on the bass and a present softer general smoother top end. It’s much more musical sounding and tailors the general sharp edge of most CD’s (not rolled off, just softened) so you can enjoy your music at much louder volumes for longer without any listening fatigue. So the Amp and CD player pairs brilliantly! I like the small remote as well it has a nice modern look and feels very comfortable and balanced in your hand.

Summing Up

Overall a great set that are worthy entry levels models for Exposure and really set the scene what to expect from their more powerful ranges above it. A direct comparison between this 1010 combo and the 2010S2 Integrated Amp and 2010S2 CD player, shows greater smoothness and better drive and control over the low end in the 2010S2, but boy oh boy is the 1010 good for the money.

So yes, my first impression is a big thumbs up. It definitely beats my other similar products, even some of the more expensive ones.  The noticeable house sound characteristic of excellent PRAT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing) applies here but with an added flavour of full controlled deep bass, a transparent clear open midrange and a gentle roll off on the top end.

Right, now it’s time to unbox the 3010S2 Integrated, this is going to be special!

tl;dr: My first impressions = Brilliant!!

View more information on the Exposure 1010 Integrated Amp and CD Player