Noise is the Enemy – A Guide to Entreq Single Post Ground Boxes

Noise is the Enemy!

Entreq manufacture an extensive range of ground boxes and one of the most frequently asked questions I get asked by people is what do the boxes actually do and what are the differences between them all.

Put simply, Entreq ground boxes are designed to improve the performance of whatever component you connect them to by removing noise and pollutants that are present in the signal path. By removing this unwanted noise we are lowering the noise floor and this simply lets you hear more of what is going on with the actual music.

By giving this noise somewhere to go system dynamics increase and the music becomes calmer and more engaging. Finer detail, texture and subtle nuances that were previously either hidden by the noise or were only vaguely hinted at are now easily audible and many people hearing Entreq in their system for the first are quite surprised by the results after an extended home demonstration.

The ground boxes add nothing to the presentation of a system, they simply let it breath.Entreq @ Audio Therapy

Which ground box and ground cable is best for you and your system all comes down to the system itself, how the system is balanced tonally and what type of sound you like. Please don’t automatically assume that the most costly option is the best one, far from it in a lot of cases!

Over the past 12 months more and more customers are getting into Entreq and they seem to like what it does. Typically, someone will start with 1 small ground box and cable connected to something in their system, but more often than not it isn’t long before they add more!

This blog post is focused on the range of small single post ground boxes as these are most popular and they offer great value for money and flexibility. They are easy to accommodate and offer a great way to get the best out of your existing system.

The range of termination options on the ground cables is pretty extensive and Entreq have just about every connection option covered, you can get RCA, XLR (male and female), USB, Ethernet, 5 Pin Din and spade to spade.

As such, the ground boxes can connect to literally any device in your system – amplifier, CD player, DAC, streamer, phono-stage, router, NAS drive, computer, network switch.

Entreq Copper RJ45 Ground Cable @ Audio TherapyYou simply connect the spade end of the ground cable to the post on the back of the ground box and the other end to an unused connection on the device in question.

There is a range of ground cables as well, starting at £90 for a Copper Infinity, going up to £1500 for an Olympus Infinity. As with the ground boxes the right cable for a particular application can vary depending on the equipment, the ground box and how you like your system. Overall, the most popular cables are Apollo Infinity (£600), Challenger Infinity (£400) and Copper Infinity (£90) in that order.

Entreq Infinity Challenger Ground Cables @ Audio TherapyWhen you connect the ground box to something in your system the benefit is rarely instant, it can take a good 24 hours for the connection to establish itself and for the noise to be drained away to the ground box, but more often than not you hear the sound changing after 15 or 20 minutes of listening, sometimes the way it can open up the sound can be quite eye-opening.

This does make quick a/b demonstrations with Entreq tricky, it’s simply best to leave them alone for a few days, get used to what the system is doing and them remove it. Patience is a virtue and all that!

Any of the single post ground boxes can have in theory up to 2 items connected at any one time, although I must stress the less work you give a ground box to do the more efficient it is. Also mixing connections is not necessarily a good thing either, it does depend entirely on what the devices are as well. Nothing wrong with connecting both a router and network switch on the same box, but I would not recommend connecting a router and a DAC on the same box for example. In some instances 2 Silver Minimus ground boxes doing different jobs in a system can work better than 1 Olympus Ten and it’s less money as well.

It all hinges on what your system is at the end of the day. If you are unsure in any way please get in touch, happy to offer advice on the best way forward for you system.

Minimus

The Minimus is the entry level ground box and is priced at £290.

The most popular cables to go with a Minimus is the Copper Infinity (£90), Konstantin Infinity (£220) and the Challenger Infinity (£400), as mentioned above you could connect the Minimus to a couple of items, but one connection will always result in the best performance.Entreq Minimus Ground Box @ Audio TherapyNo matter what type of system you have there will be always scope to improve it by adding a ground box, whether you are streaming music from Spotify or Tidal, playing vinyl or CD or playing music stored on a NAS or computer.

The Minimus works brilliantly on a single box system, like a Naim Uniti, Unitiqute or one of the new Linn Selekt DSM systems for example. With a Challenger Infinity Ground Cable the upgrade in performance is far from subtle in most instances. The presentation becomes calmer, more dynamic and is effortlessly musical. Common feedback is simply being able to sit in front of a system for longer periods of time without needing to take a break due to fatigue.

Of course as well as single box systems the Minimus can be used to great effect on separate components, be it a DAC or an integrated amplifier. If you stream music over the Internet using a Minimus to connect to your router is a brilliant upgrade. Network/router grounding is fast becoming the go to upgrade for many people as their first foray in the world of Entreq. Ethernet ground cables are the most popular we sell.

Silver Minimus

The Silver Minimus is priced at £480 and is the same physical size as the Minimus. The difference between the Minimus and Silver Minimus is that 30% of the mineral content is Silver hence the name. Entreq Silver MinimusThe Silver Minimus is easily the most popular single post ground box we sell here at Audio Therapy. There is a big jump in performance when compared to a Minimus in most, but not all systems. 

Of course, this does depend entirely on the system!

The Challenger Infinity (£400) and Apollo Infinity (£600) are the most popular choices of ground cable to partner with a Silver Minimus and the resultant performance compared to the Minimus is generally more open and transparent with better dynamics. If your system is already lively and forward sounding a Minimus/Challenger would be a wiser move than a Silver Minimus/Apollo for example. If you find your system a bit safe sounding the Silver Minimus/Apollo would be a more appropriate choice as this will open things up and increase resolution/transparency.Entreq Silver Minimus RearThe applications for the Silver Minimus are not any different to the Minimus in reality, they can be used on networks, one box systems, DACs, amplifiers, streamers. The Silver Minimus can be a particularly effective upgrade for a phono-stage.

Olympus Ten

The Olympus Ten is the newest single post box in the range. Entreq have really pulled out all of the stops with this box and if you have a good system already the addition of an Olympus Ten can be quite a revelation. Priced at £1100 it is the same physical size as the Minimus/Silver Minimus but is a little heavier. It is the entry level ground box in Entreq’s flagship Olympus line and it shows when you use one. Entreq Olympus Ten Ground Box @ Audio TherapySince this box was launched in the Autumn of 2017 I don’t recall doing a demonstration of an Olympus Ten that hasn’t resulted in a delighted customer (and quite shocked customers in many cases!). Everyone who has heard an Olympus Ten has ended up purchasing one.

The Olympus Ten has an ability to lower the noise floor (by pulling out more noise and rubbish in the signal path) to such a low level that new detail, texture and nuances in recordings you know well can leave you quite open-mouthed!

The Apollo Infinity (£600) is the most popular choice of ground cable to use with an Olympus Ten, although we do have customers using them with Challenger Infinity (£400) and Atlantis Infinity (£1300) cables with brilliant results. As with anything Entreq, results will vary from system to system.

If you are an existing Entreq owner and you use Entreq Interconnects and/or speaker cables the addition of an Olympus Ten to ground your Entreq signal cables is a great upgrade as well. I have a customer with a Konstantin XLR interconnect cable who was grounding both cables onto a Silver Minimus with great results. We swapped the Silver Minimus for an Olympus Ten and the jump in performance was so good you’d think you had upgraded the actual interconnect for the next cable up in the range.

Your existing box can always be part exchanged, unless of course you can use it on a another device in your system!

Olympus Minimus

The Olympus Minimus is priced at £1850 and is the largest single post ground box in the Entreq range. At this price point it’s a serious proposition and thankfully the performance more than lives up to expectations!

Weighing in at 9kg it’s a bit more substantial the boxes that have come so far. Dimensions are 22 x 14 x 25 (W x H x D in cm) so it takes up a bit more rack space as well.Entreq Olympus Minimus

For me the Olympus Minimus is best suited grounding actual components in a system, such as DAC or integrated amplifier. If you want to ground your router/network one of the smaller boxes is better suited to that application in reality.

When connected to an amplifier for example, it does what has already been outlined above, but it simply does it to a much higher standard. The increased capacity of the Olympus Minimus allows it to remove more noise, pollutants to really open a system.

In terms of ground cables to go with an Olympus Minimus the most popular choice is the Apollo Infinity (£600), followed closely by the Atlantis Infinity (£1300), but as ever whether that combination is right for you depends on your system!

I recently did a home demonstration of an  Olympus Minimus with an Apollo Infinity ground cable on a dCS Puccini CD/SACD player. The addition of the Olympus Minimus  takes an already great product to a whole new level. It brought a sense of calmness to the presentation but with an increased level of clarity, openness and overall greater authority in the sound, especially with bass which extended lower than it did previously.

The customer came out with a great comment when he was talking about the improvements this brought to his system – “it’s almost like watching BBC1 in standard definition then switching over to the HD version of the same thing!”

Olympus Minimus or Poseidon?

In terms of the full sized Entreq ground boxes the Poseidon is the most popular box we sell. Priced at £3700 it’s not for the faint of heart! The Poseidon is made of 3 independent Olympus Minimus in one rather large box. Take the performance of 1 Olympus Minimus and multiply it by 3 across a whole system the Poseidon is a truly superb piece of equipment.

Considering that an Olympus Minimus is £1850 on its own it makes a Poseidon for £3700 good value for money, buy 2 get one free and upgrade the whole system!

Entreq Poseidon Ground Box @ Audio Therapy

Everest & K2

The Everest & K2 simply replace the standard wooden binding post that holds the ground cable in place at the back of the ground boxes. Entreq released these posts as a brilliant system upgrade about 18 months ago.

The Everest contains a mixture of 4 metals inside the wooden plug, the same mixture as you get in the Olympus range of products (just on a much smaller scale obviously) – connect one to the back of your box and listen! It delivers more transparency and texture and works incredibly well and is pretty instant upgrade in most cases.

Entreq Everest @ Audio TherapyThe K2 contains 2 metals and works differently to the Everest. Add a K2 to a box and delivers a level of calmness to the sound but without sacrificing detail or information. If your system can sound lively or aggressive the K2 is a great addition.

The Everests are £240 each and the K2 are £170 each. The Everest is the most popular post by a significant margin. Both posts offer great value for money and are quite different from one another if you compare them side by side in a system.

Minimus, Silver Minimus, Olympus Ten, Olympus Minimus (or Poseidon)

As you’ve probably figured if you have read the whole article the options with Entreq are almost limitless, there is no magic recipe card outlining what items are required to improve a system.

It depends entirely on the system in question and how it is currently performing. You could take ten similar systems and end up with ten different solutions all of which work brilliantly well. It all comes down to experience and budget in reality. As I mentioned, please do not assume the most expensive options are the best ones!

If you are interested in finding out how just how good your existing system can be please get in touch. Either send me a message outlining your current system, what you like about it (and equally what if anything you don’t like about it!) and I’ll come back to you or simply pick up the phone for a chat. Thanks for reading.

All new Melco N100 and N10 models coming soon!

Melco N100 @ Audio Therapy

Due for launch very soon Melco Audio have not got one but two new models being released! The N100 is their new entry level machine at £1800 and the N10 is a new 2 box design and is priced at £6495.

Both models are new additions to the range, they are not replacing any of the current models.

As you can see from the N100 in the picture above it uses the same stylish casework as the Melco D100 CD drive and the E100 Expansion Drive (they look great side by side!!). The 2 box N10 also uses the same casework.

The N100 features a 2 terabyte hard drive (small form factor 2.5 inch) and should easily hold approximately 4000 CD rips. Connectivity is very flexible as you would expect from Melco. On the rear panel there are twin ethernet ports so if you intend to use an N100 with a UPnP Network Player you connect your existing streamer into the Player port on the Melco. There are 2 USB ports on the rear panel as well so you can easily connect to the D100 and a USB DAC. There is also a front mounted USB socket as well.

Melco N100 Digital Music Library @ Audio TherapyThe N100 uses brand new mainboard and utilises the same processor architecture as the 2 N1Z models to ensure low noise and precise data management.

The feature set is the same as the other Melco models so it is nice and simple, no computer is needed to set up/configure.

Importing music from USB drives is easy, just a couple of button presses, as is external back up, simply connect your USB drive, press a couple of buttons and it does everything for you.

CD import is no different, simply connect your CD drive to one of the USB sockets and when you insert a CD providing your Melco is connected to the Internet it will retrieve artwork/metadata from Gracenote.

As with the other Melco models you can automatically download purchases from www.highresaudio.com directly the Melco hard drive, so no messing with computer downloads or anything.

The N100 will work wonderfully well with any USB DAC, simply treat the Melco as a high end digital transport. The better the DAC you use the better the end results! As well as sitting in a conventional system with a USB DAC the N100 could also be used on a desktop with a USB Headphone Amplifier or with a pair of Active Speakers that has USB (type B) connectivity for a really simple, yet high performing system.

Melco N10 Digital Music Library @ Audio TherapyMelco N10 – New Concept for Extreme Performance!

With the N10 Melco have done something quite unique, in order to maximise performance they have split the N10 into 2 boxes, one housing the power supply, the head unit housing everything else.

It uses a 3 TB small form factor hard drive. The power supply uses a large toroidal transformer and has extensive filtering to ensure that noise levels are as low as possible. Connection between the head unit and the power supply is via neutrik connector. Separating the 2 units allows for total isolation of noise pollution as well as isolating any vibration from the power transformer.

The power supply uses advanced techniques to minimise both internal and external noise which could affect overall performance.

Priced at £6495.00 it is expected that the N10 will sit inbetween the N1ZH/2 and the N1ZS/2 in performance terms.

Both the N10 and N100 will be available over the next few weeks, also to coincide with their launch will be the long awaiting Melco control app! Watch this space!!!

Streaming Music…..A Rough Guide featuring Melco!

New to streaming music? Confused about the latest buzz-words and phrases?

I converse with lots of people on the phone and via email about ‘streaming music’ and ‘network audio’. I repeatedly get asked about the differences between ‘servers’ and ‘streamers’ and suchlike and I thought a blog post about the differences/similarities could be useful and how a Melco Digital Music Library can easily be classified into all of the above categories in one way or another.

There is definitely some cross-over and confusion between some of these terms and some people use different terms to describe exactly the same thing!

Streaming Music & Network Audio

Streaming music can mean a variety of things to different people. The most common usage of this term would be describe playing music using an Internet music streaming service such as Tidal & Qobuz, controlled by your phone or tablet. In order to do this it typically involves a component such as a streamer or network audio player connected to both your hi-fi system and your router/network.

Spotify are generally considered the market leaders in terms of streaming services, but their streams are heavily compressed and are nowhere near CD quality. Tidal and Qobuz on the other hand both offer CD quality streaming and even 24 bit streaming depending on the level of subscription you have. Tidal sounds very good in general, but for me Qobuz has the sonic advantage. Their library of music is perhaps a bit less mainstream than Tidal, but I’ve yet to catch it out with anything that’s of interest to me!

Many people will also consider themselves to be streaming music when they play their own music collection that they have ‘ripped’ from their CD’s onto a NAS drive (NAS = Network Attached Storage).

A streamer/network audio player typically will play music from both Internet Streaming Services and from a NAS drive which is connected to your home network.

You can also purchase 24 bit music from a variety of websites, download them onto your computer, then copy/paste the download onto your NAS drive and play them back as well.

Any device which can play back music from an online subscription based service or from a NAS drive could easily be described as a streamer or a Network Audio Player, as you are streaming music from another location – either locally on the home network with a NAS drive or externally via the Internet using Qobuz/Tidal.

NAS DrivesAs mentioned above, NAS stands for ‘Network Attached Storage’ and is basically a hard drive (in many cases multiple drives) contained within a box that is connected to your network. The NAS drive makes itself visible on the network so any ‘streamer’ or ‘network audio player’ on the same network can see the music and you can play it back through your hi-fi controlled via your phone/tablet using your ‘streamers’ control app. NAS drives can be configured so they automatically have a back up of you music on a second drive so if a drive fails you don’t lose your music.

Servers (or Network Audio Server)

A server will typically fulfill the function of a streamer/network audio player, you can playback music from Tidal/Qobuz and playback music from other storage devices, but most importantly a server will contain its own hard drive storage to hold your ripped CD collection. In theory a server can still technically stream music!

Computer Audio

Many people will simply connect their laptop into a USB DAC  which is connected to their hi-fi and use software on their computer (such as Amarra and Audirvana) to playback music either stored on the computer or from a NAS drive. Of course, a computer can also stream from services like Tidal & Qobuz. When set-up and configured properly results can be pretty good. I guess the downside to computer audio is that they can be buggy and require restarts for updates and suchlike. Because computers do so much they will never get the very best out of your audio files as there is always processing power getting in the way of the best sound. I also guess it depends on how computer literate you are as well!

I hope that brief overview of streaming, network audio, servers is useful if you are starting out in digital audio and the jargon makes sense. If not, please get in touch – I’d be more than happy to go through any questions anyone may have.

So where does Melco fit into this? Melco @ Audio TherapyTo quote Melco…… ‘the world’s first audiophile grade source component to access, store, deliver and play HiRes Digital Music without the compromise of computer hardware and peripherals, was debuted by Melco in November 2014. Since then our uncompromised audio NAS components have been the talk of the awards. Regularly used by leading audio manufacturers to showcase their devices, they are the defacto HiRes audio storge and player solution’

Melco produce a range of 3 products which they describe as a ‘Digital Music Library’. All 3 models contain built-in hard drives so you can store your music collection on the Melco itself, so it could be described as a Server.

You can read more about the 3 specific Melco models and their differences on this page

Melco also produce a dedicated CD ripper, called the D100. Connect this to one of the Melco’s 4 USB sockets and you are guaranteed to achieve a bit-perfect rip of your CDs, more accurate than any other drive or computer program can achieve, complete with perfect meta-data and artwork – all without the need for turning on your computer.Melco D100 Diagram @ Audio TherapyIf you already have a digital music collection stored on an existing hard drive it is really easy to import this onto the Melco via the USB 3 input on the rear panel.

Once you have music on the Melco there are 2 ways you can connect it to your hi-fi system to get music playing.

The most important connection (after power!) is to connect the Melco to your router via the LAN port. Once you have done this the Melco can see the Internet (for software updates and control).

The Melco has a second Ethernet socket (labelled Player Port) so if you have a Network Audio Player (like a Naim, Linn or Cyrus for example) this would connect to the Melco’s Player Port. This Player Port acts as a switch to isolate your current player from your network and by doing this you get a great upgrade in performance. In a good system this benefit is not subtle.

Melco N1ZH/2 Rear Panel @ Audio TherapyHowever, all is not lost if you do not have a Network Audio Player. The Melco has 4 USB sockets, one of which is specifically for a USB DAC, once connected the Melco will effectively ‘stream’ the music stored on-board to your DAC. Melco do not yet (watch this space!) have a dedicated control app, but if you use either Linn Kazoo or the Lumin app and you are connected to a USB DAC you have the option to stream from either Tidal or Qobuz.Melco USB Connection @ Audio Therapy

The Melco’s USB DAC socket is heavily optimised for the best performance and in my experience connecting to a USB-DAC is very best way to get the most out of both the Melco and your music collection! The Melco in effect is a high end bit-perfect digital transport.

If you have a D100 CD ripper connected to your Melco and you are connected to a USB DAC you can also use the D100 as a high-performance CD transport – on a good system it is difficult to tell a CD rip apart from a CD being played back, it is very good!

One of the USB sockets on the Melco is labelled back-up, simply connect a USB hard drive to this socket, format the drive on the Melco and perform a back up. No data loss should a drive fail. Subsequent back ups are incremental so they do not take long at all! Again, no computer needed to back up or archive your music.

So, you can use the Melco to stream music off its internal hard drive to either a network audio player via the LAN port or to a USB DAC via the dedicated USB socket. If you want to stream Tidal or Qobuz you can do it via the Melco if connected to a USB DAC.

The Melco is easy to use, very intuitive and most importantly performance is truly outstanding. Take the entry level N1A/2 and connect it to a £500 Arcam ir-DAC2 and you get great results. Step up to a better DAC and the performance jumps up accordingly. Moving to the N1ZH/2 the jump in performance is audible pretty quickly, even if you do an A/B demo with an N1A/2 on a relatively modest DAC, but when you put the N1ZH/2 onto a bigger, better DAC it really stretches it legs. The flagship N1ZS/2 is another story altogether, I would consider it to be a truly world class transport. 

The ease of use, superb performance and the fact you can get the very best out of a Melco without needing to turn on your computer makes it an incredibly popular choice. If you are looking for a streamer, server and network audio player all combined in one box one of the three Melco models could be just the ticket!

Melco @ Audio Therapy

Scaling the heights of Entreq with Everest & K2

Entreq Everest @ Audio TherapyEntreq launched the Everest and K2 binding posts a little while back now and they have undoubtedly been a major success for them. They are not a standalone product and are only relevant if you already own an Entreq ground box. They can genuinely be quite a revelation in upgrading the performance the ground box is capable of delivering to your system.

When you connect an Entreq ground cable to your hi-fi (be it amplifier, CD player or streamer) the other end of cable connects to an Entreq ground box via a simple spade connection and is held in place by a small wooden nut as you can see in the picture below.

Entreq Silver Minimus RearAnyone vaguely familiar with Entreq will be aware that there is range of ground boxes, varying in size, connections and of course, performance. It was suggested to Entreq some time ago that they should consider producing a  completely new range of improved ground boxes, but that is not the Entreq way!

Lots of people the world over have invested a lot of money and time in their ground boxes and making them all obsolete overnight was not an option for Per-Olof.

He wanted to come with a way to extract more performance from the current range of ground boxes and make it a truly cost effective upgrade path. After lots of research and listening the Everest and K2 posts were the result!

By replacing the wooden nut on the back of a ground box with either an Everest or a K2 you simply allow the ground box to become much more efficient at removing pollutants and noise present in the signal path. This in turn lowers the noise floor even further, improving dynamics and increasing detail, everyone who has heard them comments on the level of micro-detail and subtle nuances in recordings they have never heard before. Remember, it is not possible for the Entreq  to add anything to the signal, it can only remove unwanted noise.

By adding an Everest to a Minimus you easily take its ability as a ground box up to the level of a Silver Minimus, likewise fit an Everest onto a Silver Minimus and the performance jumps up by a similar margin again. Even the larger ground boxes like the Silver Tellus and Poseidon benefit from adding either an Everest or K2 to every post available.

Entreq Everest @ Audio TherapyWhy 2 different posts?

The Everest is manufactured from a combination of 4 different minerals, similar in composition to that used in the Olympus Tellus (just on a much smaller scale!), the K2 uses 2 different minerals.

Taking both an Everest and K2 post and carrying out an A/B demonstration connected to the same post on the same ground box is a very interesting experiment. Which one is right for you and your system really depends on the make-up of your system and how you find it tonally and how you want to improve the sound.

If you want to make your system more transparent and have a greater sense of scale the Everest is the post to go for, even on a modest system it doesn’t take long to hear what an Everest is capable of! If you consider your system is already transparent and you would prefer to make the presentation warmer, richer and more rounded the K2 is better choice.

Think of it as a similar philosophy to the range of ground cables, the results you get from the Challenger ground cable is warmer and more rounded than you get with Apollo, which is much more transparent and open.

Entreq Everest and K2 @ Audio Therapy

There is no snake oil or black magic at work here, just good old Scandinavian engineering, passion and a love of music. All you need is a half decent system with a ground box, a pair of ears and some good music and the benefits of the Everest and K2 are pretty obvious to hear! Noise is the enemy and Entreq can remove it, most people who have never heard Entreq don’t believe it until they have heard it. To those that have heard it, the Everest and K2 has raised the bar!

Both the Everest and K2 posts are available to buy now, Everest’s are £240 each and the K2’s are £170 each

 

Vitus Audio RI-101 Integrated Amplifier

The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

Vitus Audio RI-101 Integrated Amplifier @ Audio TherapyThe Vitus RI-100 has consistently been the most popular Vitus product for quite some time and rightly so. For the asking price of £9900 no other integrated amplifier comes close, you need to move up to the Class A SIA-025 in order to really performance up to another level. The RI-100 will quite happily sit amongst other amplifiers (be it integrated or pre-power) costing double the money and if you crave that emotional connection to the music the Vitus always stands out. With 300 watts a side I’ve never come across a speaker the RI-100 wouldn’t simply just take in its stride.

The RI-100 has been around for 7 or 8 years and as we know, nothing lasts forever.

When Vitus announced earlier this year that the RI-100 was reaching the end of its life and its replacement, the RI-101 was on the way, there was certainly a sense of excitment and anticipation here at Audio Therapy. The RI-100 has undoubtedly been the star of the show over the last 12 months. No-one has listened to it and not been blown away in reality. I never expected to sell anywhere close to the number of RI-100’s that have been through the doors here, that certainly says a lot about the product and its ability.

Vitus Audio RI-101 Integrated Amplifier @ Audio TherapySo what has changed with the RI-101?

Visually, not a lot to be honest. The lid has a couple of extra columns of cooling vents on it, but that’s it. The beautiful front panel is the same as the RI-100, as is connectivity.

What about under the lid?

It’s probably easier to say what hasn’t changed to be honest as this is almost a complete redesign, the power supply and output stages of the RI-100 remain, everything else internally has changed.

The biggest change is the preamplifier stage which is completely balanced in design, this serves to increase resolution and the low noise regulated power supply serves to deliver real inky blackness as well.

The volme control in the 101 is all new as well – they have used the same high resolution control from the SL-103 and the ML-L201 preamps. It has been modified to fit in the available space as there’s obviously a lot more crammed into the chassis of an integrated amp compared to a pre-amp.

Why the new model and changes? Nothing stands still and evolution is a good thing. Vitus wanted to extract more performance from their entry level amplifier and get it a little bit closer to the iconic SIA-025.

Plug-in Modules

The DAC board from the RI-100 is still available, which is good because it sounds fantastic and gives people the option for a seriously high-performing, yet simple system. Simply take a Melco, connect via USB into the DAC module and away you go!

This DAC board always raises eyebrows as it is good for the money and will see off many other so called ‘high-end’ designs costing a lot more money. The philosphy is simple, keep the signal path short and pure. No hassle over expensive interconnects and power cables and it delivers musicality in spades.

Another board is being discussed which is being described as a streamer module featuring a LAN port, more to follow after the Munich show on this!

Vitus Audio RI-100 Rear Panel @ Audio Therapy

What’s in the box?

Not much in reality, but there doesn’t need to be! Once you have wrestled the box into position and opened it you will be presented with a power cable, the remote control (a simple zero fuss Apple remote which simply just works!), the manual on a USB stick and of course a rather heavy amplifier presented in a wonderful velvet protective bag.Vitus Audio RI-101 Integrated Amplifier @ Audio Therapy

Performance

I’ve always championed the RI-100 and I will stand by everything I ever said about it, it’s a truly magical product. But from the first opening notes the RI-101 played you could tell Vitus have pulled out of the all stops with this new product.

Two words stand out with the RI-101, resolution, immersive.

It still has all of the wonderful traits of the RI-100, endless detail, a sweet top end that extended but was never aggressive or fatiguing. Gorgeous tonality and timbre with whatever you throw at it, percussion, piano and even what you throw something complex at it, it simply takes it in its stride.

The additional resolution and increased dynamics give the RI-101 so much more finer detail and unlock previously hidden nuances in recordings I know really well. The inclusion of the balanced pre-amp and the volume control from the Signature and Masterpiece pre-amps has clearly paid off. I never found fault with the volume control on the RI-100, but the new volume control in the RI-101 is a definite step-up, it delivers much finer control and it never goes from being just too quiet to just too loud. In an A/B comparison with the RI-100, the 101 has more scale, is cleaner, tighter has has more focus. Going back to the RI-100 it still sounds well, like an RI-100 which is clearly no bad thing, but in comparion it sounds a bit slower and heavier in comparison. Vitus Audio RI-101 Integrated Amplifier @ Audio TherapyThe rated power output of the RI-101 is 300 watts and that is likely to a be a conservative rating, it offers phenomenal control and tightness, which in turn unlocks greater levels of micro-detail. An amp with poor control can often sound fat and ponderous and a by-product of this can be finer detailing being masked or simply disappearing altogether.

The new Vitus RI-101 is fabulous, but of course I would say that.! It truly offers performance way past its price point and it certainly is closer to an SIA-025 than the RI-100 ever was. If you are looking for a one box amplifier that offers serious performance and gives you access to that ‘high end sound’ so many people crave, organise a demonstation.

Part exchange is welcome and I would confidently put this up against multiple box amplifiers from any other brand. I recently installed one of the very first RI-101’s in the UK and took in part exchange a Naim 252, Supercap DR and a NAP300 which were all around 2-4 years old and cost new today nearly £18000, the customer could not believe how much more enjoyable and musical the Vitus sounded. If you are looking for real emotional connectivity to your music the Vitus RI-101 could well be the answer. A future classic!

To Infinity and Beyond with Entreq!

The Entreq Challenger 3V Infinity Power Cable is the first of the new breed of power cables to arrive on demonstration here at Audio Therapy towers.
I’ll set my stall out immediately, this cable is priced at £3300 and is not for the faint of heart. I’ll admit I was initially a bit concerned when I saw the price of this cable as it was a more than 50% increase from the price of the outgoing 3V (£2100) which if you know me you’ll be well aware it was the most popular power cable I have sold by a significant margin. People borrowed one, they kept it – it was that simple in reality, but £3300 for the new one…….it was going to have go some to justify the cost.

Entreq Challenger 3V Infinity Power Cable @ Audio TherapyThankfully all of my concerns were swept aside after about 5 seconds of music playing – going from an original 3V to this represents a genuinely stunning upgrade. Changing from a ‘free in the box’ power cable or any ‘decent’ aftermarket power cable is a complete and utter game-changer if truth be told. The sound-stage has just substantially increased in size, across all dimensions and multiple layers of texture and micro-detail are so much evident with this cable installed.

The overall presentation is Entreq through and through – organic, endlessly detailed and musical with beautiful flow and with no hint of coarseness or aggressive drive/attack.

Entreq Challenger 3V Infinity @ Audio TherapySince connecting it up I literally I have not been able to drag myself away from my system, it’s a hugely revealing/transparent system but all of sudden things have just taken a rather big leap forward. I hate to use the old cliche of hearing stuff for the first time in recordings you know well…….but!

I totally appreciate that at £3300 this cable isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you’ve a (I’ll use this term loosely and reluctantly) ‘high-end’ system and you want to get the best out it, you need to have a listen to one of these. If you think you know your system well it may be time to put thought that to the test!

I predict there will be a quantity of original Challenger 3V power cables coming back in part exchange over the coming months!

But, if you are new to the weird and wonderful world of Entreq organise a listen!

Improve your Naim system with Entreq Infinity!

With the release of the new Infinity cables Entreq have been rather busy. They’ve released a whole new range of ground cables, interconnects, speaker cables and power cables all in one go.

Everyone who has either bought one of these new Infinity cables (or upgraded their non-Infinity version) has been delighted with the sonic improvements these new cables have brought to their systems.

The Infinity ground cables add a new level of refinement compared to what went before and deliver huge levels of musicality to your system with incredible levels of texture and transparency and typical of Entreq there is no hint of aggression or harshness.

As well as updating all of the ground cables to the new Infinity versions they have also released a completely new ground cable – one with a 5 pin din connection so you can connect your Naim integrated amplifier or Pre-amplifier to an Entreq ground box using one of the spare 5 pin din connections. The result is a bigger sound, which is cleaner, more dynamic and generally a lot more coherent. Music simply starts to flow more naturally and the Pace, Rhythm and Timing (which Naim are renowned for) really comes to life like never before.

The ground boxes and cables add absolutely nothing to the sonic signature of a system, they obviously can’t add information but simply allow you to drain away unwanted noise and pollutants (RFI, EMI for example) that are present in the signal path.

Entreq and Naim @ Audio Therapy

All you require is one of the small single post ground boxes, like a Silver Minimus or the new Olympus Ten and one of the ground cables. There is a selection of cables available on this page. The 2 most popular cables are the Challenger (£400) and Apollo (£600), both are quite different sonically – to find out which combination is best for your system please get in touch as we’d be happy to advise. The Silver Minimus would work well with things like a Nait 5 or Nait XS, NAC 152 or NAC202. If you have NAC172, NAC272, NAC282 or higher the Olympus Ten would be a better match. The benefit of connecting a ground box to a 172 and 272 is particular effective as they are 2 components that have an awful lot going on inside them – pre-amp (with integrated PSU as well), DAC, UPNP streamer.

As I’ve mentioned on the main Entreq page, this is one brand which keeps me incredibly busy, people keep coming back for more once they get a taster of what is possible and remember it doesn’t matter how good your system is, how ‘well-designed’ it is, there will be noise present in the signal path – Entreq simply gives this noise somewhere to go allowing your system to breath and truly open up.

Put simply, it makes for better music – which is what it’s all about.

Entreq Challenger Infinity 5 Pin Din Cable @ Audio Therapy

Upgrading from a Melco N1A to an N1ZH

Melco Logo @ Audio TherapyOver the past couple of months we’ve had a number of enquiries from existing N1A owners who are curious about the next model up in the range, the N1ZH and what does it offer over and the above the brilliant N1A. Many customers have initially been sceptical about the N1ZH, which I take as bit of a compliment toward the N1A – after all it is brilliant sounding piece of kit and many people wonder, just how can it get better?Melco N1ZH/2 @ Audio TherapyIn reality, the difference in performance between an N1A and an N1ZH is pretty significant, the better the DAC or network player the Melco is attached to the bigger the difference are as well.

The N1ZH is smaller, heavier, with an additional power supply. The 2 hard drives are mounted in a proprietary non-magnetic foundation to minimise vibration and noise. The hard drives themselves in the N1ZH are specially selected small form factor drives, which electrically are a lot quieter than the conventional drives that are used in the N1A.

The functionality and software that drives both players is absolutely identical.

Melco N1A/2 @ Audio TherapyN1A vs N1ZH – how do they sound?

First off, they both sound excellent, an N1A in isolation will easily outperform other devices costing more money – but when you stack it up against an N1ZH it doesn’t take long for the differences to present themselves.

Greater clarity and transparency are pretty obvious from the off as is a bigger soundstage (wider and deeper). Speaking of deeper – the bass response on the N1ZH is phenomonal, it’s never in your face or aggressive but is tight and controlled and incredibly cohesive.

The better the system, the bigger the improvements are, but don’t assume you need a “high-end” system to get the very best out of the N1ZH. Even with a sub £1000 DAC the differences between the 2 Melco models will easily present themselves.

One of my customers very recently made the jump from the an N1A/1 to one of the special offer N1ZH/1 machines and is absolutely delighted with the improvements it made to his system and more importantly his enjoyment of his music!

He very kindly offered to put pen to paper (more like fingers to keyboard!) to express his thoughts over the upgrade process…….

Melco N1ZH/2 @ Audio TherapyThe Melco N1A is a stunningly good player, I had only had it for a short time when I decided that I no longer
needed to keep our otherwise excellent Musical Fidelity CD player.  Once digitised I really couldn’t tell the
difference between ‘ripped’ CDs and those played live on the CD player. The convenience of accessing my
entire collection so easily rather than looking for something on the shelves had meant that I had gone back
to listening to recordings I had honestly forgotten having!

So, the CD player went to pay towards some of the loving kindness being lavished on the system as a whole
in terms of cables and grounding with some very clever
Entreq products.

Working with David gave the chance to try each of these steps and invest only when the differences were
obvious, though with David’s direction I have to say this
was always the case!  In a very short time the Melco
N1A got to sound better and
better, this always left me wondering if one of the higher models in the N1Z range
would add just a little more.

Tempted though I was to purchase the N1ZH Mk2 the opportunity of getting a Mk1 version for considerably less
money suddenly became available it took only a few
seconds to say yes!

So, what was it like?
Well firstly the N1Z is narrower than the N1A which is what I was expecting, but the black N1Z has a much nicer
anodized finish than the junior model, and overall
feels and looks more expensive – so far so good!

And the performance?
Well there were no doubts, even fresh out of the box the sound was more noticeably better than its junior sibling.
I have to say I was surprised (and delighted) by
how much better it was.

It is difficult to know how best to describe the differences.  In a way there was ‘more of everything’ in recordings
I knew well, I was hearing things for the first
time and the bass was certainly more solid.  Overall though the sense
of a greater
musical presence is perhaps the best way to describe the change, the three-dimensional imagery
was greater both in terms of width and depth.

Even now, a couple of weeks or so later and with a lot of listening hours under the belt the differences are quite
dramatic and I almost feel myself reaching out
and ‘touching the music’.

I am sceptical enough to wonder with most upgrades how much is a placebo effect and how much is real, this has
meant my upgrading pathway has been cautious.
Upgrading the Melco has been quite different, perhaps best
summed up by my wife
who’s ‘ears I trust’ but can a very critical observer of our hi-fi development.

A few days after the upgrade we were playing some music that we have been listening to a lot over last few
weeks-  after 5 mins she just announced
“I have to admit this sounds a lot better”. When asked further she used
the terms
‘more solid, bigger and much more musical’ She then went onto say there are times when I have talked
about changes making t
he sound better, and yes perhaps, but this is so much “obviously better’.

So there you have it!

If you have an N1A and were curious about the benefit of jumping up to an N1ZH please get in touch, I’m confident you’ll be delighted with the improvements in performance the N1ZH will offer over the N1A. Of course, there is also the N1ZS as well!

Don’t forget your can always part exchange your existing Melco as well!

Melco N1ZH/2 @ Audio Therapy

Ground your network for better streamed music!

Qobuz Logo @ Audio TherapyTidal Logo @ Audio Theapy

Internet based streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz are becoming more and more important and relevant for people, for many customers the beloved CD and Record are being replaced by a virtual music collection, which you never really own although you can play what you want whenever you want.

Tidal and Qobuz both offer ‘CD quality’ services which stream at CD resolution, they certainly sound way better than their compressed alternatives – Spotify, Amazon, Apple etc.

Your router is connected to the outside world and your hi-fi and away you go, all of the music on earth at your fingertips. Unfortunately routers  are inherently noisy devices and are pumping information all over the place in the modern home (TV’s, phones, iPads, games consoles, computers, lights – the list goes on an on, the amount of equipment connected to a router can be frightening when you break it down), they use poor quality, cheap power supplies that inject noise onto the network – Not good bedfellows for a high performing audio system!

By adding an Entreq ground box and cable(s) to ground your router and network switch (if you have one) you remove this noise and in turn lower the noise floor – streamed music becomes more dynamic with better clarity and all of sudden becomes a whole lot more enjoyable to listen to as a serious source for a good music system.

Entreq Silver Minimus Rear

Even systems that stream music from within a network and don’t talk to the outside world for information can also benefit from grounding the router, switch and/or NAS drive (most decent NAS drives – like the QNAP range have a spare RJ45 port). If you don’t have a free RJ45 port most NAS devices will have a USB socket on them so a USB ground cable could be used.

So, if you have something like a Melco or Aurender with onboard storage or a Naim, Linn or Lumin streamer with your music stored on a QNAP NAS drive (or Melco) simply grounding the storage device and the router can have the same sort of effect as outlined above, removing low level noise from the signal path – allowing subtle previously unheard details jump at you at like never before.

I am well aware that Entreq looks a bit weird looking in as a newcomer, but don’t underestimate its ability to increase the performance of your system.

The obvious starting point to ground a network is a Minimus or Silver Minimus Ground Box, these are nice and compact and will happily sit with your router/switch etc without taking up too much space. In terms of cables there is an extensive range available, whereabouts in the range you look at really depends on your system. The Apollo is the most popular ground cable, followed by Challenger. Although the Copper cable is relatively inexpensive it is still effective at removing noise if you have a more modest system.

We’ll be following this up with more interesting information over the next week or so as Entreq are just about to launch an entry level range of ethernet cables, they are producing an RJ45 to RJ45 version (suitable to connect your router to a Melco, streamer, NAS drive, switch etc). They are also producing a RJ11 to RG45 and RJ11 to RJ11 versions so you can connect your incoming master phone socket to your router. These signal cables come with a ground box and ground cable included. Our demo set is on order!

Entreq Challenger RJ45 Ground Cable @ Audio Therapy

Entreq Silver Minimus @ Audio Therapy

Read more about the ground boxes and ground cables

We also have a selection of ex-demo Entreq items available here