All about the new Pure Audio Amplifiers at Totally Wired. Made in New Zealand by the collaboration of Gary Morrison and Ross Stevens - a simple range of 4 perfectly formed audio amplifiers - an exceptional moving coil phono stage, a control (pre) amplifier, and matching Class A Reference Mono or new Duo Stereo power amplifiers. These are the finest audio products to come out of New Zealand.
True to label
Enjoying music should be a simple pleasure. Easily said, you may be thinking with one eyebrow raised - and we'd agree with you. There are so many things that can get in the way, especially in the world of hifi. Complication, a plethora of choices, formats and standards - all conspire to distance us from both quality and the fact that audio design is a means to an end - not the end itself.
Pure Audio is aptly named. The collaboration of Gary Morrison and Ross Stevens brings together the two best audio designers in New Zealand. Gary through his original work with his own Craft branded amplifiers, then a long and productive partnership with Peter Thomson at Plinius. Ross was responsible for Perreaux's best industrial design, then also moved to Plinius to revolutionise their production. This combined experience and talent is now responsible for the finest audio products to come out of New Zealand. Which is what we would expect when they have been freed to produce the components they always wanted to. Packed full of original ideas and unique solutions, the Pure Audio amplifiers are both distinctive and competitive with the very best designs worldwide, regardless of cost.
The emphasis may be on analogue but these are most definitely not luddite reactions to the digital future. Modern and minimalist in the best possible sense, embracing contemporary design practices, premium components and taking a fresh look at how we actually should use a hifi system, the Pure Audio components are everything we have been waiting for.
To say something is 'no-compromise' has almost become a cliche but the Pure Audio amplifiers restore the validity of this concept. Features used as selling points for other amplifiers are stripped away, leaving pure function and performance. This simplicity makes for a far easier to use and intuitive operation. It all brings you closer to the music.
But what is there, is far more interesting. And that's where our story begins. Let's start at the start.
The Pure Audio Vinyl Phono stage.
This is by far the most affordable component on the Pure Audio roster and also has the greatest appeal to the widest audience - in short anyone with a turntable fitted with a moving coil cartridge should be investigating this preamplifier as there is simply nothing else like it. .
Analogue occupies a very special place with us - from being long-time Linn specialists, making the conversion to Well Tempered ownership, owning and listening to a large and varied collection of cartridges and phono stages - we've constantly taken pleasure in hearing new things on records we have been playing for many years.
The Vinyl has made more of an impact to the quality of analogue than almost other single component in our system - the cartridge, cables, many phono stage that have come before, a bevy of amplifiers. The improvements wrought are directly comparable to the transition from Linn to Well Tempered and from Shahinian to Sonus faber.
There is an innate logic to aspiring to a really good phono stage for any record playing musical enthusiast. The mechanical parts of the record playing system are wearing from day one - every cartridge has a finite optimal working life of a few 1000 hours at most. A good moving coil is a magical beast and is right at the heart of any serious analogue setup, but the replacement cost has to be considered.
There are no moving parts in a phono stage. The Pure Audio design is all solid state (not tube) and designed for absolute consistency of performance and longevity. The construction is utterly without compromise and robust to a level we've seen in no other phono stage - it will genuinely last a lifetime and more. Which in itself is a good reason to audition it right now.
Consider this - the combination of the Pure Audio Vinyl and a reasonable MC cartridge, will outperform a system with the cost proportions reversed (i.e. a low cost phono stage and higher value MC) by a worthwhile margin from day one. And from the moment you have to factor in replacement or rebuilding of the cartridge, the Pure Audio combination pulls further ahead in value over time.
Simply put, the Pure Audio Vinyl allows any low output moving coil to perform at a significantly higher level. So on a fixed budget you get more. But also if you decide to improve your cartridge at any time, the Pure Audio will deliver a far greater gain than you would have in any other scenario.
The transparency of the sound from the Vinyl delivers a multitude of benefits - every change made to the turntable system in front of it - set up, cartridge choice, and interconnecting cables will all produce performance at higher level and give you more of your investment.
Likewise the downstream benefits are clear - the Vinyl drives well into any amplifier, and simply puts more and better analogue information into any system.
In terms of physical value the Pure Audio is unique - while there are value for money phono stages at around a quarter the cost, they are a far lesser fraction in terms of what you can actually hold. The generous size is no gimmick - the space allows both a more robust power supply but also better isolation. Likewise optimal spacing between components eliminates interference at even the lowest levels. The room to breathe translates into music being able to occupy real space. The complete elimination of noise and ability to retrieve the finest detail compliments the finely balanced dynamics and completely neutral tonality.
You might ask why the Pure Audio doesn't have an input for MM cartridges. This would bypass most of the goodness devoted to the extra gain required for the low output MCs that the Vinyl is dedicated to - if you want a really good MM stage - the Well Tempered RIAA fulfils the brief perfectly. But if like most serious vinyl enthusiasts you accept the low output MCs offer the very best sound then the Pure Audio is for you.
There are adjustments on the rear panel for loading making this user selectable from 47 Ohms to 47K Ohms. The Pure Audio model is completely consistent with the other amplifiers in design and operation - simple but having enough flexibility to make the most of just about any cartridge. In fact a bespoke service is offered with units being built to special order for both gain and loading.
"Pure Audio is what it says on the label and pure audio is what you get. Many phono stages (especially tubed ones) give themselves away even before the stylus contacts the record groove by producing audible artefacts like noise or a tangible blackness instead of nothing. Listening through the Vinyl is like sitting on a Wellington hillside on a fine day, looking across the harbour and seeing the wonderful waterfront spread out before you.
Everything just sounds right, without omission or exaggeration. From a silent background comes a life sized sound field, full of the colour and dynamics of real music. The musicians and their instruments have excellent focus and dimensionality, performing on a well defined soundstage free of the physical boundaries presented by the speakers.
The darkish, troubled highs of the old Plinius phono preamps have been banished. The Vinyl’s highs are sweet and extended, full of fine nuance but never obtrusive, the midrange lucid and full bodied, the bass deep and articulate. Together they give the Vinyl a cut-from-one cloth tonal coherence.
Dynamics are graceful but authoritative. Rhythmically the Vinyl is lively but well controlled, toe tappingly good in the best Linn tradition. Breathtaking transparency allows you to hear deep into the recording without ultra-analytical dissection. Individual musical threads are allowed to develop and coalesce into an organic whole. The over-riding impression is one of ease, forgiving but not obscuring.
The Vinyl squarely hits all its design targets and in my experience is the finest phono stage ever made in New Zealand (and given the directions taken by other local manufacturers, is likely to hold the top spot for a long time to come). Nothing short of the best imported super high end models come close to the sonic purity and musicality of the Vinyl, with none offering the same sheer value for money. This is a little piece of magic that I would gladly call my own."
BY MICHAEL WONG · audioenz.co.nz
Another point of reference and comparison in the New Zealand context is the Dynavector P-75Mk3 phono stage - this is generally accepted as being the best value MM and MC stage on the market, being continually improved over 3 generations from what was already a class leading baseline. The Phono Enhancing mode, especially when combined with Dynavector MC carts yields a remarkably detailed, spacious and dynamic sound with a very quiet background. When we listened to the latest MK3 version in our own system we were taken with how much it had improved - it was clearly better than our much loved Michi (which we still get nostalgic over) despite being far smaller and less costly. At just on NZ$1000 for the Dynavector we think there is nothing to touch it and for many people, this could well be an end point.
But in an appropriate system, the Pure Audio is clearly much better again - there is nothing minor or debatable about the difference you'll hear - every strength the Dynavector has, the Pure Audio Vinyl takes and magnifies - it is at once more detailed, more open and relaxed, more dynamic and tonally richer. The background is markedly more quiet with a far better resistance to noise. I'd contend that even though it is around 4x the cost of the Dynavector, the actual value for money is every bit as good - it really does sound immediately and persuasively better and this only becomes more obvious over time.
The transparency of the Pure Audio also lays bare the quality of all that surrounds it. Invest in high quality cables on either side and you'll benefit greatly - not only will you feed better quality signal in from the turntable - you'll also have much more heading into your amplifier and so the difference between ordinary and spectacular is made doubly obvious. Pro tip - always start at the start. Optimise your turntable setup, and look at the cables from this to the phono stage first. This will give you the best return.
The extremely low noise and hum rejection of the Pure Audio allows you to aim for an un-nervingly quiet record playing system. We've found that it starts to lay bare the noise floor performance of many amplifiers and when matched to truely silent components, the fine detail revealed, often at the start or end of tracks is something of a revelation.
The dynamics were incredible... indeed I think this is the very first thing I noticed when I started listening. I trialled my most dynamic LPs, including precious test discs, and never once was the Pure Audio the limiting factor...
Tonally, the Pure Audio was cleaner than any other phono stage I’ve heard, with a beautifully sweet, pristine delivery of the audio signal, particularly across the midrange and up into the high frequencies...
The Pure Audio, on the other hand, delivered the sound trapped in the groove perfectly, without adding any ‘colour’ of its own, but at the same time still sounded beautiful, simply thanks to its superb neutrality. What you will find almost inexplicable is that it does this
so easily, particularly in the extreme highs, where the transparency is astounding. The only downside of this transparency is that it also enables you to hear the tiniest and highest-frequency details captured in the vinyl...Greg Borrowman
Read the full review here.
Digital has advanced by a huge margin in a few short years - this has really upped the ante for analogue based systems. There is no innate superiority conferred to the sound of system just because you have a turntable anymore - there are affordable digital systems that will reveal more, are more musical satisfying and far easier to setup and use. What Pure Audio brings to the game is the potential to show you analogue at its very best - if your turntable is well set up and has a low or medium output moving could cartridge, and the rest of your system is of good quality (note that this does not necessarily correspond to being expensive), then yes - you'll be back in love with the natural flow, tonal fidelity, sound stages and layers of detail that we take as being characteristic of the best analogue systems.
IGain at 1kHz: 62dB
IFrequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz +/- 0.2dB ref RIAA spec
IInput Impedance: 47, 100, 220, 475, 1k, 47k Ohms user selectable
IInput capacitance: 220pF switchable as rf rejection filter
IOutput Impedance: 100 Ohms
IDistortion: <0.01% in normal operation
IHum & Noise: >80dB A weighted with ref to 5mV input
IPower Consumption: 15 Watts
IDimensions: 410mm deep, 210mm wide, 115mm high
The Pure Audio Vinyl MC phono stage NZ$4200
We've got the Pure Audio Vinyl in stock and ready for demonstration now. Contact us to find out more.
You can visit the Pure Audio site and download a high resolution pdf copy of the product brochure here.
Next - the Pure Audio Control Amplifier.
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