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Acoustics Matters #3

Musical Intelligence


Brian Maskell, Ambience Systems, New Zealand

I have had “occasion to imagine that matters that may enter the human mind were interrelated in the same fashion”. Rene Descartes, mathematician (1596 – 1650)

Once upon a time, many decades ago, I became much involved in ‘think-tanks’ – strange devices comprising of very bright people of very diverse disciplines from which small groups could be formed to create new ‘opportunity spaces’ – for just about anything.

It was a time when the Cold War dominated much of the priority setting in Western governments – and, consequently, large slices of public expenditure were involved. 

Thus, it was a priority to focus good minds on making sure that defence policy directions and initiatives adopted would prevail advantageously for some time.


Organised Sound #3

Holiwater BandTOM BAILEY IS a name many will remember from his pop group The Thompson Twins, a trio that, for a brief blip in the mid-‘80s was the biggest band in the world. What is less well known is what happened to Bailey – the group’s only real musician and songwriter – when he retired from the commercial arena, and for some years, lived in New Zealand. 

Apart from his face-lifting production and instrumental work on local group Stellar’s most successful releases, Bailey used his time in the Antipodes primarily to explore a music style he had loved for many years: Jamaican dub. His International Observer project was a creative outlet that was almost the antithesis to his years in the commercial spotlight, and IO’s deeply introspective electronic dub, when you listened closely, revealed hitherto disguised brilliance. 

The under-heard Seen from 2001 is still the most magnificent slice of electronic music to have originated from NZ, and one of the best-sounding recordings from this country, too. But listen carefully to Seen, and you’ll hear Bailey’s melodic gift, and the benefit of his training and interest in classical music in the subtle inflections and modulations. It’s a record that I never grow tired of, and keep in my pile of hi-fi test discs.


Christchurch Home Show 2014

Christchurch Home Show 2014Jon and I are at the Christchurch Home Show this weekend. If you're in town drop by, say g'day and have a listen to the award-winning Audiant 80i integrated amplifier and the SR35 loudspeakers, which recently received high praise from the folk at

Christchurch Home Show 2014
Location: CBS Canterbury Arena, Addington, Christchurch
Date: 14th-16th March 2014
Tickets: Online - $8 | At show - $10 | Seniors - $8 | Children - FREE (under 18)


World First: SR35 Loudspeaker Review

Audiant SR35 Floorstanding LoudspeakersThe eagerly awaited world first review of the Audiant SR35 loudspeaker is live... and it's a BEAUT (pun intended Gary).

Gary Steel has gotten up close and personal with the SR35 loudspeakers over the last several weeks and discovered science and magic do go together in a speaker design:

“ putting science, and the principles of sound engineering first, Perreaux has ended up making something that’s simply magic.”


40th Anniversary 250i Update

Limited Edition 40th Anniversary 250iWe're still chipping away at the Limited Edition 40th Anniversary 250i making the final adjustments trying to eek out every ounce of magic.

It won't be too long now until the 40th Anniversary edition of the eloquence 250i integrated amp becomes a reality.

Although, before we finalise everything, I would like to ask what upgrades you would like to see in the 40th Anniversary 250i.


Otago Home Show 2014

Otago Home Show 2014On a whim, we exhibited at the local Otago Home Show over the weekend, giving local people the opportunity to see what we are all about.

I was surprised to meet so many people who enjoyed music but, because of the relentless march of technology over the past 30 years, had become confused, lost and simply given up along the way.

It was nice to have the opportunity of re-introducing them to their music and I felt we won quite a few hearts in the process.


Acoustics Matters #2

Making Waves


Brian Maskell, Ambience Systems, New Zealand

Waves from disturbances in water provide fish with directional and other information about such disturbances because fish are equipped on each side with a ‘lineal line’ that together might be described as ‘excellent stereo phase-discriminators’.

Interestingly, nature did not find it necessary to evolve a five-channel sensory system in order to do a good job.

Perhaps therefore the advent of multi-channel stereo systems might soon become extinct because, although they produce, initially, an intriguing experience to our brains, serious long-term listening frequently produces aural fatigue - and may cause aural brain ‘de-programming’ and thus damage to our aural and musical intelligence.


45's vs. Single Downloads

45's vs. single downloadsThe years may roll by but we don't really change inside that much. Nothing rings truer than our tastes in music... I've met lots of people over the years and for most their music tastes remain anchored to a time in their life.

For many it is their teen and early adult years... I'm also testament to the stereotype. Whilst my tastes are broader than some... listening to 8 hours of music a day tends to expose you to mix of music.

Music may indeed be frozen in time for many, but the way they obtain it has undergone a revolution. When I was a teenager, a record store would sell 45's to cater for the buyer who wanted to purchase a single song.


Organised Sound #2

Neil YoungI KNOW QUITE a few self-professed audio buffs for whom the live album artifact is a kind of Holy Grail of the recorded arts. If it isn’t live, then it isn’t seen as being truly authentic to the idea of music, which in their eyes is performance.

The obvious problem with this contention is that most live recordings are just as bowdlerised and compromised by overdubs and fix-up edits as their studio counterparts, and in the case of recordings by rock groups, to get the “authentic” audience effect, faked crowd noise is added.

To add insult to injury, they rarely sound as good as studio recordings, because it’s simply impossible to get as up-close-and-personal as it is in the recording studio, and incredibly hard to get the same balance between individual musical parts.


Limited Edition 40th Anniversary 250i

Limited Edition 40th Anniversary 250iLast year we promised limited edition models to celebrate our 40th Anniversary. The first amplifier to receive the limited edition 40th Anniversary treatment is the eloquence 250i integrated amplifier.

The 250i is already a stellar amplifier, having received a number of awards and outstanding reviews, but we couldn't help but challenge ourselves to see if we could enhance its magic.

We've spent countless hours tweaking the 250i, auditioning various capacitors, resistors, cables, connectors, ICs... the list goes on.


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