The most interesting hi-fi (and head-fi) news stories for Week 36, 2022.
In putting together the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) – announced this week for €299 – Apple saw common sense by prioritising an improved dynamic driver + corresponding amplifier over the addition of lossless audio support. And with the second generation AirPods Pro powered by Apple’s new ‘H2’ chip, we reportedly get better active noise cancellation, a better-sounding transparency mode and Spatial Audio smarts. Moreover, iPhone users can use their phone’s TrueDepth camera functionality to create a 3D map of their ear which the H2 chip can use to personalise the listening experience by delivering fully-customised (and hopefully better) sound quality. However, audio enthusiasts should also note that the H2 chip houses the DSP code that maximises the performance of each earpiece’s amplifier and driver combo. These performance gains have also netted an extra 1.5 hours of listening time between charges. Pre-orders begin today.
IAG extends its line of vintage-looking modern loudspeakers with the formal announcement of the Mission 700 that we first saw at Munich High-End in May. The 700 aims to reflect the outward appearance of the 1980s original – where the tweeter sits beneath the mid-bass driver – whilst making full use of modern ‘techniques and technologies’ to put bring the new 700’s sound quality up to modern standards. According to IAG, the drivers, crossover network and cabinet of the new Mission 700 have all been ‘greatly improved’, with the very clear implication that 21st Century loudspeakers sound better than those made back in the day. That’s progress! The 700’s 16.5cm polypropylene mid-bass driver has been stiffened with ‘minerals’ and now sports a completely reworked motor system. This apparently combines with the now-flared front-firing reflex port and re-tuned cabinet for an in-room bass response that goes down to 38Hz. The tweeter – a 2.8cm microfibre dome – is almost a full centimeter larger than the original. Price? £1299/pair. Your choice of black or walnut veneer finish. The Mission 700’s matching open-frame stands will sell for £299/pair but you can save a hundred quid by buying them with the speakers.
Pro-Ject has announced the NRS Box S3. NRS? Noise Reduction System. Placed between the phono stage and its loudspeaker or headphone amplification in the signal path, this little box takes aim at vinyl’s surface noise by 1) digitising the phono stage’s output with an ADC, 2) processing the resulting digital signal with DSP to strip out any snap-crackle-and-pop before 3) decoding the newly processed signal back to analogue with a DAC, ready for the amplifier to take care of the rest. The NRS Box 3 offers a choice of DSP intensity settings (basic or advanced) with the LED showing in real-time when unwanted noise has been removed. The VNRS button additionally removes any constant noise resulting from this clean-up process. Pro-Ject also told me via email that the DSP processing delay on the NRS Box S3 is only 10ms. Not a product for vinyl purists then but pragmatists like yours truly will need to warm up their credit card to the tune of €329. If the NRS Box S3 works as advertised – and without any niggles – it could put a serious dent in the record cleaning machine business.