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Martin Colloms  |  Jan 25, 2022
hfnvintageMartin Colloms hears a power amp setting the pace for the 21st century

The development of this completely new power amplifier has been a major undertaking for Naim. Up to now, its designs have been variants on the late Julian Vereker's founding concept, which led to the first NAP 250 stereo chassis some 25 years ago. Even now, the company's biggest current model, the NAP 135, is a monoblock variant of the '250, with more generous power supplies allocated to the separated channels.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 24, 2022
hfnoutstandingThe Polish brand scored a prestigious EISA award with its first product, the Hypsos power supply – can it build on that success with its all-analogue headphone amplifier?

Polish company HEM, based just outside Warsaw in Pruszków, had something of a dream debut for its Ferrum brand: its first-ever product, the Hypsos power supply collected a 2021-22 EISA award in the Hi-Fi Accessory category [HFN Mar & Oct '21]. The judges praised it as 'a potent upgrade for a wide range of devices, not least USB DAC/headphone amplifiers, typically encouraging a sound with greater ease and smoothness – and yes, power!'

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 21, 2022
hfnvintageThis compact '80s turntable took the fight to market leader Technics by driving down the price of automatic track selection and programmable repeat. Is it a big hitter?

The LP sleeve-sized turntable, first seen in 1979 in the form of the Technics SL-10 [HFN Apr '19], proved such a success that within a year or so most of the major Japanese manufacturers had added one to their range. In a fast-changing world where digital tuners, remote-controlled amps and full-logic cassette decks were beginning to make traditional turntables look out of date, this new look helped maintain sales.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 20, 2022
hfnoutstandingFew brands can wrestle the combination of performance and adaptability from tube circuits with the flair of Manley Labs, and those skills are at the fore in the Chinook

It may be hard to believe, but I'm certain that the 2020s will be regarded as the golden age of standalone phono stages. How so? Simply by virtue of their plenitude, especially when you consider that this is vinyl's second time around. Manley's Chinook, continually refined during its near-decade in production, creates a phono amp sweet spot at £2699, blending fine sound with broad compatibility.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 18, 2022
hfnoutstandingMA's smallest fistful of Silver features a host of '7th generation' technology to punch above its weight

Arguably more so than any other UK loudspeaker manufacturer, Monitor Audio seems keen to offer something for everyone. Across its four ranges named after precious metals and an alloy (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), it sells 16 different standmount/bookshelf and floorstanding models, stretching in price from £285 (the Bronze 50 6G) to £14,995 (the Platinum PL500 II). There are other lines too, including the budget Monitor series, compact Mass and Radius, and in-wall 'architectural' speakers. The Silver 50 7G auditioned here, a compact two-way priced at £575, hails from Monitor Audio's mid-range, although it's a mid-range that's considerably more crowded than most.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 17, 2022
hfncommendedRemember when a CD player was just, well, a CD player? No DAC input, streaming or other digital goodies. Electrocompaniet does – say 'hello' to an old-school disc spinner

By coincidence, I started writing this review of Electrocompaniet's EMC 1 MKV CD player on October 21, which serious film nerds will know is 'Back To The Future Day', the date, in 1955, that intrepid time traveller Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) arrives in the smash-hit sci-fi movie. Marty has bent the spacetime continuum to head back 30 years, and I had a similar feeling with this silver disc spinner, albeit by a decade or so less and without aid from a DeLorean.

Mike Barnes  |  Jan 14, 2022
In 1986, the singer-songwriter bowed out of pop duo Wham! with a sell-out farewell concert at Wembley Stadium. A year later he was back with his first solo album, having swapped the flash suits and swimming trunks for stubble, leather and shades...

In Spring 1986, Wham! announced they were splitting, with a farewell album and single, and a final concert at Wembley Stadium in June. In doing so they pulled the plug on a group that had enjoyed a string of international hit singles and albums over the previous four years, and who had become one of the biggest pop outfits in the world.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 13, 2022
hfnoutstandingGuided by theory and practice from the costly REX-series, traditional output pentodes are usurped by a pair of power triodes in BAT's fully-balanced tube integrated amplifier

There's a certain amount of extra-curricular activity that can come with using a valve amp. As with their fellow stalwarts of hi-fi – turntables – valve amps present opportunities for setup, tweaking, and maintenance, and for some that's part of the appeal. Balanced Audio Technology's new £9995 VK-80i integrated, however, is intended to be 'plug-and-play', and provide a user experience more in line with its own solid-state models than some hot bottle contemporaries. All the thrills of the tube sound without the fuss? Where do I sign?

Steve Sutherland  |  Jan 11, 2022
The singer-songwriter's sophomore album from 1989, reissued on 180g vinyl, showcased her lyrical wit and Johnny Marr's lush guitar licks, says Steve Sutherland

What can you buy for £61? A new pair of trainers at a discount store? A set of Sennheiser HD 200 PRO closed-back headphones? A Billie Holiday Classic Lady Day vinyl box set?

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 10, 2022
hfncommendedThe latest all-in-one compact Class D streaming system from the German company features an enhanced network audio platform – but that's only the start of its appeal

As the model designation suggests, this isn't the first all-in-one network audio system from German high-end company AVM. Replacing its existing Inspiration CS 2.2 model, the new Inspiration CS 2.3, selling for £5250 in black or silver finishes, with a chrome 'Cellini' finish available as a somewhat glitzy extra-cost option, is based around the company's latest streaming platform.

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