From the Vault

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Ken Kessler  |  Mar 23, 2021  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1997
hfnvintageClassic tubes meet modern tech in the £30,000 Project T-1 monoblocks. Is this Marantz's ultimate amplifier, asks an awestruck Ken Kessler

Contemplating the Project T-1 power amplifiers from Marantz, I realise that nothing in hi-fi should surprise us any more. If, in 1990, someone had told you that, by 1997, the hi-fi community would be clamouring for single-ended triodes and horn systems, that Quad and McIntosh and Marantz would reissue their valve classics, that Mobile Fidelity would open a new LP pressing plant and that Krell and Audio Research would introduce integrated amps, you'd have had that someone committed.

John Atkinson  |  Feb 23, 2021
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson lives with the KEF R107, its new range-topping contender

An understated revolution in loudspeaker design has been taking place in Kent. KEF's Technical Director Laurie Fincham has put together a team of engineers who have been quietly but thoroughly examining the fundamentals of moving-coil, box loudspeaker behaviour, spinning off a regular series of products, starting with the original R105 nearly a decade ago.

Martin Colloms  |  Jan 27, 2021  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1978
hfnvintageMartin Colloms hears four top-quality open-spool decks

The last year or so has seen the emergence of a new generation of high-quality open-reel tape decks, of which four are investigated here. As the price span ranges from £500-£600 for the Sony and Revox models to £850 for the Technics and £950 for the basic Pioneer assembly, these units are not strictly comparable, although their relative performances are nonetheless interesting.

Ken Kessler  |  Dec 22, 2020  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1993
hfnvintageCited as the best Mac ever built, the MC275 returns. Ken Kessler listens

Reissue, reincarnation, replica – call it what you will but just thank the audio gods that someone at McIntosh has a sense of history. Unlike other manufacturers who have either squandered their heritage or merely milked it as it suited them, McIntosh has – with the Gordon J Gow Commemorative MC275 power amplifier – performed an act of such 'correctness', such aptness, that it brings a tear to this anachrophile's eye.

Ken Kessler  |  Nov 17, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1990
Koetsu enters the 1990s with a new standard-bearer in the shape of the hand-made Urushi moving-coil cartridge. Ken Kessler is smitten...

As I sat back and listened I thought, maybe it's the particular recording, perhaps it's my frame of mind but no – it can only be the cartridge. All I know is that my smooth and steady progress in coming to terms with CD has been set back to its 1985 level. Why? Because I was in peril of missing an important fact of hi-fi life, which is that just as CD hardware and software has been getting better and better, so has analogue.

Martin Colloms  |  Oct 16, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1982
hfnvintageTiny amp, lashings of power... Martin Colloms lifts the lid on a box of tricks

The long awaited Carver Cube power amplifier is at last available in the UK. Bob Carver, its designer, is not a particularly well known figure in the UK but most people have heard of Phase Linear, which was founded by him, and he also designed its range of products. His special interest has been in high-power amplifiers, with the 400 B and 700 B Phase Linear models now audio legends.

Ken Kessler  |  Sep 18, 2020  |  First Published: May 01, 1985
hfnvintageKen Kessler goes Class A in a small way with the Marantz PM-4

Phone calls from company spokespersons such as Marantz's Steve Harris, are generally one of two types. Either 'Would you like to review our new Model XYZ whatever?' or 'Where the hell is our Model XYZ whatever, which you've had for nine months?' Such phone calls are never about reviewing components that are out of production.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 19, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1986
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson lives with Krell pre- and power amplification

Streetwise. Now there's a word. I suppose you could say that in a hi-fi context it means being aware of the unwritten myths, such as 'image depth is due to microphony in valve amplifiers' or 'Class A amplifiers sound better than ones operating in Class B' or 'the only truly great preamplifiers use valves'.

Ken Kessler  |  Jul 17, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1984
hfnvintageOrtofon's SPU cartridge has reappeared. Ken Kessler gives it a whirl

Paranoia is not a condition to which I subscribed prior to entering the brotherhood of audio writers. Ignorant of my near-leper status, it came as something of a shock to find myself the only valve-loving, moving-magnet cartridge supporter in the immediate vicinity. Thankfully, editor John Atkinson tends to offer advice and make suggestions, rather than threaten my physical well-being for failing to embrace the solid-state, and so decided that a review of a moving-coil cartridge would be a subtle way of sowing the seeds for my conversion. And he knows my weaknesses well: anachrophilia.

Martin Colloms  |  Jun 22, 2020  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1994
hfnvintageThe world's greatest single-box CD player? The Wadia 16 may be even better, since it's also a digital preamplifier. Martin Colloms listens...

The US home market has such strength in depth that it can easily support a burgeoning digital audio sector. Any competently run company is capable of sustained expansion founded on a solid infrastructure in which both advanced research, and the development of high technology products, play a crucial role.

Christopher Breunig  |  May 26, 2020  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1989
hfnvintageAfter Mozart, Debussy. But what of the pianists' long term plans? A psychology of recording by Christopher Breunig

Afavourable acoustic, and music Mitsuko Uchida has been playing since she was 13 years old – but even at The Maltings, Snape, there were unforeseen snags when it came to recording Debussy's 12 Études.

Martin Colloms, Ken Kessler  |  May 13, 2020  |  First Published: May 01, 1987
hfnvintageWith the latest Apogee, ribbon technology comes in a more affordable package. Ken Kessler's assessment follows Martin Colloms' review

The US company Apogee has expanded its range of open-panel loudspeakers, which began with the Apogee model itself. This was a large-scale design using three separate diaphragms, with pure aluminium ribbons for frequencies above a few hundred Hertz. Three other models are now in production, comprising, in descending order of size and price, the Scintilla [HFN Sep '85], Duetta, and now the so-called 'baby' of the group, the £2500 Caliper.

Ken Kessler  |  Apr 24, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 24, 1986
hfnvintageKen Kessler takes delivery of the Audio Research SP-11 preamplifier

The time is early June, and let us imagine that this issue has been on the stands for two weeks. Editorial secretary Jennifer Scotland walks to where I am sitting and dumps a pile of letters on my desk. The angry correspondence has arrived.

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 31, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1996
The loudspeaker firm, famed for its late-1950s amps, makes a late-1990s return to tube electronics with two new integrateds. Ken Kessler listens

When the grapevine alerted the world's tube crazies to the return of Rogers amplification, visions of two-tone faceplates danced before our eyes. A nice Cadet III [HFN May '13], or maybe an HG88 visually unchanged but suitably modernised. The collector in me rejoiced. But the Rogers beancounters felt that an all-new product was a more sensible proposition, which is why the E-20a and E-40a all-valve integrated amps have nothing whatsoever to do with the preceding models. Indeed, they have little to do with Rogers.

Martin Colloms  |  Feb 28, 2020  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1986
Martin Colloms gets to grips with the new SME Series V

The Series V tonearm is on sale at last, albeit in limited quantities. The fruit of many years of creative research, a handmade prototype 'V' was shown to prospective distributors at the American and German shows two years ago, but it has taken a long time to get the arm into production. Components were continually tried from prospective suppliers until the quality was right and when first shown in 1984, the price was targeted at what was then a very high level, at £750 or so. Some expressed doubts concerning its credibility at that price, indeed of any similarly-priced tonearm.

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