Vintage

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Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngBack in the '80s, several British 'cottage industry' companies made integrated amps for purist customers, but this is surely the most 'mysterious'. How will it sound today?

In hi-fi as in life, the 1980s was a transformative time. From speaker stands and audiophile speaker cable, to mini monitors and expensive, minimalist integrated amps – the 'go for it' decade of Filofaxes, red braces and VW Golf GTis showed us what was to come.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngIt was an audacious design from a company with no prior reputation for making serious loudspeakers, yet it soon became a landmark product. How does it shape up today?

There's no such thing as the perfect loudspeaker, nor is there ever likely to be one. Most manufacturers don't even try – theirs is a volume business where the trick is to produce a good-sounding product at an affordable price. There's nothing wrong with this, as perfection can often be the enemy of the good. Yet sometimes hi-fi companies do reach for the stars, and attempt to come up with an innovative, no-holds-barred design.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngLaunched in 1980, these slimline separates proved just the tonic for those seeking sophisticated sonics wrapped in eye-catching casework. How do they sound today?

Who buys top quality hi-fi equipment? First there is the audiophile, who is willing to devote considerable resources in the pursuit of components that deliver what he or she regards as the best sound quality for a given budget. There was once also a largely non-technical group who had equally high musical expectations. Wealthy and design conscious, they wanted complete systems that not only sounded good but looked good too, and included all the latest technological refinements.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngLaunched in the late '70s as part of a new wave of shoebox-sized systems from Japan, this elegant deck packed plenty of groundbreaking tech. How does it perform today?

It wasn't until the 1970s that the LP reached its heyday. By then, most albums were stereo and the equipment needed to play them was widely available. In 1975, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells hit the high watermark for vinyl sales, confirming the format's dominance. At the time, most people still only had 'record players' – all-in-one turntables, amplifiers and speakers – but this was the peak of the decade's hi-fi boom, and people were scrambling to get their hands on proper, grown-up, stereo systems.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngWhile designed for the pro market, this rugged little workhorse of an amp from 1978 found its way into domestic systems of the day. How does it sound, 30 years on?

How sad. Last year was the 70th anniversary of the founding of Crown, and the event seems to have gone unmarked. The only notable occurrence was that its parent company, Harman International, was acquired by Samsung, which is a rather forlorn way for this most American of brands to celebrate seven decades.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngWelcomed with open arms by those seeking a quality speaker for use in a tight space, the Diamond created the market for affordable mini monitors. How will it sound today?

Loudspeakers are surely the most fashion-conscious segment of the hi-fi market. There are Japanese amplifiers on sale today that look little different to their predecessors being sold in the late '70s. Yet the same 'period look' can hardly be said to be popular when it comes to speakers.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngIt was an amp that gave fresh meaning to the term 'cooking on gas', but how does one of Sony's last classic super-integrateds shape up today? Time to find out...

The '70s was a time of great social change. At the beginning of the decade, black and white TVs, bicycles and outside toilets were the reality of life for many British people. But by the end of the '70s, most folks had colour TVs, family cars and swanky modern bathrooms – along with fitted kitchens, wall-to-wall carpeting and stereo systems in their homes. Although the music centre was the height of fashion, separates hi-fi was growing fast and many were willing to pay for serious equipment.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngThe British contender for the late '70s budget amp crown won the hearts and wallets of many a budding audiophile thanks to some canny tech. How does it sound today?

In the early days of hi-fi, the budget amplifier was usually considered an object of disdain, to be quickly upgraded as soon as funds allowed. More capable designs such as the NAD 3020 changed this view and by the late '70s improvements in component technology had made it possible to produce really good amplifiers that still could be sold for reasonable prices.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngIt wasn't a budget buy, but this late '70s integrated from the masters of the MOSFET spearheaded fresh thinking on amplifier design. But how does it sound today?

The advantages of using separate pre and power amplifiers over an integrated is a discussion that can still occupy audiophiles for hours. What was almost a necessity in the valve era became less technically significant once transistors were established, a quality solid-state preamp circuit being undemanding in terms of space and power.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngWhen launched, this turntable was just one of over a dozen Technics decks offered. Is it now the pick of the radial-tracking pack? Time to take it to the test bench...

Think of direct-drive turntables and the chances are that one brand will spring to mind: Technics. What's more, its SL-1200 turntable will be the model most people think of first. This famous deck casts a long shadow over the others in the company's range and yet there were many to choose from. In fact, when the SL-Q303 seen here was launched in the UK in 1982 it was part of a 13-model lineup – a series that went from the professional-spec SP-10 MkII right down to moulded plastic belt-drive budget models such as the SL-B202.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 01, 2017
hfnvintage.pngDesigned by James Sugden in collaboration with Richard Allan, is the second iteration of this milestone Class A transistorised amp the one to buy? It's time to check it out...

The late '60s provide an interesting choice of equipment for the vintage hi-fi enthusiast. The rapid development of high-quality transistor amplifiers during the period resulted in some intriguing models and the Sugden A21 is a fine example. Why? Because it was the first successful domestic hi-fi amp on the UK market to offer a fully transistorised implementation of Class A.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2017
hfnvintage.pngWith components sourced from Dutch giant Philips, does this slick-looking CD player from 1986 still represent the 'last word' in 14-bit sound? We take it to the test bench

The step change in technology that came with the introduction of CD was too great for all but the largest hi-fi manufacturers to handle alone. As a result, those that lacked the resources to design and produce their own machines had instead to buy completed assemblies from either Philips or one of the larger Japanese brands.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
The Beogram 4000’s motor unit, arm and cartridge were designed together to work as one optimised system. B&O had considered building a conventional turntable with a long arm but this was rejected in favour of tangential tracking, the Beogram 4000’s most famous feature. The basic structure comprised a die-cast tray that served as the basis for the slim and elegant plinth. This housed another casting, which formed a floating sub-chassis.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
Direct drive was viewed with suspicion here by many in the 1970s. Elsewhere, high-end direct-drive units from the Land of the Rising Sun were snapped up. The TTS-8000 is now widely regarded as the second best turntable Sony ever made (first place goes to the company’s PS-X9, aimed at studios). But the runner-up reviewed here did a sterling job in straddling both the domestic and professional markets.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
Back in the 1980s, Compact Disc’s tantalising promise of ‘perfect sound forever’ was taken as gospel in many quarters. However, one man was dissatisfied with its performance and set about improving matters with typical fervour. The engineer in question was Stan Curtis of Cambridge Audio and the result of his labours was the CD1 player. Introduced in 1984, it effectively changed the face of CD reproduction – and not just due to its multi-box construction.

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