LATEST ADDITIONS

Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
This big French three way is strong value for money You’d scarcely credit that the MC40 Minorca is the cheapest speaker here. It’s larger than the ATC, Dynaudio and PSB, it has a piano black finish (a £140 cost option, standard finishes being cherry and purple cherry wood veneers) and, unlike all the others, it’s a three-way rather than a two-way design. Cabasse’s distinctive BC10 coaxial driver is responsible for that last feature, comprising a soft dome tweeter, with shallow horn loading, surrounded by a convex annular diaphragm that handles the frequency range between 900Hz and 3. 2kHz crossover points.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
Despite the small size, this well thought out design has much to commend it As the smallest and lightest speaker here, the Synchrony Two B may seem to be flying a kite in asking £1200 of its buyer. And, indeed, it is significantly cheaper in its native North America. But remember that its sibling, the large, floorstanding Synchrony One, won our group test in Aug ’09 – and take a look at the lab report. It may be diminutive but the Synchrony Two B walks tall: it has one of the flattest on-axis frequency responses here and a waterfall plot so clean that few more overtly prestigious speakers can match it.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
The updates to this long running range have proved particularly effective Dynaudio’s Focus range was getting a bit long in the tooth so we weren’t surprised to learn when we requested the 140 for this test that it had just been replaced with this new model, the 160. Little has changed externally – if you’re the type who can distinguish Aston Martins at a glance then you’ll note a new light grey paint finish on the drivers and the use of Torx fasteners, only three of which now attach the tweeter – but internally there’s more that’s been breathed on. As before, the cabinet side walls taper a little towards the rear from the narrow bevels at the front baffle edges – a feature which helps tame internal standing waves – but the enclosure has been significantly stiffened. The 170mm bass-mid driver retains its magnesium silicate polymer (MSP) cone, and the voice coil is still aluminium to reduce moving mass.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
Some very sophisticated technology doesn't quite come together as a cohesive whole In loudspeaker cabinet construction, curves are good. Curved panels are stiffer than equivalent flat ones – but more difficult to make than the V-groove and wrap box construction that so many speakers today employ. In creating what is the most expensive model in this month’s group, Mordaunt-Short clearly devoted a good deal of its budget to abandoning the traditional rectangular wooden cabinet in favour of a curvaceous enclosure moulded from a well damped polymer resin. Deeper at the bottom than at the top, in profile it looks positively Falstaffian.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 29, 2011
The professional heritage of the brand is present and correct in the SCMII You know the deal when you buy an ATC, whatever its price tag. A flat frequency response and tight pair matching are assured together with low coloration and low distortion from ATC’s own meticulously designed drive units. Forget metal dome tweeters or metal-coned bass units – ATC prefers more traditional diaphragm materials, with doping applied to quell resonances. And in its smaller speakers it has always preferred closed box to reflex bass loading, in further rejection of fashion.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Oct 02, 2011
Active/passive - not behavioural therapy, but two of Air Tight's options for cartridge amplification: the ATH-2A step-up transformer and ATE-2005 phono equaliser . With at least three turntables active in my system at any time, I’ve learned to appreciate options. All of my preferred phono amplifiers accept at least two decks and can cope with both MM and MC cartridges of varying output levels.
John Bamford and Keith Howard  |  Oct 02, 2011
Monitor Audio pushed the boat out with its prestigious PL300 floorstanders in 2007, the first speakers in its then new Platinum range to employ an in-house designed ribbon tweeter. Later came the more affordable PL200s with a slightly smaller footprint, £5000 three-ways whose sharp clarity and fi nesse impressed me greatly when we reviewed them in Dec ’09. Below the company’s flagship Platinum range comes the Gold series: substantially more affordable speakers with less elaborately constructed enclosures and drive units. The Gold GS models, in the market since 2006, have been replaced this year by an entirely new Gold line-up now called GX.
Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2011
Better known for multichannel, the A21 demonstrates that Parasound knows a thing or two about stereo too As with Canada’s Anthem electronics, San Francisco’s Parasound components are often found powering luxurious multichannel ‘home theatre’ systems. Unlike Anthem, however, Parasound does make pure audio (as well as AV) preamps to partner some of its power amps, especially its two-channel models. Designed in the US by John Curl, a veteran whose CV includes classic Mark Levinson and Vendetta designs in years gone by, Parasound’s amps are outsourced to Taiwan for manufacture – which might explain the keen pricing. This A21 power amp from the flagship Halo range suggests a lot for the money, weighing 27kg and resplendent in classy casework.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Sep 06, 2011
Cost effective and not without its charm Enjoying a renaissance within the audio industry in recent years, Nagaoka now describes itself as a specialist processor for a range of hard-to-cut materials including jewels, ceramics, tungsten carbide and magnets. This portfolio clearly builds on its heritage as a manufacturer of the diamond styli fitted to its range of cartridges. The MP-100 is the entry level model of the range. With this model you get a ‘superfine’ conical diamond tip attached via an alloy cantilever to a samarium cobalt magnet hinting at the other strings to the company’s bow.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011
Some treble issues detract from the overall performance With nearly 50 years’ experience under its belt, Audio-Technica has established a reputation for building good value MM and MC phono cartridges. The AT120E is second from the top of Audio-Technica’s MM range, sitting just below the AT440MLA (£159) which has inspired its body shape and alloy tube cantilever. Where they differ is in the stylus, with the AT440MLA using Audio-Technica’s square MicroLine design, compared to the AT120E’s more conventional elliptical profile. The AT120E has a functional fit and finish illustrated by the lack of branding on its nose.

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