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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.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 26, 2021
hfnoutstandingLaunched in 1999, the original Debut turntable set the bar for starter vinyl packages. Twenty-one years later and the 'Carbon EVO' raises it to pole-vault standards...

Deck/arm/cartridge/dustcover: check. Price £449: check. A choice of nine finishes including wood veneer, or gloss or satin colours: check. Everything included in the package readying it for connection to a phono stage: check. That list tells you Pro-Ject's best-seller remains, after two decades, the go-to 'turnkey' record deck for newcomers (or seasoned audiophiles on a budget). The basic recipe is unchanged but refined, which is why it has sold over 1,000,000 units. Rest assured, however, that this latest incarnation, the Debut Carbon EVO, is far more than a merely cosmetic upgrade.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 25, 2021
hfncommendedDesigned and handcrafted by the father and son team at Lu Kang Audio, the Spoey230 is the heavyweight flagship standmount of this artisan range from Taiwan's Taipei City

The last time you bought a television you probably came across no more than five or six different brands. But what about the last time you bought loudspeakers? It's one of the joyful aspects of hi-fi: the industry is very broad here, supporting a diverse range of manufacturers with different design ideals, resulting in an equally diverse choice for enthusiasts.

Christopher Breunig  |  Jan 22, 2021
Admired by his colleagues yet unpredictable for managers, he was a perfectionist who lived in his father's shadow. Christopher Breunig looks back at this reclusive genius

Iam very slow on the uptake. But now I know what's wrong: the quavers are too low on nicotine. They need a little bit more tar – they have to be a bit more venomous…' And: 'the side-drum has to edge its way in. It has to be very conspiratorial, a schizophrenic back and forth between sentimental and rumbustious'. Not the sort of rehearsal instructions orchestral players would be used to – but then, Carlos Kleiber was different.

Review: Tom Anderson, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 21, 2021
hfncommendedThis famous French brand was launched in 1956 – the very same year as Hi-Fi News – and continues to cut a very distinctive path. We test its latest tube/hybrid integrated

When your brand has been around for over 60 years, designing a new integrated amplifier becomes a matter of balance. You need to weigh up the company's rich heritage with electronics that compete with the best new kids on the block. Perhaps something to caress the ears with valve warmth and character, combined with the grunt of a transistor output to drive even the most reticent of speakers? Enter the Supravox Vouvray.

Johnny Black  |  Jan 19, 2021
Session guitarist, composer of film scores and here, on his fourth album, the roots-rock multi-instrumentalist reached into his musical bag to breathe new life into a diverse selection of obscure songs. It was a commercial failure, but it's no less compelling...

Rated among the finest of Cooder's 17 solo albums, Paradise And Lunch, his fourth release, is easily deserving of Vinyl Icon status.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 18, 2021
hfnoutstandingThe typically modest, functional styling of this 'entry-level' mostly-Class A integrated amplifier belies its less-than-modest capabilities, with power and sound to spare...

There's something comforting about a product with a singular focus, and Pass Labs' INT-25 fits that bill. A line-only integrated, it steers clear of the digital inputs, network functionality and onboard phono stage offered by many competitors. Instead, it presents itself simply as a conduit between your source(s) and speakers, combining a FET-based preamp and Class A power amp and nothing else. If that sounds somewhat 'basic', Pass Labs' history and the amplifier's £7200 price tag should suggest it's anything but. As does its mastery of music – but I'm getting ahead of myself…

Steve Sutherland  |  Jan 15, 2021
As this 1987 LP appears on 180g vinyl Steve Sutherland recalls his interview with Prince back in 1981. Did their meeting influence the singer's signature behaviour?

Maybe I should shoulder some of the blame. It was me, after all, who declared in a Melody Maker review of his previous album, Parade, that Prince was God's gift to music or some such nonsense.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 14, 2021
hfnoutstandingA 110-year history makes Denon a record-holder in the hi-fi industry – and it's marking that landmark with an Anniversary series that includes this very fine disc player and amp

Hi-fi companies marking anniversaries is nothing new – indeed, it seems something crops up almost every month to mark some celebration, from 25 years of the Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series upwards. However, few brands have the history to warrant an anniversary as significant as Denon, for this year the Japanese company marks not merely its centenary, but a full 110 years in business.

Ken Kessler  |  Jan 12, 2021
Ken Kessler brings you his guide to the best secondhand buys...

While it's true I am obsessed with open-reel tape, I am constantly reminded – not least via our postbag – that 'getting back into tape' is costly for both hardware and software. There are no current decks being produced besides the Ballfinger at £15,000+, brand new pre-recorded tapes start at £200, blanks ain't cheap for those who want to record their own music, and buying vintage pre-recorded tapes requires a sort of fortitude akin to driving in the London-to-Brighton veteran automobile rally.

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