LATEST ADDITIONS

Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Aug 17, 2009
Class A operation has a noble history. Thanks to the always-on nature of the topology and the removal of an entire type of distortion, allied to sound that excels in low-level detail, superb dynamics and transparency, its devotees are more than happy to put up with low efficiency and heat. From Sugden to Levinson to Krell, and here to Belles, it’s a choice for connoisseurs. Should the escape of all that heat come to the attention of Brussels, the EU might then outlaw Class A amps as they have light bulbs.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Aug 06, 2009
It’s been almost two years since Hi-Fi News had the pleasure of auditioning a CD player and integrated amplifier from the Italian Audia company [see HFN September 2007]. With just a select range of amplifiers and a couple of CD players in its product portfolio, Audia may barely register as a blip on the radar of British audiophiles. On the European specialist audio scene, on the other hand, Audia has carved out a name for itself as a manufacturer to be taken most seriously in the high-end arena, its products regularly garnering accolades in French and German magazines as well as on its home turf in Italy, naturally. Talking of carving out a name, you just know that Audia’s products aren’t going to come without a fairly substantial price ticket attached to them when you see the build quality.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Aug 06, 2009
Some electronics manufacturers manage to move upmarket just by adding more elaborate casework, a few audiophile components and, if you are lucky, a bigger transformer. Not so with the Cambridge Azur range. With these products, it seems the company set out to leapfrog the competition in technology and technical performance. And so, at the top of the Azur line, we have a truly sophisticated preamp, the 840E, and a truly muscular power amp, the 840W, at a total price of £2000.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Aug 06, 2009
John Howes has been tweaking, modifying and restoring vintage hi-fi equipment long enough to have a healthy approach to the purity of spot-on restorations. It’s a philosophy he applies to the customising of Quad’s classic II mono valve power amplifier. Because he’s also a realist, he also knows how to recognise if a product is a basket-case, useful only as a donor for spares. As the original sold well over many years, there are sufficient beyond salvation.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2009
There’s something about the look of Wadia components that says, ‘This is mighty serious’. It goes without saying that at £6500 – which is a pretty penny for an integrated player – the 381 is indeed a serious piece of work. But then Wadia CD transports and DACs (and players) have always cost top dollar, much like the products from those cutting-edge British digital specialists dCS. So this is actually Wadia’s ‘budget’ offering, a cost-down version of the £9800 581se CD/SACD player.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2009
However hard they may try, proponents of multichannel music are not going to convince certain audiophiles that anything more than just two channels are needed for sonic bliss. Canadian company Classé, a manufacturer that also produces multichannel players, has taken the decision to produce a top-end two-channel-only CD player – despite its internals employing multichannel components. What it has done, in a breathtaking display of lateral thinking, is force-feed all this capacity into optimised stereo playback. As a result, the CDP-202 has odd capabilities, such as DVD-Audio playback mixed down to stereo, and you can – if you’re the sort who doesn’t object to watching a feature film on a mobile phone – view a video DVD on its front-panel LCD control panel.
Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2009
An all too real fissure is developing within the specialist audio industry between those who embrace the emerging paradigm of hi-res music downloads and those who view the whole development, and the role of computer audio in general, with suspicion. Well, here’s a product that bridges the divide. The PS Audio PerfectWave Transport and DAC can – or rather, soon will – meld optical disc replay with the streaming of audio files in a way that will quickly seem natural to anyone familiar with conventional audio components. Actually, each is a stand-alone unit that can be used without the other, but only when they are combined are all their features exploitable.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Aug 04, 2009
Valves and vinyl go together like the proverbial horse and carriage, so it isn’t too surprising that one of Italy’s best-known tube amplifier manufacturers recently decided to offer its own turntable, arm and cartridge. You could say that Unison Research has carved its own niche because, apart from the tubes, its amplifiers are notable for the use of real wood as a styling element. When British manufacturers say ‘real wood’, they usually mean a thin slice of rosewood or whatever, glued to a thicker piece of chipboard. Not so the Italians, who still seem prepared to hew speaker cabinets out of solid trees, as Unison does its amplifier ornaments.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Aug 01, 2009
Actually, there is nothing new about the turntable, or indeed the arm reviewed here. What is new, and rather exciting, is the completion of the P9 package with Rega’s long-awaited Apheta MC cartridge and the just-released Ios moving-coil phono stage. On paper, this is the best the company has to offer. A key feature of the P9 is the ceramic platter, as hard as ruby or sapphire, which first appeared on the preceding Planar 9 in 1997.
Keith Howard  |  Jul 25, 2009
Let’s play a game of audio word association. If I say ‘Cabasse’, what’s your response? If it’s ‘What?’ because you’ve never heard of the French speaker manufacturer then shame on you. Its name may not be on everyone’s lips but Cabasse has been around a long time and even in not-always-Francophile UK the marque has staunch admirers. If you replied ‘Bizarre’ instead then that is both linguistically and technically nearer the mark.

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