LATEST ADDITIONS

Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2010
For the Leicester-based company Icon Audio, the PS3 is a development prompted by its successful PS1 phono stage, now in MkII form. Both feature – as do its MP3 Mini Amp and HP8 headphone amp – the distinctive ‘peephole’ through which its complement of tubes may be glimpsed. For the PS3 phono stage, designer David Shaw has specified no fewer than seven triode valves including ECC88s and one 6SN7 for the output. The separate power supply unit has another six (EZ80, ECC83 and 5687 types) used for voltage rectification and regulation.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2010
Moving-coil cartridges have been around for more than a half-century, but they didn’t displace the moving magnet as ‘the audiophile’s choice’ until the 1970s. Before that, MMs ruled for two simple reasons: higher output and better tracking ability. For decades, Shure, Goldring, ADC and other moving magnetics were default purchases. They put few demands on phono stages, allowing the industry to standardise 47kohm inputs, and MMs (allegedly) took better care of LPs.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Jul 15, 2010
If someone had told you, even as recently as 2000, that the market would be overrun with genuinely stunning turntables at sensible prices in 2010, you might have snorted with derision. During the LP’s limbo period of 1985-2005, as it clawed its way back to its current ‘cool’ status, the focus seemed to be on extremely expensive high-end players. That limbo period is now over thanks to CD’s decline, and the black vinyl record is regaining small but steady market share, including crucially an audience amongst those born after CD arrived. Clearaudio has always had affordable turntables for newcomers, but the company created something special with the Concept, one of those rare occasions when the object isn’t merely greater than the sum of its parts: it merits, straight out of the box, a gold star, an Oscar and a Michelin rating.
Paul Miller  |  Jun 16, 2010
So far there’s been no answer from Yamaha, Pioneer or Sony to the universal Blu-ray behemoths launched by Denon and Marantz. Since they were exclusively reviewed inHi-Fi News [Oct ’09 and Dec ’09], the £4500 DVD-A1UD and £5000 UD9004 have only been joined by slightly cheaper variants from the same stable. Although Marantz’s £2450 UD8004 could hardly be described as ‘cheap’. Instead, the first truly entry-level universal disc player has been launched from leftfield, from where no-one was looking – courtesy of the restless but hugely talented engineering team at Cambridge Audio.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Jun 15, 2010
Looks can be deceiving. At first glance, you might think that the TD 309 was designed just as an eye-catcher, but in reality it is easily the most radical and innovative turntable Thorens has produced since the company was revived around ten years ago by the dynamic Heinz Rohrer. For the TD 309 project, Rohrer called in Fink Audio Consulting of Essen in Germany, best known for its expertise in loudspeaker design. But, as Karl-Heinz Fink says, ‘We are all turntable guys! We like turntables! And if you work on loudspeakers, you deal with vibration at a micro level, dealing with problems that are similar.
Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2010
From almost anybody else, the launch of a new outboard DAC would rate as one of the audio industry’s more mundane events. But a DAC from Naim Audio – called, yes, the Naim DAC – is a development of more moment. Not so much for what it is but because it unravels what was, until now, one of the marque’s design dogmas. Naim was late to the digital audio party, launching its first CD player in 1991, almost a decade after Compact Disc’s arrival.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2010
I find it very odd that the M2 is the most technically advanced and subjectively successful digital amplifier yet to grace my listening room. Until recently, right now in fact, NAD was not a company likely to spring to mind for its cutting edge technical innovation. The brand saw me through my penniless student days with a host of hi-fi products that majored on simplicity, great value and a remarkable immunity to spilt beer. But the M2 is very different.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  May 16, 2010
I can’t deny it. There is something highly evocative about a cartridge that glows in the dark. That’s right: two blue LEDs at the front of the Soundsmith cartridge light up to confirm its operational status. Just a gimmick? No, not really.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2010
Bigger and fatter even than the RPM 9, which it otherwise resembles, the RPM 10. 1 Evolution updates on the earlier RPM 10 with a better arm and other refinements. But the choice of materials is as important as the quantities of them. Pro-Ject’s Austrian founder and owner has been experimenting with different materials since the inception of the company 20 years ago.
Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Apr 16, 2010
The famous Bauhaus diktat ‘form follows function’ was an aesthetic imperative rather than an engineering philosophy, and a good job too, because for structural engineers in particular the concept was already old hat. All those Martello towers littering England’s south coast, for instance, are not round in plan view on a whim: it’s because castle builders, centuries earlier, had discovered that round towers better resisted artillery bombardment than those with corners. It’s natural to suppose that modern engineers would never do anything so crass as to make something fundamentally the wrong shape, but don’t be so sure. Most loudspeaker manufacturers have done it, continue to do it, and give every sign of proposing to do it in perpetuity.

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