LATEST ADDITIONS

Barry Fox  |  May 28, 2021
Barry Fox brings you his pick of the books that offer insights into audio

There are enough books about rock and pop music to capsize a cruise liner. So for this third part in my series on good books that connect music to hi-fi I have picked a few of the lesser-known reads. Arguably the best starting point for pop industry insight is George Martin's 1979 biography, All You Need Is Ears in which Martin shares his jaundiced views on the Apple organisation (unrelated to Apple computers, of course), which The Beatles set up in the mid '60s.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 27, 2021
hfnoutstandingThe 'entry-level' model in a range of two new, fully-featured Michi integrateds, the X3 is a distillation of Rotel's award-winning pre/power design with astonishing power on tap

This amplifier is substantial, beautifully designed and finished, powerful (rated at 350W/4ohm) and hefty, at getting on for 30kg – and yet it's the base model of two integrated amplifiers recently added to Rotel's revived Michi range. Following on the heels of the EISA Award-winning P5/S5 pre/power amplifiers [HFN May '20] and the M8 monoblocks [HFN Oct '20], the X3 and bigger X5 all-in-one amplifiers are the next stage in the expansion of this lineup. The £6300 X5 claims 600W/4ohm and while the £4300 X3 model may be 'lower powered' it's still able to deliver quite a wallop when required, offering a very impressive bang for your buck.

Ken Kessler  |  May 25, 2021  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1990
hfnvintageKen Kessler on Bill Beard's new line-level-only integrated valve amplifier

Manufacturers should not be criticised for responding to changing tastes. CD has forever changed the face of hi-fi, so all you're doing when you mourn the passage of the phono stage is increase the value of shares in sackcloth and ashes. Instead, be thankful that the companies in the high-end are intent on making the best line-stage amplifiers they can design. What you use for a phono section can be either your existing, pre-CD preamp or an outboard phono section. With this in mind. Bill Beard has launched an all-valve, line-level-only integrated amplifier, the first product to bear his new company's name.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 24, 2021
hfnoutstandingFirst floorstander in Sonus faber's Heritage range takes its Electa Amator III standmount and raises it up high

What have you been doing throughout the various lockdowns? Looks like the R&D team at the Sonus faber factory in Arcugnano, Italy, took the opportunity to spend some time revisiting a project it had been keeping on the back burner for a while – a two-way floorstander with a solid wood enclosure to slot into its Heritage collection above the Minima Amator II and Electa Amator III [HFN Jul '19] standmount models.

Peter Quantrill  |  May 21, 2021
When the Russian composer Stravinsky died in April 1971, he left a legacy of definitive recordings. Half a century on, Peter Quantrill finds that his music lives beyond his time

Surely one mark of genius is that even your failures turn out to be successes in the end? The Rite Of Spring's infamous reception at its premiere in Paris in 1913 would have sunk the confidence of a lesser composer. Many of those around him were distraught, while the impresario Serge Diaghilev stoked the flames of scandal. At the centre of it all, Stravinsky kept his head.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 20, 2021
hfncommendedDesigned by Cambridge Audio's in-house team in London, the refreshed SX-80 is a big speaker on a small budget

When it launched its Edge series in 2018 to mark its 50th Anniversary [HFN Nov '18], Cambridge Audio appeared to be making a concerted effort to reach a little higher. But proof this stalwart of the UK high street hasn't turned its back on wallet-conscious buyers arrived recently in the form of its reworked SX loudspeaker range. With head-turning prices, a modern finish and dimensions that won't upset your interior designer, these are likely to garner considerable interest.

Steve Sutherland  |  May 18, 2021
Steve Sutherland looks back to the '90s and a group heralded before they'd even released a record. Some thirty years on, their debut LP is reissued on 180g vinyl

It's April 1992 and Suede are the cover stars of the (now defunct) weekly music paper Melody Maker which is running a headline that heralds them as 'The Best New Band In Britain'. This is about to cause quite a hullabaloo, not only because most people have never heard of Suede but also because the band hasn't even released a record so far.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 17, 2021
hfncommendedStalwart of Germany's single-ended tube scene, Octave Audio also produces hybrid and push-pull amplifiers, including the 'Class A' V70 integrated featured here

Which are you? The minimalist who wants an integrated valve amp bearing only clearly-labelled inputs, source selector, volume control and speaker terminals? Or do you prefer a 'fully loaded' device with total flexibility? The former is intuitive, and any experienced hi-fi user thinks of such units as virtually 'plug 'n' play'. Germany's 30-year-veteran brand Octave Audio has, in its V70 Class A, an amp that sits between both camps and yet I was compelled to digest its 36-page manual.

Steve Sutherland  |  May 14, 2021
Talk about a room with a view... This radical recording studio is unusual with its control and live areas occupying the same space. Steve Sutherland tells the story of its genesis

What's the worst album ever made by a great band? I used to think it was Thank You, the cover versions LP released in 1995 by Duran Duran which, somewhat hilariously, found them stumbling through cack-handed versions of Melle Mel's 'White Lines (Don't Do It)' and Public Enemy's '911 Is A Joke' among its many abominations.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 13, 2021
hfnoutstandingAVID's trio of MCs are distinguished, principally, by choice of cantilever. The mid-range model uses boron in place of ruby, saving a whopping £2000. Is this the sweet-spot?

Here we go again: a moving-coil cartridge that costs more than I paid for a near-mint, limited-edition Series 2 Mazda MX-5. With the rare hardtop. That said, I am sure AVID priced the Boron at £4000 for good reason, but let's skip over the entirely moot concept of 'value for money' and deal, instead, with sound quality. So the AVID Boron is the middle model in a three-cartridge lineup, and thus sells for a substantial £2000 less than the flagship Reference Ruby [HFN Nov '20].

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