LATEST ADDITIONS

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 18, 2021
hfnedchoiceTouted as the 'world's first multi-DAC DAP', Astell&Kern's premium portable takes tweaking-on-the-move to a new pace. We run to keep up with the features on offer

Once upon a time there was just Astell&Kern, the company building its reputation on superior digital audio players (or DAPs) aimed at those for whom playing music from their phone just wasn't enough. In an era when the multifunctional pocket device is designed to take over every task you could imagine, from browser, emailer, camera, music player and – well – phone, the idea of carrying a dedicated audio device around may seem like something of an anachronism. 'An MP3 player, grandad?'.

Steve Sutherland  |  Mar 16, 2021
Used by Oasis, Muse and a raft of acclaimed indie artists along the way, this studio set in a secluded creek boasts a unique creative atmosphere. Steve Sutherland explains why

Leaving the main stream, they passed into what seemed at first sight like a little land-locked lake. Green turf sloped down to either edge, brown snaky tree-roots gleamed below the surface, while ahead of them the silvery shoulder and foamy tumble of a weir, arm-in-arm with a restless dripping mill-wheel filled the air with a soothing murmur of sound... It was so very beautiful that the Mole could only hold up both forepaws and gasp, "O my! O my! O my!"'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 15, 2021
hfnoutstandingNow housed in a 'chassis within a chassis', featuring an uprated USB interface and slicker Lightning OS, Auralic's G2.1 series kicks off with the Aries streaming transport

At first glance, Chinese company Auralic's range looks baffling, such is the choice of similar-looking units – and it's becoming more so with the arrival of new 'second generation' G2 models, confusingly distinguished by the addition of a '.1' suffix on its product designations. In the new lineup there's the Vega G2.1 streaming DAC, at £5999, the Sirius G2.1 upsampling processor at the same price, the £7999 Leo GX.1 master reference clock, and the product we have here, the £4199 Aries G2.1, described as a 'Wireless Streaming Transporter'.

Christopher Breunig  |  Mar 12, 2021
As Christopher Breunig prepares to take a short sabbatical on a series begun in 2014 (continuing under new management) he adds a comment or two on some favourites

When I began collecting, EMI's producer Walter Legge was reviving Otto Klemperer's recording career after his fallout with Vox, and we had Beethoven's Leonora Overtures and Symphonies Nos 3, 5 and 7 (the 'Eroica' my very first LP).

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 11, 2021
hfnoutstandingMore room and wallet-friendly than the flagship Borg, Fink's compact KIM packs no less 'tech'

No, they're not named after a Kardashian, a Rudyard Kipling novel or even Mel & pop partner. Instead, the new KIM standmount speakers from FinkTeam, selling for £8900 a pair complete with their dedicated open-frame stands, take their lead from the company's Borg speakers in having a Star Trek association. In this case it's somewhat less villainous, in the form of Voyager character Ensign Harry Kim, the ship's Operations Officer. It could all have been so different: story is, Kim was originally to be called by one of several names, including Jay Osaka.

Barry Fox  |  Mar 09, 2021
Barry Fox on books with insights into the personalities behind the podium

Before my local bank branch closed, someone in head office came up with a cunning plan. Shut half the counters and pipe in classical music to soothe the nerves of customers seething at the longer wait for service. Played just loud enough to be recognisable, but too whispery to be enjoyable – like the tizzy spill from someone else's headphones – the noise just simply annoyed.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2021
hfnoutstandingEagerly anticipated, Audia Flight's 'starter' FLS series integrated accommodates a suite of optional modules. Could this be the high-end hub you've been waiting for?

A'synergy of sophisticated original circuit design and Italian style'. That's the promise of Audia Flight, the company established in 1996 by Massimiliano Marzi and Andrea Nardini. Arguably a 'boutique brand' by virtue of a product line focused almost entirely on amplifiers, the lone standout is a CD player in its entry-level 'FL Three S' range [HFN Sep '07]. We are testing its newest addition here: the FLS 9 stereo integrated which pledges to showcase the brand's audiophile philosophy at a price more manageable – beginning at £5950 – than that of its other high-end creations.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 05, 2021
hfnoutstandingWho better than a legendary turntable maker to offer a go-to, affordable, universal phono stage? The Thorens MM-008 looks set to shake up the entry-level sector

If anyone still doubts the extent of the LP renaissance, beyond the use of turntables as a trope for cool ads aimed at hipsters, the plethora of affordable gear coming from purist brands known for high-end price points should convince them otherwise. Forget those £69, all-plastic 'record players' sold online to snare newbies: when a company such as Thorens brings out a phono stage like this £220 MM-008, it indicates that renewed LP usage is not the sole province of seasoned audiophiles. Or, indeed, wealthy ones.

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2021
hfnoutstandingFollowing its groundbreaking Master 1 optical cartridge, DS Audio introduces the Grand Master, and a two-box energiser/equaliser, to up the ante even further

In every field, not just 'hypercars' and luxury wristwatches, there's an extreme, cost-no-object pinnacle. From chefs' knives to sunglasses to fishing reels, there are items which push engineering and price limits, a phenomenon we are used to in high-end audio. Thus, with shaking hands (not a desirable state with this item), I installed the DS Audio Grand Master cartridge, at £11,995 surely the most expensive pick-up I have ever reviewed, if not the most expensive on the planet.

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 03, 2021
Ken Kessler turns to his pile of permanently on-hand CDs to bring you his pick of the discs that will shine a light on your system's performance

Like asking to choose your favourite food or movie, narrowing down 15,000 CDs and SACDs to a mere 20 is torture. The brief was to cite those I use regularly for reviewing purposes and which can reveal the qualities of a component or system. That said, this is also the stack of CDs which never gets filed with the rest, sitting there ready for action.

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