LATEST ADDITIONS

Review: Tim Jarman,  |  Oct 19, 2023
hfnvintageIt may have been bulky with no fewer than ten batteries housed in its brittle case, but this portable player had an ace up its sleeve – its price. How will it shape up today?

When enthusiasts see a product from Crown it's perhaps natural to assume it has come from the American amplifier manufacturer of that same name. Yet this compact CD player from 1987, launched to bring the cost of portable players down to a more affordable level, bears the branding of another company called Crown – the Crown Radio Corporation of Japan.

Review: Adam Smith,  |  Oct 17, 2023
hfncommendedThoren's range of 'all-in-one' belt-driven turntables – complete with arm, cartridge and integral phono stage – tops out with the TD 204. It's a no-fuss solution for vinyl starters 

After a few years of uncertainty, turntable specialist Thorens has clearly regained its mojo. When Gunter Kürten, the former CEO of fellow German brand ELAC, took over the company in 2018, he felt its existing range was 'too broad, with far too many models and variants'. He also believed the quality of the finished products was not to a level that befitted a manufacturer that had, at the time, been making musical instruments for 137 years, and turntables for 92.

Review: Jamie Biesemans,  |  Oct 16, 2023
hfnoutstandingPurist 'analogue only' headphone amps have a new champion in the form of iFi Audio's flagship iCAN Phantom, designed for in-ears to electrostatics and all 'phones inbetween

When you state your headphone amplifier is the 'Rolls-Royce of flagships' you must be very confident that it's a clear cut above rival high-end devices. But that's exactly what iFi Audio is doing with the iCAN Phantom, shown for the first time at High End Munich in May '23. This £3749 analogue headphone amplifier is positioned above all its previous efforts, including the erstwhile flagship Pro iCAN Signature headphone amplifier, which remains on sale at £2299.

Steve Sutherland  |  Oct 13, 2023
This facility's clients have ranged from Arctic Monkeys to Nina Simone, and it has also pioneered solar-powered sound. Steve Sutherland on a studio not afraid to innovate

Of all the many weird and wonderful characters who have populated our Inside The Studio feature down through the years, if my memory serves me right we have never ever come across a giant rabbit. Still, there's always a first time...

Review: Mark Craven,  |  Oct 12, 2023
hfnoutstandingKEF's innovative 'MAT' absorber has pushed the performance of Uni-Q to new heights. Now it's in the seven-strong R series

It still surprises me that KEF's R series, which features seven models in total, includes only one standmount/bookshelf option. Surprising because compact speakers are extremely popular, and because the R series is the company's mid-tier proposition, above the entry-level Q and a considerable way below the Reference range. Yet the previous generation, which launched in 2018, featured just one standmount – the R3 – so it's deja vu five years later.

Peter Quantrill  |  Oct 10, 2023
Friend to Ravel and Stravinsky, hi-fi buff, mathematician and philosopher – there was more to the Swiss conductor than his dusty demeanour, as Peter Quantrill explains

Ansermet made his first recordings in 1915, as a conductor of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes while on tour in New York, and always thereafter took a keen interest in the potential and the limits of recording technology. In September 1929 he became the first non-English conductor to make records for Decca, with a set of six Handel Concerti Grossi performed by a pick-up band at the Chenil Galleries studio in Chelsea.

Review: Ken Kessler,  |  Oct 09, 2023
hfnoutstandingWith technology drawn from its flagship Chronosonic XVX, and already implemented in the Alexx V and Alexia V, the Sasha V is now the most affordable of this new series

Those of an historical bent will know that Wilson Audio's Sasha V isn't merely the fourth-generation Sasha, nor is it simply 'Sasha DAW 2.0'. This two-box floorstander is to the original WATT Puppy [HFN Nov '90] what the current Porsche 911 is to the 911 of 1964: a carefully-developed, decades-long evolution of a brilliant initial concept.

Steve Sutherland  |  Oct 06, 2023
Four years in the making, this swansong album from the electronic music pioneers swapped samples for session musicians. Steve Sutherland celebrates its brilliance

What if you could reinvent your life and have another go at it, starting somewhere, somewhen else? Me, I'd opt to have been born a decade earlier and I'd have moved to Los Angeles in 1965, aged 17. That way I'd have been hanging around the Sunset Strip in 1967 where, at the Whisky A Go Go alone, I'd have seen Love, The Doors, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Buffalo Springfield, Moby Grape, Spirit, Janis Joplin, and Them with Van Morrison. I might even have hopped a short haul or thumbed a ride to Monterey where the Pop Festival was, as they say, happening.

Review: Andrew Everard,  |  Oct 05, 2023
hfnoutstandingCelebrating a legacy that stretches back 50 years, the Norwegian brand stamps its authority with the heavyweight AW 800 M flagship amplifier – a solid cube of power!

There's a classical simplicity about this flagship pre/power amplifier combination from Electrocompaniet. The style – realised here with clear-on-black acrylic fascias with gold detailing – harks back to its first amp, 'The 2 Channel Audio Amplifier' [HFN Dec '11], based on Dr Matti Otala's tackling of 'Transient Intermodulation (TIM)' distortion, shortly after it began operations in 1973.

Mike Barnes  |  Oct 03, 2023
Led by singer-songwriter Mike Scott, The Waterboys honed their 'big music' sound on this 1985 album where rock guitars were joined by saxophone, piano and celeste to create an expansive work that was epic yet spiritual, and at times even political...

On the song 'The Big Music', from The Waterboys 1984 album A Pagan Place, Mike Scott sang 'I have heard the big music/And I'll never be the same' – and he wasn't kidding. Nowadays, the 1980s might be more readily associated with glossy, primary coloured pop but it also opened the doors to something quite different – an earnest, yearning, expansive rock music drawn with broad brush strokes, but with enough space for some fine detail. The Waterboys exemplified the desire to make this 'big music', as did contemporaries such as Echo & The Bunnymen, U2, Big Country and Simple Minds.

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