Vintage

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Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2022
hfnvintageThis late-'80s flagship CD player boasted no shortage of metal for your money while offering 4x oversampling to boot. But with few to be found, is it worth tracking down?

The law of diminishing returns was perhaps never more evident than when the CD player arrived in the early '80s. As more machines came to market in the years that followed, all but the crudest would offer a level of perfection unthinkable to the majority of audiophiles in the 1970s.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 24, 2022
hfnvintageBuy one of these late-'70s beauties secondhand today and you'll own an amp from a pedigree name with radio thrown in for 'free'. So, is this a receiver worth considering?

The receiver (tuner/amplifier) has always divided opinion, in the UK at least. While popular in Europe and the US, the British market never embraced these units to the degree it did separate tuners and amplifiers. And this wasn't because they could not rival a two-box counterpart on performance due to any technical reason. The real issue was that two top-quality units built into one housing could result in an indivisibly expensive product, one many consumers may not have been able to afford.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 08, 2022
hfnvintageThis compact '70s deck packed some clever tech when it came to speed control, but is it now an underappreciated classic? Time to find out as the GA 202 is put to the test...

When designing any turntable, ensuring that it maintains the correct and consistent speed is of paramount importance. Numerous techniques have been tried over the years, some with greater success than others. The Philips GA 202 Electronic turntable reviewed here was one of the first popular models to feature a motor controlled by an electronic servo, bringing easy operation and improved performance. This was the deck's key feature, but there were other striking aspects to the design.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 21, 2022
hfnvintageIn 1975 one of the leading makers of budget turntables unveiled a fully automatic mid-priced deck with mighty ambitions. How will the package shape up today?

Any mention of Dual turntables usually brings one of the many incarnations of the company's CS 505 to mind. The original '505 was a typical Dual design, taking its cue from the basic turntables that had been around since the 1950s by being built on a sprung-steel plate. It was a budget deck, which sold mainly to those looking to take their first step on the audiophile ladder. But Dual made more ambitious models too.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 21, 2022
hfnvintageThey're British and they're obscure, but can these pre/power amplifiers lay claim to classic status when it comes to their all-out performance? It's time to find out...

British company Crimson Elektrik started life in the mid 1970s as a manufacturer of ready-built power amplifier modules. Using these, a home constructor could assemble a fairly decent and up-to-date piece of kit, needing only to add a power supply, connections and a cabinet. Complete amps followed in 1979, initially in kit form and later fully assembled. The latter, which were similar to the 1200 series amps seen here, were reviewed in the June '80 issue of HFN.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 21, 2022
hfnvintageThis compact '80s turntable took the fight to market leader Technics by driving down the price of automatic track selection and programmable repeat. Is it a big hitter?

The LP sleeve-sized turntable, first seen in 1979 in the form of the Technics SL-10 [HFN Apr '19], proved such a success that within a year or so most of the major Japanese manufacturers had added one to their range. In a fast-changing world where digital tuners, remote-controlled amps and full-logic cassette decks were beginning to make traditional turntables look out of date, this new look helped maintain sales.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 21, 2021
hfnvintageThis machine marked a step-change in Sony's assault on the early CD player market as the company ditched its own DAC in favour of a third-party solution. How will it sound?

The components in Sony's ES series represented what the company regarded as the most advanced designs available. They were top of the range, and aimed at those who were prepared to pay a little extra to obtain the best possible performance.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2021
hfnvintageIt may have been based on a machine from Dutch giant Philips but this was the first CD player from a specialist high-end British manufacturer. How will it sound today?

Compact Disc enjoyed a halo of glamour in its early years that the more established formats had lost. Talk of laser beams and digital electronics, those holographic rainbows on the disc surface – not to mention all the smart new hardware – brought an interest in top quality listening to a whole new demographic.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 21, 2021
hfnvintageWith its four-channel amp and on-board SQ decoder, this '70s receiver was the lynchpin in what was arguably the most leading-edge quadraphonic system of its time...

The era of quadraphonic sound was not the hi-fi industry's finest. Appearing around 1973 but moribund by 1978, quadraphonic was the first big marketing failure by a sector that had so far enjoyed unalloyed success in convincing the public to buy into its latest developments. Confusing advertising, a damaging format war and a lack of consumer demand all played their part in the downfall of a concept which, at its peak, had been hailed as the future.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 24, 2021
hfnvintageAn outlier in its day, this preamp was marketed as a match for products from rival brands yet its real purpose was to drive the company's MFB speakers. We fire it up...

The Philips Motional Feedback loudspeaker was one of the great advances in audio technology. Launched in 1975, the series would eventually encompass four distinct generations and remain in production for over a decade, its key technologies jealously guarded by Philips patents [HFN Jul '13]. However, the partnering equipment designed to help these speakers perform at their best is less well known, arguably due to Philips endorsing the use of third-party sources and amplifiers.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 24, 2021
hfnvintageThis second-generation 16-bit machine hit the sweet spot for many when it came to sheer value for money, but does it make a bargain vintage buy? It's time to find out...

Has the 'perfect' CD player ever existed? While one model may boast the best transport, another the best DAC and yet another the most perfectly resolved ergonomics, so far I've yet to find all of these elements present in one machine. Sharp's DX-411H

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 26, 2021
hfnvintageA covetable compact or a mere nearfield monitor for the acutely design-conscious? We hear how this miniature bookshelf loudspeaker from 1983 shapes up today

In the frantically fast-paced hi-fi market of the '70s and '80s, it is pleasing to find a product that remained in its manufacturer's catalogue virtually unaltered for years. If something looks good, sounds good and sells profitably why change it? Some products remain available simply because the company making them lacks the resources to do anything different. But that could not be said of Danish brand B&O, which was then at the height of its powers.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 11, 2021
hfnvintageAs Lexus is to Toyota, so was Aurex to general CE brand Toshiba. We reappraise the SB-A10 – compact but full-featured, was this miniature hi-fi at its very best?

In previous vintage reviews we have featured the Technics SL-10 turntable [HFN Apr '19] with its footprint the size of an LP sleeve, Sony's D-88 CD player [HFN Jul '16] that was so small the disc stuck out of its side, and Technics' SB-F1 speakers [HFN May '17], which individually could be held easily in the palm of one's hand. So how about a complete integrated amp about the same size as the concise edition of the Oxford English Dictionary? Meet the Aurex SB-A10 from 1981.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 07, 2021
hfnvintageMore miniature magic from a brand proud to beat its own path came in 1982 in the form of probably the smallest hi-fi turntable ever made. How does it sound today?

When Technics released its SL-10 turntable in1979 [HFN Apr '19], it was evident that a record player did not have to be large, overly expensive or complicated in use to give top quality results. So compelling was this concept that soon all of the big players in the Japanese hi-fi industry were racing to produce something similar. Well, almost all. Sony, the great master of miniaturisation, was not a company to imitate others.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 15, 2021
hfnvintageIt was the Dutch company's first ever portable CD player and one of the first players from Philips to use a 16-bit chip. But how does this milestone machine sound today?

While Philips' dominance of the market for full-sized CD players in the early days of the format has been well documented in these pages, little mention has been made of its activities in the field of CD portables. Despite an obvious flair for innovation and creativity, the company is not especially known for producing miniatures – that crown belongs to the Japanese, and Sony in particular.

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