From the Vault

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Martin Colloms  |  Dec 22, 2023  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1998
hfnvintageThe Indian company has reworked its hybrid electrostatic speaker ready for production as the Arca. It's an ambitious project, says Martin Colloms

When they weren't playing, I found the appearance of these loudspeakers to be disconcerting because their normally exposed electrostatic elements are shrouded in a black cloth hood to keep out the dust. But when the cloth is removed, and the elements are exposed for use, their silvery perforated stator elements are presented in striking full view.

Martin Colloms  |  Sep 28, 2023  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1997
hfnvintageMartin Colloms shows some ART appreciation as the US company celebrates 30 years with a statement single-ended line-only preamp

Conrad-Johnson's 'Anniversary Reference Triode' has been some time in the making. In fact, an early version was developed seven years ago which has since been used as a lab reference. The ART is simply a remote-controlled line preamplifier, which at £15,000 is priced far beyond any previous Conrad-Johnson offering in this sector. It will be made in a limited edition of just 250 – probably just right for a modest production run at this elevated price level.

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1997
hfnvintageThere's a glowing new object in the hi-fi galaxy – the Quasar turntable. Ken Kessler makes space for a deck with a sound as sweet as sugar

Gorgeous. That's the word I kept hearing, every time someone noticed the Quasar LE turntable while it was in for review. And one of the first to utter it was the owner of a Michell Orbe, itself no canine. What these individuals cooed over is one of the prettiest LP spinners to come along since the first Oracle. And that's one hell of an antecedent.

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 23, 2021  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1997
hfnvintageClassic tubes meet modern tech in the £30,000 Project T-1 monoblocks. Is this Marantz's ultimate amplifier, asks an awestruck Ken Kessler

Contemplating the Project T-1 power amplifiers from Marantz, I realise that nothing in hi-fi should surprise us any more. If, in 1990, someone had told you that, by 1997, the hi-fi community would be clamouring for single-ended triodes and horn systems, that Quad and McIntosh and Marantz would reissue their valve classics, that Mobile Fidelity would open a new LP pressing plant and that Krell and Audio Research would introduce integrated amps, you'd have had that someone committed.

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 31, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1996
The loudspeaker firm, famed for its late-1950s amps, makes a late-1990s return to tube electronics with two new integrateds. Ken Kessler listens

When the grapevine alerted the world's tube crazies to the return of Rogers amplification, visions of two-tone faceplates danced before our eyes. A nice Cadet III [HFN May '13], or maybe an HG88 visually unchanged but suitably modernised. The collector in me rejoiced. But the Rogers beancounters felt that an all-new product was a more sensible proposition, which is why the E-20a and E-40a all-valve integrated amps have nothing whatsoever to do with the preceding models. Indeed, they have little to do with Rogers.

Martin Colloms  |  Nov 18, 2022  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1995
hfnvintageThe company is famed for its giant-killing budget CD players, but what can it do for £3000? Martin Colloms hears one of its high-end machines

Marantz is noted in the UK for its decade-long success in producing a chain of fine CD players at moderate prices. If sometimes contradictory on other matters, the audio press were almost uniform in singing their praises. But the success Marantz has enjoyed in Japan is less well known. By all accounts, high-quality audio remains very healthy there and Marantz engineer Ken Ishiwata has finely honed his skills in creating a range of high-end CD players that have achieved record sales in each directed market niche.

Martin Colloms, Ken Kessler  |  Jun 22, 2021  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1995
hfnvintageWilson Audio's Tiny Tot and matching Puppy subwoofer reach maturity with the new System V versions. Martin Colloms and Ken Kessler listen

During the preliminaries for this review I suffered a major blow at around 3am one morning [writes Martin Colloms]. I was woken up by a thundering roar from the listening room that sounded like a door being smashed down by men with sledgehammers and which wrote off a number of drivers in the speakers.

Martin Colloms  |  Jun 22, 2020  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1994
hfnvintageThe world's greatest single-box CD player? The Wadia 16 may be even better, since it's also a digital preamplifier. Martin Colloms listens...

The US home market has such strength in depth that it can easily support a burgeoning digital audio sector. Any competently run company is capable of sustained expansion founded on a solid infrastructure in which both advanced research, and the development of high technology products, play a crucial role.

Ken Kessler  |  Dec 22, 2020  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1993
hfnvintageCited as the best Mac ever built, the MC275 returns. Ken Kessler listens

Reissue, reincarnation, replica – call it what you will but just thank the audio gods that someone at McIntosh has a sense of history. Unlike other manufacturers who have either squandered their heritage or merely milked it as it suited them, McIntosh has – with the Gordon J Gow Commemorative MC275 power amplifier – performed an act of such 'correctness', such aptness, that it brings a tear to this anachrophile's eye.

Martin Colloms  |  Jul 07, 2023  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1993
hfnvintageIts components may work in all-Naim systems, but in this review of the company's latest pre/power Martin Colloms looks at the alternatives too

Neither I nor the Editor could remember when HFN last reviewed a Naim amplifier so, to redress the balance, we are covering the company's latest pre and power duo here. Priced at £1880, the NAC 82 carries the full remote control first seen on the top-of-the range NAC 52 preamp. An optional extra board (around £120) provides analogue disc input (MC or MM).

Martin Colloms  |  Nov 21, 2023  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1992
hfnvintageThis slim design offers the traditional benefits of transmission line bass loading yet manages to overcome the drawbacks, says Martin Colloms

New ideas are being introduced at Celestion to bring its upmarket SL series into the 1990s. The first example, designed by Bob Smith, was the 100 [HFN Nov '91] followed now by the 300 reviewed here. This is a £1000 floorstander that aims to bring improved bass extension, power handling and superior dynamics to the genre, while sensitivity remains below average at 84dB/1W. A remarkable aspect of the 300 is its transmission line loading, a first for Celestion, and developed with an unusually authoritative theoretical approach, by the designer Martin Roberts.

Martin Colloms  |  Jan 12, 2024  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1992
hfnvintageMartin Colloms hears two outboard DACs featuring 20-bit chips in custom circuits – Enlightened Audio Designs' DSP7000 and the PS Audio Ultralink

American specialists, like their UK counterparts, continue to develop new variations on the available digital technology to produce DACs with audiophile appeal. This review covers two of the more intriguing examples, using some of the most advanced devices available to designers. The Enlightened Audio Designs DSP7000 is based on the 20-bit Analog Devices chip, while PS Audio has chosen an Ultra Analog dual 20-bit converter. What bearing the two choices of technology will have on sound quality remains to be seen!

Ken Kessler  |  Feb 24, 2022  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1992
hfnvintageThe irrepressible Antony Michaelson is at it again, with pre and power amps from Michaelson Audio and Musical Fidelity. Ken Kessler listens

Upon my taking delivery of the review samples of Da Vinci, about which I was warned in mid-summer 1991, company founder Antony Michaelson launched into his usual tirade about the high-end, with barrels of venom for American ballbuster amps in particular.

Ken Kessler  |  Nov 17, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1990
Koetsu enters the 1990s with a new standard-bearer in the shape of the hand-made Urushi moving-coil cartridge. Ken Kessler is smitten...

As I sat back and listened I thought, maybe it's the particular recording, perhaps it's my frame of mind but no – it can only be the cartridge. All I know is that my smooth and steady progress in coming to terms with CD has been set back to its 1985 level. Why? Because I was in peril of missing an important fact of hi-fi life, which is that just as CD hardware and software has been getting better and better, so has analogue.

Martin Colloms  |  Jul 30, 2019  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1990
Martin Colloms hears the ultimate amplifier system from one of audio's elite names: the No26/No20.5 pre/power duo and No25 phono stage

Since acquiring the Mark Levinson Audio Systems company five years ago, Madrigal Labs has pursued an evolving research programme, generating improved circuits and product designs. The result is that current MLAS products now have an importance comparable with the original brand's landmark designs.

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