Hi-Fi News Staff

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 22, 2015  |  0 comments
It was perhaps Benchmark that set a trend by equipping its compact, high-value DACs with a capable headphone amplifier. They became, in effect, an amalgam of DAC, headphone amplifier and simple preamp, and the HA-1 is from the same mould. Much of its electronics derives from Oppo’s BDP-95EU and BDP-105 universal disc players [HFN May ’12 and Jan ’13]. The HA-1 uses the same ESS 9018 Sabre DAC and the same output circuitry but the headphone amp and preamplifier stages are new.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 22, 2015  |  0 comments
Schiit products benefit from a Scandinavian nomenclature – Asgard, Bifrost, et al – so, should this stunning little Magni headphone amplifier prove tempting, you needn’t approach the salesman with the embarrassing request, ‘Do you stock Schiit?’ As its company founders are seasoned designers of [quote], ‘fully balanced differential power amplifiers, fully discrete I/V conversion stages, audiophile D/A converters, relay-switched stepped attenuator volume controls in preamps, etc,’ they could have launched Schiit with whatever product genre they liked. Being savvy, they chose headphone amps. Schiit works with ‘simple, discrete circuit topologies’ for the analogue sections, while its DAC products feature ‘innovative bit-perfect management systems’. It also uses Class A amplifier designs ‘where practical – and single gain stages when possible’.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015  |  0 comments
We ran the scoop review of MF’s debut Nu-Vista unit over 15 years ago [HFN Aug ’98]. Now the company has this new nuvistor-equipped integrated amp, having recently found a company to make the requisite tube bases. Blessedly, it eschews gadgetry offering just a remote, a switchable display of input and level, home theatre pass-through for one of the four line inputs and extra speaker terminals for bi-wiring. The Nu-Vista 800 has a fascia machined from solid aluminium and sides fitted with attractive heatsink extrusions – it even comes with spikes for the feet and with cups too, to protect floor finishes.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015  |  0 comments
Ifyou’re old enough to remember Audio Research gear circa-1972, the new SP20 will tug at your heartstrings. This preamp’s fascia designer has revived the distinctive sectioned faceplates of the SP3 – the whiff of retro is much appreciated. Suffice it to say, gone are the days of a half-dozen toggle switches, mechanical push-buttons or old-school rotaries. The SP20’s buttons are limited to power on, mute and a choice of output to ‘speakers’ (power amp) or headphones, but not at once.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015  |  0 comments
At last, Levinson’s flagship No53 monoblock amplifiers [see HFN Jan ’11] now have a Reference-status preamplifier with which they may be rightly partnered. The No52 is a two-chassis component designed with meticulous attention to detail both in its topology and in features that offer comprehensive system configurability. The rationale of this approach is to isolate the pure analogue audio circuitry from any possible source of pollution: it physically separates the power supply and microprocessor-driven controls from the audio electronics contained in the larger chassis. Volume control is via a precision ladder resistor network with fine gain adjustment in 0.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015  |  0 comments
Like the hardy perennials of audio horticulture, the standard valve amplifier circuits keep coming up fresh year after every year. And there’s been a new flowering in the family of beam tetrode tubes that started with the venerable KT66. This is the new Tung-Sol KT150, and the first manufacturer to feature it is Icon Audio, showing this tube off to good advantage in its MB90 MkIIm monoblock power amp. Built in Icon’s factory in China but finished and tested in Leicester, the MB90 MkIIm looks solid and handsomely-proportioned.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015  |  0 comments
Krell’s new iBias range is claimed to be more efficient, or less power-hungry, than pure Class A. Paul Miller suggests that iBias is a modern take on the popular sliding bias circuits of the 1980s. So what is the motivation for it? Statements from the company suggest that Krell is doing its part to modernise the high-end, to increase its appeal to audiophiles who are not comfortable with bulky intrusions into their living spaces in a manner acceptable in the past. And yet nothing differentiates the Duo 300, physically, from hundreds of other ball-buster amps.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015  |  0 comments
User-friendly features are a major aspect of the current VTL Signature Series, including the power amp reviewed here. Based on four 6550 output tubes per channel, it has newly-designed output transformers, a larger power supply, and the Signature Series control electronics. When running, the tubes can be seen discreetly glowing through the smoked glass front window. (Our sample was fitted with KT88s, an option that adds £200 to the price.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015  |  0 comments
ModWright’s owner Dan Wright argues that ‘Valves are great voltage amplifiers and solid-state devices are great current amplifiers. ’ Hence the combination here: the top of the range ‘DM’ dual-mono version of the LS 36. 5 preamp, with its separate PS 36. 5 power supply, and the KWA 150 Signature Edition power amplifier.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015  |  0 comments
Each of these three units – preamplifier, two-channel power amp and a power supply to ‘beef up’ the power amp’s performance – is housed in an all-aluminium chassis identical in size and appearance. Pre and power amp are ‘double mono’, the left and right channels both electrically and mechanically separated, with power supply sections, audio circuits and control electronics all in shielded chambers. The new P3000HV preamplifier has a comprehensive functionality that includes an analogue tone processor module to provide bass/treble adjustment, a user-variable ‘loudness’ control to suit your loudspeakers’ sensitivity, and parametric equalisers for tuning your speakers’ bass performance to your listening room. Illuminated touch-sensitive controls allow access to the preamp’s configuration menu, and a headphone amp is built in as well.

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