Hi-Fi News Staff

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.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015  |  0 comments
In some ways the AX-5 represents a distillation of Ayre’s ‘purist’ philosophies, as it employs both the company’s ‘Diamond output circuit’ and the elaborately-designed volume control trickled down from its flagship KX-R Twenty preamplifier. In the fully-balanced zero loop feedback AX-5 integrated, Ayre eliminated the preamp stage altogether and simply made the gain of the power amplifier directly adjustable using VGT (Variable Gain Transimpedance). The volume knob on the right of the fascia acts as an encoder to control a pair of motor-driven Shallco silver-contact rotary switches (one for each channel, conjoined using toothed belts), each of which contains dozens of hand-selected, low-noise resistors. Volume level can be adjusted over a range of 69dB in 46 steps of 1.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015  |  0 comments
Lindemann audiotechnik, a boutique brand from Germany, has focused on high-end music replay for the past 20 years. It was one of the world’s first high-end brands to offer an outboard USB-to-S/PDIF converter for connecting a computer to a DAC. And it was also quick off the mark to make a USB-equipped DAC. Identifying a new trend for ‘downsizing’ complicated audio rigs, it has developed a range of four midi-sized – if expensive – products dubbed Musicbook.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015  |  0 comments
When Primare set out to develop its I32 integrated amplifier a few years ago (and sibling PRE32 preamp) it also designed in an expansion slot for an optional media streaming and DAC board dubbed the MM30. That optional MM30 ‘media board’ PCB forms the heart of the NP30 network media player/DAC. It’s based around a UPnP/DLNA network streaming module from German supplier Audivo. Playback of music files up to 192kHz/24-bit is supported via wired Ethernet LAN, with gapless playback of segued tracks, along with internet radio using the familiar vTuner platform.

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