Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 23, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnvintageWhile a near dead-ringer for the amp it replaced, this '60s integrated saw Leak leverage new technology to boost performance and widen its appeal. How does it sound today?

It's not unusual for a successful hi-fi product to be updated with mild revisions during its lifetime. Often the changes are minimal: a tidied-up fascia to match a new model added elsewhere in the range, or an extra function or minor circuit redesign. This was certainly not the case with the Leak Stereo 30 Plus amplifier of 1969, which replaced the Stereo 30 [HFN Oct '10] first seen in 1963. Side by side the two looked much the same, but inside the 30 Plus was all new in order to take advantage of improved technology.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 22, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAn enhanced crossover and Datuk Gloss ebony-coloured veneer sees the 702 S2 offered in a 'Signature' guise

You'd be forgiven for a double-take when gazing upon the latest offerings from Bowers & Wilkins, the £4499 702 Signature speakers. One of two new Signature models from the Worthing-based company – the other is the £2699 705 Signature standmount – there's little to set this slender floorstander apart from the £3399 702 S2 on which it's based [HFN Dec '17], beyond a rather snazzy wood finish to the cabinet, some shinier trim-rings around the drivers, with a matching grille over the tweeter, and a metal 'Signature' plate on the rear panel.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 19, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingInspired by the flagship Acutus turntable, and bucking the trend for unsuspended decks with socially-distanced motors, the Volvere SP also comes with a familiar tonearm

Given that pretty much every component AVID has ever offered is still in production, it's clear company owner Conrad Mas does not chop and change designs on a whim. So it's no surprise that when it comes to turntables AVID has largely stuck with the thinking behind its very first deck, the Acutus, which was launched in 1999.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 15, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis flagship DAC from Canada, complete with a raft of in-house digital and power supply technologies, and very slick control app, is a complete network music solution

When is a DAC not a DAC? When it turns into a multifunctional network-connected music player, that's when! Increasingly, the lines between products that exist to convert digital inputs into analogue audio and full-blown network players are becoming blurred. So, just as there are players provided only with digital outputs – network transports or bridges to be paired with an outboard DAC – so we now have DACs with network capability built-in. Add an app running suitable UPnP control software, and you have a complete streaming solution.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 08, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingIn a world where every other product seems to have streaming this or network that, this compact box from the German brand is about as direct – or linear – as it can get

Writing in his Welcome page last month, editor Paul Miller explained how shifting hugely heavy equipment about is all part and parcel of the HFN reviewing 'experience'. Perhaps he was eyeing a recent speaker launch proudly declaring that its new products weigh over 450kg apiece. Add on their external crossover with its power supply, and a quartet of high-quality amps to drive them, and you could well end up wondering whether your floor will support a tonne and a half of hi-fi.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 05, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedWith remarkable power on tap, and very little lost to heat, Emotiva's XPA HC-1 monoblock promises exceptional performance-per-pound. Is it the bargain it seems?

American brand Emotiva's mission statement puts affordability front and centre. Claiming that 'the price of sonic nirvana' had begun to slip out of the reach of many audio fans, it launched in the early 2000s with the goal of dragging it back, using founder Dan Kaufman's previous experience as an OEM supplier as its foundation. This XPA HC-1 monoblock amp is a perfect example of the Emotiva ethos, promising serious power without the serious price. Just £799, in fact.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAs boutique Italian brand Franco Serblin prepares to boost its range we look at the iconic flagship

Franco Serblin, who passed away in 2013, first unveiled his flagship Ktêma in 2010. He had left Sonus faber, which he founded in 1983, in 2006, so the Ktêma was in development for nearly five years before he felt it was ready to be sold by the new company bearing his name. I remember the tension during its gestation, and Franco's elation at being able to produce a no-compromise system – not that he was ever restrained at Sonus faber. Think of the phenomenal Extrema, Guarneri and Stradivarius. The wait for the Ktêma proved worth it – as did the anticipation lasting a decade to hear a pair in my own system.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 25, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnvintageDesigned to be worthy of the company's flagship Beolab 5000 system, this late '60s turntable was the last conventional deck to top the B&O range. How does it sound?

The argument for building a system using components from different manufacturers because 'no company is good at everything' is a good one – up to a point. Conversely, the Japanese heavyweights such as Sony, Technics and JVC were once able to put together a fairly convincing complete package, as could Philips (on a good day!).

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 24, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedMasters of retro chic, Yamaha has evolved its one-time flagship A-S3000 integrated amplifier into a fully-fledged pre/power. And there's not a digital input in sight...

Talk to audiophiles that grew up through the 1990s and the chances are they associate brands such as Sony, Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer and Denon with meaty AV receivers and, possibly, mini systems. The reason is that it was around this time that the major Japanese corporations began directing their energies into developing products for the burgeoning home cinema market, meaning these younger hi-fi enthusiasts never really saw them flex their design muscles in the stereo arena.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 21, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis Danish brand, new to the UK, has made a name for itself on the Continent with its passive-to-active speakers

The 1994 Keanu Reeves movie Speed rewrote the Hollywood rulebook when it came to action cinema. System Audio's Legend 40 is not quite as disruptive, being a three-way floorstander with a mid-level price tag, but it too has a focus on speed. 'A System Audio speaker is much faster than a conventional loudspeaker', boasts the Danish brand. Time to buckle up, then…

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