Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 09, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedStyled after its classic 1970s studio monitors, but equipped with patented 21st century horn and compression driver technology, the 4349 is a not-so-compact fun factory

American loudspeaker company JBL has a 75-year history – and the work of founder James Bullough Lansing dates back even further. For HFN readers, who are in the know, it might seem odd that the brand is now more popular on the UK high street for its extensive range of affordable Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones. Luckily for us the company still maintains a 'serious' side, and it's from there that its two-way 4349 monitor hails. A wide-baffle speaker with a compression mid/treble driver and 300mm woofer, it can trace its heritage all the way back to the company's first creations – and couldn't be more different from a pair of budget earbuds.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 07, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA 2021 refresh of VPI's most popular turntable also sees a 'plus' option with bespoke moving-coil from Audio-Technica and RCA tonearm cable sourced from Nordost

By no means a newcomer to the audiophile LP-spinning scene – the brand is some 40 years young – VPI's recent range expansion has doubtless been further fuelled by the worldwide 'vinyl revival'. In addition to its diverse collection of tonearms, and innovative turntables including the direct-drive HW-40 Anniversary [HFN Apr '19], there are now two additions to VPI's 'Prime' series in the form of the Prime 21 and Prime 21+, priced at £4500 and £6500.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 02, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingSteeped in valve lore, this iconic tube brand extends the 'voicing' of its products right down to the choice of passive components and hand-wiring. We test a stack of VAC!

With the Valve Amplification Company, aka VAC, now 30 years old, it qualifies as a stalwart of the 'third wave'. The first was, of course, the original golden age generation of Marantz, Quad, McIntosh and others of the 1940s and 1950s, while the second wave hit in the early 1970s with Audio Research, EAR and other tube revivalists. VAC arrived at the point when tubes were demonstrably here to stay, Kevin Hayes founding the company with his father in 1990. He was, and remains, resolutely focused on the high-end, as this pairing's £69,000 cost attests.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnvintageWe hear a midi-sized multi-CD player from 1987 boasting a digital filter on board, but does multi-play convenience mean there's a penalty to pay in terms of sound?

The word 'autochanger' strikes fear into the hearts of LP listeners, bringing thoughts of clanking levers, heavyweight arms and stacks of records slamming on top of each other. The situation is more favourable when it comes to CD. Most players handle discs mechanically anyway, and so only a relatively straightforward extension to the mechanism is needed to allow more than one disc to be loaded at a time.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 25, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedOmnidirectional and horn-loaded to boost sensitivity, are these really the 'beautiful moon' of floorstanders?

When it comes to makers of true omnidirectional speakers, it seems that those with the highest profile currently hail from Germany. MBL's Radialstrahlers and the German Physiks models occupy the upper echelons of the market, while at the more affordable end it's the Duevel name that springs to mind most readily. Based in Osnabruck, the latter company is the brainchild of Markus and Annette Duevel, who founded the business in 1988.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 22, 2021  |  0 comments
Very big in the Far East since 2005, Line Magnetic offers a comprehensive range of tube-based disc players, DACs, phono stages and amps. Here's the entry-level integrated

We may now live in an age of digital and streaming, but the number and sheer variety of valve amplifiers on offer seems to be on the increase. Perhaps more remarkable are those designs that unashamedly hark back to a previous era, attempting to keep it alive by the use of modern technological twists. One of the main proponents of this philosophy is Chinese company Line Magnetic, the £1699 LM-34IA integrated reviewed here being just one of a wide range of its amps inspired by famous designs of the past.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 18, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceTouted as the 'world's first multi-DAC DAP', Astell&Kern's premium portable takes tweaking-on-the-move to a new pace. We run to keep up with the features on offer

Once upon a time there was just Astell&Kern, the company building its reputation on superior digital audio players (or DAPs) aimed at those for whom playing music from their phone just wasn't enough. In an era when the multifunctional pocket device is designed to take over every task you could imagine, from browser, emailer, camera, music player and – well – phone, the idea of carrying a dedicated audio device around may seem like something of an anachronism. 'An MP3 player, grandad?'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 15, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNow housed in a 'chassis within a chassis', featuring an uprated USB interface and slicker Lightning OS, Auralic's G2.1 series kicks off with the Aries streaming transport

At first glance, Chinese company Auralic's range looks baffling, such is the choice of similar-looking units – and it's becoming more so with the arrival of new 'second generation' G2 models, confusingly distinguished by the addition of a '.1' suffix on its product designations. In the new lineup there's the Vega G2.1 streaming DAC, at £5999, the Sirius G2.1 upsampling processor at the same price, the £7999 Leo GX.1 master reference clock, and the product we have here, the £4199 Aries G2.1, described as a 'Wireless Streaming Transporter'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 11, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMore room and wallet-friendly than the flagship Borg, Fink's compact KIM packs no less 'tech'

No, they're not named after a Kardashian, a Rudyard Kipling novel or even Mel & pop partner. Instead, the new KIM standmount speakers from FinkTeam, selling for £8900 a pair complete with their dedicated open-frame stands, take their lead from the company's Borg speakers in having a Star Trek association. In this case it's somewhat less villainous, in the form of Voyager character Ensign Harry Kim, the ship's Operations Officer. It could all have been so different: story is, Kim was originally to be called by one of several names, including Jay Osaka.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingEagerly anticipated, Audia Flight's 'starter' FLS series integrated accommodates a suite of optional modules. Could this be the high-end hub you've been waiting for?

A'synergy of sophisticated original circuit design and Italian style'. That's the promise of Audia Flight, the company established in 1996 by Massimiliano Marzi and Andrea Nardini. Arguably a 'boutique brand' by virtue of a product line focused almost entirely on amplifiers, the lone standout is a CD player in its entry-level 'FL Three S' range [HFN Sep '07]. We are testing its newest addition here: the FLS 9 stereo integrated which pledges to showcase the brand's audiophile philosophy at a price more manageable – beginning at £5950 – than that of its other high-end creations.

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