Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 23, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceOne of a growing choice of 'audiophile' network switches, this one comes from Digital Music Library specialist Melco. Can this work magic in any networked system?

When Japanese-based Melco launched its first 'Digital Music Library' [HFN Feb '15], it more or less started a trend for audiophile music storage devices, and these days there's no shortage of rivals out there, all claiming to deliver the best possible sound for your network audio. However, its first 'Audiophile Dataswitch' enters a somewhat different arena, where it's not exactly a pioneer.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 20, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingOne of a trio of small but substantial add-ons, the MX-DAC joins Musical Fidelity's partnering MX-HPA headphone amp and MX-Vynl phono stage. Is this another steal?

Imagine the dilemma when Pro-Ject acquired Musical Fidelity: the overlap with the former's Box range and the latter's MX models created an in-house rivalry in the 'affordable audiophile' sector. Both produce pint-sized ranges with matching phono stages, headphone amps and – of relevance here – beer-budget DACs. Musical Fidelity's MX-DAC, at £499, is a direct challenge to Pro-Ject's Pre Box DS2 Digital [HFN Nov '17] and a few others in the family, but the lineups are distinctive enough to cause no sleepless nights.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 19, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe baby model in Paradigm's flagship loudspeaker range wants to prove good things can come in small packages

With its Persona series, Paradigm has taken the concept of a 'flagship' products to heart. This loudspeaker collection, launched in 2016, is not merely the Canadian manufacturer's most expensive, but one intended to represent 'the technological abilities of Paradigm engineering'. So what does that entail? Advanced driver and cabinet designs, a new-look aesthetic, and custom finish options across a range that drops from the £34,000-per-pair passive/active Persona 9H [HFN Dec '19], to the Persona B auditioned here.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe new entry-level model in the Norwegian company's amp range is a sensible mix of facilities and performance – or at least it would be, if the sound wasn't sensational!

Oslo-based Hegel has been enjoying something of a purple patch of late: not content with raising eyebrows with the sheer performance of its flagship H590 integrated amplifier [HFN Oct '18], it went on to get dangerously near that level with the much more affordable H390 model [HFN Aug '19], offering almost all of big brother's sound quality for not much more than half the price. Our HFN review concluded that it was 'sensationally good value, with a clean, powerful sound and bags of musicality, not to mention exceptional flexibility including onboard network streaming'. Unsurprisingly, it won the 2019-20 EISA Award for 'Best High-End Amplifier'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 12, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith some sensible internal revisions, the German company has made its heavyweight preamplifier even more precise and detailed, without sacrificing any of the music's soul

You can tell a lot about a company from the title it takes for itself – from the name of the founder to classical or musical allusions to the equivalent of go-faster stripes, every brand seems to set out its stall in a somewhat different way. German manufacturer T+A elektroakustik is no exception, except here the name – the initials stand for 'Theorie und Anwendung', Theory and Application – is saying 'we're no-nonsense, and led by engineering'. Or, as the company puts it in a brief bio, 'Actually we're scientists…'.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 09, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedAn unchanged exterior hides PMC's crossover and driver upgrades made to its premium three-way floorstander

In The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again', Roger Daltrey memorably sings 'Meet the new boss – same as the old boss'. It's a phrase that sprang to my mind when confronted by PMC's twenty5.26i, as this floorstanding speaker is, outwardly, identical to its twenty5.26 predecessor launched in 2016, with cabinet dimensions matching to the millimetre. Yet PMC describes its new twenty5i series as a 'substantial re-engineering', improving performance without moving away from the signature sound of its forbear.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 05, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe front-end to Yamaha's 'Gigantic and Tremendous' 5000 series is not a digital player or DAC but a turntable, and one whose controversial arm harks back to the '80s

And then there were four... We enjoyed the Yamaha NS-5000 loudspeakers [HFN Jun '17] and were bowled over by the C-5000 preamplifier and M-5000 power amp [HFN Aug '20]. Now we have the source with which Yamaha has chosen to front its flagship 5000 series. Not only is it a return to high-end turntable manufacturing for the company, it also sees the reappearance of what is possibly the greatest model number prefix ever, the 'GT' standing for 'Gigantic and Tremendous'!

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 27, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe Colorado company celebrates its platinum anniversary with a reworked version of a fully balanced integrated that sent the preamp stage packing. Another class act?

Back in 1993, Charles Hansen – the designer and founder of respected US loudspeaker specialist Avalon Acoustics – formed Ayre Acoustics. Over the 25 years that followed, he built up the brand, adding a range of innovative preamps, power amplifiers and integrated designs, all descended from the company's original 'zero-negative feedback' V-1 power amplifier. Bolstering the current lineup are various digital sources, such as the Ayre QX-5 Twenty USB/streaming DAC [HFN Dec '17], phono stages, and head-fi products like the Codex DAC/headphone preamp [HFN Jul '16] – all at prices that indicate they're not aimed at the mass market.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 26, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedPacked with proprietary technology, this network bridge is the obvious partner for Aqua's own DACs. But does its appeal extend beyond a one-brand digital set-up?

Never let it be said that AQ Technologies is either a follower of fashion or a taker of the easy route: the Milan-based company behind the Aqua range always does things its own way. And while that might sometimes seem like an exercise in making life difficult for itself, the policy typically pays off in the performance, as we discovered when reviewing the Aqua Formula xHD Optologic DAC [HFN Apr '20]. Under the Nextel-finished anti-resonant aluminium casework of that model – one of three DACs in a total Aqua lineup of five products – is a galvanically-isolated resistor-ladder converter of novel design.

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.

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