Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Jamie Biesemans,  |  Feb 01, 2024  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA refinement of GoldenEar's established Triton series, the new T range still combines an AMT tweeter, active bass and ABRs

When the Quest Group, known for the ubiquitous AudioQuest brand, acquired GoldenEar in 2020 it raised some eyebrows. Why would a company excelling at manufacturing and selling cables, often co-operating with speaker brands, wish to tackle the challenging loudspeaker market itself? And what would happen to the GoldenEar product range, which next to custom install and subwoofer models mostly consists of curious semi-active loudspeakers? The answer to that second question, at least, is the £6249 T66, the first arrival under GoldenEar's new ownership.

Review: Mark Craven,  |  Jan 23, 2024  |  0 comments
Pure in name and hi-fi heart, Matrix Audio's 10th anniversary Element X2 model loses its headphone amp but gains a pair of new, cutting-edge ESS Sabre DACs

While the list of 'legacy products' on Matrix Audio's website begins with the DA-100 Plus DAC, which debuted in 2006, the Chinese brand insists it only really began life in 2013 when it was registered as Matrix Electronic Technology Co. 'Before that, Matrix Audio existed in the form of a studio', says marketing manager Yang Tao. This explains why the literature for the new Element X2 Pure network DAC (and the sticker that graces the top of the unit) proclaims it a celebratory model, launched to mark the company's 10th anniversary.

Review: Ken Kessler,  |  Jan 22, 2024  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe latest addition to Absolute Sounds' boutique 'Ten' range – the Trafomatic Rhapsody from Serbia – is a single-ended, 300B-based triode tube amp rated at a mighty 20W

As far-fetched as this may seem, given that most post-Millennials have yet to embrace hi-fi, we are living in another audio 'Golden Age'. This isn't the place to rattle off a list of gems that have crossed my path just since the Covid moratorium ended, but the Western Electric WE-91B [HFN Feb '23], a trio of DeVore speakers [HFN Apr '21, Mar & Aug '23], and family of DS Audio optical cartridges [HFN Oct '21 & Oct '23] are among the many that beg my repeating of the homily, 'You've never had it so good'. Trafomatic's Rhapsody (M2-15 Anniversary stereo PSE 300B tube) integrated amplifier joins them, and emphatically so.

Review: Adam Smith,  |  Jan 18, 2024  |  0 comments
hfncommendedInspired by Musical Fidelity's statuesque, near all-acrylic M1 turntable from 2004, the brand's new owners have reimagined the design to partner its massive Nu-Vista amps

There can be no doubt that retro is 'in'. From cars to kitchen appliances to hi-fi, many manufacturers are taking inspiration from the past and bringing famous and fondly remembered designs into the 21st century. The acquisition of the Musical Fidelity brand back in 2018 by Heinz Lichtenegger's Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH has given the company a very extensive and highly capable back-catalogue to mine. As a result, Audio Tuning (parent of the ubiquitous Pro-Ject marque), has taken the opportunity to boost its portfolio with a spot of retro fever.

Review: Andrew Everard,  |  Jan 15, 2024  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingTaking both aesthetic and design cues from the flagship 159 monoblocks, the 218 power amp is the German marque's newest model, teamed here with the 077 preamp

Never accuse Berlin-based Burmester of timidity... In an interview published to mark the launch of its 216 and 218 power amplifiers, its Team Leader for Quality Management, Thomas Schneider, says, 'We have thought in exactly the right direction'. The 216 amplifier is part of what the company calls its Top Line, and while the 218 may look similar it's actually in the upper tier Reference Line, one step below the Signature Line that features the flagship 159 monoblocks and near-2m-tall BC350 speakers, yours for £233,000 a pair.

Review: Jamie Biesemans,  |  Jan 11, 2024  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingSeries 3 sees the eighth generation of B&W's evergreen 600 series, headed here by the 603 S3 floorstander

Bowers & Wilkins might be one of the largest loudspeaker manufacturers around, but surprisingly it doesn't have a very broad offering, fielding considerably fewer models than, say, KEF or Focal. Leaving CI products aside (and the iconic but no longer revolutionary Nautilus), there are only three main loudspeaker families coming out of Worthing, and as the 800 D4 series [HFN Nov '21, Feb '22, May & Sep '23] and 700 S3 series [HFN Mar '23] represent the most recent major updates, it was inevitable that the nearly 30-year-old 600 series would follow suit.

Review: Adam Smith,  |  Jan 08, 2024  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWhen vinyl king, MoFi, finally made the move into hardware it sought out designers of proven pedigree – the MasterPhono is scripted by none other than Peter Madnick

MoFi Electronics has gone from strength to strength in the last few years, helped by the roster of designers drafted in to create its products. Spiral Groove's Allen Perkins worked on its UltraGold MC cartridge [HFN Jan '22] and MasterDeck turntable, while ex-TAD/ELAC Andrew Jones is responsible for its SourcePoint loudspeakers [HFN Apr & Aug '23]. Now comes the £5999 MasterPhono, a flagship phono stage from the pen of Peter Madnick, a designer best known for the iconic Audio Alchemy brand and his work as part of the Constellation Audio team.

Review: Tim Jarman,  |  Jan 05, 2024  |  0 comments
hfnvintageWith the Danish company in the doldrums come the early '70s could this reimagined receiver with phase-locked loop decoder deliver on its promise of 'high fidelity' sound?

Bang & Olufsen's first move into the world of serious hi-fi came in 1967 with the introduction of the Beolab 5000 amplifier and Beomaster 5000 tuner [HFN Dec '12]. These defined the European state of the art at the time and were as successful as their high prices allowed. The company then distilled these two units into the Beomaster 3000, which offered similar qualities at a more accessible price. It lacked the sheer power and versatility of the Beolab 5000 but sold strongly throughout a long production run.

Review: Jamie Biesemans,  |  Jan 04, 2024  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFollowing hard on the heels of Denon's DCD/PMA-1700NE SACD player/amplifier, this new network-attached DAC brings a host of streaming options – including HEOS

Our review of the Denon PMA-1700NE amplifier [HFN May '23] included the observation that the Japanese brand was missing a standalone streamer. A glaring oversight, it seemed at the time, as Denon in all other respects is a believer in offering similarly dressed separates for a neat hi-fi stack. So while you could pair the PMA-1700NE (or another PMA series amp) with a DCD series CD player or a Denon turntable, if you wanted to listen to your Tidal playlists you had to look elsewhere. The introduction of the £1399 DNP-2000NE closes the loop.

Review: Ken Kessler,  |  Dec 21, 2023  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFrom Japan's Soulnote comes one of the most flexible phono preamps ever developed – RIAA, plus no fewer than 144 legacy playback curves, and support for 'optical' pick-ups!

In the quest for a universal phono stage, designers have to accommodate all manner of cartridges, but for most of us they fall into just two categories: moving-coil (MC) and moving-magnet (MM). Even within those types, however, there are plenty of variants such as moving-iron, moving-flux, whatever you call Deccas, both high- and low-output MCs and even low-output MMs. The list is endless, but Soulnote's E-2 phono amplifier handles all of the above configurations plus DS Audio optical cartridges via a built-in energiser and equaliser.

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