Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 11, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA decade on from the brand-defining M1 DAC and Bricasti has poured all its latter day experience into a new flagship featuring bespoke DAC and clocking technologies

Bricasti Design is not an adherent to the 'keep your range rolling' philosophy. Likely informed by its professional audio heritage, it keeps new arrivals to a minimum. So the launch of the M21 DAC, a flagship D/A converter to replace the £9600 M1 of 2011 HFN Jun '11], is of interest particularly when you clock the updates the Massachusetts-based company has implemented, and its £17,249 price tag.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 08, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingSporting a Signature nameplate, the flagship of iFi Audio's sprawling digital product range has been fine-tuned with 'audiophile' components and offboard iPower Elite PSU

No, you're not having a flashback, but you'd be forgiven a sense of déjà vu, given that we reviewed the original iFi Audio Pro iDSD DAC/headphone amplifier [HFN Sep '18]. Then it sported what we thought was an ambitious £2500 price tag, and pro-audio aspirations with a range of facilities so extensive that it paid to know what you were doing when tackling its myriad options and adjustments.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 04, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith a range of affordable turntables and a trio of MM pick-ups already in its catalogue, the launch of a premium MC has been long-anticipated from this supremo of the vinyl LP

One thought dominated my recent rediscovery of the old Decca (now London) cartridges: there was much to be said for record labels also manufacturing playback equipment. As had Decca, EMI, RCA, and a few others in the past, Mobile Fidelity, aka MoFi, has continued to demonstrate this synergy through its portfolio of turntables [HFN Jul '19 and Jan '20], phono stages [HFN Mar '20] and three MM cartridges. The UltraGold is the first MoFi MC, and at £1499, it raises the brand's price point.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNot 'version 5' – the 'V' here refers to Wilson's cabinet material. In fact, the Alexx V is a 'v2' and it's a masterpiece

True to form, Wilson Audio allowed five years to pass before revising its Alexx floorstander [HFN Nov '16], avoiding that old high-end crisis of perceived obsolescence. As I always say, what was fine last Tuesday is still fine today, but Wilson tends to upgrade its models with major leaps, not tiny steps, and so it is with the Alexx V (£139,000).

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 27, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedSometimes, only an integrated amplifier will do, even if you've £15k burning a hole in your pocket. AVID's gargantuan Sigsum is here to challenge any bias toward separates

Maybe one grows less ornery with age, or perhaps there was a nice guy inside of me waiting to crawl out from my crotchety self. It's just that, only a few years ago, the frustrating elements of AVID's Sigsum integrated amplifier would have had me cursing Editor PM for asking me to review it. So, there's minimalism here, and there's contrariness, and that's just the lack of a remote control. In a product a fiver short of £15,000.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 24, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe Polish brand scored a prestigious EISA award with its first product, the Hypsos power supply – can it build on that success with its all-analogue headphone amplifier?

Polish company HEM, based just outside Warsaw in Pruszków, had something of a dream debut for its Ferrum brand: its first-ever product, the Hypsos power supply collected a 2021-22 EISA award in the Hi-Fi Accessory category [HFN Mar & Oct '21]. The judges praised it as 'a potent upgrade for a wide range of devices, not least USB DAC/headphone amplifiers, typically encouraging a sound with greater ease and smoothness – and yes, power!'

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 21, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnvintageThis compact '80s turntable took the fight to market leader Technics by driving down the price of automatic track selection and programmable repeat. Is it a big hitter?

The LP sleeve-sized turntable, first seen in 1979 in the form of the Technics SL-10 [HFN Apr '19], proved such a success that within a year or so most of the major Japanese manufacturers had added one to their range. In a fast-changing world where digital tuners, remote-controlled amps and full-logic cassette decks were beginning to make traditional turntables look out of date, this new look helped maintain sales.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 20, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFew brands can wrestle the combination of performance and adaptability from tube circuits with the flair of Manley Labs, and those skills are at the fore in the Chinook

It may be hard to believe, but I'm certain that the 2020s will be regarded as the golden age of standalone phono stages. How so? Simply by virtue of their plenitude, especially when you consider that this is vinyl's second time around. Manley's Chinook, continually refined during its near-decade in production, creates a phono amp sweet spot at £2699, blending fine sound with broad compatibility.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 18, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMA's smallest fistful of Silver features a host of '7th generation' technology to punch above its weight

Arguably more so than any other UK loudspeaker manufacturer, Monitor Audio seems keen to offer something for everyone. Across its four ranges named after precious metals and an alloy (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), it sells 16 different standmount/bookshelf and floorstanding models, stretching in price from £285 (the Bronze 50 6G) to £14,995 (the Platinum PL500 II). There are other lines too, including the budget Monitor series, compact Mass and Radius, and in-wall 'architectural' speakers. The Silver 50 7G auditioned here, a compact two-way priced at £575, hails from Monitor Audio's mid-range, although it's a mid-range that's considerably more crowded than most.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 17, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedRemember when a CD player was just, well, a CD player? No DAC input, streaming or other digital goodies. Electrocompaniet does – say 'hello' to an old-school disc spinner

By coincidence, I started writing this review of Electrocompaniet's EMC 1 MKV CD player on October 21, which serious film nerds will know is 'Back To The Future Day', the date, in 1955, that intrepid time traveller Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) arrives in the smash-hit sci-fi movie. Marty has bent the spacetime continuum to head back 30 years, and I had a similar feeling with this silver disc spinner, albeit by a decade or so less and without aid from a DeLorean.

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