Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 27, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedAustria's vinyl juggernaut has leveraged German expertise to launch a series of fully-automatic turntables. The range starts spinning with the A1, inc. a built-in phono stage            

Decades ago, along with tone controls, the automatic turntable was relegated to 'amateur' status because audiophiles revel in masochism. 'What? The arm lifts up at the end of the side?'. As lies were told about CD, so were falsehoods spread about how triggering the arm lift would snap your cantilever. It was a load of tosh, and as many new to LP want convenience, Pro-Ject has responded with the A1 at only £369.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 23, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis Polish hotshot brand broke onto the audiophile scene with its programmable DC PSU, followed by the OOR headphone amp. Now, with DAC onboard, comes the ERCO

The name of this new product from Polish company HEM, selling under its Ferrum brand, is spelt ERCO, but pronounced 'ertso'. Apparently it's Esperanto for 'ore', and so follows on from the mineral-based brand-identity – Ferrum, OOR – you get the idea. What's also not immediately apparent, given that all the Ferrum products basically look the same, is that the £2395 ERCO is perhaps the most comprehensively equipped model the company has made to date.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 20, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFor 50 years and two generations Germany's Canton has been building 'audiophile' loudspeakers. We catch up...

The Reference lineup from Canton marks the apex of its engineering thinking, combining years of experience with new computer modelling software and a freshly built testing laboratory. Given 'free rein', its designers came up with no fewer than nine separate models for the new Reference K series, including six floorstanders, one standmount, a centre channel speaker and a 750W-rated active subwoofer for home theatre applications.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 16, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNow a full quartet, T+A's compact but beautifully formed Series 200 has expanded to include a media player, DAC/preamp and Purifi Eigentakt Class D stereo power amp

Siegfried Amft, founder and MD of T+A, declares the intent of the brand's Series 200 is to 'combine the appearance of a Midi system with a high-end performance'. Midi, of course, is a word that evokes memories of 1980s/'90s hi-fi, so I'm surprised to see the term attached to a range that's rather more aspirational in its technology. You might think something has been lost in translation, T+A being a German manufacturer, until you lay eyes on the DAC 200 and its button-heavy compact chassis. From the appearance side, at least, the 'Midi' mission has been accomplished.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnvintageThis late-'80s flagship CD player boasted no shortage of metal for your money while offering 4x oversampling to boot. But with few to be found, is it worth tracking down?

The law of diminishing returns was perhaps never more evident than when the CD player arrived in the early '80s. As more machines came to market in the years that followed, all but the crudest would offer a level of perfection unthinkable to the majority of audiophiles in the 1970s.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 13, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith no fewer than eight channels (bridgeable to four), Primare's most powerful amp to date will service the most ambitious bi-, tri- or quad-amp loudspeaker solutions

It goes without saying that an eight-channel power amplifier is unusual. In the hi-fi world, two channels is the default, and even in multichannel home cinemas the trend is to start with five or seven and then, if you must, add more in pairs. Furthermore, the A35.8, priced £4500, arrives not from a specialist custom install brand, or an audio company with pro studio leanings, but from Primare.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 09, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe first SACD player from French audio artisans, Kalista, is also this spin-off brand's most comprehensive digital hub to date, with wired/wireless network streaming

Having emerged from French manufacturer Métronome Technologie with its inaugural model in 2003 – think Citroën spawning DS, or Seat's Cupra line – Kalista now has a growing range of DreamPlay products. This includes the £21,000 Kalista STREAM – described as 'The only streamer on the market that combines perfect functionality with exceptional looks' – and a turntable, the £44,000 Twenty-Twenty.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 06, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingKEF's flagship Blade cuts to the heart of the music, and with 'MAT' on board its edge has never been keener

More than a decade after their launch, there's still nothing quite like the KEF Blade One speakers. Well, OK, there's the smaller Blade Two [HFN Jul '15], but the point still stands! The result of one of those 'no constraints' projects that speaker companies seem to love, the original 'Concept Blade' created a stir with its radical styling and carbon-fibre construction. The final retail version employed a more production-friendly high-density polycarbonate, but the speakers were unmistakably the same, and just as unmistakably odd.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 02, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe foundation of AVID's MC pick-up range, beneath the Ruby and Boron, is the Ionic (not the 'Alloy'!), and featuring more than a little artisan wizardry in its construction

No rest for the wicked, I feared, as PM assigned me another AVID MC cartridge. But I worried needlessly, thinking I might be reduced to comparing cantilevers once more. Not so. The dynamic was different here because the time had arrived to deal with the entry-level model in the Brit brand's range. Both stylus and cantilever differ from those in its siblings, the £6000 Reference Ruby [HFN Nov '20] and £4000 Boron [HFN Apr '21], so the £2000 Ionic blazes its own trail despite all three sharing the same magnet, coils and body design.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 30, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe compact but comprehensively-equipped Matrix Audio digital front-ends are distinguished by chipset and features. We look at the flagship 'headphone-free' DAC

For anyone still labouring under the misapprehension that Chinese-made hi-fi means cheap and cheerful alternatives to the big-name brands, it's time for an eye-opener. In practice, not only are quite a few of those big names having their products made in China, but its home-grown brands are upping their game and making inroads into markets once dominated by Western and Japanese names. A case in point is the Matrix Audio X-Sabre 3 we have here, following on from the X-Sabre Pro DAC [HFN Nov '17], Element X [HFN Jan '21] and more recently the Mini-i Pro 3 [HFN Feb 22].

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