Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingTrickledown engineering wins hands down as the core technology behind Marantz's 12 series is buffed to a new polish, gaining network compatibility at an even lower price

The expression 'hot on the heels' is one thing, but to launch two sets of products seemingly offering similar features at much the same price might be seen as inviting customer confusion. Yes, that's just what Marantz has done, with the SA-12SE/PM-12SE SACD player and amplifier [HFN Nov '20] followed within weeks by the arrival of the 30 Series models – yes, an SACD player and amplifier. Add in the fact that both ranges draw heavily on previous models – to put it charitably – and one might well wonder what exactly is going on.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 04, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAccordo standmount gains a dedicated woofer and larger, floorstanding cabinet. Hey presto: the Essence

No kidding: when I first fired up the Franco Serblin Accordo Essence, I figured it sold for around £20,000, somehow forgetting that the loudspeaker above it – the flagship Ktêma [HFN Sep '20] – cost £25k. Surely they wouldn't price two models so closely? Equally, I failed to recall that the standmount Accordo [HFN Jan '18] from which it is derived sells for only £7500. The pricing, however, illustrates how Massimiliano Favella is sticking to a plan where each model fills a sonic and fiscal gap: the Accordo Essence will set you back £12,998 per pair.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMark Levinson's second turntable, the No5105, has been designed to be a painless, all-in-one, 'turnkey' affair – but does it still tick all the high-end boxes?

Like that 'difficult second album', any sequel to the Mark Levinson No515 [HFN Oct '17] has to live up to a heady precedent. At £5799 less cartridge, or £6499 with Ortofon's Quintet Black S MC pick-up installed, the No5105 sells for just over half the price of the No515. While the inclusion of the cartridge does not save any money – certainly not always the case when buying a package – it does remove any set-up worries by being factory-fitted.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 26, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingLaunched in 1999, the original Debut turntable set the bar for starter vinyl packages. Twenty-one years later and the 'Carbon EVO' raises it to pole-vault standards...

Deck/arm/cartridge/dustcover: check. Price £449: check. A choice of nine finishes including wood veneer, or gloss or satin colours: check. Everything included in the package readying it for connection to a phono stage: check. That list tells you Pro-Ject's best-seller remains, after two decades, the go-to 'turnkey' record deck for newcomers (or seasoned audiophiles on a budget). The basic recipe is unchanged but refined, which is why it has sold over 1,000,000 units. Rest assured, however, that this latest incarnation, the Debut Carbon EVO, is far more than a merely cosmetic upgrade.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 25, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDesigned and handcrafted by the father and son team at Lu Kang Audio, the Spoey230 is the heavyweight flagship standmount of this artisan range from Taiwan's Taipei City

The last time you bought a television you probably came across no more than five or six different brands. But what about the last time you bought loudspeakers? It's one of the joyful aspects of hi-fi: the industry is very broad here, supporting a diverse range of manufacturers with different design ideals, resulting in an equally diverse choice for enthusiasts.

Review: Tom Anderson, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 21, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis famous French brand was launched in 1956 – the very same year as Hi-Fi News – and continues to cut a very distinctive path. We test its latest tube/hybrid integrated

When your brand has been around for over 60 years, designing a new integrated amplifier becomes a matter of balance. You need to weigh up the company's rich heritage with electronics that compete with the best new kids on the block. Perhaps something to caress the ears with valve warmth and character, combined with the grunt of a transistor output to drive even the most reticent of speakers? Enter the Supravox Vouvray.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 18, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe typically modest, functional styling of this 'entry-level' mostly-Class A integrated amplifier belies its less-than-modest capabilities, with power and sound to spare...

There's something comforting about a product with a singular focus, and Pass Labs' INT-25 fits that bill. A line-only integrated, it steers clear of the digital inputs, network functionality and onboard phono stage offered by many competitors. Instead, it presents itself simply as a conduit between your source(s) and speakers, combining a FET-based preamp and Class A power amp and nothing else. If that sounds somewhat 'basic', Pass Labs' history and the amplifier's £7200 price tag should suggest it's anything but. As does its mastery of music – but I'm getting ahead of myself…

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 14, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA 110-year history makes Denon a record-holder in the hi-fi industry – and it's marking that landmark with an Anniversary series that includes this very fine disc player and amp

Hi-fi companies marking anniversaries is nothing new – indeed, it seems something crops up almost every month to mark some celebration, from 25 years of the Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series upwards. However, few brands have the history to warrant an anniversary as significant as Denon, for this year the Japanese company marks not merely its centenary, but a full 110 years in business.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 11, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedFrom Japan comes an exquisitely finished flagship MC cartridge that's cooking on gas when it comes to serving up full-flavoured sound. Is value for money on the menu too?

By naming the flagship MC in its Hana pick-up range the Umami Red, Japanese cartridge maker Excel Sound has played a clever stroke. Glance at the £3399 cartridge's exquisitely lacquered body and there are no prizes for guessing why the name includes the word 'Red'. But 'Umami'? In Japanese, 'umami' is one of five tastes, along with sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness. It has been variously translated as 'delicious' and 'savoury', but umami is said to be quite difficult to detect on its own. Rather, it combines with other flavours to give a result that's far greater than the sum of all parts.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnvintageWith VFETs costing top dollar and facing stiff competition from other semiconductors, the late '70s saw Yamaha unveil a new pre/power amp duo. How does it sound today?

It's always intriguing to see how a company reacts to the realisation that a technology it has championed is reaching its sell-by date. This was the situation faced by Yamaha in the late 1970s. Since the middle of that decade, its top-end products had made use of Jun-ichi Nishizawa's Static Induction Transistor – more commonly known as the VFET – to great effect. This led to the development of designs such as the B-1 and B-2 power amplifiers, and C-1 preamplifier, all of which are still held in high regard.

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