Review: Nick Tate

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 31, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis latest variation on Audiolab's integrated amplifier theme lacks the sheer grunt of its 8300 big brother but seems none the worse for it, and looks better value too

Audiolab's 8000A first appeared on dealers' shelves in October 1983, and was arguably the least fashionable new integrated amplifier for a long time. It was everything that the cool audiophile cognoscenti of the time didn't like. How could anyone possibly produce a supposedly modern product fitted with tone controls, a headphone socket, independent source and tape switching and – perish the thought – a balance control? It was the very antithesis of what the sparse, minimalist, less-is-more 1980s was about. Despite this however, it sold like hot cakes at Christmas…

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 28, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe most affordable product from one of Japan's renowned phono stage specialists, its quirky retro looks won't be to every Western taste – but its musical potential will

In Japan, long-playing vinyl records have never really gone away – they just went underground, becoming cool artefacts that sat defiantly away from the mainstream music market. As the country churned out millions of shiny new Compact Disc players in the 1980s and '90s, the humble LP stood its ground, cherished by record collectors who thought CD to be the replacement for pre-recorded Compact Cassette, rather than vinyl.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 23, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis sophisticated, premium-priced streaming CD player and integrated amplifier combo delivers fine sound with sleek Scandinavian style, and consummate ease of use

With its two Wi-Fi aerials protruding from behind, allied to the skinny front control knobs, swish brushed aluminium fascia and three 'podular' feet, there's something very Jetsons about the look of the Primare I35 Prisma network-ready amplifier. It has the appearance – perhaps unintentionally – of a cutting-edge piece of technology from the late 1950s, a time of dramatic change as the world entered the Space Age.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 09, 2019  |  0 comments
Employing a novel dual-pulley drive system and a bespoke 10in tonearm, AVM's first deck is a flamboyant addition to the rapidly expanding pantheon of high-end turntables

Ibuilt a unique record player for my son's 18th birthday,' says Udo Besser, Managing Director of AVM (Audio Video Manufaktur) GmbH, 'and that's what sparked the development of this turntable'. What then kept the fire burning, he told HFN, were the numerous requests for a vinyl spinner from his customers, adding that, 'also, turntables are my passion'. So Udo set about designing his own deck from scratch, and the £5490 AVM Rotation R 5.3 you see here is a clean-sheet design, new to the market.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 26, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis compact high-end integrated stereo amplifier both looks and sounds special, thanks to its old-meets-new McIntosh styling and hybrid tube/transistor design

And now for something completely different. While McIntosh has been producing big valve amps for decades and, more recently, big transistor amps – including the MA9000 [HFN Sep '18] – it is arguably better known for its use of output 'Autoformers' that manage the power into different speaker loads. Yet this diminutive £4500 MA252 actually turns out to be quite different – a compact half-width integrated amplifier with a twist. It sports a vacuum tube preamplifier section, illuminated from below, making it the company's first ever valve/transistor hybrid amplifier.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngWith a claimed 550W on tap, this US-made pre/power amplifier combo offers serious quantities of sound per pound. How does this muscle amp-on-a-budget perform?

It’s often said that less can actually be more. For example, many high-end hi-fi products are devoid of fripperies because the lion’s share of the build budget is spent on the bits you can’t see, such as high quality components. This in turn gives better sound per pound, or so the theory goes. Yet other designs come festooned with features and often lack ability in the sonic stakes.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngWith a legacy stretching back about 28 years, the 805 may still be the pint-pot of B&W’s 800-series but this latest D3 standmount can still pack a musical punch

One of the world’s largest, if not the largest, loudspeaker brands, B&W dominates the global high-end market. From the launch of the iconic 801 Series 80 nearly 40 years ago, the 800-series has been periodically improved along with advances in engineering and materials.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngSporting a unique modular design that accommodates multiple tonearms, a tube-based PSU for the motor and novel heated bearing, this super deck is far from run of the mill

Does the world really need another high-end turntable? That’s the question Brinkmann’s Spyder has to answer, because there’s already a surfeit of fancy vinyl disc spinners sitting pretty in this high value market. This deck needs to be special in some way then, and so it proved. Costing £9795 in basic form, it’s one of two belt-driven decks in the German company’s range of hi-fi separates, sitting alongside the Balance 2 [HFN Jul ’14]. Brinkmann also makes the Bardo and Oasis direct-drive turntables, which themselves are interesting and innovative things.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Feb 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngThe 'entry-level' floorstander of Sonus faber's Homage Tradition series is much more than a shrunk-down Amati

Anyone familiar with Sonus faber will love the superlative craftsmanship of the Vicenza-based company's loudspeakers. Although pretty much all high-end designs are extremely well turned out these days, this Italian company remains on another level – producing speakers that resemble art pieces, rather than just big boxes trying to look expensive.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.png‘Junior’ in name and certainly less substantial in build than its flagship stablemate, this latest take on the JC3 theme turns out to be an even more flexible MM/MC phono stage

Does the world really need another phono stage? Back in the late 1980s the Michell ISO was a rare standalone product, but since then there has been a steady stream of the things, multiplying in numbers like Tribbles on Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. We’re now at the point where it feels as though there are as many designs on sale as there are people to buy them – so any new entry has to have a compelling raison d’être.

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