Review and Lab: Paul Miller

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 03, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingSince last year's management buyout, Audio Research has been very busy reimagining its ranges of the future – the Reference 80S (REF80S) is just the first step on the road

If life is a journey, rather than a destination, then some brands, Audio Research included, have rather more air miles under their corporate belts than others. From a boutique audiophile business to a period swept up in the fast lane of venture capital, Audio Research has now returned to its roots. It's a gloriously niche brand that understands 'what it does' and is now, once again, driven and engineered by a team that is passionate about serving the diehards of the audiophile community.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 06, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFirst from a hand-selected portfolio of 'artisan' hi-fi separates, this pairing of low output tubes with high sensitivity speakers boasts a very special synergy... and sound

System matching remains as much an art as it does a science. There's always the easy route – opting for a collection of one-brand separates with the promise of full technical compatibility and the expectation of similar 'voicing' throughout. aSlightly trickier is the pairing of components from brands that have an overlap in their core design philosophies – a route that often leads to the most satisfying musical experience but which requires a depth of knowledge on the part of both enthusiast and friendly hi-fi dealer. The third route – random component selection and a reliance on blind luck is not one we'll be pursuing here!

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 16, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceA novel technical exercise looking for a solution or an innovation that's in the vanguard of an entirely new breed of hi-fi accessory? We test the sophisticated Hypsos DC supply

Of all the true 'hi-fi accessories' power filters, conditioners and regenerators are arguably the most popular. (I do not count cables in this category because they are 'necessories' and your system will not function without them.) Cleaning-up your AC mains power has long proven its benefits, but what of the low voltage DC supplies – the so-called 'wall-warts' – that come packaged with so many of today's small form-factor DACs, headphone amps, phono stages and even turntables?

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFollowing its groundbreaking Master 1 optical cartridge, DS Audio introduces the Grand Master, and a two-box energiser/equaliser, to up the ante even further

In every field, not just 'hypercars' and luxury wristwatches, there's an extreme, cost-no-object pinnacle. From chefs' knives to sunglasses to fishing reels, there are items which push engineering and price limits, a phenomenon we are used to in high-end audio. Thus, with shaking hands (not a desirable state with this item), I installed the DS Audio Grand Master cartridge, at £11,995 surely the most expensive pick-up I have ever reviewed, if not the most expensive on the planet.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 02, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceOne of nine speaker cables in one of five separate ranges, this 'Micro Air' design from In-akustik's Reference series represents a sweet spot.

Once Germany's best-kept cable secret, the In-akustik brand – part of the family-run Braun Group – is nothing if not comprehensive in its offering. Every type of power, analogue, digital and AV cable is included, across multiple ranges, alongside custom-install accessories that extend to ambient LED lighting solutions.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 07, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceHero of Swiss independence, and a dab hand with the crossbow, William Tell is now the inspiration for a speaker cable. Review & Lab: Paul Miller

One of the founding fathers of the audiophile cable scene, California-based AudioQuest has been developing its conductor technology for no less than four decades. The William Tell Zero featured here is part of the 'Folk Hero' series – prices range from £2340 (2m pair), £2910 (3m) to £3480 for a 4m pair, with £570 per extra metre. This ranks as affordable when compared to the flagship 'Mythical Creatures' series that tops out at £20k for a 2m set of the Dragon Zero...

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 12, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceTucked away in the ranges of most large cable brands is a selection of USB interconnects, including Chord who topped our USB shootout in 2013.

We last ran a comprehensive USB cable group test over six years ago [HFN Jul '13 and '14] with Chord's entry-level SilverPlus coming top-of-the-heap and remaining in residence ever since as our cable of choice. The intervening period has seen the SilverPlus morph into the current entry-level C-series while the costlier Signature 'Tuned Aray' USB cable became the template for Chord's more recent, intermediate Epic USB model. And, at £400 for a terminated 1m set (£160 per additional metre), the new Epic USB is no costlier than its Signature forefather in 2014.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller, Review: Andrew Everard  |  Sep 02, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceThere certainly aren't many speakers that look like them, but these baby models – yes, really – in the Swiss brand's wireless active range combine style with all-alloy substance

When the entry-level model in a speaker range costs £70,000 a pair, and weighs no less than 80kg – that's each speaker – you'd rightly assume you're in very serious high-end territory. And yes, imposing though the Prana speaker looks, its two aluminium enclosures mounted on a hefty 'Z-frame' and the whole enterprise standing some 99cm tall, this is the baby of this particular range. Above it sit the Satya speakers, 1.23m tall, 140kg apiece and £110,000 a pair, while the flagship is the 1.47m tall, 180kg-a-pop Samadhi, yours for a nice neat £200k a pair...

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 21, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceRecognising that mainstream gear is being equipped with both RCA and XLR sockets, Atlas has developed a 'balanced' version of its Equator cable.

Judging by the increased number of XLR sockets seen on hi-fi separates in recent years, 'balanced' is rapidly becoming the new black. Balanced signal transmission has its benefits over long runs in suppressing common-mode interference and maintaining the topology between a balanced pre and power amp, for example, although many would debate that the extra circuit complexity outweighs the benefits.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 04, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA new big beast stalks the integrated amplifier jungle, courtesy of the refreshed Musical Fidelity brand. Armed with ears and test gear, we track the M8xi to its lair...

If you are into fancy-looking hi-fi with machined fascias and decorative meters then the £5649 M8xi integrated amplifier is not for you. 'Sorry, that's the way it is', says Musical Fidelity, though I suspect this declaration of intent for the entire M8 series owes more to Musical Fidelity's founder than the new owners, Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH, of which vinyl evangelist Pro-Ject Audio Systems is another division.

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