Review: Mark Craven

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 12, 2023  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingPS Audio grows its hybrid tube/MOSFET amplifier range with a new flagship that's the crowning achievement of the late and hugely respected designer Bascom H King

Until this year, the flagship power amplifier in PS Audio's stable was the BHK Signature 300 [HFN Jul '16]. Still on sale, it bears the initials of Bascom H King, the veteran designer (Infinity, Constellation Audio and more) who was given license by the Colorado-based company to engineer a high-output monoblock amp around his favoured tube/solid-state hybrid topology. Six years on from launch, the '300 model has been relegated to second-tier status, replaced by the PerfectWave BHK M600.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 20, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedBetter known for high-end behemoths, the US is also home to high-value hi-fi from Emotiva. We pick up the story as the feature-rich TA1 integrated replaces the TA-100

The general consensus is that film sequels are rarely as good as the original, the likes of The Godfather Part II being an honourable exception. In consumer electronics, on the other hand, any follow-up simply has to better its predecessor to justify its existence. This is the aim of Emotiva with its BasX TA1 integrated amplifier, a refresh of the earlier BasX TA-100 [HFN Apr '19]. Yet unlike many Hollywood studios, it's been careful not to erase fond memories of the original in favour of a full franchise reboot. There's an awful lot about the TA1 that is identical to its predecessor.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 12, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingReplacing the outgoing 3010 series with trickledown experience from the costlier 5010 range, Exposure's 3510 stable just got busier with the launch of a new pre/power

Who remembers the Stella Artois ad that proclaimed its lager was 'reassuringly expensive'? A slightly odd slogan, if you ask me, but it came to mind when setting up Exposure's 3510 pre/power pairing, only substituting the word 'expensive' for 'simple'. Here are two hi-fi products where simplicity has been elevated almost to an art form, reflected in the casework, choice of connections and user experience. And at £1590 a piece, these recently launched models aren't outrageously expensive.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 22, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedBest known for its 'silverback' speakers, SA also has a range of affordable, compact 'saxo' floorstanders

System Audio's product catalogue, although spanning only three loudspeaker 'families', aims to offer a solution for almost every eventuality. The Danish manufacturer, based in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen, makes on-wall models, including the legend 7.2 [HFN Mar '22], AV-specific centre channel enclosures and subs, plus various standmounts and floorstanders. Many can be bought in active 'Silverback' guise (or upgraded at a later date), their potential then expandable via DSP 'RAM tweaks' and a WiSA-based wireless streaming hub [HFN Aug '21]. There is, to put it mildly, a lot going on.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 21, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingStrip out the digital inputs, BluOS streaming module and preamp stage from NAD's M33 and we get a 'purist' implementation of Purifi's groundbreaking Eigentakt Class D tech

Unlike the traffic on the motorway for which this stereo amplifier is definitely not named, Canadian manufacturer NAD is rolling along at pace. The M23 auditioned here, available in just a silver finish, is its latest amp to feature high-performance Purifi Eigentakt Class D technology, following in the footsteps of the £3999 M33 BluOS-capable integrated [HFN Aug '20], the seven-channel £4499 M28 power amp, and the more affordable £1749 C 298 stereo amp [HFN Oct '21]. That NAD should have chosen to adopt Eigentakt modules for a trio of models before upgrading its flagship two-channel Masters series power amp is perhaps something of a surprise. But it proves to have been worth waiting for.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 24, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNow owned by AudioQuest cable's parent company, GoldenEar has added the compact Bookshelf Reference X to its range – the final design from longstanding CEO Sandy Gross

Looking at the BRX (Bookshelf Reference X) loudspeaker, it's easy to feel slightly unnerved by the amount of, well, 'technology' that's been squeezed into its compact dimensions. But then we should remember it hails from American brand GoldenEar, a company that – under the auspices of founder Sandy Gross – has always seemed to approach loudspeaker (and subwoofer) design a little differently to many rivals.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 26, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNo mere trickledown, the R7t floorstander inherits a full flood of technology from its flagship stablemate

Shoppers are always on the hunt for a bargain, so anything labelled 'half-price' attracts attention. Okay, that usually applies more to supermarket biscuits than floorstanding loudspeakers, but with Perlisten's R7t selling for £8100 – pretty much half that of the American company's flagship S7t [HFN Apr '22], while looking strikingly similar – it immediately appears a potential bargain. On the other hand, there must be changes behind the scenes for the price tag to have dropped so much, so the question becomes, will it sound only 'half as good'?

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 31, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThirty-two years after the Digilog set the scene for aftermarket add-on converters, the M6x – the M6 series traceable over a decade – is a no-nonsense DAC for legacy sources

Coming from Musical Fidelity's upper-tier M6 series, the M6x is the Austrian company's priciest DAC, and the latest evolution of a product that originated around a decade ago. Of course, there has been plenty of progression through the M6 [HFN Mar '13], M6s [HFN Jan '18] and M6sR models to where we are now, both outside and in, but a few things haven't changed, including the size of the hardware, and the absence of any network streaming.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 22, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedCanadian brand long-known for its high-end digital and analogue separates has now added a compact standmount to its range. So a full system is no longer a 'Blue Moon'...

Back in 2016, Simaudio added the MOON ACE to its range of pre, power and integrated amplifiers. A slimline machine with analogue, digital and network connectivity (the latter including Roon Ready status and streaming service support through its proprietary MiND module), the ACE clearly warranted 'just-add-speakers' status. The only problem? Simaudio didn't have any...

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 25, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedLaunched 44 years ago, the original 770 loudspeaker with its polypropylene woofer and white baffle was nothing if not controversial. Will the reimagined 770 also make waves?

Hi-fi's 'subjective' revolution was just picking up steam when Mission's 770 shovelled a heap of coal on the fire in 1978. The move away from heavy plastics (Bextrene) was reflected in its polypropylene bass/mid driver while the light but rigid ply cabinet doffed its cap to earlier BBC-inspired designs. Its sound, meanwhile, provoked more column inches over the years than possibly any speaker since! The 770 received a very favourable review in Hi-Fi News [HFN Mar '79, 'Milestones' HFN Aug '12 and 'From the Vault' HFN Dec '15] but, writing elsewhere, a fledgling author by the name of Ken Kessler was, shall we say, less enthusiastic...

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