Review: Mark Craven

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 18, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMA's smallest fistful of Silver features a host of '7th generation' technology to punch above its weight

Arguably more so than any other UK loudspeaker manufacturer, Monitor Audio seems keen to offer something for everyone. Across its four ranges named after precious metals and an alloy (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze), it sells 16 different standmount/bookshelf and floorstanding models, stretching in price from £285 (the Bronze 50 6G) to £14,995 (the Platinum PL500 II). There are other lines too, including the budget Monitor series, compact Mass and Radius, and in-wall 'architectural' speakers. The Silver 50 7G auditioned here, a compact two-way priced at £575, hails from Monitor Audio's mid-range, although it's a mid-range that's considerably more crowded than most.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 17, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedRemember when a CD player was just, well, a CD player? No DAC input, streaming or other digital goodies. Electrocompaniet does – say 'hello' to an old-school disc spinner

By coincidence, I started writing this review of Electrocompaniet's EMC 1 MKV CD player on October 21, which serious film nerds will know is 'Back To The Future Day', the date, in 1955, that intrepid time traveller Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) arrives in the smash-hit sci-fi movie. Marty has bent the spacetime continuum to head back 30 years, and I had a similar feeling with this silver disc spinner, albeit by a decade or so less and without aid from a DeLorean.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 13, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingGuided by theory and practice from the costly REX-series, traditional output pentodes are usurped by a pair of power triodes in BAT's fully-balanced tube integrated amplifier

There's a certain amount of extra-curricular activity that can come with using a valve amp. As with their fellow stalwarts of hi-fi – turntables – valve amps present opportunities for setup, tweaking, and maintenance, and for some that's part of the appeal. Balanced Audio Technology's new £9995 VK-80i integrated, however, is intended to be 'plug-and-play', and provide a user experience more in line with its own solid-state models than some hot bottle contemporaries. All the thrills of the tube sound without the fuss? Where do I sign?

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 20, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFlagship of the ElectroMotion series, this hybrid electrostatic promises a taste of the range-topping Masterpiece loudspeakers at a more wallet-friendly price

The hi-fi market is replete with loudspeakers that look a little 'different', but few are as eye-catching as an electrostatic design where music appears to be coming almost from thin air. MartinLogan, the Kansas-based company established in the early 1980s, is one of the technology's best-known advocates. It began life with a 'static model, and even though its range has expanded since into conventional box-type speaker territory, its mantra remains 'wherever possible, we go electrostatic'.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 22, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNAD's M33 BluOS streaming amplifier was the first to utilise Purifi's groundbreaking Eigentakt Class D modules. Now they are in a stripped-back 'purist' power amp...

We sometimes hear a hi-fi component described as 'a wolf in sheep's clothing', but the idiom seems particularly apt for NAD's C 298. From the outside, there's little to distinguish this £1700 power amp from market rivals – indeed, its general demeanour is so nondescript it would likely struggle to standout from flashier competition. But NAD, a company that's no stranger to high-tech design style elsewhere in its stable, has opted to keep the chassis simple and make the amp's story about what's going on inside.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingHot off the production line, this flagship of MA's 7th-gen Silver range marks a significant uplift in performance

By now, there's surely not an audiophile alive who doesn't know that Monitor Audio's Platinum loudspeaker series is its pinnacle, and that as you move down through Gold, Silver and Bronze the prices become friendlier and the technology trickles. Silver – a range that's been rolling for over 20 years – represents the sweet spot in this hierarchy, and, says the UK company, is its most popular series. Judging from the performance, build quality and elegant design of the £1725 Silver 500 7G, I can't imagine this popularity waning.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 22, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedFrench brand celebrates its Ruby Anniversary with a rose-gold tinted treble and two fabulous cabinet finishes

There's a definite feeling you're getting your money's worth when you encounter Triangle's Antal 40th Anniversary loudspeaker. This French floorstander, reasonably tall at 113cm and surprisingly deep at 35cm, arrives in an oversized box and, once excavated, greets you with 40th Anniversary branding on the front baffle and its quartet of drivers with eye-catching rose-gold anodised aluminium trims. I wouldn't say it looks a million dollars – there are too many right angles for that – but it certainly looks like it should cost more than the £3000 ticket (less still via some online retailers).

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 14, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingPromising 'extraordinary power with exquisite tube finesse' BAT's new VK-3500 integrated marries the brand's REX 3 triode preamp with a robust solid-state output

Please indulge me while I discuss the design of BAT's (Balanced Audio Technology) VK-3500 amplifier. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that, but I'd be surprised to find anyone who didn't admire the styling of this hybrid integrated. Even without the 'BAT' logo conjuring images of Gotham City's caped crusader, it has a purposeful, high-quality look and feel. There's an argument that the appearance of a hi-fi product is unimportant, but at this price you expect some attention to detail and craftsmanship – and that's what you get. Of the silver and black finish options, the latter is the obvious choice if you really want to emphasise the Dark Knight vibe…

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 23, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedMost compact SA floorstander is not only offered in fully active 'Silverback' guise, but now supports 'RAM Tweaks'

System building and component matching is the backbone of hi-fi. Sure, it might seem a never-ending process, each change yielding new results and then more experimentation, but it's an enjoyable one. The Legend 40.2 Silverback tested here, an active three-way floorstander with digital crossover, Analog Devices DSP and integrated DAC, bypasses a lot of that journey – and if combined with the optional wireless Stereo Hub (£400 when purchased with the speakers, £700 separately), removes the need for any cabling except a mains lead. Yet Danish manufacturer System Audio (SA) then uses the Silverback's digital architecture to offer its own take on audiophile fine-tuning, via a newly-launched range of DSP upgrades it calls 'RAM Tweaks'.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 23, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis flagship, fully balanced preamplifier comes with Bryston's BDA-3-inspired DAC plus updated BDP streaming platform and full network control. It's busier than it looks!

There's so much functionality under the bonnet of Bryston's BR-20 that you might wonder where to start. I would suggest the manual – this £7500 networked USB DAC/preamplifier isn't, it must be said, the most instantly intuitive of system hubs I've ever auditioned. But the effort is worth it though, because what the BR-20 can do, and how it does it, is quite special.

Pages

X