Review: Mark Craven

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 22, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingDanish brand Copland beefs-up the power supply to its all-singing, all-dancing CSA100, crowning its range of tube hybrid integrated amplifiers with this heavyweight model

Not long into my audition of Copland's CSA150, I began to feel a little annoyed that, at some point, I'd have to unplug it and send it back. Reviewer remorse isn't quite as galling as buyer remorse, but it is still 'a thing', and this £4988 hybrid tube integrated had given me a bad case of it. Hybrid? Yes, for the CSA150 looks to be an upscaled CSA100 [HFN Aug '20] combining a 6922 double-triode and solid-state FETs in its preamp stage, driving a bipolar transistor amplifier output. Perhaps keen to avoid overselling the benefits of this architecture, Copland warns buyers not to expect 'the warm and nice, coloured charm of some older tube designs'.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis slim floorstander has million-dollar looks but a wallet-friendly price, and aims to sound bigger than it seems

Monitor Audio's close-to-entry-level Bronze series wants to offer something for everyone – the full range runs to eight models, including various multichannel options – but it's perhaps the Bronze 200 floorstander that many potential buyers will investigate first. A slim two-and-half-way tower speaker priced £569, with attractive finish options (white, walnut, urban grey and black), plus driver technologies borrowed from pricier models, it appears at face value to offer performance potential and that hi-fi holy grail: value for money.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDanish brand's flagship floorstander really comes on song in fully active 'Silverback' guise, with room bass-tuning to boot

There's more to System Audio's flagship floorstander than meets the eye. Outwardly, the £7000 Legend 60.2 Silverback, available in satin black and satin white, appears to be an archetypal slender, tower loudspeaker. Peer around the back, however, and you'll find a metal plate – the Silverback of its title – with IEC mains inlet, XLR and USB connections, plus a bank of status LEDs below legends including 'Wireless', 'Centre' and 'Subwoofer'. So not only is this an active model, it's one with wireless and multichannel ambitions.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 20, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDesigned by Cambridge Audio's in-house team in London, the refreshed SX-80 is a big speaker on a small budget

When it launched its Edge series in 2018 to mark its 50th Anniversary [HFN Nov '18], Cambridge Audio appeared to be making a concerted effort to reach a little higher. But proof this stalwart of the UK high street hasn't turned its back on wallet-conscious buyers arrived recently in the form of its reworked SX loudspeaker range. With head-turning prices, a modern finish and dimensions that won't upset your interior designer, these are likely to garner considerable interest.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 10, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedWhat is the connection between this Slovakian-built CD player/DAC and global turntable giant Pro-Ject, and does its triode tube output stage give it an edge?

In the music business, an eight-year wait between albums might give fans cause for concern and raise fears of 'issues' behind the scenes. But we have no such worries about the similar gap betwewen Canor's latest CD player and its predecessor – it's all par for the course for this Slovakian marque. Since arriving in 1995 with the TP101 amplifier (under the brand name Edgar), this self-proclaimed tube specialist has developed a modest catalogue, always at its own pace and with little apparent attention paid to current hi-fi 'trends'. So the promise of the CD 2.10 is firmly rooted in physical CD playback, and a sound informed by Canor's love of tubes, a well-regarded DAC and its detailed attention to build and finish.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 29, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDubbed PS Audio's 'finest all-in-one music component', the Strata combines network streaming, USB and other digital audio inputs with a 'Gain Cell' pre and ICEpower amp

Browse the catalogue of Colorado's PS Audio and you'll find both monstrous and slimline monoblock amps – the BHK Mono 300 [HFN Jul '16] and Stellar M1200/M700 [HFN Jan '21 and Apr '20], respectively – together with stereo power amplifiers, streaming DACs, integrated amps and preamps. And then there's the Stellar Strata, which in some ways is a distillation of PS Audio's diverse product line and tech into one box.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 09, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedStyled after its classic 1970s studio monitors, but equipped with patented 21st century horn and compression driver technology, the 4349 is a not-so-compact fun factory

American loudspeaker company JBL has a 75-year history – and the work of founder James Bullough Lansing dates back even further. For HFN readers, who are in the know, it might seem odd that the brand is now more popular on the UK high street for its extensive range of affordable Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones. Luckily for us the company still maintains a 'serious' side, and it's from there that its two-way 4349 monitor hails. A wide-baffle speaker with a compression mid/treble driver and 300mm woofer, it can trace its heritage all the way back to the company's first creations – and couldn't be more different from a pair of budget earbuds.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingEagerly anticipated, Audia Flight's 'starter' FLS series integrated accommodates a suite of optional modules. Could this be the high-end hub you've been waiting for?

A'synergy of sophisticated original circuit design and Italian style'. That's the promise of Audia Flight, the company established in 1996 by Massimiliano Marzi and Andrea Nardini. Arguably a 'boutique brand' by virtue of a product line focused almost entirely on amplifiers, the lone standout is a CD player in its entry-level 'FL Three S' range [HFN Sep '07]. We are testing its newest addition here: the FLS 9 stereo integrated which pledges to showcase the brand's audiophile philosophy at a price more manageable – beginning at £5950 – than that of its other high-end creations.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 01, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis flagship monoblock is not only more powerful but features significant design enhancements over other Class D amplifiers in the Stellar range, including a tube input...

The best of both worlds' is an oft-used rallying cry in the hi-fi industry, rolled out to extol the virtues of everything from compact loudspeakers with big bass output to digital network players with phono stage inputs. It's also the self-proclaimed raison d'être of PS Audio's Stellar M1200 monoblock amp. Sold in pairs for £6000, this recent addition to the Stellar range combines a high-power Class D output stage with Class A vacuum tube input, in pursuit of both efficient speaker-driving muscle and spine-tingling musicality.

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.

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