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Steve Sutherland  |  Jan 15, 2021
As this 1987 LP appears on 180g vinyl Steve Sutherland recalls his interview with Prince back in 1981. Did their meeting influence the singer's signature behaviour?

Maybe I should shoulder some of the blame. It was me, after all, who declared in a Melody Maker review of his previous album, Parade, that Prince was God's gift to music or some such nonsense.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 14, 2021
hfnoutstandingA 110-year history makes Denon a record-holder in the hi-fi industry – and it's marking that landmark with an Anniversary series that includes this very fine disc player and amp

Hi-fi companies marking anniversaries is nothing new – indeed, it seems something crops up almost every month to mark some celebration, from 25 years of the Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series upwards. However, few brands have the history to warrant an anniversary as significant as Denon, for this year the Japanese company marks not merely its centenary, but a full 110 years in business.

Ken Kessler  |  Jan 12, 2021
Ken Kessler brings you his guide to the best secondhand buys...

While it's true I am obsessed with open-reel tape, I am constantly reminded – not least via our postbag – that 'getting back into tape' is costly for both hardware and software. There are no current decks being produced besides the Ballfinger at £15,000+, brand new pre-recorded tapes start at £200, blanks ain't cheap for those who want to record their own music, and buying vintage pre-recorded tapes requires a sort of fortitude akin to driving in the London-to-Brighton veteran automobile rally.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 11, 2021
hfncommendedFrom Japan comes an exquisitely finished flagship MC cartridge that's cooking on gas when it comes to serving up full-flavoured sound. Is value for money on the menu too?

By naming the flagship MC in its Hana pick-up range the Umami Red, Japanese cartridge maker Excel Sound has played a clever stroke. Glance at the £3399 cartridge's exquisitely lacquered body and there are no prizes for guessing why the name includes the word 'Red'. But 'Umami'? In Japanese, 'umami' is one of five tastes, along with sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness. It has been variously translated as 'delicious' and 'savoury', but umami is said to be quite difficult to detect on its own. Rather, it combines with other flavours to give a result that's far greater than the sum of all parts.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 08, 2021
hfnvintageWith VFETs costing top dollar and facing stiff competition from other semiconductors, the late '70s saw Yamaha unveil a new pre/power amp duo. How does it sound today?

It's always intriguing to see how a company reacts to the realisation that a technology it has championed is reaching its sell-by date. This was the situation faced by Yamaha in the late 1970s. Since the middle of that decade, its top-end products had made use of Jun-ichi Nishizawa's Static Induction Transistor – more commonly known as the VFET – to great effect. This led to the development of designs such as the B-1 and B-2 power amplifiers, and C-1 preamplifier, all of which are still held in high regard.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 07, 2021
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...

Steve Sutherland  |  Jan 05, 2021
In the last of our series celebrating the work of those masters behind the mixing desk, Steve Sutherland tells the story of not one producer but a hip-hop production team whose looping and layering of samples revolutionised the way records were made

On this particular point, Chuck D is unequivocal. 'Our sole intention was to destroy music'. The record he's talking about, released in June 1988, is hip-hop giants Public Enemy's second LP, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 04, 2021
hfnoutstandingThe dedicated music server is in the ascendant, and every company has a different twist on the idea. In the case of Dutch company Grimm Audio, the twist is especially unusual

The continued rise of network audio has created a new game in the hi-fi world, best summed up as 'Yes, but what is it?'. You see, all sorts of network-capable devices exist right now, and it seems each of them has a somewhat different approach. For example, perhaps the best-known name in 'audiophile servers' or 'music libraries', Melco, started out by making products designed to feed network players over a network connection, paying close attention to the isolation and optimisation of the Ethernet feed. It then reinvented itself as a maker of network transports, connecting directly to a suitable DAC using a USB output, again with isolation strategies implemented.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 31, 2020
hfnoutstandingFive years on and Wilson Audio's Sabrina earns its 'X' – an overhaul that raises the bar for compact floorstanders

Five years – that's how long ago the Sabrina was launched and five years seems about right before making a new version of any model as good as the original was – and remains [HFN Aug '15]. Rightly, the upgrade is comprehensive, not a mere facelift, which is reassuring if you're wondering why a £15k per pair model is now priced at £21,500-£23,000. As for the price span, it covers three standard or three deluxe 'WilsonGloss' paint finishes, which can be co-ordinated with five grille colours. Our review sample is pictured here in the 'upgraded' gloss Ivory.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Dec 30, 2020
This month we review and test releases from: Clandestine Amigo, Berliner Philharmoniker/Kirill Petrenko, Lady A, Francesco Piemontesi, SCO/Andrew Manze and Olive Brown.

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