LATEST ADDITIONS

Review: Jamie Biesemans,  |  Feb 19, 2024
hfnoutstandingFirst the Nu-Vista series, and now the iconic 'Class A' A1 integrated is reimagined by Musical Fidelity's new owners. How close to the original is this modern version?

Now that Heinz Lichtenegger, president of parent brand Audio Tuning, is comfortably behind the wheel of Musical Fidelity and the marque is churning out a steady flow of new products, including the rather notable Nu-Vista amplifiers [HFN Mar & Aug '23], it's good to see the full history of this British brand being revisited. The £1499 reissue of the 'griddle plate' A1 integrated amplifier is a case in point. Without losing sight of the past – or the original A1's flaws – it has been reworked by Simon Quarry, the engineer in charge of most new Musical Fidelity designs. The result is a fully symmetrical, Class A-biased amplifier that looks, and sounds, true to the original – it is not simply a vintage lookalike with unconvincing innards.

Steve Sutherland  |  Feb 16, 2024
Betty Davis, Stevie Wonder and an IRS showdown along the way... Steve Sutherland on a studio in America's Deep South that's produced more than its fair share of classic cuts

It's a bit of a mystery why it didn't come out when it should have. One story goes that the record company had no faith in its sales potential and shelved it. Another has it that the singer had a row with the record company boss over a track called 'Stars Starve, You Know', which had a right go at him.

Review: Andrew Everard,  |  Feb 15, 2024
hfnoutstandingRotel's 'entry-level' Michi integrated, now in Series 2 guise, features multiple component updates – including switching to an ESS DAC – while retaining its huge power output

Listening to Rotel's Michi X3 Series 2 reminds me of that popular paranormal radio series Uncanny: I'm sure the amplifier's all-black, slightly menacing presence is in my listening room, though the sceptical view says it shouldn't exist. After all, some months back Rotel reorganised its distribution in mainland Europe, but with no mention of what was happening in the UK. A conversation with Rotel's distributor at the time, Bowers & Wilkins, had indicated that the lawyers were busy, and things were set to change.

Peter Quantrill  |  Feb 13, 2024
Gut or steel? Repeats, or straight through? Pathos or plain speaking? Peter Quantrill looks behind the notes of an enigmatic masterpiece and asks 'What is Haydn up to'?

A quick reminder: tonal music – indeed almost all western music for that matter – is built from 12 equally separated notes within the compass of an octave. Each tonality (C major, D minor, etc) uses eight of those notes in a scale: hence octave, 1-8. The root chord of each tonality (also called key signature) contains the first, third, fifth and eighth notes of the scale, 1-3-5-8.

Review: Ken Kessler,  |  Feb 12, 2024
hfnoutstandingThis new heavyweight integrated blends inspiration from D'Agostino's Momentum HD preamp and MxV power amp into an app-controlled design with modular upgrade path

Integrated amplifiers are a matter of lifestyle choice, and we've all heard the arguments about why they are either better or worse than separate pre/power combinations. Whatever the sales pitch, pro or anti, the bottom line is that you are choosing space-saving over possible audiophile preferences. With the Momentum MxV Integrated – the other one in the family being the less-costly Progression [HFN Nov '20] – founder and chief engineer Dan D'Agostino is giving you absolutely everything in a single box, for a heady £73,998 in silver or black.

Review: Tim Jarman,  |  Feb 09, 2024
hfnvintageAutomatic arm, quartz-locked motor and a chassis that was a challenge to design... How will this one-time, top-tier direct-drive turntable from 1979 shape up today?

Every keen LP listener should try to experience the joys of a quality direct-drive turntable in their system at least once. Everyone knows the popular favourites, but in the past all the big Japanese names made one or two decks that should still fit the bill.

Review: Mark Craven,  |  Feb 08, 2024
hfnoutstandingThe latest addition to PS Audio's Stellar range is a back-to-basics USB/I2S DAC with the emphasis on performance rather than frippery. But it does have a gold 'go faster' stripe!

Following a slew of recent high-end designs including its aspen FR30 and FR20 speakers [HFN Jun '22 & Apr '23], the BHK M600 monoblock amplifiers [HFN Dec '22], and DirectStream DAC Mk2 [HFN Jun '23], Colorado's PS Audio has refocused attention on its more affordable Stellar series, where the mantra is making 'audio bliss attainable'. Yet the new StellarGold DAC, auditioned here and selling for £3999, isn't a straightforward new addition to the line.

Steve Sutherland  |  Feb 06, 2024
Now reissued on 180g vinyl, Joni Mitchell's third album found the singer-songwriter perfecting her confessional – and highly influential – style, says Steve Sutherland

It's complicated. There's a song on Blue, Joni Mitchell's fourth LP, which is not the album we're here to celebrate. The track's called 'A Case Of You' and compares the giddiness of getting drunk with being in love. But that's not the type of case I have in mind. The case I'm thinking about is the one associated with a courtroom when the prosecution and defence argue over someone's guilt. In other words, the case of Joni Mitchell.

Review: Ken Kessler,  |  Feb 05, 2024
hfnoutstandingConceived to replace the Master 1, but with all the 'third generation' technology unveiled in the Grand Master, the Master 3 is described as a 'semi-flagship' pick-up...

To borrow a phrase from the Buffalo Springfield (though it defined a far graver situation than a change of cantilever), 'there's something happening here – what it is ain't exactly clear'. DS Audio has released yet another cartridge in the Master series, the Master 3 (£8330 without PSU/equaliser) and I fear it's going to be an even bigger disruptor than the Grand Master EX [HFN Oct '23].

Mike Barnes  |  Feb 02, 2024
Take the inventive, 'un-linear' musical approach of charismatic frontman Don Van Vliet, add the guitar skills of a youthful Ry Cooder, and you get this groundbreaking 1967 debut album that throws blues, rock, soul, doo-wop and more into the melting pot

Few groups have a history as complex and convoluted as that of Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, not least because of the tendency of vocalist Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, to imaginatively embellish aspects of the story. In that respect we can start right back at the group's name.

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