From the Vault

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John Atkinson  |  Nov 23, 2021
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson reviews a high-end CD player from a specialist Swiss brand

Audiophiles who have spent large sums of money on LP playing equipment, such as myself, find themselves coming up with a number of excuses when presented with the thorny problem of reconciling the increasingly general acceptance of CD with their own love for vinyl.

Martin Colloms  |  Oct 26, 2021
hfnvintageMartin Colloms hears the A&R Cambridge C200/SA200 pre/power duo

These new products from A&R Cambridge have been long in the pipeline. In an unusually brave step for such a small company, it has invested in moulding tooling for the front panels and also the casework of the preamplifier. Its aim was to achieve close tolerances, and considerable effort has been expended in achieving a good fit of parts, particularly for the array of controls on the preamplifier.

Martin Colloms  |  Sep 17, 2021
hfnvintageMartin Colloms hears KEF's no-holds-barred flagship speaker, the R109

In late 1995 an idea began to take shape at KEF Audio. The company had already produced some fair-sized 'reference' models, culminating in the well-regarded Reference Four. But even this powerful and accomplished design lacked the necessary weight and presence to make a major impact at the highest quality level of world loudspeaker sales. So research began to define the key elements of what was intended to be a much larger speaker system, a definitive engineering expression of the company's knowledge.

Martin Colloms  |  Aug 06, 2021  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1982
hfnvintageAs the company continues to develop its expertise in the electronics field, Martin Colloms takes stock of a strikingly-styled pre/power amp

While first established and based in the UK, Mission also now has a design facility and manufacturing plant in Canada. It's here that its latest amplifiers were developed by Henry Azima, the brother of Farad Azima who founded Mission Electronics some years ago.

John Crabbe  |  Jul 23, 2021  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1977
hfnvintageJohn Crabbe, editor of HFN/RR, reflects on two decades of audio advance

The galaxy of experts that were gathered together by Miles Henslow, founder and first editor of HFN, to help fill the pages of his pioneering magazine in 1956 still has a ring of authentic hi-fi quality as it shines across two decades of progress and expansion: Cecil Watts, Ralph West, Gilbert Briggs, Stanley Kelly, James Moir, R S Roberts and H Lewis York.

Martin Colloms, Ken Kessler  |  Jun 22, 2021  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1995
hfnvintageWilson Audio's Tiny Tot and matching Puppy subwoofer reach maturity with the new System V versions. Martin Colloms and Ken Kessler listen

During the preliminaries for this review I suffered a major blow at around 3am one morning [writes Martin Colloms]. I was woken up by a thundering roar from the listening room that sounded like a door being smashed down by men with sledgehammers and which wrote off a number of drivers in the speakers.

Ken Kessler  |  May 25, 2021  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1990
hfnvintageKen Kessler on Bill Beard's new line-level-only integrated valve amplifier

Manufacturers should not be criticised for responding to changing tastes. CD has forever changed the face of hi-fi, so all you're doing when you mourn the passage of the phono stage is increase the value of shares in sackcloth and ashes. Instead, be thankful that the companies in the high-end are intent on making the best line-stage amplifiers they can design. What you use for a phono section can be either your existing, pre-CD preamp or an outboard phono section. With this in mind. Bill Beard has launched an all-valve, line-level-only integrated amplifier, the first product to bear his new company's name.

Ken Kessler  |  Apr 19, 2021  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1999
hfnvintageKen Kessler hears SME's new and more affordable turntable and arm

Everyone loves surprises. And, hey, who wouldn't be tickled pink at the thought of a new treat from SME? While the antithesis of fertile, SME never fails to issue a new wonder every time Alastair Robertson-Aikman feels the need to stretch his abilities. We are, after all, talking about a company with a design team, a philosophy and machining capabilities second to none in the world of precision engineering for audio purposes; maybe there's a watchmaker or two in Switzerland who could 'worry' SME.

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 23, 2021  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1997
hfnvintageClassic tubes meet modern tech in the £30,000 Project T-1 monoblocks. Is this Marantz's ultimate amplifier, asks an awestruck Ken Kessler

Contemplating the Project T-1 power amplifiers from Marantz, I realise that nothing in hi-fi should surprise us any more. If, in 1990, someone had told you that, by 1997, the hi-fi community would be clamouring for single-ended triodes and horn systems, that Quad and McIntosh and Marantz would reissue their valve classics, that Mobile Fidelity would open a new LP pressing plant and that Krell and Audio Research would introduce integrated amps, you'd have had that someone committed.

John Atkinson  |  Feb 23, 2021
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson lives with the KEF R107, its new range-topping contender

An understated revolution in loudspeaker design has been taking place in Kent. KEF's Technical Director Laurie Fincham has put together a team of engineers who have been quietly but thoroughly examining the fundamentals of moving-coil, box loudspeaker behaviour, spinning off a regular series of products, starting with the original R105 nearly a decade ago.

Martin Colloms  |  Jan 27, 2021  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1978
hfnvintageMartin Colloms hears four top-quality open-spool decks

The last year or so has seen the emergence of a new generation of high-quality open-reel tape decks, of which four are investigated here. As the price span ranges from £500-£600 for the Sony and Revox models to £850 for the Technics and £950 for the basic Pioneer assembly, these units are not strictly comparable, although their relative performances are nonetheless interesting.

Ken Kessler  |  Dec 22, 2020  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1993
hfnvintageCited as the best Mac ever built, the MC275 returns. Ken Kessler listens

Reissue, reincarnation, replica – call it what you will but just thank the audio gods that someone at McIntosh has a sense of history. Unlike other manufacturers who have either squandered their heritage or merely milked it as it suited them, McIntosh has – with the Gordon J Gow Commemorative MC275 power amplifier – performed an act of such 'correctness', such aptness, that it brings a tear to this anachrophile's eye.

Ken Kessler  |  Nov 17, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1990
Koetsu enters the 1990s with a new standard-bearer in the shape of the hand-made Urushi moving-coil cartridge. Ken Kessler is smitten...

As I sat back and listened I thought, maybe it's the particular recording, perhaps it's my frame of mind but no – it can only be the cartridge. All I know is that my smooth and steady progress in coming to terms with CD has been set back to its 1985 level. Why? Because I was in peril of missing an important fact of hi-fi life, which is that just as CD hardware and software has been getting better and better, so has analogue.

Martin Colloms  |  Oct 16, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1982
hfnvintageTiny amp, lashings of power... Martin Colloms lifts the lid on a box of tricks

The long awaited Carver Cube power amplifier is at last available in the UK. Bob Carver, its designer, is not a particularly well known figure in the UK but most people have heard of Phase Linear, which was founded by him, and he also designed its range of products. His special interest has been in high-power amplifiers, with the 400 B and 700 B Phase Linear models now audio legends.

Ken Kessler  |  Sep 18, 2020  |  First Published: May 01, 1985
hfnvintageKen Kessler goes Class A in a small way with the Marantz PM-4

Phone calls from company spokespersons such as Marantz's Steve Harris, are generally one of two types. Either 'Would you like to review our new Model XYZ whatever?' or 'Where the hell is our Model XYZ whatever, which you've had for nine months?' Such phone calls are never about reviewing components that are out of production.

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