Investigation

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Ken Kessler  |  Mar 03, 2021
Ken Kessler turns to his pile of permanently on-hand CDs to bring you his pick of the discs that will shine a light on your system's performance

Like asking to choose your favourite food or movie, narrowing down 15,000 CDs and SACDs to a mere 20 is torture. The brief was to cite those I use regularly for reviewing purposes and which can reveal the qualities of a component or system. That said, this is also the stack of CDs which never gets filed with the rest, sitting there ready for action.

Tim Jarman  |  Feb 09, 2021
Tim Jarman on the tools and techniques you'll need to restore classic kit

In the early days of hi-fi it was common to make one's own equipment, either as an economy measure or as a matter of pride. Today's equivalent may be repairing and restoring vintage hi-fi units at home, a potentially rewarding endeavour which can make the subsequent listening even more satisfying.

Barry Fox  |  Feb 02, 2021
Barry Fox on the music books that bring insights into audio

Polymath Humphrey Lyttelton not only played as he pleased, he wrote as he pleased in many excellent books on music, once appealingly disparaging sound engineers he suffered on tour as 'Marconis'. The reason? They couldn't stop fiddling with the controls, so destroying the natural balance of his live band and adding electronic distortion.

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.

Steve Sutherland  |  Nov 03, 2020
Steve Sutherland on the vinyl treats arriving on 2020's Record Store Days

Launched in America in 2008 as a way of encouraging collectors to frequent their local independent record shops and keep vinyl alive, Record Store Day is now an annual event offering rare, limited edition releases which will not only tickle the fancy of uber-fans but, like other works of art, accrue value as investments.

Ken Kessler  |  Oct 02, 2020
Ken Kessler brings you his definitive guide to buying reel-to-reel tapes, new and secondhand

For any format, whether new or revived, it is the availability of pre-recorded music that determines its health. That's why the LP came back like gangbusters, and the otherwise-hugely-impressive Elcaset withered away. When it comes to the growing interest in reel-to-reel tapes, three routes exist for feeding the machines, and each has its adherents, while many users will adopt all three when building up a library.

Johnny Black  |  Sep 22, 2020
As more groups turn to touring to generate revenue, Johnny Black casts an eye over the more innovative ways some bands are winning over fans

It used to be so simple. Back in the day, music artists recorded albums and then went out on expensive tours, often making a loss, in order to promote and sell considerable quantities of their LPs. The big money then was in the vinyl, and that vinyl was largely under the control of a handful of major international music corporations, such as EMI, CBS, Warner Bros, Polygram and their ilk.

Christopher Breunig  |  Jun 26, 2020
Christopher Breunig recommends the best classical audiophile recordings

When I first heard a demonstration of stereo records, given at a local department store all those years ago, I came away thinking I'd heard mostly distracting surface noise. If this was 'high fidelity' I'd stick with my old Pye Black Box! But soon, of course, I was on the upgrade path avidly taking up recommendations in Hi-Fi News and Audio Record Review magazines, and reading Thomas Heinitz's regular columns in the now defunct Records & Recording.

Mike Barnes  |  May 21, 2020
Mike Barnes unpicks the story of the 180g vinyl reissue…

On October the 3rd 1996, after a concert by Steve Reich And Musicians at The Royal Festival Hall to mark the American composer's 60th birthday, this writer presented him with the LP sleeve of his 1978 album Music For 18 Musicians, and asked him to autograph it. This prompted some amusement on his part. 'I haven't seen one of these in a while,' he said chuckling, 'have you borrowed it from a museum?'

Tim Jarman  |  May 07, 2020
One-make set-up, mix 'n' match? Tim Jarman offers a step-by-step guide

Putting a hi-fi system together can be one of life's great pleasures, but it can also become expensive and complicated if not done with care. Vintage hi-fi enthusiasts have three basic options. The first is to assemble a 'one make' system, normally using a combination suggested in an old catalogue as a starting point. Another is to assemble a mixed system of vintage components. The third is to add some vintage components to a modern set-up, or complete a vintage system using modern products.

Keith Howard  |  Apr 01, 2020
Keith Howard takes a look at the role capacitors play in audio circuits and explains how they influence sound

Was there a better time to be a hi-fi enthusiast than the late 1970s and early 1980s? It's hard to argue against it because there was so much going on, what with the development of digital audio on one hand and the rise of subjectivism on the other. Suddenly turntables and amplifiers were no longer judged by wow and flutter, rumble and price tag or power output, total harmonic distortion and price tag, but by listening to them. Shock, horror!

Steve Harris  |  Mar 04, 2020
Steve Harris brings you the story of the influential audiophile jazz label

History books tell you that jazz first crossed the Atlantic with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, who made their first records in 1917 and came to England in 1919. And that it was the coincidentally-named orchestra leader and composer James Reese Europe who first brought genuine African-American music to French ears with his black US army band in 1918.

Ken Kessler  |  Feb 05, 2020
Is there an open-reel tape revival, asks Ken Kessler

If, in 1999, you were told that vinyl would enjoy such a massive revival that in 2019 HMV would be opening a flagship store in Birmingham stocking 25,000 records, and that turntables and LPs would appear in mainstream TV ads for watches and life insurance, you'd have laughed in disbelief. But then you would have paused, because both records and turntables were never entirely out of production.

Keith Howard  |  Jan 07, 2020
Should you invest in good acoustics? Keith Howard has some sage advice

Most of us will have asked ourselves at some point whether our next upgrade should be not to our hi-fi system but rather to the room we use it in. Could £1000 spent on absorbents and diffusers make a more profound difference to sound quality than spending the same amount on, say, a cable upgrade or a new pick-up cartridge?

Keith Howard  |  Dec 04, 2019  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2016
Keith Howard revisits the question of headphone headband resonance

Shortly after my first Investigation into headphone headband resonance was published [see HFN Jun '14], Owen Jones – he who designed THX's Achromatic Audio Amplifier circuit – pointed out to me that I could have done a better job of it.

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