Pre/Power Amplifiers

Sort By:  Post Date TitlePublish Date
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngThe Norwegian brand’s latest amp is not just its most powerful integrated, but comes complete with network audio capability. Is this the ultimate one-box amp solution?

Obviously not afraid of a spot of (Russell?) crowing, Oslo-based Hegel describes its new Reference H590 integrated amp, just going on sale at £9000, as ‘Master and Commander’. Apparently it’s ‘A master at musicality’ and ‘The commander of any set of speakers’. Mind you, you might be tempted to forgive the company for its exuberance – after all, the new arrival is something of a monster, standing an AV-receiver-challenging 17.1cm tall, tipping the scales at 22kg and delivering over 300W per channel. Well, 301W a side actually, according to Hegel, making it at least 50% more powerful than its previous top integrated, the H360.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThis neatly packaged, sleekly-styled Scandinavian integrated offers DAC and streaming functionality, plus a very fine sound thanks to its proven Class D power amp modules

Many think of Apple as creating today’s world of sleek, minimalist consumer electronics – but the business and creative heads of that Californian company – Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive – were themselves inspired by great talents working in hi-fi, long before the iconic iPod was ever launched. Lest we forget, Jacob Jensen did amazing industrial design work at Bang & Olufsen for decades, as did Dieter Rams at Braun 15 years earlier.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngWith a claimed 550W on tap, this US-made pre/power amplifier combo offers serious quantities of sound per pound. How does this muscle amp-on-a-budget perform?

It’s often said that less can actually be more. For example, many high-end hi-fi products are devoid of fripperies because the lion’s share of the build budget is spent on the bits you can’t see, such as high quality components. This in turn gives better sound per pound, or so the theory goes. Yet other designs come festooned with features and often lack ability in the sonic stakes.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngLuxman’s update of its fully-loaded, flagship headphone amplifier has resulted in the heavyweight P-750u – is this incarnation a contender for the best of the breed?

Decades on from the likes of the EarMax, AudioValve RKV and other pioneering headphone amps, born before cans became a ‘thing’, we are now spoiled for choice. Luxman, which has been on dazzling form of late, has upgraded its no-compromise champ to produce the P-750u, and it just may be the go-to unit if you’re 1) crazy for cans, 2) use various models and 3) love added fine-tuning control.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngLaunched in 1980, these slimline separates proved just the tonic for those seeking sophisticated sonics wrapped in eye-catching casework. How do they sound today?

Who buys top quality hi-fi equipment? First there is the audiophile, who is willing to devote considerable resources in the pursuit of components that deliver what he or she regards as the best sound quality for a given budget. There was once also a largely non-technical group who had equally high musical expectations. Wealthy and design conscious, they wanted complete systems that not only sounded good but looked good too, and included all the latest technological refinements.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngNot just a new model but a radical change for the venerable Reference Series, the REF160M mono power amp heralds a fresh direction in both looks and performance

A genius mix of both rebellion and restraint, Audio Research's latest chapter in the Reference saga, the REF160M monoblock power amplifier, is one of the biggest departures in the much-lauded series' evolution. Most obvious is the new look, which takes its cues from the G-Series, bringing with it a cool oversized meter, but the rest of the amplifier has been redeveloped, too, not least to incorporate features that will improve system matching, reliability, ease-of-use and initial set-up.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngA reversal of digital direction marks out this hi-tech integrated amp from the Masters Series, so can NAD's innovative thinking make the M32 stand out from the crowd?

Just in case you can't work out what the £3499 NAD M32 actually is – straight from the box only a volume control sets it apart from the company's similarly styled M22 v2 power amp – the front panel tells you, at least when powered up, that this is a 'Direct Digital DAC/Amplifier'. Of course, even powering it up may be a challenge for those for whom 'RTFM' is a sign of weakness. After a bit of stabbing of the NAD logo, which glows amber in standby, suggesting it might do something, they'll probably eventually alight on the little touch pad top and centre above the display. Brush this and the amp gets ready to do its stuff, at which point the amber surround on the logo turns white and you're in business.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngInspired by its own VPA amplifier, but with the intent to drive the ultimate high-end systems in large rooms, Nagra set to work designing its 'Statement' monoblocks

Look at the photos: the Nagra HD AMP's slim, vertical layout will remind fans immediately of the company's first power monoblock amplifier, the VPA. This vertical stance is not all that common – remember Halcro? – while the small footprint it affords makes a vertical model instantly appealing for those who value floor space. Nagra's new, top-of-the-range unit, however, is purely a solid-state device which – profile aside – is the antithesis of the all-valve VPA, which was rated at 50W in 'Pure Class A'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThis slimline amplifier from an established French brand may suggest another product from the same country, but it's a very different prospect with some unique features

So, it's a slimline amplifier, and it's French – already thinking of the 'D' word? But while it might seem that the M-One amplifiers from Micromega could be 'inspired' by the success of Devialet's range, in fact they have little in common beyond their country of origin and a passing resemblance in dimensions: under the skin they're very different animals.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngThey may typify Stateside heavy-metal hi-fi, but this pre/power amplifier from one of the high-end's best-known names is really all about simplicity and directness

Depending on your point of view, what you see before you are either objects of absolute hi-fi aspiration or a symbol of everything that's wrong with high-end audio in the 21st century. Along with compatriot Krell, Mark Levinson is one of those names that's likely to be known even by those with only a passing interest in hi-fi and – though the marque has undergone several twists and turns in its near-50-year history – it remains one of the best-known in the audio business.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngWhile designed for the pro market, this rugged little workhorse of an amp from 1978 found its way into domestic systems of the day. How does it sound, 30 years on?

How sad. Last year was the 70th anniversary of the founding of Crown, and the event seems to have gone unmarked. The only notable occurrence was that its parent company, Harman International, was acquired by Samsung, which is a rather forlorn way for this most American of brands to celebrate seven decades.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngCombining simplicity with flexibility, this pre/power combination from one of the best-known names in French hi-fi has much to offer – including the odd quirky feature...

Like some other French audio companies, Yves-Bernard André's eponymous brand has hovered on the periphery of UK hi-fi enthusiasts' perception. But the company has been on a mission to change all that, taking a more global view with a lineup extending to no fewer than five product ranges. The Passion models, represented here by the £6750 PRE550A preamp and £5750 AMP650 power amp, sit near the top of the pile.

Review: Lee Dunkley, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngThe svelte D 3020 contrasted with the iconic 3020 amp of '78, but this V2 trades-in USB for phono and Bluetooth in a bid to regain its crown as the ultimate 'starter amp'

The original NAD 3020 integrated amplifier of the late '70s was a genre-defining product – a compact integrated full of useful features that cost relatively little and became recognised for bringing high-quality home audio to a much wider audience. I wouldn't mind betting that many readers will have owned one at some point or at the very least be familiar with its reputation as an 'all go, no show' audiophile amp for its remarkably likeable sound but rather retiring 'grey slab' looks.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngIt was an amp that gave fresh meaning to the term 'cooking on gas', but how does one of Sony's last classic super-integrateds shape up today? Time to find out...

The '70s was a time of great social change. At the beginning of the decade, black and white TVs, bicycles and outside toilets were the reality of life for many British people. But by the end of the '70s, most folks had colour TVs, family cars and swanky modern bathrooms – along with fitted kitchens, wall-to-wall carpeting and stereo systems in their homes. Although the music centre was the height of fashion, separates hi-fi was growing fast and many were willing to pay for serious equipment.

Review: José Victor Henriques, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngInspired by the ‘Momentum’ circuit and industrial design that put D’Agostino Master Audio Systems on the map, its Progression series could make the biggest impact yet

The Progression Stereo amplifier is built around a dual-wound 1400VA toroidal transformer coupled to 400,000µF of power supply storage capacitance that feeds no fewer than 48 power transistors – 24 per channel. On paper this is said to generate 300W/8ohm, doubling into 4ohm [see PM’s Lab Report]. And it’s yours for roughly half the price of a pair of the company’s Progression Monoblocks [HFN Jun ’17].

Pages

X