Vintage

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Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 07, 2020
hfnvintageCombining cool cosmetics with touch-sensitive control, this late '70s receiver was a watershed when it came to the way we interact with our kit. How does it sound today?

Released in 1977, B&O's Beomaster 2400 receiver brought touch-sensitive operation and full remote control to a world that expected nothing more from its hi-fi components than knobs and buttons. Its impact was immense, and soon the company's factory was unable to make receivers fast enough to satisfy demand. What's more, the unit's basic form and function lived on through a series of models that remained in production until 1992. And even by then, the design still looked fresh and modern.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 14, 2020
hfnvintageOne of many distinctive mid-priced turntables to surface in the 1980s, this dinky deck enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame, but then refused to go away. How will it sound today?

If we could warp back to 1984 we would find a hi-fi scene dramatically different to how it is now. Vinyl may have been in the autumn of its life as a mass music format, but it still dominated. With CD very much in its infancy, the LP was the only practical way serious music lovers could hear their prized albums.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 26, 2019
hfnvintageWith its ultra low mass arm and cartridge system, the CS 606 was one of a trio of decks that was finally able to claw back sales from the Japanese. How does it perform today?

The fact that Dual couldn't achieve serious success in the middle sector of the British turntable market back in the late '70s was testament to how fast the hi-fi world had changed. That part of the market was becoming the province of Japanese companies such as Pioneer, Sony and Technics, which were making complex, technologically advanced turntables packed with modern, user-friendly features that people wanted to buy.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 21, 2019
hfnvintageThis slimline design was fashioned with Yuppies in mind yet packed tried-and-tested tech from premium Sony products. How does it shape up today? It's time to find out

When it comes to CD players, Ferguson has a claim to fame, for its CD 01 [HFN Jan '19] of 1984 was the first machine to appear from a British household name. The player's Sony origins also meant it stood out from the crowd. At the time, manufacturers wishing to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing market for CD players, but who lacked the R&D resources to build machines of their own, usually went to Philips for the hardware. Sony's players were considered to be top of the market, the Japanese company's carefully cultivated image only helping to justify their premium prices.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 29, 2019
hfnvintageA classic belt-drive turntable from a brand that time forgot, but is this fully-automatic, British-built mid '70s deck still worth seeking out? It's time to put it to the test...

Birmingham Sound Reproducers, or BSR, is a name that's scarcely mentioned in hi-fi circles today. Once the world's largest producer of turntables, the story of this company serves as a reminder of what a tough place the audio market can be.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 23, 2019
hfnvintageWhile first to market with a portable player, Sony soon found itself overtaken by rivals. Its answer was a now-iconic machine, driven by a belt. But how does it sound today?

Sony's original D-50 'Compact Disc Compact Player', released in late 1984, was the first practical portable to reach consumers. Named to commemorate the company's 50th anniversary, the player's ¥50,000 price tag ensured that it dominated the market. However, the fact that it cost ¥100,000 to manufacture meant that this came at some expense to Sony.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 22, 2019
hfnvintageSophisticated styling, touch controls and the promise of all the benefits of direct-drive using a sub-platter driven by a belt. Can this late '70s record player really deliver?

Think of CD players and Philips will be one of the first names to come to mind. This is not necessarily the case when it comes to turntables, even though the company has produced a multitude of models over the years. Its turntable motors could be found in the early Linn LP12 and many other similar designs, yet to most British listeners a complete Philips turntable, like the AF 877 seen here, is something of a novelty.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 02, 2019
hfnvintageStep back to the 1980s and this specialist British 'cottage industry' integrated amplifier was a force to be reckoned with. But how will it shape up today? Time to find out...

Everyone old enough to remember, talks about the 1970s as the golden age of British hi-fi. That's certainly true in one respect, because what was a niche – often do-it-yourself hobby – went completely mainstream, to the point where the third most expensive consumer item, after a house and a car, was a stereo.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 28, 2019
hfnvintageParallel tracking, optical position sensing and all in a slick package no larger than an LP sleeve. It dazzled in its day, but how does this '70s direct-drive deck sound now?

There is an argument which says that to recover maximum information from any recording the playback system should be as similar as possible to the arrangement with which it was made. For example, a tape deck identical to the one used in the studio should replay the original master tapes with the highest achievable accuracy.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 16, 2019
hfnvintageGlitsy looks and a lack of niceties such as time display, but this version of the Philips CD300 CD player was first to market where it became king of the 14-bit machines

The CD-73 is surely one of the best loved and best remembered of the first generation of CD players. With its eye-catching looks, it stood out among a sea of bland black boxes. Usually it would have been difficult for a company of Marantz's standing to come up with a fully engineered model so quickly, but having recently secured the backing of Philips, it was able to release not one but two class-leading CD players for the opening 1983 season.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 12, 2019
hfnvintageSometimes you rediscover a classic once so far ahead of the curve that it cuts a dash to this day – and we're not just talking style but sound. Is this '80s amp one of them?

The 1980s was a decade of great change. Consumer products that had been the stuff of science fiction just 15 years earlier – digital watches, home computers, LaserDisc players – were now increasingly commonplace. The era had a dynamic, hedonistic feel, and it was now acceptable not just to have wealth but to show it.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 29, 2019
hfnvintageNow a forgotten hero, this CD player's claim to fame was that it was the first to be sold by a British household name. But does its sound make it more than just a curio?

Ferguson isn't a name often seen in the pages of HFN, but from the early 1950s to the late 1980s it was a dominant player in the UK consumer electronics marketplace. Part of the Thorn group, the brand was never positioned as a specialist hi-fi manufacturer but its audio division was prolific.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngBack in the '80s, several British 'cottage industry' companies made integrated amps for purist customers, but this is surely the most 'mysterious'. How will it sound today?

In hi-fi as in life, the 1980s was a transformative time. From speaker stands and audiophile speaker cable, to mini monitors and expensive, minimalist integrated amps – the 'go for it' decade of Filofaxes, red braces and VW Golf GTis showed us what was to come.

Review: David Price, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Oct 01, 2018
hfnvintage.pngIt was an audacious design from a company with no prior reputation for making serious loudspeakers, yet it soon became a landmark product. How does it shape up today?

There's no such thing as the perfect loudspeaker, nor is there ever likely to be one. Most manufacturers don't even try – theirs is a volume business where the trick is to produce a good-sounding product at an affordable price. There's nothing wrong with this, as perfection can often be the enemy of the good. Yet sometimes hi-fi companies do reach for the stars, and attempt to come up with an innovative, no-holds-barred design.

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.

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