Investigation

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Keith Howard  |  Oct 15, 2019
Keith Howard explains how and why HFN has expanded its test regime

Time flies when you're having fun. I bought the equipment to measure headphones for Hi-Fi News as long ago as May 2007, since when I've tested around 115 different models for the magazine. These have included circumaural (over-ear) designs, supra-aural (on-ear) and insert, active and passive, priced from under £100 to almost £5000.

Johnny Black  |  Nov 06, 2019
Johnny Black examines the booming business of music merchandising

Here's a story I wish I didn't have to tell. Unfortunately, not to tell it would mean ignoring the alarming truth that recorded music is no longer – at least commercially – always the most important element in the recorded music industry.

Andrew Everard  |  May 02, 2019
Andrew Everard brings you his guide to superior sound on a shoestring

The old saw that schooldays are the happiest of your life, jumpers for goalposts an' all, has its parallels in hi-fi. Ask many an enthusiast of a certain age, and they'll go a bit misty-eyed at the thought of their first 'proper' system, bought with a mixture of summer job earnings and that first student grant – yes, once upon a time you got given money to study.

Barry Fox  |  Sep 01, 2018
Out of sight, out of mind and very much at risk... Barry Fox explores the preservation of digital music files and why you should take action now

The recent movie Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, nearly never got made. Which would have been a pity because it tells the intriguing story of how the glamorous film actress (legal name Hedy Kiesler Markey) and her husband, composer George Antheil, filed for a US patent in 1941 on the frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum communication technology that underpins modern wireless networking, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

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.

Keith Howard  |  Apr 08, 2019
Want the best bass from your subwoofer? Keith Howard has the answers

Is it my imagination or has the subwoofer faded from audiophile affections? In the 1990s a generation of audio lovers discovered that subwoofers could do unexpected things: not just add low-bass heft, but also improve midrange sound quality and the spaciousness of the stereo image.

Hi-Fi News  |  Mar 15, 2019
The prince of synths talks high-end hi-fi while premiering his new album

Jean-Michel Jarre likes what he hears. And it's not only the sound of his new album, which he is playing to an eager audience packed into the Audiofast room at the Audio Video show in Warsaw, but the very audio system on which it is being played.

'My new album is a good test for loudspeakers,' he says smiling, 'because I know that it has lots of different frequencies. This means that it's hard to hear the whole effect on some hi-fi systems, but this one is highly capable.'

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.

Barry Fox  |  Nov 01, 2018
Barry Fox takes the stress out of connecting your hi-fi to the Internet

My shiny new hi-fi has all the usual knobs, buttons and meters on the front, and all the usual analogue and digital input and output sockets on the rear. But there's also what looks like an overgrown telephone socket on the back, labelled 'Ethernet'.

I'm assuming that this is for service engineers or connecting the component to a PC, which I don't want to do. I just want to continue listening to my music from high quality sources, through my trusty big box speakers, without getting into the hassle of computing.

Keith Howard  |  Aug 07, 2019
They're crucial to hi-fi, but how do they work? Keith Howard explains all...

There isn't much in a modern hi-fi system that would be familiar to the great 19th century English physicist Michael Faraday. But a time-travelling Faraday – bemused by radio frequency communication, lasers and sound reproduction in general – would find something reassuringly familiar in the transformer. For it was he who first demonstrated that electromagnetic induction can be used to link one electrical circuit to another.

Ken Kessler  |  Aug 01, 2018
As one of Quad's longest-serving employees hangs up his soldering iron, Ken Kessler talks with Ken Bunting about a lifetime working on iconic kit

It was 15 years since I had interviewed Ken Bunting, in charge of Quad's service department, but back then it was to pick his brains about the company's history. Early this May, I had the privilege of repeating the interrogation, on the occasion of Ken's retirement. Off to the wilds of Cambridge, where I found him on his last day, in a busy-as-ever service area with everything from Quad ESL63s to valve units being repaired – contrary to any rumours or worries that the company had abandoned its legendary back-up division.

Keith Howard  |  Dec 03, 2019  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2014
Do headphone headbands carry unwanted sound? Keith Howard finds out

Imagine that instead of each of your stereo loudspeakers sitting in splendid isolation, optimally aligned with respect to the listening seat, there was a large band of metal or plastic curving between them, joining the two cabinets. If you know anything of loudspeaker design and the efforts taken to quell structural resonances, you'd immediately suspect this structure of colouring the sound and – by carrying vibrations from one speaker to the another – of messing with the stereo image.

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?

Andrew Everard  |  Jun 04, 2019
Andrew Everard explains how to integrate online music into your system

Streaming? It's simple: you plug your smartphone's headphone output into your amplifier using a 3.5mm-to-stereo-phono cable, tap the free Spotify app, and you're in business. It's hard to see what all the fuss is about really, isn't it?

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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