Vintage

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Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 23, 2020
hfnvintageWhile a near dead-ringer for the amp it replaced, this '60s integrated saw Leak leverage new technology to boost performance and widen its appeal. How does it sound today?

It's not unusual for a successful hi-fi product to be updated with mild revisions during its lifetime. Often the changes are minimal: a tidied-up fascia to match a new model added elsewhere in the range, or an extra function or minor circuit redesign. This was certainly not the case with the Leak Stereo 30 Plus amplifier of 1969, which replaced the Stereo 30 [HFN Oct '10] first seen in 1963. Side by side the two looked much the same, but inside the 30 Plus was all new in order to take advantage of improved technology.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 25, 2020
hfnvintageDesigned to be worthy of the company's flagship Beolab 5000 system, this late '60s turntable was the last conventional deck to top the B&O range. How does it sound?

The argument for building a system using components from different manufacturers because 'no company is good at everything' is a good one – up to a point. Conversely, the Japanese heavyweights such as Sony, Technics and JVC were once able to put together a fairly convincing complete package, as could Philips (on a good day!).

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 25, 2020
hfnvintageWhile its looks belie its flagship status, this '80s CD player was designed with just one aim in mind: bring credibility to Philips' cutting-edge tech. How does it sound today?

The Philips CD960 of 1987 was part of a range that included the FA860 amplifier [HFN Feb '20]. As one of the company's occasional flirtations with the top end of hi-fi, this series was intended to demonstrate that the Dutch brand could offer components capable of state-of-the-art performance, as well as provide a boost in status to the more affordable models in the range.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 10, 2020
hfnvintageA mid '80s deck designed to boost vinyl replay at a time when the convenience of CD was making all the news. Did it succeed, and how does it compare today?

The products we usually seek to feature in our Vintage Review pages are those that were among the first to introduce a new format, function, level of performance or design theme. However, this month our subject is the Technics SL-J33 turntable of 1986, one of the last in a series that had a footprint the size of an LP sleeve, which began with the SL-10 [HFN Apr '19].

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 20, 2020
hfnvintageThis CD player from 1987 re-wrote the rules with its offer of 18-bit/8x oversampling while cutting few corners in the quality of its componentry. How will it sound today?

Back in the '70s, Japanese consumer electronics giants sold hi-fi based on so-called 'tech specs'. What began as a trend became an obsession, each new turntable being offered with lower claimed wow, flutter and rumble as 'proof' that it was superior to the one before. Indeed, some brands took to running ads highlighting the measured performance of components, with straplines to the effect of 'let the facts speak for themselves'. Back in hi-fi's boom years, such was the way of the world...

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 12, 2020
hfnvintageIt was a deck designed to keep vinyl replay relevant in a market attracted to the convenience of CD. Did it succeed and, more importantly, how does it sound today?

One challenge faced by those designing hi-fi in the high-tech 1980s was how to re-package the LP in a way that would ensure it remained of interest to consumers in a future that was clearly going digital. Released in late 1979, the Technics SL-10 turntable [HFN Apr '19], with its parallel tracking, optical position sensing and slick packaging was one of the first components to address this issue seriously.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 27, 2020
hfnvintageMarketed by Philips yet made by Marantz, is this purposeful-looking integrated packed with premium components an unsung hero of hi-fi's past? It's time to find out...

Philips should have been a dominant player in the hi-fi arena, yet many of its products somehow missed the mark. Despite these repeated failures, every now and again the sleeping giant would wake from its slumbers and produce something miraculous – Compact Disc, Motional Feedback speakers – only to disappear until inspiration struck again.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 09, 2020
hfnvintageBased on Sony's second-gen 16-bit/2x oversampled chipset, the DP-850 established a toehold in the CD scene for the Trio-Kenwood Corp. How does it shape up today?

While not a name often associated with early CD players, Kenwood was not lacking in ambition with its first entry into the field. Rather than test the market with a quiet offering buried deep in the backwaters of its catalogue, in 1983 the company added the L-03DP CD player to its range of top-line components.

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.

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