From the Vault

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John Atkinson  |  Feb 23, 2021
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson lives with the KEF R107, its new range-topping contender

An understated revolution in loudspeaker design has been taking place in Kent. KEF's Technical Director Laurie Fincham has put together a team of engineers who have been quietly but thoroughly examining the fundamentals of moving-coil, box loudspeaker behaviour, spinning off a regular series of products, starting with the original R105 nearly a decade ago.

Ken Kessler  |  Mar 31, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1996
The loudspeaker firm, famed for its late-1950s amps, makes a late-1990s return to tube electronics with two new integrateds. Ken Kessler listens

When the grapevine alerted the world's tube crazies to the return of Rogers amplification, visions of two-tone faceplates danced before our eyes. A nice Cadet III [HFN May '13], or maybe an HG88 visually unchanged but suitably modernised. The collector in me rejoiced. But the Rogers beancounters felt that an all-new product was a more sensible proposition, which is why the E-20a and E-40a all-valve integrated amps have nothing whatsoever to do with the preceding models. Indeed, they have little to do with Rogers.

Martin Colloms  |  Jun 22, 2020  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1994
hfnvintageThe world's greatest single-box CD player? The Wadia 16 may be even better, since it's also a digital preamplifier. Martin Colloms listens...

The US home market has such strength in depth that it can easily support a burgeoning digital audio sector. Any competently run company is capable of sustained expansion founded on a solid infrastructure in which both advanced research, and the development of high technology products, play a crucial role.

Ken Kessler  |  Dec 22, 2020  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1993
hfnvintageCited as the best Mac ever built, the MC275 returns. Ken Kessler listens

Reissue, reincarnation, replica – call it what you will but just thank the audio gods that someone at McIntosh has a sense of history. Unlike other manufacturers who have either squandered their heritage or merely milked it as it suited them, McIntosh has – with the Gordon J Gow Commemorative MC275 power amplifier – performed an act of such 'correctness', such aptness, that it brings a tear to this anachrophile's eye.

Ken Kessler  |  Nov 17, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1990
Koetsu enters the 1990s with a new standard-bearer in the shape of the hand-made Urushi moving-coil cartridge. Ken Kessler is smitten...

As I sat back and listened I thought, maybe it's the particular recording, perhaps it's my frame of mind but no – it can only be the cartridge. All I know is that my smooth and steady progress in coming to terms with CD has been set back to its 1985 level. Why? Because I was in peril of missing an important fact of hi-fi life, which is that just as CD hardware and software has been getting better and better, so has analogue.

Martin Colloms  |  Jul 30, 2019  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1990
Martin Colloms hears the ultimate amplifier system from one of audio's elite names: the No26/No20.5 pre/power duo and No25 phono stage

Since acquiring the Mark Levinson Audio Systems company five years ago, Madrigal Labs has pursued an evolving research programme, generating improved circuits and product designs. The result is that current MLAS products now have an importance comparable with the original brand's landmark designs.

Ken Kessler  |  Jan 31, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1990
An acoustic ribbon hybrid loudspeaker at a realistic price without the need for a huge amplifier. Too good to be true? Ken Kessler finds out...

Hybrids are supposed to be the best of two or more technologies, and we've seen the approach used for all manner of products. The most feverish of hi-fi's Dr Frankensteins though, have always been devoted to loudspeakers.

Christopher Breunig  |  May 26, 2020  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1989
hfnvintageAfter Mozart, Debussy. But what of the pianists' long term plans? A psychology of recording by Christopher Breunig

Afavourable acoustic, and music Mitsuko Uchida has been playing since she was 13 years old – but even at The Maltings, Snape, there were unforeseen snags when it came to recording Debussy's 12 Études.

Ken Kessler  |  Apr 26, 2019  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1989
Few specialist Japanese valve amps ever leave Honshu, so as the Air Tight ATC-1 and ATM-1 finally hit British shores, Ken Kessler is on standby...

For the past four years, I've been waiting impatiently for a stab at the electronics from Air Tight. I admit that the charm of the name, the absolute perfection of that moniker for a brand of valve amplifiers, caught my attention as much as did the obviously exquisite manufacture. The price, too, appealed, considering that these amplifiers promised peerless construction and attention to detail you just don't find this side west of a Jadis. At last there's a UK importer, so my wait is over.

Martin Colloms, Ken Kessler  |  May 13, 2020  |  First Published: May 01, 1987
hfnvintageWith the latest Apogee, ribbon technology comes in a more affordable package. Ken Kessler's assessment follows Martin Colloms' review

The US company Apogee has expanded its range of open-panel loudspeakers, which began with the Apogee model itself. This was a large-scale design using three separate diaphragms, with pure aluminium ribbons for frequencies above a few hundred Hertz. Three other models are now in production, comprising, in descending order of size and price, the Scintilla [HFN Sep '85], Duetta, and now the so-called 'baby' of the group, the £2500 Caliper.

Martin Colloms  |  Feb 28, 2020  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1986
Martin Colloms gets to grips with the new SME Series V

The Series V tonearm is on sale at last, albeit in limited quantities. The fruit of many years of creative research, a handmade prototype 'V' was shown to prospective distributors at the American and German shows two years ago, but it has taken a long time to get the arm into production. Components were continually tried from prospective suppliers until the quality was right and when first shown in 1984, the price was targeted at what was then a very high level, at £750 or so. Some expressed doubts concerning its credibility at that price, indeed of any similarly-priced tonearm.

Ken Kessler  |  Apr 24, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 24, 1986
hfnvintageKen Kessler takes delivery of the Audio Research SP-11 preamplifier

The time is early June, and let us imagine that this issue has been on the stands for two weeks. Editorial secretary Jennifer Scotland walks to where I am sitting and dumps a pile of letters on my desk. The angry correspondence has arrived.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 19, 2020  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1986
hfnvintageJohn Atkinson lives with Krell pre- and power amplification

Streetwise. Now there's a word. I suppose you could say that in a hi-fi context it means being aware of the unwritten myths, such as 'image depth is due to microphony in valve amplifiers' or 'Class A amplifiers sound better than ones operating in Class B' or 'the only truly great preamplifiers use valves'.

Christopher Breunig  |  Oct 10, 2019  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1985
Christopher Breunig auditions the Well-Tempered Arm

What could be more apt than the UK launch of the Well-Tempered Arm at the end of Bach's tercentenary year? Ken Kessler brought you the first picture of this iconoclastic tonearm as part of his April '85 CES report and even before then, he had inveigled California-based designer William Firebaugh into letting us have a review sample.

Ken Kessler  |  Dec 01, 2018  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1985
Ken Kessler investigates control units from Musical Fidelity and Deltec

By 1985 standards, preamps selling for between £500 and £1000 are thought of as 'upper mid-fi' and not really expected to match the standards of the Krell PAM-3/Audio Research SP-10 variety. But they should bring you close enough to the state-of-the-art that you have to think long and hard about justifying an expenditure of double their prices – or even more. Aah, diminishing returns...

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