Ken Kessler and Paul Miller

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Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Jan 15, 2012  |  0 comments
You want big valves? Really big? NAT has cooked up a monoblock with a mortadella-fat QB 5/1750 tetrode, and a preamp worthy of the honour. Enter Utopia and Transmitter Any reservations I may have had about Eastern European amplifiers were put to rest by the NAT Se1 MkII reviewed in Aug ’10. It was time, I thought, to stop treating the former Communist Bloc as if it were the equivalent of China circa 1993. If anything, countries like Serbia, Bulgaria and others under the grip of the Commies for a half-century had a much better chance at conquering the high-end than the Chinese did, because they had greater hands-on experience.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2011  |  0 comments
Though celebrated for digital products, Esoteric cares more about analogue than you’d expect – the company’s E-03 phono stage joins the ranks of the greats. We’ve come so far down the digital path that we’re at a stage where there’s been a near-complete volte face in expectations: where once we awaited digital products from companies with their roots in analogue, we now entertain analogue products from companies with their roots in digital.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Nov 30, 2011  |  0 comments
Valve DACs are intrinsically anachronistic - Tim de Paravicini's new EAR-Yoshino DACute takes the retro attitude a stage further by sounding deliberately analogue

Hard to believe, I know, but the EAR-Yoshino 192 DACute Digital Audio Interface is the company’s first stand-alone D/A converter. The company has also produced CD players but, as main man Tim de Paravicini tells me, his previous experiences with digital mainly involved ‘bits of work for studios. ’ But it was this studio connection that led Tim to develop the 192 DACute.

Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2011  |  0 comments
Emblematic of the evolution of the Chinese-made valve amp is PrimaLuna's ProLogue Premium - in case you hanker after a value-for-money integrated with no rough edges This year, my son turned 21 and graduated from university. That was enough of a reminder of time’s passage to depress me. Far less cataclysmic an indicator was another shock to the system (metaphorical, I stress) in the form of the PrimaLuna Prologue Premium Integrated Amplifier. It’s not that the original, which ‘legitimised’ Chinese-made valve amps for Western consumers, was shabby by any means.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Oct 02, 2011  |  0 comments
Active/passive - not behavioural therapy, but two of Air Tight's options for cartridge amplification: the ATH-2A step-up transformer and ATE-2005 phono equaliser . With at least three turntables active in my system at any time, I’ve learned to appreciate options. All of my preferred phono amplifiers accept at least two decks and can cope with both MM and MC cartridges of varying output levels.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Jul 08, 2011  |  0 comments
Upscale integrateds must be the ‘new black’: following Storm, EAR-Yoshino, Quad and others, the Audiant 80i is a charmer from Down Under – and with an onboard DAC too In its 37 years as an amplifier manufacturer, Perreaux has gone from its 22W/ch GS 2002 integrated debut product to eye-watering 750W monoblock powerhouses. Separate preamps, professional gear, D/A converters, CD players – it’s a full-line brand that’s maintained a global reputation despite the remoteness of a manufacturing base in New Zealand. Along the way, Perreaux was bitten by the MOSFET bug. Having decided not to go with valves as far back as 1974, due to the inconveniences of size, weight and heat, and not entirely happy with the sound of bipolar solid-state devices, MOSFETs seemed a godsend.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Mar 10, 2011  |  0 comments
A CD player with a valve displayed in the front panel: Luxman references its own past for the D-38u, a machine that oozes retro, right down to its chunky wooden sleeve Compact Disc was only launched in 1982/3, which – though its demise is perhaps now in sight – doesn’t seem that long ago. Yet here is Luxman with a player that is decidedly two-channel-only, its digital outputs are limited to coaxial and Toslink optical, it arrives with a wooden case, and it features a design touch that refers directly to one of its ancestors. If that’s not retro, what is? But Luxman, cleverly, has never been shoehorned into a genre, having excelled in every area save speaker manufacture. Its amps have a cult following, as did the vacuum-hold-down turntables, and the company always delivered decent CD players.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Apr 04, 2009  |  0 comments
Like manual gearboxes, film cameras and mechanical wristwatches, turntables are intrinsically ‘retro’. Any or all might argue that, say, a manual gearbox gives a driver more control over the car, but let’s admit it: part of us simply revels in supporting the anachronistic. And no turntable I’ve seen in years better embodies a resistance to the evolution of high-end record spinners than Origin Live’s Resolution Mk 2. Everything about this deck reminded me of some turntable of yore, as did the Encounter arm.
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