Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 22, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingDanish brand Copland beefs-up the power supply to its all-singing, all-dancing CSA100, crowning its range of tube hybrid integrated amplifiers with this heavyweight model

Not long into my audition of Copland's CSA150, I began to feel a little annoyed that, at some point, I'd have to unplug it and send it back. Reviewer remorse isn't quite as galling as buyer remorse, but it is still 'a thing', and this £4988 hybrid tube integrated had given me a bad case of it. Hybrid? Yes, for the CSA150 looks to be an upscaled CSA100 [HFN Aug '20] combining a 6922 double-triode and solid-state FETs in its preamp stage, driving a bipolar transistor amplifier output. Perhaps keen to avoid overselling the benefits of this architecture, Copland warns buyers not to expect 'the warm and nice, coloured charm of some older tube designs'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 20, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe latest in a lineage of DACs stretching back some 27 years has a name – 'DacMagic' – that's as memorable as the parent brand itself. Hey presto, here's the 200M...

The modern hi-fi market is not exactly short of affordable DAC/headphone amplifiers, but the £449 Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M has not only previous form, but an impressive pedigree on its side. Indeed, a full 27 years have passed since the arrival of the original DACMagic-1 as a slightly late, but very affordable and accomplished 'CD upgrade' DAC. Since then, the company's range of digital-to-analogue converters has been developed and refined, as well as adapted to the requirements of the changing hi-fi arena.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis slim floorstander has million-dollar looks but a wallet-friendly price, and aims to sound bigger than it seems

Monitor Audio's close-to-entry-level Bronze series wants to offer something for everyone – the full range runs to eight models, including various multichannel options – but it's perhaps the Bronze 200 floorstander that many potential buyers will investigate first. A slim two-and-half-way tower speaker priced £569, with attractive finish options (white, walnut, urban grey and black), plus driver technologies borrowed from pricier models, it appears at face value to offer performance potential and that hi-fi holy grail: value for money.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 13, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedPowered by in-house hardware and software engineering from Korea's Citech group, the HiFi Rose brand combines slick visuals with the promise of state-of-the-art sound

One of the great benefits of the rise of streaming – be it network or online – is the flexibility it gives manufacturers to create just about any product they like. There are some basic formats, including the all-in-ones like the Naim Uniti [HFN Nov '17], NAD M-Series [HFN Aug '20] and the new Cambridge Audio Evo. There are also streaming amps and standalone playback components (network players or DACs), but within those parameters the engineers and designers have no shortage of freedom to create network audio devices in just about any shape they want…

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 06, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe most popular range of MMs on the planet – Ortofon's 2M series – has just got a new chief. All hail the Black LVB 250, anointed by none other than Beethoven himself

One body and 'motor', but different styli or cantilevers: I'm not sure which of the latter two choices is more important if a manufacturer wants to create a range from a primary design with an upgrade path. Ortofon has no such doubts and is taking no chances with the 2M Black LVB 250. While it looks like the circa-£95 2M Red I have been using for years as my reference entry-level MM cartridge, save for the colour, this new flagship for the 2M moving-magnet family comes in at a heady £829. That, however, accounts for the top-of-the-range 2M magnet and coils, new suspension and cantilever.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 02, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingClassé is back with a bang – its third-generation Delta amplification carrying 'does what it says on the tin' model designations, and sounding as thrillingly no-nonsense as ever

When it comes to prosaic model naming, Classé has it nailed: its latest Delta series preamp, selling for £9999, is called 'PRE', and the matching monoblock power amps at £10,999 apiece, are called 'MONO'. The only other model in the lineup is the Delta stereo power amp, at £11,999, which is unsurprisingly called 'STEREO'.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 24, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingJoining the M3scd CD player/DAC and M3si amplifier, the new M3x Vinyl represents the brand's 'entry-level' MM/MC phono preamp. We lift the lid on a novel design

Scratching my head, I remain amazed at the plethora of affordable phono stages now on offer, as if to prophesy that the LP's return has no end in sight. Either that or it's sheer opportunism, but hey, that's all good news for hi-fi users. What these phono preamps do is ensure that LPs are accessible to a wider audience than high-end devices serve, while filling the gap between the costly stuff and those £99 USB-equipped decks which probably chew up more LPs than they actually play. Musical Fidelity's M3x Vinyl, however, begs a different sort of question.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 21, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingSingular driving force behind the revival of the strain gauge generator system first seen in phono pick-ups from the '60-70s, Soundsmith's latest offering is nothing if not flexible

Hardly scientific, I know, but I am predisposed toward components that cause binge-listening. Not knowing what to expect of the Soundsmith Strain Gauge cartridge and the accompanying SG-230 preamp/energiser at a pound shy of £16,000, I will declare my surprise upon discovering that it was so engaging, I listened to 14 LPs in a row in their entirety. I repeat: fourteen.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 17, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingSeven years after Yamaha moved into high-end price points with a flagship, all-analogue integrated we look at its latest offering and discover 'retro' with 21st century sound

Big, bold and unashamedly old-school with its silver finish – black is available as an option – polished piano black side panels and large illuminated meters, the £4999 Yamaha A-S3200 is the flagship of the brand's integrated amplifier range, which kicks off with the modest £200 A-S201.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDanish brand's flagship floorstander really comes on song in fully active 'Silverback' guise, with room bass-tuning to boot

There's more to System Audio's flagship floorstander than meets the eye. Outwardly, the £7000 Legend 60.2 Silverback, available in satin black and satin white, appears to be an archetypal slender, tower loudspeaker. Peer around the back, however, and you'll find a metal plate – the Silverback of its title – with IEC mains inlet, XLR and USB connections, plus a bank of status LEDs below legends including 'Wireless', 'Centre' and 'Subwoofer'. So not only is this an active model, it's one with wireless and multichannel ambitions.

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