Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 22, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedBest known for its 'silverback' speakers, SA also has a range of affordable, compact 'saxo' floorstanders

System Audio's product catalogue, although spanning only three loudspeaker 'families', aims to offer a solution for almost every eventuality. The Danish manufacturer, based in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen, makes on-wall models, including the legend 7.2 [HFN Mar '22], AV-specific centre channel enclosures and subs, plus various standmounts and floorstanders. Many can be bought in active 'Silverback' guise (or upgraded at a later date), their potential then expandable via DSP 'RAM tweaks' and a WiSA-based wireless streaming hub [HFN Aug '21]. There is, to put it mildly, a lot going on.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 21, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingStrip out the digital inputs, BluOS streaming module and preamp stage from NAD's M33 and we get a 'purist' implementation of Purifi's groundbreaking Eigentakt Class D tech

Unlike the traffic on the motorway for which this stereo amplifier is definitely not named, Canadian manufacturer NAD is rolling along at pace. The M23 auditioned here, available in just a silver finish, is its latest amp to feature high-performance Purifi Eigentakt Class D technology, following in the footsteps of the £3999 M33 BluOS-capable integrated [HFN Aug '20], the seven-channel £4499 M28 power amp, and the more affordable £1749 C 298 stereo amp [HFN Oct '21]. That NAD should have chosen to adopt Eigentakt modules for a trio of models before upgrading its flagship two-channel Masters series power amp is perhaps something of a surprise. But it proves to have been worth waiting for.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 17, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMatrix Audio's Element X2 introduces design, control and input upgrades to the X's network DAC/headphone amp and preamp. All this and a colour touchscreen to boot

At first glance, one might wonder why Matrix Audio felt any need to update its Element X network DAC [HFN Jan '21], the latter receiving our 'Outstanding Product' tag at £2795. However, look at this new X2 model and – while it's still conceptually the same, with a broad retention of technology from the ESS ES9038PRO DAC to the Crystek clock – it's clear much has also changed.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 15, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnvintageFuss-free and highly affordable, this compact valve integrated was an early foray by the Dutch company into the '60s separates market. But how will it sound today?

How much power does your present amplifier produce? Expectations have risen over the years to the point that wattages in the three-figure range are no longer exceptional. But is this necessary? The Philips AG9016 seen here is rated at 2W per channel – not even sufficient to satisfy the fairly lax requirements of the DIN 45 500 'hi-fi' standard, which requires six watts.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 14, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA Serbian brand based in Chicago packs a streamer, DAC and headphone amplifier into three bijou cases, topped off with a bespoke outboard PSU. We lend an ear, man

Although UK readers might not recognise the EarMen moniker, it's certainly not a newcomer to the world of hi-fi. Its back story is quite convoluted, for although EarMen is based in Chicago, it's funded by the owner of Serbia's Auris Audio, Milomir Trosic, and most products are produced in the same Serbian factory. Auris is aimed at the premium market, with products including the Euterpe and the Nirvana – both headphone amplifiers lavishly adorned in wood and even leather – plus a neat line of luxurious-looking tube amps and even some turntables on offer.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 10, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedFeaturing a concentric mid/treble driver with a difference, ELAC's Concentro range goes 'compact' with the S 503

For those who felt that ELAC wasn't one for adventurous industrial design, the Concentro series has proved them wrong. You'll find some very curvy and organic-looking models in this range, which rises even above the finely crafted and attractive Vela series [HFN Apr '19]. However, the Concentro range still feels more like a disparate collection rather than a real product family. Virtually every model has its own design, from the menhir-like Concentro and Concentro M to the high-heeled S 507 and S 509 floorstanders.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 07, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAuralic's latest streamer/DAC combines with its upsampling processor, and at first glance there seems to be some duplication of effort. So how do they work together?

The trouble with many modern hi-fi ranges is trying to work out what each of the boxes does. I've recounted before the tale of the tower of identical-looking Linn components stacked up in the premium lounge of a well-known airline, and the amusement there was in watching 'elite' passengers trying to work out where to insert their Dire Straits CD. Similarly, Auralic also has a wide range of digital devices, and given that they all look alike, it's sometimes hard to work out what does what.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 03, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingStill featuring the iconic V-shaped plinth, this Jubilee update on Clearaudio's inaugural Reference deck features a Panzerholz plinth and magnetically-assisted ceramic bearing

Bunting must surely be in short supply. Along with the Royal Jubilee, we had SME officially celebrating its 60th birthday while Nagra rolled out the cake for its 70th – and now Clearaudio has released a product to celebrate its '40 years of excellence' (an anniversary that actually fell in 2018, but product delays are nothing new). The good news is that the result is the £17,500 Clearaudio Reference Jubilee turntable; the bad news is that production is limited to 250 units worldwide.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA new dawn? Audio Research's first fresh integrated amp in seven years shows a change of direction while still maintaining a grip on the brand's sonic virtues. Enter the I/50...

Few companies have been as resistant to styling changes as Audio Research. Even after a decade-plus under the ownership of fashion-conscious Italians, ARC products still suggest they belong in studios or government laboratories. Can you imagine the shock, then, when news releases arrived showing a swoopy integrated amplifier available in six colourways?

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 27, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMoving-coil pick-ups are inherently 'balanced' and Pro-Ject is determined to reveal them at their best with this balanced-wired version of the X2 deck and phono preamp

One burning question is begged by the arrival of Pro-Ject's X2 B turntable and Phono Box S3 B phono stage: why did it take so long for the industry to simplify a balanced vinyl-playing front-end? It's not like balanced operation wasn't adopted by high-end listeners decades ago as superior to single-ended for both line-level sources – DACs and top-flight CD players – and pre-to-power amp connections. MC cartridges are inherently balanced. So why the wait?

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