Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 07, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingPrecision manufacturing, state-of-the-art materials and magnet technologies combine in this new addition to the 'Exclusives' MC range – the ultimate blend of art and science?

Talk about alpha to omega: we've looked at two Ortofon cartridges this month, the £295 2M Bronze supplied with Thorens' TD 1500 and now the MC Verismo moving-coil, at £5349. It's the latest MC in Ortofon's 'Exclusives' series, which already includes the £6999 MC Anna Diamond [HFN Oct '19] and £3799 MC Windfeld Ti [HFN Jan '18], but with an open body shape first pioneered in this Danish brand's MC A90 [HFN Sep '09].

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 29, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAVID's 'sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut' two-way features a massive all-alloy cabinet with tuned mass dampers to kill unwanted resonances – and this is the smallest in its range!

The friend who helped me unload these three AVID Hi-Fi boxes – one for each Reference Four speaker, at £20,000 a pair, plus one for the included (and very hefty) stands – thought he'd nailed it. 'What are these for, then?' he asked, 'heavy metal music?'. He wasn't far off the truth for while most speakers do very nicely indeed with variations on the wooden box theme, the Reference Fours use all-alloy cabinets, with panels up to 15mm-thick, sitting on six 'risers' attached to a thick alloy baseplate. Hence why each of these relatively compact speakers, at just under 37cm tall, weighs 25kg.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 25, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNAD remains a key partner in the BluOS wireless ecosphere and the C 700 is its most streamlined – read affordable and flexible – all-in-one network player/amplifier yet

With its latest 'just add speakers' hi-fi solution, Canadian manufacturer NAD's intentions are crystal-clear. Take the form factor and functionality of its award-winning Masters M10 BluOS-integrated amplifier [HFN Jun '19] but rethink the specification in order to nearly cut the asking price in half. This isn't a surprising move – at £1299, the C 700 is the 'mainstream' all-in-one system that has been begging to be built.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 23, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceJust 16cm wide, the latest integrated amplifier from Chord Electronics is truly tiny, but the levels of performance it offers elevate it way beyond its apparent novelty status

The Chord Electronics Anni, selling for £1195, isn't the company's first compact amplifier – that honour goes to the £2900 TToby [HFN Feb '17], designed as a partner for the Hugo TT 2 DAC/pre/headphone amp [HFN Dec '15]. But the Anni is smaller, at just 16cm wide and 4.25cm tall, much lighter at 625g, and conceptually different from the TToby.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 22, 2022  |  0 comments
hfncommendedStateside tube specialist, ModWright, trickles down tech from its Reference PH 150 into a more affordable all-valve MM/MC phono preamp, featuring an outboard PSU

Nothing yet has convinced me that we have seen any period, since hi-fi separates became a 'thing', when there were more phono stages than we have right now. I say this because the ModWright PH 9.0's price of £2900 puts it smack in the middle of an inordinately crowded sector. I'm obviously being naïve here, or just pretending that you can still go into any number of hi-fi shops and ask, 'Can I compare a few phono stages?'.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 21, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnvintageIn 1975 one of the leading makers of budget turntables unveiled a fully automatic mid-priced deck with mighty ambitions. How will the package shape up today?

Any mention of Dual turntables usually brings one of the many incarnations of the company's CS 505 to mind. The original '505 was a typical Dual design, taking its cue from the basic turntables that had been around since the 1950s by being built on a sprung-steel plate. It was a budget deck, which sold mainly to those looking to take their first step on the audiophile ladder. But Dual made more ambitious models too.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 18, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingHot on the heels of its tube hybrid integrateds comes this altogether cooler solid-state amplifier from Danish brand Copland. It packs on the style while also packing a punch

Nothing causes more consternation than a product seemingly 180 degrees at odds with a company's core philosophy, whether hi-fi, cars, watches, what-have-you. Audio Research dealt with the repercussions of its first solid-state amp… but an all-transistor amp from the equally tube-centric Copland? Not its first – these were the mid-'90s CSA8/CSA18 – so the CSA70 probably won't cause too much of a ruckus despite the absence of bottles.

Review: Ed Selley, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 15, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingPitched at the very affordable end of MA's comprehensive DAC/headphone series, the network-attached mini-i Pro 3 supports a huge range of formats with a powerful punch

The exact definition of what constitutes a DAC has become a little blurry in recent years. Where once the outboard 'Digital-to-Analogue Converter' offered S/PDIF and possibly USB digital inputs together with fixed and/or variable outputs on RCAs and/or XLRs, the latest generation has undergone a fair bit of mission creep. Some of this is undoubtedly in response to the wealth of new digital sources but it also speaks to the relaxing of the principles of hair-shirt minimalism that audio has worked to over many years.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 11, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis Brit-brand's range of audiophile pick-ups grows yet again with a sub-£1000 model slotting between its entry-level MM and flagship MC. Will the Sabre cut through?

In the heated-up marketplace that is 'LP Playback Circa 2022', and as with the ModWright PH 9.0 phono stage, we are also experiencing a surfeit of cartridges, tonearms and decks. With so crowded a playing field as this, Vertere – about as iconoclastic a manufacturer as analogue has seen in recent times – has to make its Sabre cartridge stand out from the rest. The company has chosen to address a usually neglected niche: true high-end moving-magnet designs.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe 'baby' of B&W's latest 800 series may be a compact standmount but it packs a good deal of the D4 DNA into its 'reverse wrap' enclosure. There's a walnut finish too...

There are standmount speakers, and then there is Bowers & Wilkins' 805 D4. Priced £6250, blessed with a suite of proprietary cabinet and driver technologies, and finished in a gorgeous blend of aluminium, leather and wood veneer or gloss paint, it's very much a premium proposition. Indeed, the idea here is that buyers either outpriced or out-sized by the floorstanding speakers in B&W's latest 800 Diamond range can still enjoy more than a taste of the hi-fi high-life.

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