Lab: Paul Miller

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.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 11, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnvintageAs Lexus is to Toyota, so was Aurex to general CE brand Toshiba. We reappraise the SB-A10 – compact but full-featured, was this miniature hi-fi at its very best?

In previous vintage reviews we have featured the Technics SL-10 turntable [HFN Apr '19] with its footprint the size of an LP sleeve, Sony's D-88 CD player [HFN Jul '16] that was so small the disc stuck out of its side, and Technics' SB-F1 speakers [HFN May '17], which individually could be held easily in the palm of one's hand. So how about a complete integrated amp about the same size as the concise edition of the Oxford English Dictionary? Meet the Aurex SB-A10 from 1981.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 10, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedTop dog in a range of just two outboard DACs from Swiss brand Merason, the DAC1 is a modern-day example of 'less is more' audiophile thinking. We lift the lid and investigate

In common with a lot of HFN readers, I have a bit of a 'thing' about overly complex digital devices. I'm not referring to input flexibility – many of us will have systems in which different flavours of digital connection are accommodated, from USB links from a computer to good old S/PDIF from a CD player or the like. No, what I really find obstructive is devices bristling with digital-domain options, from filters to dither to PLL bandwidth and the like, all of which often look like an exercise in 'because we can' – a facilities arms-race – rather than being of any real-world assistance to the user.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingOne time staple of BBC monitoring, and with feet in both professional and consumer camps, this large standmount has been resurrected and refreshed by a master of the art

One cannot but think of the notion that 'Once is chance, twice is coincidence, third time is a pattern'. Following the revived 1970s JBLs and Rogers' return to LS3/5A manufacture [HFN Jul '19], the arrival of a dead-accurate, reborn BBC LS5/9 as part of Rogers' 'Classic' range is further proof that a trend is under way. All those Instagram images of systems made up of 50-year-old components tell us the past is back with a vengeance.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 07, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNamed after founder Prof. Gordon Edge, Cambridge Audio's flagship series is reinforced by the new 'M' monoblock amp. With the NQ Streamer, does this combo have an edge?

Nothing if not ambitious, Cambridge Audio's Edge series first broke cover three years back as part of the company's 50th anniversary celebrations. It took its name from Gordon Edge, one of the company's founders and the brains behind its first product, the P40 amplifier. Designed to take on the best in high-end audio, these Edge separates also serve as 'halo' products for the company's lower-tier ranges.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 27, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe 'entry-level' model in a range of two new, fully-featured Michi integrateds, the X3 is a distillation of Rotel's award-winning pre/power design with astonishing power on tap

This amplifier is substantial, beautifully designed and finished, powerful (rated at 350W/4ohm) and hefty, at getting on for 30kg – and yet it's the base model of two integrated amplifiers recently added to Rotel's revived Michi range. Following on the heels of the EISA Award-winning P5/S5 pre/power amplifiers [HFN May '20] and the M8 monoblocks [HFN Oct '20], the X3 and bigger X5 all-in-one amplifiers are the next stage in the expansion of this lineup. The £6300 X5 claims 600W/4ohm and while the £4300 X3 model may be 'lower powered' it's still able to deliver quite a wallop when required, offering a very impressive bang for your buck.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 24, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFirst floorstander in Sonus faber's Heritage range takes its Electa Amator III standmount and raises it up high

What have you been doing throughout the various lockdowns? Looks like the R&D team at the Sonus faber factory in Arcugnano, Italy, took the opportunity to spend some time revisiting a project it had been keeping on the back burner for a while – a two-way floorstander with a solid wood enclosure to slot into its Heritage collection above the Minima Amator II and Electa Amator III [HFN Jul '19] standmount models.

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