Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 22, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe flagship of B&W's Anniversary Edition takes the range to a new price level, and promises performance to match

The special editions have been coming thick and fast this year, and this is the second recent 'tuned' range from Worthing-based Bowers & Wilkins, following hot on the heels of the 700 Series Signature models. We've reviewed the 702 Signature floorstander [HFN Sep '20], and the formula for the 600 Series Anniversary lineup is a familiar one: new finishes, and some mild performance tuning.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 18, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe REF 6 replaced Audio Research's long-serving REF 5 tube preamp back in 2015 but five years of running production updates have now culminated in this 'SE' refresh

The Audio Research Corporation is a company with provenance, a truth that's instantly apparent when first setting eyes upon its new £16,998 REF 6SE line-stage preamplifier. Indeed, its history shouts out at you, from the iconic styling with shades of its 1970s SP-series preamps, to the industrial-quality construction which underlines that it's built to last. Rather like its manufacturer, in fact.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 17, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnvintageBass-heavy behemoth or technical tour de force? We hear a range-topping speaker first launched in 1975 that promised 'true waveform fidelity'. How will it shape up?

Although the Japanese dominated much of the hi-fi scene during the 1970s, there was one important area where their reach was more limited. That was the loudspeaker market. Yes, the companies' catalogues may have been full of glittering arrays of tempting models, but dealers outside of Japan seldom had that many in stock for interested buyers either to see or hear.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 15, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingBucking the trend – Scansonic goes for the slender, multi-driver approach for its flagship design, to impressive effect

The MB series is the high-end range from Scansonic, and the MB6 B the flagship of the latest iteration of this lineup. Yet in an arena where bulky, room-dominating speakers prevail, this design takes a different approach. Yes, it's tall, at just over 1.4m, but the company has kept it slender – at under 18cm, the front baffle is narrower than that of many a much smaller design. For example, even the little B&W 606 standmount speaker is a centimetre wider than this floorstanding tower.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 11, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis unit may be compact, but it's a highly comprehensive DAC/headphone amp/preamp, with full network audio capability encompassing a huge range of formats

Based in Xi'an, the ancient city in northwest China that's home to the famous Terracotta Warriors, Matrix Audio has a classic hi-fi backstory: it was founded by three audio/music enthusiast schoolmates who regrouped some years later to launch a company to develop and produce hi-fi separates. The DA-100plus DAC was its inaugural product in 2006 since which time the company has evolved its lineup to encompass a range of digital and streaming products that covers just about all the bases, from the X-Sabre Pro DAC [HFN Nov '17] to the new £2795 Element X.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingTrickledown engineering wins hands down as the core technology behind Marantz's 12 series is buffed to a new polish, gaining network compatibility at an even lower price

The expression 'hot on the heels' is one thing, but to launch two sets of products seemingly offering similar features at much the same price might be seen as inviting customer confusion. Yes, that's just what Marantz has done, with the SA-12SE/PM-12SE SACD player and amplifier [HFN Nov '20] followed within weeks by the arrival of the 30 Series models – yes, an SACD player and amplifier. Add in the fact that both ranges draw heavily on previous models – to put it charitably – and one might well wonder what exactly is going on.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 04, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAccordo standmount gains a dedicated woofer and larger, floorstanding cabinet. Hey presto: the Essence

No kidding: when I first fired up the Franco Serblin Accordo Essence, I figured it sold for around £20,000, somehow forgetting that the loudspeaker above it – the flagship Ktêma [HFN Sep '20] – cost £25k. Surely they wouldn't price two models so closely? Equally, I failed to recall that the standmount Accordo [HFN Jan '18] from which it is derived sells for only £7500. The pricing, however, illustrates how Massimiliano Favella is sticking to a plan where each model fills a sonic and fiscal gap: the Accordo Essence will set you back £12,998 per pair.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMark Levinson's second turntable, the No5105, has been designed to be a painless, all-in-one, 'turnkey' affair – but does it still tick all the high-end boxes?

Like that 'difficult second album', any sequel to the Mark Levinson No515 [HFN Oct '17] has to live up to a heady precedent. At £5799 less cartridge, or £6499 with Ortofon's Quintet Black S MC pick-up installed, the No5105 sells for just over half the price of the No515. While the inclusion of the cartridge does not save any money – certainly not always the case when buying a package – it does remove any set-up worries by being factory-fitted.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 26, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingLaunched in 1999, the original Debut turntable set the bar for starter vinyl packages. Twenty-one years later and the 'Carbon EVO' raises it to pole-vault standards...

Deck/arm/cartridge/dustcover: check. Price £449: check. A choice of nine finishes including wood veneer, or gloss or satin colours: check. Everything included in the package readying it for connection to a phono stage: check. That list tells you Pro-Ject's best-seller remains, after two decades, the go-to 'turnkey' record deck for newcomers (or seasoned audiophiles on a budget). The basic recipe is unchanged but refined, which is why it has sold over 1,000,000 units. Rest assured, however, that this latest incarnation, the Debut Carbon EVO, is far more than a merely cosmetic upgrade.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 25, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDesigned and handcrafted by the father and son team at Lu Kang Audio, the Spoey230 is the heavyweight flagship standmount of this artisan range from Taiwan's Taipei City

The last time you bought a television you probably came across no more than five or six different brands. But what about the last time you bought loudspeakers? It's one of the joyful aspects of hi-fi: the industry is very broad here, supporting a diverse range of manufacturers with different design ideals, resulting in an equally diverse choice for enthusiasts.

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