Lab: Paul Miller

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Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngA reversal of digital direction marks out this hi-tech integrated amp from the Masters Series, so can NAD's innovative thinking make the M32 stand out from the crowd?

Just in case you can't work out what the £3499 NAD M32 actually is – straight from the box only a volume control sets it apart from the company's similarly styled M22 v2 power amp – the front panel tells you, at least when powered up, that this is a 'Direct Digital DAC/Amplifier'. Of course, even powering it up may be a challenge for those for whom 'RTFM' is a sign of weakness. After a bit of stabbing of the NAD logo, which glows amber in standby, suggesting it might do something, they'll probably eventually alight on the little touch pad top and centre above the display. Brush this and the amp gets ready to do its stuff, at which point the amber surround on the logo turns white and you're in business.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngInspired by its own VPA amplifier, but with the intent to drive the ultimate high-end systems in large rooms, Nagra set to work designing its 'Statement' monoblocks

Look at the photos: the Nagra HD AMP's slim, vertical layout will remind fans immediately of the company's first power monoblock amplifier, the VPA. This vertical stance is not all that common – remember Halcro? – while the small footprint it affords makes a vertical model instantly appealing for those who value floor space. Nagra's new, top-of-the-range unit, however, is purely a solid-state device which – profile aside – is the antithesis of the all-valve VPA, which was rated at 50W in 'Pure Class A'.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngKiseki’s first all-new moving-coil cartridge since its return in 2011 isn’t just a fine transducer, it’s also affordable by current standards – enter the Kiseki Blue N.S.

Back when moving-coil cartridges stalked the earth, Koetsu occupied the top of the heap, and did so for at least a decade. But this purveyor of hand-made cartridges did not go unchallenged and, to its credit, Koetsu opened the door for a plethora of Japanese artisan moving-coils with equally exotic-sounding names. Among the most highly-regarded were the various Kisekis, the name meaning ‘miracle’, which could be regarded as either cynical or optimistic, so great was Koetsu’s dominance.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngTwo years since the rebirth of the iconic SL-1200, Panasonic's high-end brand is back with its flagship direct-drive turntable. It had to be special, and so it proved

The vinyl market hit rock bottom in 2009, but has been growing ever since,' says Technics' Tetsuya Itani, adding that, 'we foresee this trend will last.' And that, in a nutshell, is why one of the world's most iconic turntables has been relaunched. Panasonic – the brand's parent company – is not in the business of being nostalgic, remembering the glory days of vinyl, flared trousers and disco dancing. Instead, the reappearance of the SP-10 family is all about the here and now.

Review: David Vivian, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngThe company ups the ante by adding a 'just-add-speakers' solution to its Artera series, managing to squeeze streaming alongside CD replay into casework of pert proportions

So far, Quad's Artera family has comprised the Play (a combined CD transport, DAC and preamp) and the Stereo [HFN Nov '15], which is a power amp using the company's Current Dumping topology. Both solid-state components, not only are they compact and dapper but high functioning and lifestyle literate too – a feat that's trickier than it might seem. But not as tricky as folding all of the above (plus streaming) into a chassis with the same proportions as the other components in the Artera range.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngThis slimline amplifier from an established French brand may suggest another product from the same country, but it's a very different prospect with some unique features

So, it's a slimline amplifier, and it's French – already thinking of the 'D' word? But while it might seem that the M-One amplifiers from Micromega could be 'inspired' by the success of Devialet's range, in fact they have little in common beyond their country of origin and a passing resemblance in dimensions: under the skin they're very different animals.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngAfter returning to making turntables two years ago, the company is now back with a more affordable package that includes a pre-fitted arm and cartridge, all ready to go

Vinyl’s renaissance has resulted in some thought-provoking developments, particularly when it comes to turntable manufacturers. Naturally, well-established brands such as Rega and Pro-Ject have seen their output rise dramatically and, unsurprisingly, more than a few new names have appeared on the scene. What is fascinating, however, is to see manufacturers that made turntables in the past return to their vinyl roots once more.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngThey may typify Stateside heavy-metal hi-fi, but this pre/power amplifier from one of the high-end's best-known names is really all about simplicity and directness

Depending on your point of view, what you see before you are either objects of absolute hi-fi aspiration or a symbol of everything that's wrong with high-end audio in the 21st century. Along with compatriot Krell, Mark Levinson is one of those names that's likely to be known even by those with only a passing interest in hi-fi and – though the marque has undergone several twists and turns in its near-50-year history – it remains one of the best-known in the audio business.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnvintage.pngWhile designed for the pro market, this rugged little workhorse of an amp from 1978 found its way into domestic systems of the day. How does it sound, 30 years on?

How sad. Last year was the 70th anniversary of the founding of Crown, and the event seems to have gone unmarked. The only notable occurrence was that its parent company, Harman International, was acquired by Samsung, which is a rather forlorn way for this most American of brands to celebrate seven decades.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngCompact yet comprehensively-equipped, beautifully-made, with balanced outputs, MM/MC capability and a sane price, what’s not to like in Bel Canto’s e.One Phono?

Awash as we are with terrific phono stages, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. From sub-£50 units to £30,000-plus fantasy hardware, there are probably as many standalone phono stages on offer today as during the Original Vinyl Era. What Bel Canto offers with its e.One Phono, in its more cost-effective range, is a way to enjoy the adjustability demanded by perfectionists, at a sane price.

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