Lab: Paul Miller

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 18, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceTouted as the 'world's first multi-DAC DAP', Astell&Kern's premium portable takes tweaking-on-the-move to a new pace. We run to keep up with the features on offer

Once upon a time there was just Astell&Kern, the company building its reputation on superior digital audio players (or DAPs) aimed at those for whom playing music from their phone just wasn't enough. In an era when the multifunctional pocket device is designed to take over every task you could imagine, from browser, emailer, camera, music player and – well – phone, the idea of carrying a dedicated audio device around may seem like something of an anachronism. 'An MP3 player, grandad?'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 15, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingNow housed in a 'chassis within a chassis', featuring an uprated USB interface and slicker Lightning OS, Auralic's G2.1 series kicks off with the Aries streaming transport

At first glance, Chinese company Auralic's range looks baffling, such is the choice of similar-looking units – and it's becoming more so with the arrival of new 'second generation' G2 models, confusingly distinguished by the addition of a '.1' suffix on its product designations. In the new lineup there's the Vega G2.1 streaming DAC, at £5999, the Sirius G2.1 upsampling processor at the same price, the £7999 Leo GX.1 master reference clock, and the product we have here, the £4199 Aries G2.1, described as a 'Wireless Streaming Transporter'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 11, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingMore room and wallet-friendly than the flagship Borg, Fink's compact KIM packs no less 'tech'

No, they're not named after a Kardashian, a Rudyard Kipling novel or even Mel & pop partner. Instead, the new KIM standmount speakers from FinkTeam, selling for £8900 a pair complete with their dedicated open-frame stands, take their lead from the company's Borg speakers in having a Star Trek association. In this case it's somewhat less villainous, in the form of Voyager character Ensign Harry Kim, the ship's Operations Officer. It could all have been so different: story is, Kim was originally to be called by one of several names, including Jay Osaka.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingEagerly anticipated, Audia Flight's 'starter' FLS series integrated accommodates a suite of optional modules. Could this be the high-end hub you've been waiting for?

A'synergy of sophisticated original circuit design and Italian style'. That's the promise of Audia Flight, the company established in 1996 by Massimiliano Marzi and Andrea Nardini. Arguably a 'boutique brand' by virtue of a product line focused almost entirely on amplifiers, the lone standout is a CD player in its entry-level 'FL Three S' range [HFN Sep '07]. We are testing its newest addition here: the FLS 9 stereo integrated which pledges to showcase the brand's audiophile philosophy at a price more manageable – beginning at £5950 – than that of its other high-end creations.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 05, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWho better than a legendary turntable maker to offer a go-to, affordable, universal phono stage? The Thorens MM-008 looks set to shake up the entry-level sector

If anyone still doubts the extent of the LP renaissance, beyond the use of turntables as a trope for cool ads aimed at hipsters, the plethora of affordable gear coming from purist brands known for high-end price points should convince them otherwise. Forget those £69, all-plastic 'record players' sold online to snare newbies: when a company such as Thorens brings out a phono stage like this £220 MM-008, it indicates that renewed LP usage is not the sole province of seasoned audiophiles. Or, indeed, wealthy ones.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 01, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis flagship monoblock is not only more powerful but features significant design enhancements over other Class D amplifiers in the Stellar range, including a tube input...

The best of both worlds' is an oft-used rallying cry in the hi-fi industry, rolled out to extol the virtues of everything from compact loudspeakers with big bass output to digital network players with phono stage inputs. It's also the self-proclaimed raison d'être of PS Audio's Stellar M1200 monoblock amp. Sold in pairs for £6000, this recent addition to the Stellar range combines a high-power Class D output stage with Class A vacuum tube input, in pursuit of both efficient speaker-driving muscle and spine-tingling musicality.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 25, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWithout any sense of irony, the man most identified with rival brand Marantz for 40 years is posthumously recognised for his work in 'tweaking' Rotel's budget CD and amp

Synchronicity is a strange thing: for whatever reason of scheduling, I found myself embarking on this review a year to the day since the passing of audio legend Ken Ishiwata. The anniversary was marked by his daughter with a YouTube video of some joyously retro Latin music performed by an all-Japanese vocal group. 'Instead of making this a very sad day,' she wrote, 'we would like to share one of his favourite songs with you. He used to play this all the time, it brings back lovely memories and a smile upon our faces'.

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.

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