Review: Andrew Everard

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: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 14, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA 110-year history makes Denon a record-holder in the hi-fi industry – and it's marking that landmark with an Anniversary series that includes this very fine disc player and amp

Hi-fi companies marking anniversaries is nothing new – indeed, it seems something crops up almost every month to mark some celebration, from 25 years of the Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series upwards. However, few brands have the history to warrant an anniversary as significant as Denon, for this year the Japanese company marks not merely its centenary, but a full 110 years in business.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 04, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe dedicated music server is in the ascendant, and every company has a different twist on the idea. In the case of Dutch company Grimm Audio, the twist is especially unusual

The continued rise of network audio has created a new game in the hi-fi world, best summed up as 'Yes, but what is it?'. You see, all sorts of network-capable devices exist right now, and it seems each of them has a somewhat different approach. For example, perhaps the best-known name in 'audiophile servers' or 'music libraries', Melco, started out by making products designed to feed network players over a network connection, paying close attention to the isolation and optimisation of the Ethernet feed. It then reinvented itself as a maker of network transports, connecting directly to a suitable DAC using a USB output, again with isolation strategies implemented.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 17, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedWith a rich heritage in the pro audio field, US brand Bricasti is paying closer attention to the high-end consumer market with this new, dual-mono pre/power combination

Few products passing through the HFN review process elicit quite as much discussion as has this Bricasti pairing – or at least one half of it. Our initial listening results were slightly puzzling, with a sound clearly doing many things right when interposed between editor PM's dCS Vivaldi One/Melco front-end [HFN Feb '18] and Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 speakers [HFN Oct '16], and yet our musical souls were not entirely stirred. Was this an example of unpredictable system matching? Some judicious high-end separates swapping revealed the £19,500 M25 power amp was certainly able to deliver the goods in no uncertain fashion. But did the £13,500 M20 preamp sound just a little too smooth?

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 08, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingPart of the Italian company's stripped-down AA line, which is all about simplicity of design, this compact DAC offers more features than initially meet the eye

Italian manufacturer Audio Analogue's 'PureAA' line was spun out of the 20th anniversary models the company launched back in 2016. The range now runs to three models, of which the AAdac is the latest arrival, bringing digital capability to a range that was otherwise purely 'analogue'. Like the other PureAA models and Anniversary amplifiers, the AAdac is a co-operation between Audio Analogue and stablemate AirTech, and is very much Realizzato è Costruito in Italia. There's certainly none of that offshoring the entry-level line here.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 04, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis SE version of Marantz's former 'Japan only' SA-12/PM-12 player/amp combo borrows very heavily indeed from the costlier KI Ruby series, but saves £1000 into the bargain

So what do we have here? The new SA-12SE SACD/CD player and PM-12SE integrated amplifier, selling for £2999 apiece, are the latest in a long line of 'special edition' products from Marantz. Its family tree includes 'Original Special Edition' models, when other brands got in on the 'SE' thing, and the 'KI Signature' versions tuned by the company's late Brand Ambassador, Ken Ishiwata.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 27, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingIt looks like the S5 stereo power amp, both inside and out, but the Michi M8 monoblock is altogether more powerful and, as a result, offers a sound with a charm all its own

You'll have to examine the £5399 Michi M8 monoblock power amp very closely to see how it differs from the company's S5 stereo model, reviewed previously alongside the £3299 P5 preamplifier [HFN May '20]. The two are the same price and size, look identical and have much the same 'ask a friend to help' mass. In fact, the M8 weighs marginally less than the S5, at 59.1kg – the difference presumably accounted for by the need for two-channel inputs on the stereo amp whereas the mono version has only single-channel connections, on both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA sockets.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 23, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceOne of a growing choice of 'audiophile' network switches, this one comes from Digital Music Library specialist Melco. Can this work magic in any networked system?

When Japanese-based Melco launched its first 'Digital Music Library' [HFN Feb '15], it more or less started a trend for audiophile music storage devices, and these days there's no shortage of rivals out there, all claiming to deliver the best possible sound for your network audio. However, its first 'Audiophile Dataswitch' enters a somewhat different arena, where it's not exactly a pioneer.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 16, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe new entry-level model in the Norwegian company's amp range is a sensible mix of facilities and performance – or at least it would be, if the sound wasn't sensational!

Oslo-based Hegel has been enjoying something of a purple patch of late: not content with raising eyebrows with the sheer performance of its flagship H590 integrated amplifier [HFN Oct '18], it went on to get dangerously near that level with the much more affordable H390 model [HFN Aug '19], offering almost all of big brother's sound quality for not much more than half the price. Our HFN review concluded that it was 'sensationally good value, with a clean, powerful sound and bags of musicality, not to mention exceptional flexibility including onboard network streaming'. Unsurprisingly, it won the 2019-20 EISA Award for 'Best High-End Amplifier'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 12, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith some sensible internal revisions, the German company has made its heavyweight preamplifier even more precise and detailed, without sacrificing any of the music's soul

You can tell a lot about a company from the title it takes for itself – from the name of the founder to classical or musical allusions to the equivalent of go-faster stripes, every brand seems to set out its stall in a somewhat different way. German manufacturer T+A elektroakustik is no exception, except here the name – the initials stand for 'Theorie und Anwendung', Theory and Application – is saying 'we're no-nonsense, and led by engineering'. Or, as the company puts it in a brief bio, 'Actually we're scientists…'.

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