Review: Adam Smith

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 03, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedFully auto turntables went out of fashion in the late '70s but Thorens has the history and experience to revive the format. Is the TD 148A in the vanguard of a new trend?

While fully automatic turntables have enjoyed a long history, arguably the daddy of them all was the Thorens TD-224 from 1962. Based on the TD-124, which appeared in 1957, it was able to retrieve LPs one at a time from a stack of discs located alongside the platter.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 13, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFor a brand that once suggested it was never going to produce a phono stage, the vinyl revival has proved an irresistible force. So is Hegel's V10 firing on all cylinders?

It's always welcome when individuals or companies offer up their future plans. If not, we'd never have known that Sean Connery was to abandon James Bond after 1971's Diamonds Are Forever, that Ferrari would not be launching an SUV and that Norwegian hi-fi manufacturer Hegel had no intention of ever making a phono stage. Of course, Connery did return to his role of suave super-spy in 1983's Never Say Never Again, Ferrari's Purosangue SUV is due later this year, and here I am writing about Hegel's £1350 V10 phono stage.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 07, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA 2021 refresh of VPI's most popular turntable also sees a 'plus' option with bespoke moving-coil from Audio-Technica and RCA tonearm cable sourced from Nordost

By no means a newcomer to the audiophile LP-spinning scene – the brand is some 40 years young – VPI's recent range expansion has doubtless been further fuelled by the worldwide 'vinyl revival'. In addition to its diverse collection of tonearms, and innovative turntables including the direct-drive HW-40 Anniversary [HFN Apr '19], there are now two additions to VPI's 'Prime' series in the form of the Prime 21 and Prime 21+, priced at £4500 and £6500.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 25, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedOmnidirectional and horn-loaded to boost sensitivity, are these really the 'beautiful moon' of floorstanders?

When it comes to makers of true omnidirectional speakers, it seems that those with the highest profile currently hail from Germany. MBL's Radialstrahlers and the German Physiks models occupy the upper echelons of the market, while at the more affordable end it's the Duevel name that springs to mind most readily. Based in Osnabruck, the latter company is the brainchild of Markus and Annette Duevel, who founded the business in 1988.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 22, 2021  |  0 comments
Very big in the Far East since 2005, Line Magnetic offers a comprehensive range of tube-based disc players, DACs, phono stages and amps. Here's the entry-level integrated

We may now live in an age of digital and streaming, but the number and sheer variety of valve amplifiers on offer seems to be on the increase. Perhaps more remarkable are those designs that unashamedly hark back to a previous era, attempting to keep it alive by the use of modern technological twists. One of the main proponents of this philosophy is Chinese company Line Magnetic, the £1699 LM-34IA integrated reviewed here being just one of a wide range of its amps inspired by famous designs of the past.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 11, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedFrom Japan comes an exquisitely finished flagship MC cartridge that's cooking on gas when it comes to serving up full-flavoured sound. Is value for money on the menu too?

By naming the flagship MC in its Hana pick-up range the Umami Red, Japanese cartridge maker Excel Sound has played a clever stroke. Glance at the £3399 cartridge's exquisitely lacquered body and there are no prizes for guessing why the name includes the word 'Red'. But 'Umami'? In Japanese, 'umami' is one of five tastes, along with sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness. It has been variously translated as 'delicious' and 'savoury', but umami is said to be quite difficult to detect on its own. Rather, it combines with other flavours to give a result that's far greater than the sum of all parts.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 08, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnvintageWith VFETs costing top dollar and facing stiff competition from other semiconductors, the late '70s saw Yamaha unveil a new pre/power amp duo. How does it sound today?

It's always intriguing to see how a company reacts to the realisation that a technology it has championed is reaching its sell-by date. This was the situation faced by Yamaha in the late 1970s. Since the middle of that decade, its top-end products had made use of Jun-ichi Nishizawa's Static Induction Transistor – more commonly known as the VFET – to great effect. This led to the development of designs such as the B-1 and B-2 power amplifiers, and C-1 preamplifier, all of which are still held in high regard.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 03, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingOne of the oldest and most revered names in vinyl's history is back, refreshed and under new ownership, and with a deck that mixes modern materials with classic design cues

How many audiophiles ten years ago would have thought that come 2020 you would be able to buy a brand new Leak amplifier and a pair of Wharfedale Linton speakers? Not many, I'd bet. And it's now possible to front a system comprising these components with a belt-drive, suspended subchassis turntable made by Thorens, and one with 'TD160' in its name. It seems the onward march of 'retro' is unstoppable!

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 05, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe front-end to Yamaha's 'Gigantic and Tremendous' 5000 series is not a digital player or DAC but a turntable, and one whose controversial arm harks back to the '80s

And then there were four... We enjoyed the Yamaha NS-5000 loudspeakers [HFN Jun '17] and were bowled over by the C-5000 preamplifier and M-5000 power amp [HFN Aug '20]. Now we have the source with which Yamaha has chosen to front its flagship 5000 series. Not only is it a return to high-end turntable manufacturing for the company, it also sees the reappearance of what is possibly the greatest model number prefix ever, the 'GT' standing for 'Gigantic and Tremendous'!

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 19, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingInspired by the flagship Acutus turntable, and bucking the trend for unsuspended decks with socially-distanced motors, the Volvere SP also comes with a familiar tonearm

Given that pretty much every component AVID has ever offered is still in production, it's clear company owner Conrad Mas does not chop and change designs on a whim. So it's no surprise that when it comes to turntables AVID has largely stuck with the thinking behind its very first deck, the Acutus, which was launched in 1999.

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