Review: Adam Smith

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 19, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingReplacing the longstanding VPS, Nagra's Classic Phono is not only significantly more flexible but its technical and sonic performance also marks an equally significant uplift

Acelebratory cake is in order. Swiss high-end manufacturer Nagra turned 70 last year, and its birthday present to itself is something of a first for the company. That's for another time, but I'm not giving too much away by saying that, when it arrives, it will make the perfect partner to the item under review here – the £17,000 Classic Phono MM/MC phono stage.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis icon of British hi-fi is typically sparing in its celebration of milestones, but SME's Diamond jubilee demanded something very special indeed. And here it is...

If the engineers at SME felt the need for a motivational quote or two while working on the company's new turntable, Rolls-Royce co-founder Sir Henry Royce's 'Take the best that exists and make it better' would have been a good choice. This summed up the challenge facing the UK company in designing a successor to the previous Model 30 flagship – the result is the £49,950 SME Model 60, and it has a tough act to follow.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 04, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingLatest in Exposure's top-end compact series is this flexible MM/MC phono preamp, inspired by the XM3 Phono but with improved audio stages and an outboard PSU

Despite concerns over pressing delays and the availability of raw materials, the lure of vinyl seems to show no signs of abating, which explains why the selection of phono stages available now is greater than ever. The latest company to add to the audiophile wishlist is West Sussex-based Exposure Electronics, with the VXN Phono. This is the first 'source' item in the only-available-in-black VXN range, joining two-way and three-way active crossover units and the VXN Power Supply [HFN Feb '20].

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 23, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedLaunched as part of a series including a CD transport and two amplifiers – one with onboard streaming – the Attessa turntable completes Roksan's most stylish offering

There are a few announcements guaranteed to make an audio fan sit up and take notice, one being the unveiling of a new turntable from Roksan. After all, the company burst onto the scene in 1985 with the Xerxes – a deck that is still going strong 36 years later in '20 Plus' guise [HFN Dec '11]. However, the new deck in question is the £995 Attessa turntable, and it forms part of a completely new Roksan range.

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.

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