Review: Adam Smith

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 21, 2020  |  0 comments
hfncommendedIcon Audio's new Stereo ST30SE amplifier makes use of beefy KT150 output valves in an effort to overcome the traditionally low power of SE tube amps. Does it succeed?

The single-ended valve amplifier is still something of a niche product. Low power outputs and often equally low damping factors mean that very careful system matching, plus sensitive loudspeakers, are a prerequisite if you are to hear such designs give of their very best. However, the UK's very own guru of all things thermionic, David Shaw of Icon Audio, has decided to address these issues with his £2299 single-ended Stereo ST30SE, an integrated amp having, shall we say, a tad more welly, thanks to it being equipped with KT150 output valves.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 13, 2019  |  0 comments
The big beast of the budget audiophile jungle is back with two new models to beef-up its 14-series lineup. Does this affordable CD/amp combination have real teeth?

Something is afoot in the land of hi-fi separates. First we had Musical Fidelity with its M2scd/M2si [HFN Jul '19], then Cambridge Audio's AXC35/AXA35 [HFN Sep '19] and now Rotel has launched its own affordable amplifier and CD player pairing, in the form of the £429 CD11 and £599 A11.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 02, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedIs the no-frills CD player/amplifier combo making a comeback? Cambridge Audio is not alone in thinking so, but its latest AX series also looks to offer uncommonly good value

Whether a car, hi-fi component or a general electronic gadget, the promise of 'trickle-down' technology from a flagship model is always an alluring prospect. Cambridge Audio is the latest to claim such an advantage, with the assertion that its new AX models 'take design and innovation cues from the CX and Edge [HFN Nov '18] hi-fi ranges'.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 13, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedBeing 'designed in France and built with passion', the IA350A integrated amplifier from YBA's Passion series promises high quality with more than a sprinkling of Gallic flair...

Agood hi-fi system should invoke 'passion' in the listener – be that an urge to crank-up the volume, to play an air guitar or wave an imaginary baton. French brand YBA knows this only too well, bestowing this particular moniker on its penultimate lineup of models. Coming in below its Statement units, but above Design, Heritage and Genesis, the six-strong Passion range also includes the PRE550/AMP650 pre/power amplifiers [HFN May '18].

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 31, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingIn production for over three decades, A-T's iconic 'OC9 moving-coil has evolved into a broad series to service the vinyl revival. We test the 'prince' of the new generation

None of us needs reminding that the enthusiasm for vinyl continues apace. Yet while manufacturers of turntables and tonearms were quick to serve this revitalised market, makers of pick-ups have taken a little while longer to catch up.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 19, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe inaugural product in Colorado-based Boulder's 500 series is this MM/MC phono preamp – fully balanced throughout, including the connection to your turntable

Modern phono stages seem to fall into one of two camps – those with multiple inputs, multiple gain options and a seemingly endless permutation of impedance and capacitance settings [see EAT E-Glo S, HFN Mar '17], and those, like the Boulder 508, that seek to minimise switching and variable gain in favour of one, potentially simpler, signal path.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 11, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe iconic visuals belie Musical Fidelity's recent change in ownership – so will this familiar M2 series CD/amp combination still tempt the budget-conscious enthusiast?

In these evolving days of digital music, cloud storage and online streaming, it might seem counter-intuitive for Musical Fidelity to release a line-only amplifier and 'plain vanilla' CD player. The £799 M2si integrated has no inbuilt DAC, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi and not even a phono stage, or indeed the option of one. And, peer round the rear of the matching £799 M2scd compact disc player, and the only connections you will find are outputs. Once again, it has no digital inputs, no antennae sticking out and no wireless wizardry up its sleeve. What's going on?

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngThe Czech company beefs up its most popular turntable range with a deck boasting a sophisticated motor system and new S-shaped tonearm. Then there’s the new logo...

Recently I found myself chatting with a fellow hi-fi nut about the sheer number of turntables currently available. We discussed a few of our favourites and his final comment was: ‘Yes, a great selection; although about half of them are made by Pro-Ject!’ While we chuckled, I couldn’t help thinking he had a point...

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngA new name in turntables from Serbia and an equally new arm from Timestep in the UK make for a very stylish combination. But do they sound as good as they look?

It's not every day one comes across a turntable named after a film director but the Soulines Kubrick DCX really has been christened in honour of Stanley Kubrick. Soulines is no stranger to this naming practice, its other models being the Elgar and Satie (composers), Dostoyevsky (novelist) and Hermes (Greek god). Designer Igor Gligorov says he drew inspiration for the look of the £2995 Kubrick from the spinning, double-wheeled Space Station V depicted in the film director's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and that the name naturally followed.

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.

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