Review: Nick Tate

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Aug 29, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedCelebrating its 40th anniversary, Focal continues to diversify and expand – its Kanta range now three-strong

Sitting smack-bang in the middle of the company's vast loudspeaker range, the Focal Kanta series is described as 'a new vision for a premium speaker', no less. Personally I'm not entirely convinced that this is so revolutionary, but the £4499 Kanta No1 still makes a fine case for itself. It's attractive, very well finished and sports some novel technologies.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 23, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith a heritage in broadcast and studio environments EMT has always married robustness with precision engineering, witnessed in this 'domestic' high-end MC series

Elektromesstechnik – under the abbreviation EMT – is a brand that needs no introduction to vinyl fans, not least because of the reputation its turntables earned as the workhorses of recording and broadcast studios across the globe. The company's cartridges share a similar reputation for quality, robustness and reliability, but so far these have been somewhat overshadowed by its record decks. That's a pity, because not only has EMT been making pick-ups since 1959 but it has buyers in all four corners of the world.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  Jul 12, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceFirst launched in 1970, the L100 has been reimagined by JBL as the 'Classic' – a modern take on a speaker that's visually faithful to the original. Strap on your seat belts...

Behold this 'modern take on the all-time best-selling JBL L100 loudspeaker' with its classic retro styling. It's certainly something you'll not forget too soon. Yet why would JBL want to recreate such a whimsical thing, considering how far loudspeaker design has come in the past 50 years? The answer is surely more cultural than it is technological as, to a greater or lesser extent, our collective dissatisfaction with the modern world has encouraged us to revisit a generation or two back with rose-tinted spectacles firmly in place.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 31, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis latest variation on Audiolab's integrated amplifier theme lacks the sheer grunt of its 8300 big brother but seems none the worse for it, and looks better value too

Audiolab's 8000A first appeared on dealers' shelves in October 1983, and was arguably the least fashionable new integrated amplifier for a long time. It was everything that the cool audiophile cognoscenti of the time didn't like. How could anyone possibly produce a supposedly modern product fitted with tone controls, a headphone socket, independent source and tape switching and – perish the thought – a balance control? It was the very antithesis of what the sparse, minimalist, less-is-more 1980s was about. Despite this however, it sold like hot cakes at Christmas…

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 28, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThe most affordable product from one of Japan's renowned phono stage specialists, its quirky retro looks won't be to every Western taste – but its musical potential will

In Japan, long-playing vinyl records have never really gone away – they just went underground, becoming cool artefacts that sat defiantly away from the mainstream music market. As the country churned out millions of shiny new Compact Disc players in the 1980s and '90s, the humble LP stood its ground, cherished by record collectors who thought CD to be the replacement for pre-recorded Compact Cassette, rather than vinyl.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 23, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis sophisticated, premium-priced streaming CD player and integrated amplifier combo delivers fine sound with sleek Scandinavian style, and consummate ease of use

With its two Wi-Fi aerials protruding from behind, allied to the skinny front control knobs, swish brushed aluminium fascia and three 'podular' feet, there's something very Jetsons about the look of the Primare I35 Prisma network-ready amplifier. It has the appearance – perhaps unintentionally – of a cutting-edge piece of technology from the late 1950s, a time of dramatic change as the world entered the Space Age.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 09, 2019  |  0 comments
Employing a novel dual-pulley drive system and a bespoke 10in tonearm, AVM's first deck is a flamboyant addition to the rapidly expanding pantheon of high-end turntables

Ibuilt a unique record player for my son's 18th birthday,' says Udo Besser, Managing Director of AVM (Audio Video Manufaktur) GmbH, 'and that's what sparked the development of this turntable'. What then kept the fire burning, he told HFN, were the numerous requests for a vinyl spinner from his customers, adding that, 'also, turntables are my passion'. So Udo set about designing his own deck from scratch, and the £5490 AVM Rotation R 5.3 you see here is a clean-sheet design, new to the market.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 26, 2019  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis compact high-end integrated stereo amplifier both looks and sounds special, thanks to its old-meets-new McIntosh styling and hybrid tube/transistor design

And now for something completely different. While McIntosh has been producing big valve amps for decades and, more recently, big transistor amps – including the MA9000 [HFN Sep '18] – it is arguably better known for its use of output 'Autoformers' that manage the power into different speaker loads. Yet this diminutive £4500 MA252 actually turns out to be quite different – a compact half-width integrated amplifier with a twist. It sports a vacuum tube preamplifier section, illuminated from below, making it the company's first ever valve/transistor hybrid amplifier.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfnoutstanding.pngWith a claimed 550W on tap, this US-made pre/power amplifier combo offers serious quantities of sound per pound. How does this muscle amp-on-a-budget perform?

It’s often said that less can actually be more. For example, many high-end hi-fi products are devoid of fripperies because the lion’s share of the build budget is spent on the bits you can’t see, such as high quality components. This in turn gives better sound per pound, or so the theory goes. Yet other designs come festooned with features and often lack ability in the sonic stakes.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Keith Howard  |  May 01, 2018  |  0 comments
hfncommended.pngWith a legacy stretching back about 28 years, the 805 may still be the pint-pot of B&W’s 800-series but this latest D3 standmount can still pack a musical punch

One of the world’s largest, if not the largest, loudspeaker brands, B&W dominates the global high-end market. From the launch of the iconic 801 Series 80 nearly 40 years ago, the 800-series has been periodically improved along with advances in engineering and materials.

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