Review and Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Andrew Everard, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 03, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingLook beyond the ostentatious livery and tongue-in-cheek labelling, and darTZeel's flagships are revealed as sensational amplifiers, with a sound as imperious as it is refined

If you want an amplifier with a face, not a fascia, start saving up for a darTZeel. Designer Hervé Delétraz has a sense of humour – turning an on/off button into a 'nose' with selector/volume knobs as bulbous eyes and grinning LEDs beneath. Then there's this Swiss manufacturer's mix of golden fascias and red casework, already iconic as the brand's house style over its two decade timeline.

Review: Andrew Everard, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingWith radical styling, serious room-heating ability and possibly the highest price per Watt ever seen in these pages, these Swedish power amps are the result of a family obsession

To misquote Sly & The Family Stone just a little, Swedish hi-fi company Engström – it only makes tube amplifiers – is a family affair. Founded by engineer Lars Engström and his industrial designer nephew Timo as recently as 2008, the company is based in Lund, just northeast of Malmö, and has its R&D HQ some 600km away in Nacka, south of Uppsala on the Baltic Sea coast. The division of labour in the company sees Lars Engström as chief engineer, having given up work in fields as diverse as navigation, microcomputing and railway signalling systems in 2001 to concentrate on amplifier development, while his nephew is responsible for the look of the products, and the company operations.

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 13, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedInfineon Technologies' Class D solutions have been seen before in audiophile amps, but this is the first to feature gallium nitride FETs. The 'tubes', however, are pure decoration!

Unlike its meaning as a show of arrogance, in a design context a 'conceit' is, variously, 'an ingenious or fanciful comparison or metaphor', 'an artistic effect or device', or 'a fanciful notion'. AGD's £18,000-per-pair Gran Vivace is all three. To understand the utterly bizarre use of a valve's glass envelope as a housing for a solid-state amplifier, think of a similar conceit in another field: smart watches which, instead of emulating Apple's genre-defining rectangle, look like analogue timepieces.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 07, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceThis 'Art Series' is the first silver CrystalConnect offering curated by high-end specialists Crystal Cable. We hear the midrange interconnect.

Spin-off or temporary re-branding, CrystalConnect is part of the same Crystal Cable company, led by Gabi Rynveld, that audiophiles have been familiar with for over 17 years. Synonymous with silver conductors, the brand's latest 'Art Series' employs a development of its monocrystal (or long-crystal) conductors dubbed 'Infinite Crystal Silver' (iCS). Strands of this high conductivity metal are deployed across a range that includes analogue RCA/XLR interconnects, power and speaker cables plus USB, S/PDIF and AES digital interconnects.

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAn homage to the legendary TD 124 that reigned supreme from 1957-67, this latter-day derivative looks the part but trades an idler-drive for a custom direct-drive motor

As occasionally backward-looking as hi-fi is – if no worse than cars, fashion or watches – one needs to raise the dead with care. McIntosh, for example, has dazzled enthusiasts with its continuing evolution of the revered MC275 power amp [HFN Nov '93 & Feb '13], updating it through six generations without losing the spirit of the original. JBL, Klipsch, Tannoy – all revisited past successes with panache. Thorens, then, had a raised bar to address because, among historic turntables, Technics recently revived the SP10 as the SL-1000R [HFN Jun '18] to universal acclaim. This begged a question: how should Thorens update the adored TD 124?

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 02, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFlagship A series model from California's premier speaker brand is its most advanced 'affordable' floorstander yet

Finding positives during a time when audiophiles and civilians alike are under the cosh of 'that-which-shall-not-be-named' is important, and celebrating those rays of sunshine when we discover them, doubly so. And Magico's flagship A series floorstander is a particularly golden beam of musical light that, so the story goes, might not have been released so soon if it were not for the coercions of Covid. Oops, I mentioned it...

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 09, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingAfter nearly a decade in production, KEF's iconic LS50 compact monitor has been comprehensively updated. We compare the original with the latest 'Meta' variant

Hardly a curse, but it's still a massive challenge for any manufacturer to improve on a smash hit. I don't care if you're talking about cars, cameras or cookers – whatever the classic, the follow-up is metaphorically referred to as 'that difficult second album'. KEF faced this with the LS50 which (terrifyingly) will be ten years old in 2022. In the interim, there have been active and wireless versions of the speaker, but the passive original [HFN Jul '12] is a much-loved default purchase in the under-£1000 sector. The new LS50 with the Meta suffix (£999) is KEF's The Godfather Part II. Yes, it's really that good.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 01, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceThe speaker with no sweet spot arrives on our shores, offering a sound that's as distinctive as its aesthetics

Few loudspeakers are as instantly recognisable as the 'Radialstrahlers' – directly translated 'radial emitters' – designed and built by German brand MBL. At every international hi-fi show their appearance draws crowds while the all-encompassing sound of those iconic 'melons' keeps visitors rooted to their seats. Am I giving away the punchline? Not really. Few seasoned audiophile travellers will not have heard these incredible music machines, but we have still waited a decade for them to reach these shores and be explored, inside and out, Hi-Fi News-style.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 03, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingSince last year's management buyout, Audio Research has been very busy reimagining its ranges of the future – the Reference 80S (REF80S) is just the first step on the road

If life is a journey, rather than a destination, then some brands, Audio Research included, have rather more air miles under their corporate belts than others. From a boutique audiophile business to a period swept up in the fast lane of venture capital, Audio Research has now returned to its roots. It's a gloriously niche brand that understands 'what it does' and is now, once again, driven and engineered by a team that is passionate about serving the diehards of the audiophile community.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 06, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFirst from a hand-selected portfolio of 'artisan' hi-fi separates, this pairing of low output tubes with high sensitivity speakers boasts a very special synergy... and sound

System matching remains as much an art as it does a science. There's always the easy route – opting for a collection of one-brand separates with the promise of full technical compatibility and the expectation of similar 'voicing' throughout. aSlightly trickier is the pairing of components from brands that have an overlap in their core design philosophies – a route that often leads to the most satisfying musical experience but which requires a depth of knowledge on the part of both enthusiast and friendly hi-fi dealer. The third route – random component selection and a reliance on blind luck is not one we'll be pursuing here!

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