Review and Lab: Paul Miller

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 26, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceOnce in the vanguard of the late '70s hi-fi cable revolution, In-akustik now has a vast catalogue. We test the top Reference/Micro Air interconnect.

Only one issue ago we reviewed an interconnect cable whose core thesis focused on achieving a low capacitance and dielectric loss by utilising an 'air' insulation. That was Kimber's new flagship 'Naked' interconnect – a cool £12,700 per terminated metre [HFN Mar '22]. Somewhat more affordable, but also leveraging the 'air dielectric' theme, is the NF-204 Micro Air interconnect from Germany's most prolific cable manufacturer, In-akustik, based in Ballrechten-Dottingen.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 11, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceKimber Kable has championed high quality dielectrics and open-weave cable geometries since the late '70s, but now it's gone 'naked'.

Cable aficionados will already know that the best insulation is no insulation at all, with air (in lieu of a vacuum) providing the best and most cost-effective dielectric. Did I say 'cost effective'? Kimber's new flagship 'Naked' interconnect costs a cool £12,700 per terminated metre – either with heavyweight gold-plated WBT RCAs or XLRs finished in a choice of Wenge or Purple Heart woods. For longer runs, 1.5m sets cost £15,150 or £17,600 for 2m. This is very 'high-end'.

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 04, 2022  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingIt's taken three years, but it was worth the wait: D'Agostino's Relentless Preamplifier has arrived, and it's as much of a revelation as the matching power amplifiers

You gotta love items with absolutely perfect names: 'Land Rover Defender', 'Rolex Explorer', 'Fender Jazzmaster'. When founder and chief engineer, Dan D'Agostino, dubbed his assault on the high-end 'Relentless', with cost-no-object flagship monoblock power amps [HFN Mar '20], he might have been referring to himself, as that is how he approached the task. With this matching three-chassis Relentless Preamplifier (£159,500), he's raised the bar once more.

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.

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