Review and Lab: Paul Miller

Review: Ken Kessler, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 04, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingFollowing its groundbreaking Master 1 optical cartridge, DS Audio introduces the Grand Master, and a two-box energiser/equaliser, to up the ante even further

In every field, not just 'hypercars' and luxury wristwatches, there's an extreme, cost-no-object pinnacle. From chefs' knives to sunglasses to fishing reels, there are items which push engineering and price limits, a phenomenon we are used to in high-end audio. Thus, with shaking hands (not a desirable state with this item), I installed the DS Audio Grand Master cartridge, at £11,995 surely the most expensive pick-up I have ever reviewed, if not the most expensive on the planet.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 02, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceOne of nine speaker cables in one of five separate ranges, this 'Micro Air' design from In-akustik's Reference series represents a sweet spot.

Once Germany's best-kept cable secret, the In-akustik brand – part of the family-run Braun Group – is nothing if not comprehensive in its offering. Every type of power, analogue, digital and AV cable is included, across multiple ranges, alongside custom-install accessories that extend to ambient LED lighting solutions.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 07, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceHero of Swiss independence, and a dab hand with the crossbow, William Tell is now the inspiration for a speaker cable. Review & Lab: Paul Miller

One of the founding fathers of the audiophile cable scene, California-based AudioQuest has been developing its conductor technology for no less than four decades. The William Tell Zero featured here is part of the 'Folk Hero' series – prices range from £2340 (2m pair), £2910 (3m) to £3480 for a 4m pair, with £570 per extra metre. This ranks as affordable when compared to the flagship 'Mythical Creatures' series that tops out at £20k for a 2m set of the Dragon Zero...

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 12, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceTucked away in the ranges of most large cable brands is a selection of USB interconnects, including Chord who topped our USB shootout in 2013.

We last ran a comprehensive USB cable group test over six years ago [HFN Jul '13 and '14] with Chord's entry-level SilverPlus coming top-of-the-heap and remaining in residence ever since as our cable of choice. The intervening period has seen the SilverPlus morph into the current entry-level C-series while the costlier Signature 'Tuned Aray' USB cable became the template for Chord's more recent, intermediate Epic USB model. And, at £400 for a terminated 1m set (£160 per additional metre), the new Epic USB is no costlier than its Signature forefather in 2014.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller, Review: Andrew Everard  |  Sep 02, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceThere certainly aren't many speakers that look like them, but these baby models – yes, really – in the Swiss brand's wireless active range combine style with all-alloy substance

When the entry-level model in a speaker range costs £70,000 a pair, and weighs no less than 80kg – that's each speaker – you'd rightly assume you're in very serious high-end territory. And yes, imposing though the Prana speaker looks, its two aluminium enclosures mounted on a hefty 'Z-frame' and the whole enterprise standing some 99cm tall, this is the baby of this particular range. Above it sit the Satya speakers, 1.23m tall, 140kg apiece and £110,000 a pair, while the flagship is the 1.47m tall, 180kg-a-pop Samadhi, yours for a nice neat £200k a pair...

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 21, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceRecognising that mainstream gear is being equipped with both RCA and XLR sockets, Atlas has developed a 'balanced' version of its Equator cable.

Judging by the increased number of XLR sockets seen on hi-fi separates in recent years, 'balanced' is rapidly becoming the new black. Balanced signal transmission has its benefits over long runs in suppressing common-mode interference and maintaining the topology between a balanced pre and power amp, for example, although many would debate that the extra circuit complexity outweighs the benefits.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 04, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingA new big beast stalks the integrated amplifier jungle, courtesy of the refreshed Musical Fidelity brand. Armed with ears and test gear, we track the M8xi to its lair...

If you are into fancy-looking hi-fi with machined fascias and decorative meters then the £5649 M8xi integrated amplifier is not for you. 'Sorry, that's the way it is', says Musical Fidelity, though I suspect this declaration of intent for the entire M8 series owes more to Musical Fidelity's founder than the new owners, Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH, of which vinyl evangelist Pro-Ject Audio Systems is another division.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 02, 2020  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThe Chord Ultima range has grown from a single pre and power amp, as the tech becomes more affordable. The Ultima 2 models might just give the flagships a scare

Never let it be said that the Chord Electronics range isn't distinctive in its styling: all the way up from the tiny Mojo DAC [HFN Jan '16] to the flagship Ultima reference preamplifier [HFN Feb '19], the company's products look like nothing else on the market, as if to emphasise that what's going on inside them involves no shortage of proprietary technology, too.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 13, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceA prime example of why audiophiles should never dismiss the unassuming, TCI is the epitome of a no-nonsense cable company.

As the sovereign serpent in TCI's (True Colours Industries) longstanding range of loudspeaker cables, King Cobra is not new but it has 'evolved' since we last tested the Stereo version [HFN Jan '13]. Seen here is the 'Bi-Wire' version of King Cobra, ostensibly comprising a pair of the same conductor cores used in the Stereo iteration but with the two signal and two return paths combined at the source (amplifier) end. So this version of TCI's flagship cable supports bi-wiring but not bi-amping.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 16, 2019  |  0 comments
hfnedchoiceOne of Chord Cable's longest-running products, the Signature, receives just its second upgrade in materials and performance in fifteen years.

There's a lot to be said for the philosophical approach to hi-fi manufacturing: 'if it isn't broken, don't fix it'. Chord Cables is certainly of this persuasion – its ranges are broadly distinguished by geometry, while performance is very gradually 'tickled up' by the transition to steadily superior conductors and dielectrics. For example, the original Signature speaker cable held court for a decade before the Reference version was released [HFN Aug '14].

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