Review: Mark Craven

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 22, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedFrench brand celebrates its Ruby Anniversary with a rose-gold tinted treble and two fabulous cabinet finishes

There's a definite feeling you're getting your money's worth when you encounter Triangle's Antal 40th Anniversary loudspeaker. This French floorstander, reasonably tall at 113cm and surprisingly deep at 35cm, arrives in an oversized box and, once excavated, greets you with 40th Anniversary branding on the front baffle and its quartet of drivers with eye-catching rose-gold anodised aluminium trims. I wouldn't say it looks a million dollars – there are too many right angles for that – but it certainly looks like it should cost more than the £3000 ticket (less still via some online retailers).

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 14, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingPromising 'extraordinary power with exquisite tube finesse' BAT's new VK-3500 integrated marries the brand's REX 3 triode preamp with a robust solid-state output

Please indulge me while I discuss the design of BAT's (Balanced Audio Technology) VK-3500 amplifier. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that, but I'd be surprised to find anyone who didn't admire the styling of this hybrid integrated. Even without the 'BAT' logo conjuring images of Gotham City's caped crusader, it has a purposeful, high-quality look and feel. There's an argument that the appearance of a hi-fi product is unimportant, but at this price you expect some attention to detail and craftsmanship – and that's what you get. Of the silver and black finish options, the latter is the obvious choice if you really want to emphasise the Dark Knight vibe…

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 23, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedMost compact SA floorstander is not only offered in fully active 'Silverback' guise, but now supports 'RAM Tweaks'

System building and component matching is the backbone of hi-fi. Sure, it might seem a never-ending process, each change yielding new results and then more experimentation, but it's an enjoyable one. The Legend 40.2 Silverback tested here, an active three-way floorstander with digital crossover, Analog Devices DSP and integrated DAC, bypasses a lot of that journey – and if combined with the optional wireless Stereo Hub (£400 when purchased with the speakers, £700 separately), removes the need for any cabling except a mains lead. Yet Danish manufacturer System Audio (SA) then uses the Silverback's digital architecture to offer its own take on audiophile fine-tuning, via a newly-launched range of DSP upgrades it calls 'RAM Tweaks'.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 23, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingThis flagship, fully balanced preamplifier comes with Bryston's BDA-3-inspired DAC plus updated BDP streaming platform and full network control. It's busier than it looks!

There's so much functionality under the bonnet of Bryston's BR-20 that you might wonder where to start. I would suggest the manual – this £7500 networked USB DAC/preamplifier isn't, it must be said, the most instantly intuitive of system hubs I've ever auditioned. But the effort is worth it though, because what the BR-20 can do, and how it does it, is quite special.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 16, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingTop passive floorstander in Paradigm's new Founder series is keenly, but not ambitiously priced. A high-end bargain?

My first, AV-focused, experiences of Paradigm were misleading. In times gone by the UK distribution of this 40-year-old Canadian company favoured a curious mix of its entry-level, compact loudspeakers and its far-from-entry-level subwoofers (including the 106kg Signature SUB 2, whose hexagonal cabinet featured six 10in woofers and a claimed 4.5kW of amplification). More recently, however, first with the Persona B standmount [HFN Oct '20] and now with its £5400 Founder 100F floorstander, I've discovered its grown-up side. And I like it a lot.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 09, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDescribed as the 'sister brand' of solid-state stalwarts Audio Analogue, Pegaso has just one product and it's an all-tube integrated amplifier that claims Class A, all the way...

As a new arrival from Tuscany, Italy, and with just the P50A integrated amplifier in its inventory, it's possible you've not yet heard of Pegaso. On the other hand, many readers will be familiar with fellow Italian brand Audio Analogue [HFN Nov '20 & Feb '20], which has been in operation since the mid '90s. Both are stablemates sheltering under the umbrella of AF Group SRL (also the home of AirTech), and they share more than just a postcode.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 22, 2021  |  0 comments
hfnoutstandingDanish brand Copland beefs-up the power supply to its all-singing, all-dancing CSA100, crowning its range of tube hybrid integrated amplifiers with this heavyweight model

Not long into my audition of Copland's CSA150, I began to feel a little annoyed that, at some point, I'd have to unplug it and send it back. Reviewer remorse isn't quite as galling as buyer remorse, but it is still 'a thing', and this £4988 hybrid tube integrated had given me a bad case of it. Hybrid? Yes, for the CSA150 looks to be an upscaled CSA100 [HFN Aug '20] combining a 6922 double-triode and solid-state FETs in its preamp stage, driving a bipolar transistor amplifier output. Perhaps keen to avoid overselling the benefits of this architecture, Copland warns buyers not to expect 'the warm and nice, coloured charm of some older tube designs'.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 16, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedThis slim floorstander has million-dollar looks but a wallet-friendly price, and aims to sound bigger than it seems

Monitor Audio's close-to-entry-level Bronze series wants to offer something for everyone – the full range runs to eight models, including various multichannel options – but it's perhaps the Bronze 200 floorstander that many potential buyers will investigate first. A slim two-and-half-way tower speaker priced £569, with attractive finish options (white, walnut, urban grey and black), plus driver technologies borrowed from pricier models, it appears at face value to offer performance potential and that hi-fi holy grail: value for money.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 14, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDanish brand's flagship floorstander really comes on song in fully active 'Silverback' guise, with room bass-tuning to boot

There's more to System Audio's flagship floorstander than meets the eye. Outwardly, the £7000 Legend 60.2 Silverback, available in satin black and satin white, appears to be an archetypal slender, tower loudspeaker. Peer around the back, however, and you'll find a metal plate – the Silverback of its title – with IEC mains inlet, XLR and USB connections, plus a bank of status LEDs below legends including 'Wireless', 'Centre' and 'Subwoofer'. So not only is this an active model, it's one with wireless and multichannel ambitions.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 20, 2021  |  0 comments
hfncommendedDesigned by Cambridge Audio's in-house team in London, the refreshed SX-80 is a big speaker on a small budget

When it launched its Edge series in 2018 to mark its 50th Anniversary [HFN Nov '18], Cambridge Audio appeared to be making a concerted effort to reach a little higher. But proof this stalwart of the UK high street hasn't turned its back on wallet-conscious buyers arrived recently in the form of its reworked SX loudspeaker range. With head-turning prices, a modern finish and dimensions that won't upset your interior designer, these are likely to garner considerable interest.

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