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Hi Fi News Decvember 2020

Since its launch in June 1956 - two years before the commercial realisation of stereo - Hi-Fi News & Record Review has been delivering insightful reviews of the key products and technologies that lie behind our shared hobby... the passion of listening to music on the very best equipment available to the enthusiast. Every issue, Hi-Fi News delivers uniquely in-depth reviews of high-end audio equipment, including the best in vinyl replay and iconic vintage gear from the early days of audio. It is essential reading for all music enthusiasts.

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Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
AV Tech Media Ltd
Frequency:
Monthly
$6.51
$81.46
13 Issues

in this issue

3 min
welcome

As the nights steadily draw in, a somewhat flexible lockdown is imposed and tensions seem on the rise, thank goodness we audiophiles have our ‘escape route’ of hi-fi and music to keep us in good cheer. Whatever else is happening, I can promise you that Hi-Fi News will continue to deliver its unbeatable mix of in-depth product tests, music reviews and features – come rain, shine or pestilence! In his Opinion piece [p107], reviewer Andrew Everard clearly identifies how the stress of current everyday life is fuelling the passions of online debates. I’d go a step further and suggest it’s also manifest in the increasing polarisation of the views expressed. I could be talking about the 2020 US Election (currently hanging in the balance as I type) but, no, this is…

f0021-02
1 min
levinson swells

Harman’s luxury audio brand Mark Levinson continues to add to its 5000 Series. Joining the £6000 No5105 turntable [reviewed next month] are the No5206 preamp and No5302 power amplifier, both priced at £8599 and available this quarter, plus the No5101 SACD/streaming DAC [pictured opposite], on sale now. The dual-mono No5302 boasts a rated 2x135W/8ohm, doubling to 2x270W/4ohm, and increasing still further to 550W in bridged mono mode. A fully discrete, direct-coupled Class AB design, it uses an ‘oversized’ 1100VA toroidal transformer and a voltage gain stage trickled down from the Mark Levinson No534 [HFN Jun ’18]. Thermally-compensated output devices also guarantee stability regardless of load or temperature. Audio inputs include balanced XLRs and single-ended RCAs, with comprehensive system integration offered via Ethernet, USB, IR, RS-232 and 12V trigger connections. Designed to partner…

f0022-01
1 min
the grandest master

Seven years after launching the world’s first optical pick-up, Japanese brand DS Audio has re-engineered the concept for a third generation. Within the machined Duralumin body of its £11,995 Grand Master cartridge are independent L/R channel LEDs and photo-detectors, resulting in a claimed improvement in stereo separation and output voltage (40mV to 70mV here), all without adversely affecting its S/N ratio. The pick-up is also equipped with a diamond cantilever and microridge stylus. It’s partnered with the Grand Master phono stage/equaliser (£38,000), a twin-box system with a ‘more robust’ independent power supply. Digital Stream Corporation, Japan, 0118 981 4238; www.ds-audio-w.biz; www.soundfowndations.co.uk…

f0022-02
1 min
a very big mac

Unrivalled connectivity and enough power to drive any loudspeaker is the promise of the MA12000 (£16,500). Claiming 2x350W – more than any previous McIntosh integrated – this flagship is a tube/transistor hybrid design with a quartet of 12AX7A triodes in the preamp and solid-state amp output featuring the brand’s Autoformer speaker-matching technology. Its ten analogue inputs include MM/MC phono and two balanced XLR connections, while the pre-installed (and upgradeable) DA2 digital audio module allies seven digital inputs, including a proprietary MCT connection for McIntosh’s SACD/CD transports, to an eight-channel 32-bit DAC. Styling of this handbuilt 48.9kg heavyweight is straight from the company playbook, with its blue illuminated meters, monogrammed heatsinks and a mirror-finish stainless steel chassis. McIntosh Laboratory Inc, 01592 744710; www.mcintoshlabs.com; www.finesounds.uk…

f0022-03
1 min
hi-res on the move

Following the debut of its A&norma SR25 high-resolution portable audio player earlier this year, Astell&Kern has announced a ‘Black Edition’ for the same £650 price tag. Part of the company’s most affordable DAP range, it’s built around the same Cirrus Logic CS43198 ‘MasterClass’ DAC as the entrylevel SR15, albeit augmented here with a quad-core CPU for faster processing, a new PCB design, and Bluetooth LDAC connectivity. Battery life has also been extended to a claimed 20 hours, double that of the SR15 and longer than any other A&K player. The SR25 supports PCM sample rates up to 384kHz/32-bit, in addition to 2.8/5.6/11.2MHz DSD, and offers internal storage of 64GB with a microSD card slot enabling expansion up to 1TB. Framing its 3.6in touchscreen – which runs a custom Android OS…

f0023-01
1 min
return of a vinyl legend

The first model in Bang & Olufsen’s new Classics series is the ‘Beogram 4000c Recreated Limited Edition’, a modern £9000 take on a deck the brand originally released in the early 1970s. Yet this is not a straightforward redesign. Instead, B&O says it ‘identified’ 95 existing Beogram turntables (to celebrate its 95th anniversary) and brought them to its manufacturing facility in Denmark for a restoration process involving full disassembly, component replacement and fine-tuning, and the addition of an RIAA preamp and new pick-up. The updated design features a solid oak frame, smoked acrylic lid and anodised ‘warm champagne’ aluminium finish. ‘We have applied the same passion, precision, and care to this restoration as you would to any masterpiece’, says B&O. Bang & Olufsen, Denmark; www.bang-olufsen.com…

f0023-03