Audio Reviews

Musical Fidelity M1 HPA Headphone Amplifier Review

Musical Fidelity M1HPA Headphone Amplifier

I have had a bit of a love hate relationship with musical fidelity products in the past. They always seem to get good reviews in the Hi-Fi press but a few times after prolonged use I find that the immediate wow factor is eventually replaced with a feeling that the initial gloss is hiding a few problems. I found this particularly true with an A308 CD player I used for a while. This was advertised as being 95% equivalent to the Nuvista 3D CD Player at half the cost. When one came available second hand for a good price I took a chance. Again at first it had this immediate appeal with detail and extended bandwidth but after months of use I felt that it was shiny glossy Hi-Fi for the sake of it like many audio products. It lacked soul, timing and musicality when compared to other players.

Sennheiser HD 800 Review (vs Grado and Stax)

Sennheiser HD800

The HD800 headphones are currently Sennheiser's top end set of headphones. They claim to have the largest transducers and the most advanced driver technology of any current headphone on the market at this time. These are reference class headphones and a benchmark to compare many other headphones against. Premium parts have gone into the build, the transducer being encased by precision machined stainless steel and the ear-pads are claimed to be hand crafted from a high-quality microfibre fabric.

Yulong A100 Headphone Amplifier Review and Capacitor Upgrade

Yulong A100 Headphone Amplifier

The Yulong A100 is a class A headphone amplifier from the far east. They are not a well known brand in the west but produce some higher end models along with this reasonably priced unit. I have used tube headphone amplifiers in the past and wanted to try a class A solid state. It is a compact well made unit with a brushed black metal chassis, thick aluminium front plate and nice vintage style VU meters. The knob is plastic however but it still looks very good and not particularly plastic looking. Phono sockets are again good quality gold plated but it does not have an audio pass through facility which is an opportunity missed I feel. An audio pass though would make it a little more system friendly since it could be daisy chained with the system main amplifier from the source.

Grado PS500 Headphone Review

Grado PS500 Headphones

For the past year I have been using a pair of stax lambda pro electrostatic headphones with my Copland 288 cd player in one of my setups. I sold my Martin Logan speakers and wanted something as good but more suited to a small room, able to be used any time of day or night and as loud as I wanted with minimal external noise. Quality headphones are very hard to better with similar priced loudspeakers. They also provide a highly involving listening experience. Their diaphragms are much lighter than typical dynamic speakers and so have timing and pace unmatched bar the very best speakers. Electrostatic speakers do try to overcome this problem by the use of lightweight film which only weigh a few mg.

Yamaha A-S1000 Integrated Amplifier Review

Yamaha A-S1000 Integrated Amplifier

I managed to pick up one of the retro styled Yamaha A-S1000 integrated amps at a good price off eBay. I first spotted these in the windows of Practical HiFi and Sevenoaks and was taken back by the build quality and looks for the price. Furthermore I wanted an amp with tone controls and an headphone output. Yes... you read right... 'Tone controls'. Even in my narrow music tastes of Berlin School, Electronic and Ambient etc there is a wide range of mixes in that some sound lean and others the opposite; so I thought tone controls could be useful. Also the Radio seems to vary widely especially between daytime and night-time shows. Most daytime shows on BBC Radio sound more compressed and lacklustre compared to later shows at night so another reason for trying tone controls out.

Symphonies Plus Tube Pre-amp Review and Upgrades

Symphonies Plus Tube Pre-amp

The Symphonies Plus Vacuum Tube Pre-amp is made and sold by YS audio as a level 2 product for around £490 + duty and taxes in the UK.  It was originally cheaper at just over £200 but they seem to have increased the price late 2009. YSA have a scale of 1 to 4 for their products and they sell a number of pre-amps and power amps at various levels of internal parts quality and upgrades.

Korsun Dussun V6i Integrated Amplifier Review

Korsun Dussun V6i Integrated Amplifier

The korsun / dussun v6i is a monster of a power amp from china costing around 800 usd. It really is a poor man's krell or Mark Levinson that is built like a tank with dual mono construction in 1 stunning but large aluminium chassis. It is kind of a class A build in that the first few watts are class A were then it slides into class AB mode as it is driven harder; with output powers of 2x300 W into 4Ω and 2x150 W into 8Ω.

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