Audio Research as a company is half a century old, founded in 1970 by William Johnson. They are one of the pioneers in hi-fi equipment design.
Raven Audio is a relatively new company that makes high-end tube preamps, integrated amps, and power amps. They sell them direct, through their website. In this review, we take a look at the Nighthawk MK2, which is an integrated amplifier. It comes in a silver colored baked enamel. With solid aluminum handles, a folded carbon steel chassis and solid aluminum remote, the overall solid feel of quality construction was undeniable. The sound was a tubeophile’s dream.
Bryston has announced the introduction of four high-performance compact analog solutions for vinyl enthusiasts—three phono stage preamplifiers and a matching outboard power supply. These new small form factor devices join the BUC-1...
Sony continues to release lots of new products bearing the "HI-Res Audio" logo. This review focuses on three of these products - the Sony MDR-Z7 Headphones, the Sony PHA-3 battery powered DAC/headphone amp and the Kimber Kable MUC-B20BL1 balanced headphone cable.
Mark Levinson, one of the most respected names in audio, has just released their latest stereo preamplifier design, the No52. Its looks, handling, and performance are what you would expect from Levinson: Extraordinary.
Pass Labs recently introduced their new Xs Preamplifier and XS 300 Pure Class A (300 watts) monoblock power amplifiers. They are a completely new design compared to their previous components, and have a sound that is almost beyond description in words.
Marantz came out with their AV7005 processor a few years ago, which contains almost all of the high-end processing and features that people wanted, but at a lower price-point than almost any processor out there. Now Marantz has some back with the AV7701, a replacement for the AV7005 that brings it up to date with the modern streaming functions of current receivers and processors, and adds a few nice other touches as well while keeping that aggressive price-point. Has this update let Marantz keep this little niche to themselves again? I swapped the AV7701 in for my AV7005 to see if I could tell a difference between the two.
Bryston is the only high-end audio company I know of that offers a 20 year warranty on its products. They manufacture some very expensive preamps and power amps, but even the least expensive product carries that warranty. Why? Because they have massive build quality. The BP17 stereo preamplifier exemplifies that approach, and it is in the middle of their preamplifier line-up, which includes the BP6 and BP26.
Balanced connections are popping up on more and more audio products these days. But it only really counts when the internal circuitry is fully balanced, which is the case for the Emotiva XSP-1 stereo preamplifier, all for less than $1,000.
In the past, we reviewed the Pass Labs XP-20 and XP-30 stereo preamplifiers. Now, we come full circle with a review of the remaining member of their preamplifier trio, the XP-10, which is the least expensive model. It is fully balanced, and has a slightly different sound character compared to the other two, which also sound different from one another. All three are great products, so you can choose based on price and/or sound characteristics.