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Hi-Fi World Magazine

November 2021


What Happened To Ornamental Audio?
Plus what's within this issue of Hi-Fi World.
Editorial By Noel Keywood


Hi-Fi World November 2021


  Early hi-fi amplifiers were nothing if not visually arresting. I carefully avoid saying "exciting" because that's not what many people thought of an early Leak valve amplifier at the time I suspect. The elaborate wooden cabinets of valve radios and then radiograms concealed electronics of the day, in an environment where wood and cloth were the norm. Quad's 22 preamplifier tried to change that by adding in a touch of 1950s style, but the accompanying II power amplifiers were not for public display. Wind forward and the stark black box – Arcam even made a DAC called Black Box – was touted as a stylistically acceptable successor. What happened to ornament, so beloved by Victorians? Something to engage the eye.

Engage the eye is what McIntosh do with their C8 preamplifier we review in this issue on p10. With its chrome plated valve covers, burnished stainless steel chassis and fluorescent display panel this is an eye-catching design that makes its purpose clear, aided by concealed LED lights. Even the accompanying MC830 power amplifiers get in on the act with their big, illuminated power meters. A feast for the eye and informative too.


Hi-Fi World November 2021


Powerful bass is easy enough to produce in a loudspeaker, but combining it with a fast revealing sound, rather than one that labours with heavy lows, is another matter. JBL masterfully manage this with their HDI-1600 that we feature on p18. Readers ask us to recommend loudspeakers with "good bass' and this one is as tight and controlled as they come. Don't miss reading about it.

Another US company that specialises in valves, or should I say "tubes", is Audio Research. In a phono stage that is highly unusual, even unique, they rely on a tube power supply to drive transistors! Which is an interesting way of doing it, shall we say. Add in a tube output stage and here is a way to hear LP like no other. Don't miss our review of their PH9 on p68.



— Noel Keywood
Editor, HiFi World




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