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HIFICRITIC     January / February / March 2021


HIFICRITIC Volume 15 Number 1 January / February / March 2021


Reviews & Articles Within This Issue
2 HIFICRITIC's Reviews And Think Pieces Within This Issue
Great articles and reviews including loudspeakers in special focus.
Editorial By Martin Colloms


4 Gilad Tiefenbrun
Linn's MD on the challenges of the 'new
normal', why the past year has been a great
one for interest in turntables; inventing the
ultimate wireless speaker; why streaming is
the future – and how the only way to keep
things stable is to ensure you're always
moving forward.


8 Stan's Safari
Stan pays tribute to his contemporary,
Tim de Paravicini, and recalls time spent
together, major bust-ups, and doughnuts
on an industrial estate lawn in a Subaru.
“Tim could always wear you down by sheer
persistence,” he says.


10 Finkteam KIM
Having been mighty impressed with the
Borg floorstander from the Essen-based
Martin Colloms finds himself totally beguiled
by its more compact, more affordable
standmount model. It may look unusual, but
it's also incredibly involving, he says, in an
extensive in-depth review.


22 Norma Audio SC-2 LN/PA 150
Chris Kelly loved the integrated amplifier
from Italy's Norma Audio – can the
company's modular preamplifier and
matching power amp please him, too?


24 A Tale Of Two Phono Stages
Having heard conflicting views on PS Audio's
Stellar phono stage, Kevin Fiske makes
up his own mind; meanwhile, Chris Kelly
discovers a true bargain for vinyl lovers.


28 Avalon Saga
Handbuilt in Colorado, and rarely auditioned
– hardly surprising, given there are only
two pairs in Europe – Avalon's massive
floorstanding speaker has José Victor
Henriques captivated.


31 Chord's Burndy
Long-established cable manufacturer The
Chord Company takes on Naim at its own
game with replacement Burndy power
cables. Martin Colloms listens to the L4000+
set for the NAP 500 DR power amplifier.


Sennheiser HD820 Closed Back Stereo Headphones Review

Sennheiser HD820 Stereo Headphones Review
Following on from his review of the classic open-back HD 800 headphones from Sennheiser in the last issue of HIFICRITIC, Keith Howard now assesses the closed-back version HD 820.
Review By Keith Howard
This is a rhetorical question because I don't pretend to have an answer to it. Why did it take Sennheiser so long, in the wake of the successful launch of the HD 800 in 2010, to develop a closed-back version? A glance at the HD 820 ($2399.95) is enough to tell you that that's what it is – but we had to wait a further eight years for it. Could it be that Sennheiser was diverted into serving the burgeoning mobile audio market? Or that developing a closed-back sibling to the HD 800 proved tough? Having spent a month measuring and listening to the HD 820, I reckon the latter is at least a realistic possibility. Because if you expect the HD 820 to provide HD 800-like sound quality (but with improved isolation of external sound), you're destined to be disappointed.
---> Sennheiser HD820 stereo headphones review.


34 Neat Acoustics Orkestra
Drawing on the Ekstra floorstanding speaker
and the little Ministra standmount, this new
design aims to fill a niche in Neat's line-up.
Ed Selley conducts a thorough review


HIFICRITIC Volume 15 Number 1 January / February / March 2021


36 iFi Audio Neo iDSD
iFi Audio always seems to be adding models
to its range, and one of the latest is the NEO
iDSD. Andrew Everard wonders whether it
could be all the DAC you'll ever need.


39 Argento Audio Flow
Martin Colloms spotted these silver-based
cables while reviewing the CH Precision
electronics for the last issue. Loudspeaker
and interconnect cables now get close


41 Fyne Audio F703
Kevin Fiske finds much to like in this
substantial Scottish-made floorstanding
speaker, complete with IsoFlare main driver.


44 The Vibration Shakedown
If you're thinking of isolating your system
from all kinds of mechanical interference,
this is a must-read: Keith Howard takes an
in-depth look, examining, experimenting
and dispelling the odd myth, while Martin
Colloms tests some isolation devices for
electronic components and speakers.


CH Precision — A Postscript

CH Precision — A Postscript Review
Three months after the dust settled on last issue's marathon project covering CH Precision's all analogue A1.5, P1, L1, X1 amplifier system, some more aspects came to mind.
Review By Martin Colloms
While I was in the thick of considering the CH Precision A1.5, P1, L1 and X1 late last year, such was the complexity and range of settings and modes and connections, and not least power supply options, that a considered overview was somehow just out of reach. Moreover, those continued and complex evaluations were inevitably constrained by particular circumstances in that more extended trial and error methods to establish quality limits could have added value, for example exchanging multiple cables in all positions, signal, and loudspeaker, and also mains connection methods, whether central or extended line. Then there is the matter of optimising the choices and subsequent alignment of anti-vibration frames and optional intermediary supports.
---> CH Precision — A Postscript.


55 Meitner MA1 v2
This Canadian-made DAC has an impressive
pro audio heritage, says Chris Frankland.


58 Graham Audio LS5/9f
Chris Kelly finds great hi-fi close to home
with this Devon-built floorstanding take on
classic BBC speaker thinking.


60 The Music
The latest classical releases, new jazz and
more on DSD, plus vinyl finds.


64 Soundstage
There's a shiny new version of the acclaimed
Roon software – so why is Steve Harris wary?




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