HIFICRITIC Volume 14 Number 4 October-December 2020
Completing another (partial) lock down issue, we have been able to create and sign off the varied content for this, our 60th issue. Magazine production has been held to our customary if somewhat delayed scheduling. And all at HIFICRITIC hope that our readers are in good shape. Flexible planning and keeping going, if you can, is one way of dealing with these strange times.
I would be the first to admit it has helped preserve my peace of mind while many thanks are due to our team of home working freelancers working assiduously from their homes. I would also like to thank the audio industry who have generously put themselves out and supplied a host of exceptional products for the HIFICRITIC team to evaluate. My own contributions began with a report on eight interconnect and loudspeaker cables, while a few more turned up in conjunction with another massive audio electronics review.
The massive feature review I mentioned embraces a shimmering set of CH Precision, a system of all-analogue electronics from Switzerland. Its many intriguing design aspects proved well worth an extended exploration. Give or take a few thousand, including my own three-box streamer, support frames and loudspeakers, the entire system topped out at over £250,000. We had covered the preceding CH A1 power amplifier in mid-2016 and were suitably impressed. Now this model has grown into the A1.5 with almost twice the power and is here partnered by the P1 reference level phono, the L1 line and the dual output X1 outboard power supply upgrade. The P1 offers two of the increasingly fashionable ‘current’ input mode for moving coil and low impedance cartridges, plus a conventional ‘voltage’ mode input of exceptional versatility. And we also interview CH co-founder, Florian Cossey.
Chris Frankland finds sonic reward in the sound of the Totem Skylight loudspeaker from Canada while Andrew Everard, in another of his comprehensive and highly informative comparative analyses, takes on two pairs of a kind, the Denon DCD-A110 SACD/CD player and matching £3199 PMA-A110 integrated amplifier. These are contrasted with the Marantz SACD30n SACD/CD/network player/DAC and matching Model 30 integrated amplifier. The conclusions are surprising.
We interview Audio Note (UK) founder Peter Qvortrup, noting that it is 36 years since he set up his first company, Audio Innovations, while Stan’s Safari poses the question ‘So what is High End HiFi?’
On the theoretical side our tech guru Keith Howard extemporises on this contentious subject of amplifier feedback correction, and this is timely since the CH A1.5 power amp review in this issue has significant content on this subject. The CH design offers user control of this parameter, including by remote touchpad, during real time listening. Keith also used his fully developed headphone measurement expertise to review the Sennheiser HD800S in depth. Jon Honeyball contributes another headphone feature, this time the STAX SR-L700MK2, with matching SRM-D50 energiser.
Ed Selley waxes lyrically about the new Spendor compact, the Classic 4/5 while Chris Kelly explores the larger than life Kudos Titan 505 stand mount loudspeaker.
Our music pages include a searching essay on The Grateful Dead by rock guru Mark Prendergast. Andrew Mellor covers classical releases, while Andrew Everard keeps an eye on the DSD Jazz scene.
Finally, Andrew Everard considers 14 years of HIFICRITIC since its foundation, recalling the HIFICRITIC mission statement penned by Paul Messenger for the first issue.