Product Reviews

Product reviews written specifically by our designated content team. They are the personal opinions of our chosen members on products supplied by manufacturers.

Have you heard a quarter of a million-pound system? I suspect most of us have, but generally in a space set up in a dealers or a hotel room to accommodate a large-ish number of people; so, hardly an ideal listening environment. My experience is that attention to detail really matters, and that can take time as well as experience. When I think back the closest I have come to hear a top system that was exquisitely set up was a full 500 Naim...
HIFI ROSE RS150(B) There are three words that spring to mind on initial impressions when listening to the Hifi Rose RS150(B). Focus, transparency and finesse. Those initial impressions are still correct over a lengthy review period. After having the baby brother of this unit, the RS250 in my listening room for an extended review my interest was more than piqued concerning the current top of the range and elder sibling the RS150(B)...
Sonus faber Lumina 1 (£799) Speakers Reviewed by Mr Underhill Introduction What wonderfully dinky little speakers. Love the look and the sound, but can they defeat the devil that is physics? These made in Italy speakers come nicely packed with a layer of thin foam between the face and the speaker grill. These attach magnetically, and arrangement that I always like. Apart from the speaker face the box is covered in leather. The face...
Chord Electronics Choral Etude Review Chord Electronics Choral Etude £4,500 150W into 4 ohms 33.3 (W) x 7.1 (H) x 15.4 (D) cm 230VAC 3.45kg Black or Silver Inputs: 2xXLR (balanced); 2xRCA (single ended) Outputs: Pair WBT speaker terminals Chord Electronics: https://chordelectronics.co.uk/ Introduction I have read a number of positive comments about the Chord Electronics Etude over the past year, as a result I was keen to get my hands on...
Pro-ject Tube DS2 (£699) Phono Stage Reviewed by Mr Underhill Introduction The little phono stage arrived well packaged and immediately appealed to me. Its straight-forward design has well labelled controls making the use of a manual almost superfluous. Design follows function. Two ECC83 valves chad from the back of the small neat chassis. The front of the box is dominated by the central rotary control allowing the selection of any...
Thrax Audio Ares Integrated Amplifier Review by George Sallit About a month ago I reviewed the Thrax Enyo valve/tube amplifier. https://www.hifiwigwam.com/forum/threads/thrax-enyo-integrated-amplifier.109701/ It would be true to say I was impressed with this upbeat amplifier and it certainly deserves to be considered one of the top integrated amplifiers in the £10-£15K group. However, if you are not keen on valve amplifiers and want to...
HiFi Rose RA 180 Integrated Amplifier George Sallit It is fair to say that the looks/aesthetics of this amplifier has caused some controversy. It has a mixture of looks with a dash of Nagra and a soupcon steampunk and a pinch of modernity. The controversy over the volume control certainly got it comments, but all this attention missed some of the other important characteristics of the amplifier, including sound quality. The Hifi Rose RA...
Hifi Rose RS250 The temptation of anything aesthetically appealing is to be swayed to make a judgement based on that .There has been loads of stunningly beautiful hifi over the years where the sound somehow doesn’t live up to the looks. There has also been the proverbial dogs dinner that have sounded sublime. Most hardened veterans of the hobby will of course like both but will settle for sound first. So enter stage left comes Hifi...
icOn PRO 4 Balanced Preamp George Sallit icOn 4 PRO Unbalanced icOn 4 PRO Balanced (Taller Preamp) Earlier this year I wrote a review about the icOn4 control unit https://www.hifiwigwam.com/forum/threads/icon-4-passive-preamplifier.107490/ and right at the end I mentioned there would be a further development with a new icOn control unit the icOn4PRO and a special balanced version available soon, and here it is. This version is...
Thrax Enyo Integrated Amplifier Mk 1 George Sallit One of the great benefits of the internet has been access to a huge amount of data, a lot that is useful for audiophiles. In addition, the internet is a great gateway for audio products that come from less well-known paths. Of course, there is a lot that is less good but that is not what I have been following over the last month or so. I had heard of Thrax amplifiers with people...
Benchmark HPA4 (£3,499) Pre Amp Reviewed by Mr Underhill Introduction A few months ago I had the pleasure of spending time with the Benchmark AHB2 power amp. This was a superbly transparent amplifier that I found especially impressive in my near field system. The power amp includes the THX-AAA technology that I discuss in the hyper-linked review above. I immediately wondered whether this technology was available in a pre-amp. The...
Wharfedale Elysian 4 Floorstanding Loudspeakers Review by George Sallit A few months ago, I wrote about the way some of the great audio companies were being taken over by venture capitalists. This meant that some of those companies had lost their identities and their classic products were changed into very safe audio. This ‘new audio’ does not offend and also does not excite. I was lamenting what was happening and disappointed that some...
EAT E-Glo Petit Phono Stage (£1,500) Reviewed by Mr Underhill Introduction I confess I had not heard of EAT until about eighteen months ago, but this phono stage had something that immediately attracted my attention, valves. Those of you who have read my earlier phono stage reviews will know that my weapon of choice for the past twenty five or so years have been EAR-Yoshino phono stages. When I made the plan to review a wide selection of...
I reviewed these feet at: https://www.hifiwigwam.com/forum/topic/145382-isoacoustics-gaia-loudspeaker-feet/ as a result of my good audio buddy Kevin Fiske telling me about them. I thought you would be interested in his views. As others have observed, the speaker/room interface is more complex than it might at first appear. Spikes were long thought necessary to stop speakers from oscillating fore and aft in obedience to Newton’s Third Law...
Fanthorpes Audio Audio Good Guys by George Sallit I spent my formative years in Hull, Humberside or East Yorkshire as it is now called. Kingston upon Hull was the City of Culture in 2017 don’t cha know! And nestled in Hepworths Arcade, Silver Street (old part of Hull) is the audio emporium of Fanthorpes. They have been in business since 1948 when they were opened by Arthur Fanthorpe and his wife Laura. They are featured here as another...
Chord Electronics Symphonic MC Phono Stage (£2,995) Review by Mr Underhill Introduction Is spending significantly more on a phono stage a good use of your moolah? I confess that before receiving the Moving Coil (MC) Chord Electronics Symphonic Phono Stage I was rehearsing how I might open this review. I was concerned that adjectives such as slight and tad might start to litter the descriptive passages, in the event I needn’t have concerned...
GutWire Ultimate Ground Cable Review by George Sallit There must be thousands of cable makers in audio-land all using different conductors, insulators, connectors and designs. Some use a scientific approach to their cables, others do not. Most use novel approaches to making cables to connect various components of an audio system, including the mains. But this review is not about any of that. This cable is a ground cable and is made by a...
Vitus RI101 Mk II Amplifier Review by George Sallit I have always been a big fan of valves but one of the problems with some of these amplifiers is they are not best suited to less efficient speakers, driving rocking music or replaying deep bass. Because of that, I was looking for a really good solid-state amplifier. My search always seemed to give a few of the desired characteristics but not enough to make it worthwhile for serious...
I am fascinated by passive preamplifiers (Control Units?) and have been for a few years. One of the advantages of digital analogue convertors DACs (the only one?) is they have a healthy output of 2V. With power amplifiers giving full output from an input of 0.7-1.5V that in effect means the need for preamplifiers has gone and all that is needed is an attenuator and a switch for the different inputs. No amplification is necessary. That opens...
Chord Huei Phono Stage (£995) – Side 2 Review by Mr Underhill Introduction In Side 1 I compared the Chord Huei MM to the Naim 3 series MM cards, which the Chord Huei won, although after an interesting twist. If that has raised your curiosity you can read that review here (hopefully, the site is under active update!): Chord Huei Side 1 In Side 2 I will be comparing the Huei MC stage to the Naim 3 series ‘k’ cards, a bespoke solution...