This is another bit of kit that I’ve had for a good while (it was payment from Epiphany for some website work I did for them) and thought I really ought to write something about it. Epiphany are a small UK based company with a handful of products to their name but a growing reputation for great compact kit at reasonable prices if the comments on their website and forums are anything to go by.
The EHP-O2 is a compact little unit (8 x 11 x 3cm) but feels pretty substantial in your hand – it’s not an ultra lightweight item by any stretch of the imagination. It comes with a wall wart power supply to recharge the batteries that can be used as a power supply if you want to use it as a desktop amplifier. Epiphany say that it is perfectly safe to leave the EHP-O2 plugged in continuously and this is down to a clever in built power management system. If I was to have anything to say about the power supply it would be that the input is pretty inconveniently placed on the front of the headphone amplifier which is a bit of a pain. The circuit used in the EHP-O2 is the same as designed by the blogger NwAvGuy. More »
Custom HiFi Cables Ltd. (CHC for short in this review) was established in 2010 in the fine old English city of Leeds. It produces a wide range of hi-fi and home cinema accessories, including cables, power supplies and mains conditioners. Recently they have ventured into the area of dedicated headphone amplifiers and their 2 models are the subject of this review, along with two DC power supplies .
The HA10 (£234.99) headphone amplifier is based on a hybrid design, using a high quality E88CC dual triode valve for the first stage of amplification and then a pair of audiophile-grade MOSFETS for the second stage of amplification, which work in a class A configuration.
For the higher spec HA10SE (£269.99), improvements include an ALPS Blue volume pot, audiophile grade resistors in the signal path, and for the input audio signal capacitors high-end film input caps from Solen.
The DC1 (£139.99) and DC2 (£249.99) PSUs are both linear, not switched mode designs. For the DC2, improvements include a larger toroidal transformer (more than twice the power rating of the one in the DC1), larger reservoir capacitors (almost twice the capacity of the DC1), and mains surge and filtering. The DC2 is about twice the size and weight of the DC1. More »
A lot of very interesting hifi equipment is coming out of Poland these days.There seems a real passion and drive for innovative excellence and a lot of this work is targetted at the higher echelons of audiophilia.
The item under review is a two chassis valve (tube)-based pre-amplifier, with the PSU housed in an identically-sized and -finished casing of its own.
Designed in Poland by valve-guru Andrzej Markow and built by Wojciech Korpacz whose obsession with this preamp resulted in 3 years of work on its design and the eventual formation of his own company to promote the Absolutor in its current form.
A quite thick but flexible umbilical cable links the pre-amp and the PSU, the one on the review sample was 1m long.
Drop dead gorgeous to look at – the review sample had a piano black finish with large central aluminium volume control on the main pre-amp chassis. The Absolutor pre is also available in white with a black volume control.There is a small green, not too bright, power indicator light on each chassis. the front fascias are subtly contoured. Beautifully finished, this is a work of art. Very, very, nice. More »
More and larger Images at the bottom of the page
Hot on the heels of the original review of the Radford Revival STA15 I had the chance of a direct comparison with the original recently. I won’t say “with the real McCoy” as the Revival unit is just as “real” in terms of circuit topology and design. There were a few critics doing the rounds voicing opinions that older valves in unrestored versions were bound to sound softer, so setting the newer version in a glowing light, but if you read on, you’ll see that they completely missed the point.
During a brief recess in the downpour, which had been of biblical proportions of late, a knock came at the door last Friday and I found William Moores from Radford Revival was at the door accompanied by a large box containing an original STA15. The revival unit was still with me following the last review and so we settled down to an uninterrupted afternoon of music and amplifiers. They way it was going to go was to first listen to the system playing the recordings used for the previous review (all on LP) so that Will could get a feel for the system and each of the recordings before switching from my own amp to the Revival unit, then immediately to the original STA15. An important (as far as I was concerned) part of the review was to compare not just the sonic merits of each ‘amp, but also the physical characteristics, looking at internal build quality, exterior appearance and discussing measurements for both amps.
What’s immediately apparent is just how similar both units are – you have to look really hard to spot which is the Revival unit. A brief glance shows both to be identical, and only on second inspection do the slight changes become apparent. The biggest giveaway is the Revival unit is newer looking and everything is a little shinier, but look closer and you’ll see almost identical but better quality switches around back (taps for the transformer) on the new model, and notably that the casework lacks the crude folds of the original and is smoother and better finished on the newer model. Transformer casings are almost identical and there’s a story behind that too.
Old and New Transformers
The man behind the original transformer casings does in fact still make them (in a Bristol workshop) for the new amplifier, so there’s some of the original DNA from the same pair of craftsman’s hands involved in the new amp. It’s great that Will and Steve have managed to keep some of the links with the original amp manufacture. Their attention to detail and passion for these amplifiers is what makes them what they are, true but improved copies of the original. More »
It’s been a while since I listened to a good low-watter valve amp, the last one being the amazing Horning Sati; 12 watts of Pure Class A SET amplification. It was bliss and the output figures totally belied what it was capable of. Since then, I’ve listened to or owned a few interesting valve amplifiers and having recently being given the opportunity to listen to the Consonance Cyber 10 Signature, I jumped at the chance.
Consonance are a relatively small specialist Chinese company, but don’t let that put you off, as their standards are high and their kit has won widespread acclaim world-wide. Their quality control seems peerless in China, as do their technical standards and attention to detail. Having auditioned their Droplet and Mini-Droplet CD spinners, and falling head over heels with the build and the sound, I ended up buying the CDP3.1 and have never looked back. It was with a little nervousness that I took the opportunity to review the Cyber 10 Signature as I knew that both the bank manager and wife would be none too pleased if I repeated my last performance with Consonance kit… More »
New UK dealership BD-Audio, based in the lovely UK Midlands town of Malvern and headed up by Jack Durant, has taken on the Chinese designed & manufactured Ming Da brand of valve-based electronics.
Looking at the pricing of the equipment, many folk might quite understandably do a double-take – perceived value is extremely competitive, especially at the lower end of the price range. When the kit is seen ‘in the flesh’ the feeling of great value for money is further enhanced – these are lovely items to behold. Production quality seems very high and the aesthetic design is distinctive and attractive. Warranty is 2 years on the equipment and an unusually generous 1 year on the valves.
Jack paid a visit to my humble abode a few days ago and brought with him a selection of Ming Da kit for me to audition and review.
I listened to all of the equipment with the stock Chinese valves, and although I have no reason to think they are poor, you will certainly be able to obtain different sonic flavours with a bit of ‘valve rolling’.
Remarkably ugly valve cages are provided to meet CE regulations; these are easily removed for when they are not required to keep inquiring small hands or paws at bay!
Ming Da MC-7SE pre-amp
With a current UK retail price of £1520 this remote controlled (volume level and mute) stereo valve pre-amp is a lovely thing for an audiophile to behold.
4 pairs of stereo RCA inputs and 2 pairs of RCA outputs but no fixed level output (“tape”) is available. The circuit includes five valves (tubes), four of these valves are the 6SN7 type, the other, a rectifier, is a 5U4G. More »
As the Radford Revival STA15 is a reissue of an early 1960s design, we thought that the best way to give readers a full and clear picture of what this amplifier is capable of was to conduct two separate reviews.
In his first review of the Radford Revival reissue, Paul reviews the amplifier as he would any other modern amplifier, with the caveat that some, but not all of the music chosen was contemporary with the design of the amplifier.
The second forthcoming review will compare and contrast an original STA15 against the Radford Revival STA15 Series 3 Re-Issue. – Stuart
Radford Electronics was originally set up in Bristol by Arthur Radford in 1959 and it was the later Series 3 amplifiers such as the STA15 and STA25 that established Radford’s designs. These were unique amplifiers for the day, and in some ways remain so even today due to Radford’s interest in the amplifier’s ‘rise time’ and square wave response, carefully designed and engineered to ensure possibly the highest fidelity for home audio reproduction to date when first released back in the early 1960s. Without going into too much detail (the technical specifications are available to view on Radford Revival’s website) it’s the square wave response and very low distortion (and here I mean very low for a valve amplifier; almost into SS territory in fact) which really set these amplifiers apart from the rest of the 1960s contemporary crowd.
The difference between the 15 and the 25 models is mainly in the power supply and output valve bias arrangements. The STA 15, high tension power supply rectification is provided by a GZ34 rectifier, providing around 380V high tension. Output valves on the STA15 use automatic biasing courtesy of cathode resistors whilst the STA25 output stage is fixed bias with a negative grid voltage applied to the output valve, adjusted for the output valve. More »
These diminutive hi-fi amplifiers are just £60 UK delivered if you buy direct from the manufacturers.
Just another chip amp? No way – this uses the magical TA2020 chipset. You like transparency but don’t want to pay £1k+? … this amp may well be the answer.
Yes, you can get more power out of, for example, the TA2022 or TA2050 chipsets. And yes, they do sound very fine. But … they don’t quite manage the transparent musical magic that I hear with the two TA2020 amps that I’ve tried.
The manufacturer says they’ve done some bespoke mods to the circuit of his Mini-T, and his amp does sound noticeably superior to the cheaper TA2020 I have also tried – it’s purer and smoother and altogether more enjoyable. More »
I heard this at a bake off (an audiophile get-together and listening session) a year or two prior to this purchase.
For me, at that bake-off, the Romulus totally blew away all comers and I’d been nagging its owner since then to sell it to me. Well, due to the completion of his own DIY valve amps the owner finally succumbed and so off I trotted on the 280 mile return trip to collect the amp from his place in Plymouth.
Here she is – pretty, no? It’s the ‘export model’, with gold trimmings.
30wpc integrated, using 3x 12AX7, 2x 12AU7 and 4x 6L6GC valves for the power. It retailed at around £2,000.
CR Developments are a now sadly defunct small British hifi company based in Southend that specialised in valve-based equipment and focused predominantly on Far East markets, and maybe came to grief as a result of that region’s economic woes. They made some really gorgeous kit, including monoblock power amps and a range of pre-amps and phono-stages.
Their website is still available on-line at www.crdevelopments.com but it hasn’t been updated since 2002. Worth a look, though, some lovely gear there! More »
Chord is a well-established British company who make a wide range of equipment covering a very broad price band. You can spend just a few £hundred on a DAC or large multiples of tens of thousands on a fridge-sized amplifier! Chord have a penchant for very distinctive-looking equipment chassis, lots of silver aluminium and a high tech – OK, some would say blingy! – appearance. Chord are not shy of providing transparent windows into the chassis with internal lighting provided by LED – that wasn’t on offer with the CPM2600, though.
Since their foundation Chord have used switch mode power supplies (SMPS) which are much lighter, smaller and more efficient than the more traditional type, although they don’t have universal compatibility with partnering equipment. And some audiophiles have no time for them at all because of perceived sonic characteristics. More »
American muscle amp, blingy appearance, heatsinks along the sides.
Yawn – not another one?
Certified for THX – why are you wasting my time with this AV stuff?
Move along, nothing to see here for a 2-channel audiophile.
But wait – it’s wonderful! More »
These are seriously Bad Boys and are not for the faint-hearted.
And aren’t they gorgeous!! ….
The simply Gorgeous Cary 572SE Monobloc Amplifiers
Power valves are 572-3 triodes. They glow very brightly and are hugely impressive in a darkened room. The full valve complement is 6SN7, 6DN7, 572-3 and a 5U4-GB rectifier tube behind the 572-3.
This is really a tale of taming these Bad Boys with valve-rolling, I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with these amps.
The Svetlana 572-3 power valves are a fixture, no-one else made these valves, so it’s the small valves that must perform the sound-tuning duties. Internet rumour had it that the power valves were no longer obtainable – not true, I found a reliable and good value source in the USA quite easily and I got a spare pair of valves immediately. Why don’t people use a decent search engine? More »