Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature Loudspeakers

Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

I have many fond memories of listening to loudspeakers from Bowers & Wilkins, and over the years have owned several pairs of B&W speakers—including the very first product I reviewed for the SoundStage! Network, the 705 S2 two-way standmount ($2999.99/pair, all prices USD), B&W’s smallest tweeter-on-top model.

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NAD C 298 Stereo/Mono Amplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

Reviewers' ChoicePerched atop my ladder outside on a gorgeous fall Saturday, working through our home-improvement list—my favorite COVID-lockdown activity—I was excited to receive this message from the SoundStage! Network’s founder, Doug Schneider: “Your first review product is in—the new NAD C 298 power amp.”

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Aurelia XO Cerica XL Loudspeakers

Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceI traveled 4298 miles to discover Aurelia speakers, and in that first encounter, at the 2018 Warsaw Audio Video Show, I didn’t realize what I was hearing. Even at the best of times, the listening conditions at audio shows are terrible, and this wasn’t the best of times: the multitudes of attendees made it almost impossible to hear what was going on, and we had to keep to an insane go-go-go pace to cover the show for SoundStage! Global.

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Pro-Ject Audio Systems T1 Phono SB Turntable

Some audio gear is easy to write about. Other stuff requires more effort. I’m not talking about describing a component’s sound, but about describing the process of setting it up and evaluating its features. I find writing about loudspeakers relatively straightforward—the most important thing is to set them up correctly, a task made far simpler when you know your listening room well. I also find it easier to hear differences between two pairs of speakers than between, say, two good integrated amplifiers. Reviewing something like Anthem’s STR Preamplifier is even more challenging because it has so many features and functions, all or most of which should be evaluated if the aim is to write a comprehensive review.

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MayFly Audio Systems MF-201A Loudspeakers

Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

MayFly Audio Systems was founded in 2020 by Trevor May, an engineer and musician who had begun his research and prototype development two years earlier. May lives and operates MayFly out of Ottawa, Canada, the city I live in—in fact, he lives on the street I grew up on. That made for quick, easy deliveries.

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Hegel Music Systems V10 Phono Stage

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio Electronics Lab, click this link.

Have you ever looked closely at the coils of a moving-coil cartridge? If you have a jeweler’s loupe and a cartridge with a relatively open body, it’s worth exploring this tiny, elegant universe. The coils themselves are so small that it seems impossible they could be made by hand, or mounted inside a cartridge, or that they can work at all.

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Yamaha A-S3200 Integrated Amplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio Electronics Lab, click this link.

Though now perhaps best known for their motorcycles and other vehicles produced by their Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. division, the Yamaha Corporation has a long, rich musical history—the logo of even the Yamaha Motor Co. is still a trio of crossed tuning forks. Founded as Nippon Gakki in the late 19th century, the Yamaha Corporation began as a maker of pianos, and has since become the world’s biggest manufacturer of pianos and other musical instruments. Yamaha has made audio equipment since the 1920s, and what many would consider high-fidelity audio components since the 1950s.

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Kinki Studio EX-M1+ Integrated Amplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio Electronics Lab, click this link.

I’ve reviewed a slew of exceptional integrated amplifiers in the last few years, from the likes of such well-known companies as Anthem, Cambridge Audio, Hegel Music Systems, Lyngdorf Audio, NAD, and Naim Audio. But this latest integrated to arrive is made by Kinki Studio, a Chinese company I’d never heard of. I didn’t know what to expect when Jeff Fritz contacted me about reviewing the EX-M1+, but what Kinki themselves say about it on their website made it seem at least promising. Later, when we posted a picture of the EX-M1+ on the SoundStage! Network’s Instagram feed, I was surprised by how many likes and positive comments it got from those familiar with it.

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Musical Fidelity M8xi Integrated Amplifier-DAC

A couple years ago, Musical Fidelity was bought by Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH of Austria, which is owned by Heinz Lichtenegger, a cordial and respected industry veteran who founded and is CEO of Pro-Ject Audio Systems. At the time, a news release stated, “The future vision for Musical Fidelity is to grow with new products and push into new markets, while still retaining the sound quality, reliability and striking industrial design that helped make the brand such an influential part in the annals of hi-fi history.”

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KEF LS50 Meta Loudspeakers

Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.

Reviewers' ChoiceKEF’s new LS50 Meta loudspeaker was released in October and sells for $1499.99/pair -- the same price the LS50, which it replaces, sold for in 2012. (All prices USD.) I was in Munich that May, at High End 2012, when the LS50 was announced; I reviewed the speaker in April 2013, and I’ve owned a pair ever since.

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