Music Hall’s founder, Roy Hall, has a well-deserved reputation as something of a maverick. A Scotsman, Hall emigrated to the US to assemble Linn speakers. When that didn’t pan out as he or Linn had hoped, Hall turned his attention to turntables, starting his own company in 1998. Decks of Hall’s design have generally been built by Pro-Ject in Europe, but the two brands share only a few design elements.
Despite being born in Texas of New Yorker parents, my wife spent many of her formative years in Denmark—and hasn’t stopped talking about it to this day. So there’s always something a bit Pavlovian about the sight of a Danish flag around these parts. When she looked at my stack of incoming packages and saw the box for the Tangent Ampster BT II, her initial reaction was, “Ooh! What’d ya get from Denmark?” When I told her it was an integrated amplifier, I half expected the wind to leave her sails, but she immediately shot back, “They make good gear! Like B&O!”
A few weeks back, Dr. Sean Olive, longtime director of acoustic research and now senior fellow at Harman International and former president of the Audio Engineering Society, paid homage to one of the most enduring audiophile test tracks, just over 35 years after its original release, with a LinkedIn post that went something like this:
Product refreshes in the hi-fi world often come in one of two forms: either the company knows it needs to introduce a new product so it can issue a press release and stay in the news, or it’s simply adding modern features to keep up with the times. At first blush, Rega’s new Mk4 version of its popular Elex integrated amplifier ($1875, all prices in USD) seems to fall into the latter category. At the very least, you get the sense that it doesn’t fall into the former.
A few days before I began this review, I received my new reference turntable, the Music Hall Stealth, which comes equipped with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge. I immediately set it up and started breaking in the cantilever mount. There were other strong contenders, the Pro-Ject X1, Thorens TD 402 DD, and Dual CS 518 among them. The Stealth was my final choice due to its exceptional musicality, extremely quiet direct-drive motor, easily adjustable vertical tracking angle, auto-stop feature, and interchangeable headshell.
Denon’s new DNP-2000NE, which the company markets as a “high-resolution audio streamer with HEOS built-in,” is an interesting beast in a number of ways. For one thing, at $1599 (in USD), it’s on the pricier end of the streamers I normally cover here on SoundStage! Access—at least ones that don’t have built-in amplification, which the DNP-2000NE doesn’t. Honestly, half the reason I requested a review sample was simply to see what Denon has done to justify the price of this thing.
This is an idea that’s been kicking around in the back of my noggin for a bit, but my recent review of Denon’s behemoth gazillion.bajillion-channel AVR-A1H receiver solidified a lot of my thoughts on the subject. It’s a simple question, really, and you’re already hip to it if you’ve read the headline: should you use an AVR instead of a stereo preamp/amp, integrated amp, or receiver in your two-channel system?
Every time I review a CD player, it sort of feels like it’ll be the last time. I felt that way after my evaluation of the Rotel CD11 Tribute, and I feel that way now, after having boxed up Pro-Ject Audio Systems’ CD Box S3 ($549, all prices USD) and shipped it to Canada for custom photography.
Rekkord Audio is the new brand name for turntables produced by an old name, Alfred Fehrenbacher GmbH, maker of the Pro-Ject Automat A1. Headquartered in Germany’s Black Forest region, Fehrenbacher formerly controlled the Dual brand name but relinquished it after a court battle with the owners of the revitalized Dual organization.
I’m such a hypocrite. Don’t worry—I’ll explain why in a bit. But to set that story up, I need to convey my initial reaction to seeing the shipping box for Rega’s new Elex Mk4 integrated amplifier ($1875 USD).