Any hobbyist who's experimented with making their own loudspeakers will tell you that getting the basics right is vital for superior sound. Keeping it simple with a couple of high quality drive units, rather than making a big box full of transducers with complex crossovers often yields the best results. In this sense, it's fair to say that 'less is more'...
That is why a small coaxial speaker with one drive unit close to the another for 'point source' imaging, set into a tiny, resonance-free cabinet, can work so well. Our review of Tannoy's Revolution DC4 [p69] shows how...
The same principle explains why valve amplifiers can sound more musical than solid-state. Using simple circuits with relatively few active electronic devices, they rely on quality transformers and wiring to give great sound. In contrast, transistor amps are more complex, with many more components and longer signal paths to sully the sound. Our classic Dynatron LS15 power amp review [p86] shows how keeping it simple is a timeless virtue.
One exception to this rule is Creek's new Destiny 2. This solid-state integrated amplifier sports a passive preamplifier stage that removes the need for extra circuitry in the signal path. This, plus other clever tricks, makes it one of the best solid-state integrateds we've heard. Read all about it on p50.
This issue's preamplifier supertest clearly shows how basic engineering directly affects performance. The MF Audio and Creek passive preamps tested are so good because they're so simple; the Icon Audio and PrimaLuna valve units add some valve warmth to the proceedings which some will love, while others will prefer the Cyrus and Electrocompaniet transistor designs that sound cleaner but less engaging. The action starts on p17.
In my view, the best maxim for hi-fi buyers is 'each to their own'; take a careful look at what you want from a product and buy accordingly. The great thing about hi-fi in 2011 is that there's so much to choose from; I hope Hi-Fi World helps you make sense of it all. Enjoy!
David Price, editor
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