Heschl Audio Labs HAL 300 Power Amplifier

Heschl Audio Labs is a young, vibrant and innovative company based in Queensland, Australia. It’s fairly new to the high-end audio scene, at present, they have two products released. Their first was the HAL 350 which is an integrated amplifier that includes an R-2R DAC. This was released back in mid-2018. I had the pleasure of hearing it at an audio club meeting in November 2018 – it sounded very good. As a consequence of various audio shows, Heschl realised a sizeable demand for a power amplifier-only version at a more affordable price point. This product became the HAL 300 which was announced in March 2021 and released shortly afterwards. The HAL 300 is basically the power amp section of the HAL 350 morphed into a new chassis with only minor changes. It is the subject of this review.

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Audio Research Reference 80S Power Amplifier

It's a funny ol' thing, this hobby of ours. We embark on our journey with an idea; an idea self-propelled with enthusiasm in the hope it will maintain some kind of currency. Enough to endure hiccups and hurdles and reward us with long-term listening enjoyment and subsequently, for many of us, that 'pride of ownership'. It can be a rose-tinted viewpoint, and perhaps somewhat indulgent, but we've all had select components that, while they may not be physically with us now, remain as an intrinsic artefact and memory in our audio psyche or spirit. These cherished components are a beloved right-of-passage or an exercise in maturing. This reviewer is no exception to this natural law of audiophilia. Their memories are as vivid now as the moment of their first audition. Here, where more memories may be created for cherishing, I’m graced with the presence of Audio Research's newest offering, the delectable Reference 80S power amplifier.

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JBL 4349 Studio Monitor Loudspeakers

By way of an intro, do I need to say more other than to state this? JBL. Three letters that are synonymous with music playback since mid-last century (1946 to be exact). Both at consumer and Pro audio levels in the studio and the performance venue. While the company offers highly regarded entry-level loudspeakers, it’s the high-end ‘K’ and ‘Studio Monitor’ models which feature dollops of the real-good-stuff. Like JBL’s colossal development budgets. Like the exceptional transducer technologies created at Harman International’s advanced Northridge, California R&D facility. Yes, those resources are the envy of the industry. In the 4349 Studio Monitor, JBL yet again shows off its engineering chops with the latest horn-loaded compression tweeter and 300mm bass driver in a classic 2-way design with enormous promise. And lots to live up to. Let’s bring it into our very own auditioning studio…

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Linn Klimax DSM Digital Music Player

A few years ago, I reviewed Linn’s Selekt DSM and was well impressed. So, when I was offered the chance to have a crack at the flagship – the Klimax DSM I certainly didn’t shrug with nonchalance mumbling “Meh” but rather, I enthusiastically exclaimed “Hell Yeah!” Just ask our Editor Edgar Kramer…

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Cables for Music Resonant Cable Loom

Cables for Music. I like that. Like, wine for the palate or… lens transcribing for subjective vision. A tangible thing which acts as a conduit to interpretive personal pleasure. As far as our audio universe, unadulterated music is the ultimate target, right? In this examination of the ‘Resonant’ cable loom from innovative Hong Kong specialist Cables for Music, I embark on a multi-faceted installation process arriving at a unique cable architecture. Or cable system. One which its makers have painstakingly crafted to deliver the purest version of… well, the last word on the company’s very name. It’s a noble foundation.

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Harbeth SHL5plus XD Loudspeakers

Some people might say that the Harbeth Super HL5plus XD speakers look ordinary, perhaps because they don’t have curved sides, chromed bits or some other fashion or fad of the hi-fi world. Well, yes, they look as ordinary as the Parthenon. Some might even say that they are not exciting, perhaps because they use no ribbons, horns or other trendy technology. Well, yes, they sound as un-exciting as Pavarotti. That’s because dispensing with those distractions, Harbeth has been creating loudspeakers (such as the SHL5plus XD for review here) that are becoming synonyms for British design, British reliability and British quality.

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Siltech Classic Legend 880 Cables

By the very lexicon, the new Classic Legend cables from Siltech make a rather bold promise. Off the bat. At the get-go. Classic Legend. That’s some chutzpah right there. But if there’s a cable specialist who can pull that off… Yes, Siltech’s R&D resources, metallurgy expertise and overall market authority certainly qualifies it for such self-assuredness. The company has been one of the industry leaders in cable manufacturing since its market launch in 1983 when it introduced its G1 ‘Silver Technology’ cable interface creations. Now evolved to G9 material and cable architecture, will Siltech’s newest high-end offering live up to the pledge?

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Rockna Audio Wavelight Digital-To-Analogue Converter

When Australian importer Audio Heaven casually waved the wand of temptation about reviewing Rockna Audio’s latest digital-to-analogue converter, I was all restrained excitement. Here’s a company which has garnered unanimous acclaim across the globe for making advanced proprietary-technology digital products from an unlikely birthplace. Not only did this assignment promise good, good, good vibrations but it’s a product hailing from Romania which is simpatico with my own paternal Germanic-Romanian heritage. So, Rockna Audio’s newest offering, the rather elegant slimline entry-point Wavelight DAC arrives, fresh from the former Eastern Bloc, with a potent musical pledge combining a proven alternative methodology with a twist of 21st century tech.

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The Funk Firm Houdini Cartridge Decoupler

Obviously, The Funk Firm’s Houdini cartridge decoupler hints at some kind of trickery, some wand-charm waived onto this unique product. Audacious association aside, Houdini shows evidence of ingenuity with genuine performance potential. How did the Houdini perform, after taking… umm, sheltering support over our already sonically stellar in-house cartridge and tonearm combo? Can Houdini free your sound from its resonant captive chains? Will the diminutive component’s performance captivate through to the final Prestige?

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KEF Blade Loudspeakers

The KEF Blades are gorgeous looking speakers. They have elicited nothing but compliments and occasional awe from every visitor I’ve had during the past couple of months, including one very keen tradesman who did all but insist on hearing them after finishing some painting on my balcony. The Blade is no longer a new speaker, despite the futuristic looking visual design, however, it’s an important loudspeaker design and it’s been too many years since I’ve listened to a KEF flagship model (discounting the limited-edition Muon) so when opportunity knocked, I opened the door.

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Classé Audio Delta PRE Preamplifier and Delta MONO Power Amplifiers

How does a great brand, a veritable audiophilic powerhouse, return after a creative hiatus? How does it regain market recognition, recapture the imagination and re-stimulate the desirous impetus of audio enthusiasts who held it in such high regard? In the case of Canadian Classé Audio, now under the umbrella of powerhouse D & M Holdings, it starts by re-inventing the entity and forcefully re-launching onto the world’s high-end audio stage. It then follows by introducing re-imagined products which, while preserving signature aesthetic motifs, improve on their predecessors with re-engineered and evolved design concepts. Incorporating these core philosophies, to a heightened status, are Classé Audio’s new Delta PRE and MONO flagship components.

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Line Magnetic LM-34IA Integrated Amplifier

It was with an open mind that I welcomed the invitation to review this particular component from Line Magnetic. My curiosity was piqued and came from a place of genuine interest in the LM-34IA integrated amplifier. An interest to see if indeed the rumours were true – that the Chinese manufacturers we've seen emerge into the vast landscape of the audio industry have left their mediocre beginnings behind and become capable of competitive, world class offerings. Even at this particular price point, one that you would regard as 'entry level' into the chasm that is tube gear.

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