To describe the Norwegian-conceived Hegel H190 as merely an integrated amplifier does it a disservice. Successor to the award-winning H160 it benefits from company founder Bent Holter’s refined SoundEngine2, first seen in the more powerful H360 model and boasting ten-times lower distortion than the first-generation. Added to this the unit’s onboard streaming ability (Tidal, Spotify, […]


Recently I seem to have had a lot of contact with Italian audio components and the latest to grace my equipment rack is the Norma HS-IPA1. Packed into its diminutive case work there is a solid state amplifier, a phono stage, a headphone amplifier and a DAC, which is really quite remarkable. Norma is based […]


BorderPatrol is a small company whose proprietor Gary Dews started out working with Audio Innovations (which became Audio Note UK), so you won’t be surprised to learn that its speciality is tube electronics. Gary was originally based near Brighton in the UK but moved to Maryland in the US some time ago and has been […]

MSB Discrete main

It’s been a while since I lived with an MSB DAC, but I have very happy memories of those occasions when one was left in my care in the past. The company has always been at the leading edge of digital technology with several firsts to its name and some very ambitious products in its […]


It’s been more than 20 years since I last had the pleasure of unpacking a new piece of hi-fi kit for review. And a lot has changed during that time. For instance, even the actual act of unboxing seems to have become an entertainment itself, given the number of YouTube videos out there that have […]


The only reason that CD still has a place in the hearts of sound connoisseurs is that they have so many discs and streaming systems add a layer of complexity that seems intimidating to the uninitiated.In practice setting up a streaming system is very straightforward especially if you have any form of network at home, […]

BEST OF 2018

This has been a great year for new hi-fi, so good that our list has once again expanded so we can include all the best pieces of kit. We have had to make some tough decisions, all of the products chosen by the ear’s reviewers have made a very strong, positive impression both at the […]


If you want digital audio that can compete with the best of analogue get yourself a dedicated audio server, a data store for the bits ripped from CDs or high res downloads. See our reviews of servers by Innuos and Melco to get some idea of what such supercharged NAS drives can achieve. Yet they all require attachment to […]


YBA. Am I the only one who thought Young British Artists? Tracy Emin and unmade beds, Damien Hirst and pickled sharks? Wrong answer. In the context of good music reproduction, YBA can only mean Yves-Bernard André, whose initials grace the brand he launched way back in 1981. Since then he has been dedicated to combining […]

iFi Pro iDSD-BB2

ifi Pro iDSD DAC & headphone amplifier Ifi have a good go at blinding you with science on the webpage for the Pro iDSD, the list of features and technologies is confusing even if you know what half the terms mean. This is a marketing approach that is often inversely related to the sound quality […]

VEGA G1 main

When Auralic launched its G1 series they took the unusual step of using casework that looks almost exactly like that on the more expensive G2 range, at a glance you have to be reasonably familiar with the range to spot the difference. Which is in the knobs and buttons, G2s have black controls (that you […]


Most loudspeaker makers improve their products by degrees; they refine cabinets, drive units and crossovers and gradually make them better. You get the occasional jump in performance when a new cone or dome technology is developed but on the whole it’s an incremental process. Newcomer Kii Audio takes a rather different approach. Rather than using […]