HiFi News – May 2013 issue; Kudos Cardea Super 20, HFN visits AIR studios, The Nytech CTA252 receiver.


The May 2013 issue, 138 pages, looking rather well put together and £4.00. And not only this, but vital! Vital? Yes indeed – as are all the remaining print-based mags. Why? Because on the newsstands they are the only remaining presence, a fading echo if you like of what was once a thriving industry and now in decline. But hey, this isn’t the time or place for nostalgia nor debating ‘what can be done’ about the migration away from sophisticated equipment to the convenience of portability. Other have debated this at length and better that we can.

So anyway, here’s HFW waving the flag for our industry and on the face of it (and indeed beneath the surface) doing a damn good job too.

Kudos Cardea Super 20

I’d like to be able to tell you that here at OLC were remain entirely independent from being influenced by the historic writing style of a particular reviewer. However – we can’t. Some of us love the style of Ken Kessler – but he does polarise opinions. On the other hand John Bamford is always a pleasing (uncontroversial?) read. He avoids fan-worship of suppliers through not being over-deferential. Moreover the style is highly readable without quite the ‘drama’ that Ken Kessler introduces.

So anyway, in the now typical Hi-Fi News style in review is both thorough and informative. Nevertheless I don’t feel it would incline me to go out of my way to audition them. They received a Hi-Fi News sound quality score of 79%

What’s missing from this piece? We touched on this yesterday; from a potential buyer’s perspective (and we are aware that some makers just won’t allow their products to be part comparative reviews nor group testing) we’d have valued comparison against some of the other truly great contenders in the price band of circa £4k. These might include Vandersteen, Harbeth, Spendor and so on.

Ideally we’d like to see an add on section which merely i.e. without comment identified brands and models of other speakers in the price band.

Now then, you might think this would be a simple Google task for ’civilians’ – but it isn’t. For example, Google ‘Loudspeakers at £4k’ and see what you get. Similarly ‘Loudspeakers at £4,000’. Yes, clearly a shortcoming re Google in this particular (and in our experience, rare) situation but one that if the Hi-Fi News editor was trying a bit harder to see through the eyes of a typical reader, quite easy to resolve.

AIR Studios:

A terrific piece of writing by Steve Harris worth, for us, the £4.00 purchase price of the magazine on its own. 4 full pages, excellent clear illustrations, lucid writing and a style that almost makes you feel you were there with him. A text book example of first-rate audiophile journalism.

What’s missing from this piece? Absolutely nothing.

The Nytech CTA 252 receiver:

From the sublime to the less so. A contrast from Steve Harris – under the title ‘Audio Milestones’. Talking to a now retired and highly cynical audiophile retailer of our acquaintance (the now defunct Subjective Audio Ltd) and a couple of others who wish to remain anonymous (possibly because they represent Rega and/or Linn and/or NAIM?) off the record, it seems it could, based on their experiences be usefully re-worded as ‘Audio milestones in unreliability’

More on this shortly. On the positive side, as you’d expect from SH, highly readable, if a tad too reverential regarding the deceased Nytech designer for our tastes. Fine illustrations and a well-documented timeline complement the excellent writing style.

What’s missing from this piece? Any comments re reliability on the units. Subjective audio claimed that in the very early 1980s they and their ‘hapless’ customers experienced almost 200% unreliability. We questioned this. How can unreliably exceed 100%? Their explanation was as follows. “Take one unit, sold new to a buyer. It fails in the warranty period. If all the units from the same batch fail, then that’s 100%. Okay so far? Now then, if all those units are returned by the maker after repair and they in turn all fail within the warranty period then that’s 100% + an additional 100%

Let’s not end on a negative note though. Ideally a list of the contact details for specialists who can repair a vintage Nytech would have been useful.

Click here for the previous part in this series

Thank you

The OLC Editor

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