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  2. Sorry I've been away from this space for so long. My day gig (national-security columnist for Slate) has kept me busy (as you can imagine), and I've got a tight deadline on a new book. Still, as Congreve observed, "Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast," and there's plenty of breast-beating savagery out there, so I've continued to listen, and here is my dispatch on the Best Jazz Albums (10 new and two historical discoveries) of 2018. Mon, 12/17/2018 View the full article
  3. Terpsichore, the Greek goddess of dance and chorus. How appropriate that her delight in dancing should be honored in Terpsichore: Apotheóse de la Danse baroque (Alia Vox), the latest beautifully produced and packaged Alia Vox SACD from Jordi Savall and his baroque orchestra, Le Concert des Nations. Filled with high energy orchestral music by Jean-Ferry Rebel (1666–1747) and the even longer-lived Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767), the recording exalts the exuberant French style of instrumental dance music that became popular during the rise of the baroque orchestra in the courts of Kings Henry IV and Louis XIII in the early 17th century. Sat, 12/15/2018 View the full article
  4. My Russian neighbor's blind grandfather, Vlad, has very discriminating ears—but only when I tell him what to listen for. If I don't, he just bitches about my choice of music. And he refuses to listen to "weak" American orchestras. Not surprisingly, Vlad worships Mikhail Glinka. "Herb! Play Russlan and Ludmilla!" When he asks for "Pyotr Ilyich," I groan and quietly put the vodka back in the freezer. Thu, 12/13/2018 View the full article
  5. I needed one black tiddledywink (not provided) to use Dr. Feickert Analogue's three-speed, two-motor, two-armboard Blackbird turntable. The tiddledywink was for covering the Blackbird's painfully bright power-on LED so that it didn't blind me when I cued up a record. The first night, in my dark listening room, this tiny indicator sprayed the wall behind and the ceiling above with more light than a bright-emitting 845 vacuum tube. Thu, 12/13/2018 View the full article
  6. Friday December 14, at 3pm and 6pm, Fidelis (460 Amherst Street, Nashua, NH 03063) are presenting "An Afternoon with Michael Fremer" (above). Saturday, December 15, 11am–3pm, House of Stereo (8780 Perimeter Park Ct #100, Jacksonville, FL 32216) are hosting their 2019 KEF Product Launch event. Wed, 12/12/2018 View the full article
  7. Wayne Shorter is 85. His mind moves at warp speed, a million miles from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, who rescued him from Newark, New Jersey—or the Miles Davis's second great quintet, for which the saxophonist wrote the compositions that would establish his genius. Shorter's constellation of classic Blue Note recordings from 1964–67—Night Dreamer, JuJu, The All Seeing Eye, ETC, The Soothsayer, Adam's Apple, Speak No Evil, Schizophrenia—is now but a dim cluster of stars in his ever-expanding musical galaxy. Tue, 12/11/2018 View the full article
  8. Keith Jarrett: La Fenice Keith Jarrett, piano ECM 2601/02 (2 CDs). 2018. Keith Jarrett, prod.; Martin Pearson, eng.; Christoph Stickel, Manfred Eicher, mastering, exec. prod. DDD. TT: 97:47 Performance ***** Sonics ***** This July 2006 concert, performed in Venice's Gran Teatro La Fenice, is Keith Jarrett's seventh recording of the shorter solo-piano improvisations he's explored since the early 2000s, after chronic fatigue syndrome robbed him of the stamina needed to improvise for unbroken stretches of nearly an hour. Despite their many high points, none of its six predecessors—Tokyo Solo, Radiance, Carnegie Hall, Testament, Rio, Creation—matched the cumulative power and depth of his best long-form improvisations: Köln, Sun Bear, Bregenz München, Paris. This one does. Tue, 12/11/2018 View the full article
  9. Yes, the January 2019 issue of Stereophile is hitting newsstands, mailboxes, and tablets this week. And to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our going from a digest-sized publication to a full-sized one, we have recreated the cover of the January 1994 issue, the "musicality vs accuracy" debate as strong today as it was a quarter-century ago. The 25th anniversary edition of the same Cary tube amplifier is featured on the cover and in this issue's review section, but instead of the solid-state Krell we had on the 1994 cover, we have the solid-state Cambridge Edge A integrated amplifier which is also reviewed in this issue. Mon, 12/10/2018 View the full article
  10. First came the press release, from San Francisco Symphony, announcing: • Esa-Pekka Salonen is the Music Director Designate of SFS, to replace Michael Tilson Thomas when he voluntarily steps down after the summer of 2020. • EPS will lead SFS in a program on January 18–20 that includes the SFS premiere of Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Metacosmos, Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra, and Sibelius's Four Legends from the Kalevala. These led me to explore Thorvaldsdottir's music in two recent hi-rez releases from Sono Luminus: Aequa: International Contemporary Ensemble Performs Anna Thorvaldsdottir (DSL-92224), and Nordic Affect: H e (a) r (DSL-92227). Sun, 12/09/2018 View the full article
  11. Although my house is now home to a borrowed pair of DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 loudspeakers—a loan I gratefully accepted early this year, when my 1966 Altec Flamencos proved a bit too large for my new listening room—it's a matter of pride that I own almost everything else in my playback system, cables included. So it's with no small discomfort that I acknowledge having nearly $30,000 worth of borrowed phono cartridges scattered around my living and dining rooms. (The former is where I listen to them, and the latter—the sunniest room in the house—is where I install them.) Thu, 12/06/2018 View the full article
  12. German manufacturer Elac had a significant North American presence in the 1960s and '70s, primarily with its Miracord automatic turntables. While it eventually disappeared from the US market, Elac never ceased to be a player in Europe, where it eventually shifted its primary focus from turntables to loudspeakers. When Elac decided to reenter the US market a few years ago, its success was hardly assured. Faced with hundreds of brand names and thousands of models fighting for attention, it hired veteran speaker guru Andrew Jones to improve the odds. In his previous work, first for KEF and then for TAD and Pioneer, Jones had built a solid reputation on designing well-received, cost-no-object speakers as well as high-value budget designs. Tue, 11/27/2018 View the full article
  13. I promise not to tell you that the 40th Anniversary Edition Harbeth P3ESR loudspeaker sounds like a bigger speaker than it actually is. It does not. Likewise, I won't suggest that it offers a large portion of what Harbeth's bigger, more expensive models do—I'll leave that to the happy owners on the Harbeth User Group. But can I tell you it's good value for the money? The current, non-anniversary version of the P3ESR costs $2195/pair (footnote 1), while the souped-up, tarted-up 40th Anniversary Edition goes for $2890/pair—prices I think are chickenfeed, considering all the timeless virtues and musical satisfactions I have discovered in both versions. Tue, 11/27/2018 View the full article
  14. Wednesday November 28, 5–9pm, Suncoast Audio (7353 International Place, Unit 309, Sarasota, FL 34240) will be hosting an event featuring products from Magico, Audio Research, and Chord. Thursday, November 29, at 6:00pm, Blink High End (129 Franklin Street, Cambridge, MA 02139) will be demonstrating and discussing Technics' flagship introduction for 2018: the Reference Class SL-1000R/SP-10R turntables. Mon, 11/26/2018 View the full article
  15. The utter devastation and hopelessness conveyed by Teodor Currentzis' recent Sony Classics recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.6, "Pathétique," was so shattering that I could not wait to hear what he and his MusicAererna orchestra of Perm, Russia would do with Mahler's Symphony No.6 in a, "Tragic." In fact, I was so eager to experience Currentzis' first recording of Mahler's music that I listened to the 24/96 download even before the physical CD becomes available on December 7. Mon, 11/26/2018 View the full article
  16. Since fake news is on everyone's minds these days—I would say it's been in the news a lot, but that kind of reasoning is too circular even for me—it's worth keeping in mind that there's also such a thing as fake praise. You see it every day, whether it's a fake Google review—an alarming number of businesses seem unaware that real people don't actually say things like "the team at New Hartford Chevrolet really listened to all of my needs"—or fake trophies handed out to all 20 co-captains of your child's soccer team. Then there are fake awards. Wed, 11/21/2018 View the full article
  17. How to encompass the myriad delights in Mozart's multiple Sonatas for Violin and Fortepiano? Judging from the three chosen by baroque violinist Isabelle Faust and period instrument/modern music keyboard specialist Alexander Melnikov for their November 23 release, Mozart Sonatas for Violin and Fortepiano, Vol.1 (Harmonia Mundi 902360), we will be fortunate enough to struggle with that question for some time to come. Tue, 11/20/2018 View the full article
  18. Wolfgang Muthspiel: Where the River Goes Wolfgang Muthspiel, electric & acoustic guitars; Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet; Brad Mehldau, piano; Larry Grenadier, bass; Eric Harland, drums ECM 2610 (CD). 2018. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Gérard de Haro, Nicolas Baillard, engs. DDD. TT: 48:15 Performance ****½ Sonics ****½ Wolfgang Muthspiel of Austria has been active and respected on the European scene for 30 years. But like so many of the best European jazz musicians, he began to get famous only when he began recording for ECM: His Travel Guide (2013) and Driftwood (2014) were endorsed by critics and embraced by guitar junkies. Mon, 11/19/2018 View the full article
  19. I recently experienced an alarming audiophile episode. John Atkinson wanted to send me BorderPatrol's Digital to Analogue Converter SE, so that I could write the Follow-Up published in the November issue. But he wouldn't tell me anything about Herb Reichert's original review of the product, which had not yet been published. Instead, he said, cryptically, "If this is a 'great' DAC, I'll have to hang up my measurements." I took this to mean Herb liked it, but JA's test rig did not. Sure, why not? Go ahead and send me the DAC, I thought. I'd love to hear what something covered in audio fur sounds like. Mon, 11/19/2018 View the full article
  20. Music of Edgar Varèse, Vol.2 Arcana, Déserts, Offrandes, Chanson De Là-Haut (Song From High) Dona Precht, soprano, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Robert Craft, conductor. Columbia Masterworks MS-6362 (LP). John McClure, Thomas Frost, prods. TT: 24:45. In electronic music, the sounds of musical instruments, natural noise-makers and electronic signal generators are recorded on tape, modified by running them at higher- or lower-than-normal speeds and manipulating their tonal content, and then combined in rhythmic and tonal patterns to create entirely new forms of music. Sun, 12/01/1963 View the full article
  21. Even newbie audiophiles can be smitten with the vintage hi-fi bug. Keyboardist and composer John Escreet was once a streaming kind of guy. Then he heard the Fisher 500-C/Falcon LS3/5a-endowed system of bassist Matt Brewer, partner of former Stereophile editorial coordinator Jana Dagdagan. Sun, 11/18/2018 View the full article
  22. Have you checked out some multi room amps on Parts-express.com?
  23. I need some advice on how to proceed with a DAC streaming upgrade for my existing 2-channel audio. Current system is Harmon Pardon Signature power and pre-amps, Warfdale Reva bookshelf speakers and a refurbished Dual 1228 turntable with a Shure V15III and a Jico hyperelliptical stylus. I'd like to enable high quality streaming for this syste. I am considering the Bluesound Node2i and the new Denon DNP800ne. Any comments on these network streamers? Am I missing other competitors in this price range? Also, would I be better off retiring the Harmon Kardons and replacing them with an integrated amp that has a good DAC and streaming capabilities? I'm thinking of the new SVS Prime Wireless Soundbase. I'm sure there are several good alternatives to that choice, too. Comments and opinions would be greatly appreciated. View the full article
  24. Thursday November 1, 6–9pm, Atlanta specialty audio retailer HiFi Buys Atlanta (3157 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA) will have an open house featuring special guest Richard Vandersteen, founder and head engineer of Vandersteen Audio. Richard, along with global sales manager Brad O’Toole, will demonstrate the System 9 (above), featuring the new Sub Nine subwoofers and System 9 granite bases, the Quatro Wood CT loudspeakers with the new M5-HPA high-pass amplifiers, and the new Sub Three adjustable subwoofer with the Treo CT loudspeakers. Wed, 10/31/2018 View the full article
  25. To celebrate its fifth birthday, Southern California retailer Audio Element (117 East Union Street, Pasadena, CA 91103) is having an open house on Saturday, November 3, from 11am–4pm. Featured will be new products from dCS (the Bartók D/A headphone amplifier), Musical Surroundings (the Nova III phono preamplifier and Hana ML phono cartridge), and Wilson Audio (the Sasha DAW loudspeaker). Wed, 10/31/2018 View the full article
  26. I have flip-flopped between these points of view: that some audio products or technologies are better suited than others to specific styles of music, and that any good product or technology should be equally at home with rock'n'roll, chamber music, large-scale classical, hard bop, techno, ragas—even George Crumb. At age 19, in my first job as a hi-fi salesman, I was asked to adopt the first of those views. The shop I worked in carried only two loudspeaker lines—EPI and Ultralinear, both long gone—and the owner urged me to push the former on lovers of classical music, and the latter on rock fans. So I did. To paraphrase Jiang Qing, I was the shopkeeper's dog: What he said to bite, I bit. Tue, 10/30/2018 View the full article
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