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  1. Yesterday
  2. This video is about Jeffrey Catalano and his shop High Water Sound, located in Manhattan's South Street Seaport, right under the Brooklyn Bridge. Though it was my first time meeting Jeffrey, I had long been familiar with his name—often associated with good sound at audio shows and a true appreciation for music. Mon, 06/26/2017 View the full article
  3. Last week
  4. . . . with a second LP containing an never-released 1992 live show from the University of London. Sun, 06/25/2017 View the full article
  5. For his fourth Schumann disc since the 1998 Dichterliebe; Liederkreis collaboration with Vladimir Ashkenazy, the great German baritone Matthias Goerne joins pianist Markus Hinterhäuser in a 19-gem collection of heart-touching songs by Robert Schumann entitled Einsamkeit (Solitude). The singing on the Harmonia Mundi recital is gorgeous throughout, and the repertoire deeply communicative. This is especially the case in hi-rez from HDtracks, where the duo's artistic brilliance shines strongest. Sat, 06/24/2017 View the full article
  6. At the Los Angeles Audio Show, held June 2–4, John Atkinson spoke with Zu Audio's founder, owner, and chief engineer Sean Casey about the Zu Audio Druid (pictured), Sean's background and his "unconventional" approach, and historic speaker designs. And toward the end of the video, Sean Casey turns the tables on JA by interviewing him about the role of the audio reviewer! Thu, 06/22/2017 View the full article
  7. Dinesh Paliwal, CEO of Harman International Industries, was addressing engineers and the audio press in a crowded conference room at the opening of Harman Luxury Audio's new Engineering Center of Excellence (ECOE), in Shelton, Connecticut. Paliwal singled out as the ECOE's first beneficiary the Mark Levinson brand, with the goal of revitalizing it as Harman's flagship marque. (Other brands in the HII stable include Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Crown, AKG, Lexicon, and Revel.) To achieve this, he gave the ECOE team access to Harman's R&D budget of $400 million; brought on Todd Eichenbaum, formerly of Krell, to be its Director; and hired 11 more engineers. Thu, 06/22/2017 View the full article
  8. My main task is to describe an audio component's basic character. How was it made? How did it fit into my system? How effectively did it deliver musical performances? My goal is to create stories that generate sounds and images in your mind—stories that will allow you to imagine how the component might perform in your system. I can hear the moans from all you objectivist guys: Please, Herb, spare us your purple prose. Thu, 06/22/2017 View the full article
  9. "As the original L2 circuitry was virtually flawless, it was the emergence of new electronic components that opened up a possibility of [even better performance] . . ." So begins one of two booklets—one a collection of specifications and interior photos, the other a distinctly thorough user's manual—included with the new L2.1 Reference line-level preamplifier from Brooklyn's Lamm Industries, earlier products from which have impressed me as among the best available. Indeed, coming from almost anyone else, the above quote would strike me as trivial boasting—but I know from experience that there's nothing trivial about designer and company head Vladimir Lamm. Tue, 06/20/2017 View the full article
  10. For digital playback, in recent months I've been breathing some rarefied air, pricewise. In December 2016, I reviewed dCS's Rossini Player and Clock, followed in May 2017 by Meridian's Ultra DAC, and in June by Chord's DAVE DAC. The Rossini Player costs $28,499 without the Clock, the Meridian $23,000, and though the DAVE is less expensive than either at $10,588, that's still a fair chunk of change. Even PS Audio's PerfectWave DirectStream DAC, which I bought following Art Dudley's review in September 2014, costs $6899 with the Network Bridge II, which hardly counts as "affordable." Tue, 06/20/2017 View the full article
  11. Thursday evening, June 22, 5–9pm, F1 Audio (311 E Dundee Road, Palatine, IL 60074) is holding an event featuring Evolution series loudspeakers and electronics from TAD Labs and Isotek power conditioners. Attendees will also be able to audition rare, out-of-print Mobile Fidelity albums and test pressings from MoFi's UltraDisc One-Step series and take a test drive in the new Porsche 718 Boxster S and Macan Turbo, courtesy of The Porsche Exchange of Highland Park. Tue, 06/20/2017 View the full article
  12. Earlier
  13. At the Los Angeles Audio Show, held June 2–4, John Atkinson spoke with Elac's Andrew Jones about speaker design, building affordable loudspeakers, and Elac's Adante AF-61 speaker, which made its debut at the show, driven by Audio Alchemy amplification. Sun, 06/18/2017 View the full article
  14. Want to go from yang to ying by the simple switch of a silver disc? Try seguing from the two supremely energetic, densely populated chamber symphonies of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams (b. 1947), which we explored last week, to the far milder and less complicated choral work, Canticles of the Holy Wind (Cantaloupe) from the other Pulitzer Prize in Music-winning Adams, John Luther Adams (b. 1953). Sat, 06/17/2017 View the full article
  15. In 2014, Chad Kassem, proprietor of Acoustic Sounds and Analogue Productions, released a 200-gram QRP vinyl pressing of Masterpieces by Ellington, one of the Duke's least-known but possibly finest and finest-sounding albums, to wild acclaim and (by audiophile standards) brisk sales. Now he's put it out at 45rpm, and while the 33 was a startler, the new version—spread out on two LPs, to accommodate the wider grooves—will leave you breathless. Sat, 06/17/2017 View the full article
  16. The Dickinson brothers are traditionalists and modern proponents of the kind of music that was celebrated in American Epic. Fri, 06/16/2017 View the full article
  17. Zesto's Téssara tube phono preamplifier takes pride of place on the July Stereophile's cover, to accompany Mikey Fremer's review inside. Add to that Jason Victor Serinus on the expensive Audionet Max monoblocks from Germany, John Atkinson on an affordable DAC from Arcam, Larry Greenhill on the awesome No.536 monoblock from the revitalized Mark Levinson company, Art Dudley on the Lamm L.21 preamplifier and the Serbian Soulines Kubrick DCX turntable, and Herb Reichert on turntables from Analogueworks and Palmer, and you'll see why we think this issue is rad! (JA's daughter says "Don't say that, Daddy.") Tue, 06/13/2017 View the full article
  18. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: Headphones sound different from speakers. For different reasons, I like both, but all speakers come with one undeniable disadvantage: the room you play them in. I don't care if you're running pint-size Falcon Acoustics LS3/5a's or giant Wilson Audio Alexandria XLFs—they're at the mercy of your room's acoustics. Losses are inevitable. Tue, 06/13/2017 View the full article
  19. Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo': TajMo Concord CRE00432 (LP). 2017. Taj Mahal, Keb' Mo', prods.; Zach Allen, John Caldwell, Alex Jarvis, Jesse Nichols, Casey Wasner, engs.; Ross Hogarth, mix; Richard Dodd, mastering; Bernie Grundman, vinyl mastering. AAA? TT: 45:20 Performance **** Sonics **** The blues, that wonderful basis of so much American popular music, has for many listeners grown a bit stale and old-fashioned. It's not much of a draw outside bar bands, and other than Alligator Records, most of the biggest blues labels have folded or gone dormant. Losing many of the music's first- and second-generation practitioners hasn't helped. Tue, 06/13/2017 View the full article
  20. Stick with me through this introduction, girls and boys, because the wild and wacky music I'm about to discuss is worth it! Scan any "A" list of living American composers, and the names of two Pulitzer Prize in Music recipients with the last name of Adams inevitably appears: John Adams (b. 1947, Worcester, MA), and John Luther Adams (b. 1953, Meridian, MS). Although a third Adams, John Adams' son Samuel Adams (b. 1985, San Francisco, CA) is fast emerging as a major composer, we'll spend the next two weeks exploring new recordings of music by the two elder Johns. Tue, 06/13/2017 View the full article
  21. "They are simultaneously high-fidelity in ways that are less easy to quantify . . . [and] many of the most expensive pieces of [modern] audiophile gear follow the structures of this early equipment." Mon, 06/12/2017 View the full article
  22. Don Garber, founder and sole proprietor of the influential electronics company Fi as well as a noted artist, passed away on June 4th, following a brief illness. He was 81. Sun, 06/11/2017 View the full article
  23. Michael Fremer interviews Acoustic Sounds' Chad Kassem at LAAS. (Photo: John Atkinson) The first Los Angeles Audio Show, the audio show that may very well supplant the transplanted-to-Anaheim, September-scheduled T.H.E. Show as the Southern California audio show of choice, has just come and gone. Even as exhibitors unpack their wares and begin the multi-month process of assessing the show's impact on sales and brand recognition, some observations on the show's success and otherwise are in order. Sun, 06/11/2017 View the full article
  24. The first room I went to at the 2017 LAAS was that hosted by LA dealer Optimal Enchantment featuring a system based on Vandersteen's Model Seven Mk.II speakers ($62,000/pair) and M7-HPA amplifiers ($52,000/pair), which I reviewed in May 2016, this time reinforced by a pair of Vandersteen's SUB NINEs operating below 100Hz. It may have been the first room I visited but as good as many other systems sounded, they didn't match what Vandersteen refers as System NINE for its effortless sweep of sound, precise, palpable imaging, and smooth yet detailed high frequencies. Sun, 06/11/2017 View the full article
  25. MQA's Bob Stuart comparing PCM and MQA recordings in the Sunny Components room Despite there now having been many opportunities for audiophiles to compare MQA-encoded recordings with the PCM originals—as well as comparisons at shows and dealer events, the Norwegian 2L record label has offered downloads of MQA/PCM files for quite a long time—there are still members of the press who insist that no-one, other than some reviewers, has been able to perform such comparisons. At the 2017 LAAS, not only were some exhibitors demonstrating MQA—Aurender, Meridian—Covina, CA retailer Sunny Components devoted the show's Saturday afternoon to specific comparisons hosted by MQA's Bob Stuart and Wilson Audio's Peter McGrath. Sun, 06/11/2017 View the full article
  26. "Natural" doesn't only describe the finish of Tocaro Model 42 speakers in the Austin Hifi room. Sat, 06/10/2017 View the full article
  27. In the first of two floor rooms from Elite Audio Systems of San Francisco, Viola Audio Labs' Paul Jayson partnered with Elite's Michael Woods to pair the Viola Bravo 2 amplifier ($58,000) and Viola Sonata preamplifier ($35,000) with Kharma DB9 loudspeakers ($37,500/pair), Linn Klimax LP12 turntable ($25,000), Viola cabling (produced by ZenSati), and an Isotek Titan power purifier ($4999) with matching power strip ($1500). Paul's choice of the Speaker Corner reissue of Michelangeli's live 1979 performance of Beethoven Piano Concerto 1, with Giulini and the Vienna Symphony, enabled me to hear the system's lovely shine and ability to convey extremely rapid timpani rolls with minimal smudging and utmost credibility. Sat, 06/10/2017 View the full article
  28. I tend to be skeptical of tweaks. Too often in the past, I have heard an astonishingly audible difference when the whatever is demonstrated by its promoter, only for any difference to stubbornly disappear when I try the same thingamabob in my own system. But listening to the difference when Isotek's Bjorn Hegelsted replaced the cheap power strip and stock AC cords in a MoFi Distribution system using the impressive but affordable Wharfedale Diamond 225 speakers ($449/pair) driven by a Quad Artera Play CD player ($2199) and Artera Stereo amplifier ($2299) with a star-wired, 6-outlet Isotek Polaris conditioner ($495) and Isotek Premier AC cords ($149 each), the improvement in image palpability and dimensionality, the elimination of "shoutiness" on female voice, was extraordinary. Sat, 06/10/2017 View the full article
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