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  2. Record players and the average consumer enjoy an on-again/off-again relationship—happily, at this moment in time, it is very much on—but to high-end audio enthusiasts, the turntable has endured as an object of near-talismanic importance. I think that's not only because the turntable continues to give us so much pleasure, but also because it seems so understandable—at its simplest, it's just a motor and a rotatable platter, attached to a board that also has some provisions for fastening a tonearm. End of story. Who among us has not, at one time or another, considered the lot of the turntable designer and thought, I could do that? Thu, 07/19/2018 View the full article
  3. "It was not subtle. The [$2000/pair] Tekton Impact Monitors were doing it all: singing, drumming, shaking the air, drawing me in, and making every CD or LP pure pleasure to listen to. A little soft . . . but not too soft. Imagine a gentle but guiding touch with a most perfect sparkle—and then firm and impactful when necessary." I wrote that last October, after hearing Tekton Design's new Impact Monitor speakers at the 2017 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I repeat it here because, as I listened to the Impact Monitors, I thought, Yeah, these speakers sound pretty damn good, but those seven tweeters are a gimmick if ever there was one. Thu, 07/19/2018 View the full article
  4. It's after 5pm on Wednesday, and I'm finishing up the listening part of my review of Apple's wireless speaker, the HomePod ($349). On a whim, I've just asked Siri to play me some drinking songs. I mention this because the HomePod's "smart" features—its integration with Siri and the Apple Music streaming service—is a big part of its appeal. In its natural element, the HomePod provides a way of accessing music that, although as old as our century, to me is still new and unfamiliar: Forget your hoary music collection, your Rolling Stones and Beethoven. Decide what kind of music you want to hear—a genre or a mood—then leave the choice to Siri and her algorithmic minions. Tue, 07/17/2018 View the full article
  5. Sssssshhhhhh—I forget what music was playing, but as the sound faded away, I could hear a loud hissing coming from the 2011 i7 Mac mini I was operating headless with Roon 1.3 to play files over my network. Checking the mini's shared screen on my MacBook Pro revealed that it was completely unresponsive, so I yanked its AC cord, after which it wouldn't boot up. This was the second time the Mac mini had died. The first time, in 2015, the local Apple Genius Bar had repaired it. This time, the hipster at the Genius Bar turned me away: "We don't offer repair work on vintage computers." Tue, 07/17/2018 View the full article
  6. Given how much fuller and more natural I find hi-rez audio sounds, I rarely review recordings that are only available in Red Book quality in the US. But when the soprano is Sandrine Piau, whose voice conveyed the essence of springtime when I heard her live at UC Berkeley a little over six years go, and she sings as marvelously as she does on Chimère, her latest song recital with pianist Susan Manoff, I throw such self-imposed strictures out the window. Sun, 07/15/2018 View the full article
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  9. Check it out here: https://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-dsp-408-4x8-dsp-digital-signal-processor-for-home-and-car-audio--230-500
  10. I remember the Tuesday night that music broke free of my hi-fi. The sound stirred my soul—everything was so right that I was tempted to call over my audiophile pals to earwitness its magnificence. But I didn't, fearing that sharing the sound might break the spell cast first by the Allman Brothers Band's At Fillmore East (2 LPs, Capricorn ST-CAP 712223 VSRP), then by Jimi Hendrix's Live at the Fillmore East (CD, MCA MCAD2 11931). By the time Hendrix got to "Machine Gun," I could almost smell the pot wafting up to the Fillmore's top balconies. Thu, 07/12/2018 View the full article
  11. Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (1924 jazz-band version, orch. Grofé). 1 Piano Concerto in F. 2 "Summertime." 3 Gershwin-Wild: "Somebody Loves Me," "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You."4 Oscar Levant: "Blame It On My Youth." 5 Kirill Gerstein, piano; 1–5 Storm Large, vocal; 3 Gary Burton, vibraphone; 5 David Robertson, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra1, 2 Myrios Classics MYR022 (CD, 24/192 FLAC). 2018. Kirill Gerstein, prod.; Stephan Cahen, prod.,1-5 eng.; 1, 2, 4, 5 Paul Hennerich, 1, 2, 4 Doug Decker, 3 engs. DDD. TT: 73:45 Performance ***** Sonics *** (CD), **** (24/192 FLAC) I grew up with Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. I was the youngest in a family not particularly interested in music, and whose record collection consisted of pop music and three oddly assorted classical recordings, all on 78rpm discs: Enrico Caruso singing "Vesti la giubba," Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (on four 12" 78s), and the 1927 recording of Rhapsody in Blue with the Paul Whiteman Concert Orchestra and Gershwin at the keyboard. Thu, 07/12/2018 View the full article
  12. Thursday July 19, 12–8pm, Manhattan specialty audio retailer NoHo Sound (62 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003) will be having an open house. Special guests Jonathan Derda and Ben Newhall from MoFi Distribution will be on hand to demonstrate the TAD Micro-Evolution One loudspeaker (above), which received a rave review earlier this year, the TAD Compact-Evolution One loudspeaker, and TAD D1000 Mk.II DAC/SACD player, which was a "Greatest Bits" Award winner on our sister site AudioStream.com. Wed, 07/11/2018 View the full article
  13. The men behind HDCD (L–R: Pflash Pflaumer, Michael Ritter, Keith Johnson High Definition Compatible Digital® (HDCD®), the proprietary process for improving the sound of 16-bit digital audio, has finally arrived. More than a dozen digital processors using the technology are on the market, and the professional encoder used to master HDCD discs is following closely behind. Mon, 05/01/1995 View the full article
  14. Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake & Sleeping Beauty Selections New Philharmonia Orchestra, Stokowsky London Phase-4 SPC 21008 (LP); Ampex LCL-75008 (open-reel tape). Tony D'Amato, Marty Wargo, prods.; Arthur Lilley, eng. TT: 46:50. These are exciting, lilting, concert-style (as opposed to ballet-style) performances of the best-known excerpts from Tchaikovsky's second- and third-most-popular ballets. (First, of course, is the Nutcracker.) The recording is a surprise, after the excesses we've heard on earlier Phase-4 recordings. Thu, 12/01/1966 View the full article
  15. Okay, we know that Humphrey Bogart didn't utter that immortal instruction in Casablanca, but we couldn't resist, given that this issue includes Jim Austin's adventures with Apple's HomePod, the first smart speaker with hi-fi pretensions, which is featured on our August issue's cover. Mon, 07/09/2018 View the full article
  16. For a major, decidedly American change of pace from our usual fare of Prokofiev, Debussy, Xenakis, Berg, and Beethoven (for starters), let's lighten up with Reference Recordings' latest hybrid SACD, John Williams at the Movies? Also available as a 176.4/24 download—the format in which it was recorded and which I auditioned for this review—the performances by the Dallas Wind Band under Jerry Junkin are so vivid and color-saturated that RR has chosen them for their first hybrid high-resolution wind-band SACD. Sat, 07/07/2018 View the full article
  17. When it comes to amplifiers, ya gotcher tubes, yer solid-states, and yer hybrids. Although amplifier manufacturers would have you believe otherwise, the majority of designs within each category are variations on a few fairly-well-known themes. Everyone agrees that the power supply is extremely important. Most designers try to obtain the amplifier's desired frequency response and distortion characteristics with a minimum of negative feedback. It's also agreed—at least among designers of solid-state amps—that the ability to drive a variety of speakers, including those that present a low-impedance and/or reactive load, is an important priority. Mon, 05/01/1995 View the full article
  18. An Audio Obstacle Course: The Shure Trackability Test Record Shure Bros. TTR-101. Shure's new "Supertrack" V-15 Type II pickup was designed as an answer to all those high-powered discs whose excessive modulations make them shatter all over the place on lesser pickups, But just in case anyone didn't happen to own any of these difficult discs, Shure decided to issue one of these, too. The result is a collection of some of the meanest modulations ever gathered together in one place. Sat, 04/01/1967 View the full article
  19. The author demonstrating stereo microphone techniques at an English audio show in 1981. For most people the terms hi-fi and stereo are synonymous, and yet it is clear that there is still a great deal of confusion over what the word "stereo" actually means. There isn't even a consensus of opinion amongst producers of records, designers of hi-fi equipment, audio critics and music lovers as to the purpose of stereo, and considering that the arguments show no sign of diminishing in intensity, it is instructive to realise that 1981 sees both the 100th anniversary of Clement Ader's first stereo experiments and the 50th anniversary of Alan Blumlein's classic patent on stereo. Fri, 05/01/1981 View the full article
  20. Why the title, "Prokofiev for Two and a Half," for a Deutsche Grammophon recording on which Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan play Babayan's two-piano transcriptions of music from Prokofiev's ballet Romeo & Juliet and four of his operas? Because any recording that features the outsized pianism of the great Argerich immediately becomes one of extraordinary importance for artistic resources that are inherently doubled by at least 50%. Mon, 07/02/2018 View the full article
  21. Once upon a time, all audio equipment used vacuum tubes. In recent years, however, tubes have become the exclusive province of super high-end audio. It is more expensive to accomplish any particular task with tubes than with transistors, and few manufacturers (with the exception of Conrad-Johnson) seemed willing until now to refine their techniques and pare back their budgets to make tube components more affordable. Mon, 10/01/1984 View the full article
  22. Chopin; Nocturnes Arthur Rubinstein, piano RCA Victor LSC-7050 (2 LPs) (reissued on CD as RCA Victor Red Seal 0902 663049-2). Max Wilcox, prod.; Tom MacCluskey, Sergio Marcotulli, engs. Recorded August 30–September 2, 1965, 2 February 21, 1967. If these Nocturnes are never played better than this, we couldn't care less. These are exquisite performances! The recording, via RCA Victor's Dynagroove process is a far cry from the earlier excesses that gave Dynagroove its horrid reputation among perfectionists. One is simply not aware of the recording at all, as long as it is played at the right volume, which is about what you would hear from a good first-balcony concert-hall seat. Thu, 02/01/1968 View the full article
  23. A stunning jazz discovery presented at a historic citadel of recording technology. That event took place June 11, when the new John Coltrane recording, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, which will be released June 29, was unveiled at Van Gelder Studio, the fabled location where the celebrated engineer recorded many jazz masterpieces. Wed, 06/27/2018 View the full article
  24. Stop me if I've said this before (okay, I have): There's much to be said for integrated amplifiers. While separates have long dominated high-end audio, an increasing number of integrated products not only bundle a preamp and power amp, but sometimes add digital inputs of various flavors, phono stages, bass and treble controls (long on life support in audiophile gear), and more. Tue, 06/26/2018 View the full article
  25. Lovers of high-resolution multichannel sound still don't have it easy. While the two-channel market is replete with snazzy, efficient music servers in stylish boxes, the only multichannel equivalents are Merging Technologies' Merging+Player Multichannel-8, and a handful of stereo devices that are rumored to do multichannel, though no such claims are made in print. To be candid, the latter will play multichannel tracks via USB, Ethernet, or HDMI outputs to suitable DACs (but that's another story), but because they're aimed at the two-channel market, they tend to skimp on the CPU horsepower and RAM needed to handle higher-resolution multichannel files. Even the Merging+Player Multichannel-8 ($13,500), with its Intel i3 CPU running Roon, couldn't entirely keep up with everything in my library. Tue, 06/26/2018 View the full article
  26. Soprano/composer Patrice Michaels with Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Glimmerglass in 2016 First there was the epithet, "Notorious RBG," which NYC law student Shana Knizhnik coined in 2013 (in a sly riff on the name of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's fellow Brooklynite and rapper, The Notorious B.I.G.) as the name of her Tumblr site. Then came Derrick Wang's, Scalia/Ginsburg, an opera based on the odd-bedfellows friendship of two SCOTUS justices and opera lovers from opposite sides of the political spectrum, Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. This year has already brought the next two artistic steps in the process of honoring the 85-year old Supreme Court justice: the documentary RBG and, from Cedille Records, Notorious RBG in Song. Sun, 06/24/2018 View the full article
  27. Back at the beginning of 2017, Greg Roberts, of Volti Audio, devised a clever way to bring his Rival floorstanders up to my penthouse pad, for what resulted in a rave review of those horn-loaded wunderspeakers. I live on the top floor of a seven-story, elevatorless building on a busy street in Greenwich Village. A vertical challenge? No problem! Roberts is resourceful in many things, from speaker design to his former profession, the building of custom homes. Affixing a pair of unguent-saturated straps to the screws on each side of a Rival, we lifted and transported the 106-lb speaker high in the gritty Manhattan sky as if it were child's play. Thu, 06/21/2018 View the full article
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