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2018-04-24T10:55:40.848Z
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"Why should I bother with yet another recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons?" you may ask. "There are already 226 entries for it at arkivmusic.com!" Because baroque violinist Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque's new, period instrument Channel Classics SACD of Le Quattro Stagioni and three other violin concertos by Vivaldi is likely the freshest, most joy-filled, and best-recorded of the bunch.Sat, 04/21/2018
The Internet of Things, or IOT, is an extremely hackable network that connects everything from household appliances to cars. To me, it's the ultimate example of technology that, once created, just doesn't need us—and I fear that the more tasks that are routinely, magically performed for us puny humans at the touch of a button by "smart" devices, the less capable we become. Fri, 04/20/2018
Monteverdi: Vespers 1610 Joanne Lunn, Esther Brazil, sopranos; Amy Lyddon, Rory McCleery, altos; Joshua Ellicott, Matthew Long, Nicholas Mulroy, Peter Harris, tenors; Peter Harvey, William Gaunt, bass; Dunedin Consort, His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts; John Butt Linn CKD 569 (2 CDs). 2017. Phil Hobbs, prod.; Robert Cammidge, eng. DDD. TT: 94:00 Performance ****½ Sonics ***** As the old joke does not go, How do you get to the Papal Chapel? Audition, audition, audition. There you are, gifted and, for the early 1600s, relatively famous. You practically invented opera. You've worked for years at what seems a cushy job as the court composer to the Dukes of Gonzaga in Mantua, but you're underpaid, and feeling as if you need and deserve more. And so you self-publish, under the title Vespers 1610, a 90-minute collection—psalm settings, a motet, a hymn, a Magnificat—that highlights all of your compositional gifts. Fri, 04/20/2018
The remarkably relaxed, smiling faces of AXPONA Tradeshow Coordinator Jordan Brereton (left) and VP/Event Director Liz Miller (right) say it all. Photographed after show's close, Jordan and Liz were poised to announce that under the leadership of JD Events Founder and CEO Joel Davis, their team of 8 had sold 8134 tickets—up 21% from 2017—and welcomed 5718 unique visitors to the largest consumer audio show in the United States. The number of tickets sold to students ages 15-25 increased by 27%. This to a show with 165 active exhibit rooms and an over-15,000 square foot exhibit hall that hosted booths from 96 companies, half of which were part of the Ear Gear Expo.Fri, 04/20/2018
In the first of the videos we shot at AXPONA 2018, Herb Reichert takes you along with him in a brief exploration of the Expo Hall, featuring Gayle Sanders' Lamborghini, Todd Garfinkle of M•A Recordings, a crowd of headphone wearers, and a mysterious abundance of lab coats.Fri, 04/20/2018
Lunch? A quick donut and a Tall Café Mocha at the Renaissance Hotel's Starbucks and I was ready to hit the remaining floors on the 16th floor. "These are not your father's Ohms!" read the poster in the HHR Exotic Speakers room. Looked like 'em to me, but I was quickly enlightened.Fri, 04/20/2018
In an article published in the March 2018 Stereophile, I wrote that critics have been attacking MQA, the audio codec developed by J. Robert Stuart and Peter Craven, by accusing it of being lossy. The critics are right: MQA is, in fact, a lossy codec—that is, not all of the data in the original recording are recovered when played back via MQA—though in a clever and innocuous way. For MQA's critics, though, that's not the point: They use lossy mainly for its negative emotional associations: When audiophiles hear lossy, they think MP3. Thu, 04/19/2018
I hit the ground running Sunday morning, with many rooms to visit but only six hours to do so. I started with the 16th floor suite featuring horn speakers from German company Avantgarde. Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the wall" was playing on the humongous, four-way Trio XD horn system ($150,000 with four bass horns) and the kick drum did indeed kick me in the chest. (Peak spls, measured with the Studio Six iPhone app, reached 102.3dBC, slow.) Rest of the system included Esoteric source and amplification, Transparent cabling, and an HRS racks. There weren't any colorations that could be laid at the feet of the horns, though voices were projected forward in the soundstage. An extraordinary sound and a great way to start the day.Thu, 04/19/2018
The final room I visited on the 15th floor turned out to be one of the best. Thanks in no small part to Jeff Joseph and Lucien Pichette's joint set-up acumen, plus a little help from what Jeff calls the "audio gods," a recording of the great Ella singing, on tape, Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting's "Too Marvelous for Words" was a total delight. Thu, 04/19/2018
I remember the sound character of early (1990s) Audio Physic loudspeakers. They were the first radically slender floor-standers. They generated humongous soundstages, and precise imaging was their raison d'être. Users would position the speakers extremely far apart, usually on the long wall. They used plenty of toe-in, crossing the speaker's direct waves in front of them. Finally, the listener would sit closer to the speakers than the distance between the speakers. Their side-firing woofers made tight-ish bass, but, if memory serves, their midrange, though quite clear, was less rich and dense than I prefer. Wed, 04/18/2018
I started my second day at the Chicago show in the Dynaudio room, where the Danish loudspeaker company's Special 40 stand-mounts ($3000/pair) were being driven by an Octave 80SE integrated amplifier ($10,500) with its Super Black Box external power supply ($3000) . . . this dem illustrated how matching a relatively small speaker to a smallish room can produce optimal and excellent sound quality. Wed, 04/18/2018
"The core audiophiles, they are aging," the collective subconscious of exhibitors on the 15th floor seemed to say. "Since they're attempting to bask in the glow of their golden years, they don't want to hear anything in their sonic sanctuaries that might expose them to the harsh realities of the present day. Hence, we shall warm up the sound, add a few tablespoons of sugar, and ensure that everything sounds as safe, warm, and cuddly as those TV commercials for assisted living communities."Wed, 04/18/2018
Who doesn't like and admire Elac's chief loudspeaker designer (formally of KEF, TAD, and Pioneer) Andrew Jones? I surely do: but not only for his abilities to create high-value, low-cost, audiophile-quality speakers: I admire him for how he makes me feel when he stands in front of a packed audio-show room and tells stories plays songs…and smiles that wicked British smile he uses to suck us all in.Tue, 04/17/2018
With very few exceptions, the 4th floor of the Renaissance Schaumberg was filled with fine to extraordinary sounding rooms. The sound was so good that Jana Dagdagan and I returned to the floor on Day Two to shoot video in three of the rooms. You'll see what fun we had (in very cramped quarters) when the video appears down the road…Tue, 04/17/2018
Most readers don't know this, but I am measurer. I own oscilloscopes and distortion analyzers and have been measuring amps and speakers for nigh on 30 years. But when I hear some audiophiles say that all cables—and especially AC power cords—sound the same, it makes me reach for the Tequila and pistols. Folks, ya gotta relax, breath air, and listen—the effects are not subtle. And that's what I did in the MoFi Distribution room, where Jonathan Derda (the nicest guy in audio) was demonstrating two power conditioners from IsoTek, the $995 Corvus and the $4995 Titan, and one IsoTek AC cord, the $995 Sequel C15 Link. Sun, 04/15/2018
"What are you doing here?" MartinLogan founder Gayle Sanders has been long gone from the audio industry but there he was in the corridor of the Schaumburg Renaissance hotel's 7th floor. "I love the industry and I wanted to come back and play," Gayle laughed as he introduced me to his Eikon Image1 digital active loudspeaker ($24,500/system).Sun, 04/15/2018
Most of my audio show experiences have been mixed, with strings of fine-sounding rooms punctuated by others that have sounded mediocre or worse. On the worst of days, the pattern has been reversed, with room after room sounding so dismal that I occasionally began to wonder if I was suffering from a temporary case of sonic indigestion. But on the Renaissance Schaumberg's 4th floor, despite room layouts that seemed to have been designed by the Son of the Set-up Demon himself, room after room delivered fine sound. Sun, 04/15/2018
Even though the weather in Chicago is cold and wet, all these acres of glass seems to double the light…Sat, 04/14/2018
If AXPONA seemed to get off to a slow start on the 4th floor of the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center, it was only because, the second the clock struck 10am, huge numbers of people made a mad dash for the first level Marketplace. It was only after they had sated themselves with all the rare LPs and other paraphernalia they could find that they ventured forth into the great unknown.Sat, 04/14/2018
A half-hour after the show opened (held today, tomorrow, and Sunday at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel, 1551 Thoreau Drive North, Schaumburg, IL) this was the scene in front of the seminar center, where a presentation on room EQ Wizard was about to start. With well over 160 exhibit and listening rooms and another 80 booths, and what must be every dealer in Illinois participating, this is the biggest consumer audio show to be held in the US in quite a while.Fri, 04/13/2018