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2018-01-23T17:25:00.245Z
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Toronto, Canada is host to the Interior Design Show held this weekend from January 18-21. It's an opportunity for high-end furniture, appliance, and interior design companies show their wares. US high-end audio distributor and retailer Wynn Audio is exhibiting at the event to expose consumers to high-performance audio, nearly all of whom have no idea that high-end audio even exists. This type of initiative is just what the high-end needs to expand its customer base. As Wynn explains, "The goal is to open up their ears to what truly good sound is with our system, and hopefully they will think ...

This fine recording was somewhat overlooked when it first appeared in 1973, and the same fate may await this reissue, given the fact that several other notable Monk-related releases are vying for attention during this centennial of his birth year. Monk’s quartet with Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone was formed in 1959 and endured until 1970. It was recorded more than any other group lead by Monk, and Rouse has been unfairly condemned since the beginning for the crime of not being John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, or Johnny Griffin (all heard in earlier Monk lineups). Rouse was a fine player ...

Taking High-Resolution Mainstream The biggest event at CES, at least for the high end, was a press gathering at the Las Vegas Convention Center to promote high-resolution audio. Organized by the Digital Entertainment Group, the event’s message was a remarkably unified voice of diverse companies and industries. Among the participants were the three big record labels (Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Warner), streaming services (Tidal and Qobuz), hardware manufacturers (including Astell&Kern, dCS, and others), technology creators (MQA), the RIAA, and even an automotive company (Ford’s Lincoln division). The single vision that brought these diverse companies together is an initiative ...

Ah, Las Vegas! As we were taxiing in from McCarran airport I saw a big neon sign in front of a strip joint just off I-15. In ten-foot-high letters it read: “Veni, Vidi, Veni,” which is about as funny as Vegas gets. However, once we arrived at the Venetian—the site, as it has been for the last decade and a half, of the high-end audio exhibits at CES 2018—the fun stopped. Where in the past you’d find floor after floor of the latest and greatest in the Venetian, at this year’s CES there was exactly one floor (the 29th) of ...

Although Naim has created a wide range of outstanding and ambitious products over its long history, the company’s most iconic product may be its most humble: the Nait integrated amplifier. This diminutive integrated exemplifies skillful design, music before specs, and the value of minimalism. The Nait is a microcosm of everything that’s great about high-end audio in general, and about Naim in particular. Introduced in 1983 at a price of £253, the Nait was an instant sensation. It produced just 13Wpc from its diminutive shoebox of a chassis, but oh, what watts they were! The Nait’s sound quality was the ...

The following is a press release issued by NAD Electronics. CES | Las Vegas, NV | January 9, 2018 — NAD Electronics, the highly regarded manufacturer of high-performance audio/video components, launched a new and improved stereo Masters Series amplifier, the M22 V2, that delivers a 20% increase in power to 300 watts per channel. The new Masters amp also features a bridging switch that transforms it into a 900-watt mono behemoth. In addition, the M22 V2 now has a 3-position input sensitivity switch that controls the auto turn-on sensitivity, allowing for better matching to each individual system. Even with the ...

PS Audio recently updated the software for its Bridge II card to enable it to “unfold” MQA files. The Bridge II card is an accessory that plugs into a slot in the rear of the DAC to add additional capabilities. Originally, the Bridge II enabled the DirectStream DAC to connect to a home network where digital music files are stored and to play those files, turning the DirectStream DAC into a machine capable of handling PCM files up to 192kHz and DSD64 files. Like all PS Audio software updates, the update to software for the Bridge II is free for ...

It isn’t often that I have to review a product on several different levels. The Oppo UDP-205 Ultra HD Blu-ray disc player, however, is an exception. It provides outstanding value for money in four very different roles: as a CD, SACD, and virtually any other form of stereo music disc player; as a DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD (4K) Blu-ray video player; as a surround-music disc player; and as a digital preamp. I can strongly recommend it in any of these roles in competition with other units in anything like its price range. It is also, however, the best surround-music ...

The L2.1 is said to have evolved from the L2, for many years a mainstay in Lamm Audio’s product lineup. Evolution is generally regarded as inevitable but when starting with the nearly flawless circuitry of the L2 how do you progress to L2.1? Well, attention has been focused on better active and passive devices in key circuit locations, including new PC boards and replacement of electrolytic capacitors in the power supply’s tube voltage regulation section with newly developed high-density polypropylene capacitors of comparable size and value. A measurable result of these updates is an improved signal-to-noise ratio. This is a ...

In 1979 I attended a club performance by the original lineup of Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition, a quartet that, along with Peter Warren on bass and DeJohnette on drums, featured two horn players, one who switched between tenor saxophone and bass clarinet (David Murray) and the other an alto player (Arthur Blythe). Even this jazz newbie could tell he was witnessing some top-tier musicians, and when the horn players engaged in simultaneous soloing, as they did several times that evening, the effect was exhilarating. Walking into the concert, I had no idea who the sidemen were in the band; walking ...

There aren’t many 50-year-old rock albums that have anything new to say. The only reason to give them another listen is pure nostalgia. But that’s not the case with the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. No matter how often you’ve heard it, there’s still more to hear. Sure, you know the words, the tunes, and the arrangements by heart. But have you ever focused on the dazzling harmonies that infuse every track? Or on Paul’s innovative bass playing? Or the classical music elements (counterpoint, modality, deceptive cadences, and much more) that inform the songwriting? This ia an album ...

If you’re an audiophile of a certain age you might well remember your first look at color TV. I do. On a Sunday evening our family sat in front of a spanking-new RCA Victor console model, an enormous (for the era) 21” CRT encased in a walnut cabinet extravaganza that weighed in at a couple hundred pounds, if it weighed an ounce. What I most recall about that night was the appearance of the NBC network logo that preceded its “In Living Color” lineup. It was a stylized rendering of a peacock that famously fanned its resplendent tail-feathers, which up ...

These days most of us buy our vehicles, whether brand-new or CPO, either off the lot or off the Internet. The downside is that choosing from what’s available can limit options, so sometimes we have to settle for something slightly less than ideal. This happened to me when I recently purchased a new BMW 3 Series. The Bimmer I found was perfect in every way: color, interior, and trim level. The car even had all the options I wanted—except one. Wouldn’t you know it, this particular vehicle lacked an upgraded audio system. I tried living with BMW’s base sound system ...

If you’re a musician who cares passionately about the sonics of your first-ever vinyl release, what steps can you take to ensure that the record sounds as good as possible? Here’s one option: record the music to tape, buy your own cutting lathe, master directly from the original tapes, actually participate in the cutting process, and plate and press the vinyl at Quality Record Pressings. Gillian Welch and her musical partner David Rawlings took those steps, and the process, though fraught with delays and very expensive, ended up being worth it. On these duets that feature both Welch and Rawlings ...

In the primordial days of computer audio—that is, around a decade ago—it was obvious early on that the analog output from a laptop or desktop machine just wouldn’t do for anything resembling critical listening. Although there was some initial interest in replacing a computer’s factory soundcard with something better, that approach quickly gave way to a new class of audio component, the USB DAC. Why USB? The answer is simple. For the vast majority of stock computers, the Universal Serial Bus is the only option for getting digital data out of the machine to the promised land of high-quality D-to-A ...

Excel Sound Corporation Hana SL Moving Coil $750 In a sea of $10,000-ish super-cartridges, what’s a vinyl-playing audiophile with discriminating tastes to do? For that matter, what’s a sub-$999-budgeted audiophile to do? The $750 Hana SL is a cartridge that establishes a baseline of fundamental performance that every cartridge exceeding its price should achieve (while also aspiring to deliver all the additional virtues this transducer provides). The gem of the Excel lineup, it can easily fit in any ’table/’arm combination that will accommodate a 0.5mV output; moreover, it is good enough sonically that users can rest assured it will support ...

The TAD ME1 (ME for Micro-Evolution) is the third stand-mounted compact loudspeaker to be rolled out by Japan’s Technical Audio Devices in recent years. Led by the Reference Series CR1, a beryllium-driver three-way of ravishing sonic quality and physical beauty, the procession continued with the Evolution Series CE1—nearly as formidable in some aspects, but at a more approachable, though still heady price. I’ve reviewed both of these fine efforts (Issues 205 and 256, respectively), and now it’s my good fortune to write about TAD’s latest offering. The ME1 is the company’s smallest Evolution Series compact to date, and its least ...

Produced, composed, and arranged by Brian Wilson, Pet Sounds stands as the Beach Boys’ pinnacle. The album is brimming with beautiful ballads, exotic instrumentation, lush five-part harmonies, and an aching sentimentality. Recorded largely with session players from L.A.’s fabled Wrecking Crew, Pet Sounds was Wilson’s chance to step away from songs about surfing and cars, instead crafting tender songs about adolescent love, both newfound and lost, as well as innocence and bewilderment. Analogue Productions’ two-disc, 45rpm, 200-gram stereo album boasts exceptionally detailed separation and aptly showcases Pet Sounds’ shimmering sonics. Mark Linett produced this stereo mix with an assembled digital ...

It’s a safe bet that, for most, the future of digital music playback will be disk-less. There will be streaming, probably downloads, and files derived from long-ago-relegated-to-the-attic compact-disc collections. LPs will still flourish because of the enduring sonic appeal of vinyl and the purely tactile gratification of playing records. But do you know anyone who will lament the passing of the compact disc as a marvel of industrial design? Twenty years from now, will Brooklyn hipsters seek out vintage machines on which to play the Weezer CDs they find at yard sales? I don’t think so. The Aurender A10 is ...

What ignited your interest in the high end? Did it come from the music side or the electronics side? Both, but more from the electronics side, because my background is in digital signal processing, and at that time DSP for audio was a new frontier. What gear made up your first high-end system? I had a Revox turntable, Revox speakers, and Luxman receiver. When did audio develop from a hobby into a career? Audio developed into a hobby after I started a career in it. What education did you receive? I have a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering with an ...