Interviews

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Sasha Matson  |  Sep 04, 2018  |  2 comments
There are the Grammys, and then there's the supermarket. Both are marks of achievement and permanence in popular recorded music. Having just begun writing this piece, I walked into the Price Chopper Supermarket in Cooperstown, New York, and what do I hear? Rita Coolidge, and the refrain from her 1977 recording of "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher." Now that's a hook—a high mark on the tree of pop.
Ken Micallef  |  Jul 29, 2018  |  30 comments
Arriving at David Smith's comfortable Queens apartment, he walks me into what was once a small dining room. Standing upright like a pair of wood-grained phone booths are the biggest speaker cabinets I've ever seen in anyone's home—anytime, anywhere. What?

Measuring a colossal 23" deep by 26" wide by 66" high, each 20 cubic-feet cabinet holds a vintage Altec 604E coaxial driver wired to a Mastering Lab crossover set in Smith's custom-built MLTL cabinets.

Robert Harley  |  Jul 10, 2018  |  First Published: May 01, 1995  |  11 comments
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.

Robert Baird  |  May 29, 2018  |  10 comments
Notoriously opinionated and obstinate Steve Albini, a guy ever vigilant and vocal about the wicked ways of the music business, showing up in Austin, Texas, at the annual South by Southwest festival? This I had to see. After a near-miss at his Austin hotel, we spoke the next morning on the phone.

"It was unspeakable on all levels, as bad as I imagined, and in some ways worse."

Any notion that he'd somehow softened, somehow accepted the music biz as it—

Wait. What the hell am I thinking?

Art Dudley  |  May 21, 2018  |  30 comments
Six weeks ago, Jana Dagdagan and I visited the Peekskill, New York factory of Soundsmith—her first time there, my second. Although I didn't mention this to the company's President and Chief Engineer, Peter Ledermann, the thing that most impressed me during my second visit was how little had changed since my first, in April of 2015. In particular, all but two of the employees I saw at Soundsmith this year had been there during my first visit; that suggests an experienced workforce—no small advantage in the manufacturing of phono cartridges, where the requisite skills are specialized, to say the least—a setting where people feel sufficiently challenged and appreciated that they stick around for years rather than mere months.
Ken Micallef  |  Mar 07, 2018  |  13 comments
Richard Matthews has sold upwards of 30,000 tubes in the last ten years and he still has 100,000 tubes to go! Working out of his Leeds Radio warehouse in the Bronx, Matthews has every tube imaginable in stock, as well as a vast variety of tube testers, classic radios, capacitors, beautiful vintage tube boxes and many, many collector's pieces.
Robert Baird  |  Mar 06, 2018  |  4 comments
In her wild ride of a memoir, A Woman Like Me (2012), eclectic soul and R&B singer Bettye LaVette spoke of being hung over a 20th-floor balcony of a Manhattan skyscraper by her pimp boyfriend. She revealed that she'd slept with Ben E. King and Otis Redding, and had even spent a minute dabbling in prostitution. She had dropped acid with George Clinton. Finally, she had her moment of satisfaction when she delivered a knockout performance of the Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me" at the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors. In the audience, all agog, were Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand, and Aretha Franklin, all more successful than she.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 28, 2018  |  13 comments
Earlier this week, we posted a video blog with PS Audio's founder and CEO Paul McGowan giving Jana Dagdagan and me a post-CES tour around the Boulder, Colorado company's factory. Following the tour, I sat down with Paul in Music Room One and in a wide-ranging conversation, we talked about amplifiers and loudspeakers, DACs and audio systems, and the state of high-end audio.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 25, 2018  |  12 comments
Immediately following the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, our resident videographer Jana Dagdagan and I visited PS Audio in Boulder Colorado. The company's founder, Paul McGowan, gave up his Saturday to give us a tour of the factory.
Jana Dagdagan  |  Feb 09, 2018  |  2 comments
Back in the early summer of 2017, Jack Oclee-Brown, KEF's Head of Acoustics, visited John Atkinson to set up the KEF Reference 5 loudspeakers in his listening room. JA's review of the Ref 5 was published in October 2017, and during Jack's visit JA talked to him about the design of that speaker. But they also discussed KEF's affordable "Q" line of speakers and the challenges a manufacturer faces in bringing an inexpensive loudspeaker to market, the subject of this interview.
Jonathan Scull  |  Feb 08, 2018  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1999  |  2 comments
Tom Jung of DMP (Digital Music Products) is known as one of digital's early adopters. He's also an outspoken proponent of Sony's Super Audio CD over DVD-Audio. As I was intending to review Sony's first SACD player, the SCD-1, I invited Tom to Kathleen's and my Manhattan loft to investigate further. Tom and son Paul, who's responsible for DMP's sales and marketing, arrived with a passel of big drives, a DSD computer controller, and electronics designed by Ed Meitner.
Ken Micallef  |  Feb 05, 2018  |  15 comments
Chances are, if you're a regular Stereophile reader, you're already a fan of tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh. How so? Because our astute crew of writers, editors, and all-round trendsetters have their collective fingers on the pulse of music that matters. Stereophile Contributing Editor Fred Kaplan reviewed Sabbagh's 2015 vinyl release, The Turn, bringing his honed insight to bear on a recording he describes as "spectacular. Sabbagh's sax floats palpably between the speakers, Ted Poor's drumkit crashes and sizzles . . .Ben Monder's guitar sparkles or wails. . . and Joe Martin's bass plucks and thumps like an anchor. Everything is clear, in a wide, deep, seamless space."
Jana Dagdagan  |  Jan 26, 2018  |  19 comments
"Richard Vandersteen doesn't look like a typical loudspeaker designer," wrote Ken Kessler when he interviewed Vandersteen in the July 1988 issue of Stereophile. JA talked speakers with Richard Vandersteen at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, held January 9-12 in Las Vegas, NV.
Robert Baird  |  Jan 22, 2018  |  1 comments
Another high-quality LP reissue label catches fire...
Robert Baird  |  Jan 04, 2018  |  1 comments
Is classical music really on the ropes? Living in New York City, it's easy to think that is a myth cooked up in the provinces.

Recently, at a performance of the Metropolitan Opera's fabulous current production of Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, directed by Bartlett Sher, I experienced Classical Music 2017 up close and personal. In the audience, multicolored sequined jackets and cheetah-print slip-on sneakers mixed with tuxedos. Merrell hiking shoes and Patagonia down jackets crossed with slim-fit outfits from Billy Reid and Hermes bags. Between bravura tenor Vittorio Grigolo in the title role and soprano Erin Morley's absolutely wonderful portrayal of the doll, Olympia (Bravo!!!), it was a performance for the ages. None of the recordings I've heard come close.

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