LATEST ADDITIONS

Ken Micallef  |  May 17, 2019  |  1 comments
I have on hand a number of pairs of headphones. And I admit that I've lusted after the heavenly sounding, medieval-looking Abyss AB-1266 Phi headphones, and considered the MrSpeakers Aeon closed-back headphones. (I prefer the isolation from outside sounds provided by closed-back 'phones.) But from the moments I saw—and then heard—Meze Audio's 99 Classics, with their graceful style, balanced sound, and natural wood-grained glory, they had me.
Jim Austin  |  May 16, 2019  |  8 comments
For sheer scale, perhaps the most impressive system I heard at the Munich High End show was in the room shared by Von Schweikert and VAC. The star of the show was—perhaps—the Von Schweikert Ultra Reference 9 loudspeaker, which sells for an impressive $200,000/pair. The Ultra series is, Von Schweikert says, a cost-no-object line. So far there are three speakers in the line: The 9, the $300,000 11, and the $90,000 55. Von Schweikert, of course, also sells more modestly priced loudspeakers; their VR-22 is under $3000 / pair.
Ken Micallef  |  May 16, 2019  |  10 comments
In his review in the November 2015 issue, Herb Reichert wrote that Parasound's Halo Integrated amplifier "has a recognizable sonic personality: easy flowing, mostly smooth, and decidedly mellow. . . . But don't worry—it's not milquetoast mellow or unwashed-hippy-stoner mellow. It is, instead, an everything's-under-control, don't-worry-now mellow."
Jim Austin  |  May 16, 2019  |  0 comments
Etienne Charles: Carnival: The Sound of a People, Vol 1
Etienne Charles, trumpet, percussion; Brian Hogans, Godwin Louis, alto saxophone; David Sánchez, tenor saxophone; Sullivan Fortner, James Francies, piano, Fender Rhodes; Alex Wintz, guitar; Luques Curtis, Russell Hall, Ben Williams, bass; Obed Calvaire, drums; D'Achee, congas. With: Claxton Bay Tamboo Bamboo, Laventille Rhythm Section, other percussionists.
Culture Shock EC007 (2 LPs). 2019. Etienne Charles, prod.; Glenn Brown, Christian Burkett, David Darlington, Mark Wilder, engs. DDA. TT: 67:20
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Etienne Charles, the Trinidadian trumpeter, percussionist, and Guggenheim fellow, has a knack for album concepts. His 2013 album, Creole Soul, starts with an incantation from an actual Voodoo priest and goes on to cover Creole-influenced tunes from Bob Marley and the Mighty Sparrow. Thelonious Monk is also in the mix, with his "Green Chimneys," which features a calypso melody Charles speculates Monk first heard in New York's San Juan Hill, a Caribbean neighborhood where Monk lived for a while.

Robert Harley  |  May 16, 2019  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1994  |  0 comments
Thomas R. Marshall's famous phrase, "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar," should be modified for the 1990s to be "What this world needs is a good $1500 preamplifier."

It's hard to find a good full-function preamp (ie, one that includes a phono stage) at a reasonable price these days. There are plenty of great preamps on the market, but they tend to be expensive or line-stage only—or expensive line stages. Moreover, many manufacturers are omitting phono stages altogether, on the assumption that people don't listen to LPs anymore.

Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  1 comments
It had been years since I last checked in with Totem Acoustic, the Canada-based loudspeaker manufacturer. When I showed up at the Totem room and was greeted by company president and longtime chief designer Vince Bruzzese, I didn't know what to expect. In the event, what I got was some excellent sound from two compact towers placed very close to the front wall, and a short introduction to what appeared to be some interesting technology behind those impressive loudspeakers.
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  3 comments
In Munich, electronics company Constellation Audio was demoing with Magico M2 loudspeakers ($63,000 / pair with M-Pod footers). Spinning vinyl was the the job of the Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian turntable ($35,000) w/Viper Tonearm ($10,000) and Ortofon A-95 Cartridge ($6,000). Phono preamplification was by Constellation—their Andromeda phono stage ($18,000). On the digital side, the source was Constellation's Cygnus Media Player/DAC ($38,000). Constellation's Pictor preamp was in use ($18,000), as was a pair of their Taurus monoblocks ($39000/pair).
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  34 comments
Playing in Room F210 on the top level atrium of Hall 4: Two pair of Focal Scala Utopia EVO loudspeakers ($39,995/pair) with lots of Naim electronics and cabling. Also in the system was a VPI Prime Signature turntable, but it wasn't in use when I was in the room. The key items in this room, though, were humble footers: specifically, IsoAcoustics GAIA-Titan Theis isolators—not so humble after all, on second thought, since they cost $899.99 for a set of four. The loudspeakers—white and green—were arranged in alternate pairs, their acoustical centers shifted by a few degrees.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 14, 2019  |  1 comments
Verity Audio's system paired their Lohengrin IIS Reference loudspeaker system (110,000 Euros/pair) with the following electronics: A new preamplifier with active crossover, the Monsalvat Pro-4 (64,000 Euros) is designed to work with the loudspeakers; two Verity Audio Monsalvat Amp-60 Reference power amplifiers ($58,000 each), which I reviewed in the June 2019 issue; a Melco N1ZS/2A music server (9,975 euros); a TW-Acustic Raven Black Night turntable (29,500 Euros) with Raven 12 tonearm (5000 Euros) and RPS 10 phonostage (6,000 euros), and a Dynavector XV-1 S MC cartridge (4500 Euros).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 14, 2019  |  0 comments
Just released and seen in passive display, the single-ended only Pass Int-25 ($7250) combines an XA-25 with a simplified Int-60 front end. The Int-25 has three inputs, all single-ended.

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