LATEST ADDITIONS

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 10, 2019  |  19 comments
As a longtime user of Nordost's cable and AC-power products, my ears opened wide when they released their three QKore Ground Units and QKore Wire at High End 2017, in Munich. While I've never questioned the importance of proper electrical grounding, to prevent problems with safety and noise—the latter including measurable noise generated by transformers, appliances, LED lighting, power supplies, and Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular devices—I couldn't fathom what difference a passive grounding device might make in a high-end system that, in my case, is fed by an 8-gauge dedicated line with its own copper ground rod driven into the terra infirma of the fault-ridden Pacific Northwest.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 09, 2019  |  8 comments
After a few minutes in the VTL/Wilson/Nordost room on the 29th floor of the Venetian Hotel, the challenge I faced in covering CES 2019 was staring me in the face. The good news for me, and the bad news for exhibitors, was that visitor traffic was extremely light. To only two rooms did I need to backtrack because exhibitors were totally occupied with other visitors when I paid an initial visit. But, on the other hand, the sound in some rooms was so good, the musical selections so compelling, and the exhibitors so hungry for attention from someone that I had an extremely difficult time tearing myself away and moving on.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2019  |  11 comments
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) was hardly the first composer to run headfirst into opposition from political authorities. In his case, however, the pushback was so extreme that it affected everything he wrote thereafter.

In early 1936, after the style and subject matter of his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk clashed with the so-called proletarian aesthetic of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin (1878–1953), Shostakovich was denounced by the official state newspaper, Pravda. From then on, his symphonies reflected either his defiance of decades of Socialist realism, or attempts to appease the authorities while still speaking his truth.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jan 08, 2019  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1962  |  2 comments
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch, conductor
RCA Victor LSC-2608 (LP). TT: 48:40

It is easy to forget that the hi-fi movements—the "March to the Scaffold" and the "Dream of a Witches' Sabbath"—comprise barely a third of the music in the Symphonie fantastique, yet when we listen to most of the available versions of this, we can understand why the first three movements are usually passed up by the record listener. Two are slow and brooding, one is a wispy sort of waltz, and all three require a certain combination of flowing gentleness and grotesquerie that few orchestras and fewer conductors can carry off. It is in these first three movements where most readings of Berlioz' best-known work fall flat. Either they are too sweetly pastoral or too episodic and choppy, or they degenerate into unreliered dullness.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 08, 2019  |  6 comments
"They expect 180,000 people this year," the Lyft driver told me as we headed to the Strip shortly after sunset. "That's 10,000 more than last year!"

Does that mean there will be 10,000 more gadgets on display?

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 06, 2019  |  3 comments
From last week's contemporary realities, as viewed through the lens of David Chesky, we move back in time to 1707–1710, when the emotionally overwrought women, mythological subjects, shepherds, shepherdesses, and nymphs of Handel Italian Cantatas were in vogue. If those subjects strike your fancy, and/or you love baroque artistry and great singing, this new Erato recording from Emmanuelle Haïm's Le Concert d'Astrée, French lyric coloratura soprano Sabine Devielhe, and Franco-Italian mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre belongs on your must-hear list.
Richard Lehnert  |  Jan 03, 2019  |  2 comments
Bruckner: String Quintet (arr. for Large Orchestra), Overture in g
Gerd Schaller, arr., cond.; Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
Profil PH16036 (CD). 2018. Milan Puklický, prod.; Jan Lzicar, eng. DDD. TT: 57:12
Performance ***
Sonics ****

Bruckner & Mahler: String Quintet (arr. for Chamber Orchestra) & Symphony 10: Adagio
Peter Stangel, arr., cond.; Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra
Edition Taschenphilharmonie/Sony ETP008 (CD). 2017. Sebastian Riederer von Paar, prod., eng., ed. DDD. TT: 59:12
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Bruckner's only mature chamber work, the String Quintet in F, has long sounded to many less like chamber music than like a Bruckner symphony squeezed into far smaller form. It's long, follows Bruckner's version of classical symphonic form, and is as meticulously composed and as contrapuntally intricate as his far larger-scaled symphonies. Like many of those, it has an alternate movement, an Intermezzo. In tenderness and poignancy, the Quintet's warm Adagio is close enough in depth and quality to its counterparts in Bruckner's symphonies 00 through 5 that it now exists in at least 11 arrangements (none by Bruckner) for string orchestra; three of those, the most popular being Hans Stadlmeier's, include the Quintet's three other movements.

Herb Reichert  |  Jan 03, 2019  |  42 comments
On the first page of the owner's manual for iFi Audio's Pro iDSD tubed/solid-state multibit DAC and headphone amplifier, the British company unabashedly describes it as "a 'state of the art' reference digital to analog converter" and "a wireless hi-res network player or the central DAC in an expensive high-end home system." As if in an afterthought, it continues: "The on-board balanced headphone section means high-end headphones can also be directly connected to it." The manual doesn't describe the headphone "section" as "state of the art," so I'm deducing that the Pro iDSD is really more a fancy-pants DAC than a high-tone headphone amp.
Stereophile Staff  |  Jan 02, 2019  |  0 comments
Saturday,January 5, 1:30–4:30pm, the Pacific Northwest Audio Society (Congregational Church, 4545 Island Crest Way, Mercer Island, WA 98040) is holding a J-Corder Technics event. The free analog source workshop will showcase the Reference Series 2018 products from Technics, including the SL-1000R Reference Class turntable and modified RS-1500 legacy open-reel tape recorder.
Art Dudley  |  Dec 31, 2018  |  45 comments
Among the many bits of audio lore that never have and probably never will be aired in public is the story of the amp that ignited the reviewer's curtains. (I assume that at least some of you hoped I was going to say "pants.") I can't tell it in any great detail, partly because the reviewer in question is a friend (though not a Stereophile colleague), and I'm not sure how much of the story he wants out there. In any event, my object here is to offer a long-overdue apology, to all concerned, for having laughed at that story over the years, because it has now happened to me—not the part about the curtains, but definitely the part about the burning amp.

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