LATEST ADDITIONS

Kalman Rubinson  |  Sep 06, 2018  |  12 comments
As I took my valedictory lap around High End, the immense audio show held each May in Munich, Germany, it was clear that this year's event was an exuberant flowering of mature technology. I witnessed the dominance of hardware for LP playback, as well as analog amplifiers, many of them based on tubes, and passive loudspeakers with traditional cone-and-dome drive-units. And there was no shortage of excellent and impressive musical demonstrations. Still, I experienced no revelations, and heard no announcements of any new technology that might trigger a hopeful anticipation of the near future. It was as if HE2018 were reflecting on the past with reverence and commitment, rather than striving toward the future with innovation and adventure.
Wes Phillips  |  Sep 06, 2018  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1997  |  0 comments
"Its a dessert topping!"
"No, its a floor wax!"
"Dessert topping!"
"Floor wax!"
"Kids, don't argue—it's a dessert topping
and a floor wax!"

Twenty years later, this Saturday Night Live routine still rings true. Experience has taught me that very few products can do two things equally well. Remember those jaunty amphibicars that sported propellers on their rear decks, letting you drive them straight into the lake after a bracing spin along the back roads? Unfortunately, they could neither corner well nor handle even the slightest chop. As for Swiss Army Knives, well, I guess it's better to have a mediocre screwdriver/awl/magnifying glass/tweezers with you than none at all. And I've never seen a Veg-O-Matic in a professional kitchen, just mandolines, food processors, and knives.

Sasha Matson  |  Sep 04, 2018  |  3 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.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 04, 2018  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1965  |  14 comments
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
London Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski, cond., Erich Gruenberg , solo violin.
London Phase 4 SPC-21005 (LP). Recorded September 22, 1964. Kingsway Hall, London. Marty Wargo, prod., Tony D'Amato, recording dir., Arthur Lilley, eng.

This is infuriating. Along comes the performance of Scheherazade that we've been waiting for, and the powers that be at London Records decide, God knows why, to bestow upon it the dubious blessing of Phase 4 recording. The sound is positively vast and cavernous, the bass booms, the highs scream, the harp sounds like it's 10' tall, and instruments wander back and forth across the stereo stage as if nobody had thought to tell the musicians where to sit.

Stereophile Staff  |  Sep 03, 2018  |  1 comments
Sunday, September 30, 8:30am–8:00pm, the Burning Amp Festival 2018 takes place at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center. Held annually in the fall since 2007, BAF celebrates DIY audio technology both new and old, tube and solid-state, analog and digital. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own gear—DIY amps, speakers, turntables, DACs, servers, etc—and there will be free admission to anyone bringing a DIY project.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 02, 2018  |  7 comments
No violinist is more equipped to perform the music of Krzysztof Penderecki than Anne-Sophie Mutter. The composer dedicated his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.2, Metamorphosen (1992–1996), to her after hearing her perform at a young age—Mutter subsequently recorded Metamorphosen with Penderecki conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in 1997—she has commissioned three works from him. If anyone can be said to have Penderecki's music in their blood, it is Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Which does not make any of the four works on her new two-CDs-for-the-price-of-one set from Deutsche Grammophon, Hommage à Penderecki, any easier to wrap your arms around on first hearing.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 30, 2018  |  58 comments
A highlight of my visit to AXPONA, held last April in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, was the Dynaudio room, where the two-way, stand-mounted Special Forty loudspeakers ($2999/pair) were being driven by a tubed Octave integrated amplifier. "The stereo image was superb," I wrote in my show report; "even more impressive [were] the solidity and believability of the softly struck bass drum that punctuates the Ramirez Misa Criola." I concluded that this dem "illustrated how matching a relatively small speaker to a smallish room can produce optimal and excellent sound quality."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 30, 2018  |  6 comments
Ever since the Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company (TEAC) founded its Esoteric division, in 1987, Esoteric's slogan has been "state of the art." Given Esoteric's impressive displays at audio shows, which reflect a consistency of ownership, staff, and philosophy of engineering, design, and manufacturing, I have longed to evaluate one of their hand-assembled models in my reference system. Any brand named Esoteric, and whose top line of products is named Grandioso, had better make superior products.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 29, 2018  |  4 comments
James Mallinson confers with Sir Georg Solti during playbacks for Mahler's Symphony No.3 in Chicago's Orchestra Hall in November 1982, from the CSO Archives

Legendary British record producer James Mallinson, whose close to five decades of work with Decca/London, Telarc, and the labels of the major orchestras in London, Chicago and St. Petersburg, died unexpectedly on Friday night, August 24. He leaves behind, in addition to his beloved wife and son, an estimable recorded legacy that earned him no less than 16 Grammy Awards and 49 Grammy nominations.

Art Dudley  |  Aug 28, 2018  |  12 comments
For this month's column, I did something I've occasionally set out to do but never quite managed: I lived with a new power amplifier for nearly two months, used it to enjoy a variety of records, made scads of listening notes, and wrote most of the subjective portion of my review—all without knowing what was inside it.

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