LATEST ADDITIONS

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 09, 2018  |  8 comments
First came the press release, from San Francisco Symphony, announcing:

• Esa-Pekka Salonen is the Music Director Designate of SFS, to replace Michael Tilson Thomas when he voluntarily steps down after the summer of 2020.

• EPS will lead SFS in a program on January 18–20 that includes the SFS premiere of Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Metacosmos, Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra, and Sibelius's Four Legends from the Kalevala.

These led me to explore Thorvaldsdottir's music in two recent hi-rez releases from Sono Luminus: Aequa: International Contemporary Ensemble Performs Anna Thorvaldsdottir (DSL-92224), and Nordic Affect: H e (a) r (DSL-92227).

Art Dudley  |  Dec 06, 2018  |  30 comments
Although my house is now home to a borrowed pair of DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 loudspeakers—a loan I gratefully accepted early this year, when my 1966 Altec Flamencos proved a bit too large for my new listening room—it's a matter of pride that I own almost everything else in my playback system, cables included. So it's with no small discomfort that I acknowledge having nearly $30,000 worth of borrowed phono cartridges scattered around my living and dining rooms. (The former is where I listen to them, and the latter—the sunniest room in the house—is where I install them.)
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 06, 2018  |  6 comments
In the early 1990s, the Compact Disc was all the rage, and vinyl records were being executed en masse. Thirty years later, and oh, how our tables have turned. Mint first pressings of tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley's 1957 album Hank Mobley (Blue Note BLP 1568), which once could be had for $40, now bring upward of $8000. Each. Vinyl continues to enjoy a global resurgence of popularity, while CD sales have plummeted to all-time lows.

What happened? Apparently, yesterday's pops and ticks are today's "warmth," Record Store Day exclusives, and skyrocketing vinyl values. All things old . . .

Stereophile Staff  |  Dec 05, 2018  |  0 comments
Thursday, December 6, 4–8 pm, Command Performance (115 Park Avenue, Ste 2, Falls Church, VA 22046) will be hosting a Naim Audio "500 Event." Saturday, December 8, 12–5pmm, Audible Images (1610 Pineapple Avenue, Melbourne, FL 32935) are holding their annual "Music Appreciation Event."
Stereophile Staff  |  Dec 04, 2018  |  0 comments
On Saturday, December 8, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, Gryphon Audio Designs' new Zena preamplifier will be demonstrated at Kyomi Audio, 4454 West Berteau Avenue, Chicago, IL 60641. The demonstrations will be conducted by Philip O'Hanlon of Gryphon's US Distributor, On A Higher Note, and by Kyomi Audio's George Vatchnadze, a noted concert pianist and recording artist.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 04, 2018  |  24 comments
With reviews of Wilson's Alexia 2 loudspeaker ($57,900/pair) in the July issue, Constellation's Centaur 500 amplifier ($55,000) in the October issue, and Tidal's Akira loudspeaker ($215,000/pair) in the November issue, my system's been inhaling some rarefied air the past few months. Accordingly, I felt I should live with some components priced within the reach of real-world audiophiles. As it happened, I was finishing up my review of the Constellation amplifier when MoFi Distribution's Lionel Goodfield e-mailed me, asking if I'd like to review the new Diamond 11.2 loudspeaker from the venerable British brand Wharfedale.
Jim Austin  |  Dec 04, 2018  |  16 comments
If there's one thing audiophiles agree on, it's that snake oil is bad—even if they can't agree about what snake oil actually is.

In audio, snake oil means fake science or fake technology—anything that's claimed to improve the sound of a system but that looks like an obvious rip-off. For some people, expensive speaker cables and interconnects are snake oil. A few objectivists consider AC power treatments snake oil: most modern audio components, after all, can correct for AC line-voltage flaws and reject "ripple" in a power supply's output. A handful of hard-core objectivists maintain that every new digital technology since the advent of the Compact Disc is snake oil.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 02, 2018  |  9 comments
There I was, driving through the streets of Port Townsend, dodging the dashing deer, when out of the blue, strains of Palestrina came floating by. Giving thanks to CBC Radio, which we can receive in the Pacific Northwest, I noticed immediately how my internal space had become far more peaceful after just a few bars of Palestrina's polyphonic writing for multiple voices. It was at that minute that I realized that I missed listening to sacred vocal music of the Renaissance, and that it was high time that more of it made its way on to the Stereophile.com.

French composer Antoine de Févin (ca 1470–1511/12) was, according to conductor Stephen Rice, one of the most accomplished and widely circulated creators of sacred music in France and Europe around 1500. With very few entire recordings devoted to Févin's music, there is no better way to make his acquaintance than the latest offering from Rice and The Brabant Ensemble, Antoine de Févin: Missa Ave Maria & Salve sancta parens (Hyperion CDA68265).

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 29, 2018  |  0 comments
The digital ground seems to shift weekly. While firmware and software updates over the Internet somewhat slow the constant upheaval, when you do buy something, you just know that as soon as you plunk down your cash, something new will come along.

So, especially with preamplifiers, why not produce a design based on modules that the user can swap in and out, to custom-configure the preamp to that user's current needs while leaving room for later expansion? Why pay for six inputs' worth of stuff when at present you need only two? Upgrades? New features? No problem—swap out a module. Or, if a circuit in one module malfunctions, you can send only that module back for repairs, not the whole thing.

Art Dudley  |  Nov 29, 2018  |  12 comments
The stars lined up.

According to biographer Charles Reid, the British conductor Sir John Barbirolli "burned with Elgarian zeal," attributable in part to Barbirolli's participation, as a young cellist in the London Symphony Orchestra of 1919, in the premiere performance of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto. That performance, conducted by the composer and with Felix Salmond as soloist, was a disaster—Elgar's rehearsal time had been cut short by a lack of cooperation from another conductor on the bill, a slight the composer never forgave—yet from then on, the 19-year-old Barbirolli regarded Elgar's music with reverence.

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