Ken Micallef

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Ken Micallef  |  Jun 21, 2018  |  29 comments
Back at the beginning of 2017, Greg Roberts, of Volti Audio, devised a clever way to bring his Rival floorstanders up to my penthouse pad, for what resulted in a rave review of those horn-loaded wunderspeakers.

I live on the top floor of a seven-story, elevatorless building on a busy street in Greenwich Village. A vertical challenge? No problem! Roberts is resourceful in many things, from speaker design to his former profession, the building of custom homes. Affixing a pair of unguent-saturated straps to the screws on each side of a Rival, we lifted and transported the 106-lb speaker high in the gritty Manhattan sky as if it were child's play.

Ken Micallef  |  May 03, 2018  |  6 comments
We're well past the day when the sound of top-tier tube amplifiers can be described as "syrupy" or "too warm" or producing "soft bass." Equally true, solid-state designs have reached a level of maturity at which "sweetness," "fluidity," and "flow" are similarly applicable descriptors, thus smashing the cliché of "cold transistor sound."
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.
Ken Micallef  |  Feb 15, 2018  |  27 comments
Audiophiles are oblivious to the low-end music-reproduction medium that's currently staging a comeback: the cassette tape (footnote 1). I've adopted the cassette craze in my own small way. I glory in the trusted mixtape, which I play in the stereo cassette deck of my 1990s Toyota. An automobile is a dearly cherished possession in New York City; when I cruise the outer boroughs on Sunday, I want tunes galore. So I retrieved my 1996 Aiwa cassette deck, and, attic-bound as it had been for 20 years, it was in need of repair. Via Yelp, I came across Hi-Tech Electronics, a small repair-everything-electronic shop at the east end of Canal Street, in New York's Chinatown, and a mother lode of classic audio gear and audiophile nostalgia.
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."
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 28, 2017  |  19 comments
One of the better things about bookshelf loudspeakers is that they're innately portable. Though not generally considered the sort of music-reproduction machines you'd bring to a party, a 12-step group, or a Burning Man rave (though you certainly could), high-quality bookshelf speakers are overlooked tools in the eternal work-in-progress of introducing lovers, friends, and family to our beloved lifestyle. So during the first week or three of breaking in the Quad S-2 bookshelf speakers, I thought, Why keep these to myself? It's strict Stereophile policy that all gear be evaluated in the context of the reviewer's reference hi-fi rig(s), but there's no law against sharing the joy.
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 21, 2017  |  4 comments
As a kid growing up in Milford, Michigan, my big brother always had the classiest clothes, latest records, and sharpest gear. He danced in Cuban-heeled leather boots, I climbed trees in lace-up Keds. He spun Rolling Stones vinyl on a fabric-wrapped Zenith portable with detachable speakers, I blasted the Beatles from a tinny transistor radio. Ten years my senior, big bro drove a Buick bomb (which, late one night, mysteriously caught fire in the garage) and had a girlfriend, Gail, whose plump cheeks and smart clothes embodied modern mid-century Midwestern appeal. I like to think that my brother and I have both aged gracefully. And lately, he's taken to high-end hi-fi with a passion.
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 14, 2017  |  18 comments
Seeing as I'd recently been in contact with the good people at Cambridge Audio when hoping to repair a 25-year-old integrated amplifier, it was great to put faces with names in the Cambridge Audio room…
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 12, 2017  |  10 comments
Luxman. Even the name puts me in mind of pushbuttons, brushed aluminum, and classic 1960s audio designs…
Ken Micallef  |  Oct 01, 2017  |  11 comments
Starting with Musicians As Audiophiles subject #1, jazz drummer extraordinaire Billy Drummond, one thing soon became clear: New York City and its environs are a veritable smorgasbord of musicians who value high-end audio authenticity as much as any longtime reader of Stereophile.

"A fellow drummer and friend, Aaron Kimmel, got me into audio via Billy Drummond," notes MAA #7, drummer Paul Wells. "We call Billy 'the Pusherman.' He's got a lot of musicians in New York into high-end audio.

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