Larry Greenhill

Larry Greenhill  |  May 06, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1985  |  13 comments
Classé Audio's DR-3 once again brings to the fore the issues of class-A vs class-AB, weighty vs small and efficient, and brute-force expensive vs clever and inexpensive.

A well-worn, if unproven, audiophile rule of thumb says that a small, quick amplifier will sound better than a very powerful one. Among low-powered amps, those that operate in "pure" class-A are thought to be sonically superior. Pure class-A means the amplifier must run a constant high bias (more than one ampere), so the output devices never turn off.

Larry Greenhill  |  Feb 27, 2020  |  22 comments
The Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 1 ($6500/pair) is the company's latest stand-mounted, two-way monitor—a lineage that began with their first speaker, the Minima, which I reviewed some 24 years ago. Like the products that followed, the Minima featured a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a 4" reflex-loaded paper-based midbass driver, both attached to a leather-covered baffle and housed in a beautiful wood cabinet, hand-crafted in Italy. I enjoyed the Minima's sound, as did this magazine's Sam Tellig, who praised its "sweet, forgiving, slightly rolled-off on top, and somewhat ripe . . . mid-to-upper bass," with superb focus and imaging that was a "treat for sore ears."
Larry Greenhill  |  Aug 29, 2019  |  20 comments
SVS's recently introduced SB-3000 is a compact powered subwoofer that's $600 cheaper, a few cubic inches smaller, and 37lb lighter than the model it replaces, the SVS SB13-Ultra. Its amplifier is less powerful (800W vs 1000W), but its rated frequency response extends lower: a stygian 18Hz, compared to the SB13-Ultra's merely stentorian 20Hz.
Larry Greenhill  |  Jan 29, 2019  |  6 comments
In the late 1980s, when I began reviewing high-end subwoofers, they were big and heavy, difficult to move or find space for in a room. Their controls were always on an inconveniently positioned rear panel, and there were no built-in automatic room-optimization options or parametric equalizers. Velodyne's 105-lb, downfiring ULD-18 ($2570), ca 1989, was typical: Two people were needed to unpack and move it; it was powered by an outboard 400W amplifier, connected inconveniently with a speaker cable and an RCA-terminated interconnect for its servo control; and its controls were on the bottom of the cabinet. Changing its crossover frequency involved soldering new resistors onto a printed circuit board inside the amp.
Larry Greenhill  |  Nov 08, 2018  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1986  |  4 comments
Japanese audiophiles venerate American high-end audio components, paying huge sums for vintage Marantz tube amplifiers, racks of Levinson ML-2s, and early Audio Research tube preamplifiers. The balance of trade, at the high end anyway, hasn't been reciprocated: Japanese high-end amplifiers and preamplifiers have not received as positive a reception in the US. Perhaps it was a matter of styling, but the sonics of the Sony Esprit line and the class-A Stax amplifiers did not receive the following they might have, had the products been American.
Larry Greenhill  |  Sep 14, 2018  |  13 comments
In late August, I attended the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and Car Week at Weathertech Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. Porsche sponsored its own "Porsche Werks Reunion" at the nearby Corral De Tierra Country Club.

Walking around the golf course, I stumbled on a pair of KEF Blade Two speakers in the middle of a field of rare Porsche 911s!

Larry Greenhill  |  May 22, 2018  |  8 comments
Each equipment report in Stereophile focuses on a single audio component. When listening to a component for review, I leave unchanged all other components in my audio system. Other Stereophile reviewers experiment with different interconnects, speaker cables, power cords, or stands. As I found while reviewing Bryston's BP-173 (Cubed) preamplifier, being flexible has its rewards.

Description
My first lesson in flexibility was learning what Bryston means by "Cubed" (footnote 1). Jim Tanner, Bryston's VP of sales and marketing, explained that all their Cubed models employ an array of 12 active devices for the first 6dB of gain. Developed by the late Dr. Ioan Alexandru Salomie, this array acts as "a super-linear" input buffer to filter out audio- and radio-frequency noise, particularly anomalies that originate in the power line, reducing the overall noise and distortion to less than 0.001%.

Larry Greenhill  |  May 01, 2018  |  14 comments
When I reviewed the Mark Levinson No.536 monoblock, I said that its sound quality was second to none. However, its stratospheric price of $30,000/pair unnerved me—only seven of the 35 top-rated solid-state power amplifiers listed in the April 2017 edition of Stereophile's "Recommended Components" cost more, and a similar number (not the same models) deliver more power into 8 ohms. "But don't despair," I wrote—"Mark Levinson has just released a less expensive version of the No.536: the dual-mono, 350Wpc No.534 stereo amp ($20,000)." I requested a review sample of the No.534, to see if it matched the No.536's outstanding qualities of build and sound.
Larry Greenhill  |  Mar 27, 2018  |  18 comments
I've found that some audio amplifiers have sonic signatures so subtle that they emerge only over weeks of listening; yet other amps sound so distinctive—more vivid, more transparent, more dynamic—that their signatures are immediately apparent. Can those latter qualities really be inherent in the recording, or are they colorations produced in the amplifier?
Larry Greenhill  |  Dec 27, 2017  |  7 comments
In February 2017, Bryston announced the latest upgrade of their Digital Player, introduced in 2011 as the BDP-1 ($2195), and upgraded in 2013 to the BDP-2, with a faster Atom N450 processor. The new BDP-3 Digital Player ($3495) comes equipped with an even faster Intel Quad-core processor; a Bryston-manufactured integrated audio device (IAD) in place of a third-party sound card; a custom Intel Celeron motherboard; a bigger power supply; and two additional USB ports, for a total of eight—three of which use the faster USB 3.0 protocol. Two USB 3.0 ports run on an entirely separate USB bus, making the BDP-3 compatible with the Streamlength protocols used by DACs from Ayre Acoustics and Berkeley Audio Design.

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