Ken Micallef

Ken Micallef  |  May 05, 2021  |  4 comments
In her reworking of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from my Friends," on the 2018 tribute album, A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper (impulse records), Brooklyn guitarist and composer Mary Halvorson reinvents both her instrument and the song.

Most baby boomers can hum the tune of the Beatles' classic, from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in a handful of notes. It might take longer to recognize Halvorson's joyous, angular version. A master of jazz phrasing, guitar technique, avant-garde discourse, and effects pedals, Halvorson bends the Beatles song to her 21st century will.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 29, 2021  |  17 comments
Big changes are afoot at Mytek. First up: The Mytek Brooklyn AMP+, the newest version of the compact, class-D Brooklyn AMP. The AMP+ is already in production.

In my 2018 review of the original Brooklyn AMP, I wrote that the class-D amplifier exuded "a consistent sense of truthfulness, striking resolution that was never analytical, spacious soundstages, superb dynamics, and some of the 'blackest' backgrounds I've ever heard...with the right recordings." I continued, "The AMP let me revel in its reproduction of the low end, with zero overhang or bloat, and profoundly impressive retrieval of micro- and macrodetail—but in doing all this, its touch was always light and never surgical."

Ken Micallef  |  Mar 03, 2021  |  10 comments
Many established audio manufacturers owe their success, at least partly, to their components' signature sound. Consider the laidback "pipe and slippers" mien of my 1978 Spendor BC-1 loudspeakers, the rich tonal palette of my Shindo Laboratory amplifiers, or the celebrated drive and timing of late-'50s era Thorens TD-124 and Garrard 301 turntables.
Ken Micallef  |  Jan 22, 2021  |  2 comments
What sort of audiophile are you?

I think of myself as a critical listener, perhaps a purist, definitely an enthusiast, of music and audio, who enjoys both the journey and the nuts and bolts. I like my hi-fi direct, simple, and personal. Also, I guess I'm a little bit old-school: tube-driven amplifiers with point-to-point wiring; vinyl, preferably early pressings; spun with belt-drive or idler-drive turntables. I listen to digital audio, too—and when I do, I prefer nonoversampling DACs. I like high-efficiency, high-sensitivity floorstanding loudspeakers and prefer them horn-loaded.

Ken Micallef  |  Jan 15, 2021  |  0 comments
Newvelle Records Season Five
Pablo Ablanedo, Dave Douglas, Sullivan Fortner, Elan Mehler, OWL Trio, Rufus Reid, Carmen Staaf, Patrick Zimmierli
Newvelle Records NV025–30 (6 LP) 2020. Reviewed from 16/44.1 AIFF files. Elan Mehler, prod.; Marc Urselli, eng.
Performance ****
Sonics ****½

If Newvelle Records is any indication, jazz's future looks bright. Since 2015, the New York label has produced four series of artist-curated, all-analog, subscription-only box sets of vinyl records with superb fidelity and top-tier musicians performing original material. Highlights included pianist (!) Jack DeJohnette's Return, guitarist Gilad Hekselman's Eyes of the World, bassist John Patitucci's Irmãos de Fé, tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger's Preminger Plays Preminger, and guitarist Lionel Loueke's Close Your Eyes.

Ken Micallef  |  Dec 24, 2020  |  13 comments
During my tenure as a Stereophile writer, I've reviewed a lot of integrated amplifiers. The mostly moderately priced integrated machines I've reviewed have included the Heed Audio Elixir ($1195), Luxman SQ-N150 ($2795) and L-509X ($9495), NAD C 328 Hybrid Digital ($549), Octave Audio V 80 SE ($10,500), Rega Brio ($995), and Schiit Ragnarok 2 ($1799 as equipped). Regardless of price, all these integrated amplifiers engaged my senses and made engaging, dynamic, colorful music from LP grooves and ones and zeros.
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 02, 2020  |  28 comments
The story behind European Audio Team (E.A.T.) is that of one woman, company owner and CEO Jozefína Lichtenegger.

While studying for her MBA at the University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovakia, Lichtenegger (née Krahulkova) sold vacuum tubes for her brother-in-law, Alesa Vaic, then owner of Czech Republic–based tube brand VAIC. After VAIC shuttered in 2003, Lichtenegger founded her own retail business and engaged 100-year-old tube manufacturer Tesla Vršovice to supply 300B and KT88 tubes made to her specifications. When the owner of Tesla retired, she bought the company. She christened her new endeavor E.A.T. (The original Tesla continues as TESLA ElectronTubes, s.r.o.)

Ken Micallef  |  Oct 28, 2020  |  5 comments
Before starting this review of Rotel's Michi P5, the 60-year-old, Japan-based audio company's recent preamplifier design, I thought it appropriate to consider "What is an audio preamplifier? What should it do?" There are plenty of opinions to be found at stereophile.com:

"What a preamp ought to do, apart from changing volume and switching sources, is as little as possible," wrote Stereophile Editor Jim Austin in his 2017 review of the PS Audio BHK Signature preamplifier.

Ken Micallef  |  Oct 08, 2020  |  3 comments
"The data lords are gathering data and giving it to organizations that then manipulate us with the things they know about us, things that we don't even know about ourselves," says five-time Grammy Award–winning composer, conductor, producer, and band leader Maria Schneider. "They give our data to any company that'll pay for it to manipulate you, specifically targeting your vulnerabilities. It takes away freedom of thought, a true discourse where people are thinking for themselves. Count me out."
Ken Micallef  |  Oct 02, 2020  |  25 comments
Summer!

COVID-19 notwithstanding, summer—warmth, flowers, leaves on trees—has descended on Greenwich Village, my New York City home for the past 30 years. What hasn't descended are tourists, belching motorcycles, behemoth sports cars, beer drinkers, and the usual summer hell-raisers, the sort that would've sent legendary Village bohemians Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs running back to their cold-water flats.

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