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Stereophile Jan 2012

Stereophile January 2012

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show: A Better Way?
Every time I stepped from the slow elevator and onto the casino floor at Harrah's, where Stereophile's editors spent their sleepless nights, my hatred for Las Vegas was revitalized. This was like some kind of bad joke, some kind of post-modern torture. Oh, god, I am still here. I would turn right and see the same flashing lights, the same low ceilings, the same people who had been there the night before, still sitting, still smoking, still hoping, still staring blank-faced into spinning screens of cherries, spades, and jokers, and I would wonder why. Why? Most people who visit Las Vegas seem to be looking for money, sex, drugs, or simple escape. Why are we here?

Etta James
Publishing has a way of keeping you humble. Many years ago, after a scheduled show by her had been abruptly canceled, a club owner told me that Etta James had died. He neglected to mention that the two of them had just engaged in a financial dispute and of course being a newly minted music writer, I never thought to ask about any extenuating circumstances to this sad news. The fact that I took the word of a club owner tells you I desperately needed seasoning, but I digress…

Threshold FET Nine/e preamplifier
The Threshold FET nine/e ($2595) is the junior sibling of the FET ten/e, a solid-state preamp that has earned a rave review in March 1991 from noted tubeophile Dick Olsher (Vol.14 No.3), itself a development of the FET ten that J. Gordon Holt reviewed in September 1987 (Vol.10 No.6). Would my ears, accustomed as they are to the pitter-patter of electrons traveling through a vacuum, have a similarly positive response to the FET nine/e?

Jessie Baylin
Being “old school” can be either a compliment or a nasty put–down depending on who’s doing the talking. In the case of Jesse Baylin, the jersey girl turned Nashville singer/songwriter who is married to drummer Nathan Followill of the now-on-hiatus Kings of Leon, her new record Little Spark is a very savvy exercise in blending lots of obvious reference points, from Dusty Springfield to the classic girl groups of the 60’s, yet keeping the sound and attitude contemporary.

The Dirty Three: Toward the Low Sun
Last night, before giving in to sleep, I listened over and over to the Dirty Three’s upcoming record, Toward the Low Sun, the band’s first release in seven years and their first for the great Chicago label, Drag City.

Recordings of April 1988: J. Gordon Holt: The First Colossus Recordings
If you read my article in these pages about recording the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway steam trains (January 1987, Vol.10 No.1), you may recall the mention of Colossus. Colossus is the name of a new digital recording system which designer Lou Dorren claims to be different from every other digital system in several ways, none of which has ever been disclosed to us. I had a chance to listen to some tapes made on it shortly after writing the C&TSRR article, but since they were made with a completely unfamiliar microphone (Mobile Fidelity Productions of Nevada's own design) and featured mainly the sounds of trains, airplanes, and other sources of potential ear damage, I couldn't really tell anything about the recording system, except that it had the kind of low end I expect from any respectable digital audio. A sonic evaluation had to wait until I heard Colossus on more familiar terms—that is, with music recordings. Now, that time has come.

CES 2012: Complete Coverage
Stereophile provides complete coverage of the audiophile exhibits at the Venetian, T.H.E. Show and elsewhere.

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