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Stereophile May 2012


Quad Reference ESL-2805 loudspeaker
Sam Tellig wrote about the '2805 in his July 2006 "Sam's Space" column, and the speaker was subsequently voted one of Stereophile's Joint Loudspeakers of 2006. Given how impressed I'd been by the ESL-989, I put a full review of the '2805 on my to-do list. But, as is often the way with to-do lists, it was another five years before the speakers took up residence in my listening room.

B.M.C. Audio Amplifier C1 integrated amplifier
B.M.C. Audio GmbH (the initials stand for Balanced Music Concept) designs its high-performance audio products in Germany, where the company was founded in 2009, and has them manufactured in its own wholly owned factory in China. The design team is headed by Carlos Candeias, whose earlier designs included a belt-driven CD transport for C.E.C. and, for Aqvox, a high-performance, current-gain–based, balanced phono preamplifier that's reasonably priced.

Record Store Day 2012: The Haul
Initially, I had planned on enjoying a low-key Record Store Day, visiting my local independent shop, Iris Records, and simply leaving it at that. But things never go the way I plan. The allure of J&R Music World in Lower Manhattan, just a short trip across the Hudson, was too great to resist.

Occupy Avery Fisher Hall
Stop me if you've heard this: On January 10, at Avery Fisher Hall in New York's Lincoln Center, a performance of Mahler's Symphony 9, led by conductor Alan Gilbert, was stopped in its tracks by the ringing of an iPhone.

Recording of May 2012: Centennial
It is dreamlike when the opening track, "Punjab," begins so softly, with the tapping of a tabla. Exotic woodwinds, perhaps English horn and bassoon, murmur in the left channel, whisper in the right. It is dreamlike because Gil Evans died in 1988, yet this unfamiliar music sounds like him, and when suddenly that deep, solemn brass figure looms out of the right channel, it could only be him.

Meitner IDAT D/A processor
There are as many ways of designing a digital-to-analog converter as there are engineers. One approach is to select parts from manufacturers' data books and build the product according to the "application notes" provided by the parts manufacturers. This is the electronic equivalent of a paint-by-numbers kit.

Ed Meitner: Audio Maverick
Ed Meitner is one of those rare individuals who charts his own course in audio product design. From his platterless turntable of the mid-1980s to his new Intelligent Digital Audio Translator, Ed Meitner's products have been distinguished by original thinking and innovative engineering.

The Fifth Element #71
In 2009, I wrote about Luxman's entry-level solid-state integrated amplifier, the L-505u ($3700), and their near-universal (no Blu-ray) disc player, the DU-50 ($4990, now discontinued). I was very impressed by their performance and their quality at those prices.

The New York Audio & AV Show: Full Coverage
Stephen Mejias, Ariel Bitran, John Atkinson and Art Dudley provide complete coverage live from the show floor!

The Greatness of Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
If any single voice was synonymous with the flowering of the LP era, it was that of German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The great artist's death at his home in Bavaria on Friday, May 18, 10 days short of his 87th birthday, sets the final seal on an age in which art song, oratorio, and opera received equal respect from record companies and the listening public.

Chico & Rita and Pina
And now for two soundtrack albums, Chico & Rita and Pina: the first explicitly jazz, the other prancing all around its borders, both completely captivating.

Music in the Round #54
Bryston describes its SP-3 ($9500) as comprising a true analog preamp plus a full-featured multichannel digital audio processor, and claims that none of those functions compromises any of the others. That statement is a slight modification of the sentence that began my September 2006 review of the SP-3's predecessor, the SP2.

Brinkmann Balance turntable
Everyone's got their prejudices, and mine are against turntables with box-like plinths and big slabs of undamped acrylic. I have no problem with either in models that cost a few grand or less, but once you get into high-priced terrain, less plinth and less acrylic usually yields better performance. Generally, though, all a plinth gets you is a vibrating surface to transmit or store and release energy. Who needs that?

The Entry Level #17
Before dropping the needle onto Christine's copy of Sold for Prevention of Disease Only, I shot the record a few times with the Milty Zerostat 3 ($100), a blue, gun-shaped gadget that helps eliminate static. Squeezing the Zerostat's thin black trigger releases positive ions; relaxing the trigger produces negative ions.

Dolby Upsamples & Apodizes TrueHD
At 12 noon PST today, Dolby Laboratories, Inc. announced the availability of the first Blu-ray Discs premastered using Dolby TrueHD with advanced 96k upsampling, The process, designed for use by studios, authoring houses, and mastering facilities, elevates playback performance of lossless audio on Blu-ray Disc by using the apodizing filter developed by Meridian.

Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v5 loudspeaker
I have fond memories of the Paradigm Reference Studio 20. When I reviewed the original version for the February 1998 issue of Stereophile, it was the model that started me on my quest to seek out the best affordable loudspeakers. I believe that of all the speakers I've reviewed, the original Studio 20 remained in the magazine's "Recommended Components" longest.

Krell Cipher SACD/CD player
Around the turn of the century, a review of the latest hair-raisingly expensive turntable would often begin with a soothing chant that, yes, the RotorGazmoTron XT-35000 is a tad pricey, but it will be the last piece of analog gear you ever buy---so go ahead, take the plunge.

Peachtree DACiT D/A converter
It's common knowledge that manufacturers tune the sound of each DAC model. There are the facts of product design and marketing: inputs, outputs, case materials, price points. After that, what's left are the trade-offs of different circuit designs and filter options, which are chosen with care---each has a subtle yet telling effect on a DAC's sound.

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