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Stereophile February 2017

Stereophile-February-2017

Latest Additions

Aerial Acoustics 5T loudspeaker
Long-lived loudspeaker models are rare. So it's surprising that the two-way, stand-mounted Model 5, the smallest speaker made by Massachusetts-based Aerial Acoustics, was revised just once between 2015 and April 1997, when Robert Harley favorably reviewed it and it cost $1800/pair.

Listening #171: Bob's Devices Sky 40 transformer
In contrast with such line-level source components as DACs and CD players, record players generate a lower-voltage signal that requires extra gain (footnote 1) from either a standalone phono preamplifier or the phono stage of another, more comprehensive component in one's system--typically, a full-function preamplifier or an integrated amp.

Reference Recordings: New Website, Downloads, Recordings
For the first time in a decade, Grammy Award-winning audiophile label Reference Recordings (RR) has updated its website. Filled with new features, including new blog posts and an "Audiophile Corner," the website offers physical media and hi-rez downloads of a host of Reference Recordings.

Arc Iris's Moon Saloon: Super Proggy
There was a time when throwing "everything but the kitchen sink" into a record was considered a warning sign. Something was amiss. The act was desperately searching for an identity or a sound. They were floundering.

Vivid Video: JA Interviews Speaker Designer Laurence Dickie
This past weekend, John Atkinson and I attended the debut of Vivid Audio's new flagship speaker, the G1 Spirit, at a private home in Itasca, IL (to the west of Chicago.) The event was hosted by concert pianist and audio retailer George Vatchnadze of Kyomi Audio.

Al Jarreau Remembered
Does having commercial leanings make you a traitor to the purity of your art? Can you make money in music and still have integrity? These eternal questions came to mind upon the death of singer Al Jarreau.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D3 loudspeaker
I have had a long relationship with Bowers & Wilkins. The first B&W speaker I spent serious time with was the DM-6, the infamous "pregnant kangaroo," which was reviewed by Allen Edelstein in December 1977 and which I borrowed for a while after interviewing the company's founder, John Bowers.

Auralic Altair D/A processor
Now that we've entered a world of post-disc audio (sorry, AnalogPlanet.com), audiophile streaming and file-playback products have appeared by the hundreds, and many companies are on their second, third, or even fourth-generation models.

2nd Edition

Ray Davies & The Kinks
1996 was a banner year for Ray Davies--one of the most talented writers and conceptualists rock has ever produced. After more than 30 years with The Kinks, the group he has led off and on along with his younger brother Dave, Ray was enjoying a new career as a solo artist.

From the Archives: NAD 5000 CD player
The $499 NAD 5000 looks nothing like most inexpensive CD players. Its plastic trim doesn't look cheap. It doesn't look expensive either, but it certainly won't be embarrassed to show its face in polite company. The front panel is neatly arranged and easy to interpret and use. It's the smallest and lightest of the present company of players--the only obvious physical reflections of its low-budget heritage.

Naxos Opens ArkivJazz.com, Shutters ClassicsOnline
Naxos, owner of online classical recording retailer ArkivMusic.com, has now launched ArkivJazz.com. A one-stop shopping destination for an international coterie of jazz lovers who seek CDs, vinyl, and DVDs, the site sells recordings from "all labels, major and independent."

Musicians As Audiophiles: Chris Lightcap
New York City upright bassist Chris Lightcap is an excellent musician with an eye towards vintage environments. He lives with his family in a gorgeous Art Deco building, covets his wife's collection of 1950s and '60s-era cameras, has his own amazing collection of classic electric basses and guitars, and his comfortable apartment was once home to a Mafia hit-man.

ECM Brings Gesualdo into the 21st Century
Nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award for "Best Classical Compendium," ECM's Gesualdo pairs arrangements of the haunting music of Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa (1566-1613) with Gesualdo-inspired works by living composers Brett Dean (b. 1961) and Erkki-Sven Tuur (b. 1959).

NEAT Acoustics Iota Alpha loudspeaker
Reviewers of high-fidelity gear are a trend-sniffing, topology-bandying bunch. When four of our kin gathered last November over lunch, during the 2016 New York Audio Show, the high-end chatter flew fast and furious. "Did you hear those mother-rocking big horns on the seventh floor?" "Nah, man, the Bruno Putzeys speakers on nine were best in show." "What about those li'l Lowthers on eight? Great sweet spot, but small as peanuts."

EAR Acute Classic CD player
In Stereophile's January 2016 issue, I began a series of reviews of $10,000 CD players and transport-DAC combinations: an informal and serial survey, the goal of which was to gather, over time, the likeliest candidates for one's Last CD Player Ever. My choice of $10,000 as the target price was more or less arbitrary, although, in retrospect, that's about what I've invested in my go-to combination of turntable, tonearm, and pickup head--so, who knows? Maybe my subconscious was acting out.

1st Edition

NEAT Acoustics Iota Alpha loudspeaker
Reviewers of high-fidelity gear are a trend-sniffing, topology-bandying bunch. When four of our kin gathered last November over lunch, during the 2016 New York Audio Show, the high-end chatter flew fast and furious. "Did you hear those mother-rocking big horns on the seventh floor?" "Nah, man, the Bruno Putzeys speakers on nine were best in show." "What about those li'l Lowthers on eight? Great sweet spot, but small as peanuts."

EAR Acute Classic CD player
In Stereophile's January 2016 issue, I began a series of reviews of $10,000 CD players and transport-DAC combinations: an informal and serial survey, the goal of which was to gather, over time, the likeliest candidates for one's Last CD Player Ever. My choice of $10,000 as the target price was more or less arbitrary, although, in retrospect, that's about what I've invested in my go-to combination of turntable, tonearm, and pickup head--so, who knows? Maybe my subconscious was acting out.

Of Headphones to Come
I figured it was coming, but it wasn't until just after I'd returned from the Audio Engineering Society's 2016 International Conference on Headphone Technology--held last August in Aalborg, Denmark--and was writing up my report and summary on the event for InnerFidelity.com that I knew for sure: Headphones are about to change . . . a lot.

Gramophone Dreams #14: Rega Planar 3
UK, 1976: Upon its release, Rega Research's original Planar 3 turntable became the poor man's Linn Sondek LP12. It opened a gateway of affordability to the exotic world of high-quality British record players. Forty years later, the new Planar 3 turntable and its "light and rigid" engineering aesthetic, as conceived by Rega founder Roy Gandy, still occupy an admirably working-class, pro-music position in an audio world increasingly populated by gold-plated tonearms and quarter-ton turntables.

linkMBL's Juergen Reis talks Digital with John Atkinson
In this video, Juergen and JA discuss digital filters, aliasing, Nyquist ringing, USB inputs, inter-sample "overs," and many of the other arcane issues involved in DAC design.

A Gorgeous Debut from the Sibelius Piano Trio
With their matching wide, distinctly un-stylish yellow ties and dark blue suits, the men of the Sibelius Piano Trio hardly look like world-class musicians. But once you hear their two-CD set from Yarlung Records, best appreciated via stereo and multi-channel DSD downloads from NativeDSD.com--click here and here--you'll understand why their debut recording of trios by Sibelius and contemporary composers deserves a place in your collection.

Records to Die For 2017
The overall idea is fairly simple: For R2D4, each Stereophile writer is asked to choose two albums that move, animate, enlighten him or her. Any format is fair game, the only restriction being that it must still be available in the US, if only in the deep, dark recesses of the Internet.

CES 2017: An Unlikely, Impromptu Duet at the Venetian.
On the final day of the show, our special guest, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and our very own Jason Victor Serinus came together to form the most unlikely of duos. We originally attempted to film this while in a moving gondola but were sternly prohibited from doing so by the gondola ride manager.

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