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Stereophile Jan 2018

Stereophile-January-2018

2nd Edition

Listening #182: Audio-Creative GrooveMaster II tonearm
In my youth, I unwittingly trained myself in the art of deferred pleasure. I did this by investing my allowance in every mail-order product that caught my eye--things I saw in the back pages of the magazines and comic books I loved--then settling in for a wait that always seemed interminable. This happened most often in summer months, when extra chores brought extra cash, and when school didn't interfere with keeping vigil at the mailbox.

IsoAcoustics Orea Audio Equipment Isolators
After I'd concluded my critical listening sessions with the PS Audio Stellar M700s that I review elsewhere in this issue, I got a call from Dave Morrison of IsoAcoustics, in Markham, Ontario, makers of the Gaia loudspeaker isolation feet. He told me that they had a new product, the Orea, that applies to audio electronics--preamps, power amps, DACs--the isolation technology used in the Gaia.

The 2018 Grammies: Missing the Point
It is a given these days that the Grammy Awards telecast has devolved into a not very interesting TV variety show. And that most of the really interesting awards are given out off-camera the day before. Entertainers rather than musicians have become the focus of the entire affair.

Marianne Crebassa's Secret is Out
In 2016, when I received Oh Boy!, the first solo album from mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa, I thought, "What a cute title for a compilation of male operatic roles that were written for female singers"--"trouser roles" in operatic parlance--and put it aside.

Vandersteen's Richard Vandersteen Talks Loudspeakers
"Richard Vandersteen doesn't look like a typical loudspeaker designer," wrote Ken Kessler when he interviewed Vandersteen in the July 1988 issue of Stereophile, adding "His presence suggests somebody who'd be played by Gene Hackman." But Richard Vandersteen is one of the most successful loudspeaker designers working in high-performance audio.

Records to Die For 2018
What's your favorite record? It's a simple enough question, but one that dedicated music consumers never tire of asking each other. And so, every year, we ask the distinguished writing staff of this magazine to choose a pair of favorites and tell us a little of what seems so compelling about them.

TAD Micro Evolution One loudspeaker
Notwithstanding the twists and turns of Japanese corporate culture, the status of Technical Audio Devices Laboratories, Inc. remains unchanged. Founded in 1975 as a subsidiary of Pioneer to build loudspeakers for the professional market, TAD remains part of that corporation, even after the recent sale of Pioneer's home-audio division to Onkyo.

Hugh Masekela
While it's the insistent cowbell and the pounded piano chords that catch your attention first, eventually it's the horns followed by just Hugh Masekela's flugelhorn that makes his most famous jam, "Grazing in the Grass," such an infectious single, one that hit #1 in the US in the tumultuous year of 1968.
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AVM Ovation MP 8.2 CD player-D/A processor
For all its faults--complex grammar, inconsistent rules of pronunciation, burdensomely endless vocabulary--English has proven itself a commendably plastic language. This is good for audio enthusiasts, in the US and elsewhere, whose choices in playback gear continue to evolve not only in substance and function but in name: Unlike many of the people who speak it, English can keep pace with the changes.

1st Edition

Music in the Round #88: SPL Volume 8 and SMC 7.1
It's no secret that there are very few analog control options--for volume and input selection, primarily--for multichannel, but that doesn't mean there are none.

Joint Recordings of April 1975: Brain Salad Surgery, Ummagumma
For a long time there, it seemed like anyone who walked into a good hi-fi shop and used the word "rock" and/or "bass" had a better-than-even chance of being "Lucky Man-ed" until his ears bled.

Legendary Jazz Bassist Ron Carter Talks About Music, Recording, and Hi-Fi
I'm sitting next to Ron Carter in the listening room at Manhattan dealer Audioarts (footnote), trying not to cry. We're listening to "All Blues," the title track from Carter's 1974 CTI release--a meditative rendition of the Miles Davis masterpiece that has been slowed-down and elongated in such a way that it practically pulls tears from eyes as easily as Carter pulls notes.

Quad S-2 loudspeaker
One of the better things about bookshelf loudspeakers is that they're innately portable. Though not generally considered the sort of music-reproduction machines you'd bring to a party, a 12-step group, or a Burning Man rave (though you certainly could), high-quality bookshelf speakers are overlooked tools in the eternal work-in-progress of introducing lovers, friends, and family to our beloved lifestyle.

Totem Acoustic Signature One loudspeaker
New York City, 1989: I had a music and audio-guru friend named George, who worked at both Tower Records and Stereo Exchange. Every Saturday I'd slip him a Grant and, over the following week, he would choose $50 worth of used Tower LPs he thought I should own.

Listening #181
The company appears to be long gone, but throughout the 1970s, virtually every Sunday, there was an ad in the New York Times Magazine for a manufacturer of whole-house music systems with a headline that went something like: "ENJOY MOZART IN THE DINING ROOM, BEETHOVEN IN THE LIVING ROOM, AND THE ROLLING STONES IN THE CHILDREN'S ROOM."

Bryston BDP-3 Digital Music Player
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.

Aurender A10 network music player/server
A huge fuss was made over Aurender's first music server, the S10, when it premiered in 2011 at the California Audio Show. While I didn't feel that the room acoustics and setup were good enough at CAS to permit an honest appraisal, the looks and features of the S10 (now discontinued) thrust Aurender into the spotlight.

Recording of January 2018: Carry Fire
In 2010, down in the East Village, on Delancey Street, at the NYC debut party for Robert Plant's Band of Joy, the assembled rock press, assorted hangers-on, and wannabe VIPs patiently sipped drinks as we waited for the guest of honor. Suddenly, with no fanfare or even announcement, he stepped out of a closet or secret passage of sorts into a roomful of astonished smiles. He'd been there all along.

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