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Stereophile Sep 2018

stereophile september 2018

2nd Edition

Listening #190: Experience Music
Those concerned that audio engineers on the whole are a meek lot, drawn to our hobby for its lack of physical mayhem, have clearly never met Jeffrey Jackson. The last time I saw him, he was wielding a rock the size of a small gravestone, applying it to the lock on a recalcitrant door in a series of blows that made me fear for the very fabric of reality.

Constellation Performance Centaur II 500 power amplifier
Gross suggested that he send me the new Centaur II 500 stereo amplifier from their Performance Series, which costs $55,000. I gulped at the price--Michael Fremer and Jason Victor Serinus hardly break a sweat reviewing amplifiers in this price range, but I'm made of cheaper stuff.

Bernstein's Serious Symphonic Side
How many who love Bernstein's "popular" music--everything from On the Town and West Side Story to the final Arias and Barcarolles--have actually spent time with his three "serious," gravely introspective symphonies?

Audio Research Reference 160M monoblock power amplifier
At a recent dealer event in Seattle, after being impressed by the musical rightness of an Audio Research Corp. LS28 preamplifier and VT80SE power amplifier driving a pair of Sonus Faber Guarneri loudspeakers, I spoke with ARC's Dave Gordon about reviewing one of the company's new amplifiers.

Paradigm Persona 5F loudspeaker
Since its founding in 1982, Paradigm has developed and sold high-value loudspeakers. When my wife and I acquired our weekend house in 1992, I selected a pair of Paradigm Esprit/BP speakers for our audio system there. Shortly thereafter, however, I wanted to take my big step into multichannel, and it seemed that the Esprits' bipolar radiation would present problems for multichannel sound in my relatively small room.

Sonus Faber Aida loudspeaker
In 1959, in their musical revue At the Drop of a Hat, the British musical-comedy team of Flanders and Swann sang their "Song of Reproduction." It's not about sex. The song mocks audiophiles (you thought this was something recent?) for how we spend "all of that money to get the exact effect of an orchestra actually playing in their sitting room."

What's Wrong With Classical Record Reviews
I attend at least a couple of dozen classical-music performances each year. I also read reviews of recordings and live performances, and have even dabbled in writing them. Why, then, do I find classical music reviews so frequently annoying?

Wonderful Times with Wonderful Town
After umpteen serious reviews, penned in serious and somber times, it's high time to lighten up. Hence to Leonard Bernstein's Wonderful Town we go, and to Sir Simon Rattle's new SACD of the musical, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and a stellar cast.

Recommended Components: Fall 2018 Edition
Components listed here have been formally reviewed in Stereophile and have been found to be among the best available in each of four or five quality classes. Whether a component is listed in Class A or Class E, we highly recommend its purchase.

1st Edition

Siegfried Linkwitz RIP
We have received the sad news that loudspeaker maven Siegfried Linkwitz, co-inventor of the innovative Linkwitz-Riley crossover network, has died. He had been suffering from prostate cancer for some years and had been receiving hospice care at his home.

The 2018 Indianapolis Violin Competition
One of the most important international competitions for young (ages 16-29) violinists takes place in the United States every four years. (The other top-tier classical-music competitions that include violinists, Moscow's International Tchaikovsky and Belgium's Queen Elizabeth, also run on four-year cycles.)

King Kong vs Spotify
Streaming music isn't new. US companies have been doing it since the 1920s, when it was discovered that multiplexing--the then-new practice of combining multiple signals over a single conductor--could be used to send live or recorded music over public power lines. The first of those companies was Muzak LLC.

Recording of October 2018: Berio, Boulez, Ravel: Orchestral Works
What ties Luciano Berio's boundary-breaking Sinfonia for Eight Voices and Orchestra (1968-69) to Pierre Boulez's out-there Notations I-IV for Orchestra (1945/1978) to Maurice Ravel's progressively off-kilter La Valse (1906-1920)? The Seattle Symphony's about-to-depart music director, Ludovic Morlot, cites their "ingenious transformation of pre-existing musical material or styles."

Other Minds' Modern Hits
Other Minds, the San Francisco-based organization that champions music so far ahead of its time that the 21st century is still catching up with what OM championed in the last millennium, has turned its ear to archival works by unsung electronic music pioneers from the Bay Area and beyond.

Primephonic Launches Classical Streaming in the US and Europe
September 6 2018 marked the launch of Primephonic, which appears to be the world's most comprehensive classical music-streaming service. Currently available in the US, the UK, and its home base of the Netherlands via web and mobile applications.

Music in the Round #93: miniDSP & Ripping SACDs
As I took my valedictory lap around High End, the immense audio show held each May in Munich, Germany, it was clear that this year's event was an exuberant flowering of mature technology. I witnessed the dominance of hardware for LP playback, as well as analog amplifiers, many of them based on tubes, and passive loudspeakers with traditional cone-and-dome drive-units.

Thiel SCS2 loudspeaker
Experience has taught me that very few products can do two things equally well. Remember those jaunty amphibicars that sported propellers on their rear decks, letting you drive them straight into the lake after a bracing spin along the back roads?

Rita Coolidge: Reaching Higher and Higher
There are the Grammys, and then there's the supermarket. Both are marks of achievement and permanence in popular recorded music. Having just begun writing this piece, I walked into the Price Chopper Supermarket in Cooperstown, New York, and what do I hear?

Dynaudio Special Forty loudspeaker
A highlight of my visit to AXPONA, held last April in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, was the Dynaudio room, where the two-way, stand-mounted Special Forty loudspeakers ($2999/pair) were being driven by a tubed Octave integrated amplifier.

Esoteric N-01 network audio player
Ever since the Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company (TEAC) founded its Esoteric division, in 1987, Esoteric's slogan has been "state of the art." Given Esoteric's impressive displays at audio shows, which reflect a consistency of ownership, staff, and philosophy of engineering, design, and manufacturing, I have longed to evaluate one of their hand-assembled models in my reference system.

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