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Stereophile March 2019


2nd Edition

Montreal Audio Fest 2019
John Atkinson, Art Dudley and Robert Schryer report live from the frosty north's jam-packed audio show!

Listening #196
As a teen, I loved spending time in musical-instrument shops. Now, with exceptions, the experience is reliably depressing. Last Saturday was exemplary: I walked into my local supermarket of sound to buy a set of guitar strings, and was at once assaulted by the racket of two gunslingers trying to outshoot each other.

Diamonds in the Disco
"Let's party a little bit." ("All right . . .") And off we go with what this camp intro promises will be just another computer-produced piece of disco music that doesn't reach any parts of the body higher than the feet.

J E Sugden Masterclass LA-4 line preamplifier
Like most serious pursuers of the audio hobby, I've known about J E Sugden & Co. Ltd. for years. For many of those years, though, it was easy to forget about them, and I mostly did--until, quite recently, Sugden gear began popping up at audio shows, including the 2016 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-600M loudspeaker
If you've ever dipped your toe into some form of high-performance motor sport, you know: The best race-car engines spin torque and exhale horsepower--with intoxicating ease. They're engineered to be responsive. Depress the clutch, toe the throttle, and watch the tachometer instantly pin itself. Engage the clutch--your chest contracts and your head gets light. Then later . . .

Beethoven Times Three
For all those who love Beethoven, for all who wish to honor conductor Bernard Haitink's 90th birthday earlier this month (March 4), and for all who've been posting variations of, "Jason, for the love of God, free us from the horrors of contemporary music," this one's for you.

Naim ND5 XS 2 media player
The late Julian Vereker, the sharp-minded former racing driver who founded Naim Audio and designed its first products, did so because he wanted audio amplification of a quality he felt no one else was making at the time, reasoning that if he wanted such a thing, so might others. Thus came about Naim's first domestic-audio product, the distinctive NAP200 solid-state amp (1973).

Book Review: High Performance Loudspeakers, Seventh Edition
"Listen to that--that's what I mean by 'cone cry!'" It was 1979. I'd been taking part in a blind listening test of loudspeakers organized by Martin Colloms for the British magazine Hi-Fi Choice and, after the formal sessions had ended, had asked Martin to explain something I'd heard.

Recommended Components: 2019 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

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...
The dichotomy between what is measured and what is heard has resurfaced in recent months. Jon Iverson discussed it in his "As We See It" in our December 2018 issue, and I followed up on the subject in my January 2019 "As We See It." These further thoughts were triggered by an e-mail exchange I had last December with Stereophile's longtime copyeditor, Richard Lehnert.

Recording of April 2019: Here If You Listen
In 1967, the year the Byrds would fire him, David Crosby sits in a room--a small space, from the sound of it--with a cheap microphone and a recorder of dubious merit. He's improvising some jazzy, open-tuned acoustic guitar strumming, adding nonlexical vocables on top. He then files away the resulting tape--clearly ahead of its time and of no use to his bandmates--for 50 years.

The Opera that Deserves its Grammy
Given its engrossing, frequently radiant score, unflinching look at its timely subject matter, and superb cast of singing actors, Pentatone's live hi-rez recording of the premiere of Mason Bates and Mark Campbell's opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, fully deserves the Grammy recently bestowed upon it by the Recording Academy.

Analog vs Digital: Home-Brew Science at the Edge of the Art
The following article, from the early days of Compact Disc, is presented with no claim for absoluteness. (In fact, just as we go to press in the spring of 1986, we received a manuscript from Philip Greenspun, Product Review Editor of Computer Music Journal (Cambridge, MA), who had precisely the opposite result when comparing CD to analog versions of the same recording...

Magnepan MG2.6/R loudspeaker
Ask anyone in the street what they think of when they hear the word "loudspeaker" and odds are they'll describe a wooden box with moving-coil drivers sitting in its front. But ask a Stereophile reader and it's quite possible that he or she'll describe a large, flat panel reminiscent of a room divider.

Bonus Recording of March 2019: Vivaldi Arias
Though we don't know over how long a period Bartoli recorded this album's 10 tracks, she finished the project with Jean-Christophe Spinosi's Ensemble Matheus, a baroque group, in 2018, when she turned 52. I defy you to hear any trace of age in her voice.

Stereophile: the Next Generation
Today, Stereophile announces its first major Editorial changes in decades, with an expansion of the Editorial team and a change in leadership. Since 1986, through many generations of corporate ownership, John Atkinson has been the Editor and bedrock of the magazine. After nearly 33 1/3 years, JA has decided to relinquish daily responsibility for producing the magazine and as of April 1 will take on a new position: Technical Editor.

The USA's Favourite Hi-Fi Publication Announces Expansion Of Its Editorial Team
AVTech Media Americas announces key editorial changes at its premier hi-fi title, Stereophile. John Atkinson, Stereophile's Editor and guiding light for 33 years, will step down from this position following the publication of the June (coverdate) issue, while Jim Austin will formally assume the mantle of Stereophile's Editor from the July issue.

EMM Labs DV2 D/A processor
For years, I've attended audio shows at which the Canadian company EMM Labs, either on its own or in conjunction with Kimber Kable and IsoMike, has displayed some of the grandest, most impressive-sounding multichannel systems I've ever heard. When everything was aligned properly, as it was at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, the sound was breathtaking.

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