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Stereophile Jan 2020

Stereophile-January-2020

2nd Edition

Audio Research Reference 160S power amplifier
This, our February issue, is the first Stereophile issue to arrive during the year 2020, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of Audio Research--in my view one of the key events in the history of high-end audio.

2020 Jitter Measurements
Even as digital/analog processors were becoming a hot product category in the early 1990s, audiophiles were also learning that timing uncertainties in the AES/EBU and S/PDIF serial datastreams--jitter--would compromise any improvement in sound quality offered by these DACs.

Recording of February 2020: Farinelli
When I first heard mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli in person some 29 years ago, at her West Coast debut in the "Cal Performances" series at Berkeley's Hertz Hall, she was just 24 years old.

Records to Die For 2020
It's 3am. You're lying in bed. Something woke you up--you don't know what it was. You pull back the covers, get up, and tiptoe out to your listening room. There, standing by your record rack, thumbing through your prized LPs, is a man in black (no, not Johnny Cash--a different man in black).

Current Events
My first exposure to current-mode phono preamplification was maybe a dozen years ago, when such products were new. The one I received, though nicely packaged, was not ready for prime time. I never smelled smoke, but I never heard sound, either: If it wasn't DOA, it was at a minimum DSAA--Dead Soon After Arrival.

Audio Research VT-150 monoblock power amplifier
At the 1992 Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Audio Research showed a line of reference products that represented the pinnacle of founder William Z. Johnson's life work as an amplifier designer.

Audio Research LS5 preamplifier & BL2 input controller
From the front, the LS5 looks identical to Audio Research's popular LS2: two knobs on either side of the Audio Research nameplate, and a row of toggle switches along the bottom. But that's where the similarities end; the LS5 is a completely different animal from the LS2, or even the balanced LS2B.

Gramophone Dreams 32: RAAL-Requisite SR1a headphones
ell me now: When you're there in the scene, watching Lord Voldemort chase Han Solo through the Cave of the Klan Bear, how often do you notice that the sounds you're experiencing are being pumped at you from five black-painted room boundaries, while the flickering-light images approach from only one?

1st Edition

Bill Frisell: New Ideas in Old Songs
Of the celebrated triumvirate of John Scofield, Pat Metheny, and Bill Frisell--the most original and influential jazz guitarists of the past 50 years--none is more distinctive, or self-effacing, than Frisell, a true changeling of the guitar. Frisell is a jazz-based musician, but his music crisscrosses genres, and his guitar playing isn't bound to or limited by a specific technique.

Q Acoustics Concept 300 loudspeaker
When I performed the measurements of the Q Acoustics Concept 500 loudspeaker to accompany Thomas J. Norton's review in March 2019, I was impressed by what I found. The floorstanding Concept 500 offers a high level of audio engineering excellence for its price of $5999.99/pair.

PS Audio Stellar Phono phono preamplifier
We usually save the question of value for the end of a review, but this time it's worth mentioning up front, if only because PS Audio has been in the news lately. Late last August, the company announced they were switching from a traditional dealer network to a factory-direct sales model.

Listening #205: John Fahey, Naim NAC 32-5, Naim NAP 250
During my first attempt at college, I lived in a dormitory where my next- door neighbors had an informal trade in pharmaceuticals; their most ardent customers were my neighbors across the hall. One of the latter was a fellow named Pete, a good-natured guy whose heavy rotation list was, at the time, topped by John Fahey's The Voice of the Turtle.

Immersive Audio at AES
The buzz at the 2019 Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention in New York was immersive audio, as it has been for the last several years. I witnessed developments that may have a big impact on the future of multichannel audio.

Some Joy for the New Decade
As the decade draws to a close, many of us choose to gather with people we love so that together we can celebrate and give thanks for our blessings.

Recording of January 2020: Munich 2016
I just measured the Keith Jarrett shelf in my CD library and it's 25" long: 51 CDs and CD sets. But when I played the new Munich 2016, I felt like I was rediscovering him after an unexplained absence.

Elac Carina BS243.4 loudspeaker
No one thinks I have a good memory, but I can easily remember a few sentences from my March 2016 review of Elac's Debut B6 loudspeaker. The sentence I remember best: "I might be able to forgive you for liking Paul more than John, George, or Ringo, but if you don't grasp the genius of Mel Torme, only God can save you."

Benchmark LA4 line preamplifier
Upon hearing about this new product from Benchmark Media, the LA4, my mind turned to Laurindo Almeida, Bud Shank, Ray Brown, and Shelly Manne--the original L.A. Four jazz quartet. No such association was intended, however: the "4" merely designates change from previous Benchmark designs.

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