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Stereophile May 2011, 2nd Edition

Stereophile magazine May 2011

Bill Frisell's Sign of Life
Bill Frisell's Sign of Life (Savoy Jazz) is one of the most gorgeous new albums I've heard in a while. It's in the tradition of his "Americana" albums (Disfarmer; History, Mystery; Ghost Town; Gone, Just Like a Train; This Land), but here he burrows deeper into the roots. There are traces of folk, bluegrass, minimalism, western-blues, as well as certain modes and improvisational cadences of jazz.

Totem Dreamcatcher loudspeaker
The two-way, biwirable, rear-ported Dreamcatcher is designed and manufactured in Canada; its drive-units are designed by Totem, but made and assembled in Europe. The 1" titanium-dome tweeter, manufactured by German Acoustik, is mated to a 4" Scan-Speak woofer. Totem founder Vince Bruzzese feels very strongly about sourcing his drivers in the West. In the past, he got his small woofers from Peerless in Denmark, but switched to Scan-Speak when Peerless started manufacturing in China.

Vincent Audio C-60 CD player
Should an audio component accurately reproduce the signal it's fed, or should it evoke the sound and feel of live music? Accuracy or musicality? This question has been at the heart of high-end audio since its inception. Back then, the question often took the form of the tubes-vs-transistors debate. Proponents of solid-state pointed to the far superior measured performance of transistor designs, and claim that they thus more accurately reproduced the input signal.

Attention Screen Takes Flight at Yamaha
How am I to convince music lovers that this CD is markedly different from Attention Screen's first two live CDs? The question kept running through my head as I marveled at the breadth and maturity of Attention Screen's remarkable improvisations during a pre-concert sound check in the Piano Salon of Yamaha Artist Services, Inc. (YASI), at 689 Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Manhattan.

Room Treatments
I’d like to give you a tour of my listening room. Please excuse the mess. I’ve been evaluating cables. Because all the new LPs had started to take over the apartment, I was forced to do some rearranging. Over the last couple of weekends, I’ve managed to shape some order into my listening room. And order is very important to me. When my home is messy, my soul feels messy; and, when my soul feels messy, I become grouchy, lethargic, and I can’t get anything done.

Audiophile Essentials
Henry Rollins: Audiophile. In a blog for the LA Weekly, Henry Rollins describes the pleasure of listening to music through his Wilson Audio Sophia 3 loudspeakers. Photo: Maura Lanahan. It’s tough being an audiophile. Tell someone you like high-quality sound and they might look at you like you’re an alien. We forget that hi-fi used to be the coolest endeavor in town.

B&W 800 Diamond loudspeaker
As B&W's 800 Series has evolved, Stereophile has reported on its progress. Lewis Lipnick reviewed the Matrix 801 Series 2 in 1987, and Wes Phillips wrote about the Nautilus 801 in 1999. I reviewed the B&W 800 Signature in 2002 and the 802D in 2005. This is getting to be a habit.

Head-Direct HiFiMan HM-602 Digital Audio Player
Head-Direct's HiFiMan HM-602 is the second in a growing line of perfectionist-quality portable music players designed by Fang Bian, a 31-year-old audiophile and student of nanotechnology at the City University of New York's Hunter College. Bian's first HiFiMan design was the larger, heavier, more versatile HM-801 ($790; see my review here). In building the HM-602, Fang sacrificed the '801's removable amplifier module, 15V rechargeable battery, and coaxial input, thus creating a smaller, more portable product.

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