Even though she calls her new band, 4x4, a "small" group, it's a big band—almost too big for the stage of the Knitting Factory on the night of October 11, 2000, as it makes its first American appearance. Bley's piano is so far to stage left, she has to lean against the wall and stoop under a hanging monitor speaker to address the audience. Four music stands dominate the rest of the apron—her front line of tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet, and trombone stand shoulder to shoulder, blocking the audience's view of Larry Goldings and his Hammond B3, drummer Billy Drummond, and bassist Steve Swallow, who stands 15' back and on a riser. If she'd showed up with her 17-piece band, they'd have had to have hung the horn sections from the rafters, like the sound system.
Writer Brian Damkroger had always wanted "a really good, big solid-state amp" to match his Magnepan loudspeakers. So when the Classé CAM 350 monoblock power amplifiers arrived, it seemed like at least one of his dreams had finally come true. But was it a match made in heaven? Damkroger lays out the details in his January, 2001 review.
Several rooms at the Alexis Park featured SACD front ends, but as we moved around the floor of the main LV Convention Center, we heard and saw a lot more about DVD-Audio than SACD. Denon showed their DVD-3300 DVD-A/V player, which began shipping a few months back for $1199. No new models were on the floor, but the Denon rep suggested that something new will be appearing later this year. Pioneer was promising a universal DVD-A/V/SACD/CD machine in the future, and Yamaha was also showing a new DVD-Audio machine, the DVDS1200, in their booth.
Audiophiles on a budget will be pleased to learn that not everything on display at Alexis Park requires a second mortgage. We were particularly impressed by the Audes model 037 loudspeaker, of similar size and sound to Revel's excellent Performa F-30. At $1200/pair, the Audes offers extraordinary value. All the company's products, including the drivers, are made in Estonia for export to North and South America, Western (and parts of Eastern) Europe, and Asia. The company has yet to establish a dealer network in nearby Russia because of economic uncertainties there, according to an Audes executive, who cited Russian prejudice against Eastern European products as another discouraging factor.
Charlie Lourie, longtime jazz recording industry executive and co-founder of the enthusiast-oriented Mosaic Records, died December 31, 2000 from cardiac arrest, a complication of the rare viral disease scleroderma, from which he had suffered for the last three years. He was 60.
My review of the Audio Research VTM200 monoblock power amplifier elsewhere in this issue drove it home to me big time: Cables are important, and even more important is getting good cable advice from someone who knows and understands the gear you're using.
Evolutionary. That's the word that comes to mind after strolling about the Alexis Park, home of Specialty Audio exhibits at the 2001 Consumer Electronics Show. The revolutionary stuff usually makes its debut at the Las Vegas Convention Center; here, in the high-end halls, we find manufacturers and designers more interested in perfecting existing technology.
The largest of six divisions of Royal Philips Electronics, Philips Consumer Electronics Mainstream intends to push the audio industry in several directions this year, according to a presentation made by the division's CEO Guy Demuynck at a January 5 press conference in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Long a dominant force in research and development, as well as in marketing consumer electronics, Philips has great hopes for every segment of the audio market. 2000 was a record year for the company, Demuynck said, and 2001 should be very good as well.
I walked through my local Best Buy recently and didn't see one stereo receiver. Boomboxes, table radios, surround-sound gear, and computer speakers were everywhere. But the hi-fi staple of the 1960s and '70s—the plain-vanilla two-channel receiver—was not to be seen. Even if one or two were lurking there, the fact remains that high-quality two-channel audio is now so disconnected from consumer electronics that it's hardly at the "high end" of anything at all. It's a world unto itself.