Jimmy Martin, the self-styled "King of Bluegrass," died at a hospice near his home in Hermitage, TN on May 14. Martin had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2003, but the progress of the disease was slow, and the first of two hospice stays was cut short by an apparent recovery. Significantly, Martin never gave up his plans to perform at this year's Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in Bean Blossom, IN.
Another chapter has closed in the saga of the Dorian Group, but the story seems far from over. As we reported last month, Dorian had filed for bankruptcy and unsuccessfully attempted to auction its assets. The creditors and former owners of Reference Recordings were also nipping at Dorian's heels to get their label back.
Although Mark Levinson Audio Systems components continue to be produced, the company's headquarters moved in late 2003 from the Madrigal plant in Middletown, Connecticut, to Harman Specialty's facility in Bedford, Massachusetts. There ML shares manufacturing and sales space with Harman's other high-end lines, Revel and Lexicon.
This lapsed fan of electrostatic speakers finds it curious that, while MartinLogan is the predominant representative of this technology in the US, I had never auditioned an ML design in my home. I've enjoyed many Janszen tweeters, a KLH 9, an AcousTech X, Stax ELS-F81s, and I've dallied with Quad ESL-63s. But as dumb luck would have it, the first MartinLogan speaker to reach me, the new Montage, is a hybrid model.
One of my fondest memories of CES 2005 was spending a spare (well, technically, stolen) hour in T+A's room, listening to the German company's $4500 SACD-1245 CD/SACD player through T+A's $8500 V-10 integrated amplifier and a pair of Amphion's $1150/pair Helium two-way loudspeakers. Accordingly, when Quartet Marketing's Stirling Trayle called me to announce that he was in New York with the first sample of T+A's new tubed $9500 D-10 CD/SACD player, I was eager to hear it.
We Get Letters Department:Stereophile editor John Atkinson recently received the following email from Tony Fisch, the director of corporate development at MusicGiants: "MusicGiants (www.musicgiants.com) will be the first company to offer high-fidelity downloads from all record labels. MusicGiants uses Microsoft WMA 'lossless' codec (450kbps) to preserve 100% of the music. The result is music that sounds just like the artist intended. Finally, real music downloads up to 1100kbps. MusicGiants' downloads will be $1.29 per track, and $15.29 per album.
It's no wonder the public is confused about audio formats and sound quality, Consider claims such as the recent "major breakthrough" announcement concerning two audio technologies from Creative Technology, a company best known for making PC peripherals (most notably the Sound Blaster audio cards).