CHARLES LLOYD: The Water is Wide Charles Lloyd, tenor saxophone; Brad Mehldau, piano; John Abercrombie, guitar; Larry Grenadier, Derek Oleszkiewicz (one track), bass; Billy Higgins, drums ECM 1734 (CD). 2000. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Michael C. Ross, eng. AAD. TT: 68:29 Performance ***** Sonics *****
Convergence. There, I've said it. I swore I wasn't going to use the "C" word, but when you're faced with writing about a product that smashes the boundaries between component categories as completely as the CardDeluxe does, you have little choice.
I left you last month 104 miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico, heading east on I-40 accompanied by a dog and two cats, with 1946 miles to go to reach Stereophile's new editorial home, New York City. To cut a long story short, I did arrive in New York (covered in dog and cat hair). After a nerve-wracking delay, so did our furniture. We will be living out of boxes for a while chez Atkinson, but that's a mere inconvenience compared with the Great Adventure of setting up a new listening room.
Audio Research's first 21st-century, audiophile-quality line-stage preamplifier combines retro-tech vacuum-tube amplification and power-supply circuitry with innovative, remote-controlled gain, balance, tape monitoring, and signal routing. The price is also 21st-century: $9995. As in ARC's Reference phono section, the Reference Two's pair of vertically mounted circuit boards results in a single, relatively tall chassis.
One of the industry's most ambitious digital distribution programs has been announced by Warner Music Group. In November, WMG will make more than 1000 albums and singles available as downloads through several online music retailers, using RealNetworks' RealPlayer software. Music fans in the US and Canada are the target audience for the download program, according to a September 11 press release.
Last week, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) released numbers indicating that factory audio sales (as opposed to sales through to consumers) for the first six months of 2000 have surpassed all previous mid-year dollar sales. The CEA adds that the $3.85 billion in sales to dealers put audio sales 12% ahead of the same time last year.
Michael Fremer writes, "I've never heard a pair of the Italian Sonus Faber speakers I didn't like. What I've never liked was the US price: too high. And then you have to put them on costly stands." In his review of the floorstanding Sonus Faber Concerto Grand Piano loudspeaker, Fremer grapples with the price/performance ratio of this $3500/pair speaker and answers the important audiophile question: Enough magic for the money?
Editor's Note: This is Part Four of a six-part series from reader Hervé Delétraz of Switzerland, who is chronicling the development of his DIY (do-it-yourself) audio amplifier. Part One is here, Part Two is here, and Part Three is here.
With new audio formats such as SACD and DVD-Audio hitting the market, audiophiles will soon have more choices than ever for playing back music. But along with all of these options comes the hard part: choosing which path to take and hoping not to be dead-ended, as Beta video owners were years back. For consumers, the promised universal audio players (expected to play DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, CD, and SACD) will reduce the risk significantly.