CBGB, the legendary Bowery club frequently cited as the birthplace of America's punk movement, is the latest in a growing list of urban nightclubs getting priced out of the neighborhoods they helped create. According to a February 11 article in The Village Voice, CBGB's lease will end in August, and its landlord wants to see the club's monthly rent increase from $20,000 to $40,000.
One of the hot items audiophiles were able to score at last month's 2005 CES was a hybrid SACD that Ray Kimber was handing out. Labelled IsoMike Tests 2005A, the disc is beautifully packaged and sports dozens of recorded snippets of vocal music, string quartet, piano, marching band, orchestra, blank pistol, and a local janitor.
"So what kind of music do you listen to?" I heard myself asking Leif Mårten Olofsson, designer of the Coltrane, Coltrane Alto, Duke, Miles II, Mingus III, and Monk loudspeakers, before I could take it back. The small company, headquartered in Göteborg, Sweden, where Volvos are made, has been building and marketing loudspeakers for the past six years, though Olofsson confesses he's been building them for 30 years, ever since he was 12.
The "Reference" designation is thrown around a lot in the world of perfectionist audio. It's most often used to elevate the top of the line to a higher perceived status. Occasionally, as in the case of the VTL TL-7.5 line stage that I reviewed in October 2003, it genuinely denominates a component that is clearly superior to its competition in most aspects of performance.
My first reaction to the Prima Luna Prologue One was based solely on looks: For $1095, I might not have been disappointed had it sounded no better than a Bose Wave Radio. Its casework straddles the breach between vintage and modern in a way that little else does, at any price. The dark gray-blue finish, hand-rubbed to a tactile gloss, wouldn't look out of place on an Alfa GTV (the new one, which resembles a drop of oil). And for the first time in my experience, a high-end audio manufacturer has figured out a way to make a protective tube cage easy to remove and replace: with banana plugs and sockets. Why couldn't one of the high-price American brands have figured that out?
How times have changed. When Krell first debuted its KAV-300i, in 1996, it risked having people question its high-end credibility simply for having considered producing an integrated amplifier, much less an affordable one. After all, Krell was the company best known for massively overbuilt—and, many claimed, overpriced—power amplifiers that were uniquely capable of driving speakers of ridiculously low impedance. In Martin Colloms' review of the 300i in the July 1996 Stereophile, he asked the question on everyone's minds: "Is Krell risking its reputation?"
EMI drops: The EMI Group, the British music company, sent its stock prices plummeting 16% with its announcement last week that sales for the fiscal year ending next month would be as much as 9% below those of last year.
At last week's International Solid-State Circuits Conference, IBM, Toshiba, and Sony unveiled details of their new Cell processor chip—a device that The New York Times proclaimed would create "a new digital computing ecosystem that includes Hollywood, the living room and high-performance scientific and engineering markets."
On the face of it, 99¢ per track low-rez music downloads don't seem like a good deal. For the same price, or maybe even less, you can get an entire CD of the same music, along with a booklet, and without the Digital Rights Management crippleware that hobbles paid downloads.