What fascinates me about the High End are the electric personalities behind it. Manufacturers typically invest so much of themselves in the products they make. It's a divine madness—they do it because they have to. They're driven to it with a real sense of mission and excellence. But God forbid you criticize any of their offspring...ooo-la-la!
Montreal audiophiles are a hardy lot. Last winter, the city experienced the most devastating ice storm in its history, with power lines demaged to the point that almost the entire city was plunged in darkness. At the time of the 1998 Festival du Son et de l'Image (aka the Montreal Audio/Video Show), residents were still recovering from the effects of the storm. Did this calamity stop the show? No way! By all accounts, the 1998 show was the most successful in the event's 11-year history. I missed it myself, but I made sure that I wouldn't miss the next one.
Owners of Apogee Acoustics loudspeakers are apparently being left to twist in the wind by a/d/s/, the company that took over Apogee and subsequently shut it down (other than to apply the brand to a range of switch-mode power amplification modules). Service will no longer be available for the ribbon speakers, according to Apogee owner Matt Carnicelli.
First with CD players, then digital preamps, and recently amplifiers, digital technology has ground inexorably through the audio chain. Several companies have been developing ways to shorten the analog path or remove it entirely. Meridian's "digital" loudspeakers come to mind, as well as the amplifiers from manufacturers Spectron and TacT.
Among major American cities, San Francisco probably ranks near the top in culture per capita. It's therefore no accident that an Internet venture billing itself "the world's first website journal of classical music criticism" should have originated there. The site, San Francisco Classical Voice, is celebrating its first six months online.
When Pioneer commissioned Allen Boothroyd, a British industrial designer best known for his work with Meridian Audio, to come up with a unique appearance for its new surround-sound speaker system, they apparently knew what they didn't want: another boring set of square boxes. Nor did they want a speaker system that would blend into Ethan Allen surroundings.
Adcom is one of those companies that's just too consistent for its own good. Year after year, they put out well-engineered, fairly priced gear, while we audiophiles become jaded and almost forget they're there... You want a good-sounding CD player that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? [Yawn.] Well, you could try Adcom. Need a power amplifier with some sock that won't make your tweeters crawl down your ear? There's always Adcom.
The world is mourning the passing of Yehudi Menuhin. The 82-year-old violinist, conductor, author, educator, and humanitarian died of heart failure at Berlin's Martin Luther Hospital on Friday, March 7. He was in Berlin to conduct performances of Brahms and Mendelssohn by the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra.