LATEST ADDITIONS

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Stereophile Staff Posted: Feb 05, 2015 23 comments
Are you trying to decide between high-resolution downloads and LP reissues? In the market for a hi-rez portable audio player? A zealot bravely fighting back in the Loudness Wars? Change is inevitable, and in the audiophile world it's the spice that keeps things interesting—there's always a new remastering or idea product just around the corner. Minds and tastes, too, can change. In answer to the eternal question "What are you listening to now?," we present the 2015 edition of "Records to Die For," our annual album of snapshots of the minds and ears of Stereophile's staff.
Herb Reichert Posted: Feb 05, 2015 11 comments
The more integrated amps I review, the more I want to tell manufacturers: Please, skip the DAC, omit the phono stage, lose the Bluetooth—just give me the best sound quality, and the most vivid, most transparent line stage and control center (with pre-out) you can design. Make sure this line stage has appropriate gain, and high input and low output impedances. Give me at least four balanced and single-ended inputs. Make sure the volume, balance, and tone controls are durable and degrade the sound as little as possible. That way, I can add a DAC, server, phono stage, or Bluetooth, of any quality level, any time I choose.
Robert Deutsch Posted: Feb 04, 2015 17 comments
I reviewed GoldenEar Technology's first speaker, the Triton Two ($2999.98; all prices per pair), in February 2012. It was and is an outstandingly good speaker, but I thought then that if GoldenEar would apply the same expertise to the design of a speaker with fewer cost constraints, the results could be better still. Sandy Gross, president and CEO of GoldenEar, must have been thinking along similar lines when he named the speaker Triton Two, leaving One for a more ambitious future product.
Robert J. Reina Posted: Feb 04, 2015 3 comments
I wish I'd had a VPI Nomad when I was in college. I was in a fraternity, and for most of my time there I had to rely on others' sound systems to play my music. My sophomore and junior years, some freshmen were rotated through my room, and several of them had nice sound systems and were accommodating about letting me play my music. When I wanted to really crank it up, I visited the stoners, who had the best systems and were happy to spin my collections of King Crimson and ELP, assuming I could get them to stop listening to Jefferson Starship for five minutes (footnote 1).
Kalman Rubinson Posted: Jan 30, 2015 7 comments
Readers of Stereophile need no introduction to Bryston, a venerable Canadian electronics manufacturer known for the quality and reliability of its amplifiers and preamplifiers, and for its unique 20-year warranty. In the past few years, Bryston has ventured into digital audio with notable success, producing D/A converters, multichannel preamplifier-processors, and music-file players. While an evolution from analog into digital audio would seem logical, their most recent expansion, into loudspeakers, is more surprising. Apparently, James Tanner, Bryston's vice president, designed a speaker for his own use, and it turned out well enough that the company decided to put it into production.
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Robert Baird Posted: Jan 30, 2015 5 comments
There’s a recent recording project that I have to say exemplifies that hard as it is to believe, there are still human hearts beating in the biz.
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Robert Baird Posted: Jan 30, 2015 2 comments
If you want to complain that young rock bands have no sense of the past; no melodies; no hooks; no hope then what do you call a young band with the sense and taste to take a freaky masterpiece like Zep III as a model for their debut? Weak? Lazy? Unworthy of a listen?
Robert Baird Posted: Jan 29, 2015 8 comments
For famously civilized and jaded New York City, the crowd at the resplendent Beacon Theatre is uncommonly involved. Loud requests, many in tangled liquor dialects, boom from the balcony:

"'REDNECK FRIEND'!"

Onstage, Jackson Browne smiles and shakes his head.

"'COCAINE'!"

"I could do that, but it would have to be the rehab version." [crowd roars]

"'FOR A DANCER'!"

Oh, wait—I'm yelling that.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 29, 2015 0 comments
Do you travel? Commute, perhaps? Just like to listen to music privately around the house? No matter—the Astell&Kern AK240 is the luxury choice in high-resolution portable music players (footnote 1). It even comes with a lovely leather case that beautifully cradles its angular beauty. The AK240 can play all of your PCM files, up to a resolution of 24-bit/192kHz, as well as DXD and single- and double-rate DSD, natively, and can do so from its internal storage, from a microSD card, or from your computer via WiFi or a wired connection. It can also function as a DAC or USB-to-TosLink converter. I'm not so sure there's much left wanting.
Robert Levine Posted: Jan 28, 2015 Published: Feb 01, 2015 0 comments
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen
Greer Grimsley, Wotan; Alwyn Mellor, Brünnhilde; Stefan Vinke, Siegfried; Stuart Skelton, Siegmund; Stephanie Blythe, Fricka, Waltraute; Margaret Jane Wray, Sieglinde; Richard Paul Fink, Alberich; Dennis Petersen, Mime; Wendy Bryn Hammer, Freia, Gutrune; Daniel Sumegi, Fafner, Hagen; Andrea Silvestrelli, Fasolt, Hunding; Markus Brück, Gunther; Mark Schowalter, Loge; others; Seattle Symphony Orchestra & Seattle Opera Chorus, Asher Fisch
Avie AV2313 (14 CDs). 2014. Evans Mirageas, prod.; Rick Fisher, mastering. DDD. TT: 14:35:33
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Judging from the pictures in the booklet accompanying these 14 CDs, Seattle's "green" Ring was quite beautiful. What we have to go by is audio only, but even without the visuals, it's very impressive.

Is there a movement toward de-monumentalizing the Ring? The Frankfurt Opera's (on Oehms), recently released on CDs and DVDs (different performances), is similar: the accent is on the behavior and interactions of those who inhabit the world of the Ring. The orchestral emphases are on transparency, not bombast.

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