Music in the Round #70

While Dolby Atmos, which adds height information to both cinema soundtracks and domestic surround-sound reproduction has created a strong buzz in the mainstream market for home-theater A/V receivers and preamplifier-processors, it's too early to know what, if any, impact it will have on music-only recordings. I'm not sanguine about the prospects—as impressive as I've found Atmos to be for movies, the expansion of sources to the vertical plane would seem to be of little value for music performed on acoustic instruments. Moreover, it seems unlikely that mainstream record labels will adopt this format any more than they have embraced multichannel or even high-resolution audio. Sound of CD quality or below still dominates the recording industry, even if hi-rez downloads are a bright but tiny point of light.
Thu, 01/22/2015
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Listening #145

Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is: Never try.—Homer Simpson

Months ago, as we put together the most recent installment of "Recommended Components," Phillip Holmes, of Mockingbird Distribution, got in touch and asked if we would please remove from our list the Abis SA-1 tonearm, which Mockingbird distributes (and which I first wrote about in our March 2014 issue, footnote 1). As it turns out, Abis is making some changes to the arm, and Holmes didn't think it would be right to let the recommendation endure until we'd had a chance to try the new one.

Thu, 01/22/2015
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Audio Streams #4 Contacts

Wed, 01/21/2015
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Audio Streams #4 Page 2

Wed, 01/21/2015
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Audio Streams #4

Everything these days has a computer inside it, but you wouldn't call a car a computer. Same goes for music streamers—what we at AudioStream.com also call network players. While a network player has a computer inside, I don't consider it a computer because it's designed to do just one thing: play music.

A network player connects to your home network via Ethernet or WiFi, searches for network-attached storage (NAS), looks for the Internet to connect to streaming services, and serves up all of this music through an app that typically resides on a smartphone or tablet. The theory goes that, being purpose built, a dedicated network player should sound better than a full-blown computer, the latter's multitasking abilities degrading its ability to get us to dance, literally or figuratively.

Wed, 01/21/2015
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Aerial Acoustics' Michael Kelly Reveals Some Trade Secrets Page 2

Wed, 01/21/2015
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Aerial Acoustics' Michael Kelly Reveals Some Trade Secrets

Aerial Acoustics, the speaker firm that Michael Kelly conceived a quarter-century ago with David Marshall, is headquartered north of Boston, not far from the Merrimack River Valley region that once produced textiles and shoes by the trainload. Kelly, though, is quick to equate Aerial with far more distant firms. His industrial models are in Germany, where he lived for a while when his father, a US Army officer, was based there, and where he later spent time as a vice-president of a/d/s/, which had been founded by a German-born and -educated scientist, Godehard Günther, who died last October. They're small-to-midsize specialty firms that together constitute a category called Mittelstanden, and they're as accomplished as they are narrowly focused. They're artisan enterprises, and it's only natural that someone as dedicated as Kelly is to building state-of-the-art loudspeakers would embrace them as examples.
Wed, 01/21/2015
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On Newsstands Now: Our February Issue!

Canadian manufacturer Bryston is known for its amplifiers but it is a loudspeaker that gets the cover treatment this month. Kalman Rubinson likes what he heard from this mid-priced tower, while John Atkinson spends some of his valuable listening time with a speaker that costs less than $60/pair. “Affordable” is also the name of the game both with VPI’s Nomad record player and GoldenEar’s awesome Triton One speaker reviewed in this issue. But it is our annual “Records to Die For” that headlines this issue: our editors and writers review 54 albums, ranging from chamber music to psychedelia, that are essential listens. Check this 156-page issue out.
Sun, 01/18/2015
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CES 2015: A Major Opening, or Not Just Another Show

Photo: John Atkinson

On one level, this was just "another CES." The barrage of humanity, traffic, flashing lights, cigarette smoke, hawkers, gawkers, noise masquerading as music, and the ever-present Las Vegas Strip above was such that, as I entered the Venetian on the last day, all I could think of was the promise that, before the night was over I would be back amongst the trees, silence, and rejuvenating peace of our home...The Age of the Audiophile is far from over. As CES 2015 has made abundantly clear, the show may be over, but the fun has just begun.

Sat, 01/17/2015
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Set-Up Tips from the 2015 CES

For this year's CES show blog, in addition to reporting on new/interesting products, our plan was to ask manufacturers for tips on the installation and optimization of their products, echoing the how-to theme of the articles in Stereophile's 2015 Special "Recommended Components" issue, the cover of which is pictured above with John Atkinson. (This special issue will be available on newsstands and in bookstores next week.)
Sat, 01/17/2015
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