Stephen Mejias
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Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Aug 09, 2011 8 comments
Mirror Mirror, the third album from Glasgow band Sons & Daughters, opens with a single note from a vintage synth. Barely audible at first, it grows and grows and rises vertically in the soundstage—for 15 seconds it grows: a sharp white light in an otherwise dark room—building tension, warning of some sort of danger, as it goes. This high-pitched note is met first by stomping feet, then by clapping hands—single file and far, far off, but growing in size and intensity—before finally being joined by the voices of Adele Bethel and Scott Paterson, singing, strangely singing, barely singing at all, more chanting, intoning, repeating, casting:
Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Aug 08, 2011 0 comments
Dan Schmalle and Luke Manley smile in the background, while Brian Damkroger and I sit in the engineers' seats. Photo by Philip O'Hanlon.

On the first day of the California Audio Show, I heard some of the most beautiful music in a room hosted by Acoustic Analysis, The Tape Project, and Bottlehead, featuring a system made of Focal Diablo Utopia loudspeakers, Focal SW1000 Be subwoofers, a VTL TL-6.5 Signature line preamp and MB-450 Signature III monoblock power amplifiers, Siltech cables, and a Bottlehead-modified Otari tape machine. The music had such a smooth, effortless quality to it, unlike anything else I heard at the show: The sound of tape. It was an awesome listening experience.

On the following evening, I got to visit the mastering studio where the team from The Tape Project does its work.

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Aug 05, 2011 4 comments
For awhile, we were at our wit’s end, feeling buried alive, but everything is okay now: We just finished shipping our massive October issue to pre-press. At 212 pages, it’s our largest issue since October 2008.

We’ll see the proofs on Monday. Until then, we can relax.

To help us do that, we have Cass McCombs’ “Buried Alive,” from the achingly beautiful Wit’s End.

This is one of Jaime's favorites, and Jaime is one of mine.

Cass McCombs' Wit's End is out now on Domino Records. The album is available on CD, LP, and cassette. (Yes, cassette!)

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Aug 04, 2011 4 comments
This is absolutely outstanding. Please watch and listen as sound expert Julian Treasure offers strategies for re-tuning our ears.

Via TED. (Thanks for the link, SP.)

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Aug 02, 2011 10 comments
The subject of the e-mail was “boobsheadphones.” Inside, a simple question (“Can you tell me if these are real?”) was followed by a link to an interesting YouTube video.
Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Aug 02, 2011 4 comments
I don’t really know what to say about this, so I’ll just quote the press release:

The role of an High End amplifier is to reproduce the music, all the music.

Amateur of beautiful often unique parts, GoldAmp is the Only One. An exceptional musical know-how. Celebrate interpreter who knows how to be forgot. A magnificent story which can be told by moments of complicity in the emotion. Reunion with classicals works henceforth dear to our hearts.

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jul 28, 2011 6 comments
I’ve listened to no album this year more than I’ve listened to Wild Beasts’ Smother. For that matter, I’ve enjoyed no album more this year than Wild Beasts’ Smother. It courses slowly and deliberately through colors and moods of pain, longing, love, and desire—all that good stuff—and it does so with such a gentle touch, a delicious smoothness, a constant, lulling pulse.

It pours from your loudspeakers and into the room.

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jul 27, 2011 7 comments
I went to Other Music yesterday and picked up a few records:
Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jul 20, 2011 4 comments
I received a very kind note from Owen McCafferty, who, along with Ben Meadors, hopes to travel to Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York City, meeting vinyl collectors, record store owners, and other vinyl enthusiasts, to discuss why vinyl is important. The duo will document their journey and publish a book detailing their experiences.

A week ago, when we first caught up with Owen and Ben, they were about $2000 away from the funds needed to support their Kickstarter project.

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jul 14, 2011 19 comments
Clearly, more and more people—young and old, male and female—are choosing to enjoy their favorite music on vinyl, a decidedly old-fashioned format. Every time I walk into a record store, I see more vinyl. And more people. The new record bins are growing, the used record bins are growing, LPs are taking up space previously occupied by CDs, and people are shopping enthusiastically, getting in between me and all that precious vinyl. But why?
Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jul 14, 2011 7 comments
The August 2011 issue of Stereophile is now on newsstands. On the cover, we feature the lovely Voxativ Ampeggio.

Made in Germany and imported by NYC’s newest audio salon, Audioarts (1 Astor Place), the beautiful Ampeggio uses a single proprietary 7" dual-cone driver with a large, convex surround, designed to accommodate a much greater excursion than the typical Lowther driver. The complex cabinet, designed and voiced in collaboration with Schimmel Pianos, incorporates a series of facet boards for optimal radiation resistance and houses a twice-folded horn, nearly 9-feet long from throat to mouth. The Ampeggio offered the usual Lowther traits of transient speed, spatial presence, dramatic ease, and physical impact, but added deep, well-controlled bass and excellent soundstaging. “A high-efficiency, single-driver loudspeaker for which no excuses need be made,” said AD. JA was impressed by the Voxativ’s superbly flat in-room response and genuine 98dB sensitivity.

What? Who said that? Excuse me, sorry, sorry: I’ve been writing “Recommended Components” blurbs for the upcoming October issue.

Never mind that. We’re talking about the August issue. It’s now on newsstands. This is important:

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jul 08, 2011 1 comments
Lately, when I’ve been hungry for some good, uncomplicated, headshaking, soul-lifting songwriting, the kind that drops from the summer sky like a sudden shower and leaves a rainbow in its wake, I’ve turned to Slave Ambient, the sophomore release from The War On Drugs.

Recorded over the last four years in front man Adam Granduciel’s home studio in Philadelphia, Jeff Ziegler’s Uniform Recording, and Echo Mountain in Asheville, NC, the album is a drive to the ocean, windows down, head back, shades on. Acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizers, drums, and Granduciel’s voice, rambling and drifting and howling, together recalling heat waves, long days, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jul 08, 2011 10 comments
It was just a matter of time, I suppose. Almost exactly a year after Rega replaced their popular P1 record player with the upgraded RP1, the British company has introduced the new RP3.
Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jul 07, 2011 9 comments
Ladies love the Linkski Design Exposed loudspeakers.

At pretty much the same time (just around noon on Wednesday), five lovely women sent me pretty much the same e-mail:

“Have you seen these?” they asked. “I want them,” they said.

I had not seen them, but they are beautiful. We can learn from this. There must be a lesson hidden here. But what? Girls like concrete? Girls like it raw and rough?

Let’s read from the press materials. Perhaps we’ll find some clues. The designer, 29-year old Shmuel Linski, says:

Stephen Mejias
Stephen Mejias Jun 30, 2011 12 comments
Throw your hands in the air!

In our July issue, I open “The Entry Level” by discussing some recent nights spent with my dear friends, Natalie and Nicole, dancing and drinking and laughing at our favorite local bar, Lucky 7, in downtown Jersey City. I go on to discuss the loneliness I sometimes feel when the night is over and the time has come to walk back home, beneath the pale yellow light of streetlamps and through the neon-puddled streets.

I know that sounds sad and all, but, come on, I’m writing about music. I’m trying to be evocative, emotional, musical. When I go on to mention that Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” plays over and over in my mind as I walk past Hollywood Fried Chicken, I’m obviously being silly, right? I’m mixing pathos and absurdity to create a fun and interesting read.

Everything I write is true, to some extent, but everything is not necessarily the stuff that makes up reality. I take scenes from my life and bend them, distort and manipulate them, leaving room for insinuation and ambiguity, in order to create compelling stories. I attempt to relate those stories to music and hi-fi. I do it for my own pleasure, and I hope it brings you pleasure, too.

(Don't worry: The stuff I write about sound, however, is all as accurate and straightforward as I can possibly make it.)

Anyway, I think it was my July issue column that got some people talking over at the Audio Asylum, the popular online forum for hi-fi enthusiasts. Regor Ladan started the tread. He wrote:

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