How many of you out there know what a Nuvistor is? Michael Fremer takes a look at this unique device and its application in the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 300 power amplifier. "Enclosing its vacuum in metal rather than glass, the Nuvistor was designed as a long-lived, highly linear device with low heat, low microphony, and low noise—all of which it needed to have any hope of competing in the brave new solid-state world emerging when RCA introduced it in the 1960s." Musical Fidelity decided to use the Nuvistor in a limited-run amplifier, and therein lies an interesting tale, which Michael skillfully uncovers.
Jonathan Scull takes a gander at the dCS Purcell D/D converter, and tries to make sonic sense out of the merits of upsampling. Scull writes, "So while the true differences between upsampling and oversampling remain murky, my pleasant mission is to report on the sound of the Purcell and compare it to the latest version of the pro-audio version, the 972."
From the current issue, Wes Phillips and John Atkinson tell the story of Against the Dying of the Light: the Second Cantus CD. Phillips sets out to find the true genesis of this astonishing new recording from the Minnesota-based male-voice choir, while JA fills in the technical details.
Anthony H. Cordesman and John Atkinson tackle the classic Vandersteen 2C loudspeaker in a review from 1986. "Whenever I think of cone speaker systems, I think of three brand names: Snell, Thiel, and Vandersteen," says Cordesman, prompting JA to add, "I must say that I just don't understand how Richard Vandersteen can sell the 2Ci at a hair under $1200/pair and expect to make any money."
With SACD and DVD-Audio rumbling off in the distance, is the high-end CD player dead? Michael Fremer takes a listen to the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 3D CD player and reports that the company decided it was "better to concentrate efforts on trying to optimize the sound of the two billion CDs already in play than divert company resources into developing technology and products aimed at an uncertain digital future and an unsettled customer base."
Describing the Audio Research Reference Two preamplifier, Michael Fremer writes "Audio Research's first 21st-century, audiophile-quality line-stage preamplifier combines retro-tech vacuum-tube amplification and power-supply circuitry with innovative, remote-controlled gain, balance, tape monitoring, and signal routing. The price is also 21st-century: $9995." Worth every penny? Fremer offers his assessment.
Flat frequency reponse in an audio component is good, right? Well, maybe not always, explains J. Gordon Holt in Down With Flat! JGH: "Many times in past years I have been impressed by the incredible flatness of the measured high-end response of some speakers. . . . In every such case, I have been equally amazed at how positively awful those loudspeakers sounded—so tipped-up at the high end that I could not enjoy listening to them."
Kalman Rubinson gives a long listen to the 1998 Stereophile Editor's Choice winner, the Z-Systems rdp-1 digital preamplifier. Like many audiophiles, Kal eschewed tone controls in favor of the purist approach—until he met the rdp-1. As he puts it: "Now, the time has come for DSP to give the audiophile some powerful tools to tailor frequency response and to correct faults in the recording."