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."
From the September 2004 issue, John Atkinson revs up the Simaudio Moon Equinox CD player, explaining, "When Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield offered me their $2000 Moon Equinox player for inclusion in my irregular series of CD-player reviews, I didn't need to be asked twice."
Brian Damkroger ponders the Classé Omega monoblock power amplifier. "The Classé Omega is expensive, costing $25,000/pair," notes BD. But he also finds the amp a "drop-dead-gorgeous, massive, industrial-art chunk of aluminum and steel set off with a subtle mix of curves, contours, finishes, and textures." And then there is that Classé sound.
John Atkinson finds that the Dynaudio Contour 1.3 Mk.II loudspeaker—a completely overhauled iteration of the original Contour 1.3 Mk.I, released several years back—reveals details in recordings that most speakers smooth right over. JA reveals other details about the Contour in his review, complete with comments on the Contour 1.3 Special Edition from Sam Tellig.
For Listening #5, Art Dudley tackles audio moderation, Lowther Land, and the audio puritans spying on the nudists next door. AD also explains the statement, "Just because I have a job in the lunch line doesn't mean I have to keep serving the kid who shows off for his friends by spitting out his food."