Ray Lombardi's international set-up was getting much better sound from JBL's 1400 Array ($11,500/pair) than at the first California Audio Show (CAS) a few months back. In fact, Diana Krall's semi-lethargic rendition of "Let's Face the Music and Dance" sounded much less doped-up than it did when I last heard it at the Aurum Cantus factory in China. The presentation featured crisp and sweet highs, and a natural midrange. Neither Sound Applications power treatment (model not specified) nor ASC Tube Traps could totally tighten up the speaker's soft bottom, but I don't recall it sounding very tight at CAS either.
The fourth round of RCA Red Seal Living Stereo hybrid SACD/CDs hit the literal and virtual shelves on February 7. [Kalman Rubinson wrote about the first batch here.—Ed.] Remastered from the original two- and three-channel master tapes using the DSD process, these 10 new SACDs present the material exactly as it was recorded, without equalization, filtering, or other tampering.
Driven by the Triode Corporation Japan's TRV-M300SE 20W 300B parallel single-ended monoblocks ($4199/pair) and TRV-4SE tube preamp ($1799), and fed by a very-slow-to-cue dCS SACD player, the Cain&Cain Wall-O-Sound (W3) ($3300), designed by Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio, did a superb job reproducing the true timbre of a piano. Throwing a huge soundstage, with wonderful height and depth, this little system had me writing "really beautiful" in my notebook.
It was 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. As Day Two was coming to a close, this sleep-deprived audiophile determined to end the day on a high note. Ah, the Cary/Dali room. That's sure to be a winner. Thank God, it was.
Starbucks, look out! ArkivMusic is on your tail. Just in time for the holidays, the Internet's major classical-music site has teamed up with the Canadian Brass to create ArkivMusic's first new recording, Christmas Tradition: Music for Brass and Organ. The CD, recorded for the Canadian Brass's own label, Opening Day (ODR 7345), includes music by composers who, over the years, have written some of the ensemble's favorite music and arrangements.
So new that they don't yet have a price or production facility, the Red Rock Synergy speakers did wonders with Ron Carter's double bass. On the superb Chesky CD, Entre Amigos, every single note of Carter's bass was perfectly controlled, perfectly pitched, and absolutely lifelike, with not an iota of boom. The great bossa nova singer Rosa Passos was similarly treated with the utmost respect and love. The speaker features a 15" dynamic woofer, crossed over at 600Hz; a Tractrix horn-loaded magnetic-planar midrange that crosses over at 8kHz; and a ribbon tweeter of unspecified origin. Designed by Gordon Maughan, the Synergy speakers made a fitting complement to the Red Rock Audio Renaissance SE 50W triode amplifiers ($29,500/pair), Wadia 781i CD/SACD player with digital input ($14,950), and Red Rock Audio cabling. Oh how I wish Carter's bass sounded anywhere near this good on my own speakers. Here's hoping Al Stiefel and Gordon Maughan find someone to build these babies soon.
With his Renaissance Edition components, Red Wine Audio’s Vinnie Rossi says he aimed to fuse traditional and modern design elements. The battery-powered Signature 16 integrated amplifier ($1995) has a beautiful real wood chassis and a chrome top plate held in place with simple thumbscrews for easy access to the tubes inside. The amp is rated to deliver 16Wpc into 8 ohms.
Reference Recordings, the Bay Area-based audiophile label founded by John T. "Tam" Henderson in 1976, has adopted a unique approach to computer and music server playback. Later this month, the company will begin to market what they call "HRx" discs. Incompatible with conventional optical disc players, these are data discs containing WAV files intended for playback on computer-based music servers. Each HRx is a digit-for-digit copy of an original Reference Recordings 24-bit/176.4kHz digital master. The format is slated for audition during this week's CES. It can be heard in the TAD, FIM, and Magico rooms at the Venetian, as well as in On a Higher Note's Vivid/Luxman suite at the Mirage. Actual HRx discs will be available soon thereafter.
In response to demand from its international customer base, Reference Recordings will release its first two LPs in 200-gram deluxe pressings on September 2. With disc mastering done at half-speed to insure cleaner reproduction and extended high frequency response, RR begins its new vinyl series with two highly prized analogue recordings from its extensive catalog. Dick Hyman From the Age of Swing arrives as a two-LP, 45rpm set, and Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite coupled with The Song of the Nightingale as a single 331/3rpm LP. The Stravinsky, performed by Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra, received a 1997 Grammy® nomination for "Best Engineered, Classical" recording.
The lovely Jan Mancuso, beautifully bedecked in bountiful floral bouquet, beams positive vibes throughout "The Marketplace" as she smilingly extols the praises of Reference Recordings’ ever-expanding catalog of superbly recorded classical, jazz, and blues, including Stereophile’s "Recording of May 2013," Doug MacLeod’s There’s a Time, which is now available on LP and which Jan co-produced.