Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 30, 2014 1 comments
Do you travel? Commute, perhaps? Just like to listen to music privately around the house? No matter—the Astell&Kern AK240 is the luxury choice in high-resolution portable music players (footnote 1). It even comes with a lovely leather case that beautifully cradles its angular beauty. The AK240 can play all of your PCM files, up to a resolution of 24-bit/192kHz, as well as DXD and single- and double-rate DSD, natively, and can do so from its internal storage, from a microSD card, or from your computer via WiFi or a wired connection. It can also function as a DAC or USB-to-TosLink converter. I'm not so sure there's much left wanting.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 21, 2015 15 comments
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 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.

Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Mar 04, 2015 13 comments
Hi-fi is serious business—at least, for the people whose business is hi-fi. For listeners, among whom I count myself at least some of the time, I'd say that the serious-business aspect of hi-fi is less so. Our sole job, after all, is to enjoy music. The deeper our enjoyment, the richer our experience—and the richer the experience, the deeper our enjoyment. Therein lies the quest: to deepen our enjoyment of music.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 30, 2015 8 comments
Back in the day, I owned a Sony Walkman cassette player. I loved it. I took it everywhere I went, listening to Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Neil Young (with and without Crosby, Stills & Nash), Miles, Coltrane, and more. Having music move around with me seemed a giant step into a more perfect future in which we could color our experiences with sound.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Sep 08, 2015 2 comments
It's not the pale moon that excites me / That thrills and delights me / Oh no, it's just the nearness of you.—"The Nearness of You," Ned Washington & Hoagy Carmichael

Despite what big-box stores and lossy streaming services want to sell you, listening to music at your desk does not have to suck. In fact, for not a lot of dough, you can easily build a desktop system that'll feed your head with music's goodness—or, for a few grand, assemble a setup that rivals the big rigs. Add the right app and streaming service, and you'll have access to an ever-expanding library of losslessly encoded music on top of the one you already own. The only caveat: Any of these systems will lead to musical distraction, which is a lovely place to be.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 07, 2011 0 comments
San Pedro, CA-based retailer Audio Summa brought along a bunch of gear from Silverline Audio, Conrad-Johnson, Parasound, Brown Electronic Labs (BEL), Blue Circle Audio, and Analysis Plus. While I was in-room, we listened to the Silverline Audio Bolero Supreme loudspeakers ($12,000/pair standing on the inside in the picture), BEL 1001 MkIV class-A solid-state amplifier (not for sale), a tube-based preamp designed and built by Alan Yun of Silverline Audio ($20,000) and the Ecstasy Model 20 tube CD player also from the mind and hands of Alan Yun ($12,000). Cables were from Analysis Plus and BEL "The Wire." The sound in the Audio Summa room was fast and a bit furious, leaving little time for decay. "Pace-y" read my notes.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 04, 2011 3 comments
While there was nothing new to report on in the Audio Engine room, at least nothing I could tell you and let you live, it’s always worth reporting on the inexpensive and even better than good-sounding-for-the-money AudioEngine speakers. Our daughters each have a pair of the AudioEngine 2.0s ($199/pair) for use with their iDevices and even they brag about the sound quality.
Filed under
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 12, 2011 84 comments
The Southern California headquarters of cable manufacturer AudioQuest, which includes their offices, a listening room, conference rooms, a very very large warehouse, assembly rooms, a graphic design room, a few kitchens and various and sundry other more mundane but just as important places, is within a few-minutes’ drive from T.H.E. Show at Newport Beach. Shane Buettner, AudioQuest's Director of Education who you will most likely recognize as the former Editor-In-Chief of Home Theater magazine, Joe Harley VP of AudioQuest (Joe Harley is also a recording engineer/producer responsible for among others the Blue Note 45rpm reissues from Music Matters and he's a musician), and Andrew Kissinger, Regional Sales Manager, gave a group of A/V journalists, including Tom Norton, Senior Editor and Video Technical Editor of Home Theater magazine, the full tour.

My comments on the tour/AudioQuest facility can be summed up by saying that this is one of the most organized, clean, neat and tidy places I've ever seen. And it's not the kind of organized, clean, neat and tidy you can fake for a tour. From the huge warehouse to the tiniest Ziplock baggy, everything had its place and label. Impressive.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 07, 2011 0 comments
The Ayon Audio room used a pair of gracefully curved LumenWhite Artisan speakers ($35,000/pair) with the Ayon Orthos II monoblock amplifiers ($24,000/pair) and the Ayon CD-5 CD Player with integrated preamplifier ($11,380). The CD-5 features USB, AES/EBU, S/PDIF, i2S and Toslink inputs and S/PDIF (RCA), i2S, and AES/EBU digital outputs. Cable was from Synergistic Research and the equipment rack was the Bassocontinuo ($10,000) from Italy, shown here with German Plexiglas shelves. Around the room you’ll also notice the Synergistic Research Art devices inviting comment.

I noted a very strong center image, lots of body/weight, and a physical yet nimble presentation.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jun 06, 2011 0 comments
Monrovia, CA-based retailer Brooks Berdan had one of the larger suites on the 2nd floor filled with top-of-line gear, including Wilson Audio W/P Sasha ($27,900/pair), VTL TL7.5 Series III preamp ($23,000), VTL TP6.5 phono preamp ($8500), VTL MB-450 Series III monoblock amplifiers ($18,000), dCS Puccini CD/SACD player ($18,000), dCS Puccini U-Clock ($5000), dCS Debussy DAC ($11,500), Grand Prix Audio Monaco 1.5 Turntable ($23,000), Grand Prix Audio Silverstone Isolation Component System ($22,000), and the Grand Prix Audio with cables from Cardas.

This was one of my favorite rooms but I’m not talking about sound quality in and of itself. John Quick of Tempo Sales & Marketing, dCS's US distributor, was spinning the tunes while I was in the room and between Ella and Louie, The Beatles in all their high-res glory, and let me just say you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Black Sabbath's classic "Fairies Wear Boots" blasting through a pair of Wilson Sashas. For me, the difference between good and great hi-fi resides in, and is 100% dependent upon, the music. And there a number of people in the industry who seem to really get that and John Quick is one of 'em. One hint that this may be the case is a big smile on their face as opposed to a pensive—this is very serious business—frown. I left the Brooks Berdan room energized and ready for more.


Enter your username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.