Thomas J. Norton

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Jason Victor Serinus Sasha Matson Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 03, 2015 3 comments
One of the most delightful annual surprises of the now departed Las Vegas installment of THE Show was stumbling upon the NFS (Not For Sale) room. Assembled by the distinguished personage known as Buddha, it allowed visitors to become submerged in a combination of post-psychedelic revelry, good sound, lots of free booze, and a total absence of hawking...
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 02, 2015 0 comments
Headphonium, Earphonium, Canjam. Every audio show has its own name for a section set aside to serve headphone enthusiasts, an increasingly active audiophile sub-segment. The one at this year's Newport show was smaller than the one I recall at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest show last fall. But among the newcomers were headphones from Mr. Speakers (like the $1499 planar designs shown here)...
Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 30, 2015 3 comments
When longtime TAD/Pioneer speaker designer Andrew Jones moved on to design new speakers for German manufacturer ELAC, we expected big things, though not quite immediately. Speaker design takes time. But Jones and ELAC made a big splash at the Newport show with the new line of Debut speakers. The first model ready for demo was the baby of the Debut family, the B5. It's shown here with proud papa Andrew, with its 5.25" aramid-fiber woofer and 1" cloth-dome tweeter, and is expected to retail for $230/pair in early fall when the entire lineup should be available...
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 31, 2014 0 comments
I went to Vienna. It was and is a beautiful city, with much of its late 19th- and early 20th-century character still intact. And while there will always be other claimants to the honor, it's arguably still the classical-music center of the planet. I managed to score standing room for a performance of Puccini's Turandot at the Vienna State Opera (as I recall, standing room at the time was the equivalent of about $1 US). Act 1 was so rough that it evoked catcalls from the unforgiving Viennese audience, but after that, things settled in nicely.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 15, 2014 5 comments
It was no surprise that PSB/NAD had one of the best-sounding rooms at the show. PSB's new Imagine T3 loudspeakers (about $7000/pair, available by the end of this year) sounded both natural and dynamic. They each have three 7.25" woofers operating in a cabinet less than 2 cubic feet in volume. That would appear to be too small to properly load three woofers—until you hear them. A 5.25" midrange and a selected version of PSB's well-known 1" titanium-dome tweeter round out the driver complement.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 11, 2014 Published: Oct 12, 2014 4 comments
Perhaps the most over-the-top pieces of electronics at the RMAF, shown in static form only (if it's being demoed elsewhere at the show we haven't yet found it) are the Naim Statements. As seen here, the amplification system includes two monoblock amps weighing 220 lbs each, plus a preamp, the latter in the center. The amps are rated at 748W into 8 ohms, and 9000W (!) into 1 ohm. The amps are internally bridged, fully balanced designs.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 12, 2014 4 comments
Even in a world where a five-figure price tag for a pair of loudspeakers is no longer a jaw-dropper, Raidho Acoustics' has carved out an honored place. I've been impressed by the company's small C1.1 speakers in the past. This year the D-1s were on show ($26,000/pair, including stands), driven by Constellation electronics. They made a bit less of an impression this time, but in a very different, and likely problematical room and what appeared to be excessive spacing that limited soundstage cohesion. This sort of setup was an issue in some of the other, larger demo spaces as well, probably in an attempt to offer a good listening compromise in a large seating area.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 28, 2014 7 comments
In the late 1980s, KEF, then as now a leader in bringing new technology to loudspeaker design, developed a unique coincident driver that positioned the tweeter in the throat of the midrange/woofer cone. In a flash of inspiration, they dubbed it the Uni-Q, and the driver immediately not only found its way into the company's more upscale speaker designs, but also became a key element in a major European research project on room acoustics. That study's results appear to have been inconclusive, but the Uni-Q lives on as the defining element of KEF loudspeakers.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 14, 2014 0 comments
Aerial's new 6T loudspeaker ($6000/pair) is a 4-driver, 3-way and will be available in February. It sounded very promising: tight bass (the material didn't challenge the extreme bass, but what I did hear—bass drum—suggested more extension than you might expect from two 150mm woofers); open top end, uncolored mids; fine imaging. Typically fine sound from Aerial Acoustics.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 04, 1999 1 comments
Hard to believe it's been more than six years since NHT launched its flagship 3.3 loudspeaker (footnote 1). At the time, the floorstanding 3.3 was a revolutionary product for the company, whose product line until then had been aimed squarely at the customer who wanted good sound, but wanted it in a small, affordable package. While the 3.3 didn't change NHT's dedication to its roots, it did signal to audiophiles that the manufacturer could play ball with the big boys.

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