Stephen Mejias

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 03, 2014 6 comments
Thanks to Art Dudley, Norman Blake's Old and New was one of my three major musical discoveries of 2013. What will 2014 bring? It should be an interesting year, to say the least.

Happy New Year! I hope you’re somewhere warm, like Rincon or San Clemente, taking in a ton of golden sunshine and perhaps enjoying a rum punch. In New York, New Jersey, and much of the rest of the country, the New Year came with several of inches of cold, white snow that fell from the icy sky like the confetti we happily tossed about on New Year’s Eve. This is a perfect day to stay inside and listen to that pile of records you’ve so carefully propped up against the wall.

Over the last seven years, I’ve pretty much purchased any damn record that sparked my interest.

Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 02, 2014 2 comments
"J-10? What's an integrated amplifier?"

It was fall 2000. I'd just begun working at Stereophile, and I clearly remember sheepishly, innocently putting this question to former senior editor Jonathan Scull.

I think the question confused him—not because he didn't know the answer, but because the answer seemed so obvious, the question itself should have been unnecessary. How could anyone not know what an integrated amplifier is? I might as well have asked, "What's a song?"

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Dec 27, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2014 9 comments
As I discuss in this issue's "As We See It," a handful of audio companies have recently turned to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to launch and promote new products. The most notable of these is Light Harmonic. The Sacramento, California–based electronics maker first caused a stir at the 2011 Axpona show with the release of its impressive Da Vinci DAC ($20,000), one of the few home audio converters capable of handling the 384kHz sampling rate.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Dec 27, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2014 9 comments
It's no secret that the high-end audio industry has done a poor job of reestablishing the mainstream respect it enjoyed through the latter half of the 20th century, but its lack of reach has never been as painfully obvious as it is today. Teens are inextricably tied to smartphones, moms and dads are infatuated with Bluetooth streaming, and most people would rather pay too much for an MP3 than anything at all for a DSD download. In a world dominated by fancy gadgets and intriguing technologies, the pursuit of true high-fidelity sound remains an obscure pastime for a relatively small group of aging males. Everyone knows Apple, Beats, and Bose, but few have heard of Vivid, Wilson, or YG.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Dec 13, 2013 16 comments
Here’s a list of my 50 favorite albums of 2013. This is by no means a definitive list. These aren’t “the best” or “the most important” records of the year. They’re simply the 50 records that, for one reason or another, managed to capture my attention, spark my imagination, excite and inspire me. They also often drove me into fits of loud song, wild dance, and happy laughter. I love these records, I’m grateful for them, and I want to share them with you. Many of these you will already know. Others will be new to you. I hope you enjoy them all as much as I do, but I will, of course, understand if you don’t. Please feel free to share your own favorites in the Comments section.
Stephen Mejias Posted: Dec 12, 2013 7 comments
In an August 21 post to his popular Lefsetz Letter blog, music-industry analyst Bob Lefsetz shared with his readers the great and often surprising joy of listening to music through a good set of headphones, specifically the open-back, planar-magnetic Audeze LCD-2. Lefsetz clearly does not mess around: He went straight to the top of the headphone hierarchy. If you're at all familiar with the exciting world of headphone listening, you've heard of Audeze (pronounced odyssey). Since their impressive debut at the 2009 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, the young audio company has drawn from hi-fi critics and enthusiasts the sort of rave reviews typically reserved for the most respected brands.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Dec 03, 2013 6 comments
It's time to celebrate another memorable year in high-end audio. Each December since 1992, Stereophile has named a few special components its Products of the Year. These are components that not only define the present audio landscape, but that we hope will someday be seen as classics—things you'll want to pass on to future generations of audiophiles and music lovers.

And the winners are . . .

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Nov 27, 2013 7 comments

Over at The Quietus, Nick Southall speaks with mastering engineer Bob Katz about how iTunes Radio may soon put an end to The Loudness Wars. I direct your attention to the article partly because it's a good read and partly because, in hi-fi circles, we tend to think that young people don't care enough about sound quality; this article is a small bit of proof that there are in fact young people who know how to listen. Nick Southall, clearly as obsessed with music and sound as anyone, is two years younger than me. (And, in hi-fi years, I'm a child.)

Here's an especially good bit from Southall's article, Bob Katz speaking:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Nov 13, 2013 16 comments
For many, the current hot topic in the world of high-end audio is Direct-Stream Digital (DSD), a method, developed by Sony and Philips, of digitally encoding an analog signal. The irony is that DSD is nothing new. The basis of the technology dates to 1946. Stereophile described it in “Industry Update,” as early as Vol.19 Nos.1 and 5, and again in Vol.20 No.9. And, almost exactly 14 years ago, in November 1999, John Atkinson went into greater detail, contrasting DSD with the more common Pulse-Code-Modulated (PCM) encoding used on CD:
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Nov 13, 2013 3 comments
For me, and many people like me, the 365 days that comprise a calendar year are more than just a tidy representation of a brief period of life. Those 365 days mark a period of music discovery, filled with disappointments, surprises, and, if we’re lucky, one or two completely life-altering revelations.

If discovering a new artist is great, even better is discovering an entire record label of exciting new artists. It happens for me with increasing reliability:

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