In a marked reversal of brick and mortar decline, Tone of Music Audio became the second high-end audio retailer to open its doors in San Francisco within the last year or so. Ideally situated in the heart of trendy Noe Valley, at the busy intersection of Castro and 24th Streets, the store's combination of major brands and personable service bodes well for the future of "high-performance" audio in Northern California.
The idea was as cute as the chapeaux that Antonio Long, Randy Johnson, and Marlen Kirby (from left to right in photo above) invariably sport at AudioVision SF. Schedule a public demo on November 14 with two French manufacturers, Triangle Loudspeakers and Devialet, and call it "French Fries." Then, however, reality intervened, and an evening that included debuts of two products, Triangle's Signature line Alpha loudspeakers and Nordost's Sort Füt Premium Kit, morphed into a Franco-American feast complete with Norwegian-American trimmings.
The long-anticipated opening of Brian Berdan’s high-performance audio store, Audio Element, took place on November 1 and 2 in Pasadena, CA. The store’s prime location in the heart of Pasadena’s retail- and restaurant-rich Oldtown helped sweeten the unveiling of America’s newest high-end emporium.
Thanksgiving will mark two years since Charles died. I still miss him.
I first met Charles in the 1990s, around the time I began to review recordings and audio equipment. I had just left my apartment and was driving slowly down the street when I spied a somewhat bent-over, wizened-looking man carrying a copy of Stereophile under his arm. My astonishment at discovering another Stereophile reader whom, it turned out, living just two buildings away, brought my car to a sudden halt.
For some, the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES 2013) is the show of the future. For others, it may signal a possible decline in the supremacy of two-channel audio. Either way, just two weeks after RMAF in Denver, with hardly any space between Stereophile's comprehensive coverage of that major two-channel show, TAVES 2013 takes place November 13 in the classy King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto.
“It’s all on this USB stick,” declared digital genius and Wavelength mastermind Gordon Rankin, as he pressed lots of data into my hand. Once accessed, I learned that I had enjoyed a MacBook Pro Retina 15 16G-RAM/480G-SSD connected via Thunderbolt to a 4T library; Wavelength’s battery-powered Crimson + Denominator DAC ($9000) connected to the computer via an AudioQuest Diamond USB; Wavelength’s new Europa analog/digital preamplifier ($7500) with ESS ES9018 DAC chip, network support, three analog inputs, and either Ethernet or WiFi remote; Wavelength’s new all-silver Napoleon 300B amplifiers; Vaughn’s new Plasma loudspeakers ($15,000/pair, or $20,000/pair for the signature series w/upgraded power and MagneQuest custom modulation transformers); and Audioquest’s Sky interconnects and Redwood speaker cables.
Resonessencewhat a great name for the equipment that closed out my three days of blogging RMAF 2013. Happily it sounded really good as well, especially when JA pointed out that the reason this simple system’s top at first seemed rolled off was because the only way to align our ears with the tweeters of the 20-year old, unusually short B&W mini-towers was to either crouch way over or kneel on the floor.
Artist Jay Paul Apodaca and his lovely wife, Houda Alaoua Apodaca, were rocking out with Roksan UK’s Oxygene touch-sensitive, Bluetooth-equipped integrated amp ($7000) at the world premiere of its limited edition Jay Paul Apodaca incarnation. As the story goes, Roksan’s owner, Tufan Hashemi, visited Jay Paul’s store in Detroit and began collecting his art. Eventually he decided to commission Jay Paul to make 12 original paintings that he could reproduce on the front of the Oxygene. Mated with Roksan’s Darius S1 loudspeaker, the artwork and system livened up the Marriott’s Tower like few other systems I heard.
How wonderful to finally catch up with Scott and Paul McGowan, and to discover how good PS Audio’s prototype class-D amplifier with Hypex modules sounds in its temporary housing. Equally exciting was the just-launched NuWave Phono Converter (NPC, $1895), which combines a phono stage with an A/D converter that can archive LPs in both PCM and DSD formats. Paired with Von Schweikert VR-35 loudspeakers ($10,000/pair) and a custom subwoofer, the system delivered impressive deep bass on a track from Turkish artist and DJ Mercan Dede’s Breath, and lots of color on a track by Chesky artist Marta Gomez.
By the time I reached the Tower’s 11th floormy final floor, thank Godat 5:35pm on Saturday, I had been at it for over 8.5 hours, and my cold and fever were at their peak. It felt as though nothing short of the Balm of Gilead could bring me solace. But when I heard, in succession, impressively full-range sound and excellent low-bass definition on Mahler’s Symphony 2, and gorgeous warmth and color on everything soprano Arleen Auger sang, I felt as though I could simply float through the rest of the day in a state of peace.