As one of the Top Five KEF dealers in the United States, AudioVision San Francisco was chosen as the site for the country's first in-store demo of KEF's Blade ($30,000/pair) on January 19. Given that the Blade's previous three quasi-public demos were either at showsCEDIA 2011, where the environment was reportedly too noisy for anyone to get a good listen, and RMAF 2011, where the room was too smallor KEF's 50th Anniversary Party in the British Embassy in New York City, this was actually the first time that anyone on the West Coast, or any bloke who happened to wander in off the street, had a chance to hear KEF's long-awaited speaker in more supportive surroundings.
Doing the honors for KEF was April Sanders, the company's Western Regional Manager (top photo). Sanders' 30 years experience in the speaker industry makes her one of the longest-surviving women in the high-enda feat that, IMHO, deserves at the least a medal of honor and epaulettes covered with brass stars and other emblems of bravery on the front lines.
One of the most important sopranos of the early music movementtruly one of the great singers of our timehas died. Montserrat Figueras, who together with her husband, viola da gamba master Jordi Savall (left in photo), revivified vast amounts of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque repertoire, succumbed to cancer at age 69.
Diagnosed over a year ago, Figueras continued to record and perform through August. She died at her home in Bellaterra, Spain, with her husband and children Arianna and Ferran at her side.
Spectral Audio , the northern California company whose director of engineering is Prof. Keith O. Johnson, gave the first public preview of its SDR-4000SL Master CD Processor on September 24, at Music Lovers Audio, in Berkeley. Introduced by Johnson and Spectral founder Richard (Rick) Fryer, the $19,000 Spectral Digital Resolution (SDR) model sounded sensational playing 16-bit/44.1kHz, HDCD-encoded files Johnson had made for Reference Recordings, through a system that included Spectral's DMC-30SS preamplifier and monoblock amplifiers, Wilson Audio MAXX 3 speakers, Spectral Ultralink II speaker cables, the MIT Z Duplex conditioner, Synergistic Research's controversial ART system, and other room treatments.
The 2011 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, which runs October 1416 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, promises more exhibits than ever before. With 480 exhibitors spread over 176 hotel rooms and three vendor areas, and advance attendance figures indicating at least 3500 attendees, the show continues to attract even more of the industry and public despite the economic slowdown. While the proportion of East and West Coast attendees remains stable, you'll see more international attendees, including folks from Thailand, India, Japan, Australia, Argentina, Singapore, Brazil, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Mexico, and the UK.
"The big news is that we've scheduled a special exhibit at the Hyatt down the block," show organizer Marjorie Baumert told Stereophile. "We've expanded because Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds and Analogue Productions has put together a preview presentation of the new 5.1 surround sound SACD of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, running all three days, and played through the same Acoustic Transducer Company (ATC) loudspeakers that were used to mix the project.
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 Cable Company's 16th annual Summer Against Hunger is anything but a feel-good gimmick. Thanks to ingenious leveraging by Robert Stein, company founder, every dollar spent on purchases from The Cable Company in the month of August results in almost $2 donated to a specific project of C.A.R.E., a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Given that C.A.R.E. is one of the more efficient charities aroundover 90% of donations go directly to programs and recipients, rather than to administrationthis means that for every $100 purchase you make during the month of August, a donation of over $180 will go directly to people and communities in need.
Cedille Records, the label of The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation, has just released its first three high-resolution FLAC downloads. Available in 24-bit/44.1kHz sampling rate format (as well as 16/44.1 and 256 kbps MP3), complete with accessible liner notes and cover art, the titles are a treasure-trove for classical aficionados and collectors.
First up is Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano. Performed by Ursula Oppens, who has achieved legendary status as a new music virtuoso, the CD includes the world premiere recording of Winging It (2008), which the Pulitzer Prize-winning Corigliano wrote for Oppens.
Even newer are Capricho Latino, a disc from violinist Rachel Barton Pine of rare Spanish and Latin American music written solely for the unaccompanied violin; and The Pulitzer Project, performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus under Carlos Kalmar and Chorus Director Christopher Bell. Pine's disc includes Alan Ridout's Ferdinand the Bull with narrator Héctor Elizondo, and 13 other works by composers familiar and obscure. You can sample a few of the tracks before purchasing.
In what is sure to be a win-win situation for both manufacturers and consumers, Fine Sounds SpA of Milan, Italy, owner of Sonus Faber, Audio Research Corporation and Wadia Digital, has acquired 100% of Sumiko manufacturing and distribution in Berkeley, CA. In addition to distributing Wadia Digital next month, Sumiko will continue to distribute Sonus Faber loudspeakers, REL subwoofers, Pro-Ject Audio Systems turntables and electronics, SME turntables and tonearms, Sumiko phono cartridges, and Okki Nokki record cleaning machines in North America.
The pendulum has swung back to the West Coast. Just one week after the Capital AudioFest, three weeks after AXPONA NYC, and six weeks after T.H.E. Show Newport Beach, the second California Audio Show is set to begin. Scheduled for July 1517 in the Crowne Plaza SFO in Burlingame, the show is located just minutes from San Francisco Airport, a few giant steps from a major freeway, a free shuttle ride away from the airport's BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stop, and an eight-minute walk from CalTrain's Broadway Station.
Show organizer Constantine Soo, founder and editor of Dagogo.com, reports that the show currently promises 42 rooms of various sizes, all with active exhibits playing music. The list of exhibitors and brands, complete with a generous helping of California retailers, service providers, and distributors, includes a host of companies whose equipment resides in the homes and dreams of Stereophile readers.
Universal Classics, owners of the great Deutsche Grammophon, London/Decca, and Philips catalogues, has made its entire treasure trove of Mahler recordings available for free, full-track, online streaming. Whether you are a babe in the Vienna woods or a seasoned Mahlerite, this is a rare opportunity to audition and compare a good 180 Mahler symphony recordings, including over 60 out-of-print Mahler titles.
The tracks, first posted to Mahler150.com last year in honor of the 150th anniversary of Gustav Mahler's birth, remain available in 2011, the 100th anniversary of Mahler's death. While you can no longer vote on the contents of DG's 13-CD box set, Mahler: The People's Choiceit has already been issuedyou can still compile playlists of favorite movements and complete symphonies, and create your near-ideal mix-and-match performance of all Mahler symphonies and song cycles.