We were saddened to hear of the passing, on December 10,of Audio Research founder William "Bill" Zane Johnson. Bill, who founded Audio Research in 1970 and became its Chairman Emeritus in 2008, is survived by his wife Nancy (left in photo) and family. We are preparing a tribute to Bill, to be published in the March 2012 issue of Stereophile, but meanwhile, we are reprinting here an interview Paul Messenger and I conducted with Bill that was originally published in the June 1983 issue of Hi-Fi News. (My thanks to HFN editor Paul Miller for permission. Stereophile's 1994 interview with Bill can be found here.)John Atkinson
Summer's end is traditionally known as "the silly season" in European newsrooms, but there was nothing silly about the bombshell of a press release that arrived on the desks of hi-fi journalists on August 19. Two of Europe's most successful and best-established high-end audio brands, Focal and Naim Audio, announced that they are joining forces to create a new company, Focal & Co., under the chairmanship of Focal founder Jacques Mahul. With a combined annual earnings of nearly £50 million ($82 million), ca £31 million for Focal and ca £18 million for Naim) and more than 300 employees, Focal & Co. will automatically become a European hi-fi leader in terms of sales and resources.
The first part of a six-part BBC documentary narrated by the late John Peel
Born in January 1941, Don van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, died Friday, December 17, 2010, of complications related to multiple sclerosis.
Even though he gave up music in 1982 (beginning a successful career as a reclusive artist until hampered by the onset of multiple sclerosis), Captain Beefheart left an important and influential musical legacy.
On November 19, Scottosh manufacturer Linn Products held a press conference in London to announce that it was forthwith ceasing the production of CD players, and effectively replacing them by its new DS-series "digital streaming" components in its product portfolio.
Oooohh! Aaaahh! Coochy-coo! are not the usual spontaneous reactions from hard-boiled audio journalists to the unveiling of a hi-fi component. Nor is the Silverstone Circuit, the self-proclaimed Home of British Motor Racing, the usual venue for such a launch. But the news that UK audio manufacturer Meridian and Ferrari were cuddling up together on a joint project was enough to drag yours truly halfway across the country to deep Northamptonshire on a miserably wet February morning.
Apogee fans will be delighted to hear that the legendary full-range ribbon is back—only it's now manufactured in Queensland, Australia by English immigrant Graeme Keet. Universally known as Graz, he's been in Oz for 18 years, and started offering a repair service for Apogee owners when the company went out of business. He then introduced the Perigee hybrid ribbon models, has now worked out a way of mechanising ribbon production and is putting the Synergy model (shown here at the Roy Bird Show) into production, with a UK pricetag of £13,000/pair ($24,500). The sound in the undamped dem room did seem rather bright, but Graz claims to have achieved dramatic improvements in efficiency over the original Apogees. He can also make replicas of the original models if requested.
Vivid Audio's stylish speaker range, made in South Africa and engineered by ex-B&W designer Laurence Dickie, is expanding. A compact stand-mount (right), available in two sizes with bass alignment for either boundary or free space siting, has now joined the original B1 (left) and larger K1 models. Vivid speakers were demmed at the Roy Bird Show and are distributed in the US by Musical Surroundings.
Hervé Délétraz, proprietor and inventor of the rather wonderful Dartzeel amplifiers, and possessor of a great sense of humor, did his best to explain at the Roy Bird Show the operational improvements in the now electronically encoded preamp volume control.
Peeking out from the edge of this gigantic 14ft2 panel at the Roy Bird Show, veteran retailer and audio writer Howard Popeck has taken on this distribution of the Podium 1, and told me that its inventors and makers wished to remain anonymous. Further investigation unearthed the information that Paul Burton (responsible for the early-‘90s Sumo speaker and in part the Cyrus NXT-hybrid design) is involved, and close inspection suggests that a very large NXT panel lies at the core. The good news is that it's only around ½" deep around the edge (with a bulging rib, presumably covering the actuators, down the spine); it will cost a relatively modest £3000–4000/pair with a money-back-if-not-satisfied guarantee; and it delivers a sound with a very generous and convincing sense of scale. Bass might have been tauter (but the room was really much too small for such large panels), and imaging seemed a bit vague (as one might expect), but its ability to generate impressive dynamics was both intriguing and very persuasive indeed.
A neat idea for decorating the walls of your music room see at the Hi-Fi News Show, Art-Vinyl's hinged "Play & Display" picture frames are exactly the right size to accommodate an LP, making it easy to "hang" your favorite album covers as artwork, while the discs inside remain accessible for playing, and can be easily swapped around as the mood takes.