Stephen Mejias

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Art Dudley Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 27, 2013 14 comments
The name sounds perfect. It fits neatly next to those of Messrs. Leak, Sugden, Walker, Grant, Lumley, and others of Britain's most rightly revered amplifier builders. In fact, when their distributor called and asked if I'd like to review the latest amplifier from Croft Acoustics, I accepted without actually knowing who they are, simply because they sounded like someone I was supposed to know—someone who's been around for 60 years or so, shellacking bell wire in an old mill with a thatched roof.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 24, 2013 0 comments
Saturday–Sunday, October 5–6, 10am–6pm: The annual High End Prague hi-fi show will be held at the Corinthia Towers Hotel. The admission price per day is about $5 US and includes automatic entry into a "hi-fi lottery," with a chance to win Monitor Audio loudspeakers, Focal and Grado headphones, IsoTek electronics, and more. A percentage of the money earned from High End Prague goes to the Czech UNICEF. For a complete exhibitor list and more info, visit www.high-end-praha.cz.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 16, 2013 10 comments
In our September issue, I wrote about Pioneer’s excellent SP-BS22-LR loudspeaker. At just $129.99/pair (and often discounted), the SP-BS22-LR represents extraordinary value and may very well attract a wider and younger audience to true high-fidelity sound. The only thing I don’t really like about the speaker is its tongue-twister of a name. (But that’s easy to forgive. Most people can’t pronounce my name, either.)

While preparing the review, I took the opportunity to ask Andrew Jones, Pioneer’s chief engineer, a few questions about hi-fi, music, and loudspeaker design. As always, Jones was forthright and charming; his answers to my questions were often enlightening.

Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 13, 2013 7 comments
Two of the five loudspeakers reviewed in our July issue were designed by Andrew Jones: the $29,800/pair TAD Evolution One and the $129.99/pair Pioneer SP-BS22-LR (footnote 1). I did the math. You can buy 229 pairs of the Pioneer for the price of a single pair of the TAD. Which is the better deal? Which would result in more happiness? Imagine keeping one pair of the Pioneers, and delivering the other 228 pairs to friends and family. Or donating them to schools. The possibilities are great. How much fun can you have with just a single pair of speakers, anyway?
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 13, 2013 3 comments
Julianna Barwick has released a live video for “The Harbinger,” from her new album, Nepenthe.

Curiously, the album version always—always—reminds me of the opening chorus to The Rolling Stones’ 1969 hit, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Here, though, whatever hint of triumphant rock’n’roll that may exist in “The Harbinger” is replaced by the impressionistic strokes of cold, windblown colors and sheer textures. We hear the crunch of gravel beneath footsteps, the lapping of waves, sniffles, the chimes of an iPhone—all of these elements are captured, looped, and folded into the piece.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 12, 2013 2 comments
Volcano Choir’s sophomore record, Repave, was released by Jagjaguwar on September 3rd. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver returns as lead vocalist.

I was disappointed by the band’s 2009 debut, Unmap, which felt more like a Bon Iver side project, made of fragments and sketches that promised greatness—and had some great moments—but rarely delivered the kind of focused and resolved songs that I had hope for. I liked Unmap, but I wanted to love it—and I didn’t.

Repave, though, is something different. If Unmap was the sound of a band finding its way, Repave is a band that has arrived, fully formed and full of joy. There’s an interesting story behind the making of Repave, which you can hear in this ten-minute documentary.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 06, 2013 14 comments
By now, you’re familiar with Record Store Day, the annual event that celebrates independent record stores and vinyl records. Now, we can celebrate another special music format: the cassette! The first Cassette Store Day will be held tomorrow, Saturday, September 7th.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 05, 2013 1 comments
On October 1st, Poon Village will release Five American Percussion Pieces by William Winant.

Those familiar with Winant’s work may be surprised to learn that this is the first album released under the percussionist’s own name. Those unfamiliar with his name are nevertheless likely to have heard Winant’s work.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 23, 2013 13 comments
Julianna Barwick's new album, Nepenthe, is available now. Photo: Shawn Brackbill.

I’ve been so happily preoccupied with my review of NAD’s new D 3020 integrated amplifier that I’ve again fallen behind on my “Payday Albums” posts. My review of the D 3020 will appear in our November issue. I used many of the albums listed below as demo material for that review.

It’s been a seriously great time.

Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 08, 2013 9 comments
Even before I'd really listened to PSB's Alpha PS1 powered desktop speakers (see last month's column), I suspected that I'd like them: They're affordable, attractive, small enough to actually fit on my desktop, and designed and manufactured by a true high-end audio company. Besides all that, the PS1s had been highly recommended by a friend, AudioStream.com's Michael Lavorgna. I only needed the speakers to sound good in my home. And they did—clean, clear, detailed, and dynamic, with a surprisingly big and bold overall sound.

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