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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Nov 25, 2014 Published: Dec 01, 2014 23 comments
With increasing frequency, many audiophiles and industry professionals have accepted that the quest for highest-quality sound quality is a luxury and esoteric pursuit that, by its very nature, can appeal to only a small niche market. According to this view, the masses—the 99%, if you will—are either satisfied with Pioneer, Bose, Samsung, Dr. Dre, and iPhone/Android/tablet sound; can't tell the difference between quality and dreck; or will never have the money or imagination to move beyond lowest-common-denominator sound. To the extent that the vast majority knows anything about high-end audio, it regards it as an absurdly overpriced indulgence and a target for their disdain.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 27, 2014 0 comments
New location, new features, and a more inclusive, consumer electronics-orientated approach: that's the word on the fourth annual Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES). Now ensconced in the Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto, which offers far more large exhibit rooms than did TAVES' former venue, the three-day show opens on Friday, October 31 with four floors' worth of audio, video and consumer electronics-oriented exhibits.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 18, 2014 4 comments
Stereophile editor John Atkinson claims the best seat in the house to listen to the system put together by Luke Manley and Bea Lam (top right). Photo: Peter McGrath.

Despite having covered more audio shows than there are angels dancing on the head of a pin, I always look forward to the moment when all preconceptions vanish, the rug is pulled out from under, and I can do is marvel at the mystery of music reproduction at its finest. The time doesn't always come, but when it does, it feels as if childlike wonder has been born anew. Such was my experience in the VTL and Wilson Audio Room . . . this $548,483 system [breathe] was so mesmerizingly musical that it really cannot be discussed in the same space as the other systems I encountered at RMAF 2014.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 17, 2014 3 comments
In one of their many rooms, the Audio Alternative of Fort Collins showcased a luscious system that paired an AMG Viella 12 turntable and 9W2 tonearm ($21,500 total) and a Linn LP12 table with Lingo Mk.III power supply ($6000), both outfitted with Lyra Kleos MC cartridges ($2995 each), with D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' integrated amplifier ($43,000), Audio Research Corporation's Reference 2SE phono preamp ($13,000), and Wilson Duette Series 2 loudspeakers with dedicated stands ($22,500/pair).
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 16, 2014 0 comments
GoldenEar's Sandy Gross may be an audio legend of sorts, but it was not until the last day of RMAF 2014 that I finally met the man and discovered two things: 1) His Triton One loudspeakers ($4998/pair) are amazing-sounding, especially given their price, and 2) He is an absolutely delightful individual.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 16, 2014 8 comments
The big news—the really big news at RMAF—was the "before winter" US launch of five-year old Tidal of Oslo's full CD-quality, (lossless 1411kbps) music streaming service. Demonstrated in a fine sounding room with Electrocompaniet equipment, the sound was convincingly good when we cued up a track from pianist Leif Ove Andsnes' recording of Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto. (More on the sound in another blog, where Hegel was using Tidal's service to source music for their room.)
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 15, 2014 7 comments
For John Atkinson, Michael Fremer (above, eating up a rare platter), and myself, RMAF 2014 ascended to a higher dimension with the opportunity to compare pristine pressings of three tracks on original Beatles stereo LPs with their mono equivalents in the new Beatles mono box set. To say that the stereos, which were provided by music lover Shane Buettner of Brinkmann USA and Vandersteen, paled before mono remasters is an understatement. The stereo tracks sounded like a hack job embarrassment.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 15, 2014 0 comments
My biggest surprises at RMAF were delivered by lower-priced systems that sounded mind-blowingly good. One of the biggest delights came from the new Emerald Physics EP-X three-way dynamic dipole loudspeakers ($1795/pair, or $2595/pair in the marbleized Rosewood finish shown in the photo). These small floorstanders, which were designed by Mark Schifter in collaboration with Dan Mullins, have a sensitivity of 93dB, and an amazing frequency range of 34Hz–20kHz. Shown at T.H.E. Show in prototype form, they made their formal production debut at RMAF.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 12, 2014 4 comments
When I entered room 1102, Greg Roberts of Volti Audio was in the midst of describing the Volti Audio 3-way Vittora system, complete with separate Extended Low Frequency cabinet ($25,000/five-piece set) that kicks in below 50Hz. In the familiar pairing with BorderPatrol Audio Electronics' S20 ESC + EXS dual-mono parallel 18Wpc SET amplifiers ($25,750/pair with new EXS power supply units), EXT1 triode line stage ($12,500), and USB DAC ($975); and Triode Wire Labs cabling, the system scored as another midrange winner . . . perhaps too much of a winner for some tastes, given that the exceptionally smooth midrange seemed to dominate the frequency extremes.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Oct 11, 2014 3 comments
Anyone who thinks the high-end is on its last legs need only have passed the registration table for Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 20 minutes before the show officially opened. The lobby was mobbed, with the line literally going out the front door of the Marriott Denver Tech Center. Nor were these folks just from Colorado. On my first trip up the Tower elevator, I confirmed that my fellow passengers were audiophile visitors—not industry people—from Oregon and New Jersey.


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