How could he?, they seem to say. In obituary after obituary, one reads how tenor Guiseppe di Stefano squandered his voice. Too much smoking, too much drinking, too much shouting at late-night parties, they declare. It's almost as though opera lovers feel betrayed, unable to forgive an artist who abused such glorious gifts so early in his career.
Sony has triumphed once again. The company that has until now held control of the dominant audio format, "Red Book" CD, and the dominant high-resolution audio format, SACD, will now dominate high-resolution video as well with its Blu-ray technology.
You thought the only new articles about CDs you'd be reading would be about further declines in sales? Well, it turns out that ArkivMusic, the country's leading website for new and formerly out-of-print classical recordings, posted, um, record sales last year.
Jim Wang of Harmonic Technology (right) and Jimmy Ko of Inex Innovation (left) have teamed up to produce the all-in-one Photon Amplicable. Combining the attributes of Harmonic Tech's CyberLight interconnect cables, an amplification system, and speaker cable, the Photon Amplicable allows the user to connect a source or preamp directly to speakers, and to power the system through the cables.
So why is Amanda Sweet from Telarc smiling? Well, in addition to being a wonderful person, she's happy that the Concord Music Group chose to sell its wares in The Venetian. Rather than the nightmare everyone predicted, customers only had to walk 20 steps to the official CES cashiers to purchase their SACDs and CDs from Telarc, Heads Up, Concord, Prestige and the like. With only one other CD vendor—5.1—in the area, Telarc did a booming business.
Although Allen Perkins' Spiral Groove has until now focused exclusively on analog products, the company has taken a big step into the digital domain by announcing the forthcoming Spiral Groove DP1 line stage preamp and 24/96 DAC. Projected to become available in four months, the DPI is so new that it has yet to be priced.
In a room dominated by imposing Antique Sound Labs tube electronics and Reference 3A Grand Veena loudspeakers, the Chang folks were demonstrating their new Hyper Drive "hyper noise shunting mechanism." Designed to bring AC noise down further than conventional Chang Lightspeed power conditioners, the Hyper Drive will be incorporated into 2008 Reference models such as the Chang Mk III ($3500).
Now I know why Robert Deutsch wrote such an enthusiastic review of the Fujitsu Ten Eclipse TD712z loudspeaker in the January 2007 issue of Stereophile. This eye-arresting single-driver loudspeaker ($7000/pair with dedicated stands) delivered an absolutely beautiful rendering of Monica Salmazo's voice. Both top and midrange were exemplary, as was transparency. Though early instrument strings on the delightful Channel Classics SACD, Bolivian Baroque v.2, were either a mite too edgy or conveyed with unforgiving accuracy, the system did a wonderful job with the church venue's naturally reverberant acoustic. Soprano Kate Royal's voice on her marvelous EMI debut recital was drop dead gorgeous. Within their frequency limitations, these speakers are superb. And given that the source was a Denon 955 DVD player rather than a state-of-the-art unit, their triumph is even more noteworthy.
April Music's tremendous achievement deserves two blog entries. In one room at the Alexis Park, the Korean-based company demmed an absolutely amazing for the price Stello stack of low-cost, truly high-end mini components: the Stello CDT-100 transport ($695), DA100 Signature ($895), HP100 headphone amp/preamp ($595), and S100 50W/channel power amplifier ($745). Auditioning Harmonia Mundi's beautiful recording of Schubert's Arppeggione Sonata, this diminutive set-up (complete with B&W 805 loudspeakers and Red Rose cabling) created an amazingly deep, involving soundstage that would make many a manufacturer of components costing 10 times the Stello price envious. The system also did a fine job of capturing the complex harmonics of the piano. An I2S bus connection between components—shades of Audio Alchemy and Perpetual Technologies—sure helps matters. I wouldn't go as far as saying that this set-up fully captured the soul of every piece of music I auditioned, or that its solid-state pedigree wasn't apparent, but it blew the socks off most mass-market doo-doo and a helluva lot of supposedly audiophile-grade components.
After hearing the Stello stack, I thought I had heard it all. But in the next room, April Music President Simon K. Lee blew my mind even more with the one-piece Aura note Music Center ($1850). This little baby, available through a dealer network, even includes a USB port on back, a second USB memory stick port on the side, a built-in tuner, and two RCA inputs. Paired with the Aura speaker ($650/pr), the parallel single-ended MOSFET design (thank you, Nelson Pass) sounded a bit more mellow and soulful than the Stello stack. (It would have probably extended as low as that stack if it had been paired with the B&Ws).