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Ken Micallef Posted: Mar 24, 2017 7 comments
As Stereophile's true cub reporter—sorry, Herb Reichert, you're senior staff!—I work in the domestic fields of the high-end audio landscape. Meanwhile, my fellow Stereophile correspondents trot the globe, attending international audio shows, experiencing all the sweet spots offered by such far-flung locales as Munich, Montreal, and Northamptonshire, UK. Am I complaining? Not! But when an audio show of merit invades New York City, still the capital of the civilized world, you can believe I'm there on opening day, pen and pad in hand. The first rooms on my must-visit list usually include Audio Note UK, DeVore Fidelity, MBL—and, when the gear is warm and the good vibes flowing, as they usually are, Wes Bender Studio NYC.
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Ken Micallef Posted: Feb 05, 2017 8 comments
New York City upright bassist Chris Lightcap is an excellent musician with an eye towards vintage environments. He lives with his family in a gorgeous Art Deco building, covets his wife's collection of 1950s and '60s-era cameras, has his own amazing collection of classic electric basses and guitars, and his comfortable apartment was once home to a Mafia hit-man. . . Lightcap's hi-fi consists of a Thorens TD-160 turntable, an early '60s era Fisher KX-100 Stereo Master Control Amplifier, Dynaco FM-3 Stereo Tuner, TCC TC-754 Black RIAA Phono Preamp, and KLH 17 loudspeakers.
Ken Micallef Posted: Feb 02, 2017 16 comments
Reviewers of high-fidelity gear are a trend-sniffing, topology-bandying bunch. When four of our kin gathered last November over lunch, during the 2016 New York Audio Show, the high-end chatter flew fast and furious. "Did you hear those mother-rocking big horns on the seventh floor?" "Nah, man, the Bruno Putzeys speakers on nine were best in show." "What about those li'l Lowthers on eight? Great sweet spot, but small as peanuts."
Ken Micallef Posted: Dec 27, 2016 14 comments
Roughly half the size of a breadbox—remember those?—the Trenner & Friedl Sun ($3450/pair) is arguably the smallest stand-mounted loudspeaker presently available for serious home listening: only 8.5" high by 6.25" wide by 5.5" deep and weighing just 7.5 lbs. The Sun is the entry-level model from this Austrian loudspeaker manufacturer, and its ported, solid-birch cabinet is designed and built to golden-ratio proportions (footnote 1) It has a single, coaxial driver from SEAS and a crossover made by Mundorf. The Sun boasts a frequency response of 55Hz–25kHz, +0/–3dB; friends of mine have heard the speaker plumb remarkable depths when paired with the right amplifier. And though they're barely bigger than a pair of Audeze LCD-4 planar-magnetic headphones, the Suns do play louder!
Ken Micallef Posted: Dec 01, 2016 1 comments
My entrée to high-end audio was in the late 1990s, when I bought a used pair of Cary Audio CAD-572SE tubed monoblock amplifiers to add to my Marantz CD player, Audio Note M2 preamplifier, and ProAc Response One SC loudspeakers. This system reproduced recordings with a sound that made me happier than a country boy with a glass of milk and a helping of peach cobbler. (I was reared, as my grandmother would say, though not born, in North Carolina, where Cary is based.)
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Ken Micallef Posted: Nov 20, 2016 9 comments
Drummer/composer Dan Weiss has wide-ranging musical tastes, superb skills, and a rocking little Rega-based system in his cozy Brooklyn, New York apartment. Dan has drummed with many jazz greats, but it's his own projects that have generated the greatest interest. He's a thinking musician's musician, one who astutely assesses the pros and cons of every situation. Dan doesn't enter musical projects or hi-fi scenarios lightly. When considering his first major stereo purchase Dan listened to many combinations of turntable/CD player/amplifier/speaker(s).
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Ken Micallef Posted: Nov 09, 2016 7 comments
I hit the ground running on Sunday, the final day of the show…
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Ken Micallef Posted: Nov 08, 2016 12 comments
Seeing as it's smack dab in the middle of the New York Marathon route, finding a way into The Park Lane Hotel presented its share of challenges, even on Saturday: though the race wouldn't begin until Sunday, gangs of scantily clad runners of all shapes and sizes dominated the sidewalks of Central Park South, forcing pedestrians to hit the concrete and scream, Ratso Rizzo style, "Hey! I'm walkin' here!"
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Ken Micallef Posted: Nov 06, 2016 3 comments
Whether large in scope and scale or just a few small rooms at the end of a hotel hallway, I get a kick out of hi-fi shows…
Ken Micallef Posted: Oct 27, 2016 1 comments
I recently watched Terra, an exceptional film by French directors Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot. It's not a nature documentary per se, rather a history of life on Earth from lichens to lions, amoebas to humans. Terra boasts stunning cinematography of the natural world, revealing a beauty that nearly softens the film's cautionary message.

"How have our relations with other living beings changed so much?" asks Arthus-Bertrand on his website. "What do we still see, or notice, of the living world around us? . . . We no longer see the wild, we dream of it. It's an age-old fascination, visible in the paintings of the Chauvet Cave. But this dream is today disappearing, vanishing in factory smoke and industrial smog. . . .

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