Yesterday, we published a photo—see http://blog.stereophile.com/he2006/060106dryeye—of audiophiles listening to a CD-R of the provisional master of "Shenandoah" from my new recording of Cantus' There Lies the Home album, due for release in July, on the new Wilson WATT/Puppy 8s. You can see in that picture Wilson's Peter McGrath about to shoot a photo. This is what he captured. But what is Mikey Fremer holding in his hand?
Wes Phillips went gaga over the Moscode HR410 amplifier in the current (June) issue of Stereophile and at HE2006, I was equally impressed by the amplifier driving Joseph RM25XL Special Edition speakers ($4199/pair). Source was a Yamaha SACD player and a Placette Active Line Stage. I listened to SACDs of a Mahler symphony (from the Michael Tilson-Thomas cycle with the SFSO) and "Swing Live" on Chesky (for which I had been present at the sessions) and the sound was vivid without being over-hyped. Moscode's Gage Rommel showed me a mockup of the forthcoming Moscode preamplifier. This is still having its feature set argued over, including whether it should have a Bluetooth link with the remote so an LCD screen on the latter could mirror the preamp's front-panel display.
Front-end in the Lamm room, with a system featuring Lamm tubed electronics driving Wilson Sophia 2 speakers, was this gorgeous turntable from French company Metronome, the Gaia, fitted with a Graham Phantom tonearm and a Lyra Titan cartridge.
Yes, it's the same Canon—the Japanese photography, photocopier, and laser-printer giant whose logo for so many years adorned the rear wings of Williams Formula 1 racing cars. Canon's venture into the unknown waters of audio was instigated by the head of the UK-based research center, Hiro Negishi. I have been seeing Negishi-san, one of the world's leading minds in optical technology, at Audio Engineering Society conventions since the early '80s, so I was only half-surprised to see Canon launch first one loudspeaker, then a full range (footnote 1).
Back in the day, one of the first reviews to be posted in our free online archives at www.stereophile.com was Michael Fremer's June 1999 report on the Sonus Faber Amati Homage loudspeaker. The Amati was the second in the Italian manufacturer's top range, the Homage line, which is dedicated to the master makers of stringed instruments of 17th-century Cremona. The first was the Guarneri Homage (reviewed by Martin Colloms in July 1994), while the third was the Stradivari Homage (reviewed by MF in January 2005). Mikey was so impressed by the Amati that he purchased the review samples and used them as his reference for almost three years.
In his bimonthly column, "The Fifth Element," John Marks has tried to identify pro-audio components that would be of interest to audiophiles. In his June 2005 episode, John wrote about Grace Design's m902 D/A headphone amplifier ($1695), the Colorado company's replacement for the 901, which had long been a favorite of his. Changes include: the handling of single-wire sample rates of up to 192kHz; unbalanced analog outputs, controlled by the front volume control, to allow the unit to be used as a preamplifier; a cross-feed processing circuit licensed from www.meier-audio.de; power-supply revisions; and the provision of a USB digital input, in addition to S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and TosLink.
There are components that stick in a reviewer's memory long after they have been crated up and entrusted to the tender mercies of UPS. When I reviewed the Verona Master Clock from English company dCS in March 2005, the sound it allowed the combination of a dCS Verdi transport, Purcell upsampler, and Elgar Plus D/A processor to achieve from SACD was the best I had heard from my system—better, even, than I remember getting from the EMM Labs SACD transport and processor I had borrowed for a weekend a few months earlier. But at what price? The stack of four dCS components adds up to a cool $45k—"Yes, the complete dCS system is hip," I wrote in the conclusion to my review. "But $45k's worth of hip? That's a question I can't answer, I'm afraid, what with school fees and mortgages and taxes." The megabux dCS stack thus had to go back to the distributor at the end of the review period.
Getting a name check from the mainstream press can be a good thing. But as Wes Phillips wrote in his blog on February 5, "to paraphrase Mason Williams on winning an Emmy Award, 'It's like being kissed by a girl with bad breath—you appreciate the honor, but...'"