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Robert J. Reina Posted: Jun 05, 2015 7 comments
For me, the highlights of any audio show are finding a room with great sound and visiting it often throughout the show, to relax and absorb a wide range of great music. At the NY Audio Show in April 2012 in New York City, it was the room occupied by the Valve Amplification Company. There, I fell in love with the sound coming through the Signature Mk IIa line-stage preamplifier, and remembered that while I'd heard many VAC products at audio shows over the past two decades, and had enjoyed the sound every time, I'd never had a VAC product in my house. I requested a review sample.
Robert J. Reina Posted: Mar 24, 2015 7 comments
"I'm intrigued how Emotiva can offer an active speaker for so little."

This was John Atkinson's response to my request to review Emotiva's Pro Airmotiv 4s ($299/pair). My colleague Steve Guttenberg had been discussing this speaker with me at a recent industry event, and I'd realized that it had been some time since I'd reviewed an entry-level loudspeaker. I'd reviewed Emotiva's X-Ref XRT-5.2 floorstanding speaker in the August 2012 issue and had been impressed with its combination of sound quality and price. I requested samples for review.

Robert J. Reina Posted: Feb 04, 2015 3 comments
I wish I'd had a VPI Nomad when I was in college. I was in a fraternity, and for most of my time there I had to rely on others' sound systems to play my music. My sophomore and junior years, some freshmen were rotated through my room, and several of them had nice sound systems and were accommodating about letting me play my music. When I wanted to really crank it up, I visited the stoners, who had the best systems and were happy to spin my collections of King Crimson and ELP, assuming I could get them to stop listening to Jefferson Starship for five minutes (footnote 1).
Robert J. Reina Posted: Dec 30, 2014 6 comments
The $1500/pair price point for loudspeakers is now very hot. Many manufacturers offer interesting models at or near this price, which gives the most creative designers an opportunity to show off: they can come up with interesting speakers that attempt to deliver a level of performance an order of magnitude beyond their entry-level wares by trickling down technology from their costlier floorstanding models. For the buyer, a $1500/pair speaker is a great way to start building a complete system for $4000–$5000 that can deliver extremely high sound quality for the dollar.
Robert J. Reina Posted: Dec 08, 2014 0 comments
The call I received from Music Hall's Leland Leard surprised me: "Hey, Bob, I think you'd be the perfect guy to review our new Ikura turntable!"

Hmm. It had been four years since I'd reviewed a record player: Pro-Ject's Debut III, in the February 2010 issue. And with the surging popularity of vinyl—hell, Rough Trade NYC's enormous new record store, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, even sells turntables—the thought of a plug-and-play turntable-tonearm-cartridge combination for $1200 intrigued me. Sure, Leland—send it on.

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Robert J. Reina Posted: Nov 20, 2014 0 comments
Harry Pearson (left) with Stereophile founder J. Gordon Holt (right) at a 1988 party in Sea Cliff, NY. Photo: Chris Yuin

I was shocked when I learned that my dear friend Harry Pearson had passed away, on November 4 . . .

Robert J. Reina Posted: Sep 26, 2014 3 comments
In the March 2010 issue I reviewed Dynaudio's Excite X12 bookshelf speaker ($1200/pair), then the least expensive speaker in Dynaudio's line. It mightily impressed me, and I wrote that it had "become my new benchmark for speakers costing under $2000/pair." Despite the many newer, competing bookshelf speakers costing somewhere between $1000 and $2000/pair that have visited my listening room since then, my enthusiasm for the Excite X12 has not waned—I've used it as a reference against which to compare all of those of those models. So when Dynaudio USA's Michael Manousselis contacted Stereophile to tell us that the entire Excite line had been redesigned, and offered review samples of the Excite X12's successor, the Excite X14 ($1500/pair), I jumped at the opportunity.
Robert J. Reina Posted: Aug 27, 2014 0 comments
"Kevin Voecks is a genius, no ifs, ands, or buts." I wrote those words nearly 30 years ago, in a review of the Mirage 750, where I had also recommended Mirage's 350 bookshelf model. The 350, which costs $300/pair, was the first affordable bookshelf loudspeaker whose sound actually excited me. When I think now of how that speaker sounded back then, I chuckle. By today's standards, the Mirage 350 had some shortcomings.
Robert J. Reina Posted: Jul 31, 2014 4 comments
I've long been impressed by the design, construction, and sound of the tubed electronics produced by Vladimir Lamm, but I'd never had a Lamm Industries product in my house. So I asked for a review sample of Lamm's flagship line-stage preamplifier, the LL1 Signature.
Robert J. Reina Posted: Jun 25, 2014 Published: Jul 01, 2014 4 comments
Phase Technology, a speaker-making division of MSE Audio based in Jacksonville, Florida, celebrated their 30th anniversary last September, at the 2013 CEDIA Expo, by reissuing of one of their first products, the PC-60 bookshelf loudspeaker, now updated with new drivers and crossovers. Dick Olsher reviewed the PC-60 for Stereophile in 1984 (footnote 1), and three decades later, John Atkinson thought it time to revisit this classic design, especially as the company's founder, the late Bill Hecht, was the inventor, in 1967, of the soft-dome tweeter. The PC60 CA (the CA stands for Classic Audiophile) intrigued me as well—despite having reviewed audio gear for 30 years and attended audio shows for even longer, I'd never heard a Phase Technology speaker. And with the PC60 CA costing $1400/pair—currently the hottest price point for high-performance bookshelf models—I couldn't wait to hear it.

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