Tom Fine  |  Jul 19, 2024  |  13 comments
The hi-fi receiver has been many different things. Early examples, like the Harman Kardon "Stereo Festival" TA-230 from 1958 (said by modern-day Harman/Samsung to be the first stereo receiver), featured separate FM and AM monophonic tuners that could assign a speaker to each if you wanted to listen to what was then a fad: stereo broadcasts over two stations (left channel over FM, right over AM, for instance). Standardized FM stereo broadcasting began in 1961, and by then, receivers had evolved into large, complex, nearly complete stereo systems; an example of that was the Fisher 800.

It might be nice if the receiver can connect to a modern TV, which will have either TosLink or HDMI-ARC output, or both. For those of us who still own a bunch of CDs, we might as well include a robust DAC—and maybe even a built-in CD transport. Throw in FM analog and digital tuners, and voilà, you have the R 2500 R, the "21st Century Receiver" from T+A Elektroakustik of Herford, Germany, southwest of Hanover.

Martin Colloms  |  Jul 18, 2024  |  31 comments
As founder and chief designer of Sonus Faber, Franco Serblin designed and manufactured many loudspeakers of acclaimed high quality, mainly in box form. Nevertheless, he remained painfully aware that such conventional rectangular parallelepiped constructions inevitably possessed an inherent and hard-to-suppress resonant signature characteristic of box-form cabinetry, significantly differing from that for a musical instrument. Franco had long obsessed over the sound and construction of classical string instruments, violins, violas, and cellos made by grand masters over centuries. He valued highly those richly resonant, expressive, complex sonic signatures.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 17, 2024  |  17 comments
Danny Elfman: Percussion Concerto, Wunderkammer
Colin Currie, percussion; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, cond.
Sony Classical 906443 (reviewed as 24/96 WAV). 2024. Danny Elfman, prod.; Peter Cobbin, Kirsty Whalley, Dennis Sands, Patricia Sullivan, engs.
Performance ****½
Sonics ****

It's time to go out on a limb. Are Danny Elfman's Percussion Concerto and the other works on his new album "great music"? Should this classical music, from the former lead singer and songwriter of new wave band Oingo Boingo—who composed film scores for Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Spider-Man, and whose music introduces Desperate Housewives and The Simpsons—be in the same conversation with Albéniz, Scriabin, Ligeti, Glass, Gluck, Brahms, and Beethoven, whose work appears on our other Recording of the Month candidate, Yuja Wang's Vienna Recital?

Jim Austin, Tom Fine  |  Jul 16, 2024  |  41 comments
Physical media market shares, from 1973–2024. From

When the CD is gone, and it will be soon, we'll miss it. New CD releases are winding down (footnote 1). In the classical world, the era of big, bargain-priced boxes of CDs—a somewhat recent development—is ending because, after a long, slow descent, retail sales have fallen off a cliff in the past year or so. In pop and rock, if you discover a new band you like, you may or may not be able to buy a CD. Perhaps they'll self-publish a few to sell at concerts; there's a better chance they'll have LPs, assuming they can get time at a vinyl-mastering studio and a pressing plant, both of which are booked to the max. CDs, though, are an afterthought if they're even that.

Vinyl records will likely stay around indefinitely as a collector's artifact, but new CDs are fading fast. This is momentous. CD will be remembered as the last mainstream physical music format. Its passing marks the death of physical music media.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 12, 2024  |  4 comments

VTL and Wilson have delivered great sound at previous shows, and they did so again here in a set-up of which Peter McGrath, Brand Ambassador for Wilson Audio, was especially proud: VTL’s MB-450 III Signature monoblocks, TL7.5 III Reference preamplifier, and TP6.5 II.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 12, 2024  |  5 comments

Munich, redux: Western Electric owner Charles Whitener and Sales Director Trent Suggs together gave us a first look at Western Electric’s upcoming products. Dumb me failed to turn on my video until late in the presentation, but below you can catch a bit of Suggs’ presentation.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 12, 2024  |  2 comments
My reference preamp of the past few years, the D’Agostino Momentum HD, is ceding to the new D’Agostino Momentum model, to be called the C2 preamp. Termed “a complete departure from the HD,” the C2 derives from the superb, top-line D’Agostino Relentless preamp (review forthcoming).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 12, 2024  |  3 comments
As one of Munich’s most prestigious distributors, Mansour Mamaghani’s Audio Reference again pulled out all the stops in a huge, glass enclosed central Atrium space that showcased more brands than there is space to list.
Ken Micallef  |  Jul 12, 2024  |  0 comments
Unfortunately, there are always manufacturers at shows from which I fail to gather enough information to file a thorough report, so then I have to to follow up later. I finally caught up with Berlin-based cartridge manufacturer Tedeska Vinyl Groove Pick-Up Technology and their kind representative Francesa Lee, who explained their new wares, which were on static display at High End Munich.
Michael Trei  |  Jul 12, 2024  |  0 comments
Last month, I talked a bit about some of the new gear being exhibited at AXPONA, America's big hi-fi show, held near Chicago. Well, every year, as soon as that show is over, it's time to get ready for the Big Kahuna of audio shows, High End Munich.

Admittedly, I have never attended the big shows in Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Warsaw, but it would be hard to imagine either one outdoing Munich. The Warsaw show calls itself the second biggest show in Europe, deferring, presumably, to the Munich show. Munich is so big that it even has a sideshow, HiFi Deluxe, just down the road. HiFi Deluxe caters to exhibitors who got shut out of the big show, which despite its hugeness is oversubscribed. It can all become a bit overwhelming.

The main Stereophile crew covering the Munich show—Ken Micallef and Jason Victor Serinus—did all the heavy-duty legwork, posting highlights here. I toured the halls to see what was new, collecting the best, most Spin Doctor–ish things for this report. Here's a smattering.