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David Lander  |  Jun 06, 2011  |  1 comments
Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, by Terry Teachout (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009): 475pp. Hardcover, $30; paperback, $16.95.

If you plan to read just one book about Louis Armstrong, whose virtuosic cornet solos pushed jazz past rudimentary ensemble playing and launched his phenomenal career as an instrumentalist and singer, make it Pops. Teachout built it on brickwork laid by authors who preceded him, so you'll benefit from their research, as well as from narrative on 650 previously private reels of tape that Armstrong recorded and archived. Moreover, Teachout is a musician and music critic who offers opinions on his subject's discography.

Few people seem to realize that Armstrong (1901–1971) called himself LOU-iss. "All White Folks call me Louie," he once noted, and in some instances that may have been patronizing. In others, it was surely an instinctive response to the man's infectious warmth and informality.

Jonathan Scull  |  Feb 11, 2011  |  First Published: Jan 11, 2011  |  7 comments
Illustration: Jeff Wong

John Atkinson and I were On the Road, whistling down I-95 in a big, Kona Blue Metallic 2011 Ford Edge Ltd with voice-command everything. To paraphrase Raoul Duke at the very beginning of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, we were somewhere around Princeton, New Jersey—not quite the edge of the desert—when the drugs began to take hold. Just as in the original text, "there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car . . ." I decided that there was no point in mentioning the bats to JA. He'd bought the Criterion Collection DVD of Terry Gilliam's film version of Fear and Loathing at Princeton Record Exchange. He knew about the bats.

John Marks  |  Oct 01, 2010  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2010  |  0 comments
Backstory in Blue: Ellington at Newport '56
by John Fass Morton, foreword by Jonathan Yardley. Rutgers University Press, 2008. Hardcover, 336 pages, 107 B&W photos. $34.95.
Keith Howard  |  Apr 08, 2010  |  First Published: Mar 08, 2010  |  1 comments
As Chester Rice, co-inventor of the moving-coil loudspeaker, once ruefully observed: "The ancients have stolen our inventions." So often, what is painted as new and innovative turns out to be something someone thought of long before. We have a habit of forgetting, and that applies not only to inventions, but to knowledge of other kinds as well.
Richard Lehnert  |  Apr 02, 2010  |  5 comments
I know of only one composer who measures up to Beethoven, and that is Bruckner.—Richard Wagner, 1882
Martin Colloms  |  Dec 31, 2009  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1990  |  0 comments
A freelance reviewer's workload is erratic. On the odd occasion one might have a few moments' respite, while at other times the coincidence of multiple deadlines for copy results in several weeks of panic. As I write this missive I have just completed one such overload period covering so much equipment that I thought that it would be worthwhile to look back and take stock at the audio in the past decade (footnote 1).
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 11, 2009  |  First Published: Oct 11, 1985  |  0 comments
Is it possible to make a $700 "mainstream-audio" power amplifier sound exactly like a high-priced perfectionist amplifier? Bob Carver, of Carver Corporation, seemed to think he could, so we challenged him to prove it.
Keith Howard  |  Apr 02, 2009  |  First Published: Mar 02, 2009  |  0 comments
Until the Recording Industry Association of America hit the headlines in recent years with its antipiracy campaign, the initials RIAA meant one thing to seasoned audiophiles: the vinyl-disc equalization characteristic introduced in the 1950s to standardize what had previously been an anarchy of different EQs. Three decades later, as CD gained ascendance, a large proportion of audiophiles still knew what RIAA equalization was, and a good number of them had some idea or better of what the RIAA EQ curve looked like, and why it was applied.
 |  Mar 24, 2009  |  First Published: Apr 24, 2009  |  1 comments
Phono Accessories & Record Cleaners
John Atkinson  |  Jan 01, 2009  |  0 comments
"How sour sweet music is / When time is broke and no proportion kept!"
—William Shakespeare, King Richard II, V, v, 42
Dick Olsher  |  Oct 29, 2008  |  First Published: Jan 29, 1989  |  0 comments
There was a time, as recently as 40 years ago, when frequencies below 100Hz were considered extreme lows, and reproduction below 50Hz was about as common as the unicorn. From our present technological perch, it's too easy to smirk condescendingly at such primitive conditions. But just so you're able to sympathize with the plight of these disadvantaged audiophiles, I should tell you that there were two perfectly good reasons for this parlous state of affairs. First of all, program material at that time was devoid of deep bass; not because it was removed during disc mastering but simply because there wasn't any to begin with. The professional tape recorders of the day featured a frequency response of 50–15kHz, ±2dB—just about on a par with the frequency performance capability of a cheap 1988 cassette tape deck.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 24, 2008  |  0 comments
"Physical discs seem so 20th century!" That's how I ended my eNewsletter review of the Logitech (then Slim Devices) Squeezebox WiFi music server in April 2006, and it seems that increasing numbers of Stereophile readers agree with me. In our website poll of January 5, 2008, we asked, "Are you ready for an audiophile music server?" The response to that question was the highest we have experienced: 32% of respondents already listen to music via their computer networks, many using home-brewed solutions, and 44% intend to. We've published a lot of material on this subject in the last five years, and it seemed a good idea to sum it up in this article.
Keith Howard  |  Aug 29, 2008  |  0 comments
Headphones get pretty short shrift in much of the hi-fi press, which is puzzling—the headphone market is burgeoning. I don't know what the equivalent US figures are, but in recent years the UK headphone market has increased by an annual 15–20% in both units sold and overall revenue. It's easy to dismiss this as a natural byproduct of the Apple iPod phenomenon, but 20% of the market value is now accounted for by headphones costing over $120; a significant subset of consumers would seem to be looking for quality. When you also consider that many people's first exposure to higher-quality audio comes via headphones, there is ample reason for treating them more seriously.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 02, 2008  |  First Published: Apr 02, 2008  |  0 comments
It's said that your first experience on entering a space sets the tone for all that follows. At LP pressing plant Record Technology, Inc. (RTI), that experience is my encounter with veteran pressman Richard Lopez, who responds to my request for direction. As he leaves his vintage record press to lead me to owner Don MacInnis, Lopez reads aloud the sticker on a box of recently pressed LPs. "WORLD'S FINEST PHONOGRAPH RECORDS," he declares with pride. As I reflect on how few workers today feel so connected to the products they make, I sense that something special lies ahead.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 29, 2008  |  First Published: Apr 30, 2008  |  0 comments
Swiss Precision: The Story of the Thorens TD 124 and Other Classic Turntables
Swiss Precision: The Story of the Thorens TD 124 and Other Classic Turntables
by Joachim Bung. Published by Joachim and Angelika Bung, Schmitten, Germany (info@td-124.de), 2008. Hardcover, 288 pages, four-color, ISBN 978-3-00-021162-1. Price: €59 plus overseas mailing.

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