Interviews

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Ken Micallef  |  Dec 11, 2018  |  1 comments
Wayne Shorter is 85. His mind moves at warp speed, a million miles from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, who rescued him from Newark, New Jersey—or the Miles Davis's second great quintet, for which the saxophonist wrote the compositions that would establish his genius. Shorter's constellation of classic Blue Note recordings from 1964–67—Night Dreamer, JuJu, The All Seeing Eye, ETC, The Soothsayer, Adam's Apple, Speak No Evil, Schizophrenia—is now but a dim cluster of stars in his ever-expanding musical galaxy.
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 18, 2018  |  28 comments
Even newbie audiophiles can be smitten with the vintage hi-fi bug. Keyboardist and composer John Escreet was once a streaming kind of guy. Then he heard the Fisher 500-C/Falcon LS3/5a-endowed system of bassist Matt Brewer, partner of former Stereophile editorial coordinator Jana Dagdagan.
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 06, 2018  |  2 comments
Photo: Nicholas Suttle

Electric guitarist John Scofield, winner of multiple Grammy Awards, has a knack for staying a step ahead of musical trends. In hundreds of jazz settings, "Sco" and his signature Ibanez AS200 guitar and Fender Reverb amplifier have created a unique style and sound that have earned him a popularity beyond jazz's usual audience.

Jim Austin  |  Nov 01, 2018  |  10 comments
Virtually all of the active components in your system—DACs, preamplifiers, power amplifiers—work by modulating the DC output of their power supplies with an AC music signal. Surely, then, the more perfect your household AC is, the more perfect your audio system's output will be. Analogies abound—to dirty water used in distilling good whiskey, to inferior thread used to weave fine fabrics—and all amount to the same thing: you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Sasha Matson  |  Sep 04, 2018  |  2 comments
There are the Grammys, and then there's the supermarket. Both are marks of achievement and permanence in popular recorded music. Having just begun writing this piece, I walked into the Price Chopper Supermarket in Cooperstown, New York, and what do I hear? Rita Coolidge, and the refrain from her 1977 recording of "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher." Now that's a hook—a high mark on the tree of pop.
Ken Micallef  |  Jul 29, 2018  |  30 comments
Arriving at David Smith's comfortable Queens apartment, he walks me into what was once a small dining room. Standing upright like a pair of wood-grained phone booths are the biggest speaker cabinets I've ever seen in anyone's home—anytime, anywhere. What?

Measuring a colossal 23" deep by 26" wide by 66" high, each 20 cubic-feet cabinet holds a vintage Altec 604E coaxial driver wired to a Mastering Lab crossover set in Smith's custom-built MLTL cabinets.

Robert Harley  |  Jul 10, 2018  |  First Published: May 01, 1995  |  11 comments
The men behind HDCD (L–R: Pflash Pflaumer, Michael Ritter, Keith Johnson

High Definition Compatible Digital® (HDCD®), the proprietary process for improving the sound of 16-bit digital audio, has finally arrived. More than a dozen digital processors using the technology are on the market, and the professional encoder used to master HDCD discs is following closely behind.

Robert Baird  |  May 29, 2018  |  10 comments
Notoriously opinionated and obstinate Steve Albini, a guy ever vigilant and vocal about the wicked ways of the music business, showing up in Austin, Texas, at the annual South by Southwest festival? This I had to see. After a near-miss at his Austin hotel, we spoke the next morning on the phone.

"It was unspeakable on all levels, as bad as I imagined, and in some ways worse."

Any notion that he'd somehow softened, somehow accepted the music biz as it—

Wait. What the hell am I thinking?

Art Dudley  |  May 21, 2018  |  30 comments
Six weeks ago, Jana Dagdagan and I visited the Peekskill, New York factory of Soundsmith—her first time there, my second. Although I didn't mention this to the company's President and Chief Engineer, Peter Ledermann, the thing that most impressed me during my second visit was how little had changed since my first, in April of 2015. In particular, all but two of the employees I saw at Soundsmith this year had been there during my first visit; that suggests an experienced workforce—no small advantage in the manufacturing of phono cartridges, where the requisite skills are specialized, to say the least—a setting where people feel sufficiently challenged and appreciated that they stick around for years rather than mere months.
Ken Micallef  |  Mar 07, 2018  |  13 comments
Richard Matthews has sold upwards of 30,000 tubes in the last ten years and he still has 100,000 tubes to go! Working out of his Leeds Radio warehouse in the Bronx, Matthews has every tube imaginable in stock, as well as a vast variety of tube testers, classic radios, capacitors, beautiful vintage tube boxes and many, many collector's pieces.
Robert Baird  |  Mar 06, 2018  |  4 comments
In her wild ride of a memoir, A Woman Like Me (2012), eclectic soul and R&B singer Bettye LaVette spoke of being hung over a 20th-floor balcony of a Manhattan skyscraper by her pimp boyfriend. She revealed that she'd slept with Ben E. King and Otis Redding, and had even spent a minute dabbling in prostitution. She had dropped acid with George Clinton. Finally, she had her moment of satisfaction when she delivered a knockout performance of the Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me" at the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors. In the audience, all agog, were Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand, and Aretha Franklin, all more successful than she.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 28, 2018  |  13 comments
Earlier this week, we posted a video blog with PS Audio's founder and CEO Paul McGowan giving Jana Dagdagan and me a post-CES tour around the Boulder, Colorado company's factory. Following the tour, I sat down with Paul in Music Room One and in a wide-ranging conversation, we talked about amplifiers and loudspeakers, DACs and audio systems, and the state of high-end audio.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 25, 2018  |  12 comments
Immediately following the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, our resident videographer Jana Dagdagan and I visited PS Audio in Boulder Colorado. The company's founder, Paul McGowan, gave up his Saturday to give us a tour of the factory.
Jana Dagdagan  |  Feb 09, 2018  |  2 comments
Back in the early summer of 2017, Jack Oclee-Brown, KEF's Head of Acoustics, visited John Atkinson to set up the KEF Reference 5 loudspeakers in his listening room. JA's review of the Ref 5 was published in October 2017, and during Jack's visit JA talked to him about the design of that speaker. But they also discussed KEF's affordable "Q" line of speakers and the challenges a manufacturer faces in bringing an inexpensive loudspeaker to market, the subject of this interview.
Jonathan Scull  |  Feb 08, 2018  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1999  |  2 comments
Tom Jung of DMP (Digital Music Products) is known as one of digital's early adopters. He's also an outspoken proponent of Sony's Super Audio CD over DVD-Audio. As I was intending to review Sony's first SACD player, the SCD-1, I invited Tom to Kathleen's and my Manhattan loft to investigate further. Tom and son Paul, who's responsible for DMP's sales and marketing, arrived with a passel of big drives, a DSD computer controller, and electronics designed by Ed Meitner.

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