The Entry Level #38 SM's Favorite Records of 2013

Sidebar 2: SM's Favorite Records of 2013

1) Jenny Hval: Innocence Is Kinky (CD/LP, Rune Grammofon RCD/LP3142)

2) Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (CD/LP, Columbia 88883716862)

3) Kanye West: Yeezus (CD, Def Jam B0018653-02)

4) Aidan Baker: Already Drowning (LP, Gizeh GZH43LP)

5) Julia Holter: Loud City Song (LP, Domino WIGLP306)

6) Oneohtrix Point Never: R Plus Seven (LP, Warp WARP240)

7) Circuit des Yeux: Overdue (LP, Lewis + Lynn/Ba Da Bing 92)

8) Blood Orange: Cupid Deluxe (LP, Domino WIGLP322)

9) Sigur R¢s: Kveikur (CD, XL Recordings XLCD606)

10) Tim Hecker: Virgins (LP, Kranky KRANK 183)

11) Laurel Halo: Chance of Rain (LP, Hyperdub HDBLP021)

12) Darkside: Psychic (LP, Matador OLE-1035)

13) La Luz: It's Alive (LP, Hardly Art HAR-076)

14) L. Pierre: The Island Come True (LP, Melodic MELO 081)

15) The Asphodells: Ruled by Passion, Destroyed by Lust (CD, Rotters Golf Club BRC-347)

16) Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus (LP, ATP Recordings ATPRLP49)

17) The Knife: Shaking the Habitual (LP, Mute 9556-1)

18) Beacon: The Ways We Separate (CD, Ghostly International GI-180)

19) Moderat: II (CD, Monkeytown 9571-2)

20) King Krule: 6 Feet Beneath the Moon (LP, True Panther Sounds TRUE-101-1)

21) Willis Earl Beale: Nobody Knows (LP, HXC Recordings 6 34904 07011 3)

22) The Memories: Love Is the Law (LP, Burger BRGR301)

23) Dean Blunt: The Redeemer (LP, Hippos in Tanks HIT025LP)

24) Ulrich Schnauss: A Long Way to Fall (LP, Domino LPDNO318)

25) The Haxan Cloak: Excavation (LP, Tri Angle Records TRIANGLE18)

jgossman's picture

I'm looking at the pic there.. and they look like Radio Shack connectors, because they probably ARE Radio Shack connectors.  And that's not a bad thing, Radio Shack's gold plated banana plugs are in fact GOOD.  

Get over it!

junker's picture

"LHL's second product would be the Geek Pulse, a "pure class-A" desktop integrated amplifier–DAC capable of handling 32-bit/384kHz PCM files, as well as decoding native DSD64 and DSD128 files."

The Pulse is not actually an integrated amplifier other than that it has a digital volume control and the user can select from 4 digital inputs much like any other DAC. I'd consider it more of a digital pre-amp if anything since while it can drive headphones it cannot directly drive speakers.

"In a little over two months, the company has raised well over $600,000 to support its design and manufacture of what will be relatively affordable hi-fi components."

Across both campaigns they have actually raised about $1.6m.

ms142's picture

Stephen, I'm quite curious about your comment about dealers in the LH Lab story. I had thought that the LH way of directly reaching the customer is the way things should be, and it's really not clear to me what functions a more traditional dealer network could provide. Could you elaborate somewhat?

I haven't heard of dealers providing repairs to DACs, and in this case it should be quite feasible for direct or indirect buyers to send their defective units back to factory. Technical support can be provided by reseller as well as the manufacturer's forum, so the main function of a reseller is to demo the product (and do bulk shipping etc). As for price, if the reseller pays the lowest of the campaign prices, after the campaign when all the prices go up there should be room for the reseller to make a normal profit. (By the way, the lower price is why people pay their cash on a promise - they get discounts in exchange for accepting more risk. It's like buying corporate bonds...) At least this is my understanding.

jbucko's picture

Another great column Stephen, that's awesome that the Lepai sounded good with the KEFs, it's too bad the Bluetooth wasn't worth it. I just ordered the Lepai TA2020+ amp (a whopping $21 on Amazon) to pair up with my Dayton B652s and make a dirt cheap second system; I'm really curious to find out if it sounds any good. One of my housemates expressed an interest in getting a turntable, but unfortunately, putting together what we would consider an "entry level" system is still a significant investment for most of my 20-something peers.  If the Dayton/Lepai combo sounds half-way decent it could be a great way to get my buddy started with minimal initial investement!

john-erik erikson smith's picture

With all due respect Stephen, I'd direct my focus away from speaker wire if I was writing an "entry level" blog. Speaker wire as a bottleneck is a bit absurd in the context of a $5,000 system, let alone an entry level system.

drblank's picture

The reason why some companies are going with Kickstarter programs is that they simply want to test the market to see what kind of market there really is. Obviously, some companies can be successful at it with a new lower end product is because they established themselves.

Light Harmonic established themselves as a top DAC mfg with their top of the line product and since they got rave reviews of their top end DAC, they figured, let's bring that same technology down to a lower price point and see what kind of response they would get. MIT Cables is doing it with their headphone cables since that's a new product for them. If they don't get enough support, then they don't have to make the product and no one gets charged the money, but if they are successful, then the mfg knows that there is a big enough market to warrant finishing the development and release of the product because they know they'll at least break even on the product design.

For small audio companies, they simply have to manage their resources to only projects that are profitable and these Kickstarter programs allows them to test the waters so to speak.

What I find annoying is the companies that talk about a new product, but it never gets released and it's probably due to the company not having the financial resources or they run into some type of problem that's either technical or mfg related or they simply can't make a profit due to rising production costs.

I don't normally prescribe to getting involved with Kickstarter type programs, but apparently there are people that do. I think it's a way to test the market before a product release and if they hit the goal, that means they can sell enough units to at least break even.

for the market LH is doing those Kickstarter programs, it's a VERY tough market. There are more and more portable DACs, or lower priced DACs on the market and it's a tough call to release something if there simply isn't enough people willing to buy the product.