Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 24, 2023  |  0 comments
There were several reasons why I was extremely eager to hear this system. First and foremost, given the high price of Wadax digital gear, I wanted to get a sense of what the Wadax Atlantis Reference DAC ($166,420), Wadax Atlantis Reference Server ($68,800), Wadax Atlantis Reference Transport $115,000), and Wadax Atlantis Reference PSU ($52,700) might sound like in the context of the MOC's challenging acoustics. Second, while I don't have good sense of the ultimate potential of Magico M6 loudspeakers ($185,000/pair), which I haven't heard as many times as I hope I will, I certainly know the sound of the D'Agostino Momentum HD preamp ($42,500) and D'Agostino Momentum M400 MxV monoblocks ($79,950/pair), both of which grace my reference system. So, with a big thumbs up to Wadax for having the smarts to go head-to-head with dCS by using the same electronics they're often paired with, and for also now offering an optional higher-priced all-black finish which greatly alters their gear's appearance, I had to listen.
Tony Scherman  |  May 23, 2023  |  5 comments
Before offering a few modest observations about the music, life, and times of David Lindley, a man who never met a stringed instrument he couldn't master and who died on March 3, I'll make two points, both somewhat contrarian.

In the flood of obituaries and tributes that have appeared since his death at age 78, one reads ad nauseam that Lindley, a lifelong Los Angeles resident whose most productive years were the 1970s and '80s, "help[ed] shape the sound of West Coast soft rock," as Guitar Player's writer put it. While Lindley's impact on Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and other Southern California soft-rockers was indeed considerable, he was equally, if not more, a firebrand, especially on his favorite instrument, the lap-steel guitar, which he essentially introduced to mainstream rock.

Casey Miller  |  May 23, 2023  |  18 comments
I have been haunted for 15 years by these words: "Very often if I was given the choice of listening to a piece of music I really liked or listening to nothing at all, I would choose nothing at all. ... These days I don't listen to a lot of music, and I find a lot of pleasure in no music. There's a kind of silence and just hearing some conversation from outside, or hearing a police car in the distance, just these fragments of daily life are very poetic and very peaceful somehow."

They were spoken by Britisher David Toop, confirmed music-head, someone who has spent his life playing, listening to, and writing about music. Why would a person who amassed such a dragon's hoard of obscure releases that a documentary was made about it—who tried to listen to every darn thing ever recorded—at the end of the day prefer regular sounds that would not even fit the dictionary definition of music?

Julie Mullins  |  May 22, 2023  |  2 comments
Even if Darren Myers's name isn't familiar, you still may have heard—or at least heard about—hi-fi components he designed, including the PS Audio Stellar phono preamp, which garnered Stereophile's Analog Product of the Year Award in 2020.

After working on projects for Classé and Bowers & Wilkins, Myers was hired by PS Audio, where he ended his tenure as senior analog design engineer. Myers recently joined Parasound (footnote 1) following the company's acquisition by David Sheriff.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 20, 2023  |  0 comments
After a lot of hard work, Vitus Audio arrived in Munich with a new Signature DAC, the SD-025 Mk.II (€26,500), and new SM-103 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers (€70,000/pair). Allied with other Vitus equipment), the system offered bountiful color, snap, and excellent low bass on a CD of Mathias Heise performing "Quadrillion." Having just viewed a bit of a Heise's live performance of the piece, I find myself extremely grateful for the opportunity to close my eyes and focus solely on the music.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 19, 2023  |  1 comments
SteinMusic's apparent paradox, a striking black-and-white equipment array that's on track to win my Looker Award of High End 2023 but that delivered maximally colorful sound, attracted throngs to the company's room. On Sir Simon Rattle's recording of Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite, performed by the City of Birmingham Orchestra, and Musica Nuda's live recording of "I Shall Survive," Holger Stein's system delivered an arresting three-dimensional soundstage and marvelous range of colors.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 19, 2023  |  11 comments
You may have now read as much German as I dare put into print, but you'll likely read far more about Voxativ's revamp of its first loudspeaker, the formerly discontinued, single 8" driver Ampeggio loudspeaker (€25,900/pair), in the coming months.

"People kept asking for it," Voxativ owner Inès Adler told me. "We've learned a lot in the 20 years since it was first issued, and have been able to optimize and specially tune the design. Yet we've managed to keep it at the same price it was two decades ago."

Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 18, 2023  |  4 comments
This sign may not look auspicious, situated as it is over a trash basket. But this poster next to the exit stairs of the Kieferngarten stop of the U-Bahn, Munich's equivalent of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system's network of underground and overground trains, was essential for people walking from the train to Munich High End's home in the MOC.

Nor was it the only sign I encountered. Many subways stops—even the airport—displayed large posters announcing the annual well-attended Munich High End audio show.

Herb Reichert  |  May 18, 2023  |  8 comments
The most money I've ever spent on a pair of loudspeakers was back in the early 1990s, when I bought a pair of used TAD TH-4001 wooden horns and their associated TD-4001 compression drivers. The TAD horn's smooth, micro-resolved response was a refinement upgrade from my multicell Altec horns; plus, the TADs' French-polished wood looked radically less industrial than the soldered-tin, tar-filled 1005/288C horns they replaced. None of my horn-fanatic friends had anything sonically or aesthetically comparable, and all of them were envious. I didn't keep the TADs long, because the friend who admired them most made me a very "friendly" offer.

That was my first experience with Japanese loudspeaker design, and it exposed me to a level of engineering precision and fine craftmanship I had not yet encountered in American-made speakers.

Sasha Matson  |  May 17, 2023  |  1 comments
Barbra Streisand: Live at the Bon Soir
Streisand, vocals; Tiger Haynes, guitar; Peter Daniels, piano; Averill Pollard, bass; John Cresci, drums
Legacy/Columbia 19658713762 (reviewed as 24/96 WAV, also available on CD, Gold CD, SACD, 2LP). 2022/23. Barbra Streisand, Jay Landers, Martin Erlichman, prods.; Roy Halee, Adjutor Theroux, Paul Blakemore, Jochem van der Saag, engs.
Performance *****
Sonics ***