Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 26, 2023  |  2 comments
As much as I attempted to skip equipment we'd recently explored in Chicago, Munich, and/or Costa Mesa, my uncertainty about the intrinsic sound of CH Precision Series 1 equipment impelled me to check out their exhibit from greater Seattle dealer Audio-Ultra. While not everything in the system was from CH Precision—Ideon supplied the Absolute Epsilon DAC ($47,000), Absolute Epsilon Stream ($19,900), and Absolute Epsilon Time Signature V clock ($22,000), all of which complemented Aurender's N20 music server ($12,500)—there was sufficient CH Precision equipment in the chain to draw some conclusions.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 26, 2023  |  0 comments
In a room whose vintage TAD Evolution One floorstanders (NFS) attracted considerable attention, Wells Audio equipment delivered consistently fine, solid sound. Jeff Wells's room was also one of many I encountered that dealt with the hotel's lack of ethernet ports/wired internet by only playing 16/44.1 rips from CD.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 25, 2023  |  1 comments
On the pretty lucky-sounding 13th floor of the Doubletree by Hilton at SEATAC, LTA and Daedalus Audio presented the larger installment of their two-room partnership. A Red Book file of Patricia Barber's "The Beat Goes On" was distinguished by lovely warmth and a very solid, all of one piece presentation.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 25, 2023  |  2 comments
For the second year in a row, the first room at PAF I entered was dominated by Dan Wright's ModWright equipment. Presented in equal partnership with Seattle HiFi, who carries all the components on active display, the room was headed by ModWright's new KWA 99 fully balanced, class-AB, compact MOSFET monoblocks ($7500/pair introductory price—normally $9000). Mated with the matching LS 99 fully balanced tube preamplifier ($6500 introductory price), the system produced extremely quiet, absolutely lovely sound. This was a great start to the show.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 24, 2023  |  9 comments
There's an established standard protocol one observes when entering a room at an audio show. First, you stand in the doorway and listen for a couple of minutes, then check in with the exhibitor and if necessary, introduce yourself. Next, you exchange pleasantries and catch up while idly thumbing through whatever literature is displayed. Finally, and only at the exhibitor's insistence, you make your way to the best seat in the house while apologizing to everyone you step over, around, and displace. That's not what happened when I visited the NOLA room where Carl (left in photo), Marilyn, and Kristen Marchisotto (right) were overseeing the west coast debut of the $150,000/pair Baby Grand Reference Gold 3 loudspeakers, the midpoint of NOLA's reference series. Stepping into the doorway was as far as I got before bee-lining to the front and center, shoving aside anyone not fast enough to get out of my way.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 23, 2023  |  2 comments
The Pacific Northwest's premiere/sole audio show, the Pacific Audio Fest (PAF), takes place today through Sunday June 25 at the Doubletree by Hilton at SEATAC airport near Seattle. Attendees, who judging by pre-registrants, could double or triple 2022's inaugural PAF attendance, will discover 41 active exhibit rooms, eight exhibitors in "Record Row," seven exhibits (from six companies) in the "Headzone," and at least nine booths (from eight companies) in the "Marketplace" at the other end of a large shared ballroom.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Jun 23, 2023  |  11 comments
My first car was a decrepit, mustard-yellow Peugeot 304 with a navy hood. The blue hue wasn't a fashion statement; after an accident, the previous owner had gone to a salvage yard where only a blue replacement could be procured. When he grew sick of the car—because it made him look "like a frickin' ad for Ikea"—I paid him 600 Dutch guilders for the old heap, the equivalent of about $300 US. . .

Years later, when I got into hi-fi, I thought of that car and subsequent ones. What stood out to me most about high-end audio was: separates.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 21, 2023  |  0 comments
Servers, servers, servers. How we who embrace digital hi-fi love them for their potential to make files and streams sound better (more alive, vital, streams sound better (more alive, vital, musical, moving, transparent) than music served from a computer. How we curse them when we experience the limitations of their software. How we despair when, shortly after ascending to Peak Digital Mastery, we download a software update that hurls us back into the Valley of Digital Unknowns.

I've climbed then slid down multiple hi-fi peaks as I've moved from computer to a Roon-equipped NUC, Roon Nucleus+, and Innuos Statement Next-Gen music servers. Along the way I've reviewed the original Innuos Statement from Portugal and the Antipodes Audio K50 from New Zealand. Now I'm exploring Antipodes's top-of-the-line server/streamer/reclocker, the Oladra ($25,000), which is designed for precise clocking, low noise, and high bandwidth.

Kalman Rubinson  |  Jun 20, 2023  |  20 comments
Over a lifetime of involvement in audio, I have had standmount speakers—bookshelf speakers, as they were called back then—only twice. My very first loudspeaker was a vinyl-wrapped fiberboard bookshelf box with no name. It lasted barely a year and was replaced with a two-way system I built with a 12" RCA woofer in a floorstanding bass-reflex cabinet. My second bookshelf system was a Weathers "Book" speaker lashed up to a University dual-voice-coil woofer. I was determined to try that new thing, stereo.

Since then, I've had only floorstanders, home-made and manufactured, and I never seriously considered owning small speakers again except, perhaps, as part of a surround sound system. With that bias, why am I reviewing the B&W 705 S3?

Herb Reichert  |  Jun 19, 2023  |  5 comments
The Stereophile crew at AXPONA 2023, minus Herb Reichert (L–R): Jason Victor Serinus, Rogier van Bakel, Michael Trei, Jim Austin, Ken Micallef. Photo by David James Bellecci-Serinus.

At AXPONA 2023, I saw teenage besties cruising rooms together. I saw fashion-conscious 20-somethings listening in sweet spots, and young parents with younger children. Yeah, there were a few gray boomers like me, but only a couple were wearing Hawaiian shirts. AXPONA 2023 vibed like a tribal conference at a sacred pilgrimage site, and I've never enjoyed an audio show this much before.