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 Will 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 ***
Jim Austin  |  May 16, 2023  |  6 comments
This, Stereophile's June 2023 issue, is the 50th I've produced as editor. That seems like a lot—yet the four-plus years it took have flown by; it seems impossible that I've done this 50 times already. Still, the main thing it makes me think is how inexperienced I remain: It will take another 28 years to match JA1's record. That's unlikely to happen: I'm not sure when I'll retire, but I hope it will be before I turn 87. What have I learned? I've learned a lot about producing this magazine, and I've gained a lot of detailed knowledge, especially about specific hi-fi components. I've gained some broader knowledge, too, including a deeper appreciation for the crucial importance of the time domain in hi-fi—of the fact that music happens in the time domain and we experience it there. In the very best systems, that fact is respected and exploited.
Michael Trei  |  May 15, 2023  |  4 comments
Over the last 40 years, I have set up or serviced literally thousands of turntables, and during that time I have seen a lot of increasingly sophisticated tools become available to help in getting your turntable optimized. I've had my eye on the Shaknspin speed analyzer since it was launched a couple of years ago, and now there's a new Shaknspin2, which promises more accurate results.