Thomas Conrad  |  Feb 09, 2023  |  1 comments
Scenes: Variable Clouds; Owen Broder: Hodges: Front and Center, Vol.1; Ahmad Jamal: Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse 1965–1966.
Jason Victor Serinus, Stephen Francis Vasta  |  Feb 09, 2023  |  0 comments
Ruby Hughes: Echo: Songs Across the Ages; Anne-Sophie Mutter: Brahms Double Concerto & Clara Schumann Piano Trio; Mozart in Milan; Ben-Haim: Symphony No.1; Weinberg: Symphonies Nos.3 & 7, Flute Concerto No.1.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 08, 2023  |  2 comments
Dave Alvin is a fighter. In the 1980s, when Dave and his older brother, Phil Alvin, shared studio and stage as co-founders of Los Angeles punkabilly band The Blasters, they frequently fought each other. They also fought musically, tussling over every note as the four-man band wrangled many great tunes. In that respect, their working relationship may have been similar to the sibling push-pull output of Ray and Dave Davies in the Kinks and Liam and Noel Gallagher in Oasis. Consider "American Music," "Marie Marie," and "Border Radio," all from the band's 1981 sophomore album The Blasters, as examples of how internal conflict can lead to successful collaboration.
Larry Birnbaum  |  Feb 07, 2023  |  1 comments
"Whip dem, whip dem," sings Junior Byles on "Beat Down Babylon," to the accompaniment of whip cracks that recall the ones on Frankie Laine's "Mule Train." Produced by Mitch Miller some 20 years before Lee "Scratch" Perry produced Byles's reggae hit, "Mule Train" helped establish "the primacy of the producer—even more than the artist, the accompaniment, or the material," according to author Will Friedwald, who adds that "Miller also conceived of the idea of the pop record 'sound' per se: not so much an arrangement or a tune, but an aural texture (usually replete with extramusical gimmicks) that could be created in the studio."
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 03, 2023  |  46 comments
Almost five years after I submitted my review of Dynaudio's Focus 200 XD class-D active bookshelf loudspeaker—my first product review for Stereophile—word of its imminent successor, the digital Focus 10 class-D active bookshelf loudspeaker ($5500/pair), and its two larger siblings arrived via Mike Manousselis, Dynaudio North America's president, Americas. Then came the near-ubiquitous parts shortages and COVID-related slowdowns that have plagued high-end manufacturers worldwide.
Herb Reichert  |  Feb 03, 2023  |  15 comments
Before this month, I'd never experienced Rotel amplification in one of my own systems, but I have memories of how their amplifiers sounded back in the early 1990s. In those days, at audio shows, I would audition every Rotel amp I could find; I was especially interested in their $369, 60Wpc RB-960BX. I was curious about that model because it was the number-one competitor to the 60Wpc darling of the audiophile proletariat: Adcom's GFA 535 II. My friend Corey Greenberg compared these two popular amps in Stereophile and concluded, "The Rotel is for the budget-minded music lover who wants a good, solid little amplifier that's not going to make listening to music a trying experience."
Robert Baird  |  Feb 02, 2023  |  1 comments
To be a poet is to be tormented. And singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt's demons were relentless: mental illness, addiction, willful recklessness. He constantly complicated his life and the lives of those around him. Even fans who felt lucky just to have him play their town were unwittingly drawn in, often exhilarated but occasionally aghast. Yet judged by his recordings, he was indisputably a songwriting genius—often sad and confused but gifted nonetheless. The scion of a storied and wealthy Texas clan, he was that rare artist who was compelled to create art.
Julie Mullins  |  Feb 01, 2023  |  14 comments
In last month's Re-Tales column, I discussed the impact the current economy is having on the hi-fi industry. Some hi-fi companies said sales have "normalized" after widespread, dramatic increases during the COVID years—which is to say, sales are down relative to their peak but still strong. Others have noticed customers biding time before making expensive purchases or opting to buy less-expensive equipment than originally planned. Yet, even in this risky economic climate, a few people are taking the risk and opening new brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Andrey Henkin  |  Jan 31, 2023  |  4 comments
I never collected baseball cards, played Cops & Robbers, or was a Boy Scout. From the moment I heard the opening guitar riff of Blondie's "One Way or Another," at age 6, it was clear that music would be central to everything I was going to do. It was my first important big thing, and my last.
Jim Austin  |  Jan 27, 2023  |  29 comments
If you're reasonably handy, you can probably build your own digital-to-analog converter. It won't cost much, and if you're careful, and knowledgeable enough to understand and follow some rather technical instructions, or if you have patience enough to follow advice from a few different online discussion forums—and the judgment to distinguish the good advice from the bad—then the DAC you make may end up sounding very good.