LATEST ADDITIONS

Kalman Rubinson  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  12 comments
On a cold, clear February morning, I attended my first in-person press event since the beginning of the pandemic. Marantz had invited me to a small group session in a suite at the Equinox Hotel at Hudson Yards but gave no indication of what was in store. After two years without live press events or audio shows, I was not going to spurn the offer no matter what would be presented: I was hungry for hi-fi. Upon arrival, I learned that Marantz would be featuring just one new product, a streaming integrated amplifier, the Marantz Model 40n ($2499). Sure, I'm in.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  10 comments
So, just how hot was it? Residents of Florida, Texas, and other southern states may laugh, but the greater Seattle Area is ill-equipped to cope with temperatures that topped out at 96°. Nor could the poor Doubletree Hilton at SEATAC's air conditioning keep upper-floor hallways cool; those with glass-faced enclosures facing the sun reached fry-me-an-egg levels. At some hours of the day, the temperature in the elevator was ridiculous.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  4 comments
How does anyone adequately and fairly evaluate a first-time audio show in a new location? Especially when it's handicapped by unusually hot, mid-90º weather and yet another COVID surge that was accompanied by admonishments to mask up indoors?

First, I rejoice that the show brought together so many old friends in such a convivial manner. A case in point: Marjorie Baumert, head of the former Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (left above), headed west from Denver to support show organizers Gary Gill (right above) and Lou Hinkley (hard at work elsewhere) as volunteer coordinator. With such heart helping to guide the operation, the feeling in rooms and hallways was as positive as it gets.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  2 comments
As at T.H.E. Show in Long Beach, I was smitten by the round, colorful, and illumined sound of Thrax Spartacus 300B monoblocks ($97,500/pair). Seduced, won over, serenaded into submission. And then some.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  2 comments
If any company's sonic signature has changed from the first time I encountered it, it's Dan Wright's ModWright. While Dan still does tube modifications to products from other companies—his Cambridge CXN V2 Tube Modification ($1500/mod only) to the Cambridge DAC was part of the show system—the KWH225i class-AB Hybrid Integrated ($9750), PH9.0X Tube Phono Stage ($4750), and world debut Analog Bridge (maybe $2900/TBD) are 100% ModWright.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  0 comments
Of the two systems in Parasound's large room, time only allowed a listen to the big one. Given that room's entire front wall was composed of outward-facing glass, Parasound's Phil Jackson had no choice but to opt for heavy draping that, as with all heavy draping, nipped depth in the bud.

I initially typed "death" rather than depth. Whatever that may say about my own internal preoccupations, it does not reflect on the core of the system's sound, which was gratifying alive without being hot or splashy.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  0 comments
The email read, in part, like an equipment list with Herb Reichert's name on it. The room had one raison d'être: to showcase Pure AudioProject's Trio15 Classic open-baffle speaker ($9740/pair), which includes a Voxativ AC-PiFe wooden-cone center driver and three 15" woofers custom-manufactured for PureAudioProject by Eminence. To do so, Ze'ev (Wolf) Schlik paired his speaker with Pass Labs' INT-25 integrated amplifier ($7500) and XP-17 phono preamp ($4300), the Denafrips Terminator Plus DAC ($6400), and VPI Industries' Avenger turntable ($12,000) with Shyla cartridge ($2000).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  4 comments
The setting is surreal. As you drive into the Satsop Business Park in rural Elma, Washington (pop. 3500, max), eyes immediately fixate on the looming 481'-tall cooling towers of an abandoned nuclear facility. Remnants of the largest nuclear power plant construction project in the United States, the site was mothballed in 1983, in part due to concerns triggered by reports of what had happened at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island four years earlier.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  0 comments
With the support of Seattle's 76-year-old Hawthorne Stereo, Focal Naim America presented a system described by the company's Tom Graham as "The best of the best of what Focal and Naim have to offer." The sound in the large room was extremely open and spacious on a 16/44.1 wireless stream of a very naïve sounding soprano singing the "Pie Jesu" from John Rutter's Requiem.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 04, 2022  |  0 comments
When I entered the room shared by Ken Stevens' CAT (Convergent Audio Technology) and Michael D. Griffin's ESP (Essential Sound Products), recording engineers/life partners Jim Anderson (above) and Ulrike Schwarz were finishing up a talk/demonstration about recording Patricia Barber's album Clique. They are not the only world-class engineers I've encountered who, standing well to the side and above speakers' tweeters, played tracks so loud that voice and instruments spread and distorted. But in soft passages, and once they'd turned the volume down, the beautiful liquidity of the CAT sound, the superb engineering, and the excellent dynamics of system and recording alike came through for all to relish.

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