Robert Baird  |  Feb 26, 2024  |  0 comments
Photo by Sabrina Santiago

There's a fear out there, even among jazz cognoscenti, that the music's best years and true geniuses are all part of the past. Even in New York City, the richest magnet for live jazz on earth, it sometimes seems that experiencing generational talent, the kind that once drove the music forward, is now confined to gazing at the famous photos on the walls of the music's most revered shrine, the Village Vanguard. Yet, seeing pianist Sullivan Fortner at the Vanguard, as part of Cécile McLorin Salvant's band, convinced me that there's still jazz magic in the world. By turns playful, blindingly brilliant, and at times puppy dog goofy, Fortner was spectacular. He is clearly a star in the music's future.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 25, 2024  |  13 comments

When some folks think of Audio Note, they picture of low fog over English lakes, Earl Grey tea, The House of Commons, and Big Ben. Tubes for sure. Likely, Classical music. Well hold on to your remote control, 'cause this latest sighting of Audio Note, at the Florida Audio Expo, was more drum'n'bass than Dvorák, more techno wampum than Die Walkure.

Mark Henninger  |  Feb 25, 2024  |  First Published: Feb 22, 2024  |  3 comments

There are always a few truly eccentric rooms at audio shows; I hope there always will be. At FLAX 2024, the Davina Loudspeaker commanded one.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 24, 2024  |  6 comments

As Stereophile managing editor Mark Henninger and I scurried up and down the Hilton halls, fulfilling our tasks as intrepid reporters, we had little time to compare notes. But we agreed on one room, Axiss Audio. In a room filled with exceptional gear, Axiss's Cliff Duffey and TJ Goldsby had set up a fantastic rig, well beyond the norm, which overachieved and set my ears afire. (Not literally.)

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 24, 2024  |  2 comments

Angie Lisi and Matthew Legere of American Sound of Richmond Hill, Ontario, played vinyl records, after my heart.

John Atkinson  |  Feb 23, 2024  |  34 comments
When standalone digital/analog processors made an appearance a quarter-century ago, they were limited to the CD medium's 16 bits of resolution—at best. These days, almost every DAC can process at least 24 bits, and many models offer between 20 and 21 bits of real-world resolution. Modern models from Benchmark, dCS, Merging, Mola Mola, Okto, and Weiss illustrate not just the skill of the circuit designer but also that of the engineer who laid out the printed circuit board.

One of the first digital processors I encountered that offered 21 bits of resolution was the Weiss DAC202, which Erick Lichte reviewed in January 2012. Subsequent processors from this Swiss company have consistently performed well, not just on the test bench but also in the listening room.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 23, 2024  |  0 comments

Steve Jain's Fidelity Imports held fort in six rooms at FLAX, crisscrossing lines that included Perlisten, Primare, Michell, Unison Research, Diptyque, Opera, Soulnote, Gold Note, Q Acoustics, and more. Room 1016 was co-hosted by Chestertown, Maryland, dealership The Listening Room.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 23, 2024  |  1 comments

Shunyata Research’s Richard Rogers showed me one of my favorite rooms of the show, a smallish rig that made very biggish sounds.

Mark Henninger  |  Feb 23, 2024  |  First Published: Feb 22, 2024  |  1 comments

There's something about Black Ice Audio (formerly Jolida) that puts me in the frame of mind to enjoy some great tunes. It could be CEO Jerred Dunkerson's welcoming demeanor, or it could be the way the company's tube-centric gear renders smooth, eminently listenable sound without costing a fortune.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 22, 2024  |  2 comments
Though the hotel halls of Capital Audiofest 2023 were not as busy as some exhibitors might have hoped, the event's listening rooms were filled to the brim with choice equipment, practically overflowing. One piece that captured my attention was a turntable that embodies thoughtful design and contemporary Italian style: the Gold Note Mediterraneo X ($12,999). This elegant turntable combines traditional materials with touch-friendly digital technology in arresting fashion.

An exploration of the artistry and expertise behind the Mediterraneo X is a journey through Italian craftsmanship.