Herb Reichert  |  Aug 03, 2023  |  6 comments
I view poetry as more than a literary genre. It's a worldview and a state of being that frames my daily experience in the supernal. I've consumed a lifetime keeping my senses peeled for authentic, manmade mysteries, especially in art and music. Music is my favorite hunting ground, and nowhere have I found mysteries as DNA-deep as the 59 takes of 29 songs recorded in only five days by Delta blues legend Robert Johnson (1911–1938). I've played the Columbia Records 1961 anthology King of the Delta Blues Singers (Columbia LP CL 1654) 100 times since my days in Chicago as a teenager, and I still haven't grasped more than a portion of its juke-joint poetics.
Robert Baird  |  Aug 02, 2023  |  4 comments
Photo by Reinout Bos

Audio engineers never get the credit they deserve. The same is true for music arrangers, who are also an unheralded but hugely fundamental part of any musical success. As a composer, conductor, and inventive arranger of popular music, the modest but multitalented Vince Mendoza says he's most focused on enhancing the song he is arranging and the story it is trying to tell.

"Young arrangers are very concerned with their own voice and spinning their own melodies and turning things upside down and backwards, and they forget what a song really is about," he told me in a recent Zoom conversation from his home in Los Angeles. "You could be writing about heartbreak, and there are a million and one ways to tell that story, but the listener still has to feel it."

Stereophile Staff  |  Aug 01, 2023  |  0 comments

In just a few days, Audio Advice will be hosting its second Audio Advice Live, a three-day home theater and hi-fi show showcasing equipment from almost a hundred brands. Participants will have the opportunity to experience the launch of a host of new products from brands including Bowers & Wilkins, JBL, and Monitor Audio.

Tom Fine  |  Jul 31, 2023  |  1 comments
Behold the genius of Quincy Delight Jones Jr., well known as Q, still with us at age 90. There isn't enough space to get into all his accomplishments, so I will focus on five favorite albums, which he either headlined or was heavily involved with.
Herb Reichert  |  Jul 28, 2023  |  36 comments
The Acelec Model One speakers I'm auditioning ($6495/pair) are not princesses in pink, or frog green, or made of some chemically distilled polypudding. Nor are they conventional-beyond-reason MDF boxes covered with stick-on vinyl pretending to be wood. The Model Ones are squat, small, serious-looking, two-way standmounts. They are 11.2" tall, 7.7" wide, 11.5" deep, and 37.5lb heavy.
Michael Trei  |  Jul 27, 2023  |  3 comments
10. Acoustic Signature's listening room with its massive PBN loudspeaker system.

May has long been one of my favorite months of the year, mostly because it means it's time for the Munich show, the annual gathering of the high-end audio tribe in the Bavarian capital. High End Munich 2023 marked my return to the biggest audio show in the Western world following three years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, so I was eager to get back to the land of Wiener schnitzel and bratwurst.

This year, as an added bonus, I was invited to visit the production facilities of turntable and tonearm manufacturer Acoustic Signature, which is based about 110 miles west of Munich, near Stuttgart.

Michael Trei  |  Jul 27, 2023  |  2 comments
At High End Munich, Michael Trei chats with Thorens CEO Gunter Kürten (right) about the Thorens Reference turntable's active suspension. (Photo: Jeff Joseph.)

It's hard to convey the scope of the annual High End Munich audio show to someone who has never attended. Spread out over three floors of a large facility called the Munich Order Center (MOC), the show is notable for how different it is from audio shows in the US. The ground floor is an area about the size of three American football fields, where brands set up professional trade show booths to display their wares. This is a long way from the draped folding tables and back curtain on a rail that defines a "show booth" at most US shows. What you'll find on this level is mostly static displays, although scattered among the displays you'll find prefabricated sound rooms, acoustically designed spaces designed to allow live demonstrations on the ground floor.

My main focus at the show was to try to root out interesting new record-playing gear. I was not disappointed. Here are a few select highlights from what I saw at the show.

Tom Fine  |  Jul 25, 2023  |  2 comments
Little Feat's beginning was a slow burn, bolstered by the faith of record company execs as the band found its groove. Once it found its, um, feat, the band thrived through deaths and other turmoil. In fact, they're still at it. This fall, according to Rhino Records, the band will be performing "on back-to-back nights ... at selected venues" the two albums that document the time they found their way: 1972's Sailin' Shoes and 1973's Dixie Chicken.

In conjunction with that 50th anniversary mini-tour, Rhino has issued deluxe remasters of both albums on 3 LPs or 2 CDs, with plenty of bonus material and a previously unissued live show with each album. On the LP sets, the two original albums were remastered by Bernie Grundman "from the flat master tapes," according to Steve Woolard, Rhino's head of A&R. Plating and pressing was done at Precision Record Pressing in Ontario, Canada. Rhino was kind enough to send me both the LP and CD sets so that I could compare the sound and presentation.

Rogier van Bakel  |  Jul 24, 2023  |  4 comments
"I hope you're decompressing from AXPONA," I recently wrote to a frazzled-looking friend I'd met at this greatest of North American hi-fi shows. Google's spellcheck offered to change decompressing to decomposing. I declined, though it's true that such expos can be grueling—just not grueling enough to stay away.

In these observations about high-end audio shows, fondness is foremost, but a few dark side notes will slip in.

Rogier van Bakel  |  Jul 21, 2023  |  68 comments
In my high-school days, I visited a friend whose well-to-do dad proudly demonstrated his new Quad ESL system for us. First up was a recording of a man with heavy footsteps traversing the space from left to right. Next came a speeding police car, siren engaged, complete with Doppler tail. I found it impressive, and a little lame at the same time. My friend and I, in love with our own artsiness, preferred Fear of Music by Talking Heads and Drums and Wires by XTC, or (in a pinch) U2's Boy.

It wouldn't have occurred to me that I'd ultimately derive frequent joy from listening to sound effects (though in my case they're usually integral to the music, not apart from it). When I hear Yosi Horikawa's bouncing marbles on Wandering, I prick up my ears and smile. A panting dog on Holly Cole's Temptation, an overhead hovercar on the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack ... bring it on. A babbling river on Andrew Bird's Echolocations; seed pods on Tom Waits's Blood Money; liquid splashes and crinkling paper on Felix Laband's Dark Days Exit ... yes, please. I don't care if it's a little gimmicky. It's also sensual in the original meaning of the word, an aural pleasure.

The Raidho TD3.8 speakers that, after three months, just departed my home, do the trick of conjuring points in space with great acuity.