LATEST ADDITIONS

Jim Austin  |  May 16, 2019  |  9 comments
For sheer scale, perhaps the most impressive system I heard at the Munich High End show was in the room shared by Von Schweikert and VAC. The star of the show was—perhaps—the Von Schweikert Ultra Reference 9 loudspeaker, which sells for an impressive $200,000/pair. The Ultra series is, Von Schweikert says, a cost-no-object line. So far there are three speakers in the line: The 9, the $300,000 11, and the $90,000 55. Von Schweikert, of course, also sells more modestly priced loudspeakers; their VR-22 is under $3000 / pair.
Ken Micallef  |  May 16, 2019  |  10 comments
In his review in the November 2015 issue, Herb Reichert wrote that Parasound's Halo Integrated amplifier "has a recognizable sonic personality: easy flowing, mostly smooth, and decidedly mellow. . . . But don't worry—it's not milquetoast mellow or unwashed-hippy-stoner mellow. It is, instead, an everything's-under-control, don't-worry-now mellow."
Jim Austin  |  May 16, 2019  |  0 comments
Etienne Charles: Carnival: The Sound of a People, Vol 1
Etienne Charles, trumpet, percussion; Brian Hogans, Godwin Louis, alto saxophone; David Sánchez, tenor saxophone; Sullivan Fortner, James Francies, piano, Fender Rhodes; Alex Wintz, guitar; Luques Curtis, Russell Hall, Ben Williams, bass; Obed Calvaire, drums; D'Achee, congas. With: Claxton Bay Tamboo Bamboo, Laventille Rhythm Section, other percussionists.
Culture Shock EC007 (2 LPs). 2019. Etienne Charles, prod.; Glenn Brown, Christian Burkett, David Darlington, Mark Wilder, engs. DDA. TT: 67:20
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Etienne Charles, the Trinidadian trumpeter, percussionist, and Guggenheim fellow, has a knack for album concepts. His 2013 album, Creole Soul, starts with an incantation from an actual Voodoo priest and goes on to cover Creole-influenced tunes from Bob Marley and the Mighty Sparrow. Thelonious Monk is also in the mix, with his "Green Chimneys," which features a calypso melody Charles speculates Monk first heard in New York's San Juan Hill, a Caribbean neighborhood where Monk lived for a while.

Robert Harley  |  May 16, 2019  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1994  |  0 comments
Thomas R. Marshall's famous phrase, "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar," should be modified for the 1990s to be "What this world needs is a good $1500 preamplifier."

It's hard to find a good full-function preamp (ie, one that includes a phono stage) at a reasonable price these days. There are plenty of great preamps on the market, but they tend to be expensive or line-stage only—or expensive line stages. Moreover, many manufacturers are omitting phono stages altogether, on the assumption that people don't listen to LPs anymore.

Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  1 comments
It had been years since I last checked in with Totem Acoustic, the Canada-based loudspeaker manufacturer. When I showed up at the Totem room and was greeted by company president and longtime chief designer Vince Bruzzese, I didn't know what to expect. In the event, what I got was some excellent sound from two compact towers placed very close to the front wall, and a short introduction to what appeared to be some interesting technology behind those impressive loudspeakers.
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  3 comments
In Munich, electronics company Constellation Audio was demoing with Magico M2 loudspeakers ($63,000 / pair with M-Pod footers). Spinning vinyl was the the job of the Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian turntable ($35,000) w/Viper Tonearm ($10,000) and Ortofon A-95 Cartridge ($6,000). Phono preamplification was by Constellation—their Andromeda phono stage ($18,000). On the digital side, the source was Constellation's Cygnus Media Player/DAC ($38,000). Constellation's Pictor preamp was in use ($18,000), as was a pair of their Taurus monoblocks ($39000/pair).
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  35 comments
Playing in Room F210 on the top level atrium of Hall 4: Two pair of Focal Scala Utopia EVO loudspeakers ($39,995/pair) with lots of Naim electronics and cabling. Also in the system was a VPI Prime Signature turntable, but it wasn't in use when I was in the room. The key items in this room, though, were humble footers: specifically, IsoAcoustics GAIA-Titan Theis isolators—not so humble after all, on second thought, since they cost $899.99 for a set of four. The loudspeakers—white and green—were arranged in alternate pairs, their acoustical centers shifted by a few degrees.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 14, 2019  |  1 comments
Verity Audio's system paired their Lohengrin IIS Reference loudspeaker system (110,000 Euros/pair) with the following electronics: A new preamplifier with active crossover, the Monsalvat Pro-4 (64,000 Euros) is designed to work with the loudspeakers; two Verity Audio Monsalvat Amp-60 Reference power amplifiers ($58,000 each), which I reviewed in the June 2019 issue; a Melco N1ZS/2A music server (9,975 euros); a TW-Acustic Raven Black Night turntable (29,500 Euros) with Raven 12 tonearm (5000 Euros) and RPS 10 phonostage (6,000 euros), and a Dynavector XV-1 S MC cartridge (4500 Euros).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 14, 2019  |  0 comments
Just released and seen in passive display, the single-ended only Pass Int-25 ($7250) combines an XA-25 with a simplified Int-60 front end. The Int-25 has three inputs, all single-ended.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 14, 2019  |  1 comments
The characteristic—perhaps I should say inimitable—Vandersteen midrange was in evidence in a system that paired a Brinkmann Audio front end and amplification (detailed below) with Vandersteen ($63,999/pair). The top was quite lively, which made for an extremely exciting listen to an LP of Jeff Beck's extraordinary "Brush with the Blues." Highs were also haunting on the vinyl version of Lou Reed's hilarious (to me) 2003 recording "Vanishing Act." I didn't write down which digital tracks were played, but a return to vinyl with Vanessa Fernandez's "I Want You" revealed that the system also had excellent slam.

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