Herb Reichert  |  Jul 11, 2023  |  24 comments
It was a cold March-in-Brooklyn morning. Clouds had been shedding wintery mix since daybreak. By 9am, birds were flash-mobbing my window, demanding suet. But I was frozen—unable to pull my mind loose from the grave flowings of American composer Ned Rorem's Book of Hours, as performed by Les Connivences Sonores on the album Musikalische Perlen (24/48 FLAC, Ars Produktion/Qobuz). The sounds in my room were sensuous and mesmerizing, and I needed to float in their mysterious energy as long as I could.

I was listening through the most compelling sound system I had assembled since I started writing for Stereophile. The dCS Bartók DAC/streamer was funneling the harmonic purity and hypnomagik of Odile Renault on flute and Elodie Reibaud on harp into HoloAudio's appropriately named Serene preamp, which was feeding Elekit's TU-8900 300B/2A3 kit amplifier, which was sending a few of its triode-tube watts to the TAD's $32,500/pair Compact Evolution One monitors, more compactly known as the TAD CE1TX.

Stereophile Staff  |  Jul 10, 2023  |  8 comments

Marantz, the iconic company started by audio pioneer Saul Marantz in 1953, is inviting the public to visit a 7000-square-foot immersive, interactive exhibit in New York City to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Ken Micallef  |  Jul 10, 2023  |  21 comments
A phenomenon formerly unique to Japan, which in recent years has been emulated in cities around the world, is the jazz café (known as jazz kissa in Japan), where salarymen can find respite from their hectic lives, loosen their ties, and enjoy hi-fi jazz over coffee or a drink. Jazz kissaten are typically charming, smaller shops, traditionally furnished and paneled in beautiful wood, which serve superb artisan coffee in artful ceramic cups.

Such respect for artistry, craftsmanship, and attention to detail—the Japanese word is shokunin—is reflected in many aspects of Japanese life. This is where you find double handrails to accommodate people of different heights, intricate, ornately designed manhole covers, and bento lunch boxes with hand-carved vegetable figurines. While upholding strict conformity to societal norms, the Japanese highly value creative individualism. This shokunin mindset underlies their reverence for artisanal expression—and their love for jazz.

Japanese audio, much like jazz kissaten, reflects the shokunin mindset: craftsmanship pursued with both pride and humility.

Tom Fine  |  Jul 07, 2023  |  16 comments
It takes a while for audio-related technologies to mature. Tubed amplifiers were invented by Lee de Forest in the nineteen-teens, but while there are still some adherents of early high-distortion triode designs, the age of mainstream high-fidelity amplification dawned with higher-power/lower-distortion amplifiers developed by Williamson and McIntosh followed by the Ultralinear take on the Williamson concept. That was 30+ years down the technology-evolution timeline after de Forest.

And when it comes to solid state amplifiers—the usual kind—does anyone prefer the state of the (germanium) art circa early 1960s to modern silicon class-AB designs? I doubt it.

Now, decades into its own development, class-D amplification seems to have sea legs, even in the audiophile world.

Alex Halberstadt  |  Jul 06, 2023  |  8 comments
"New York is an ugly city, a dirty city," John Steinbeck wrote in 1953. "But there is one thing about it—once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough." Decades later, the novelist's insight about this appalling, incomparable city still feels true. New Yorkers love to complain about the summers, with their wafting miasma of hot garbage and urine; about the superannuated subway system, which only sometimes resembles a psilocybin trip gone really wrong; about the purgatorial agony of finding an apartment; about the affronts of existing shoulder-to-shoulder with the stupendously rich. . .

What I'm getting around to saying is that easily the best part of living here is the people. One of them is Jeffrey Catalano, who has been a drummer, painter, DJ, and construction worker and today runs a hi-fi business, High Water Sound, from a loft in a former sail-making factory on Water Street in Manhattan's financial district.

Michael Trei  |  Jul 05, 2023  |  2 comments
In 1928, Swiss engineer and inventor Jean-Léon Reutter created a clock that could run for years without human interaction or any type of external power source. The Atmos Clock required no AC power, batteries, solar panels, or hand-winding. It was able to wind itself by leveraging subtle changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature.

The design was so energy efficient that a single degree of temperature change provided enough power for two days of operation; it would take an incredible 60 million Atmos clocks to equal the power demands of a single 15W light bulb. 95 years later, the Atmos Clock is still being manufactured in Switzerland by Jaeger-LeCoultre, but like most high-precision, Swiss-made instruments, it isn't cheap. Prices start around $7500.

Jason Davis  |  Jul 03, 2023  |  2 comments
At least I didn't get arrested is a helluva way to begin a story, but then I never expected the FBI to question me about my online record shopping, viewing it as cover for potentially "Conspiring to Provide Material Support" to an international terrorist organization. "We need some information from you," the email said. "We've also temporarily limited certain features in your PayPal account."
Robert Baird  |  Jul 02, 2023  |  0 comments
Liner notes from jazz albums of the 1950s and 1960s can be shot through with naivete, hipsterism (usually faux), and callousness toward the abundance of musical talent then working. Few though are as shortsighted as the original essay by Jack Maher on the back of 1960's Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet. Opening with "Miles Davis is the most maligned and idolized musician in modern American jazz today. He is at once the saint and the sinner," he goes on to cite a dynamic that literally all musicians experience, especially when playing live: "He has been accused of being lackadaisical and unconcerned about his playing. When the spirit moves him, he plays with warmth and lyric beauty, at other times he plays with vague disinterest."

Once the tape was running, however, Miles rarely missed a step. Among all of Davis's recording triumphs, the pair of sessions with Rudy Van Gelder in Hackensack, New Jersey, his May and September 1956 sessions with saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, remain among his finest moments on record.

Robert Baird  |  Jul 01, 2023  |  2 comments
In 1973, Elton John and Bernie Taupin capped one of pop music's most epic periods of sustained creativity by writing, recording, and releasing the 10-track single disc Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player and the 17-track double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, both of which are now celebrating their 50th anniversary. As two of the strongest entries among the many classics that make 1972–73 the peak years for rock albums, both went #1 in the US and UK and arguably stand as the dual highpoints of John's recorded legacy.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 30, 2023  |  1 comments
Walking into one of the rooms hosted by Middle River, MD audio dealer Just Audio was a bit of a surprise, and to quote Yogi Berra, "It's like déjà vu all over again."

The first things I saw were the Mission 770—reviewed by JA1 in November 2022 and Mission 700 loudspeakers. They were flanked by display boards that rocked me back to the mid-1980s, when I was deciding between the Missions and Celestion 6s. Tom Bryant of Just Audio explained that Mission didn't want to build a part-for-part recreation of the speakers, or to build 770s using new parts. The goal was to design and build a thoroughly modern speaker that that resembled the original as closely as possible but could compete with anything being built today.