LATEST ADDITIONS

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 13, 2017  |  39 comments
For the longest time, I've found the label "hobby" inadequate to describe the audiophile goal of better sound reproduction. Yes, for some, the mechanics of the High End have become an end in themselves—a way to tinker and tweak, build and rebuild in classic hobby fashion. But for many others, specifically earbud listeners, folks with whole-house systems, and those who'd rather push a button on a remote and sit back or dance rather than roll tubes or tinker, the descriptor hobby falls woefully short.
Robert Levine  |  Jul 13, 2017  |  3 comments
Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonata 2, Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Six Moments Musicaux
Evelina Vorontsova, piano
STH Quality Classics CD1416092 (CD). 2017. Paul Steverink, Boudwijn Zwart, prods.; Jaco van Houselt, eng. DDD. TT: 74:42
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

This is Russian-Dutch pianist Evelina Vorontsova's second recording; the first was in 2002. Born in 1972, she took fourth prize in the Rachmaninoff Competition at 18, and second prize at the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition two years later; in 2006, she won second prize in the International Piano and Orchestra Competition in Cantù, Italy (at which there was no first prize awarded). Judging from this CD and its very challenging program, she is a remarkable talent; one wonders why she is not more famous and signed to a major label.

Robert Deutsch  |  Jul 11, 2017  |  12 comments
If Stereophile gave an award for Loudspeaker We've Most Frequently Reviewed, the hands-down winner would have to be the Quad ESL. The list of past and present Stereophile contributors who've written about the ESL's various incarnations includes John Atkinson, Martin Colloms, Anthony H. Cordesman, Art Dudley, Larry Greenhill, J. Gordon Holt, Ken Kessler, Dick Olsher, Herb Reichert, William Sommerwerck, Steven Stone, and Sam Tellig. The ESL-63 was John Atkinson's personal "Editor's Choice" in 1992, and the ESL-989, a successor to the ESL-63, was Stereophile's 2003 Loudspeaker of the Year and Product of the Year.
Stephen Mejias  |  Jul 11, 2017  |  20 comments
The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World, by Damon Krukowski. The New Press, 2017. Hardcover, 240 pp., $24.95. Also available as an e-book.

Defining noise is tricky business.

In high-end audio, noise is often defined as the enemy—of music, beauty, truth. Engineers and enthusiasts alike spend significant amounts of time, energy, and money attempting to minimize or control noise so that it has the least possible impact on the source signal: music. In this way—if we are intelligent, careful, and fortunate—we can extract from our stereos cleaner, clearer, more naturally beautiful sound for listening experiences that are enriching, emotionally compelling, and, above all, fun. On the other hand, when noise is allowed to excessively modulate the signal, music can sound relatively abrasive, more mechanical, and, ultimately, less engaging.

Jana Dagdagan  |  Jul 10, 2017  |  6 comments
In this video I profile New York-based tube electronics technician Blackie Pagano, who fixes and upgrades "anything that makes or passes music and utilizes vacuum tubes." I first learned of Blackie when looking for a repairman to take my Fisher 800-C to. JA, Herb, and everyone I asked said—without hesitation—"You have to take it to Blackie. He's the best for the job."
Stereophile Staff  |  Jul 10, 2017  |  2 comments
With Quad's reworking of Peter Walker's "Wonder," the full-range ESL-2912 electrostatic, featured on its cover. Inside you'll find John Atkinson on Rockport's Avior II loudspeaker; Herb Reichert on an affordable amplifier from Emotiva and cost-no-object headphones from Abyss; Art Dudley on a Bryston's CD player; Michael Fremer on Brinkmann's MQA-capable Nyquist DAC and Ortofon's Windfeld Ti cartridge; and Jim Austin on PS Audio's ultimate monoblock.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 09, 2017  |  15 comments
Conductor Osmo Vänskä, whose Minnesota Orchestra has previously distinguished itself in multiple recordings of Sibelius and Beethoven, is now turning to the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. Newly arrived is his hybrid SACD, for BIS, of Mahler's Symphony 5. The first issue in a projected series that will next offer Mahler's Sixth and Second Symphonies at dates unspecified, it may not win over those whose allegiance adamantly rests with Bernstein, Chailly, Rattle, Abbado, Tilson-Thomas, Fischer, and/or other distinguished Mahler interpreters. Nonetheless, the strength of the recording's first movement alone, and its hi-rez provenance as DSD derived from 24/96 file, make its epic journey from darkness to light essential listening.
Robert Baird  |  Jul 08, 2017  |  5 comments
If you can put aside the fact that what was once a rock 'n' roll band has now grown into a merciless money machine, and a somewhat creaky repetitive live act that hasn't made a great record since 1978, they still do deserve a nod for never saying die. To borrow a famous line from Midnight Cowboy, those boys are gonna die on the stage. And yes, we will certainly miss them when they're gone!
Jana Dagdagan  |  Jul 07, 2017  |  8 comments
One day before the Los Angeles Audio Show, Jason Victor Serinus, his fresh haircut, and I visited VTL Amplifiers, Inc. in Chino, California. We were given a tour of the factory by Bea Lam and Luke Manley, who were featured in this 2007 interview by Jason.
Michael Fremer, Herb Reichert  |  Jul 06, 2017  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2014  |  12 comments
Palmer Audio's 2.5 turntable, with its laminated plinth of Baltic birch and metallic features, looks Scandinavian but is made in the UK. It shares a few conceptual similarities with the turntables made by Nottingham Analogue, another British brand. The review sample had the optional side panels of cherrywood veneer.

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