Levinson Misattributed; New Cello Amp Due in Fall

Every month, we get dozens of press releases about new developments in the audio industry. Many of them, detailing minor changes in product design, company policy, or personnel, are less than newsworthy. A disturbing number are written in an odd variant of English—PR Speak—In Which Every Word Is Capitalized And Quotes Are Used "For Emphasis." Others clearly have been penned by folks not fully in command of the language: Many are thus improved features of great desire and will invite happiness to include in next model.

Extracting the facts—we assume that's what they are—to include in news stories can sometimes be an amusing task. On rare occasions, something wrong slips through the editorial filtration system, as in an April 9 item we wrote about the formation of Viola Audio Labs, a new company created by veterans of Cello Technologies. This item was incorporated into a longer piece about Cello spin-offs that appeared on page 22 of the June issue of Stereophile. Near the end appears the following sentence: "Viola Audio Labs has received Mark Levinson's personal endorsement, Wing mentioned, and plans to continue Cello's tradition of excellent sound."

This statement is in error. Mark Levinson has not endorsed the products of Viola Audio Labs, or of any company other than his own Red Rose Music, as made clear in an email dated July 2 and sent to me and to principals at Viola Audio Labs:

"I would not and cannot endorse the products of Viola Audio Labs . . . The only company that carries my endorsement is Red Rose Music. I have no connection whatsoever with Viola or any other audio company. The only products that have my personal endorsement are the products of Red Rose Music.Mark Levinson, Founder and CEO, Red Rose Music".

The mistake originated in an early-April announcement from Viola Audio Labs, which had been received by an audiophile named Adriano Wing and retransmitted by him to several industry news organizations. Mr. Wing added his comments—based on hearsay or on his own enthusiasm for Cello products—and his signature to the Viola statement, making it appear as if he were officially connected to the company. The truth is that Wing has never been associated with Viola Audio Labs, according to company principal Tony Di Salvo, who informed us that, as far as he knows, Wing is a Cello owner who lives in Macao, and was acting on his own without the knowledge of anyone at Viola.

We should have suspected that something was amiss, in that Di Salvo's name and contact information were on the letterhead, but the signature was Wing's. The mistake was an honest one; no one at Viola Audio Labs or at Stereophile intended to mislead the public as to Mark Levinson's allegiances. Neither, presumably, did Adriano Wing, who was simply relaying information that he believed to be correct. Our apologies to all concerned for the misunderstanding.

In related news, Matthew James LLC founder and managing partner Jim McCullough informed us July 5 that a new Cello amplifier, the Chorale, would make its debut this fall, with prototypes to be demonstrated in Europe and Asia. "The Chorale Amplifier will deliver 350Wpc in its two-channel version and 225Wpc in its three-channel version," reads a company press release, this one truly official. The two-channel Chorale is "designed to allow it to be bridged at the flip of a switch, resulting in a 1400Wpc monoblock. It will be the first Cello product to utilize XLR-type connectors for balanced input, and will utilize Cardas terminals for loudspeaker connection . . . We are making every effort to allow for a manufacturer's suggested universal retail price." Pre-production photos indicate a sleek look for the new Cello gear: Matthew James hopes to have the Chorale in full production by year's end. Updates for several older Cello products should appear next year.

Other developments at the Cello spin-off include the "Digital Suite, a computer that can be configured in a manner that will allow it to handle all of the consumer electronics requirements for all users," and a Cello universal player that will handle all types of 120mm optical discs, including CD, SACD, DVD-Video, and DVD-Audio. Looking toward the future, Matthew James wants to make provisions for "Internet audio" and other formats that have been ignored by the audiophile community. "Demonstrating our interest in forms of audio and video other than Compact Disc, DVDs, and LPs (!) will allow for the development of products for markets that have never been traditionally served by High-End audio," McCullough wrote.

The company is building an international distribution network and will deliver Cello products domestically only when "supply can exceed international demand." McCullough can be reached by email or by phone at (860) 349-5999 or (203) 865-1237.