LATEST ADDITIONS

Art Dudley  |  Feb 19, 2019  |  5 comments
According to the 2018 edition of the UN's World Happiness Report, Denmark is the third-happiest nation on Earth, trailing only its neighbors Finland and Norway.

I heard that yesterday afternoon, on NPR. The reporter even spelled out the word used by Danes to describe their feelings of happiness: hygge. Apparently, at present, Denmark is positively rotten with hygge.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 19, 2019  |  1 comments
Hespèrion XXI & Jordi Savall: Ibn Battuta: The Traveler of Islam 1304–1377
Music of Afghanistan, Bagdad, China, Granada, India, Mali, Morocco, more
Alia Vox AVSA9930 (24/88.2, 2 SACDs). 2018. S.L. Sonjade, prod.; Harry Charlier, Manuel Mohino, engs. DDD. TT: 2:27:04
Performance *****
Sonics ****

Sixty years after Italian explorer and merchant Marco Polo chronicled his journey to Asia, Tangier-born Abu Abdallah Ibn Battuta (b. 1304, d. 1368–1377) spent close to 30 remarkable years traveling to what were then the four corners of the earth. Following the words of Muhammad, Prophet of Islam, to whom is attributed the dictate "Seek knowledge even unto China," Ibn Battuta was only 21 when his desire for knowledge and learning propelled him on a quest far longer and wider-ranging than Polo's.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 18, 2019  |  0 comments
Last summer, Music@Menlo devoted its season to a series of Creative Capitals programs. Through concerts, lectures, and more, the festival surveyed the diversity of Western chamber music that was birthed in Europe's "most flourishing" historic creative capitals—London, Paris, St. Petersburg, Leipzig, Berlin, Budapest, and Vienna.

You can hear the sum of Music@Menlo's accomplishments in the multi-CD sets of the their annual festivals, most of which are also available for streaming in Red-Book quality on Tidal...

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  35 comments
Many rooms, such as Vanatoo's, where I snapped the above photo, had SRO crowds. Nor were those crowds limited to exhibits with low-priced products. MBL/UHA, Wilson/Audio Research, and MartinLogan/Parasound, to name but three higher-priced rooms that carried well-known brands, were mobbed. In addition, almost every attendee was respectful during demos, and refrained from the tendency to carry on private conversations. I only heard two cell phones go off in rooms, and no one blinded me by texting on a bright screen and then giving me attitude when I politely asked if they could turn it down. The respectfulness also applied to the exhibitors I encountered, who are sometimes so fried by Day Three that they ignore half the people who walk into their room.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  12 comments
As I began Day Three of the FAE, I was surprised to discover that I only had four rooms plus the sole hallway exhibit left to cover. With the realization that I could actually spend some time in the sun before flying home during the Pacific Northwest's most paralyzing Snowmaggedon episode in many a decade, I allowed myself to take more time in each room.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  23 comments
Q Acoustics was founded in the UK in 2006, but has appeared on the radar of US buyers only in the last few years. Until recently, Q has aimed its efforts at the budget sector, earning enthusiastic reviews and commercial success.

But during that time the company also been quietly working on a product considerably more upscale, though still affordable in a marketplace now glutted with products at if-you-have-to-ask prices. The result is the Concept 500 ($5999.99/pair), first seen in the UK in 2017 and recently made available here. But you won't find it at your local audio shop (if you still have one); in the US it's currently sold only online, through Q Acoustics' US website, with a 30-day, money-back guarantee that includes shipping costs—both ways.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  2 comments
Only a few months after the extraordinary news and release of John Coltrane's Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album on Impulse! Records, which revealed the tenor and soprano saxophonist deep in transitional mode, comes Universal Music/Verve's attempt to cash in on the Trane fever. Joining music from The Lost Album with selections from other albums recorded by Coltrane in that year, 1963: New Directions brings Coltrane's legacy to our commercially crass, modern marketplace.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  37 comments
Qobuz, the French subscription hi-rez streaming and download service, finally launches in the US today, right before the start of CanJam NYC. Qobuz not only offers more than 40 million tracks, over two million of which are said to be hi-rez, but also includes liner notes for many albums. The service has also secured partnerships that enable it to position Qobuz as the "official" streaming service of CanJam and other US high-end audio shows.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  0 comments
Is this report's title referring to sound, substance, or more than a bit of both? As you ponder the not-exactly-hidden nuances of this decidedly less-than-metaphysical tease, you may also wish that you could have experienced both and more in the room sponsored by Audio Advisors of Palm Beach, FL, headlined by Wilson Audio's Sasha DAW loudspeaker ($37,900/pair) and Audio Research's Ref 160M monoblocks ($30,000/pair), Ref 6 stereo preamplifier ($15,000), Ref Phono 3 phono preamp ($15,000), and Ref CD9 CD player/DAC ($14,000).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  1 comments
It's always nice to encounter fine old friends in new contexts. In this case, it was an all-but-the-speakers system from Germany's AVM, whose MA8.2 monoblocks ($31,990/pair) were the first amplifiers I reviewed for Stereophile. AVM's PA8.2 modular preamp ($18,785) with phono, DAC, tone input card, and tubed output card is no stranger to Stereophile either—it was reviewed by Michael Fremer in our December 2018 issue.

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