Audacious Audio

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John Atkinson  |  Sep 17, 2020  |  45 comments
Although it was founded by ex-Siemens loudspeaker engineer Oliver Göbel in 2003, I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of Göbel High End until I visited the room hosted by Florida retailer Bending Wave at the 2019 AXPONA. There, I listened to the German manufacturer's ginormous $220,000/pair Divin Noblesse loudspeakers, which were making their US debut. I was impressed by what I heard. I was interested, therefore, to learn that Göbel was introducing a smaller Divin model, the Marquis, which would not be too large for my listening room and would be priced at $80,000/pair.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 14, 2020  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2020  |  25 comments
The two biggest sonic jolts I've experienced involving phono preamps were from two very different ones: the Petr Mares's Connoisseur 2.0 and Boulder's 2008, which was reviewed in the July 2002 Stereophile. The first was hand-built, single-ended, housed in a wooden case, limited to 100 units, and, when I got to hear it in the mid-1990s, cost around $6000, or about $10,000 in today's dollars. The other was a feature-laden, double-chassis monument to flexibility and surface-mount high technology. It featured beautifully finished, flush-mounted mirrored buttons your fingers just wanted to press.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 19, 2020  |  92 comments
Achieving room-filling, high-quality sound in a hotel room is difficult enough. Getting it in a cavernous ballroom is even more problematic. Yet, over the past few years at AXPONA, RMAF, and most recently at the February 2020 FLAX (Florida Audio Expo), Von Schweikert Audio, in association with The Audio Company of Marietta, Georgia, has managed that—and, other than the approximately 100 bodies occupying every seat in the house, they've done it without any room treatment, or without any that I could see.
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 18, 2020  |  61 comments
VAC's Statement 452 iQ Musicbloc amplifier ($75,000 for a single amp; $150,000/pair mono, as reviewed) is tall, young, and lovely, but unlike the girl from Ipanema, it isn't tan. Nor, at 280lb in its flight case, is it likely to "go walkin'." Getting the pair moved into my listening room required considerable effort—fortunately not mine.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 24, 2020  |  18 comments
Designing and building a turntable isn't all that difficult. All that matters is in plain sight: Start with a base of wood, MDF, or acrylic; add some isolation "feet" for it to rest upon, and a spindle bearing such as any competent machine shop can fabricate, topped by a platter of acrylic or aluminum or suchlike. The motor can be an off-the-shelf AC synchronous type, fed directly by the electricity from a wall socket.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 06, 2020  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2020  |  47 comments
In 2013, when I first wrote about it (footnote 1), the TechDAS Air Force One ($105,000) was that company's best and most expensive turntable; it joined the handful of products that have earned an A+ in our semiannual Recommended Components feature—a rating that remained in place for six years. But too much time has passed since the Air Force One was auditioned by a Stereophile writer, so it has now fallen from that list.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 29, 2020  |  96 comments
I thought I knew what a preamp could do. But when the Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum HD preamplifier ($40,000) arrived for review, all my expectations flew out the window.
Sasha Matson  |  Dec 20, 2019  |  22 comments
There is change, and also continuity, at Wilson Audio Specialties, the company founded in 1974 by recordist and loudspeaker designer David A. Wilson. David's son Daryl Wilson was appointed president and CEO in 2016. David Wilson passed away in 2018. And in 2019, Wilson Audio Specialties released the Sasha DAW loudspeaker ($37,900/pair), designed by a team led by Daryl Wilson and named in honor of his father.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 19, 2019  |  47 comments
What kind of creature is this? Gryphon Audio Designs' new Ethos ($39,000)—pronounced EE-toss by its Danish manufacturers—is marketed as a CD player and digital-to-analog converter. It's decidedly au courant in that it includes two 32-bit/768kHz ES9038PRO Sabre DAC chips—one for each channel—with each holding eight individual DAC chips; offers optional upsampling to either 24/384 PCM or DSD128; and decodes up to 32/384 PCM and quadruple DSD (DSD512) via its USB input, or up to 24/192 (and no DSD) via AES/EBU or S/PDIF.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 17, 2019  |  55 comments
What's the point of reviewing a pair of monoblock amplifiers that costs more than most people spend on two or even several cars— and far more than most audiophiles spend on an entire music system? That's a good question. Another is: Why should I write this review when, just seven years ago, I reviewed a pair of darTZeel monoblocks that look exactly like this new pair?

I realize that products such as the darTZeel NHB-468 ($170,000/pair) are for the very few, but the very few include far more people throughout the world than you may realize— people who can afford such costly audio products and who do buy them. I know, because in my travels I've met a lot of them, and they deserve to read reviews of products they're considering buying—things most of us can only dream of owning.

Brian Damkroger  |  Jul 04, 2019  |  33 comments
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of afternoons listening to a system built around the late David Wilson's magnum opus, the Wilson Audio WAMM Master Chronosonic loudspeaker ($685,000/pair), which Jason Victor Serinus reported on in December 2016. In addition to the joy of simply listening to music on such exotic speakers, the experience provided insight into just how well the Master Chronosonics would work in a relatively normal-sized listening room—in this case, one measuring 21.5 feet long by a little over 18 feet wide, with a ceiling height of a little over 9.5 feet: not small in an absolute sense, but a lot smaller than the sort of space usually associated with speakers this large.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 25, 2019  |  43 comments
CH Precision's massive, versatile, technologically sophisticated, 165 lb M1.1 power amplifier ($54,000 configured for stereo) can easily crush your foot if you're not careful when installing it. But the more important consideration is this: Can this cool gray techno-square sing and dance without stepping on its own feet?
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 25, 2019  |  70 comments
I first encountered Verity Audio's Monsalvat Amp-60 stereo power amplifier ($58,000) in October 2017, in one of the largest single-system rooms at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. After hearing the Amp-60 and Verity's Monsalvat Pre-2 preamplifier drive Verity's Lohengrin IIS loudspeakers ($133,000/pair), I enthused about the "most impressive range of colors and supreme sense of spaciousness" that contributed to the system's "absolutely beguiling" sound.
Art Dudley  |  Dec 20, 2018  |  5 comments
There's no place for fashion in epidemiology, aeronautical engineering, or the mining and storage of uranium. Fortunately, domestic audio is less serious, its goals more scattered and ambiguous, than those and a thousand other pursuits.

And so, throughout the 20th century, any number of trends in domestic audio popped up their heads, some remembered as fads, others as legitimate approaches to playback. Among the latter are amplifiers whose output sections operate in single-ended mode, in which the entire signal waveform is amplified by a single device.

John Atkinson  |  Oct 18, 2018  |  37 comments
Doug White, of Philadelphia-area retailer The Voice That Is, has been a fixture at US audio shows the past few years, where he always gets great sound using loudspeakers from Tidal Audio. (There is no connection between the German audio manufacturer and the music-streaming service owned by Jay Z and Sprint.) In early 2017, Herb Reichert, Jana Dagdagan, and I visited White and spent a delightful afternoon listening to Tidal's then-new Akira loudspeakers. I promised myself to review the Akira, which costs a wallet-straining $215,000/pair, when my schedule opened up. As things turned out, it was more than a year before that opportunity presented itself.

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