Jason Victor Serinus

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Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 22, 2018  |  3 comments
I had all but resolved to move on from reviewing recordings honoring the 2018 centenaries of Claude Debussy's death and Leonard Bernstein's birth when word arrived of Warner Classic's 10-CD bargain box, Debussy: Ses Premiers Interprètes / His First Performers. This set's contents are so important that I want to give Debussy lovers a heads-up so that they can either make room for it in their holiday self-gift basket, give friends ample notice for what they'd like to be playing when 2019 rolls around, or start streaming immediately.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 18, 2018  |  0 comments
Bernstein: Arias and Barcarolles
Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano; Ryan McKinny, bass-baritone; San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas
SFS Media SFS-0073 (24/96 download). 2018. Jack Vad, broadcast & mastering eng., postprod.; Jason O'Connell, post-prod. DDD. TT: 32:54
Performance ****½
Sonics ****

Why name this short digital download or streaming–only release of a live San Francisco Symphony performance from 2017—its native 24/96 PCM broadcast sound is a notch lower than the best-recorded titles in SFS Media's series of Davies Symphony Hall broadcasts— as our "Recording of the Month"? Because, as the centennial of the birth of Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990) draws to a close, this new recording of his eight Arias and Barcarolles from conductor Michael Tilson Thomas—whom Bernstein asked to play piano alongside him when the original version of the cycle, for four voices and piano four-hands, premiered in New York City in 1988—is definitive and essential listening.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 15, 2018  |  5 comments
Forty years after he wrote his two-movement Tabula Rasa for violinist Gidon Kremer, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, 83, is still alive, engaged and composing. Hence it should come as no surprise that when violinist Viktoria Mullova and conductor Paavo Järvi contacted Pärt about their plan to record five of his works for violin and various instruments for their Onyx album, Arvo Pärt, the conductor attended the recording sessions.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 13, 2018  |  23 comments
This final shot of the shipping checkout area in the Denver Marriott Tech Center may lack glamour, but so, I'm afraid, does the Marriott itself, post-renovation. The freezing lobby looks impressive, and rooms are lovely for guests, but the latters' ability to accommodate systems plus attendees has been greatly diminished. With unmovable built-in credenzas, poor acoustics, and unacceptably noisy cooling systems, the time has come to move on.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 11, 2018  |  68 comments
Although most rooms I visited at the end of RMAF 2018 offered fine sound, I single out the new Dragonfire Acoustics Mini Dragon self-powered desktop system ($10,000 total) for two reasons: a) its designer, Dragoslav Colich (aka Dr. C), who continues to design every Audeze headphone, calls these first desktop planar speakers from his new company his "life achievement…the finest transducer I have built," and, b) they sound fantastic.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 11, 2018  |  9 comments
Here's a switch: Instead of a million-dollar system, we begin with a bargain-priced powered-speaker system, the Vanatoo Transparent One Encore ($599/pair). Designed near me, in Seattle, and manufactured in China, this successor to Vanatoo's original model, which was released six years ago, has a new 1" aluminum dome tweeter, more powerful 100W, four-channel amplifier with "much better" DSP-based L/R crossover, remote control, Bluetooth with aptX, and four more "automatically sensed" inputs for analog, USB, Toslink optical, and coaxial digital, the last three accepting up to 24/96 but downsampling to 24/48.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 10, 2018  |  2 comments
In the Musical Surroundings room I discovered a once-in-a-lifetime coincidence: a system that contained four products that were reviewed or used in reviews in the October 2018 Stereophile, plus a somewhat more expensive sister of one of the two products that appeared on the cover: Audio Research Ref 160M mono amplifiers ($30,000/pair) and Reference 6 line stage ($14,000), Sonus Faber Aida loudspeakers ($130,000/pair), DS Audio Master1 optical phono cartridge and EQ ($22,500), and Hana ML MC cartridge ($1200).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 10, 2018  |  40 comments
I almost missed the huge EMM Labs exhibit on the ground floor until John Atkinson told me that he had visited it, and the sound was exceptional. Don't quote me on the adjective, please. Instead, I'll own it for myself. When a system makes a recording of a 9' concert grand—in this case, Murray Perahia's instrument—sounds like it really is a 9' grand, color me very, very impressed. As one should be, given a system price tag of near $1,000,000.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 10, 2018  |  25 comments
That title will surely get a rise out of some folks!

Be that as it may, the aforementioned company ran two MQA Live events at RMAF, during which high-resolution (24/192) MQA streams of live jazz ensembles were streamed in real time to various rooms at the show. MQA claims that the streams were essentially analog to analog, right off the desk.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 08, 2018  |  14 comments
A few hours before Friday evening's Rocky Mountain International HiFi Press Awards 2018 got underway, Jeremy Bryan of MBL North America once again blew me away with the sound of his company's system. Capped by the mbl 101 E MKII Radialstrahler four-way omnidirectional loudspeaker ($70,500/pair), the combination of Wireworld cabling with mbl's N31 DAC–CD player ($15,400), N11 stereo preamplifier ($14,600), and two N15 mono power amplifiers ($17,800/each) created an extremely wide, solid, and deep soundstage in which music flowed naturally and with great beauty.

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