Sasha Matson

Sasha Matson  |  Jan 25, 2024  |  20 comments
Wilson Audio's new Sasha V loudspeaker (that's "V" as in victory, not "five") extends the line that began in 2009 with the debut of the Sasha 1 model. The installation manual includes a page titled "Sasha Evolution," with elegant line drawings of the various versions of the Sasha loudspeaker—now four—which were preceded by the two-box WATT/Puppy combo, which dates from 1989. The Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha V ($48,900/pair) replaces the prior Sasha model, the Sasha DAW, in the Wilson lineup.

The hefty, floorstanding Sasha V maintains a close family resemblance. The new Sasha's width and height are almost identical, logging 14½" and 45 1/16", respectively. The cabinets gain an inch in depth and now measure 23 15/16". The cabinets' subtle beveling is slightly different; probably only recent Sasha owners would notice. Extra thickness in the cabinets adds 9lb for a total of 245lb per speaker.

Sasha Matson  |  Dec 19, 2023  |  8 comments

In my house, I have a little stack of CDs that I bring out once a year—for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I then put them away on the shelf until the following year. This annual Festival of Christmas Albums is met with varying degrees of pleasure and resignation by the family members present; listening is non-negotiable, though we may not make it through all of them. Once in a while a new Christmas album will make the cut and be added to the stack, but not every year.

Sasha Matson  |  Oct 23, 2023  |  5 comments
When I read the news that songwriter and guitarist Jaime Royal "Robbie" Robertson had passed, I forwarded a link to the obituary in the New York Times to my friends Doug and Jon. They were with me in the balcony of the Berkeley Community Theater on the evening of January 31, 1970, to hear a performance by The Band. We were juniors at Berkeley High School that year and lived and breathed that music every day. I recall sitting around with them outdoors, singing songs from The Band's first two albums.
Sasha Matson  |  Oct 20, 2023  |  17 comments
As I was talking with an audio-retailer friend recently, he reached for a Rolls-Royce metaphor to describe the McIntosh brand. Expensive? Sure, but not as expensive as some boutique high-end products. Fast? Sure, but there are faster things—also bigger things, smaller things, wackier things, and cheaper things.

But when you look at a Rolls or a Bentley, you immediately recognize it for what it is, and you want to sit down in it. And so it is with McIntosh, except you don't want to sit down in it; you want to sit down in front of it, between the speakers of the hi-fi system it occupies.

The C12000 is McIntosh's current flagship preamplifier. It's part of McIntosh's Hybrid Drive series of products that combine tubes and transistors in interesting ways.

Sasha Matson  |  Oct 11, 2023  |  1 comments
Wynton Marsalis: Wynton Marsalis Plays Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives Hot Sevens
Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; eight band members
Blue Engine Records (auditioned as 24/48 FLAC). 2023. Marsalis, exec. prod.; Saundra Palmer-Grassi, Todd Whitelock, engs.
Performance *****
Sonics ****

Recorded in 2006 but not released until now, Wynton Marsalis Plays Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives Hot Sevens was recorded live at the Rose Theater, the largest of three performance rooms at the Jazz at Lincoln Center facility. House label Blue Engine Records has now released this concert for streaming.

Sasha Matson  |  Aug 08, 2023  |  8 comments
Stereophile writers and website commentors often speak to the topic of the ongoing rise in retail pricing at the upper levels of the hi-fi market. Companies producing cost-no-object designs make regular appearances in the hardware reviews published here. However, a countervailing vector is also at play in the consumer hi-fi sector: a trend toward bringing to market products that are smaller and more economical than the competition while offering an ever-increasing variety of features and continually improved performance, notably in terms of measurable specifications.

This dialectic can sometimes play out within the same company. Abbingdon Music Research (AMR), which is based in Southport, UK, was founded in 2000. At first, under the AMR brand, the company focused on high-end audio component separates with price points toward the upper end of the spectrum. The world has a way of intervening, though, even with the best-laid business plans. AMR Director Vince Luke describes in a video how his company made a deliberate choice to "pivot from high end to low end" following the financial crash of 2008. AMR's iFi Audio division debuted at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in 2012, offering a handful of portable products. They were a hit. The iFi line has since expanded to include more than 50 designs, and new products are introduced with impressive frequency.

Sasha Matson  |  Jun 09, 2023  |  4 comments
In the 1960s, my dad gave me a Panasonic receiver with two cube speakers, just in time for the advent of FM stereo radio in the San Francisco Bay Area. Out of the blue one night, he just walked in with it. The receiver allowed me to plug in a record player, though I only had a few LPs. Later, when I went off to college, my mom took me shopping for a new stereo. I chose a Kenwood integrated amplifier—without a tuner but with the capability to plug in a tape deck, which I did. During my undergrad years, it served me well. Later, I switched to an NAD receiver, which allowed me to listen to the radio again.
Sasha Matson  |  May 17, 2023  |  1 comments
Barbra Streisand: Live at the Bon Soir
Streisand, vocals; Tiger Haynes, guitar; Peter Daniels, piano; Averill Pollard, bass; John Cresci, drums
Legacy/Columbia 19658713762 (reviewed as 24/96 WAV, also available on CD, Gold CD, SACD, 2LP). 2022/23. Barbra Streisand, Jay Landers, Martin Erlichman, prods.; Roy Halee, Adjutor Theroux, Paul Blakemore, Jochem van der Saag, engs.
Performance *****
Sonics ***
Thomas Conrad, Sasha Matson  |  May 11, 2023  |  0 comments
Bobo Stenson Trio: Sphere; Kirsten Edkins: Shapes and Sound; Franco Ambrosetti: Nora; Walter Smith III: return to casual.
Sasha Matson  |  Apr 26, 2023  |  1 comments
Columbia Records continues to extend its Bob Dylan Bootleg Series, which began in 1991. The latest edition in this complex warren of burrows brings us to Volume 17, Bob Dylan—Fragments—Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996–1997).

Fragments—the title—feels inaccurate; these recordings are not shards of some missing whole. Rather, they form a single large, varied portrait. To borrow an analogy from art history, what we have here is the result of cleaning and restoring a large canvas, removing layers of varnish and dirt that had obscured the true colors and textures that were there when it was first painted. Now we can experience this masterpiece in a new way.