Ken Micallef

Ken Micallef  |  Dec 30, 2021  |  11 comments
I enjoy few things more than setting up a turntable. Whether it's for myself or for a friend—whether it's a budget model with a layered MDF plinth and nonadjustable tonearm, or a megabuck, state-of-the-art behemoth—I relish the ritual.

Back in the day, I used to huff and puff, scream and shake, thanks to the heebie-jeebies I'd get when attempting to raise a turntable to ultimate performance. But with experience comes wisdom. My buddy and Sound & Vision contributor Michael Trei makes turntable setup look like child's play. I've learned by watching Mike that, when a turntable setup tries your patience, the thing to do is keep calm and carry on.

Ken Micallef  |  Dec 03, 2021  |  16 comments
Technics, an arm of the Japanese giant Panasonic Corporation, has long been a major player in the hi-fi world, even if, in some recent decades, it stayed below the radar.

In the 1970s, analog-centric audiophiles particularly praised the Technics SP-10, the world's first direct drive turntable. Created by Matsushita engineer Shuichi Obata in 1969, the SP-10 and its successors became the standard in vinyl playback for American radio stations during that heyday of broadcast radio.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 10, 2021  |  4 comments
Over a long weekend in late August 2021, DJ, broadcaster, and contemporary music scholar Gilles Peterson and his Brownswood recordings label hosted the We Out Here (WOH) festival in Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire, 80 miles north of London. 20 stages. 15,000 attendees. Peterson called it "the British Jazz Woodstock."
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 09, 2021  |  4 comments

Capital Audiofest 2021 was a fantastic show. Everyone I spoke to—vendors, visitors, the helpful Hilton staff—was jazzed to be there. Everyone was in good spirits. While I didn’t see as many attendees in total as at the 2019 CAF show pre-Covid, every room I visited was full, and in many midday cases, standing-room-only.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 09, 2021  |  11 comments

Next door to the VPI room showing Harry Weisfeld’s rock ‘em, sock ‘em JBL Everest horns, another system with a VPI source was complemented by a colossal pair of Arion Audio line-array towers and subwoofer columns. The speakers were brought to Rockville by Charlotte, North Carolina’s Arion Audio and Arion's designer/owner Mike Kalellis.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 09, 2021  |  3 comments

Tenacious Sound had several systems at the show, including those in Room 325 and the Montrose ballroom. Sunday morning, I stumbled into the smaller room, where good sounds were being made by an Audio Hungary X200 integrated tube amplifier ($6499) powering Canton Reference 7K loudspeakers ($6995/pair). A Microsoft Surface Pro laptop streamed Qobuz to a Weiss DAC. Cables were from Audience.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 09, 2021  |  0 comments

In the room of British Columbia’s Infigo Audio at the Capital Audiofest, CEO/founder Hans Looman was playing Michael Oldfield’s Tubular Bells II. Not quite new age, not “folk-tronica,” the music’s flowing, acoustic melodies and circular rhythms suited Looman, whose ponytail and pleasant banter recalled a taller, younger Obi-Wan Kenobi espousing wisdom and good vibrations. I quickly fell under the spell of Looman, Oldfield, and these attractive Infigo devices.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  1 comments

When a show room plays great music, the job of listening is easy. That’s true for civilians and press alike.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  3 comments

Show attendees can be gruff, show exhibitors grouchy. Add a pandemic and things can get touchy. But if there’s one man you want to see at an audio show, it’s the ever-chilled Jeff Joseph, who gets my nomination for the calmest, best natured manufacturer in high-end audio.

Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2021  |  3 comments

I couldn’t decide what was more impressive, the larger-than-life personality of Bending Wave USA distributor Eliot Goldman or the massive products shown in his WADAX/Goebel room. Either way, I was grateful for the room’s bright light, which gave everything a fresh-scrubbed sheen and made it much easier than most rooms to photograph.

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