Ken Micallef

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Ken Micallef  |  Oct 04, 2018  |  5 comments
Even as hypergentrification runs rampant, enriching financial opportunities for some and crushing small-business dreams for others, New York City remains ground zero for jazz and for the small clubs it thrives in. The New York Times may not cover jazz unless someone of the stature of Wynton Marsalis is on the bill, but the music moves ahead undeterred, taking up residence at such iconic venues as the Blue Note, Cornelia Street Café, Fat Cat, 55 Bar, Jazz Gallery, Mezzrow, Smalls, Smoke, the Village Vanguard, and Zinc Bar.
Ken Micallef  |  Sep 27, 2018  |  0 comments
In 2015, the venerable Canadian audio company NAD introduced its soon-to-be-popular D 3020 integrated amplifier ($499), which combined 30Wpc output, streaming capability, and an onboard DAC in a slick, contoured case. NAD's latest D/A integrated also smartly combines trend with functionality, lifestyle convenience with technological advancement. The C 328 Hybrid Digital amplifier ($549) goes its older, smaller sibling a couple steps better in features, while reverting to NAD's traditional look: an unfancy box finished in a dark shade of matte gray with subtle white lettering and logo.
Ken Micallef  |  Aug 23, 2018  |  24 comments
Designed in New York City, manufactured in Poland, and barely bigger than a thick paperback, the Brooklyn Amp ($2495) is Mytek's first power amplifier. Like all of their products, it's sleek to behold, with a powerful look that suggests the company's pedigree: in addition to high-end consumer electronics, Mytek makes gear for the pro-audio market, where exceptional build quality and space-saving design are the norm.

Consistent with that last characteristic is the Brooklyn Amp's output architecture: it operates in class-D, a technology that remains controversial.

Ken Micallef  |  Jul 29, 2018  |  30 comments
Arriving at David Smith's comfortable Queens apartment, he walks me into what was once a small dining room. Standing upright like a pair of wood-grained phone booths are the biggest speaker cabinets I've ever seen in anyone's home—anytime, anywhere. What?

Measuring a colossal 23" deep by 26" wide by 66" high, each 20 cubic-feet cabinet holds a vintage Altec 604E coaxial driver wired to a Mastering Lab crossover set in Smith's custom-built MLTL cabinets.

Ken Micallef  |  Jun 27, 2018  |  36 comments
A stunning jazz discovery presented at a historic citadel of recording technology. That event took place June 11, when the new John Coltrane recording, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, which will be released June 29, was unveiled at Van Gelder Studio, the fabled location where the celebrated engineer recorded many jazz masterpieces.
Ken Micallef  |  Jun 21, 2018  |  111 comments
Back at the beginning of 2017, Greg Roberts, of Volti Audio, devised a clever way to bring his Rival floorstanders up to my penthouse pad, for what resulted in a rave review of those horn-loaded wunderspeakers.

I live on the top floor of a seven-story, elevatorless building on a busy street in Greenwich Village. A vertical challenge? No problem! Roberts is resourceful in many things, from speaker design to his former profession, the building of custom homes. Affixing a pair of unguent-saturated straps to the screws on each side of a Rival, we lifted and transported the 106-lb speaker high in the gritty Manhattan sky as if it were child's play.

Ken Micallef  |  May 03, 2018  |  6 comments
We're well past the day when the sound of top-tier tube amplifiers can be described as "syrupy" or "too warm" or producing "soft bass." Equally true, solid-state designs have reached a level of maturity at which "sweetness," "fluidity," and "flow" are similarly applicable descriptors, thus smashing the cliché of "cold transistor sound."
Ken Micallef  |  Mar 07, 2018  |  13 comments
Richard Matthews has sold upwards of 30,000 tubes in the last ten years and he still has 100,000 tubes to go! Working out of his Leeds Radio warehouse in the Bronx, Matthews has every tube imaginable in stock, as well as a vast variety of tube testers, classic radios, capacitors, beautiful vintage tube boxes and many, many collector's pieces.
Ken Micallef  |  Feb 15, 2018  |  27 comments
Audiophiles are oblivious to the low-end music-reproduction medium that's currently staging a comeback: the cassette tape (footnote 1). I've adopted the cassette craze in my own small way. I glory in the trusted mixtape, which I play in the stereo cassette deck of my 1990s Toyota. An automobile is a dearly cherished possession in New York City; when I cruise the outer boroughs on Sunday, I want tunes galore. So I retrieved my 1996 Aiwa cassette deck, and, attic-bound as it had been for 20 years, it was in need of repair. Via Yelp, I came across Hi-Tech Electronics, a small repair-everything-electronic shop at the east end of Canal Street, in New York's Chinatown, and a mother lode of classic audio gear and audiophile nostalgia.
Ken Micallef  |  Feb 05, 2018  |  15 comments
Chances are, if you're a regular Stereophile reader, you're already a fan of tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh. How so? Because our astute crew of writers, editors, and all-round trendsetters have their collective fingers on the pulse of music that matters. Stereophile Contributing Editor Fred Kaplan reviewed Sabbagh's 2015 vinyl release, The Turn, bringing his honed insight to bear on a recording he describes as "spectacular. Sabbagh's sax floats palpably between the speakers, Ted Poor's drumkit crashes and sizzles . . .Ben Monder's guitar sparkles or wails. . . and Joe Martin's bass plucks and thumps like an anchor. Everything is clear, in a wide, deep, seamless space."

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