Ken Micallef

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Ken Micallef  |  Dec 27, 2016  |  14 comments
Roughly half the size of a breadbox—remember those?—the Trenner & Friedl Sun ($3450/pair) is arguably the smallest stand-mounted loudspeaker presently available for serious home listening: only 8.5" high by 6.25" wide by 5.5" deep and weighing just 7.5 lbs. The Sun is the entry-level model from this Austrian loudspeaker manufacturer, and its ported, solid-birch cabinet is designed and built to golden-ratio proportions (footnote 1) It has a single, coaxial driver from SEAS and a crossover made by Mundorf. The Sun boasts a frequency response of 55Hz–25kHz, +0/–3dB; friends of mine have heard the speaker plumb remarkable depths when paired with the right amplifier. And though they're barely bigger than a pair of Audeze LCD-4 planar-magnetic headphones, the Suns do play louder!
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 01, 2016  |  1 comments
My entrée to high-end audio was in the late 1990s, when I bought a used pair of Cary Audio CAD-572SE tubed monoblock amplifiers to add to my Marantz CD player, Audio Note M2 preamplifier, and ProAc Response One SC loudspeakers. This system reproduced recordings with a sound that made me happier than a country boy with a glass of milk and a helping of peach cobbler. (I was reared, as my grandmother would say, though not born, in North Carolina, where Cary is based.)
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 20, 2016  |  9 comments
Drummer/composer Dan Weiss has wide-ranging musical tastes, superb skills, and a rocking little Rega-based system in his cozy Brooklyn, New York apartment. Dan has drummed with many jazz greats, but it's his own projects that have generated the greatest interest. He's a thinking musician's musician, one who astutely assesses the pros and cons of every situation. Dan doesn't enter musical projects or hi-fi scenarios lightly. When considering his first major stereo purchase Dan listened to many combinations of turntable/CD player/amplifier/speaker(s).
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 09, 2016  |  7 comments
I hit the ground running on Sunday, the final day of the show…
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 08, 2016  |  12 comments
Seeing as it's smack dab in the middle of the New York Marathon route, finding a way into The Park Lane Hotel presented its share of challenges, even on Saturday: though the race wouldn't begin until Sunday, gangs of scantily clad runners of all shapes and sizes dominated the sidewalks of Central Park South, forcing pedestrians to hit the concrete and scream, Ratso Rizzo style, "Hey! I'm walkin' here!"
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 06, 2016  |  3 comments
Whether large in scope and scale or just a few small rooms at the end of a hotel hallway, I get a kick out of hi-fi shows…
Ken Micallef  |  Oct 27, 2016  |  1 comments
I recently watched Terra, an exceptional film by French directors Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot. It's not a nature documentary per se, rather a history of life on Earth from lichens to lions, amoebas to humans. Terra boasts stunning cinematography of the natural world, revealing a beauty that nearly softens the film's cautionary message.

"How have our relations with other living beings changed so much?" asks Arthus-Bertrand on his website. "What do we still see, or notice, of the living world around us? . . . We no longer see the wild, we dream of it. It's an age-old fascination, visible in the paintings of the Chauvet Cave. But this dream is today disappearing, vanishing in factory smoke and industrial smog. . . .

Ken Micallef  |  Sep 10, 2016  |  17 comments
Ronald Levin "Ron" Carter is arguably the greatest upright jazz bassist to have ever walked four strings, and he's literally the most recorded bassist of all time. "With 2,221 individual recording credits, as verified on 15 September 2015," notes Carter's website. As I've interviewed musicians for Musicians as Audiophiles, to a man they've whispered, "You've got to hear Ron Carter's rig. He's deeeep into it."
Ken Micallef  |  Aug 25, 2016  |  9 comments
Stereophile and Music Hall Audio share a long mutual history. Like most relationships, it's had its ups and downs; unlike most relationships, this one is well documented—in retired writer Sam Tellig's much-loved "Audio Cheapskate" and "Sam's Space" columns, and Music Hall Audio proprietor Roy Hall's responses in "Manufacturers' Comments." I always found Sam and Roy's gentlemanly brawling to be good, clean, if occasionally uncomfortable fun—like the touchy rapport between a gregarious dog and a rascally cat forced to live under the same roof: A truce may have been called, but don't expect them to make nice.
Ken Micallef  |  Jul 18, 2016  |  7 comments
John Hébert's experiences unearthing precious oddities have served him well as an adult musician, particularly when extracting deep bass sounds as one of New York City's most in-demand jazz bassists. From his 1990s-era Romanian and Hungarian upright basses and exotic stereo gear and LPs to the Baldwin grand piano that adorns the living room of his Jersey City, New Jersey home, Hébert is a perfect example of audiophile as musician.

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