Ken Micallef

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 16, 2024  |  3 comments
Rogue Audio's Nick Fitzsimmons and Bill Magerman ran a room that operated smoothly and sounded smooth.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 13, 2024  |  17 comments
In the room operated by Brooklyn’s John DeVore, we time traveled to the 1940s and 50s as he spun pristine shellac 78s on an EMT turntable, playing through the world premieres of both his O/bronze Loudspeakers (30,000/pair) and the 7Wpc Komuro Amplifier Company K300S direct-coupled SET 300B stereo amplifier ($20,000).
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 13, 2024  |  8 comments
Meeting up with Tone Imports’ Jonathan Halpern and Pitch Perfect Audio’s Matthew Rotunda was like a family reunion for me. Along with John DeVore and Twittering Machines’ Michael Lavorgna, Halpern is one of my oldest friends and audio guides. His east coast (or Midwest) appearances are rare since he restationed himself in the sunny California desert. His and Rotunda’s ability to assemble a beautiful sounding system remains the same as it ever was.
Ken Micallef  |  Mar 21, 2024  |  16 comments
In the early 1980s, I worked in a pop band playing AM radio hits, grooving behind my Yamaha drums and Zildjian cymbals as sweat drenched my body and my ears rang. We danced. We pranced. My shiny silk jumpsuit led upwards to a 2"-high afro, which women ran fingers through in hopes of finding contraband smokes ... Then overnight, everything changed.

At the beginning of the previous decade, Technics had released the SP-10, the first direct drive turntable. That was followed in short order by the SL-1100. Clive Campbell, aka Jamaican-American DJ Kool Herc, pioneered the simultaneous use of two Technics SL-1100s, initially at his sister's birthday party in the Bronx, inspiring "block parties" (rigging streetlamps for power) and hip-hop culture. Kool Herc isolated drumbeats from records by James Brown (with drummers Clyde Stubblefield and John "Jabo" Starks) and the Incredible Bongo Band (powered by master studio drummer Jim Gordon), among others, creating "breaks" for heated dance-floor partying. Soon, Lace Taylor (aka Afrika Bambaataa) and Grandmaster Flash (The Message) took Kool Herc's inventions into the mainstream, and hip-hop went global.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 28, 2024  |  0 comments

Just Audio's Lenny Florentine presented two rooms at the show, one jammed with components at all price points (including Luxman, inspiring that company's VP of Sales John Pravel and myself to reminisce about 1970s hi-fi sales), the second with more affordable but no less listenable alternatives. Room 806 offered two systems in one.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 28, 2024  |  0 comments

The room of Tampa-area dealer, UniQue Home Audio was hosted by Michael Swek and offered unique gear and interesting sounds. Their products included the MoFi Ultradeck turntable ($2499) with an Ultragold MC cartridge ($1495) feeding a Coda 06X FET phono preamplifier ($6000). Digital audio was handled with a HiFi Rose RS-130 Network Transport ($5195).

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 27, 2024  |  0 comments

Another heavy hitter, showing in five rooms with multiple product lines, was Rob Standley’s Playback Distribution, featuring equipment from TEAC, the new-to-me company Advance Paris, PMC, Amphion, Vienna Acoustics, and a heaping helping of Esoteric.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 27, 2024  |  0 comments

In the usual preshow rush to coax product lists out of exhibitors, I asked Jeff for his list, and make it fast! One day passed, then another. Finally, Jeff acquiesced, writing "Ken, we just got the room!"

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 25, 2024  |  13 comments

When some folks think of Audio Note, they picture of low fog over English lakes, Earl Grey tea, The House of Commons, and Big Ben. Tubes for sure. Likely, Classical music. Well hold on to your remote control, 'cause this latest sighting of Audio Note, at the Florida Audio Expo, was more drum'n'bass than Dvorák, more techno wampum than Die Walkure.

Ken Micallef  |  Feb 24, 2024  |  6 comments

As Stereophile managing editor Mark Henninger and I scurried up and down the Hilton halls, fulfilling our tasks as intrepid reporters, we had little time to compare notes. But we agreed on one room, Axiss Audio. In a room filled with exceptional gear, Axiss's Cliff Duffey and TJ Goldsby had set up a fantastic rig, well beyond the norm, which overachieved and set my ears afire. (Not literally.)