Rogier van Bakel

Rogier van Bakel  |  Jul 07, 2022  |  124 comments
Gullibility is a disadvantage in any business, but it's a cardinal sin in journalism. During my J-school years, I acquired the occupational deformity that afflicts most reporters: a degree of skepticism bordering on the cynical. In my professional circles, an adage holds that "if your mother says she loves you, check it out."
Rogier van Bakel  |  Jul 06, 2022  |  3 comments
2022 is turning out to be a good year for Lyle Lovett, not least because he is, to use a cowboy metaphor, back in the saddle.

"I've been out of work for two years," he says archly. Normally, Lovett performs more than 100 concerts a year, regardless of whether he's released new work. But the pandemic pinned him down at home in Houston, with his wife and their now–four-year-old twins, in the house his grandfather built in 1911. Domesticity suits Lovett. "There was plenty to do every minute of every day. Absolutely no boredom!" He sounds like he means it; unselfconscious mentions of paternal tenderness bubbled up in our conversation from time to time.

Rogier van Bakel  |  May 18, 2022  |  16 comments
National pride is the damnedest thing. When I was growing up in the Netherlands, schoolchildren were taught that the inventor of the printing press was a Dutchman named Laurens Janszoon Coster. Germany's Johannes Gutenberg was waved away as an also-ran, if he was mentioned at all.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 30, 2022  |  0 comments
Outside the Eikon room at AXPONA, sharply projected onto the hallway carpet, floated the company's logo in bright white. I like to think I wasn't the only one who reacted to it like a little kid from Hamelin, powerlessly compelled to follow the music that was now within earshot.

Inside, I was invited to audition the just-launched Image .5 standmounts ($12,000/pair).

Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  1 comments
I'm in the middle of an audition in the room where Raidho TD3.8 speakers ($119,999/pair) are producing sweet music in synergy with two $6000-each Margules Audio U-280SC tube amplifiers running in triode mode. (JVS reviewed the amp in November 2017.) Suddenly some deep-voiced dude speaks up, just to my right: "You guys ever heard of the Purple Man?" Puzzled, I look in his direction. No one's there.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 25, 2022  |  1 comments
My first surprise of the day came when I squeezed what I thought was Colgate from a red-and-white tube onto my toothbrush. It turned out to be hydrocortisone cream, also from a red-and-white tube.

After that, I ventured out and got my second surprise, this one considerably more pleasant. In one of the third-floor Saturday Audio Exchange rooms, I encountered a new flagship Paradigm loudspeaker, the floorstanding Founder 120H ($8499/pair).

Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 25, 2022  |  11 comments
When you're a critic, you get paid to quibble, so here's mine: Bowers & Wilkins' iconic 801 D4 speaker ($35,000/pair) is pretty enough in gloss black, but gorgeous in satin walnut. In the company's AXPONA room, I encountered only the black version.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  0 comments
For two years now, pandemic-related supply-chain issues have racked (but not wrecked) the high-end industry. Things still aren't back to normal, and sometimes planned product launches have to be pushed back. Today, when I visited the room featuring Magico loudpeakers and Luxman electronics—see KM's report here—I found out we'll have to wait just a little longer for the next Magico speaker, but I can't imagine that anyone was disappointed when the company's Peter Mackay brought the M6s ($185,000/pair) to AXPONA. A known quantity they may be—the product was introduced five years ago—but I was whistling Eric Clapton's "Hello Old Friend" as soon as I saw them.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  2 comments
The Germans have a great word to describe things that are insipid and inoffensive: salonfähig ("fit for the parlor"). On that note: How many Patricia Barber tracks can a man take? After two days at AXPONA, I craved some kickass rock 'n' roll. Green Day, Rammstein, Rage Against the Machine; the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin would do in a pinch. And fortunately, that's the scene I found in the JBL room. Unapologetic raucous rock emanated from the new 13"-tall JBL L52 bookshelf speakers ($995/pair), powered by a JBL SA750 Class-G streaming integrated amplifier ($3000).
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  0 comments
In search of beauty and excitement, I struck a lode on the fifth floor, where a pair of just-introduced, double-ported, full-range Revel 328Be speakers ($17,600) played in tandem with a spiffy Mark Levinson front end: the No 5101 streaming SACD player/DAC ($5500), the 5206 preamp ($9000), and the 5302 power amp (also $9000).