Rogier van Bakel

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).
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  2 comments
When a brand that's rightly famous for world-class electrostatic panels wants to design a line of in-wall speakers, things can get pretty daunting. After all, electrostats are dipoles—sound flows from both the front and back. Installing a dipole in a wall is as useless as hanging a stained-glass window in a dark closet.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 24, 2022  |  0 comments
Elton John fans, forgive me. I've nothing against the man, but most of his songs do less for me than a nude painting does for a blind man (that is, we literally can't see the attraction). So it was fairly remarkable that, in the Focal demo room, the Dolby Atmos version of Elton John's "Rocket Man" made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. If a high-end rig can put you in touch with music you normally don't even care about, it's time to investigate.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  1 comments
The AXPONA experience is head-spinning in more ways than one. So many rooms, so many people to meet, so much gear to listen to. And so much regret when you realize that you can't fit it all into two or three days, unless each day were to last as long as it does it on Mercury. (Maybe one day we'll have audio shows there—sign me up!)

Another head-spinner occurred Saturday morning when I had to almost forcibly drag myself off the listening couch in the 16th-floor Avantgarde Acoustic room, where dCS front-end gear and a pair of gargantuan Trio G3 horn speakers ($180,000) had bowled me over with perhaps the most heavenly, enveloping sound of the entire show. Why did I leave? Because I had an appointment at the Devialet room on the same floor to listen to...(drum roll) a Dolby Atmos soundbar.

Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  1 comments
After a few hours of listening to speakers that cost well into the five and six figures, how much enthusiasm could I muster for a pair that retails for just $995? As it turns out, a lot. I'd heard the $750/pair Magnepan LRS a few years ago and marveled at how low the admission price to true high-end sonics can be. They sounded fast, surefooted, and transparent. Magnepan's new LRS+ speakers offer more of the same but at an elevated level and a slightly elevated price. Wendell Diller, a.k.a. Mr. Magnepan, calls them "higher-resolution" speakers.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 23, 2022  |  0 comments
"The road to the graveyard is littered with corpses of subwoofer companies that wanted to sell a range of regular speakers," Gary Yacoubian observes with a laugh. We're standing outside the SVS room at AXPONA while on yonder side of the door, a 7.2 SVS Dolby Atmos setup is testing the Renaissance hotel's structural soundness with an explosive fight scene from a Spiderman movie. Fittingly, Yacoubian is ready to, you know, rumble. His company has built a solid reputation by making and direct-selling excellent-value, powerful subwoofers and providing some of the friendliest pre- and post-sale service in the industry.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Apr 22, 2022  |  1 comments
The night before AXPONA's official kickoff, Krell's director of product development, Dave Goodman, was still assembling the latest offering from Connecticut's solid-state powerhouse: the yet-to-be-released KSA i400. (With that model name, no prizes for guessing the number of watts per channel.) The Krell and its associated components were set up in a large, cube-like room—on paper, far from ideal acoustically. But what resulted on Friday morning sounded powerful and impressive. I don't mean to say that anything was excessively muscular. Effortless, poised, and relaxed though? You'd best believe it.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Mar 03, 2022  |  17 comments
The advantage of a highly resolving music system is that you can hear deeper into recordings. The disadvantage is that you can hear deeper into recordings.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Feb 25, 2022  |  15 comments
If you've ever read Homer's Iliad, you probably remember the Catalog of Ships at the beginning. It's an exhaustive record of the contingents the Achean army deployed against Troy, naming the commanders, their hometowns, the number of ships in each contingent, and more. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's a snoozefest. It makes you dread what's next. But of course, if you come to this point only to abandon the Iliad in frustration, you'll miss the fabulous war epic that follows, chockablock with action, drama, and romance.