Dick Olsher

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Dick Olsher  |  Jul 05, 2017  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1992  |  0 comments
Better known for their speaker cables and interconnects, The Absolute Reference Audio Labs (TARA Labs) has quietly branched out into electronics and loudspeakers. Their Passage is a line-level–only preamp. I actually favor such a modular approach to preamp design. Standing as we are at the dawn of the digital audio age, the breakup of the traditional preamp into separate phono and line-level stages represents a more flexible, cost-effective design approach.
Dick Olsher  |  Mar 02, 2017  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1992  |  1 comments
666near50m.jpgNew England Audio Resource's NEAR-50M is a cyborg: metal innards in a wooden body. It represents NEAR's top statement in the firm's Metal Diaphragm Technology speaker line, which features the "NEAR-Perfect" driver cone. Metal—in this case an anodized aluminum alloy—is much more rigid than paper or plastic. Hence, a driver with a metal cone acts more nearly as a true piston. When it comes to loudspeaker cones, breaking up is not hard to do. When that happens, the cone flexes in a complex pattern, generating harmonic distortion. A typical plastic or paper 8" woofer may experience its first breakup mode at a frequency as low as 500Hz. The NEAR 8" metal-cone woofer's first breakup mode is said to be well above 2kHz, and their 4" metal-cone midrange does much better than that.
Dick Olsher, J. Gordon Holt, John Atkinson  |  Jul 12, 2016  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1984  |  0 comments
Stax Kogyo, a small audio company by Japanese standards, has been for the past 15 years steadfastly refining and redefining the electrostatic headphone. The SR-Lambda Pro is their current flagship model, and at a 1984 US list price of $780 it also represents a very substantial investment in headphone technology.
Dick Olsher  |  Apr 12, 2016  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1990  |  0 comments
You don't have to be a seasoned speaker builder to recognize the Focal name. For years they've offered the home constructor a full assortment of quality drivers and kits. The kits were designed in-house—mostly by Focal in France—and, according to Focal, they represent fully engineered and tested systems. The Aria kits (the 5 and the 7), depart from Focal's past policy, in that the project was a collaborative design effort between Dr. Joe D'Appolito and Focal America. Focal's main contribution was in the area of cabinet development, while D'Appolito was responsible for the system integration and crossover design.
Dick Olsher  |  Dec 18, 2015  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1995  |  5 comments
In 1995, as the compact disc enters its second decade of commercial reality, it's fair to say that the associated hardware has come of age, exorcising at last the digital gremlins of time-base jitter and quantization noise. Digital-processor maturation is particularly evident in the design of the all-critical D/A processor. The simplistic digital circuitry of yesterday has given way to considerable design sophistication that deals directly with jitter and low-level nonlinearities.
Dick Olsher  |  May 06, 2015  |  First Published: May 01, 1989  |  0 comments
The Lazarus, a slim, quite elegant unit finished in black with red and gray legends, lived up to its advance billing: it literally rose from the dead! Out of its coffin (ie, shipping box) and plugged into the wall, it showed no signs of life. Troubleshooting revealed a blown AC mains fuse. That in itself was not a major problem, but what worried me was the root cause of the trouble. Preamplifiers as a rule are not power-hungry, so a current surge at turn-on sufficient to destroy the 250mA slow-blow mains fuse appeared symptomatic of a major circuitry failure.
Dick Olsher, J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 13, 2014  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1985  |  2 comments
885gale.promo250.jpgThe Gale loudspeaker dates back to the early 1970s. As I understand it, the basic design resulted from a collaboration of Ira Gale and Sao Win, who were college classmates at the time. Their speaker proved very popular in England and was subsequently imported to the USA during the mid-1970s by Audio Technica. Recently, Techport (the folks who import the Perreaux line) has taken over US distribution.

While the Gales have undergone same changes through the years, their distinctive appearance and, according to some, their equally distinctive sonic "flavor," have continued to earn the respect of critical listeners all over the world. Nonetheless, these speakers have also sustained their fair share of criticism; not everybody likes them. This sort of continuing disagreement usually means that what is at issue is a "different" kind of sound—a product that sounds quite unlike others, yet somehow offers a high enough degree of musical satisfaction to appeal to a lot of serious audiophiles. Of such products are cults made.

Dick Olsher  |  May 09, 2014  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1984  |  0 comments
It has been my experience that $400 or thereabouts is about the least one can pay for a pair of speakers with the expectation of audiophile-calibre sound.
Dick Olsher  |  Apr 10, 2014  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1986  |  0 comments
Very few products exude opulence as do the Rowland amplifiers: the massive chassis, the gold finish, those sculpted handles on the front plate. For some strange reason the amp reminds me of Brutus Beefcake, the golden boy of professional wrestling, upon whom I stumbled one night while flipping through the myriad channels of our cable TV. The visual impact is the same: beefy. And then there's the price: also beefy.
Dick Olsher  |  Feb 13, 2014  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1992  |  1 comments
666kiseki.jpgKoetsu. Kiseki. Keebler. Products from all of these firms are shrouded in at least a bit of mystery. Do I believe that Koetsu cartridges are hand-built by an octogenarian samurai swordsmith, or that Kisekis are imported from the planet Vulcan, or that Keebler's cookies are baked by elves? Not really. But it does help to liven up the domestic audio scene.

"Look, son—see what Scottie just beamed down."

"Gee, Dad, it's big and blue with a gold spot on the front, and it kind of looks like a cartridge."

"Nice guess, son. No ordinary cartridge, this one. Let me tell you about the Vulcan analog freak in Hong Kong..."

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