Brian Damkroger

Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 30, 2023  |  1 comments
Walking into one of the rooms hosted by Middle River, MD audio dealer Just Audio was a bit of a surprise, and to quote Yogi Berra, "It's like déjà vu all over again."

The first things I saw were the Mission 770—reviewed by JA1 in November 2022 and Mission 700 loudspeakers. They were flanked by display boards that rocked me back to the mid-1980s, when I was deciding between the Missions and Celestion 6s. Tom Bryant of Just Audio explained that Mission didn't want to build a part-for-part recreation of the speakers, or to build 770s using new parts. The goal was to design and build a thoroughly modern speaker that that resembled the original as closely as possible but could compete with anything being built today.

Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 30, 2023  |  0 comments
I wasn't sure what to expect when I headed for the Angel City Audio room at PAF 2024—were they a dealer? A distributor? A manufacturer? After chatting with ACA's owner Hugh Nguyen (above), I can say that the answer fell somewhere between "all three" and "it depends."
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 29, 2023  |  2 comments
At every show, I make it point to visit at least one company making their debut at the show AT PAF 2023, it was Bella Sound, based in Half Moon Bay, CA, and the offspring of Mike and Barbara Vice. Mike Vice described their path to PAF 2023 as having begun around 2010 with what was to be their first product, the Hanalei power amplifier. It had been ten years in the making and wowed everyone who heard it, but Mike decided that it "just wasn't ready". After eight more years of refining the Hanalei and developing a few other components, Mike and Barbara decided that the time was right and created Bella Sound. Add another 5 years and the COVID-19 lockdown, and here they were.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 29, 2023  |  1 comments
Even though I knew what to expect, I was still a bit overwhelmed when I walked into the Triangle Art room at PAF 2023. Their products aren't bashful. They practically scream engineering and display a build quality and attention that Ferrari would envy. If MOMA wants an exemplar of industrial art, they need look no further. I wanted to go over each and every one with a fine-toothed comb but—I was on a mission. My plan was to focus on the three turntable models that were being played, sort out their similarities and differences, and determine the extent to which the differences were reflected in the tables' performance.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 28, 2023  |  1 comments
Visiting Chuck Miller's Millercarbon room at PAF gave me the opportunity to check in on Townshend Audio, a quirky British manufacturer of audio gear best known for its well-engineered and very effective isolation products. I've always respected the engineering that went into the development, and liked their "luxurious execution meets form follows function" aesthetic. I've always smiled too, at their straightforward, almost simplistic approach to marketing, one that assumes customers will use logic and common sense to make purchase decisions. The Townshend products in use included $2650/pair Seismic Podiums under the speakers, a $795 Seismic Platform under the amps, and several Seismic Pods at $150/each.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 28, 2023  |  0 comments
One of the highlights of my visit to PAF 2023 was the debut of Klaudio's $80,000 Magnezar Turntable. The world of super-premium turntables is curiously large and active these days, and it's not that surprising to hear of another one hitting the market. From the first glance, though, it was obvious that Klaudio's Magnezar was something extraordinary.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 27, 2023  |  1 comments
On Sunday morning, I headed to the Marketplace to visit Kingrex Electric. King Rex himself, Rex Hungerford, was standing amid tables covered with a number of their modified and custom-built electrical panels and other components. He was explaining and fielding questions about what Kingrex does, which is designing specialized AC circuits and equipment to provide an audio system with absolutely the cleanest and quietest power possible. Or in website-speak, they have a singular focus, "Enriching the audio experience with clean electricity."
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 24, 2023  |  9 comments
There's an established standard protocol one observes when entering a room at an audio show. First, you stand in the doorway and listen for a couple of minutes, then check in with the exhibitor and if necessary, introduce yourself. Next, you exchange pleasantries and catch up while idly thumbing through whatever literature is displayed. Finally, and only at the exhibitor's insistence, you make your way to the best seat in the house while apologizing to everyone you step over, around, and displace. That's not what happened when I visited the NOLA room where Carl (left in photo), Marilyn, and Kristen Marchisotto (right) were overseeing the west coast debut of the $150,000/pair Baby Grand Reference Gold 3 loudspeakers, the midpoint of NOLA's reference series. Stepping into the doorway was as far as I got before bee-lining to the front and center, shoving aside anyone not fast enough to get out of my way.
Brian Damkroger  |  Apr 30, 2021  |  115 comments
Shunyata Research is the brainchild of Caelin Gabriel, whose résumé includes stints at NSA, in military R&D, and in the computer industry, first digging weak signals out of noise then developing very high-speed network devices. He is also a lifelong audiophile.

Shunyata's roots are in the scientific understanding and engineering base Gabriel has developed during his career. I've long been impressed by those scientific underpinnings—which extend not only in audio but also to other fields including medical devices—and by how open the company is in talking about its technologies.

Brian Damkroger  |  Feb 19, 2021  |  68 comments
Many companies in high-end audio and elsewhere use a trickle-down approach to advance their products. The process begins with the development of a suite of new technologies, capabilities, components, or whatever the relevant entities might be. Typically, it's a flagship product that functions as the impetus, target, and first deployment of the new technologies. Subsequently, the new technologies trickle down to other models, each one incorporating a subset appropriate to its price point.