Michael Fremer

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 14, 2020  |  15 comments
I was planning to ignore the big three oh oh—my 300th Analog Corner column—and go about my normal business of covering an assortment of new analog gear and accessories. There's an abundance of those today, 25 years after the publication of my first column. Back then, there was far less to write about: Vinyl was on life support and headed for the obsolete-music-format trash heap atop a pile of Elcasets and 8-track tapes.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 10, 2020  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1998  |  18 comments
"Something's coming, I don't know what it is, but it is gonna be great!"—Tony, West Side Story

While the Sharks and the Jets rumble in the consumer electronics playground, knife-fighting for supremacy in the next software go-round, in 1998 we're still living in the 16-bit/44.1kHz audio world, and will be doing so for the foreseeable future. Maybe your idea of audio bliss is listening to the equivalent of computing with a Commodore 64, but it's not mine.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 07, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2020  |  3 comments
We're 30 years into a cartridge design revolution, particularly at the top end of the market, where manufacturers charge upward of $10,000 for their best efforts: prices that well-off consumers have amply proved they are willing to pay. There doesn't seem to be an innovation end in sight.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1998  |  0 comments
The challenge for Ayre's Charley Hansen was formidable. Having already designed a world-class preamplifier—the highly acclaimed $7100 K-1 (see Wes Phillips' review in March 1997)—Hansen set out to offer audiophiles "80 to 90%" of the K-1's sound and build quality at a price more of them can afford. Not that the new K-3 is a piece of "budget" gear. It's not. But at $4500, the fully loaded K-3, complete with phono section and remote control, is within reach of many.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2020  |  First Published: May 01, 2020  |  6 comments
The catastrophic February 6 fire at the factory where Apollo Masters produced LP-mastering lacquers—flat aluminum discs covered with nitrocellulose lacquer—will be old news by the time this column gets to you, but the repercussions of the loss will be ongoing for at least the next year and probably beyond.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 19, 2020  |  6 comments
How goes your quarantining? Honestly, my life hasn't changed much here. I'm locked in the basement as usual, happy to have a good audio system and overwhelmed by my musical choices. Other than minimizing shopping expeditions and wearing a mask, the biggest change in my life is a spike in requests from readers for upgrade advice. I've never been so busy answering reader emails.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 14, 2020  |  12 comments
German engineering acumen and machining excellence—acknowledged and admired worldwide—are nowhere to be seen on AMG's flagship Viella Forte turntable and new 12JT tonearm. That's because, while what's on the surface is cosmetically and mechanically well-turned, the design features and precision engineering that set AMG's turntables and tonearms apart are inside and hidden from view.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 11, 2020  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2020  |  7 comments
At the 2017 Hong Kong High End Audio/Video Show, I found myself sitting next to a turntable manufacturer who shall remain anonymous. A Reed Muse 3C turntable ($20,000) with 3P tonearm sat on a display table across from us.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 04, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2020  |  6 comments
Lately, current amplification–based moving-coil phono preamplifiers have gotten a great deal of well-deserved press. For years, Haniwa's Dr. Kubo has been designing and selling super–low-internal-impedance cartridges because such cartridges work best with such devices. He has also been designing and selling his own current-amplification phono preamplifier.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 14, 2020  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2020  |  25 comments
The two biggest sonic jolts I've experienced involving phono preamps were from two very different ones: the Petr Mares's Connoisseur 2.0 and Boulder's 2008, which was reviewed in the July 2002 Stereophile. The first was hand-built, single-ended, housed in a wooden case, limited to 100 units, and, when I got to hear it in the mid-1990s, cost around $6000, or about $10,000 in today's dollars. The other was a feature-laden, double-chassis monument to flexibility and surface-mount high technology. It featured beautifully finished, flush-mounted mirrored buttons your fingers just wanted to press.

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