Michael Fremer

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 24, 2020  |  12 comments
Designing and building a turntable isn't all that difficult. All that matters is in plain sight: Start with a base of wood, MDF, or acrylic; add some isolation "feet" for it to rest upon, and a spindle bearing such as any competent machine shop can fabricate, topped by a platter of acrylic or aluminum or suchlike. The motor can be an off-the-shelf AC synchronous type, fed directly by the electricity from a wall socket.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 10, 2020  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2019  |  12 comments
Install a new component in your system and there's usually a period of adjustment as you get used to the difference in sound—especially if the new product costs much less than your reference. Channel D's new Lino C 2.0 balanced phono preamplifier costs $2499, yet my ears instantly accepted its combination of drop-dead, noise-free backgrounds and lack of obvious colorations or sonic personality. I didn't hear it—I heard only my Ortofon A95 cartridge, with which I'm well familiar, as amplified by far more costly phono preamps.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 18, 2020  |  46 comments
Lately it seems that the more Rega charges for one of its turntables, the less you get—and from Rega's performance perspective that's a good thing.

While some turntable designs pile on the mass, hoping to tame resonances and better isolate the record from the outside world, Rega has long advocated ultralow-mass designs. What's up with that?

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 03, 2020  |  23 comments
We usually save the question of value for the end of a review, but this time it's worth mentioning up front, if only because PS Audio has been in the news lately. Late last August, the company announced they were switching from a traditional dealer network to a factory-direct sales model. So, to some readers, it might seem fair to judge the brand-new, full-featured Stellar Phono Preamplifier ($2500) against ones selling in stores for $5000.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 17, 2019  |  48 comments
What's the point of reviewing a pair of monoblock amplifiers that costs more than most people spend on two or even several cars— and far more than most audiophiles spend on an entire music system? That's a good question. Another is: Why should I write this review when, just seven years ago, I reviewed a pair of darTZeel monoblocks that look exactly like this new pair?

I realize that products such as the darTZeel NHB-468 ($170,000/pair) are for the very few, but the very few include far more people throughout the world than you may realize— people who can afford such costly audio products and who do buy them. I know, because in my travels I've met a lot of them, and they deserve to read reviews of products they're considering buying—things most of us can only dream of owning.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 20, 2019  |  47 comments
Unless a truly budget-priced Air Force model is in the works, the TechDAS turntable lineup now seems complete: The recently introduced Air Force Zero ($450,000) is at the top, and the "affordable" Air Force V ($19,500) is at the bottom. The Air Force One, Two, and III turntables, all available in both standard and Premium versions, sit in the costly middle.

There's no Air Force IV because in East Asia that number is considered bad luck—which also explains why Japanese golfers shout "Six!" when someone hooks a shot into an adjacent fairway (joke alert).

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 25, 2019  |  43 comments
CH Precision's massive, versatile, technologically sophisticated, 165 lb M1.1 power amplifier ($54,000 configured for stereo) can easily crush your foot if you're not careful when installing it. But the more important consideration is this: Can this cool gray techno-square sing and dance without stepping on its own feet?
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 29, 2019  |  0 comments
Our conservative two-channel audio world doesn't easily accept change. Not that many years ago, even remote control was considered a sign of electronic moral decay certain to degrade sound quality. Today, home theater–like operating systems, with their fluorescent-screen hells and microprocessor-controlled functionality are commonplace, even in the highest of fi. Consumers accustomed to the convenience of audio/video processors now demand it on every price tier of two-channel hi-fi, though purists who think sound quality is commensurate with inconvenience can have that if they want it.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 29, 2018  |  0 comments
The digital ground seems to shift weekly. While firmware and software updates over the Internet somewhat slow the constant upheaval, when you do buy something, you just know that as soon as you plunk down your cash, something new will come along.

So, especially with preamplifiers, why not produce a design based on modules that the user can swap in and out, to custom-configure the preamp to that user's current needs while leaving room for later expansion? Why pay for six inputs' worth of stuff when at present you need only two? Upgrades? New features? No problem—swap out a module. Or, if a circuit in one module malfunctions, you can send only that module back for repairs, not the whole thing.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 18, 2018  |  42 comments
In 1959, in their musical revue At the Drop of a Hat, the British musical-comedy team of Flanders and Swann sang their "Song of Reproduction." It's not about sex. The song mocks audiophiles (you thought this was something recent?) for how we spend "all of that money to get the exact effect of an orchestra actually playing in their sitting room." Before launching into the song, Flanders quips, "Personally, I can't think of anything I should hate more than having an orchestra playing in my sitting room!"

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