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So far Robert Harley has created 58 blog entries.

The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show

By | January 15th, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show

It’s no secret that the high-end audio segment of the massive Consumer Electronics Show has been waning for years as the industry has shifted its focus to Munich and the growing juggernaut of AXPONA. But this year’s CES was the death knell. After attending 36 consecutive CES events, this was my last. Nonetheless, it was worth going this year to see and hear some intriguing product introductions. Here are the highlights. In a radical rethinking of the traditional audio-component chassis and user interface, NAD introduced the M10 streaming amplifier.… Read the full article

PSB M4U 8 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

By | January 8th, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

PSB M4U 8 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Famed loudspeaker designer Paul Barton’s first headphone was the $399 PSB Speakers M4U 2 launched in 2012—an auspicious debut model widely acknowledged as a huge critical and commercial success. I bought a pair at their introduction and have spent many hundreds of hours with them in many different listening environments. The M4U 2 is a tough act to follow, but PSB has done it again with its new M4U 8, a significant rethinking of the original design. Like the M4U 2, the M4U 8 is a dynamic closed-back headphone with active noise-canceling technology.… Read the full article

Esoteric F-03A Integrated Amplifier

By | December 20th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Esoteric F-03A Integrated Amplifier

Esoteric’s F-03A integrated amplifier proves the audio truism that not all watts are created equal. With an output power of just 30Wpc, the F-03A isn’t anyone’s idea of a powerhouse. Yet the F-03A’s 30 watts are not only among the sweetest sounding you’ll find; they are also far more potent than those of lesser-quality amplifiers with a similar power rating. The F-03A’s sweetness is provided by its Class A operation, the potency from its robust output stage and power supply. Two amplifiers with the same power rating into 8 ohms “on paper” can have radically different real-world performances.… Read the full article

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Piega C711

By | November 5th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Piega C711

Very few loudspeaker companies can claim to have created a unique technology, but the Swiss manufacturer Piega owns that distinction with its coaxial ribbon driver. Since 1986 Piega has built, from scratch, the ribbon drivers found in all the company’s upper-end speakers. In fact, in 2014 Piega sold its 100,000th pair of ribbon-based speakers, with every single ribbon made in-house. That’s quite an achievement. Indeed, the company was founded on the ribbon driver; “piega” means “fold” in Italian, a reference to the pleats in the diaphragms of its first drivers.… Read the full article

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2018 Golden Ear Awards: Robert Harley

By | September 28th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , |

2018 Golden Ear Awards: Robert Harley

JL Audio Fathom f113v2 subwoofer and CR-1 crossover $4500/$3000 JL Audio’s Fathom f112 and f113 subwoofers have long been the “go-to” models for high performance and value. The Fathoms manage to combine bone-crushing bass impact and power with the ability to reveal musical subtleties—a rare feat. Now with the introduction of the “v2” updates, a great subwoofer has been made even better. In addition to more power, an improved driver, and refinements to the electronics, the new model’s digital room correction system is a significant advance over the previous version.… Read the full article

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Prather Design Signature LP Storage Rack

By | August 30th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Prather Design Signature LP Storage Rack

I happened across a husband-and-wife team who build a wide range of beautiful LP storage racks and was so impressed with their work that I wanted to share my find with TAS readers. The racks are made in rural Ohio by Jason and Brit Prather. The products range from a simple “now playing” single-LP stand or wall ledge to a full-blown cabinet that stores and displays up to 480 LPs. Prices range from $20 to $897 with most models under $150.… Read the full article

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Audiophilia on Four Wheels

By | August 20th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , , , , , , |

Audiophilia on Four Wheels

In late 2007 I was contacted by Jon Whitledge, who invited me to hear his ambitious car-audio system at the January, 2008 CES. I’d never heard of him, and the prospect of having my ears blown out by thumping bass at massive sound-pressure levels wasn’t my idea of fun. But then Jon described to me his goals for the system, his aesthetic, and the elaborate construction and technology behind what he called the “Magic Bus.” Jon had bought a Sprinter van solely as a platform for building the ultimate mobile-audio system, and spent thousands of hours in his workshop molding …… Read the full article

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JL Audio Fathom f113v2 Subwoofer and CR-1 Active Crossover

By | June 18th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

JL Audio Fathom f113v2 Subwoofer and CR-1 Active Crossover

JL Audio is one of those companies that does one thing and does it well. In JL’s case, that “one thing” is designing and building some of the world’s best subwoofers. Over its 38-year history, JL has fanatically pursued technological innovation with a single, laser-focused purpose: reproducing the lowermost 2½ octaves with the highest fidelity. JL Audio holds an astounding 38 patents on woofer design (with six more pending), including those for a particular cone structure, a voice-coil cooling system, and a method of bonding the surround and cone assembly to the voice coil and spider, to name but a …… Read the full article

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David Wilson, 1944–2018

By | May 29th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , |

David Wilson, 1944–2018

The many tributes to loudspeaker designer David Wilson, who passed away on May 26 from cancer, will understandably focus on his outsized contribution to high-end audio. One of those tributes is my piece that accompanied his induction into The Absolute Sound’s High-End Hall of Fame in 2016, reproduced below. But you should also know about David Wilson the man. As great a speaker designer he was, and as skillful as he was at building one of the industry’s most iconic brands, he was an even better human being.… Read the full article

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AVM CS 2.2 All-in-One System: A Compelling Alternative

By | May 29th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , , , |

AVM CS 2.2 All-in-One System: A Compelling Alternative

If the AVM CS 8.2 is more than you need or can afford, I’m happy to say you can get virtually all of the features and much of sound quality of AVM’s flagship in the company’s $4995 CS 2.2. I’ve been using the CS 2.2 as my “daily driver” for the past few months and its combination of features, flexibility, and sound quality in one easy-to-operate component is hard to beat. I won’t reiterate all the features that Steven described, but rather will concentrate on the differences between the CS 8.2 and CS 2.2.… Read the full article

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