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So far Wayne Garcia has created 19 blog entries.

Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On

By | May 16th, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On

Kudos to Mobile Fidelity for this extraordinary release of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 masterpiece, What’s Going On. A major artistic step, this brilliant psychedelic-soul song-cycle’s themes of social and economic injustice, the horrors of war, displaced veterans, and environmental concerns rings all too clearly to this day. The latest in MoFi’s 1-Step series, this elaborately packaged and pricey reissue also introduces the company’s SuperVinyl technology. Developed by NEOTECH and RTI to lower the noise floor and enhance groove definition, it creates, according to MoFi, LPs “indistinguishable from the original lacquer” and “provides the closest approximation of what we hear in the …… Read the full article

Bel Canto Black EX DAC/Control Preamplifier and Black EX Amplifier

By | March 1st, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , |

Bel Canto Black EX DAC/Control Preamplifier and Black EX Amplifier

Reviewers in TAS are supposed to focus on sound quality and not on style and engineering. Fair enough, but if the sound quality is excellent in virtually every respect, then style and engineering should be given their due. The Bel Canto Black EX DAC/control preamplifier and Black EX amplifier both provide outstanding sound. What makes them particularly striking, however, is that they also provide outstanding features and achieve this in exceptionally compact packages with equally exceptional styling. This makes for a welcome change in an era where having the largest box and shiniest front panel often seems to be a …… Read the full article

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Vivaldi in Venice

By | March 1st, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Vivaldi in Venice

Let me say it up front, Vivaldi in Venice is one of the most gorgeous sounding and exquisitely played LPs I’ve heard in quite some time. Adding yet another fine title to its impressive young catalog, the English label Chasing The Dragon recorded these tracks live in Venice with that city’s Interpreti Veneziani, the chamber ensemble that also performed on the same label’s first release, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. As Chasing The Dragon’s Mike Valentine explained via email, “I had worked with the orchestra before, when I recorded them in London performing The Four Seasons as our first Direct-Cut album.… Read the full article

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VTL S-200 Signature Stereo Amplifier

By | February 11th, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

VTL S-200 Signature Stereo Amplifier

When I was mere squirt of 18—a budding audiophile and therefore a devoted reader of this magazine—the first live opera I ever attended was Wagner’s Das Rheingold. That was here in San Francisco, and I was lucky enough to have an encouraging distant cousin purchase my aisle seat ticket somewhere roughly Row G in the front orchestra section. The evening was magical enough for me to still recall the hushed silence from which the rumble of that famed E-flat orchestral prelude swirled and swelled, as if emerging from the very depths of the earth, or at least a musically imagined …… Read the full article

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Duck Times Three

By | January 22nd, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , |

Duck Times Three

Listening to Duck Baker’s jaunty, insightful interpretations of Thelonious Monk compositions on Duck Baker Plays Monk, my mind immediately conjured Bach. Meaning the way that hearing, say, a well-loved piece for solo violin transcribed to the mandolin in the hands of a Chris Thile causes us to pause and rethink music that we believe we know so well—fresh, with ears ablaze, a knowing smile on one’s face. That’s how good he is. Though quietly so. Duck Baker Plays Monk is but one of three newly released—if not necessarily recorded—LPs from this multi-dimensional and highly prolific acoustic guitar picker (they span …… Read the full article

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TAS Legacy: Vandersteen Audio Model 2 Loudspeaker

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

TAS Legacy: Vandersteen Audio Model 2 Loudspeaker

Although Richard Vandersteen has gone on to design far more sophisticated, expensive, and ultimately “better”-sounding loudspeakers, the original Model 2 remains the inspiration and essential research project for all that’s followed over the past four-plus decades. Upon release in 1977 the Model 2 sold for $890 the pair and featured several innovative design elements that are fundamental to every subsequent speaker that Richard Vandersteen designed. First and most obviously was Vandersteen’s discovery that by minimizing the size and curving the edges of the baffle, he was able to virtually eliminate cabinet edge and grille diffraction issues to obtain a far …… Read the full article

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Albert King: Born Under a Bad Sign

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

Albert King: Born Under a Bad Sign

Thanks in large part to rock guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, by the late 60s a new and wider appreciation emerged for the previous generation of black American blues musicians. Prominent among them was Albert King, who had moved to Memphis, signed with the Stax label, and recorded a series of singles with the unbeatable house band of Booker T. and the MGs and the Memphis Horns. As such, 1967’s Born Under a Bad Sign is a satisfying if spotty collection.… Read the full article

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Balanced Audio Technology VK-3000SE Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

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

Balanced Audio Technology VK-3000SE Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

Balance. As a wine merchant by day that’s a word I use with great frequency. Because what I seek in the bottles I offer my customers is a balance—harmony, if you will—between a wine’s fruit, earth, and acid elements. Too much fruit in a wine will taste dull, of one-note, like a bottom-heavy speaker. Too much acid, and you might need a trip to the dentist. Too much earth, and, well, while mineral elements are key to a wine’s complexity they need to fold into the whole, otherwise the bitterness can overwhelm.… Read the full article

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Soundtracks Series Vol. 5: Wayne Garcia’s Top 10

By | September 29th, 2017|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , , |

Soundtracks Series Vol. 5: Wayne Garcia's Top 10

In 1970 I was a 13-year-old hippie wannabee when the Woodstock movie and soundtrack were released. Naturally, I was hooked from the start. Here was the perfect dreamed-of escape from lame suburbia—lots of great music, skinny-dipping hippie chicks, plenty of pot and acid. Plus, it was all so relatively innocent (most especially compared with the horrors that would occur just a few months after Woodstock—and an hour from where I lived—at the Altamont Speedway in Northern California’s East Bay hills). From that moment on I developed a thing for concert films that captured not only the bands and their music, …… Read the full article

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AMG Giro Turntable, 9W2 ‘Arm, and Teatro Moving-Coil Cartridge

By | August 8th, 2017|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , , |

AMG Giro Turntable, 9W2 'Arm, and Teatro Moving-Coil Cartridge

In October 2012 my old pal and colleague Jonathan Valin waxed enthusiastically in these pages about AMG’s Viella 12 turntable and companion 12J2 tonearm, the first product releases from Bavaria’s Analog Manufaktur Germany. Jon titled his review “A Statement Product For The Rest of Us,” and explained in his usual meticulous fashion how this relatively affordable record-playing combo (roughly $16k, give or take various cosmetic options), at the time the least expensive playback components in his annoyingly green-with-envy-inducing reference system—there, I finally got that off my chest!—was consistently able to make the finest recordings, as he simply put it, sound …… Read the full article

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