December 2018
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Cary Audio SLI-100 integrated amplifier

By | December 13th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

My Russian neighbor’s blind grandfather, Vlad, has very discriminating ears—but only when I tell him what to listen for. If I don’t, he just bitches about my choice of music. And he refuses to listen to “weak” American orchestras.

Not surprisingly, Vlad worships Mikhail Glinka. “Herb! Play Russlan and Ludmilla!” When he asks for “Pyotr Ilyich,” I groan and quietly put the vodka back in the freezer.

A week ago, after an intense back-and-forth about Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, Sergei Diaghilev, and the Ballets Russes, I persuaded Vlad to perform a blind comparison of two fairly similar push-pull tube amps: Rogue Audio’s Stereo 100 power amp ($3495), which uses KT120 tubes to output 100Wpc, and Cary Audio’s new SLI-100 integrated amplifier ($5995), which uses KT150 tubes to produce 100Wpc.… Read the full article

Gramophone Dreams #25: Dr. Feickert, Jelco, Koetsu, My Sonic Lab

By | December 13th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

I needed one black tiddledywink (not provided) to use Dr. Feickert Analogue’s three-speed, two-motor, two-armboard Blackbird turntable. The tiddledywink was for covering the Blackbird’s painfully bright power-on LED so that it didn’t blind me when I cued up a record. The first night, in my dark listening room, this tiny indicator sprayed the wall behind and the ceiling above with more light than a bright-emitting 845 vacuum tube.

When I push one of the Blackbird’s three speed buttons, to select 78, 45, or 331/3rpm, the annoying light goes out—but I then have to move the tiddledywink to cover the equally bright speed-indicator light.… Read the full article

Dealer Events in New Hampshire & Florida, Friday & Saturday

By | December 12th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Friday December 14, at 3pm and 6pm, Fidelis (460 Amherst Street, Nashua, NH 03063) are presenting “An Afternoon with Michael Fremer” (above). Saturday, December 15, 11am–3pm, House of Stereo (8780 Perimeter Park Ct #100, Jacksonville, FL 32216) are hosting their 2019 KEF Product Launch event.

The Fidelis “Afternoon with Michael Fremer,” Stereophile senior editor and editor of, has two sessions, at 3pm and 6pm. “Music Lovers Rejoice!: says Fidelis. There will be door prizes, a raffle, refreshments, and hors d’oeuvres, plus a ticket for a free microbrew next door.… Read the full article

Wayne Shorter: How the Future Would Be

By | December 11th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Wayne Shorter is 85. His mind moves at warp speed, a million miles from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, who rescued him from Newark, New Jersey—or the Miles Davis’s second great quintet, for which the saxophonist wrote the compositions that would establish his genius. Shorter’s constellation of classic Blue Note recordings from 1964–67—Night Dreamer, JuJu, The All Seeing Eye, ETC, The Soothsayer, Adam’s Apple, Speak No Evil, Schizophrenia—is now but a dim cluster of stars in his ever-expanding musical galaxy.… Read the full article

Bonus Recording of December 2018: La Fenice

By | December 11th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Keith Jarrett: La Fenice
Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 2601/02 (2 CDs). 2018. Keith Jarrett, prod.; Martin Pearson, eng.; Christoph Stickel, Manfred Eicher, mastering, exec. prod. DDD. TT: 97:47
Performance *****
Sonics *****

This July 2006 concert, performed in Venice’s Gran Teatro La Fenice, is Keith Jarrett’s seventh recording of the shorter solo-piano improvisations he’s explored since the early 2000s, after chronic fatigue syndrome robbed him of the stamina needed to improvise for unbroken stretches of nearly an hour. Despite their many high points, none of its six predecessors—Tokyo Solo, Radiance, Carnegie Hall, Testament, Rio, Creation—matched the cumulative power and depth of his best long-form improvisations: Köln, Sun Bear, Bregenz München, Paris.… Read the full article

January Already?

By | December 10th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Yes, the January 2019 issue of Stereophile is hitting newsstands, mailboxes, and tablets this week. And to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our going from a digest-sized publication to a full-sized one, we have recreated the cover of the January 1994 issue, the “musicality vs accuracy” debate as strong today as it was a quarter-century ago. The 25th anniversary edition of the same Cary tube amplifier is featured on the cover and in this issue’s review section, but instead of the solid-state Krell we had on the 1994 cover, we have the solid-state Cambridge Edge A integrated amplifier which is also reviewed in this issue.… Read the full article

Aequa & H e (a) r

By | December 9th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

First came the press release, from San Francisco Symphony, announcing:

• Esa-Pekka Salonen is the Music Director Designate of SFS, to replace Michael Tilson Thomas when he voluntarily steps down after the summer of 2020.

• EPS will lead SFS in a program on January 18–20 that includes the SFS premiere of Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Metacosmos, Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, and Sibelius’s Four Legends from the Kalevala.

These led me to explore Thorvaldsdottir’s music in two recent hi-rez releases from Sono Luminus: Aequa: International Contemporary Ensemble Performs Anna Thorvaldsdottir (DSL-92224), and Nordic Affect: H e (a) r (DSL-92227).… Read the full article

Listening #192: Koetsu, Ortofon, EMT

By | December 6th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Although my house is now home to a borrowed pair of DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 loudspeakers—a loan I gratefully accepted early this year, when my 1966 Altec Flamencos proved a bit too large for my new listening room—it’s a matter of pride that I own almost everything else in my playback system, cables included. So it’s with no small discomfort that I acknowledge having nearly $30,000 worth of borrowed phono cartridges scattered around my living and dining rooms. (The former is where I listen to them, and the latter—the sunniest room in the house—is where I install them.)

Being responsible for other people’s things is nerve-racking enough; when those things are so fragile that the simple act of unpacking them can, if done carelessly or lucklessly, result in a four-figure liability (footnote 1)—this in contrast to step-up transformers, which continue to perform well even when dropped from a great height—I get really nervous.… Read the full article

ATC CDA2 Mk2 CD player-preamplifier

By | December 6th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

In the early 1990s, the Compact Disc was all the rage, and vinyl records were being executed en masse. Thirty years later, and oh, how our tables have turned. Mint first pressings of tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley’s 1957 album Hank Mobley (Blue Note BLP 1568), which once could be had for $40, now bring upward of $8000. Each. Vinyl continues to enjoy a global resurgence of popularity, while CD sales have plummeted to all-time lows.

What happened? Apparently, yesterday’s pops and ticks are today’s “warmth,” Record Store Day exclusives, and skyrocketing vinyl values.… Read the full article

Dealer Events in Virginia Thursday & Florida Saturday

By | December 5th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Thursday, December 6, 4–8 pm, Command Performance (115 Park Avenue, Ste 2, Falls Church, VA 22046) will be hosting a Naim Audio “500 Event.” Saturday, December 8, 12–5pmm, Audible Images (1610 Pineapple Avenue, Melbourne, FL 32935) are holding their annual “Music Appreciation Event.”

At the Command Audio event, Naim will have its East Coast premiere of its all-out assault on music streaming and playback, the ND 555 Network Streamer. The ND 555 will be played-back through the NAC 552 preamplifier and NAP 500 DR power amplifier.… Read the full article