September 2018
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Bernstein's Serious Symphonic Side

By | September 22nd, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

How many who love Bernstein’s “popular” music—everything from On the Town and West Side Story to the final Arias and Barcarolles—have actually spent time with his three “serious,” gravely introspective symphonies? Perhaps the best way to do so in up-to-date sound is to dive into Warner Classics’ superbly annotated and recorded Bernstein: The 3 Symphonies from Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra, Chorus, and “Voci Bianche” of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Together with excellent soloists, Pappano presents the three symphonies on two CDs, with options of a 24/96 download and hi-rez streaming in MQA on Tidal.… Read the full article

Audio Research Reference 160M monoblock power amplifier

By | September 20th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

At a recent dealer event in Seattle, after being impressed by the musical rightness of an Audio Research Corp. LS28 preamplifier and VT80SE power amplifier driving a pair of Sonus Faber Guarneri loudspeakers, I spoke with ARC’s Dave Gordon about reviewing one of the company’s new amplifiers. Less than a month later, two ARC Reference 160M tubed monoblock amplifiers ($30,000/pair) were headed my way.

Soon thereafter I received a huge, pallet-bound stack of boxes as tall as my neck: the two monoblocks, plus one ARC preamp—their hefty, one-piece Reference 6 (REF 6) line preamplifier ($14,000), which Michael Fremer reviewed in December 2016.… Read the full article

Paradigm Persona 5F loudspeaker

By | September 20th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Since its founding in 1982, Paradigm has developed and sold high-value loudspeakers. When my wife and I acquired our weekend house in 1992, I selected a pair of Paradigm Esprit/BP speakers for our audio system there. Shortly thereafter, however, I wanted to take my big step into multichannel, and it seemed that the Esprits’ bipolar radiation would present problems for multichannel sound in my relatively small room. Back then, Manhattan still had many audio salons; after shopping around, I replaced the Esprit/BPs with Paradigm’s Reference Studio/60 v.2s, and in 2004 stepped up to the Studio/60 v.3s.… Read the full article

Dealer Events Saturday in Newport Beach, San Diego, Seattle

By | September 19th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Saturday, September 22: Alma Music and Audio (7847 Convoy Ct. #101, San Diego, CA 92111) is hosting an Audio Research event; the Pacific Northwest Audio Society and J-Corder custom Reel to Reels are holding a Technics turntable event at the Congregational Church (4545 Island Crest Way, Mercer Island, WA 98040); and Excel Audio (4678 Campus Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660) is holding its first Annual Open House and Customer Appreciation Night.

Alma Music and Audio is introducing the Audio Research Reference 160M monoblock power amplifiers that are on the cover of our October issue.… Read the full article

Sonus Faber Aida loudspeaker

By | September 18th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

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!”

I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing I love more than having the sensation of an orchestra playing in my sitting room—or, more to the point, of being transported to the venue in which the orchestra was recorded.… Read the full article

What's Wrong With Classical Record Reviews

By | September 18th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

I attend at least a couple of dozen classical-music performances each year. I also read reviews of recordings and live performances, and have even dabbled in writing them. Why, then, do I find classical music reviews so frequently annoying?

It’s the vocabulary. In these reviews I often see words that I rarely see used elsewhere: scintillating, irresistible, delightful. One venerable reviewer for Gramophone magazine has used the word “beguiling” 100 times in some 900 reviews. When I read such words, I envision the poor music critic writhing in his (occasionally her) listening chair, approaching an involuntary state of aesthetic ecstasy.… Read the full article

Wonderful Times with Wonderful Town

By | September 17th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

After umpteen serious reviews, penned in serious and somber times, it’s high time to lighten up. Hence to Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town we go, and to Sir Simon Rattle’s new SACD of the musical, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and a stellar cast that includes Danielle de Niese (Eileen), Alysha Umphress (Ruth), and Nathan Gunn (Bob).

Wonderful Town, whose music Bernstein composed to lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, grabbed five Tony Awards when it opened on Broadway in 1953 with Rosalind Russell as Ruth Sherwood.… Read the full article

KEF Meets Porsche in California

By | September 14th, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

In late August, I attended the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and Car Week at Weathertech Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. Porsche sponsored its own “Porsche Werks Reunion” at the nearby Corral De Tierra Country Club.

Walking around the golf course, I stumbled on a pair of KEF Blade Two speakers in the middle of a field of rare Porsche 911s, from the earliest 1965 model 356 to the latest 2018 GT-3RS. Anthony Hrehowsik, KEF USA’s Operations Manager, explained that the company partnered with Porsche to offer both the Blade ($32,999/pair) and the Blade Two ($24,999/pair) loudspeakers in paint-to-sample Porsche car colors.… Read the full article

Recommended Components: Fall 2018 Edition

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

Components listed here have been formally reviewed in Stereophile and have been found to be among the best available in each of four or five quality classes. Whether a component is listed in Class A or Class E, we highly recommend its purchase.

Each listing-in alphabetical order within classes-is followed by a brief description of the product’s sonic characteristics and a code indicating the Stereophile Volume and Issue in which that product’s report appeared. Thus the May 2017 issue is indicated as “Vol.40 No.5.”

Some products listed have not yet been reported on; these are marked (NR), for “Not Reviewed.” We recommend that you read any product’s entire review before seriously contemplating a purchase (products without reviews should therefore be treated with more caution)-many salient characteristics, peculiarities, and caveats appear in the reviews, but not here.… Read the full article

The 2018 Indianapolis Violin Competition

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

One of the most important international competitions for young (ages 16–29) violinists takes place in the United States every four years. (The other top-tier classical-music competitions that include violinists, Moscow’s International Tchaikovsky and Belgium’s Queen Elizabeth, also run on four-year cycles.) While one might expect the US entry on that list to be hosted in California or New York, the venue is: Indianapolis, of 500-mile auto-race fame—land for excellent reasons.

Indiana University (Bloomington) has one of the most outstanding music schools in the world, and that is where violinist Josef Gingold brought his remarkable career to a conclusion, as a Distinguished Professor of violin.… Read the full article