June 2018
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>> Breadcrumb ://Stereophile

BorderPatrol P21 EXD power amplifier

By | June 21st, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

Back at the beginning of 2017, Greg Roberts, of Volti Audio, devised a clever way to bring his Rival floorstanders up to my penthouse pad, for what resulted in a rave review of those horn-loaded wunderspeakers.

I live on the top floor of a seven-story, elevatorless building on a busy street in Greenwich Village. A vertical challenge? No problem! Roberts is resourceful in many things, from speaker design to his former profession, the building of custom homes. Affixing a pair of unguent-saturated straps to the screws on each side of a Rival, we lifted and transported the 106-lb speaker high in the gritty Manhattan sky as if it were child’s play.… Read the full article

Bricasti Design M15 power amplifier

By | June 21st, 2018|Categories: Stereophile|

On the second morning of a recent audio show, I walked into the exhibit room of Bricasti Design.

“How about some Mahler?” asked cofounder and designer Brian Zolner.

“Oh God. Not at 10am!”

Listening to Mahler had become de rigueur for my visits to the exhibits of this Massachusetts-based company. From the very first time that Zolner had played part of Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s recording of Mahler’s Symphony 2 (SACD/CD, Channel Classics 23506) through a system that combined Bricasti’s M28 monoblock power amplifiers, M1 DAC, and M12 Source Controller with Tidal Audio’s Piano Diacera speakers, I’d been impressed by the layered darkness of the bass and midrange, and the system’s ability to flesh out Mahler’s despair.… Read the full article

Adams Takes the Violin Up, Down, Around, and Through

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

Twenty-five years after the premiere of John Adams’ Violin Concerto, the music remains as vital, exhilarating, and strangely moving as the day it was birthed. An extremely demanding work, its three contrasting movements present a triathlon challenge of sorts to anyone who dares try to play them.

Here, she who rises to the challenge is violinist Leila Josefowicz. Provocatively pictured on the CD cover as a curious cross between an athlete in repose and Rodin’s reflective thinker, and shown inside the booklet in very hip, thoroughly artistic renegade drag, Josefowicz lives up to her reputation as a contemporary music specialist whose affinity for Adams’ music inspired him to write his Scheherazade.2 (Dramatic Symphony for Violin and Orchestra), which she premiered with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Alan Gilbert, in 2015.… Read the full article

Listening #187: Shindo Mr. T

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

In the rural home in Cherry Valley, NY that my family and I inhabited from 2003 to 2017, we had dirty water but clean electricity. Evidence of the latter was seen in the results of tests performed by a technician from the local utility, National Grid—I told him I intended to do commercial sound recording on site, which was close enough to the truth that I considered my sin venal rather than mortal—and heard in the sound of my playback system, which rejected as superfluous or worse all of the AC-conditioning products I tried there.… Read the full article

Highway 61 Revisited

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

I’m sitting in a rented Nissan just off Highway 61—yes, that Highway 61—looking out at a Shell station through the bug-stained windshield and across a litter-strewn, not-yet-planted cotton field. It’s late March, and I’ve just left Clarksdale, Mississippi, on my way to Memphis. Leaving Clarksdale made me thoughtful, so I’ve pulled over to jot down a few notes.

Clarksdale—specifically, the intersection of highways 61 and 49, at the town’s southern edge—is the crossroads where, according to legend, Robert Johnson encountered the Devil and exchanged his soul for his legendary guitar chops.… Read the full article

Kjell Tore Innervik: Utopias

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

Kjell Tore Innervik: Utopias: Radical Interpretations of Iconic Musical Works for Percussion
Xenakis: Psappha. Morton Feldman: The King of Denmark.
Kjell Tore Innervik, percussion
2L 2L-141-SABD (SACD/CD, BD, downloads: DXD, DSD256, MQA). 2018. Morten Lindberg, prod., editing, mix, mastering, balance; Beatrice Johannessen, rec. technician. DDD. TT: 46:04
Performance *****
Sonics *****

With 32 Grammy nominations, 24 for Recording Engineer and Music Producer, Morten Lindberg and his 2L label continue to issue one astounding recording after another. Their recordings are not simply unique for their sound, available in multiple two-channel, surround, and hi-rez formats, physical and virtual; they also stand out for 2L’s repertoire, which ranges from core classical, folk, and jazz to cutting-edge contemporary explorations sure to scare away fainthearted record producers and listeners.… Read the full article

Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia Series 2 loudspeaker

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

One of the benefits of being a reviewer is that, of the large number of products that pass through my listening room, occasionally there are those that I really would like to see take up more permanent residence. One of these was Wilson Audio Specialties’ Alexia loudspeaker, which I reviewed in December 2013. “Its clarity, its uncolored, full-range balance, its flexibility in setup and optimization, and most of all its sheer musicality, are, if not unrivaled, rare,” I wrote, and concluded: “If I were to retire tomorrow, the Wilson Alexia would be the speaker I would buy to provide the musical accompaniment to that retirement.” Nothing I subsequently heard disabused me of that dream, though a couple of other speakers, in particular Vivid Audio’s Giya G3 and KEF’s Blade Two, joined the Alexia on my bucket list.… Read the full article

AkitikA GT-102 power amplifier

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

An e-mail from an old audiophile pal: “Herb, my buddy owns a recording studio, and he told me one of his $10k reference amplifiers stopped working and the manufacturer said it would take months to be repaired. So he went online and bought this 60W AkitikA solid-state amplifier to use while his big amp was being repaired. The trouble is, the kit cost only $314. (The studio guy bought his assembled and tested for $488.) Now, he likes the AkitikA more than his broke-down reference amp.”

My friend wondered if I wanted to review the AkitikA amp (the name is a palindrome, based on a kit).… Read the full article

The Sound and the Image

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

Photo by Jim Austin, ​Nikon D810, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR

It’s not surprising that many people, like me, love nice cameras and good stereo gear. In my worse moments, I attribute this to mere consumerism: We love expensive stuff and the thrill of buying something new, whether for reproducing music or creating visual images. In my better moments, it’s clear to me that there’s more than that to this common taste for audio and photography, and more to the hobby of so-called perfectionist audio.… Read the full article

Recording of July 2018: Life Of

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

Steve Tibbetts: Life Of
Steve Tibbetts, 12-string guitar, piano; Michelle Kinney, cello, drones; Marc Anderson, percussion, handpan
ECM 2599 (CD). 2018. An ECM production; Steve Tibbetts, eng.; Greg Reierson, eng., mastering. DDD. TT: 50:40
Performance *****
Sonics *****

The sound of Steve Tibbetts’s guitar music is unique—one need hear only a measure or two of his new album to identify the distinct tang of his playing. Common wisdom is that a guitarist’s sound is in the hands and fingers, but Tibbetts has another trick: his weathered, 50-year-old Martin D12-20 12-string acoustic guitar.… Read the full article