January 2019
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Jason's Trek Continues at CES 2019

By | January 11th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

One of several small, wireless speakers unveiled at the Venetian Hotel, Audioengine’s A2+ ($269/pair), with built-in DAC and aptX Bluetooth, is manufactured in China, and scheduled to ship at the end of January. I didn’t get a chance to hear the A2+, but our niece, who has the wired version, raves about its sound with her Mac laptop.

Right across the hallway from the A2+ sat some of its competition, Kanto Audio’s Tuk 65Wpc, class-D powered bookshelf speaker ($799/pair). Due in April, Tuk, whose frequency response is 50Hz-20kHz ±3dB, offers onboard DSP, a 24/96 USB DAC, and a 28 x 35 mm AMT tweeter plus 5.25″ aluminum concave cone mid-bass driver.… Read the full article

Music in the Round #95: Wolf & NAD

By | January 10th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Although I no longer attend the audio pageant that was once the annual Consumer Electronics Show, I now seem to be traveling more, in hopes of recapturing the excitement CES had once provided. Last May I attended High End, in Munich, and found that while it was entirely as advertised, there was, alas, not enough emphasis on the playback of high-resolution files, and hardly any attention paid to multichannel music.

So when Andy Quint of The Abso!ute Sound invited me to join him and Brian Moura, technical advisor to NativeDSD and Channel Classics, for a seminar, “Multichannel Music: The Promise and the Problems,” at last October’s 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I figured we could do something to promote multichannel playback—and I would also be able to attend RMAF for the first time.… Read the full article

Nordost QKore system grounding accessories

By | January 10th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

As a longtime user of Nordost’s cable and AC-power products, my ears opened wide when they released their three QKore Ground Units and QKore Wire at High End 2017, in Munich. While I’ve never questioned the importance of proper electrical grounding, to prevent problems with safety and noise—the latter including measurable noise generated by transformers, appliances, LED lighting, power supplies, and Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular devices—I couldn’t fathom what difference a passive grounding device might make in a high-end system that, in my case, is fed by an 8-gauge dedicated line with its own copper ground rod driven into the terra infirma of the fault-ridden Pacific Northwest.… Read the full article

The CES Challenge

By | January 9th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

After a few minutes in the VTL/Wilson/Nordost room on the 29th floor of the Venetian Hotel, the challenge I faced in covering CES 2019 was staring me in the face. The good news for me, and the bad news for exhibitors, was that visitor traffic was extremely light. To only two rooms did I need to backtrack because exhibitors were totally occupied with other visitors when I paid an initial visit. But, on the other hand, the sound in some rooms was so good, the musical selections so compelling, and the exhibitors so hungry for attention from someone that I had an extremely difficult time tearing myself away and moving on.… Read the full article

Shostakovich's Devastating Impact

By | January 8th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|


San Francisco, CA – January 9, 2019 – Other Minds continues its 2018-2019 season on Sunday, February 10, 4:00 p.m. at Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco, with a double header of two piano arrangements by Shostakovich including the West Coast Premiere of his own Symphony No. 4 and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms. The performance features frequent duo collaborators Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies and follows their February album release of Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.… Read the full article

Recording of November 1962: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

By | January 8th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch, conductor
RCA Victor LSC-2608 (LP). TT: 48:40

It is easy to forget that the hi-fi movements—the “March to the Scaffold” and the “Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath”—comprise barely a third of the music in the Symphonie fantastique, yet when we listen to most of the available versions of this, we can understand why the first three movements are usually passed up by the record listener. Two are slow and brooding, one is a wispy sort of waltz, and all three require a certain combination of flowing gentleness and grotesquerie that few orchestras and fewer conductors can carry off.… Read the full article

CES 2019 Unleashed

By | January 8th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

“They expect 180,000 people this year,” the Lyft driver told me as we headed to the Strip shortly after sunset. “That’s 10,000 more than last year!”

Does that mean there will be 10,000 more gadgets on display?

One thing’s for certain: there will be far less to see on the floors of the Venetian Hotel, which “high performance audio” once called home. The last time I glanced at a site map, there were only 25–27 high performance exhibit rooms scattered over three floors.… Read the full article

Handel's Italian Cantatas Shine and Sigh

By | January 6th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

From last week’s contemporary realities, as viewed through the lens of David Chesky, we move back in time to 1707–1710, when the emotionally overwrought women, mythological subjects, shepherds, shepherdesses, and nymphs of Handel Italian Cantatas were in vogue. If those subjects strike your fancy, and/or you love baroque artistry and great singing, this new Erato recording from Emmanuelle Haïm’s Le Concert d’Astrée, French lyric coloratura soprano Sabine Devielhe, and Franco-Italian mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre belongs on your must-hear list.

The recording captures both women in delightfully fresh voice.… Read the full article

Bonus Recording of January 2019: Bruckner: String Quintet

By | January 3rd, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Bruckner: String Quintet (arr. for Large Orchestra), Overture in g
Gerd Schaller, arr., cond.; Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
Profil PH16036 (CD). 2018. Milan Puklický, prod.; Jan Lzicar, eng. DDD. TT: 57:12
Performance ***
Sonics ****

Bruckner & Mahler: String Quintet (arr. for Chamber Orchestra) & Symphony 10: Adagio
Peter Stangel, arr., cond.; Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra
Edition Taschenphilharmonie/Sony ETP008 (CD). 2017. Sebastian Riederer von Paar, prod., eng., ed. DDD. TT: 59:12
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Bruckner’s only mature chamber work, the String Quintet in F, has long sounded to many less like chamber music than like a Bruckner symphony squeezed into far smaller form.… Read the full article

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iFi Audio Pro iDSD D/A processor/headphone amplifier

By | January 3rd, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

On the first page of the owner’s manual for iFi Audio’s Pro iDSD tubed/solid-state multibit DAC and headphone amplifier, the British company unabashedly describes it as “a ‘state of the art’ reference digital to analog converter” and “a wireless hi-res network player or the central DAC in an expensive high-end home system.” As if in an afterthought, it continues: “The on-board balanced headphone section means high-end headphones can also be directly connected to it.” The manual doesn’t describe the headphone “section” as “state of the art,” so I’m deducing that the Pro iDSD is really more a fancy-pants DAC than a high-tone headphone amp.… Read the full article

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