May 2019
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Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian 'Table w/Viper Tonearm; Constellation Audio Cygnus Media Player/DAC, Andromeda Phono Stage, Pictor Preamp, and Taurus Monoblocks; Magico M2 Speakers

By | May 15th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

In Munich, audio electronics company Constellation Audio was demoing with Magico M2 loudspeakers ($63,000/pair with M-Pod footers). Spinning vinyl was the Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian turntable ($35,000) w/Viper Tonearm ($10,000) and Ortofon A-95 Cartridge ($6,000). Phono preamplification was, of course, by Constellation—their Andromeda phono stage ($18,000). On the digital side, the source was Constellation’s Cygnus Media Player/DAC ($38,000). Constellation’s Pictor preamp was in use ($18,000), as was a pair of their Taurus monoblocks ($39,000/pair). The sound was fast, 3D, well-balanced, articulate—and much bigger than I’ve heard from these Magicos at other shows.

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Focal, Naim, isoAcoustics, and the Damnedest Audio Demo I've Ever Experienced

By | May 15th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Playing in Room F210 on the top level atrium of Hall 4: Two pair of Focal Scala Utopia EVO loudspeakers ($39,995/pair) with lots of Naim electronics and cabling. Also in the system was a VPI Prime Signature turntable, but it wasn’t in use when I was in the room. The key items in this room, though, were some footers: specifically, IsoAcoustics GAIA-Titan Theis isolators—not so humble after all, on second thought, since they cost $899.99 for a set of four. The loudspeakers—white and green—were arranged in alternate pairs, their acoustical centers shifted by a few degrees.… Read the full article

Verity Audio Monsalvat Pro-4 Preamplifier, Amp-60 Reference Monoblocks, and Lohengrin IIS Reference loudspeaker system; Melco N1ZS/2A Music Server, TW-Acustic Raven Black Night Turntable; Dynavector XV-1 S MC cartridge; Cardas Cables, Quadraspire Rack

By | May 14th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|













Verity Audio Monsalvat Pro-4 Preamplifier, Amp-60 Reference Monoblocks, and Lohengrin IIS Reference loudspeaker system; Melco N1ZS/2A Music Server, TW-Acustic Raven Black Night Turntable; Dynavector XV-1 S MC cartridge; Cardas Cables, Quadraspire Rack | Stereophile.com


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The New Pass Int-25

By | May 14th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

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Just released and seen in passive display, the single-ended only Pass Int-25 ($7250) combines an XA-25 with a simplified Int-60 front end. The Int-25 has three inputs, all single-ended.
Tue, 05/14/2019
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Vandersteen Audio's Model Seven Mk II loudspeaker System; Brinkmann Balance 2-Arm 33rd Anniversary Edition Turntable; Harmonic Resolution Systems Rack, and AudioQuest Cabling

By | May 14th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

The characteristic—perhaps I should say inimitable—Vandersteen midrange was in evidence in a system that paired a Brinkmann Audio front end and amplification (detailed below) with Vandersteen ($63,999/pair). The top was quite lively, which made for an extremely exciting listen to an LP of Jeff Beck’s extraordinary “Brush with the Blues.” Highs were also haunting on the vinyl version of Lou Reed’s hilarious (to me) 2003 recording “Vanishing Act.” I didn’t write down which digital tracks were played, but a return to vinyl with Vanessa Fernandez’s “I Want You” revealed that the system also had excellent slam.… Read the full article

Krell K-300i Integrated Amplifier, Sonus Faber Olympica III Loudspeakers, ZenSati Cabling

By | May 13th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Krell had a big display at Munich High End show and seems to be on the brink—or maybe in the midst—of a major new-product and marketing surge.

Walter Schofield, the company’s CEO, told me that in addition to a few new products recently introduced, many more are just on the horizon. The new products—and the new marketing push—are based on two recent technical advances. The first, iBias, which was introduced by Krell in 2014, is a sliding-bias scheme that ensures there’s always a positive bias for both phases of the waveform.… Read the full article

Zellaton Reference MkII Speakers, YS Sound Electronics, Reed Turntable, Top Wing Cartridge, Schnerzinger Cabling

By | May 13th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Excellent bass, a somewhat toned-down presentation and somewhat dry midrange, and excellent imaging—the speakers completely disappeared—were the hallmarks of Zellaton Reference Mk II Loudspeakers (2018) (€147,950/pair). As with all our show reports, how much of what I heard was due to electronics previously unknown to me, and whose sound I cannot begin to describe until I hear them in a familiar context, I cannot ascertain.

The 2018 model of Zellaton’s Reference loudspeakers contain Duelund Cast capacitors and inductors with a paper-based dielectric along with Duelund wiring.… Read the full article

Vienna Acoustics Mozart Speakers, Vincent SP-T700 Amplifiers, Pangea Cables

By | May 13th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Given the background noise, it was a little difficult to focus on the music from Yello and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd in the system from Vienna Acoustics and Vincent, but this little system’s ability throw a large, ear-catching ambient soundstage was its strong point. Speakers were the Vienna Acoustics Mozart (€1800/pair). Vincent electronics included (I think) the new DAC-7, which handles up to 32/384 and DSD256 and has a tube output stage, along with the SA-T7 preamp (€2499), SP-T700 mono hybrid amplifier (€1999/each), CD-S7 hybrid CD player (€2199), and PHO-701 phono stage (€649).… Read the full article

Raidho TD1.2 Speakers, Chord Ultima 2 Amplifiers, Pear Audio Blue Turntable, Top Wing Cartridge, Gamut Cabling

By | May 13th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Raidho Acoustics’ new TD1.2 speaker ($24,000/pair), whose unveiling I missed at AXPONA, resurfaced in Munich. Hearing a track from the Ray Brown Trio’s Soular Energy led me to write, in my notebook, “Pretty amazing how well these small speakers create such a big soundstage.” Transparency around solo instruments and percussion was quite exceptional. Save for a touch of dryness, which could have been room-related, this system sounded excellent.

The TD1.2 replaces the D1.1. The only things that remain from the former model are the dimensions and shape of the cabinet.… Read the full article

PMC Does Miles in Dolby Atmos

By | May 13th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Thanks to Michael Fremer, whom I ran into at the MOC while we both waited for the show to open on Day 3, I ended up at a private listening session in the PMC room. There, after Michael pulled out his video camera and engaged in a thorough, only-Michael-would-know-enough-to-ask-such-questions Q&A with PMC’s Maurice Patist—it will appear at AnalogPlanet.com—we listened to two revivified tracks from Miles Davis’s iconic Kind of Blue that have been given the full Dolby Atmos surround treatment.

I haven’t spent much time thinking about Dolby Atmos, which I’ve always thought of, perhaps incorrectly, as a process whose application was limited to movies and home theater systems.… Read the full article