Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wanna join the audiophile elie?

Are you ready for some new tweaks? Specially aligned crystals to sort out your soundstage? Painted wooden artifacts to align the signals? Hey, knock yourself out. Apparently they are popular among 'the audiophile elite', according to the site, so that rules me out.  But if you've tried them, let me know. 



more here: http://audiophile.rocks/index.html

Monday, August 14, 2017

Quality of vinyl hurting sales?


Growth slowing? No, it's not the limited pressing facilities, it's the use of digital files according to some:

"A move to making vinyl records from digital files instead of the original analogue recordings is causing concern in the industry with sales slumping in the first half of 2017.

In the first half of 2015, sales of vinyl records jumped 38% compared to the same period the prior year, to 5.6 million units, Nielsen Music data show. A year later, growth slowed to 12%. This year, sales rose a modest 2%. “It’s flattening out,” says Steve Sheldon, president of Los Angeles pressing plant Rainbo Records. While he doesn’t see a bubble bursting—plants are busy—he believes vinyl is “getting close to plateauing.”
Despite the resurgence of vinyl records in recent years, the quality of new LPs are not as good as “old” LP’s claim observers because record Companies are resorting to laying down vinyl from digital sources.
Old LPs were cut from analogue tapes—that’s why they sound so high quality. But most of today’s new and re-issued vinyl albums—around 80% or more, several experts estimate—start from digital files, even lower-quality CDs."
Full story here: https://www.channelnews.com.au/vinyl-sales-slump-quality-blamed/

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Genesis Technologies sponsor new Anne Bisson D2D recording



No real info on how to purchase yet but here's the announcement:

Genesis Advanced Technologies (USA) and Brilliance Music (Thailand) are pleased to announce the release of a new “Live at Bernie’s” audiophile recording. The Anne Bisson Trio: Four Seasons in Jazz is the product of an amazing collaboration of the finest musicians from Canada with the best engineers in Hollywood.
“It was a chance that could not be turned down. An opportunity too good to miss,” said Gary L Koh, the Designer & CEO of Genesis Advanced Technologies, and self-described music lover and Bernie Grundman Mastering fan about sponsoring the album. “Anne first broached the idea of doing a Four Seasons in Jazz nearly two years ago, and when Bernie agreed to do it direct-to-disc, I leaped at it.”
The brainchild of Gary L Koh and his long-time friend and Thai distributor Wuti Larnroongroj, the story of how the recording came to be was one of serendipity; of chance meetings and opportunities grasped, then one of hard work and perseverance to bring the album to fruition.
Canadian jazz vocalist/pianist Anne Bisson and her musical collaborators were recorded direct-to-disk over two days by Bernie Grundman at his studio, Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, CA. Co-produced with Bisson, legendary sound engineer Michael C. Ross used a 100% analog recording chain directly to Grundman’s all-analog record cutting system to realistically capture every glorious moment.
 “When I was asked if I wanted to do a “Live” album at Bernie Grundman’s, I said “Sure! Yes!” Said Anne Bisson of the album, “I had no idea what sort of commitment and preparation it would involve, but well, we did it! Me and my two wonderful cohorts, Jean-Bertrand Carbou and Pierre Tanguay, who inspired me on every take.”
“I’ve known Bernie Grundman for many years. He does all the mastering of the Thai language albums I produce. When my old friend Gary asked him if he would do another “Live at Bernie’s” album, I was all in.” Said Wuti Larnroongroj of Brilliance Music. “It would be my first foray into producing an album in English, and what a way to start!”
Four Seasons in Jazz: Live at Bernie’s is only the 3rd direct-to-disc recording ever created at Bernie Grundman Mastering, and the 2nd mixed in real-time by Ross and mastered by Grundman himself. The album will be released as a Limited Edition, hand-numbered 180-gram 45rpm double vinyl LP in super premium packaging with a 16 page book containing lyrics and an essay giving readers and music-lovers a never-before-seen insight into the background and the process involved in creating this direct-to-disc adventure.
The Anne Bisson Trio consists of Anne Bisson, vocalist & pianist, Jean-Bertrand Carbou on double bass and Pierre Tanguay, drummer/percussionist.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Another audio meet up in Austin area

Thanks to hosts LoneStar Audio, based in Lakeway, TX, a gathering of audiophiles from Austin, Houston and San Antonio met up at host Jim's home to enjoy two rooms yesterday. Both relied on Magico speakers, the S1 in a smaller, mainly vinyl room; and the S3Mk2s in a slightly larger, digital room. Lots of excellent and expensive gear in the rigs, not least Constellation amplification, Aurender DAC, Oracle turntable with linear tracking arm and gorgeous Ortofon A95 cartridge, Rogers phono stage, power conditioning by Torus, and treatments by ASC and Synergistic Research.

Naturally my eyes were drawn to the wonder vinyl set up, where the Oracle was drop-dead beautiful to behold. Delivering through Rogers phono, to Boulder amplification and the small (relatively) S1 Magicos, the sound was sweet, pleasing and scaled nicely to the space.  Of course, in a completely new rig it's hard to know where the magic is occurring but host Jim was quick to point out that the room was heavily treated with Synergistic Research products (small objects stuck to the wall, graphene panels, and some signal generating device whose electromagnetic magic was beyond my comprehension).

The larger room drew the greater audience, where the Magico S3s were augmented, sometimes, by JL subwoofers. Is it a surprise that audiophiles have opinions?  Well, every time I entered there was an ongoing discussion about whether or not the subs should be engaged, or if they were crossed over too high, too low etc.  Lots of digital tracks gave me the impression that high resolution digital can sound quite harsh in the upper frequencies. Yeah, lots more 'detail' than vinyl is deliverd but in a way that makes me often hear (or think about) the studio more than the music.

The S3s were impressive in some areas -- the ease of lower instrumental lines and the continuity across the range are qualities I associate with Magico and were on display plentifully here at times -- but for reasons that I could not attribute to any one factor (was it the room? the DAC, the subs?)  I found myself enjoying the music less here than in the small room. On Chris Jones' 'No Shelter' (an audio show staple, sadly), the bass boomed so much at the back of the room that I thought there's no way I wanted subs in the mix, but in other on-off comparisons, I experienced the opening of soundstage that good sub matching can provide.   Sonically, more questions than answers for me, and I found myself wondering just how good I could get the S3s sounding in my larger listening room, or if the S1s might actually work in that larger space.

Main host Jim was charm personified, cheerfully answering repeat questions across the day, admitting that he was still tweaking the sub combo, and happy to let people wander around his rooms with some very expensive gear left unattended. This is where he hosts customers who want to audition gear, and it's a fine, relaxing environment.




Thursday, July 13, 2017

News from Raven Audio

As an admirer and owner of Raven Audio's tube amps, I found the AudioXpress interview with chief Dave Thomson a worthwhile read.  Change afoot, but the company is moving forward, and it's great to see. Check out my reviews of their integrated Nighthawk and Blackhawk in the side bar.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rega announce new MC and phono stage

I've not used a Rega cartridge for years, and not since I gave up my trusty old Rega 3 15 years ago, but am pleased to see the company continuing to push through new products. Of course, the PR is the usual breathless stuff, full of references to expert-this and sophisticated-that, no doubt to be repeated in reviews up and down the land, but here, a picture of the MC is worth a thousand such words:




At $795, the Ania has real appeal for many I presume -- no compliance figure provided so am fairly sure it's not a great match heavy arms, but other specs below:
  • Tracking Pressure 1.75 - 2.00g
  • Input load impedance 100 ohms
  • Output impedance 10 ohms
  • Nominal output voltage 350μV (.35mV)
  • Channel Balance: ≥ 20μV
  • Separation : ≥ -29dB
  • Iron cross & micro-coil assembly
  • Cutting-edge neodymium magnet
  • Elliptical profile stylus
  • High specification 0.018mm fine coil wire
  • 3-point Rega mounting style, compatible with 2-point style headshells
  • Fortron-PPS body

Friday, July 7, 2017

Berg and Finck slow burner out on Chesky

Am enjoying the latest Chesky release, a jazz duo recording of pianist Shelly Berg and bassist David Finck, The Deep. Again, this is a single mic'd binaural recording, and the result is an intimate, spacious sound with real presence. The music is a pleasing mix of improvisation and standards, recorded in a single take, with Why Did I Choose You a standout for me so far. But it's early days, and I am struck by the apparent irony of something recorded so directly and quickly requiring repeated listening to fully appreciate. Of course, the quick process of these artists is built off many years of preparation and dedication to the craft of jazz.   In a world of disposable consumption, I am grateful for the work of such artists and of companies such as Chesky that commit to sonic quality and artistic vision.

You can learn more here:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New Wes Montgomery out there?

Not sure how I missed the vinyl copy (must be that RSD tie-in which has no interest for me usually) but there's actually new Wes emerging that is worth knowing about if you enjoy jazz guitar.   This is an old radio broadcast of a club show, decent enough sonically though not quite enough of Wes for me across the recording. That said, Resonance Records is to be thanked for digging this stuff up and getting it out there, decades after the event. We used to dream of more live Wes so I'll take what I can get, so I bought a copy on CD (that should tell you how valuable I think this is).  Find the story here:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Roger Waters is back

And I for one will always welcome new music from the man - here are my thoughts on his "Is this the life..." album.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sony making vinyl again?

Three decades after it abandoned vinyl production, Sony will start making records again amid surging demand. Full story

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Speaker fun for summer

Am happily hosting a pair of JWM Alyson speakers in my home, courtesy of owner and designer Joshua Miles who dropped of a lovely looking pair, with matching stands, for review. This is an elegant MTM design which comes in various finishes, but that description hardly does justice to the handwork that goes into these. More to come, I have some extended listening to do.

And good to their word, Wireworld shipped a pair of their top of the range power cords to use with the PS Audio amps in for review. These still need a few hours (I am not running the amps endlessly due to their tube stage) but it's a nice opportunity to try some top of the range cords to see how the amps react. All to say, there's a few reviews coming over the next few months.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Del Amitri fans enjoy -- Justin Currie offering a new album

Justin Currie - This is my kingdom now

Songwriting is a craft and in my view, Currie was one of the great (and greatly underrated) songwriters of his generation. He was one of the late 80s wave of young Brits who brought rock sensibilities and lyrical bite back into the mainstream after years of over-produced, stylized and synthesized pap (sorry folks, the 80s were  mostly crap). His main band, Del Amitri produced a string of strong albums from Waking Hours on and could kick-ass live too, as evidenced by the comeback tour shows released two years ago in a small box set. The last decade or so has been a quiet time for Currie the songwriter and it's good to have him back, though this recording is likely to appeal only to hardcore fans. 

The thirteen tracks here are slow, or mid-tempo ballads, recorded in a quality that suggests low-key, domestic technologies, limited accompaniment ( a bit of piano here, some bass there, drums spread about) with the main man musing throughout on life, loneliness and his own various shortcomings. Nothing too stark and nothing too lively here, the album has the feel of hearing an old friend demoing with some tunes while sipping a few drinks and reminiscing of old times. 

Audiophiles will not be impressed with the sound quality and yes, you have to order from the UK as I don't believe there's a US outlet, but for all the challenges, it's hard not to enjoy the work.  And at a total cost of under $20 shipped, you get a digital download immediately with the CD arriving less than 2 weeks later.

(this, and other album reviews are archived in the Listening Notes page)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rega in red...

Just announced through the regular PR push. Looks great in red....used to have a Rega 3, great table, bought it for £150 (pounds), used, back in the late 1980s.  More at http://www.soundorg.com.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Better than the KEF LS50?

Well, so claims the gushing PR from Essence -- a pair of active speakers, under a grand, might be worth a listen given the design roots:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

New gear in for review

The PSAudio BHK 300 Monos are in for review and making sweet music in my reference rig. I've been trying various permutations of cords and cables with these, and will be adding a pair of Wireworld cords soon as these are incoming.

This is an interesting hybrid design with tubes in the input stage and balanced Mosfet output. Consequently, rule #1 for me is to remember to turn these off when no longer listening....a new habit I have to acquire the hard way.  Review forthcoming.