Monday, February 18, 2019

Core Power Tech under new ownership - Underwood HiFi purchases assets

Due to health challenges, owner of Core Power Tech, Mark Schifter, has decided to sell to Underwood. Best wishes to Mark as he deals with this and congrats to Walter at Underwood, a company I've dealt with for my own purchases more than once.  From the official announcement:
Underwood Hi Fi Purchases The Assets of Core Power Technologies, LLCpastedGraphic.pngpastedGraphic_1.pngLAHAINA, HAWAII (01/15/19) – Walter Liederman, President and Owner of Underwood Hifi, Inc is pleased to announce the Asset Sale Purchase of Core Power Technologies, LLC of Broomfield Colorado.  
Liederman comments - 'The EQUI=CORE, DEEP=CORE and GROUND=ZERO products have been designed and executed by some of the brightest minds in our industry. Manufactured solely in the USA, the CPT line will continue to expand over the next several years. There is a Product Plan in place that calls for several new offerings this year and next. Currently, all products will be shipped from our facility in Marietta, GA.' 
Core Power Technologies has been an industry leader in the Power Conditioning Segment since its inception in 2017. Liederman comments further – 'I decided to purchase this company as they already have a very good (product) market presence and they simply did not have the funds to operate the business and deliver the new and innovative products they had planned. It boiled down to creating my own brand or purchasing something existing. The opportunity to purchase Core Power really landed in my hands as three previous purchase attempts were unable to fund. I decided to buy this company as I had already sold over 100 of their products including 50 of the flagship EQUI=CORE 1800’s. It made perfect sense for me to buy the assets of this company as I know of nothing close in price that offers this level of performance.'
Winners of multiple Product of The Year Awards, the EQUI=CORE 1800 is the flagship product (pictured above) featuring 8 Hubbell Outlets and protected by a Fast Acting (audiophile approved) Circuit Breaker. Perfect for Audio or Video applications, the E=C1800 provides pure Balanced Power lowering the noise of your AC Mains to vanishing low levels. The 1800 is available in both 120 volt or 220/240 volt variants.  
The EQUI=CORE 1800 will be available in March at $1995 retail with special re-introductory pricing that has yet to be announced. Further product roll-out(s) are planned for later in the year. 
 
Underwood Hifi has factories working on their behalf in Newbury Park, CA as well as Iowa Park, TX. Underwood also owns companies making loudspeakers and electronics i.e. Emerald Physics and LSA. 

https://www.underwoodhifi.com/products/core-power-technologies-av
https://www.underwoodhifi.com/
Contact Walter Liederman 
underwoodwally@aol.com
++1.770.667.5633
10am – 7pm West Coast Time


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Crutchfield offer remote listening test option

I was intrigued by the latest catalog I received from Crutchfield outlining a remote listening feature now available on site. As they explain, they've spent a few years developing a test facility that enables them to present sound samples of speakers tailored to the headphones you may have or might get from them as part of a listening kit. The idea being you pick a few speakers, select the headphone model, chose a music track (from metal to mellow) and then switch away to your hearts content as you listen.  Full credit here for trying to solve possibly the greatest obstacle to hi-fi purchasing for ordinary people, getting to listen before buying.

Now there's plenty of problems still to be solved here given the unknown parts of the chain involved but the general idea adds a lot more fun to browsing. I could not resist spending some time here so cued up a few comparisons, chose a pair of Sennheisers that I have for the listening, and gave speakers a run through some acoustic, modern jazz and metal.

My impression? It works better in theory than in practice. Since I am very familiar with Audioengine speakers I chose a pair of those first so as to calibrate my ears before adding various KEF and Focal into the mix. For the life of me, those Audioengines sounded nothing like I've heard from that brand before, and it was the Focals that sounded more like the pair on my desktop. Ok, maybe I need to try a couple of times, or maybe my rig, with it's Audient interface makes for a different response, though experience suggests not so much. Choosing floor standers which I don't own, I compared some $1500 speakers from Martin Logan, PSB and Monitor Audio. These all seemed slightly different and perhaps each slightly better suited to different genres (though it surprised me that I liked the PSB on metal the most).

The interface to all this is intuitive once you set it up, the changes between samples seem rapid though I am not convinced it always happens as you imagine - best to play a sample, pause it, then play another speaker rather than just hitting play on one speaker after another in rapid succession and assuming that a new 'play' just  stops the previous one and switches for you.  Doing just that on occasion gave me the impression nothing had changed (I know, I can hear the ABX arguments now but try it for yourself and see what you think).

Bravo for the attempt Crutchfield. I am sure this will only improve and it will be popular. Give it a try at https://www.crutchfield.com/speakercompare/

Friday, February 15, 2019

McIntosh slimming down and looking good.

Ok, not that slimmed down once you see the details (24" wide!) but there's no denying the new RS200 wears the leaner look well.  I've never quite warmed to McIntosh products. They always seemed too blue, too blingy and too concerned with the brand over the sound, even if I've admired their longevity, loyal following and apparent bullet-proof ability to be serviced and used for decades. Now that I say it, how did I not appreciate them more? Oh well, this still smacks of marketing the 'lifestyle' but as an all in one, (yep, there's speakers built in there) it sure beats Bose. $3000. More info here, no they won't send us one to review but am sure the usual suspects will be covering them soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Auris new headphone amp invokes the muse


Puffy PR piece but interesting looking design. New company (to me, they've received some reviews her), tubes, decent specs and a look that seems set domestic use.  This is not listed as of today on their website but it's coming. Priced at 1499, as of today in Europe but I only see two outlets in the US for them on their site so not sure what the price here will be.   See more of their designs here
Auris Audio presents you Euterpe, a new high end headphone amplifier. According to the Greek Mythology, Euterpe was one of the nine Muses, the Goddess of music and a ''giver of delight'' and that's exactly what Auris Audio Euterpe will bring to audiophile community, more happiness.
Designed in a single ended configuration, integreted audiophile asynchronous DAC xMos/ESS Sabre, it allows you to use digital sources such as PC or mobile devices. Integeted in a piece of art chassis, Euterpre ( Headphone amplifier/DAC/PreAmp/Stand ) gives you everything you've always dreamed of.
Tubes
2 X PL 95 , 1 X ECC 81
Amplifier configuration
Single Ended
Power output
0.9 W RMS
Conversion rate
USB: DSD 64, DSD 128, PCM max 32bit/384kHz
Output Impedance
Low32–80Ohm / High>150Ohm
Power supply
115 / 230 V AC
Inputs
1 x USB, 1 x RCA
Outputs
6.3 mm Stereo / RCA Pre Out
Dimensions (WxLxH) mm
270 x 210 x 230
Weight (kg)
4.1/NET ( without PSU )
Weight (kg) PSU
1.1/NET
Dimesions PSU (WxLxH) mm
95 x 185 x 55

Saturday, February 9, 2019

NYT Article explaining loudness war and music recording

Interesting op-ed from the Times today, dealing with a topic near and dear to the h(ear)ts of audiophiles. I like how it provides examples but the lack of real comparability (either by using the same tune or explaining what to listen for) meant that well-intentioned readers I shared it with seemed to find it less than clear. Oh well, full marks for effort.  Lively comments too.


Read piece here

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Jerome Sabbagh update

It's been a wait for those of us who backed the new Jerome Sabbagh/Greg Tuohey vinyl but I have few doubts the results will prove worthwhile. Latest mailing to backers indicate the albums are finally ready and will be shipped next week.

It's been a couple of years since the last vinyl release which I've continued to enjoy so much and the coupling of Jerome's playing with a top-notch guitarist in Greg just raises the anticipation. More when I get a chance. Kickstarter page here

Sunday, January 20, 2019

LP counterfeiting plant discovered

I suppose the money involved in special LP releases of old stuff has obviously attracted the criminal element (and no, I'm not talking about endless repackaging of Jimi's recordings). Just read that special intelligence work in the UK led police to a pressing plant in Wales that specialized in niche recordings of Northern Soul. These were sold via Ebay and Amazon and netted enough money obviously for one of those charged to have over $150,000 in his PayPal account alone (might that have been a sign?).

More info here



Tuesday, January 15, 2019

New Music Matters series 2019 plus a Tone Poet series on the way


So, in case you had not heard (where was I that I missed the earlier notice?), Music Matters is embarking on a fresh set of classic jazz releases on vinyl. As a subscriber to the last two series I figured I'd just be on whatever list was mailed this info but if so, the mail went awol. More likely no such list exists. Regardless, these are marketed as the 'definitive Blue Note reissues' on new Silent Running Xperience (SRX) vinyl, apparently a new formulation that runs quieter than previous slabs.

The various records run about $60 a copy (!) and will be limited edition. The full list contains mostly recordings that saw previous light in the 2x45RPM releases (10/12 I think, but don't quote me) so it's not clear how much demand there will be nor why these titles were chosen over others but I have to say my experience with Ron Rambach and co's previous efforts render these very desirable and certainly worthy of attention. See more, including the chance to buy all 12 for a cut-rate $699, on the official announcement page

Coupled, sort of, Joe Harley and Don Was are planning a new series of high quality vinyl releases this year under the 'Tone Poet' title which will (I believe) involve 18 releases from Blue Note's vaults also given the MM-level treatment. This is good news for music lovers but surely a taxing prospect for many people's wallets. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Vinyl sales slightly up in UK 2018?

Latest numbers out suggest vinyl sales continued to rise, albeit slightly, in the UK last year. Not sure how to interpret this as the totals are still pretty small but with CDs sliding further, it seems the LP format will continue for a while longer, despite predictions of death going back decades.

Not entirely surprised or excited by what is selling however...Rumours? Dark Side of the Moon? Still, Arctic Monkeys and Ezra make a bit of a change from the usual suspects over here.  Hard to be too sure of the numbers here but trends are trends...

Full story here

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

German Physiks refresh their site and product line

Always loved the German Physiks room at RMAF over the years. The company has redone their site with much better images of their original designs, plus they announce the introduction (and re-introduction) of amps and cables too. Find out more here

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Audioengine A5+ review live

It took a little longer than I anticipated but my latest review is now live -- the diminutive but large sounding Audioengine A5+ wireless speakers impressed me. You can read more here

Friday, December 7, 2018

Hendrix Box Set Amazon Woes

No, am not complaining about the sonics (yet to critically listen) but the 50th Anniversary Edition of Electric Ladyland started out as a bit of a cash-grab (again!) by the usual suspects. Another version, a new vinyl edition, lots of 'extras', most of which were not actually too new or interesting to many people, packaged in a box that required you to buy the lot for a princely sum. It started out on pre-order at north of $100 but I suspect sales were a bit softer than the protagonists imagined, with Amazon routinely chopping the price. I nabbed a set at $80 but it can be found at $60 shipped since. Tough on anyone who paid full early on (unless of course you got a low numbered set and that matters to you, though my experience with Amazon and the like is that time of order correlates little with actual number received).

Of course, I had many adventures before even receiving my set. I did pre-order, benefited from the assured lowest price, and was told it was delivered the day of release. Trouble was, I never saw it at my door. A check on Amazon told me it might show as delivered late one evening (not a normal cycle for delivery round our parts but Amazon is using all sorts now) so I should wait two days as sometimes the delivery service reports it as delivered before it actually is! How's that? Well, I waited, no sign. Emails to Amazon (never an easy thing to do) got me on chat with one agent who told me he understood the issue. He recommended that I just accept it as lost, buy another copy and have them reimburse me the original payment when done. OK, says I, but the latest price had shifted it upward and a re-order now would cost me $16 more than I originally paid. He seemed to have a problem understanding this and told me I could be compensated with $10 for the 'inconvenience'.


At the end of the exchange, when I reported through the auto-feedback system that my problem was not solved, I was sent another link to have another chat. I'll save you the details, eventually I got someone who agreed to just send a new set. And true to her word, that set came the next week. Now the problem was slightly confused by the missing order also containing another item in the same box,, nothing to do with music, but my important regular delivery of tea. I mention this as the situation had a twist.

Last week, a month after the delivery fiasco, rumbling around the bushes at the side of my house what turns up? A ripped open Amazon package, soiled and damp, but within a couple of boxes of Yorkshire Gold, my daily beverage of choice but clearly not to the taste of the local pilferer. Rather, it seems whoever took the box from my door removed the Hendrix Box Set. Am not sure if I like this mystery being solved -- neighborhood homes have reported some parcel theft recently but until this, I'd imagined our home immune. Well, apparently not. Meanwhile, if you find a nice priced box set in a used record store around Austin, you might have my original copy.  I'm having a cup of tea.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Guy King gives me hope for music

Love this -- great playing, singing, and general good-time vibe. Sometimes it's just enough.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

And it really is goodbye to TAS

After posting my decision to give up on TAS, I listed the 20 years or so of back issues I had for sale on a forum. Within the month they were picked up and gone. Three boxes worth, about 155 issues, and a happy new reader has them for a buck an issue.

And what comes in the next morning, a reminder from TAS that my subscription is ending and it's time to renew or lose....I actually chose to lose, I suppose. There goes a couple of decades.....

Apparently, I won't want to miss :

  • Our expert reviews of top-performing products---in each price category
  • Insightful features on audio components that redefine the state of the art
  • Expert commentary on "what's hot" in high-end audio
  • Upcoming coverage of must-have recordings
  • Guidance to help you get the most out of your system


Yeah, but....do I have to listen to the same old stuff about audio shows six months after the event, or know that everything Magico (what happened to all that love for Kharma?) is great, MQA is the bees' knees, and cable companies can expect their advertising spiel to be repurposed for copy? Don't worry, there's a new Golden Ear award for something, an extract from the TAS History of X being presented, or hey, a manufacturer calling on a reviewer's new house to long-term-loan him another $100k component to enjoy (err... 'review').  Don't worry, don't measure, and don't complain, we mere mortals can't be expected to understand. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Look what's selling in 2018

Discogs latest round of data on what is selling makes for telling viewing. Coltrane still doin' it. As are  Floyd, with DSOTM, The Wall and Wish You Were Here all in the top 6. Guess there's an insatiable demand for some old vinyl, and some old music on vinyl too. Not sure of the demographics but this is a topic worthy of study. Since the most expensive record this quarter was the $13k paid for a Japanese promo copy of Ummagumma, I suspect it's fair to say that those with a certain level of disposable income predominate.  Full details here