Saturday, May 28, 2016

The angst of the CD collection seller

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Salk lauch their Desert Island speaker

 News of a handsome  new speaker from Salk, -- always welcome to me given my experience of their qualities. And at a sweet price point too:
The Song3 is a vented 3–way member of the Song loudspeaker family. For an accurate, low distortion treble response, the Song3 employs RAAL Advanced Loudspeakers’ select model 64-10 tweeter coupled to a 4th order crossover network. The 4" midrange driver, with a bamboo fiber reinforced cone and neodymium magnet, is complemented by a 7.5", low distortion high sensitivity woofer with an Egyptian papyrus cone. The speaker’s nominal impedance is an easy to drive 8 Ohms, with an 88 decibels (dB) sensitivity. Despite the slender, decor friendly design, the Song3 achieves a frequency response of 33 Hz to 40 kHz, ±3 dB. The dimensions of each tower is 9.5" wide and 42" in height. Front to back depth is 14.5", and the weight of an individual speaker is 70 pounds. The suggested minimum recommended power is 50 watts per channels. 
Jim Salk, founder and chief designer, is always concerned with balancing capability and cost. Believing that great sound shouldn’t require great expense, Salk initially thought that the design mandate was a contradiction. When asked to design a great 3–way for under $3000, he thought that it couldn’t be done. Now, with advances in driver design “…and our increased manufacturing proficiency, we have delivered an uncommonly smooth and neutral speaker with seamless integration of the carefully chosen components. It plays remarkably low and, as one critic mentioned, throws one heck of a wide and deep soundstage thanks in no small part to the ribbon’s outstanding transient response.”

Per pair pricing for the Song3 is $2895 for the standard curly maple, curly cherry and curly walnut, plus oak, straight mahogany and satin black finishes. Hardwood trim, custom colors and dyed finishes are also available as an option, as are crossover component and bi–wiring upgrades.
For additional information visit SalkSound dot com.

Monday, May 23, 2016

German Physiks back in the US

Was pleased to learn that speaker manufacturer par excellence, German Physiks, have settled on new distribution in the US so it might now be easier to hear these wonderful speakers. Distinctive Stereo of NJ are now handling these speakers in the US and Canada. More information will be available when the website is updated but as I've often said, the German Physiks sound is among the most natural and engaging I've heard at shows over the years so am hoping I get a chance to hear more of their line in the future. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The price of old vinyl....worse than you think?

Sort of surprised to see an early Rollins Saxophone Colossus reaching past the $2k mark on the Bay yesterday. And guess what, not play graded but examined and considered good by looking at it under a light!  Makes those MusicMatters reissues a positive bargain really. Maybe I am just too naive to get it but more likely, I realize now I am really never going to be a serious collector.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Vinyl taking over my life

OK, the Artisan Fidelity is in the house and I don't think I've played a CD for a fortnight as it's been a complete LP fest. I knew this was happening anyway since I starting picking up the Musicmatters Blue Note releases for the last couple of years, despite my doubts about paying nearly $40 for new records. I don't regret this (at least, not until I start to add up the total costs) as the signs are that these releases are close to being sold out and anyway, they mostly sounded fabulous. I'm generally a listener to older music anyhow, so most of my purchasing is for used LPs. In Austin there's a decent supply in various stores (Breakaway is my current fave) but it's always good to learn about new suppliers.

Am hearing positive things right now about Analog Spark, who self-describe as:
 "a new audiophile imprint that is focused on the reissue of classic and acclaimed albums on 180-gram vinyl and SACD. We are using the best available sources, mastering engineers and pressing plants to ensure that our releases are of the highest quality. By doing this, we hope to build a lasting relationship and dialogue with our audience -- so that each time they purchase an Analog Spark release, they will have musical curation and quality that they can trust."

I've not heard a release yet but I'm definitely tempted by one or two of their current listings.  More as we go.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Any heavily used phono cartridges for sale?

If you peruse the audio lists such as AudioMart (the US Audiomart, not to be confused with the other Audiomart) or Audiogon  with the idea of grabbing a high-end piece for a mid-level price, you generally trust that most used goods still work pretty well and that you can make a reasonably informed decision based on the description, the pictures and the seller’s feedback. This is generally true for most audio goods, but I have to wonder about phono cartridges.

Of all the components in your rig that can wear out or generally hide abuse, the stylus has to be top contender.  Most sellers cannot reproduce a close up picture, and then, there’s no knowing if anyone’s idea of sounding fine is the same as yours. However, you almost never see a cartridge for sale that has anything other than a claimed moderate hours of use. Now you’d think, if there was any measure of use that could be applied to a cartridge it would be number of hours, and some folks (like me) use a counter to maintain an accurate estimate of usage. I found that no matter how reliable I believed my estimates to be, only by using a real counter, situated next to my table, was I able to really know my use (which turns out to be quite stable over time and actually fewer hours than I imagined).

Perusing A’gon today (just because) I see many fine cartridges available at prices that attract interest. Fancy an Air Tight PC-3 at 25% off? Only used for ’20 hours’ apparently.  Those spins cost the owner $67 an hour!  Lyra Atlas with ‘very low’ hours. Turns out this ‘low’ means 167 hours, discounting the price nearly $6k, or $34 per hour of use thus far. Some people are giving their gear away, right?

Then there’s the not quite so precise listings, which are the majority. Many listings are for cartridges with ‘low’ hours, ‘barely used’ or are ‘not even broken-in’. One wonders why people are so keen to sell if they’ve not actually heard what the cartridge will sound like when properly settled. Maybe there is a class of audiophile who buys expensive cartridges, gives them a few hours on their deck, then takes a loss by selling them at a discount just to repeat the cycle. No, I didn’t think so either.

Of course, there’s another class too. These are the sellers who don’t actually have a clue how long the cartridge they are selling has left in it. This gets fudged a lot with comments like ‘looks to have little or no wear’ or ‘the guy who sold it to me told me it had low hours’. Convincing, eh?  Do these people ever wonder why their listings run and run?  Does anyone ever sell a cartridge that’s had 1500 hours on it but still sounds ok? Apparently not, but you can read people who claim they found a 20 year old, apparently unused cartridge in the back of their closet when tidying up.

All to say - it would be great if people selling cartridges could keep more accurate hours of usage, or if there were some reliable ways to show cartridge life. I keep telling myself the only sure way is to buy new but the pricing of those Dynavectors and Ortolans that I want to give a try in my own room are in the pain zone, so the used market it has to be. And of course, I sell my used cartridge when the time comes, so what am I complaining about? Yeah, but I’m trustworthy right? And my estimates of usage are spot on.   But that little accident I had with the Clearaudio Concerto cantilever.....hey, accidents happen right? You’d never have known there was damage until the whole thing fell off a couple of plays later.  Caveat emptor.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

B&W acquiired by start-up

There were some groans when Thiel changed hands, now comes that news that longstanding UK speaker company, Bowers and Wilkins has been bought by a US group.  Audioholics reflects the tenor of much of this reporting:

B&W Purchased by Silicon Valley Startup: Cheers or Tears?: It's one of the most lopsided company acquisitions in recent history. An historic hi-fi speaker manufacturer B&W; with over 1000 employees was bought by a Silicon Valley startup with barely a website.
who says there's no money in hi-end?