Thursday, January 6, 2022

Max Townsend RIP

 Sad to read that Max has passed. Not many details but he was getting on, like the rest of us. Alan Sircom shared some reactions here.  I don't believe I ever met the man but I did see and hear his tables. Always found the idea of the damping trough on the cartridge end of the tonearm's travel to be an interesting idea. Last time I saw it was at RMAF and the dealer offered to sell me one since I seemed so taken with it. For someone so productive, he seemed more interested in the design than the sale, though I know some folks got quite worked up by his cables or super tweeters.  Despite the company having a website Max did not really promote himself online, though by all accounts he was a great conversationalist in person. Old school stuff. There are some videos of him, this one gives a flavor of the man   

Monday, October 25, 2021

NAD release something nifty

 Single box solutions just have more appeal to me these days as I view the clutter of cable and components scattered around my living space. This new integrated from NAD might be a great option for those who want to get into simplicity (though you will need to use apps to get everything it offers). $1500, 80w, 5"screen, simple knob and button design. Looks like fun:

A just-add-speakers compact and modern solution designed for the streaming age. New Classic Series features powerful HybridDigital UcD amplification, 80-watts per channel and integral BluOS app interface

PICKERING, ONTARIO, CANADA September 30, 2021– NAD Electronics, the highly regarded manufacturer of high-performance audio/video components, continues its expansion in the “just add speakers” category with the introduction of the C 700 BluOS Streaming Amplifier. The C 700 suggested retail price is $1499 USD and will ship globally in late October. 

Using the intuitive BluOS app, the ability to cue music from a digital library, or stream from internet radio and online services like Spotify, Amazon Music HD, Tidal, and Qobuz could not be easier. The C 700 delivers an experience similar to the award-winning Masters Series M10 BluOS Music Streaming Amplifier.

Key Features of the NAD C 700 BluOS Streaming Amplifier

  • HybridDigital UcD Amplifier
  • Continuous Power: 80 Watts per channel into 8/4 ohms
  • Instantaneous Power: 120 Watts per channel
  • 5” high-definition colour information display shows album art, track progress, and system settings
  • Solid aluminum body and glass front panel
  • Works with intuitive BluOS Controller app forAndroid, iOS, macOS, and Windows
  • BluOS multi-room streaming to 63 zones
  • High-resolution audio to 24-bit/192Hz
  • MQA decoding and rendering
  • Lossless and high-resolution streaming from Amazon Music HD, Deezer, Idagio, Qobuz, and Tidal
  • Support for Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect
  • Voice control via Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant
  • Optical and coaxial digital inputs
  • HDMI eARC port
  • Two-way aptX HD Bluetooth
  • 12V Trigger output

Full details:  NAD press release


Friday, September 3, 2021

The end of the road for RMAF

Clearly the pandemic has many victims but it seems the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest might be the latest. Sad news today that the show is no more, after 17 years or so. I attended 5-6 of these, always enjoyed the people and the sense of community, exhausting as it could be to try hear so much stuff in a weekend. More info here:

Am sure we'll learn more in the coming days but having already seen myself attending the next one,  I have to say this is not welcome news.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Uberlight Flex improves sight and mood

The Reliable Uberlight Flex 3100TL is a godsend for those of us who spend time bending over to check a stylus or cartridge alignment. Its 26" flexible gooseneck can be clamped to a shelf and manipulated easily into any position you need where it remains firmly until you move it again. It offers multiple light settings and three power options to suit the environment and can be powered via wall plug or USB. 

The looks are attractive enough to leave it in place but you'll be most appreciative when you come to use it. The powerful light settings and manipulability of the neck will certainly help you examine your stylus and make all the fiddling needed for cartridge alignment a little easier than perching a flashlight on the deck or trying to get a desk lamp angled into position. For that alone, this lamp would be worthwhile.

However, in regular use, not only does it cast a pleasing glow at lower color temperatures, allowing you to turn down the lights in your listening room, but it is particularly helpful when checking records for dust. When you brush your records you might think or hope you are getting the surface clean but the light from this lamp is, to use an audiophile cliché, ruthlessly revealing. What looks clean in normal lighting might prove less so under the Uberlight.  Dead wax reading is always a challenge for me but this light makes it much easier. 

So it's just a lamp, it's $50, but once you try one, you'll wonder how you managed without it. Find out more at

Thursday, July 8, 2021

If we want to borrow music, maybe music's on borrowed time

 Hard to argue with Ted here -- give this a few minutes of your time. The weakness lies in just urging us to reconsider,  that's not quite an actionable response and who are the 'we' that should do this? Doubt active streamers will change their views as a result. My son is 20, he sees little reason to own media and has few fears of any music he loves disappearing so a more persuasive argument than 'preservation' is going to be required one suspects. 

Friday, May 21, 2021

New Tone issue out now

I still enjoy every issue of Tone.  Yeah, lots of ads but it's free.  You can ogle the great photographs, enjoy a range of coverage that is not too serious, it covers music well and throws in some vintage gear too, reminding us that there are many paths in this pursuit. On top of that, it's supposes to be fun right? Treat yourself by downloading the latest issue here:

Saturday, May 1, 2021

MQA - just what is going on here?

The MQA 'thing' always makes me uncomfortable -- the technical explanation seems implausible (the whole less is more thing? I'm with Yngwie on this....'it's impossible; more is more') and then the sense that you have no real ownership of the music you purchase. It all makes me uneasy. I get that some love it, feel it sounds superior, but I've learned to take a lot of claims from the audio review world with a pinch of salt. Anyway, we all make our own minds up, right? Good, as long as we have choices and I can keep spinning my records and own the music I buy forever. Now, have a look at this:


Friday, April 30, 2021

John McLaughlin: Liberation Time (Abstract Logix, July 16, 2021)

Not to sure about the handling and playing of the record in this video but it's always nice to learn of new music from John McLaughlin. I saw him a couple of years back on his farewell tour of the US, he still mesmerizes on the guitar. I'm in.  


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Covid strikes Peter Lederman of Soundsmith

 I just learned that Peter Lederman, the man behind Soundsmith cartridges and mainstay of analog excellence, has been stricken with Covid-19 for the second time in year. This has had a devastating effect on his health but he is apparently making a solid recovery. Amazingly, he's been updating folks by posting on Audiogon where there's an active thread -- find it here

I've been an interest admirer of the Soundsmith line for years, at least since calling them once about a repair on a very expensive Clearaudio that I accidentally wrecked (the memory is still painful), and having the phone answered by the man himself who talked me down from the ledge and explained my options. In the end Clearaudio (or rather their importer, Musical Surroundings) stepped in to help but I decided then that a Soundsmith cartridge was in my future. Well, it has not happened yet and I realized when reading the news that if we wait too long, we risk losing the chance if talent like this disappears. Peter seems on the mend, thankfully, but it's made me prioritize my next analog purchase come cartridge-replacement time. In the meantime, spin an album, and send the man a note via A'gon. We're all in this together.  

Monday, April 12, 2021

Gauntlet thrown....Synergistic invites Audioholics to walk the talk

 Or is it that Synergistic is offering to show Audioholics that it will walk the talk...either way, this could be interesting

Unfortunately Audioholics seem to have taken issue with this video and it's been pulled, though I wonder if their case might be stronger if it stayed up. Essentially it was Ted from Synergistic expressing his view of Audioholics and inviting them to come visit for some cordial and constructive listening sessions.   And then there's the other side: Audioholics account of the Synergistic situation

This stuff is nuts of course. But that's the audiophile world. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Vinyl sales revenue up but streaming remains king

Lots of buzz on various forums with the release of the RIAA sales and revenue figures for 2020. You can explore the details yourself at their site, including some interactive graphing options to explore further. The big story for some audiophiles is the news that vinyl sales revenue has overtaken CD for the first time in decades. That is news. But before you get too excited, recognize that in terms of total revenue, all material formats combined account for around 10% of sales, the rest are digital streams or downloads. The various tables and summaries on offer make for interesting reading, but the news that music sales are continuing their upward trajectory might be taken as encouraging news.

While vinyl sold 22.9m units compared to 31.6m CDs, the price difference between the two formats, which vinyl lovers know all about, means that LP revenues are higher, and that is the angle some folks are getting worked up over.  The vinyl market is worth north of $600m according to the latest data, up 28.7% last year.  It was not so long ago that CD sales in unit terms was so much greater than vinyl that many had predicted the LP was dead. Let's not forget, in 2000, only 2.2m LPs were sold. As a proportion of all music sales, LPs might be only around 6% now but they are selling millions more than at any time in most people's memory, year on year. And don't forget, this is while manufacturing capacity is maxed out after fire damage and the pandemic has hampered routine operations.

The full picture might make you wonder about the future of CDs more than vinyl, sales dropping for those silver discs some 23% in the last year,  but in a world where material preferences are elevated to cult-like loyalty and the industry is happy to get any sales they can, I suspect we'll be living with material discs, in both forms (overpriced and repackaged endlessly no doubt) for some time yet. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

New Oberon 9 from DALI hits a sweet spot

Lenbrook Americas press release today announced the launch of their DALI OBERON 9. Here's some details:
"The OBERON 9 (US MSRP $2,499/pr) is offered in Black Ash and Dark Walnut finishes and will be available in late March. With a dedicated 7” midrange and two long-throw 9” woofers it offers outstanding dynamic capabilities most speakers can only dream of. The OBERON 9 is a true three-way design that combines ultimate refinement and startling detail with effortless power handling to bring genuine concert and cinema experiences right into your home. DALI’s patented SMC (Soft Magnetic Compound) is used in the OBERON 9’s midrange/woofer magnet systems to provide improved flux linearity, reduced magnetic hysteresis and a significant reduction in harmonic distortion. These SMC benefits result in longer listening pleasure, and excellent low-level detail."

The Oberon series has apparently been a big success for the company.  These are nice looking, designed apparently for wide dispersion, hopefully making them easy to place in normal rooms. The DALIs I've heard at shows have always sounded decent to me, caveats assumed in those conditions. With companies mostly announcing price rises (Harbeth up another 10% shortly thanks to Brexit)  it's good to see a nicely finished Danish floorstander for this price. Of course, the proof is in the hearing...more info here:



Monday, February 22, 2021

Bryston: meet the new boss....same as the old boss

Got a note from James Tanner about his new role as CEO of Bryston. Seems he and a partner now own the company, which I have to say is good news. James is a talented audio designer and a really pleasant fellow. I reviewed their Mini T speakers a few years back which I thought were great but I was really impressed by the (sadly shortlived) turntable he developed, a spectacularly good sounding and well-engineered product that just could not continue to be produced at the pricepoint. If you got one, lucky you. Anyway, James tells more in a good interview now available in Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Herb Reichert gives tour of his rig

Herb is currently my favorite audio writer. His turn of phrase, humor and general love of music and its emotional power make me enjoy his reviews more than anyone since the late Art Dudley. Not only does this come through here but I love his room as it is so real (though I'm guessing he's single!) Too many listening spaces look like advertisements in mags (where are the speaker cables and why is everything so neat?). When you read a reviewer talk about his or her space, you form a mental picture and while mine might have deviated a little, I sort of expected Herb's space to be like this. Here's a place and a person you know would make for a great listening session or two. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Paul McGowan releases new book and test CD for set up.

I own, and have owned over the years, a lot of PS Audio equipment. Even now, my out of date PWT/PWDII combo still sounds great to my ears and their BHK monos are the best sounding amps I've ever had in my home. The company has always been easy to deal with, and any service issues I've required, I can confirm that they looked after me fairly and quickly. Good people. I've met CEO Paul McGowan once or twice at RMAF and he's always been pleasant and patient with my questions, so I am happy to plug his new work, The Stereo- An Audiophile's Guide, and its accompanying recording of test tracks, a package designed to help you set up your system in your home. You can sample the test tracks at the company site and order there. If I ever get a copy I'll happily review it here but the post-holiday crunch has put my credit card into the danger zone and I'm trying not to spend $58 unless I have to....but now that I mention it, this does not seem an extraordinary cost if it helps you get the best out of your system. Let me know if you try it.