Friday, April 29, 2016

Maybe it's time to rethink the vinyl is always better argument?

 "If people like to listen to vinyl, do so, enjoy life. But don't say that the sound is better."  A fascinating discussion with audio and production engineers on what we really can record and hear; you can read this LA Weekly feature here.   What say you, PONO owners?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Good summary and intro to Axpona Coverage

OK, two talking heads can wear thin if you try to watch the whole thing through (sorry Peter and Dave) but this gives you a good overview of Axpona and a link into other specific reviews. Though please note -- they incorrectly mention the VSA room using Synergistic cables, not so, it's the Delphi cable that VSA sells. Otherwise,  enjoy

Bennett still the boss!

Had the pleasure of attending Tony Bennett's gig last night here in Austin. I can't say I was ever the biggest fan of the crooning ballad form but let's face it, Tony's the man. He's been there and done it, several times over, playing with some of the greatest jazz musicians of the last century. Well, he's 89, a little more fragile looking of late, and he has to pace himself through songs but when he hit's the stage, you can feel the energy coming through.

Last night he played with a quartet of top guys, including wonderful guitarist Gray Sargent (who was new to me) and Harold Jones on drums, repeatedly described as 'Basie's favorite drummer', and you could hear why. The band opened up proceedings with as short set of instrumental standards commencing with Stella by Starlight,  everyone getting a brief solo along the way, before the man himself stepped out to rapturous applause. Ok, he knows how to milk the moment, from using an old tape of Sinatra eulogizing him, through to hanging in the spotlight pretending to be overwhelmed by the audience, but it's all good theater.

He whipped through a set of songs he's known for, some almost at breakneck pace given his age, a particularly lively 'I got rhythm' comes to mind, and of course he brought the house down with 'San Francisco', before ending with a microphone-less rendition of Fly me to Moon.. The only thing missing was a tribute to Prince, but that would have taken him off script and if nothing else, this performance was heavily scripted. Nonetheless, he's a showman, has a great band, and he knows how to entertain. Catch him while you can.

Friday, April 15, 2016

PranaFidelity fifty90s review now live on the 'Zine

I enjoyed the last few months with the excellent PranaFidelity fifty90s, a monitor that sounds like a floorstander. You can read the review in HifiZine.

These make a great pairing with the Raven Blackhawk actually, which the specs might not suggest but it's great to find two of the smaller company products that match so well. Of course, both also produce far more expensive models and these offer pairing possibilities I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

North Carolina audiophiles hit by sales ban over HB2

Hard to argue with the stand of some companies and musicians over what's happening in NC with their bathroom and birth-cert nonsense, HB2. Headphone manufacturer 1More now say they won't sell their products in NC. Good for them, not so good for some customers unfortunately.
Is it a surprise that a headphone company takes a lead here? Let's see how some of the more traditional companies serving the richer, older demographic of audiophiles do before we claim moral courage on the part of the industry. For now, well done 1More.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

RRHoF -- does it matter?

I really don't care for the Hall of Fame nonsense when it comes to music, it's a silly US commercial faux-award that is more about business than art, but, and it's a big but, even this slightly cynical observer was moved by Lars Ulrich's induction speech for Deep Purple -- that band really are still special. Thank you people for music, for art, for reminding us of what matters:

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Whetstone Audio hosts Devore and Well Tempered

Some dealers have a right attitude, and some dealers have the right attitude. Whetstone Audio in eastside Austin has the best attitude I've experienced in any audio dealership.  Brian and his wife host regular events to get people in to hear gear in a fun atmosphere, and they provide beer too.  Today they gave the store over to anyone interested in hearing Well-Tempered and Devore Audio demo their tables and speakers. Door always open, beer and food on the patio, vinyl in constant spin-mode, I spent a couple of very enjoyable hours listening, browsing the vinyl racks and kicking back with the amiable folks there. There was plenty of music and zero sales BS, better than most audio shows in fact.

Noteworthy were the Devore Gibbons, a rather elegant floorstanding speaker with side-firing woofers and a perhaps up-there $15,000+ price tag. They did sound good enough however, looked like they would work in most normal homes, and had a detailed but bass-rich sonic quality that surprised many folks there. John himself told me they were selling as fast as they could make them, so clearly the business end is working out for them.  I'd love to try a pair.

The Well-Tempered table (was it the Amadeus?) was specially set up with a super Dynavector arm and Kaitora Rua cartridge, which would bump up the price of that table considerably. Amplification by Leben (I believe) with a Dynavector SUT, all on very elegant Box stand.   Lots of great music, including plenty of 'old shit' as Brian put it, that the rig handled without fuss but strangely, the highlight for me (other than a totally sentimental moment listening to Bowie's last album) was Susanne Vega -- man, I never liked that music but today, on this rig, the mood just caught us all up in a collective moment of intense resonance. I never heard that sound so good, and I asked myself why I had been so dismissive of this music in the past. Guess I just never heard it right.

Hard to say enough good things about this gathering. The crowd were relaxed, the space was cool, with a totally easy going vibe that runs counter to the snobbishness that often accompanies audio demos.  Turn up, tune in and experience audio gear in a way that is likely going to make you feel included. If only others would follow suit.  If you get to Austin and have a passing interest in audio gear, make a point of visiting Whetstone -- this is a space that makes me smile.