In September 2018 I wrote “Jeff’s New Room,” in which I wrote in detail about moving into my new listening room after selling our previous home and spending some time in a rental house. The room had not yet been acoustically treated when I wrote the piece, and it remained largely untreated throughout the listening sessions for the first product I reviewed there, the EgglestonWorks Kiva loudspeakers. The Kivas are terrific speakers -- despite being asked to perform in a room in which little attention had been paid to acoustics, they sounded quite good in my new space.
I begin forming strong opinions of an audio component at the unboxing stage. While some audiophiles will tell you that they pay only for sound quality, and that any black-anodized case will do, anyone in the real world of 2019 knows that high-end audio components costing close to five figures also need to look like luxury audio gear if they’re going to succeed in the marketplace. Consumers pay enough money for this stuff -- they want to have their cake and eat it, too. The Luxman ticks both boxes with bold pen strokes.
Last November, I accompanied Doug Schneider to the Warsaw Audio Video Show (read our coverage here). The AVS was wonderful -- a huge affair hosted by a city whose history goes back a thousand years. We found tons of new, exotic products, and the show -- and our coverage of it -- were raging successes.
Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: *****
Overall Enjoyment: ****½
Matthew Sweet’s first two albums, Inside (1986) and Earth (1989), showed promise, but their production locks them in time. Nor, when he recorded them, had Sweet quite pulled together his influences into the inspired level of songwriting that would make his third album, Girlfriend (1991), so unexpectedly good, and one of the best records of the 1990s.
Review components come and go, and for the most part it doesn’t take me long to get their measure. Speakers, especially, don’t take much time to figure out, and I’m fairly confident in my speaker-analyzing skillz. It’s a mature technology, right? A mechanical device with three, maybe four moving parts: drivers and crossover in a box.
Last month, in “Jeff Buys Loudspeakers: The Vimberg Tondas,” I announced that I’d bought a pair of Vimberg Tondas to use as my reference loudspeakers. I also challenged Tidal and Vimberg designer and CEO, Jorn Janczak, to show us exactly what goes into the making of a set of Vimbergs. What follows, in words and photos, is the story of my pair of Tondas, from raw cabinets to packing in their flight cases, followed by a set of measurements of that pair of units.
It could be said that 1970 was a tumultuous year: the Apollo 13 accident, President Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia, and Paul McCartney’s announcement that the Beatles had officially disbanded. On the other hand, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was put into effect, Boeing had just introduced the world to the 747 Jumbo Jet, and William Zane Johnson founded Audio Research Corporation (ARC) -- the same month Aerosmith was born.
Shakey Pictures/Reprise 574192-1
Format: 2 LPs
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ****
Neil Young rivals Bob Dylan for making large amounts of archival material available to his fans, giving them a clearer picture of how he creates his music, and how he presents it in concert. In April 2018 he released Roxy: Tonight’s the Night Live, comprising performances from a three-night stint at the Roxy Theater in 1973. He closes out 2018 with Songs for Judy, a collection of solo performances from a November 1976 tour.
Funny how things come around. Ten years ago, when I first dipped a toe in computer-based audio, I considered using as my reference DAC Weiss Engineering’s DAC2 ($3380 USD when available). At the time, the only way to get digital audio out of a PC was with an add-on soundcard, and the only good way to get digital audio out of an Apple Mac computer was with FireWire -- digital audio via USB was still only a glimmer on the horizon. I was already a Mac user, and the Weiss DAC2 seemed an obvious choice: it had a FireWire input, in addition to TosLink, S/PDIF on coax, and AES/EBU on XLR. However, on hearing that Apple would soon no longer support FireWire, I bought a Logitech Transporter ($1900, discontinued) and began streaming digital audio via Bluetooth. When USB audio became more widely supported, I connected my Mac directly to the Transporter with a Halide Design Bridge USB-to-S/PDIF link ($450), so I could stream 16- and 24-bit PCM files directly to the Transporter. Later, Weiss added a USB input to their DACs -- but by then I’d purchased what is still my reference DAC, a Meitner Audio MA-1 ($7000).
By now you know that since 2017 I’ve been on a downsizing exercise. I decided to divest myself of my Magico-Soulution audio system, which retailed for more than $400,000 USD, and reinvest less of that money -- a lot less -- in my next stereo system. But there was a problem. It’s easy to decide to spend less money -- that proposition is always attractive. But getting less performance than I’m used to . . . well, that was a high hurdle to jump . . . or not.
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