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.
In the mid-1990s, EgglestonWorks released the original Andra, the loudspeaker that thrust that Memphis-based company into the consciousness of audiophiles. I remember hearing a pair of Andras in New York City in 1996, at Sound by Singer, with Andrew Singer himself playing DJ for me. The Andras had replaced a pair of Wilson Audio’s WATT/Puppy speakers in the system, and Singer was in hard-sell mode. At the time, of course, I had no money to buy the Andras or anything else Singer carried, but I was a youngish audiophile learning about good sound, and Singer was a legend in the world of high-end audio retail. That audition made a lasting impression on me. I recall thinking how utterly powerful the Andras sounded for such relatively compact floorstanders. That was my introduction to EgglestonWorks, and 22 years later, I’m still impressed with the sound of their speakers.
When discussing a turntable, it’s common practice to lump together in that term every bit of gear that precedes the phono stage. The turntable includes the platter and the motor that spins it, and often the tonearm as well. Then there’s the cartridge, which is an honest-to-god system component all by itself. The internal tonearm cable is most often captured -- but unlike the old silver plastic record players of my youth, most modern turntables have some sort of junction to facilitate the connection of aftermarket interconnects. So add an interconnect to the list of components that make up this rigmarole. And I guess we can continue to add to this catalog -- let’s include any item that remains in contact with the turntable while the record is in play, OK?
This is my column, so I get to make the rules.
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