Just recently, I received two fairly large boxes courtesy of FedEx. In and of itself, this is not a newsworthy happenstance, as non-Amazon packages arrive at the Thorpe residence with some frequency. Frequent deliveries are the blessing and the curse of the reviewer. Being a fairly materialistic male—or a gear whore, as my friend Neil calls me—the blessing part is obvious. I just loves me some box opening. The curse? Well, each component that arrives also has to leave, so I can’t just rip everything open like my daughter does on Christmas morning. No, I have to note the orientation of each bag, document, piece of foam and wire, and remember how everything fits together. I learned my lesson years ago, and now I take photos of each step of the unboxing so I can reassemble it all when it’s time to return the product to the manufacturer or distributor.
Lazy Eye Records America/Compass Records 7 4781 1
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****
Colin Hay, lead vocalist and guitarist of the Australian band Men at Work, has released a series of albums under his own name since 1987, all well received by fans and critics. I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, his 14th release, features the UK-born singer-songwriter’s interpretations of songs made famous by others. He coproduced the album with producer and multi-instrumentalist Chad Fischer, who provided the arrangements and much of the instrumentation.
The Ultra Reference System represents the culmination of many years of listening to the finest components available. It is my current review system, housed in the listening room I set up four years ago when I moved into my home here in southeastern North Carolina, and man, do I love it. Yeah, it’s a valuable tool for reviewing audio components because of its neutrality and amazing resolving capability—but listening to music over it is the real reward.
Last month I wrote about “The Reference System” for the March 1 update of SoundStage! Ultra. In that article, I examined the notion of the reference audio system, outlined the types of folks who have them, explained why these systems matter, and provided some insight into how to go about assembling one. I concluded by promising to explore reference audio systems on SoundStage! Ultra “in greater depth and in some very exciting ways in 2022.”
Engineer and high-fidelity enthusiast Jacques Mahul founded Focal-JMlab in 1979. He began making speaker drivers at a family-owned engineering company in Saint-Etienne, France. Not long after, Mahul built his first speaker, the DB13, a standmounted design released in 1982 under the JMlab brand name. The DB13 was one of the first speakers to utilize a double voice-coil speaker driver, which enabled it to play as loudly as many floorstanding models of the time.
Blue Note Records B0033158-01/Pacific Jazz ST-85
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½
By the time Joe Pass began his recording career in 1962, he was 33 years old. A heroin addict through much of the 1950s, he had kicked the drug with the help of the controversial Synanon rehab program. His debut LP for Pacific Jazz Records, Sounds of Synanon, featured musicians who were fellow clients. During the five years that Pass was associated with Pacific Jazz, he appeared on recordings by other artists on the label, including Les McCann and Gerald Wilson.
On January 17, 1982, the very first Michell GyroDec turntable, serial number 001, rolled off the Michell Engineering production line in Borehamwood, England, and was shipped to Anglia Audio of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. Nothing quite like it had ever been seen before—it was breathtakingly beautiful, but more importantly, it rewrote the rule book for all time on how to extract maximum information from a vinyl record.
Reviewers have reference audio systems. Audiophiles have reference audio systems. Dealers have reference audio systems. Manufacturers have reference audio systems. Cue up the internet meme: Oprah shouting from the stage, “Reference audio systems for everyone!”
Audiovector, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been producing high-end loudspeakers for over four decades. And, as you can imagine, a company that has been producing speakers since 1979 must have an impressive product selection. I chose one of their newest models to review, the R 6 Avantgarde.
My neighbor and fellow audiophile, Ron, let slip that he had a busted Shelter 901 cartridge sitting in a box. Seems that the cleaning lady was dusting his turntable a bunch of years ago, and she got a little too aggressive with the cloth. Ripped the cantilever clean off.
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