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Top Audio & Video 2005 Milan, Italy


  Bernie Grundman's new label called Straight Ahead Records in partnership with Stewart Levine. While many of you are familiar with Bernie's credentials, Stewart did all the Jazz Crusaders, Simply Red, Hugh Masekela, Jamie Cohen, etc. Bernie started as an audiophile and his life's adventure took him to recording engineering. As the years passed, engineering became his mainstay. Today, he is getting back to his audiophile roots and taking advantage of truly genius ways in mastering recordings. Straight Ahead is the culmination of Bernie's immense knowledge and love for recording and mastering music. Not just the sound, but also the music.

They constructed from the ground up a studio that, in many ways, Contemporary recording studio had many years ago. This is serving the music in a way that insures quality and emotion. It is achieving the highest quality with the most minimal amount of 'interference' between the musician and the final record consumers receive. Virtually all components in the signal chain are discrete and processing is done in the analog domain. From power supply to wire to.... Every detail has been well thought out. The system is claimed to be so pure that they are using single ended (RCA) connections as balanced adds more circuitry/components in the signal chain (exactly what they are trying to avoid). Straight ahead is more a musicians' label, not just jazz or blues music. They plan to be world music including Brazilian, African, and pop music is not out of reach either.



Mission control, the Eagle has landed. Looking like a UFO or some form of interplanetary transportation is a one-off prototype from Audio 4 based in Italy.


With four EL34 tubes mated with four 6N1, a pair of 12AX7, Aeron's AP-900 integrated amplifier looked impressive... but the rear panel has those dreaded plastic loudspeaker binding posts. See my editorial in our Review Magazine for comments about those dreaded things.


EuroAudioTeam, makers of impressive audio tubes, now sells specially-design tube dampeners. They provide both cooling and resonance control plus have shielding properties.


More and more manufacturers are realizing music lovers desire a single unit that provides disc playback, input options, and integrated amplifier duties. Italy's Audio Analog Enigma (€1190) provides two inputs; tape output and includes an AM/FM tuner. The CD player is 128x oversampling and the preamplifier uses ECC88 tube. The included stereo amplifier produces 54 watt per channel.



Naturally great products such as the Brinkmann Audio's Balance turntable, fein phonostage, and ein integrated 70 watt per channel stereo integrated amplifier make their way to Italy. i got a sneak peek at the company's new 'entry-level turntable called the o_asis.


Those looking for a speaker with a rock solid feel will like Fisher & Fisher's monitor made from, what else, solid rock. It is hollowed out to insure proper cabinet size and allow for driver mounting.


Italian artesian loudspeaker manufacturer Pearl had their new Evolution EVO-301 (€6400) large floorstanding three-way unit. They are 89dB/W/m and produce a full 20Hz to 20kHz.


It is all Ferrari red here in Italy as CableLess has a line of cables in... Vita bella!


And speaking of Ferrari red, Audiopax model eighty eight is available in said color. Welcome to Italy my friends!


While this has been covered in previous Milan Top Audio & Video show reports, Ulix loudspeakers include a built-in EL34 tube amplifier operating in 'Class A.' Simply plug the loudspeaker into electricity and supply a source with volume control and you are all set.


Italy's own Ars Aures' exquisitely looking monitor loudspeakers not only look great, they reproduce music! See our review for more details.


Vinyl is indeed prized and it is always great to see products i have personally reviewed making music at shows. Here is Acoustic Solid's offering... see review by clicking here.


In the same room was Antique Sound Labs' (ASL) AV-25 (€640) cute little monoblocks with their pair of EL-34 output tubes that produce 25 watts. Enjoy the Music.com has many reviews of ASL products so click here to see man of them.



Yes indeed, even Marantz now offers a turntable! Better still, it seems extremely impressive and not the typical lightweight plastic rubbish offered by mainstream mid-fi audio companies. As an example, the tonearm appears to have parts precision milled from solid aluminum! Most impressive!


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