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High-End Audio / Hi-Res Audio (HRA) Audiophile Industry News


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04 / 21 / 17

AXPONA 2017 Show Coverage


AXPONA 2017 Steampunk Brotherhood... And Sisterhood Too!
Part 1

 

Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Progression Stereo Amplifier
Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Progression Stereo AmplifierDan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems just announced the Progression Stereo solid-state amplifier ($22,000), the second model released in the Progression Series. Leveraging the innovative Super Rail circuitry, first unveiled in the Progression Mono amplifier, the Progression Stereo amplifier exploits this unique technology to deliver remarkable control and fidelity to any connected loudspeaker. Every amplifier employs a voltage rail, actually two, a positive one and its companion negative partner. Voltage rails support the delivery of power to the speaker. The music signal swings between these two rails but due to natural loss, the musical signal never reaches the output rails' full capability. Borrowing the idea of a turbo in a car engine, the Super Rail employs higher voltage rails in the sections prior to the output stage. This voltage "boost" allows the musical signal to exploit the full capability of the output voltage rails and maximize the performance of the output circuitry itself. The result is improved dynamics, lower distortion, and a fierce grip of the speaker. A graceful anodized Aluminum chassis houses a nearly 3,000 VA power supply transformer coupled to 400,000 microfarads of storage capacitance. Paired to this foundation is a fully complementary driver stage, and output circuitry outfitted with 48 power transistors. The Progression Stereo is conservatively rated at 300 Watts into 8 Ohms and delivers 600 Watts into 4 Ohms, and 1,200 Watts into 2 Ohms. Inspired by the elegant faces of classic Swiss watches, the Progression Stereo is fronted by an exposed movement power meter. Featuring two 90-degree needle swing arms, a high-speed ballistic circuit enhances the meter's responsiveness. The venturi style heatsink design, premiered in the Momentum amplifiers, has been adapted to the cooling needs of the Progression Stereo amplifier. Starting with a 48.5 lb (22 kg) aluminum slab, each heatsink is milled to form the most efficient cooling element possible. This efficiency keeps the Progression Stereo amplifier running surprisingly cool despite its power output. Dimensions are 18 x 20 x 7.5 (WxDxH) and it weighs in at a hefty 125 lbs. See Enjoy the Music.com's review of the Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum Phono Stage Preamplifier and world premiere review of the Momentum Lifestyle integrated amplifier with DAC and audio streaming.

 

04 / 19 / 17

Record Store Day's Special 10 Year Anniversary  Is This Saturday
Record Store Day's Special 10 Year Anniversary  Is This SaturdayRecord Store Day is this Saturday, April 22. A long list of music titles will only be available, usually in highly limited supply, exclusively during Record Store Day at Record Store Day participating stores. They will not be available anywhere else in the same format. Also, exclusively available on Record Store Day at Record Store Day participating stores, but may not be distributed nationally, or the quantities of these titles are extremely limited. Some music titles have fewer than 1000 copies in some cases. "We've said it before, but it's worth repeating. It's always a good idea to be BFFs with your neighborhood record store and let them know what you might be looking for. They can't guarantee you will walk out with what you want, but it's a good place to start. ALL STORES MAY NOT ORDER ALL RELEASES. ALL STORES MAY NOT GET EVERYTHING THEY ORDER. Record Store Day titles are limited for a number of reasons, and all in all, that's a good thing. But please bear that in mind when you find something isnt available. Were all grown-ups, right?" You may notice that the artwork for these titles is watermarked this year. That's a small attempt to take a swipe out of the advance auction site market. When you see a title listed on an auction site before RSD, it's almost CERTAINLY someone who has listed something they do not have in hand, and can't guarantee they will have in hand, because they're going out to a store to try and get it on 4/22 like everyone else. They call it a "pre-order" but since they're not getting distributed to, it's not a pre-order. It's more like a scam, really. Record Store Day personnel work very hard to investigate the listings and in the tiny percentage of the time over the past ten years that it has been a store behind it, there have been serious implications for that store. It is almost always someone taking advantage of the excitement of Record Store Day and the releases. Which is the same thing that happens when a cool shoe, car, dress, cookie or anything else is released. We may not stop it altogether, but we can make it a little harder for them. Thus, the watermarked art. Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally. The first Record Store Day took place on April 19, 2008. Ten years later, there are Record Store Day participating stores on every continent except Antarctica (perhaps it is too cold there?). Of course many record store will also have special live performances by leading, and local, bands. Check out your local record store and as always, enjoy the music.

 

Industry News 10 Years Ago
Apple Sells Over 100,000,000 iPod Devices
Apple iPodThere is little doubt that Apple's iPod has greatly changed the way people enjoy music. The company just announced the sale of 100 million iPods since it first became available in November 2001. iTunes has sold over 2.5 billion lossy compressed songs to music lovers worldwide. To date, more than 10 new iPod models, including five generations of iPod, two generations of iPod mini, two generations of iPod Nano and two generations of iPod Shuffle have been available to consumers worldwide. Due to the onslaught of iPod sales, countless companies have sprung up supporting the device with accessories of all types. "At this historic milestone, we want to thank music lovers everywhere for making iPod such an incredible success," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "iPod has helped millions of people around the world rekindle their passion for music, and we're thrilled to be a part of that." Now if we can get iTunes to offer uncompressed or lossless compressed to CD standards music the world would be back to 1983 in sound quality. In some ways, the iPod has helped to spur music lovers, yet has set music sound quality back nearly three decades by selling 2.5 billion songs with what many would consider low sound quality. While Apple is losing legal battles in Europe due to their non-licensing of the company's Digital Right Management (DRM) scheme, they are making some progress with the recent announcement of selling non-DRM versions of EMI titles at 256kbs AAC encoding versus 128kbs. Still far from being lossless, yet it is progress.

 

04 / 18 / 17

CanJam SoCal 2017 Show Report By Dave Hanson
Just Posted! CanJam SoCal 2017 Show Report
Headphones, IEMs, headamps, DAPs, cables and more!
Show Report By Dave Hanson

 

Pass Labs Great New, And Affordable, XA25 Solid-State Stereo Amplifier
Pass Labs Affordable XA25 Solid-State Stereo AmplifierPass Labs is now shipping their new XA25 Class A power amplifier ($4900). As the company's "most affordable power amplifier in their current line", it produces 25Wpc stereo @ 8 Ohms (50/Wpc at 4 Ohms and 100Wpc Class A/AB at 2 ohms). This is a smaller, lighter and less expensive Pass Labs Class A power amplifier yet retains the company's legewndary sound quality as designed by Nelson Pass. To paraphrase the words of Nelson Pass when describing the new XA25 power amplifier, "At Pass Labs, we build FET amplifiers with excessive output stages, huge heat sinks and massive power supplies. We use the highest quality components in simple linear topologies, assembled and tested with care and subtlety. They measure well, sound great, and are reliable. Twenty+ years of ongoing innovation have kept the X and XA amplifiers at the forefront of high-end audio. The new XA25 is intended to appeal to those wanting the performance without the frills in a chassis that will fit on a shelf and can be lifted without the assistance of ruffians." Pass Labs' XA25 amplifier takes advantage of the lower power requirements to have simpler single-ended circuitry and fewer parts within the signal's path. With simpler, and fewer, gain stages this improves speed and stability. Lower voltages mean the ability to run gain devices at higher bias currents, more deeply into Class A. Newer power FET technology replaces banks of parallel small transistors with a single pair of industrial devices, each having a 700 Watt / 40 Ampere rating. With no current-hogging issues and a new constant-current bias circuit to compensate for temperature drift, they connect directly to the loudspeaker without ballast resistors for lowest possible distortion and highest damping factor. Pass Labs employed a very simple front-end circuit using two pairs of NOS complementary FETs in common-source mode in a current feedback (CFA) configuration. The amplifier is direct coupled and has no DC servos or frequency compensation. Inputs from the preamplifier or DAC are RCA. Frequency response is from DC to 200kHz (-3dB) and had a damping factor of 200. Dimensions are 17" x 17.4 x 6 (WxDxH) and it weighs 46 pounds. Check out Enjoy the Music.com's Pass Labs reviews, plus a very special factory tour, at this link.

 

04 / 17 / 17

Montreal Salon Audio - Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report Part 3
Montreal Salon Audio - Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report
Part 3 By Rick Becker

 

04 / 14 / 17

Music Interface Technology (MIT) Heritage Series High-End Cables
Music Interface Technology (MIT) Heritage Series High-End CablesMusic Interface Technology (MIT) Heritage Series cables follow the company's classic look and sound. According thr MIT, "Two years ago another manufacturer from High End Audio suggested to Bruce Brisson C.E.O MIT Cables, "The industry needs a great sounding $10,000 Speaker Cable without switches or exotic enclosure materials and finishes". Further, he challenged Bruce to deliver $30,000 in performance for $10,000 at the point of sale. He took the challenge. High on Bruce's list was to maintain the lineage of the "Heritage sound" combined with the "Heritage look." This feat would require extreme cuts in parts, labor and materials. Machined aluminum enclosures were eliminated and switching options removed. While his circuit topologies remained similar or the same, capacitor and inductor sizes were reduced by using more "through hole" technology along with printed circuit boards. To put it simply; Bruce took Oracle and Matrix topologies, used smaller capacitors and inductors and 'stuffed' them into the original Shotgun and Magnum (AKA Heritage enclosures). The Heritage MI-2C3D Series Level 1, 2, and 3 - The answer: The cable Bruce created to answer the challenge became the MI-2C3D Level 2. MIT feels it delivers $30,000 performance at a $10,000 price point. These interfaces are the new MIT MI-2C3D Series and available at three levels and three price points; Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Along with each MI-2C3D Speaker interface is an Oracle and Matrix interconnect built to the same criteria; eliminate the machined billet enclosures and hand made parts ordinarily used to create the unique MIT Oracle sound. The Heritage EVO Series One, Two, and Three -- The Evolution of performance interfaces below $4000: Over the last 30 years MIT introduced many successful products. After completion of the 2C3D project, Bruce decided to look into keeping these three special models alive by enhancing them with improved parts and miniaturizing techniques used inside other Heritage enclosures. This would allow Bruce Brisson to resurrect and perpetuate these "Evolutionary" designs as the EVO One, EVO Two and EVO Three models. Bruce considers this additional project to be MIT's "homage" to these highly regarded products and reviews. With the inclusion of three EVO versions, MIT will introduce the complete Heritage Series for 2017. Retail prices will start at ~$1000 for EVO 3 speaker cables ascending to ~$16,500 for the top tier 2C3D Level 1 covering the entire spread with only 6 levels.

 

04 / 13 / 17

Conrad-Johnson Announces ART150 And ART300 Anniversary Amplifiers
Conrad-Johnson Announces ART150 And ART300 Anniversary AmplifiersThis year, 2017, marks the 40th anniversary of conrad-johnson design inc. and to celebrate they are introducing two new anniversary tube amplifiers the ART150 and ART300 ($18,500 and $18,00 each respectively). These amplifiers employ the recently developed KT150 output tubes. A single pair of KT150s produces 150 Watts per channel in the ART150 stereo amplifier, while two pair produce 300 Watts in the ART300 monoblock. In addition to utilizing the KT150 output tubes, the ART150 and ART300 feature new input and inverter stages using 6922s for voltage gain, main power supply reservoirs boasting a more than ten-fold increase in total capacitance compared to our earlier conrad-johnson ART monoblocks and ARTSA amplifiers. There's a new regulator circuit for the input stage power supply too. The ART150 and ART300 boast dramatic new styling, yet clearly show their conrad-johnson heritage. The output tubes are showcased behind a clear window spanning the full width of the protective tube cage, while the input tubes are enshrouded in a clear protective block. These new models will replace the now discontinued ARTSA and ART monoblocks.

 

04 / 12 / 17

AXPONA Show Begins April 21 At The Westin O'Hare In Rosemont, IL
AXPONA Show Begins April 21 At The Westin O'Hare In Rosemont, ILAXPONA (Audio Expo North America) once again returns to the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont, IL, for their 2017 event to be held from April 21st through 23rd. Enjoy the Music.com's AXPONA 2017 show report marks our eighth annual coverage of this prestigious high-end audio event. Music lovers, audiophiles, and musicians can enjoy three days of  jam-packed events including live music, seminars, and discover the latest in audio technology. Many exhibitors will be actively demonstrating their products with Hi-Res Audio gear, Hi-Res Music, plus tweaks, gadgets and more. Enjoy the Music.com will once again brings you our exclusive AXPONA show report. Now in its eighth year, AXPONA offers something for everyone from the novice music lover to the seasoned audio expert looking to enhance their sound with the latest technology. In addition to a series of special events, live performances and educational presentations, music lovers have the opportunity to experience the very best in sound in more than 125 listening rooms with well over 400 manufacturers, retailers and brands being represented. New this year, an expanded concert series featuring exceptional bands performing jazz, blues, and more, will take place on both Friday and Saturday evenings. And, a series of educational programming will now be incorporated all three days of AXPONA 2017, allowing attendees to hear from the industry's foremost experts. "We are thrilled with the increased number of new exhibitors this year, which clearly shows that AXPONA is the place to be if youre in the audio industry," said Liz Miller, Event Director, AXPONA. "Each year we draw more and more attendees looking for the very best in audio equipment and this year is no exception."

 

04 / 11 / 17


Montreal Salon Audio - Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report
Part 2 By Rick Becker

 

04 / 10 / 17

The Absolute Sound's Buyer's Guide To Loudspeakers 2017
The Absolute Sound's Buyer's Guide To Loudspeakers 2017Enjoy the Music.com's partner magazine The Absolute Sound now offers their very special Buyer's Guide to Loudspeakers sponsored by Paradigm and MartinLogan. This easy-to-navigate PDF features many new product introductions and full-length equipment reviews from TAS across all types of transducers, from wireless and bookshelf speakers to electrostatic hybrids to multi-way floor-standers across a range of price categories. Their new 2017 guide is your essential one-stop resource for the scoop on the latest and greatest hi-fi gear. You can see the latest hot new loudspeakers to enter the hi-fi market and learn how to Choose loudspeakers, as Editor Robert Harley offers sound advice on what to consider before your next loudspeaker purchase. There are 27 equipment reviews of loudspeakers from The Absolute Sound, including two brand-new reviews making their world premiere within the PDF. The Absolute Sound's editors offer their recommendations for all loudspeaker categories: desktop, powered, bookshelf, stand-mount, and floor-standers of all kinds. You can download the PDF at this link.

 

04 / 07 / 17

TGIF MUSIC: Saint-Sans Carnival Of The Animals "Aquarium"

 

Essence HDACC II-4K DAC With HDMI v2.0a And MM Phono Option
Essence HDACC II-4K DAC With HDMI v2.0a And MM Phonostage OptionEssence just announced they've started shipping their 2nd Generation HDMI 4K DACs, the HDACC II-4K 32-bit/384kHz stereo HDMI / USB DAC ($699, add $40 for MM phono stage). The HDACC II-4K has four HDMI v2.0a inputs and one HDMI v2.0a output, plus a true 4x1 HDMI source switching for multiple 4K sources via remote control. It follows in the same audiophile class sonic tradition of Essence's original HDACC and rises to a new level of audio performance by implementing a 32-bit/384kHz sample rate and driving THD + N to an unprecedented 0.00001% at -141 dB S/N ratio. There is full support for native DSD x128 via USB (not DSD over DOP) as standard, with OLED display of inbound sample rate of any source. Their HDACC II-4K extracts the left and right front channels from the native multi-channel lossless Dolby True HD and DTS Master HD soundtracks on Blu-ray, which the company says is the highest resolution source available today. Stereo playback from analog outputs include both unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR. The headphone amplifier output is claimed to "drive any brand of headphone to its best sound ever, it features user selectable impedance matching for any impedance between 16 and 600 Ohms". Essence's HDACC II-4K includes a USB 2.0 async input, with TosLink optical and S/PDIF coaxial inputs. There's also an analog line level mini-plug input on the front panel with full A to D conversion and upsampling of lower res files from the headphone output of digital media devices like smartphones and digital audio players (DAPs). It can be used as a pre-amplifier / controller or as just a DAC feeding its digital sources downstream to analog components. A moving magnet (MM) phonostage is available as an option. Dimensions are 8.8" x x 5.7" x 1.9" (WxDxH) and the unit weights 2 lbs.

 

04 / 06 / 17

ASCAP Record-High 2016 Financial Results Collecting $1,000,000,000
ASCAP Record-High 2016 Financial Results Collecting $1,000,000,000ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the only member-owned performing rights organization within the United States of America representing over 600,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, announced record-breaking revenues and distributions for 2016. ASCAP collected record-high revenues of $1.059 billion in 2016 and distributed more than $918 million to its songwriter, composer and music publisher members. Distributions were up 5.6% over the prior year. Revenues from ASCAP's licensing efforts in the USA alone grew nearly 6% in 2016 to $759 million, up $42.2 million over 2015, fueled primarily by a 41% increase in revenues from audio streaming services as well as higher revenues from satellite radio and General Licensees, such as bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels, live concerts and more. Foreign revenues totaled $300 million, up $1.5 million year over year in U.S. dollars. ASCAP's international revenues would have exceeded last year's performance by $12.9 million had it not been for the strengthening U.S. dollar which resulted in lower foreign exchange rates. Domestic distributions of $631 million from ASCAP-licensed and administered performances in the U.S. grew nearly 10%, up $55.5 million over 2015. "ASCAP's record high revenues and distributions in 2016 are a testament to the amazing repertory of music we are privileged to represent, and to our investment in innovations that enable us to continue to grow revenues, leverage our scale and increase efficiencies in our operations" said ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. "ASCAP is committed to transforming and innovating to secure a healthy future for music creators and publishers. In 2016 alone, we processed over one trillion performances, welcomed 40,000 new members, and secured a steady stream of future royalties for our members by closing multi-year deals across all major platforms, including satellite and terrestrial radio."

 

04 / 05 / 17

McIntosh Introduces MXA80 Integrated Audio System With 50 Wpc
McIntosh Introduces MXA80 Integrated Audio System With 50 WpcMcIntosh is proud to introduce their MXA80 Integrated Audio System ($6000) as the next generation of the acclaimed MXA70 system. It maintains the same compact footprint and full functionality while adding support for DSD and DXD digital music files thanks to a new digital-to-analog converter (DAC). McIntosh's MXA80 features a 50 watt stereo amplifier and a pair of specially designed two-way desktop speakers that, according to the company, "achieve a remarkably rich and full bodied level of performance for their size". A total of six inputs four digital and two analog allows for connecting a variety of music sources. The USB input accepts PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz and supports DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 along with DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. McIntosh's exclusive MCT input offers a secure DSD connection to enjoy the high definition audio on SACDs when paired with the MCT450 SACD/CD Transport. A dedicated headphone amplifier is available for those times when music lovers want to listen to their tunes more intimately. It takes advantage of unique McIntosh technologies so that every headphone yields the best possible personal listening experience. Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) brings added dimension to the music while Power Guard prevents clipping that could damage the speakers or headphones. A five step Bass Boost Control allows for further tonal customization. 

 

04 / 04 / 17

Enjoy the Music.com Has Updated Our Partner Magazine Sites

The Absolute Sound Magazine            Australian Hi-Fi Magazine            Hi-Fi+ Magazine            HIFICRITIC Magazine

HiFi Media Magazine            Hi-Fi World Magazine            NOVO Magazine (Was CANADA HiFi)            Sound Practices Magazine

 

 

Industry News 10 Years Ago
Apple iTunes To Sell DRM-Free Music From EMI
Apple iPodComputer manufacturer and iPod / iTunes creator Apple has announced it will sell DRM-free music from music label EMI. While pricing will be up 30 cents, 99 cents for DRM 128kbs version to $1.29 for non-DRM version at 256kbs AAC encoding, the files are still lossy compressed. iTunes customers can upgrade previously purchased EMI content to the higher resolution version for 30 cents. "We are going to give iTunes customers a choice-the current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year." Also of note is that Apple is far from being off the hook as they are facing a September deadline from the Norwegian government to make their proprietary DRM to be open and allow fair use by other companies. One of the problems may be the way major recording labels see lossy compressed 256kbs files and perhaps dashing hopes of widespread online delivery of lossless or non-compressed music as Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group, said "EMI and iTunes are once again teaming up to move the digital music industry forward by giving music fans higher quality audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings, with no usage restrictions on the music they love from their favorite artists."

 

04 / 03 / 17


Montreal Salon Audio - Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report
Part 1 By Rick Becker

 

04 / 01 / 17

Enjoy the Music.com's April Review Magazine In Now Online
Enjoy the Music.com's April Review Magazine features Roger Skoff writing about music and reality plus a great think piece by Andrew Everard asking if the tide is turning for the controversial MQA digital audio format. We revisit the decade-old problems with digital rights management as a warning to the music industry for any possible use within Hi-Res Music in the future.

Equipment reviews include a North American premiere review of the very impressive Aries-Cerat Diana Forte vacuum tube stereo power amplifier and world premiere review of Markaudio-SOTA's wonderkid Cesti MB wide range single driver loudspeaker. Vinyl lovers seeking the very best will need to read our review of Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' Momentum phono stage preamplifier by Editor Tom Lyle. Ron Nagle gives his impression of the Jolida FOZ XT-R, affectionately called the Fozgometer, that seeks to solve crosstalk inherent in turntable cartridges. Keeping with the analog theme, Andrew Harrison takes a cracking listening to McIntosh Labs' MP100 phono stage and Hi-Res Audio DAC and comes away a bit, well, you'll need to read his review.

Coming soon will be Rick Becker's in-depth show report of the Montreal Salon Audio Show 2017 and Enjoy the Music.com will be at the upcoming AXPONA 2017 event in Chicago, with our report appearing online shortly thereafter. Read Enjoy the Music.com's April Review Magazine at this link. As always, in the end what really matters is that you... enjoy the music!

 

Audiophile Compromises
Audiophile Compromises
Roger Skoff writes about music and reality.
Article By Roger Skoff

 

MQA: Is the Tide Turning?
MQA: Is the Tide Turning?
A recent TIDAL announcement suggests that MQA may finally
be coming of age or is it just irrelevance?
Article By Andrew Everard

 


Flashback: DRM Wars Concern You!
A format war that hurts billions of music lovers!
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

 

Montreal Salon Audio Show 2017 Report
Coming Soon! Montreal Salon Audio Show 2017
Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report
Show Coverage By Rick Becker

 

AXPONA 2017 High-End Audio Show Report
Coming Soon! AXPONA 2017 High-End Audio Show Report
Audio Expo North America Coverage By Enjoy the Music.com

 

Aries-Cerat Diana Forte Stereo Power Amplifier Review
North American Premiere Review!

Aries-Cerat Diana Forte Stereo Power Amplifier
Aries-Cerat's Diana Forte is a magical sounding, and substantial, 250 pound amplifier.
Review By Tom Lyle

 


Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum Phono Stage Preamplifier
A championship phono stage from living legend Dan D'Agostino.
Review By Tom Lyle

 

Markaudio-SOTA Cesti MB Wide Range Single Driver Loudspeaker Review
World Premiere Review!
Markaudio-SOTA Cesti MB Wide Range Single Driver Loudspeaker
A brilliantly coherent choice!
Review By Clive Meakins

 


Jolida FOZ XT-R The Fozgometer
Solving crosstalk inherent in turntable cartridges.
Review By Ron Nagle

 

McIntosh MP100 Phono Stage With Analog And And Hi-Res Audio Digital Output Review
McIntosh MP100 Phono Stage With Analog And And Hi-Res Audio DAC
Andrew Harrison reviews McIntosh's first ever phono stage with digital output.
Review By Andrew Harrison

 

More Equipment Reviews And Articles Available Online!
See all our show reports, articles, and gear reviews within the April 2017 edition of Enjoy the Music.com's Review Magazine now available online.

 

03 / 31 / 17

Abyss By JPS Labs AB-1266 Phi Deluxe Planar Magnetic Headphones
Abyss By JPS Labs AB-1266 Phi Deluxe Planar Magnetic HeadphonesAbyss by JPS Labs has some exciting news as they just announced their new AB-1266 Phi Deluxe ($5495) planar magnetic headphones! In working toward creating the world's thinnest boutique headphone Diana, new high-tech magnetics were created that allowed them to further extend the AB-1266 transducer. Abyss is now producing new planar drivers for the AB-1266, the updated model named the AB-1266 Phi after the lower case Greek symbol ϕ. Abyss says they deliver "Much improved transparency to the source, crazy low frequency impact and resolution, scary vocals, a clear window to the source. If ever there was a headphone that can transport you back to the studio, this is it! The best attributes of the ϕ nest dynamic, planar, and electrostatic headphones, rolled into one. Put another way, high-performance audio reproduction will never be the same." The Greek symbol Phi ϕ has many contexts in science and math including magnetic flux and phase, so once the company finalized all the incremental improvements made to the original AB-1266 speaker driver, and thus it seemed a fitting suffix to this iconic Abyss model. Made in the USA., Abyss carefully machines all aluminum frame components and produces their planer speaker drivers in-house in New York. Leather goods such as ear pads, headbands, and carry bags are sewn in California. The headphone's chassis consists of left/right side frames and adjustable two piece headband. There are no plastic parts to break, as all components machined from solid aluminum for exceptional strength. There's integrated resonance control for minimal added coloration. Special high quality finishes and polished metal accents and mated with hand-brushed artistic touches. Unique foamed aluminum sides are acoustically tuned to Abyss' planar diaphragm for completely open sound. High quality soft lambskin ear pads provide comfort and finely tuned acoustics. Magnetically adjustable positioning lets you fine tune acoustics and fit for your music, and you. Frequency response is from a deep 5Hz to a glorious 28kHz. Impedance is 42 Ohms nominal and the Abyss By JPS Labs AB-1266 Phi Deluxe planar magnetic headphones have a flat phase response for accurate music reproduction. Sensitivity is 88dB/mW, with distortion being less than 1% (less than 0.2% through ears most sensitive range) Weight is 620 grams and the headphones come with a top quality cords and carrying case.

 

03 / 29 / 17

Sneak Peek! Two Reviews From Enjoy the Music.com's April Issue

MQA: Is the Tide Turning?
MQA: Is the Tide Turning?
A recent TIDAL announcement suggests that MQA may finally be coming of age or is it just irrelevance?
Article By Andrew Everard

 

McIntosh MP100 Phono Stage With Analog And Hi-Res Audio Digital Output Review
McIntosh MP100 Phono Stage With Analog And Hi-Res Audio Digital Output
Andrew Harrison reviews McIntosh's first ever phono stage, complete with digital output.
Review By Andrew Harrison

 

03 / 28 / 17

Pink Floyd / Abbey Roads EMI TG12345 MK IV Sells For $1.8 Million
Pink Floyd / Abbey Roads EMI TG12345 MK IV Sells For $1.8 MillionAn Abbey Road Studios EMI TG12345 MK IV recording console used between 1971-1983, housed in Studio 2, the console which Pink Floyd used to record their landmark album, The Dark Side of the Moon sold for $1,807,500 including buyers premium. Also used by many other artists including: Paul McCartney and Wings, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Kate Bush and in later years The Cure, the desk comprising: 40 channels with limiter/compressor on each, 4 echo returns and 16 monitors, MK3 feature cassettes, track monitor cassettes, dual channel 16 track sync mixer, two banks of 12 pairs of microphone channels, 8 pairs of main channels to centre section, monitor level controls for tracks 1-8 on left and 9-16 on right side, Ernest Turner manufactured VU meters comprising 16 full size VU meters and approximately 50 channel VUs, quadrant radial faders by Painton, with approximately 1600 capacitors (many original), housed in the original semi-wrap-around frame made of block board with teak and mahogany veneer, which disassembles into three parts, together with a patchboy of steel encased in industrial standard flight case and made-to-measure freight crates for the console parts. The mixing board was accompanied by letters concerning the provenance, including one from Ken Townsend, the Abbey Road Studio Manager at the time and future Chairman; a documented history from Brian Gibson, the renowned Studio Technician for Abbey Road and TG console world authority; a current technical appraisal stating the console is in working order; PDF manuals for the equipment; and a copy of the album The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) Harvest pressing.

 

Industry News 15 Years Ago
Led Zeppelin Files Lawsuit Against Atlantic Records
In  March 2002 members of the legendary rock group Led Zeppelin have filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against Atlantic Records claiming royalties from the band's music have been withheld. James P. Page, Robert Plant, John Baldwin, Superhype Tapes, Patricia Bonham, Zoe Bonham and Jason Bonham have filed this legal action against Atlantic Records who will need to defend their activities. Popular songs by rock group Led Zeppelin include "Stairway to Heaven". This lawsuit covers the bands first five albums where Atlantic Records license has expired, yet Atlantic has allegedly refused to pay increased royalty fees that undoubtedly reaches into the many millions of dollars.

 

03 / 27 / 17

Australian Hi-Fi Magazine's March / April Issue Is Now Available Online
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine March / April 2017Enjoy the Music.com has just posted the March / April 2017 issue of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. This issue features a very special CES 2017 report plus reviews of the Yamaha NS-5000 loudspeakers, Musical Fidelity M5si integrated amplifier, Questyle CMA600i headphone amplifier/DAC, Audio Research Reference 9 preamplifier, B&W P9 Signature headphones, Gold Note PH-10 phono preamplifier, and Sony UDA-1 USB DAC amplifier. Within his editorial, Greg Borrowman says, "Is it just my imagination, or are warranty periods for hi-fi components getting longer? If you're new to the audio world, you'll probably be horrified to learn that back in the 70s, the maximum warranty period on any hi-fi component was one year, and for many items, it was just three months. These days, the only hi-fi product I can think of where you're offered only a three month warranty is one where valves are involved and frankly, this puzzles me the most out of all hi-fi warranties because valves are bless their warm little thermionic hearts inherently reliable devices." See what's within this issue of Australian Hi-Fi at this link.

 

03 / 24 / 17

Music Industry: Why Protecting Your Hearing Really Does Matter
Music Industry: Why Protecting Your Hearing Really Does MatterFor many years Enjoy the Music.com has posted articles about protecting your hearing and featured blurbs within our Industry News page as well. Finally, the The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing in combination with their MusiCares have presented "Listen Up: Why Protecting Your Hearing Really Does Matter". A recent SXSW panel was moderated by Maureen Droney, former audio engineer and currently The Recording Academy Managing Director, P&E Wing and Recording Technology. Speakers at their recent panel discussion included a variety of music industry professionals. With their new "Listen Up: Why Protecting Your Hearing Really Does Matter", the Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. The House Ear Institute (HEI), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing hearing science through research and education to improve quality of life, wants to be sure that teens (a particularly high risk group) avoids hearing damage from noise and long exposure to loud music. "With hearing loss on the rise, the House Ear Institute feels it is imperative to educate teens and young adults on the importance of smart listening habits so they know how to protect their hearing from damage over the long term," says Marilee Potthoff of the House Ear Institute. Their longstanding initiative is focused on strategically reaching everyone, including at-risk teens. The House Ear Institute has an excellent article about hearing on Enjoy the Music.com at this link. Also of note is Enjoy the Music.com's Industry News page on February 24th, it has been reported by Live Science that "Scientists have coaxed sound-sensing cells in the ear, called 'hair cells,' to grow from stem cells. This technique, if perfected with human cells, could help halt or reverse the most common form of hearing loss, according to a new study." See our February 24th article at this link for more about growing sound-sensing cells.

 

03 / 23 / 17

AXPONA Has An Exciting Music Lineup For Their Upcoming Show
AXPONA Has An Exciting Music Lineup For Their Upcoming ShowHigh-end audio show AXPONA (Audio Expo North America) is excited to announce an all-star line-up for its weekend live concert series including Jazz and Blues artists. Frank Catalano Band, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Billy Branch and Mud Morganfield will be featured. AXPONA ticket holders are treated to entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings and offer music lovers the enviable opportunity to experience top performers in an intimate venue. On Friday, April 21, WDCB, Chicago's home for jazz, has organized an electric evening with the Frank Catalano Band. New this year, AXPONA will feature a Chicago blues concert, Saturday, April 22, presented by the Jazz Foundation of America. The JFA provides housing assistance, pro bono medical care, and emergency financial support to musicians in crisis. There will also be Frank Catalano Band, sponsored by WDCB, on Friday, April 21, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Catalano is the only known saxman to have performed with Miles Davis, Randy Brecker, Charles Earland, Elvin Jones, Stan Getz, Betty Carter, Von Freeman, Tito Puente, Tony Bennett, Les Claypool and Louis Bellson while still in high school! This led to his signing to Delmark Records at age 18 and a string of critically acclaimed recordings. Catalano has been heard by millions of people all over the world thanks in part to 3 Grammy-winning and 11 Grammy-nominated recordings with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Destiny's Child, and John Legend. There's also a special Blues Revue & Benefit Concert presented by the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) on Saturday, April 22, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Ronnie Baker Brooks, son of Chicago blues master Lonnie Brooks, is an accomplished blues guitarist who has headlined at the 2013 Chicago Blues Festival and performed internationally at the Notodden Blues Festival in Norway. Billy Branch is a three-time Grammy Award nominee and played harmonica in Willie Dixon's Chicago Blues All-Stars band. Mud Morganfield is the eldest son of Muddy Waters and has been taking the world's blues festivals by storm of late and recently released a Blues Music Award-winning album with Fabulous Thunderbirds frontman Kim Wilson. AXPONA will be open Friday and Saturday 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 10am to 4pm at the Westin O'Hare located at 6100 North River Road in Chicago.

 

Industry News 15 Years Ago
Canadians Could Get Hosed By New Tax For Recordable Media
Canada is considering increasing the taxes on many forms of recordable media. The Copyright Board of Canada will vote in September on legally raising the taxes on audiocassettes, CDs, DVDs, hard drives, MiniDiscs and memory cards that will take effect beginning January 1, 2003. Canada is justifying this new action by claiming they have decided to be judge and jury in helping the music industry recover lost revenue due to the possibility of using said blank media to record music. So what will this new action cost manufactures of media? A total of 60 cents Canadian for each audiocassette, 59 cents for each computer CD-R/-RW disc and a staggering $2.27 for each recordable or re-writeable DVD. Meanwhile digital audio players with built-in memory will be subject to 2.1 cents for each megabyte, while non-removable memory and hard drives will suffer a $21 each Gigabyte tariff. Of course not everyone who buys memory cards and blank media uses them for music. This new tax effort will hurt not just manufactures due to possible decreased sales and spur illegal importation of media into Canada, it may also cause a backlash from those who need digital storage for system backup, digital cameras and other non-music related storage needs. Brings a new meaning to being hosed in Canada, eh?

 

03 / 22 / 17

Own A Piece Of Headphone History: Audeze LCD-3 Steampunk Edition
Own A Piece Of Headphone History: Audeze LCD-3 Steampunk EditionEnjoy the Music.com's Creative Director Steven R. Rochlin is offering a very rare opportunity to one lucky music enthusiast! Audeze LCD-3 Steampunk Edition headphones are the exact same ones you've seen at shows throughout the world and are the one (and only) factory-made official Audeze LCD-3 Steampunk Edition headphones within the world. They are in mint, fully working condition and come with specially-made custom case by Audeze. This may be your only opportunity to own them. Click image on the right to see a larger photo. Steven R. Rochlin is taking offers, so e-mail him at this link. A free Enjoy the Music.com t-shirt is also included. These headphones have appeared in many magazines over the years and are part of high-end audio headphone history. Now they can be yours.

 

03 / 21 / 17

MarkAudio-SOTA Announces Their Formal Intro Into The U.S. Market
Markaudio-Sota Viotti One, Cesti B, and Cesti Tower loudspeakersLoudspeaker manufacturer Markaudio-SOTA is a relatively new audio company that combines design and engineering prowess with high quality manufacturing. MarkAudio-SOTA started their dream team of designers when they recruited engineer Mark Fenlon of MarkAudio, Ltd., a renowned manufacturer of loudspeaker drivers for the custom-build and OEM markets. They then integrated Dr. Scott Lindgren's technical box alignment and elegant crossover design to work seamlessly with Mark's custom dual drivers. These were all built into the elegant styling of Italian designer Andrea Ponti's cabinet concept for the Viotti One, and Ball Chan's designs for the Cesti B and Cesti Tower. "This combination creates a truly unique and authentic high-fidelity loudspeakers that efficiently reproduce music as it was recorded." says the company. MarkAudio-SOTA is launching their new website with three unique new loudspeaker products that employ all-range drivers. Loudspeaker models include the new Viotti One, Cesti B, and Cesti Tower. They are said to help create an acoustically accurate, symmetrical sound field. The wide dispersion and shallow-profile cone drivers replace conventional cone-woofer and dome-tweeter combinations. With matched dispersion and output characteristics, along with a low order crossover slope, the two custom-made SOTA drivers aim to provide a seamless integration between high and low frequencies. This integration results in a smooth, natural output and soundstage that affords a wider range of seating positions, allowing several people to hear a top quality performance simultaneously. MarkAudio-SOTA's new Viotti One, Cesti B, and Cesti Tower loudspeakers are now available exclusively from the company's new website with a 30-Day money back guarantee. You can see our video with designer Mark Fenlon below and learn more about their products at this link.

 

Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series Offers World's Most Responsive SSD
Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series Offers World's Most Responsive SSDUpdated: Intel has unveiled their Optane SSD DC P4800X Series and Optane SSD DC P4800X Series with Intel Memory Drive Technology, enabling new possibilities to transform storage and memory architectures. Deployed as blazing fast storage or caching tier, Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X breaks the confines of traditional storage to significantly increase scale per server and accelerate applications, including high-end audio digital music players. The SSD has a sequential transfer rate of 2400MB/s for read and 2000MB/s for write. Overall, it is said that 99.999% of operations have a read latency below 60 and a write latency below 100 microseconds. An industry-leading combination of high throughput, low latency, high quality of service and high endurance enable the creation of solutions that remove data bottlenecks, unleash CPU utilization and deliver unprecedented data transfer speeds. Intel Optane SSDs offer unrivaled performance at low queue depth, where the vast majority of applications generate storage workloads, which means CPUs are more active and more fully utilized. Intel Optane SSD is extremely responsive under any load, it is highly predictable and delivers ultra-fast service, consistently. Manufacturers can easily and transparently integrate the drive into the memory subsystem and presents the SSD as DRAM to the OS and applications. Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series (375GB, add in card) and Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X with Intel Memory Drive technology is available now to customers in an early ship program. Additional capacities and form factors will be available in the second half of 2017.

 

03 / 20 / 17

Audio by Van Alstine Announces High-End Multi-Format DAC MK 5
Audio by Van Alstine DAC MK 5Audio by Van Alstine. has released their next chapter in the pursuit of uncompromised digital audio, the DAC MK 5 ($1899). The AVA DAC MK 5 is a multi-format digital to analog converter designed for unprecedented accuracy and musicality. Based on the renowned AKM AK4490EQ D/A converter device, AVA's implementation uses optimized, independent, active voltage references for the company's highest conversion accuracy. Analog processing is handled by discrete solid-state Class A circuits. According to the company, "These incredibly linear and musical circuits present the kind of transparent highs and liquid mids you've come to expect from the best tube circuits combined with the solid bottom that you've come to expect from the best solid-state". Company President Frank Van Alstine states, "With the DAC MK 5, we have significantly raised the bar regarding what you can expect from digital audio playback. What's also notable with the DAC MK 5 is the absence of clicks, pops and other drama when switching between formats, even to and from DSD. It's an absolute pleasure to listen to and to use." Audio by Van Alstine's new DAC MK 5 seamlessly supports PCM data streams up to and including 192kHz as well as DSD64 and DSD128 formats. Sample rate and format information are displayed using elegant front panel indicators. It has a total of five inputs: two coax S/PDIF, two TosLink optical S/PDIF, and one USB input.

 

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