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The Absolute Sound

  Welcome to The Abso!ute Sound online! We explore music and the reproduction of music in the home. We believe that the sound of music, unamplified, occurring in a real space is a philosophic absolute against which we may judge the performance of devices designed to reproduce music. Our goal is to provide the resources consumers need to judge how a component's sound either honors or departs from the music's truth, and to make sound purchasing decisions that maximize their experience of reproduced sound. Below is our Issue 162, June/July 2006 table of contents and editorial.

June / July 2006


Equipment Reports
Cover Story:
Hovland HP-200 Vacuum Tube Preamplifier
Consistently elegant, detailed, and natural is how Wayne Garcia describe sthis vacuum tube beauty, with additional comments on Hovland's solid-state RADIA amp and cables.
Start Me Up:
Cambridge Audio Azur 540A v2 Integrated Amplifier,Azur 540C v2 CD Player,and Era Design 4 Loudspeakers
In a new column dedicated to discovering value-oriented high-end gear, Robert Harley looks at a complete system for under $1750...
Goldmund SR System
...while at the other extreme, Alan Taffel takes a $55,000 peek into the digital future.
Absolute Analog:
Lector Phono-Amp System Mk II
Jacob Heilbrunn listens to a two-box, tube-driven, Italian phono preamp.
Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System II Loudspeaker
Sallie Reynolds on an imperfect design that nonetheless possesses magical power.
PS Audio GCC-100 Control Amplifier
Jim Hannon reports on a new and different breed of amp.
Acoustic Zen Technologies Adagio Loudspeaker
A design that has Sallie Reynolds asking, “What is the sound of no distortion?”
Virtual Dynamics Master Series Power Cord
Neil Gader on an expensive but superb power cord.
Audience Adept Response AC Power Conditioner
New contributor Max Shepherd used to think a dedicated line was enough.
Audio by Van Alstine Ultra Fet Valve 550 Amplifier,Ultra Hybrid SL Preamplifier,and Ultra DAC
Sue Kraft reports on three affordable items from audio veteran Frank Van Alstine.
Revel Performa F52 Loudspeaker
Neil Gader on getting to the essence of a loudspeaker.
Focal Profile 918 Loudspeaker
The real deal when it comes to high fidelity, says Sue Kraft.
Mainstream Multichannel:
Outlaw Audio Model 990 Controller and Model 7125 Multichannel Amplifier
Neil Gader wonders if inexpensive, multichannel separates can satisfy all cravings.
The Cutting Edge

The Case of the Knock at the Door
Jonathan Valin's think piece on realism introduces this issue's Roundtable.


TAS Roundtable :
Sonic Realism
Triggered by HP's essay on the ASR Emitter amplifier, the TAS editorial team, Neil Gader, Wayne Garcia, Robert Harley, Harry Pearson, and Jonathan Valin, gather to explore the meaning of “realism” in audio.

TAS Book Review
Paul Seydor reviews Sound Bites: 50 Years of Hi-Fi News.
Basic Repertoire:
Webern and Varèse — The Class of 1883
Anton Webern and Edgard Varèse helped change the course of music history. Ted Libbey discusses their careers and must-have recordings.
Recording of the Issue - Fred Hersch: In Amsterdam, Live at the Bimhui
The scoop on the latest from Matthew Shipp, Roy Hargrove, Bobby Previte, Mario Pavone, CUD, Odyssey the Band, and an SACD from Jaco Pastorius Big Band.
Rock, Etc.
Reviews of 16 new CDs and eight audiophile LPs — including the latest from Eleventh Dream Day, The Streets, Alejandro Escovedo, The Subways, Black Heart Procession, Prince, Van Morrison, Donald Fagen, Jessi Colter, Nick Cave, and Glenn Kotche.
Jonathan Valin critiques five Speakers Corner Mercury Living Presence LPs. Plus, reviews of SACDs of Sibelius, Bartok, and Beethoven and CDs by Lang Lang, Dutilleux, and Christopher O'Riley, and Testament's newly unburied Wagner treasure.
The TAS Back Page:
Help On the Way For Hearing Challenged Audiophiles, by Neil Gader
In the Next issue:
MAGICO Mini Loudspeaker
MBL 5011 Linestage Preamp, 1521a and 1511e Digital Playback System
Shunyata AC Conditioning System
Two-Channel Receivers from Rotel and Outlaw
And More!

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