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June 2024


High-Performance Audio & Music Industry News Essential high-end audio news you need to know. Stay up-to-date on the latest audiophile and music industry news.

High-Performance Audio & Music Industry News
Essential high-end audio news you need to know.
Stay up-to-date on the latest audiophile and music industry news.



Words? Music? Both? Neither? What Do You Listen For? How various people listen to music.

Words? Music? Both? Neither? What Do You Listen For?
How various people listen to music.
Article By Roger Skoff
I recently saw something on Facebook that caused me to do some serious thinking – not on the subject of music, but that, as I hope you'll agree, is still perfectly applicable to our music listening. It's just one simple sentence: "I never said she stole my money" –  but, as the person who posted it pointed out, it can have seven entirely different meanings, depending on which one of the seven words making it up you choose to put the emphasis on: For example, "I never said she stole my money" means something different from "I never said she stole my money", which means something different from "I never said she stole my money", which means something different from "I never said she stole my money", and so on, through the entire sentence, with each new emphasis creating a whole new meaning. Isn't it exactly the same with music? Even with classical music, where every note to be played by every individual instrument is written down and unchanging, isn't every different performance by every orchestra or every conductor still different?
---> Words? Music? Both? Neither? What Do You Listen For?



audioXpress June 2024

Different Listening Perspectives
Automotive audio today is designed for immersive experiences.
Editorial By J. Martins
I Recently attended a very successful AXPONA (Audio Expo North America) 2024 edition in Chicago, IL, where I was pleasantly surprised with the vibrant showcase of audio systems that filled the largest number of rooms in the history of this show. Hundreds of rooms with lots of innovative speakers to discover (some doing their premiere here, instead of waiting for the High End show in Munich), but also lots of new electronics, including many network audio streamers, which were clearly the most popular audio source, followed in a distant second by vinyl and CD — which are both mandatory as many attendees bring their own physical media to listen to for reference. These high-end streamers are now a core hifi component because they allow an aggregation of streaming services, enabling sessions to freely pick tracks from the Tidal, Qobuz, or Apple Music, all of which now offer lossless streaming options — or local NAS and storage devices for Hi-Res PCM and DSD files. On the second day of the show, I noticed that the hotel Wi-Fi network that had worked reliably until then was suddenly absent.
---> Different Listening Perspectives.



Hi-Fi+ May 2024

Physical Media Music Formats
Remembering the tactile nature of records, tapes, reel-to-reel, and CDs.
Editorial By Alan Sircom
All physical audio formats are trying for the same success LP had with the 'vinyl revival'. More than just a flash in the pan, the return of vinyl has proved to have true staying power, and has long since outlived the hipster trend that sparked LP's 21st century reboot. We have seen the return of compact cassette at one extreme, and the rebirth of the open-reel professional tape machine at the other. And we've even seen some recent uptick in sales of CD. Physical formats, it seems, aren't going away just yet. But why are they still popular? Someone buying a CD is spending more on a digital file than they would spend streaming a more high-resolution online counterpart. However, the closer you investigate this trend to own physical copies, some fascinating points begin to emerge. Most importantly, it's not an either/or thing. Those buying a disc have often streamed the album several times. This isn't a return to streaming as 'music discovery', but there seems to be a trend among listeners that if you stream a piece of music more than four times, you buy it for that fifth listen.
---> Physical Media Music Formats.



HIGH END Audiophile Event At MOC And International Parts + Supply 2024 Show Report Munich Germany

HIGH END 2024 At Munich M.O.C. Show Report
High End Society's HIGH END 2024 Event In Munich Germany
From May 9th to 12th, 2024, the 41st HIGH END trade show in Munich will once again shine a spotlight on luxurious premium music reproduction systems, inspiring listening enjoyment and exquisite audio technology. HIGH END continues to be one of the most important marketplaces and trading rendezvous for the audio industry, with many international trade visitors from around the world. Music lovers from over 90 countries visit Munich to discover high-performance audio industry trends, exchange views, learn the latest news, plus network and do business. For industry experts, audiophile enthusiasts, and music enthusiasts, the HIGH END four-day event in Munich will once again be a spectacular event.
---> HIGH END 2024 At Munich M.O.C. Show Report.



AXPONA 2024 High-Performance Audio, Luxury Premium Hi-Fi Stereo Audiophile Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com

AXPONA 2024 Show Report
Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) 2024 three-day experience featured a multitude of floors, with a total of approximately 200 listening rooms. Special showcases include the Expo Hall featuring The Record Fair, The Ear Gear Experience, and a variety of seminars. Whether you're a very serious audiophile, a newcomer to high-end audio or simply a music lover, you found everything you need to immerse yourself in your favorite sounds. The Ear Gear Experience is the place to go to find everything from open-back, closed-back, in-ear headphones and accessories, as well as cables DACs and players. You can also shop audio accessories, turntables, cables and more in the Expo Hall. Plus find new and vintage vinyl in AXPONA's own Record Fair.
---> AXPONA 2024 High-End Audio Show Report.



Acora Acoustics QRC 2 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review First-class sound quality in a luxurious form factor.

World Premiere Review!
Acora Acoustics QRC 2 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review
First-class sound quality in a luxurious form factor.
Review By Rick Becker
Val Cora must have spotted my press pass when I first encountered their SRB two-way stand-mounted monitor at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest show back in 2019. He encouraged me to take a closer look and listen as I didn't seem particularly interested. It was my subconscious fear of tipping over heavy stone or aluminum speakers that I later traced back to a childhood trauma incident. Fast forward to 2023 and I've become one of Acora Acoustics' biggest fans, typically including them among the Best Rooms awards in my show reports. Not so much because I like them as because they're so damn good. Val has been a master of setting up rigs in a wide variety of rooms supported by a diverse selection of amplification and front ends. That he consistently features different top-level turntables and phono cartridges has been a particular delight, though he also showcases digital front ends. I fear that since he recently acquired Audio Research, his presentations may become more restricted to their products.
---> Acora Acoustics QRC 2 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review.



Linkwitz LX521 Loudspeaker Review

Linkwitz LX521 Loudspeaker Review
I hope you have the opportunity to hear them.
Review By Rick Becker
It is no accident the Linkwitz LX521 speaker eventually landed in my listening room. It would have happened much sooner if I had not been so busy. The three Best Rooms awards you may have seen in their ads have resulted from my very favorable impressions at AXPONA (2022 and 2023) plus Capital Audiofest. I've been a big fan of open baffle speakers since my world premiere reviews of Tekton Designs' OB 4.5, PureAudioProject's Trio 15 TB, and Treehaus Audiolab's Phantom of Luxury speaker. Other major proponents of open baffle design include Nola and the now-named Clayton Shaw Acoustic Lab. And more recently, Songer Audio on the West Coast, plus a few I've likely missed. I don't normally read other writers' reviews of products I review. For that matter, I pretty much focus on doing world premiere coverage, but I wanted to get a first-hand listen to the Linkwitz in my own room.
---> Linkwitz LX521 Loudspeaker Review.



Nagra Classic DAC II, PSU Power Supply, And VFS Review

Nagra Classic DAC II, PSU Power Supply, And VFS Review
Bringing tears of joy when listening to special songs.
Review By Tom Lyle
In January 2021, I was fortunate to review Nagra's Tube DAC and Classic PSU power supply. In my review, I said that the owners of this vacuum tube Hi-Res Audio DAC will be able to appreciate the "sonic glory" of this "high-performance component." So, I was not surprised that the Nagra Tube DAC and its PSU power supply were awarded Enjoy The Music.com's Best Of 2021 Award. After I finished the review, I was not psyched to return the $40,900 package consisting of the Nagra Tube DAC, Classic PSU power supply, and VFS Classic base to the distributor. I was captivated by the sound quality this digital front end contributed to my system. My reference DAC, an EMM Labs DA2, is no slouch, but this Nagra Tube DAC package costs twice as much. It was not twice as good as the EMM Labs converter; it doesn't work that way, but the improvement in sound quality was significant. I jumped at the chance when I was offered the subject of this review, the relatively new Nagra Classic DAC II / PSU / VFS combo.
---> Nagra Classic DAC II, PSU Power Supply, And VFS Review.



Simaudio MOON 641 Integrated Amplifier And 681 Network Player / DAC Review Stereo sound system synergy plus MOONLink technology.

North America Premiere Review!
Simaudio MOON 641 Integrated Amplifier And 681 Network Player / DAC Review
Stereo sound system synergy plus MOONLink technology.
Review By Tom Lyle
Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing MOON's 250i V2 integrated amplifier. Even though its output is "only" 50 Watts per channel, I praised it, concluding, "I felt a connection to the music that passed through this integrated amplifier, as it belied its price." The Simaudio MOON 250i V2 is priced five times less than the integrated amp reviewed here but with a third less output power. The MOON 641 integrated amplifier and the 681 network player/DAC are both part of MOON's NOŘTH Collection. From reading about them on the MOON website, I've learned that they are not simply new audio components but "a testament to MOON's commitment to pushing the envelope of audio technology. They are designed to deliver an unmatched listening experience in clarity and depth." Simaudio's MOON 641 integrated amplifier features their Distortion-Cancelling Amplifier (MDCA) technology. It is used exclusively in North Collection components of MOON. This feature has an independent circuit to perform signal correction to lower noise and distortion. The MOON 641's dual-mono configuration "fills the room with rich, immersive sound."
---> Simaudio MOON 641 Integrated Amplifier And 681 Network Player / DAC Review.



Orchard Audio Starkrimson Premium Mono Amplifier Review

World Premiere Review!
Orchard Audio Starkrimson Premium Mono Amplifier Review

A new personal benchmark for value.
Review By Ron Nagle
It was back in August 2020 that I reviewed the original Orchard Audio Starkcrimson Monoblock Amplifiers for Enjoy the Music.com. At the time I was very curious about their use of Gallium nitride (GaN) transistors. I can recall a time when these transistors created quite a buzz in high-end audio circles. Since then the owner and designer of Orchard Audio Leonid (Leo) Ayzenshtat has continued to improve upon the original TripathGaN monoblock amplifiers. Now in 2024, I see that they have a new amplifier they call Premium Monoblocks for sale at $1,249.95 each ($2,499.90 per pair). The most obvious physical change from the original is the amplifier's form factor. The body of the new amplifier is much larger, measuring 6" wide 9" deep, and, 3" high. The premium amplifiers are housed in slot-vented aluminum cases anodized dark black.
---> Orchard Audio Starkrimson Premium Mono Amplifier Review.



The Intro
Editorial By Art Dudley
Is Tony Rice the "best" guitarist in bluegrass music? Before you scold me for looking at the world that way — stuffing artists into neat little pigeonholes and ranking musicians the way most people rank baseball players — bear in mind that I don't do it half as much as I used to. And since kids can be forgiven for thinking like that, I have let myself off the hook for all those nights I drove around town with my pals, arguing over whose guitar heroes were the "best," like some adolescent McLaughlin Group in plaid flannel shirts. (John McLaughlin: "Who's heavier, Jeff Beck or Jimmy Page?" Jack Germond: "I think it's Jimmy Page." John McLaughlin: "Wrong again. Pat Buchanan, who's heavier...?"). But the title of this month's music feature is a deliberate, and hopefully thought-provoking, reference to the fact that a great many fans, fellow musicians, and critics all consider Tony Rice to be the best in his field. Fans, like teenagers, can be forgiven. In fact it's nice to think that there are any people at all left in this age of music-as-product who can be moved to such praise  by a contemporary performer. 
---> The Intro By Art Dudley.



Casual Reactions: The Need To Party = Potential Difference

Casual Reactions: The Need To Party = Potential Difference
Article By Herb Reichert of Eddy Electric
About ten years ago, I decided to try to learn electronics so I could build my own amps. I bought a book called Electronics Made Simple. A week later, I had to buy a book called Mathematics Made Simple. It seemed I couldn't learn electronics without mastering some math concepts. Woe to a misspent youth! If I could have bought Kenn Amdahl's book There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings, I would have known that an amateur can understand electronics better than a pro-without doing a single calculation. When someone suggested that I review a book where the tireless "need to party" of imaginary beings called "little greenies'' represented voltage, I thought I was hitting a premature journalistic bottom. To my surprise, I learned an amazing amount rethinking what I already knew, things that I had learned the hard way. It works like this: the chicks buy the kegs of beer and turn up their radios. The brothers hear that rock and roll, get in their little green cars, and motivate toward the music. That's current.
---> Casual Reactions: The Need To Party = Potential Difference.



My Own Triode Input MK III  --  Dyna MKIII

My Own Triode Input MK III
Dan remakes a Dyna MKIII to 'juice his lizard'.
By Dan Schmalle From VALVE Issue 9, September 1994
A remarkably bad graphic representation of a very pretty amp. Squint to see the Tung-Sol 6550's, new tube arrangement, Vitamin Q caps, new bias pot location, and cool paint job. Some of you may remember that I was so enamored of the Mklll's I modified for Chris that I wangled a pair for myself. As I recall I bought a Fisher 20A, swapped that and some other stuff for a MkIV, and then swapped the MklV and a pair of Ampex monoblocks for the Mklll's. Then I swapped a Philco Model 60 cathedral radio for a quad of Tung Sol 6550 tubes. Then I made my list of parts for the mod. I ordered polypropylene caps and metal film and power resistors from Mouser, and axial electrolytics from Antique Electronic Supply. Mean time Eric scored some 1.0 mfd @ 400V Vitamin Q caps for me on their way to a dumpster. I stripped the chassis, repainted everything in Classic Radio colors and enlarged the filter cap mounting hole into a proper octal socket cut out. Output tube sockets went to the outer edge of the chassis, where the rectifier and filter had been, and the rectifier and a new 6SN7GTB driver were installed where the output tubes had been.
---> My Own Triode Input MK III.



Aavik I-180 Integrated Stereo Amplifier Review

Aavik I-180 Integrated Stereo Amplifier Review
You call this entry-level?
Review By Michael Lang
With the integrated amplifier from the entry-level 180 series, Aavik took a radical turn: leaving behind heavy castles of aluminum in favor of natural materials and shapes derived from musical instruments. Aavik is the electronics side of a company-triumvirate, the other two being B๘rresen as a loudspeaker brand and Ansuz as a supplier of cables and accessories. Regular STEREO readers might be familiar with Aavik thanks to the impressive U-300 integrated amplifier equipped with a phono stage and DAC. Or maybe also due to the D-180 DAC or R-180 phono preamp, which has already received excellent reviews recently. The device featured here has almost nothing in common with the U-300 – neither the martial exterior nor the idea of amplifiers having to have "everything under one roof" made its way into the here and now. Beyond that, no stone was left unturned either!
---> Aavik I-180 Integrated Stereo Amplifier Review.



The White House Recording Library The forgotten vinyl LP collection. Video By The 1600 Sessions

The White House Recording Library
The forgotten vinyl LP collection.
Featuring John Chuldenko, the grandson of President Jimmy Carter
Video By The 1600 Sessions
A donation from the Recording Industry Association of America to the Nixon White House, the White House Recording Library was comprised of 2000 LPs, and overseen by a committee of scholars, journalists, and musicians. The library was then stored away and forgotten. John Chuldenko, the grandson of President Jimmy Carter, recalls hearing stories of the collection and began his search to uncover the lost music. He shares his quest and discovery with White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin. This video is hosted by the  White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin, with guest John Chuldenko, Grandson of President Jimmy Carter.
---> The White House Recording Library.



Why Music? Roger Skoff writes about the most basic question of all.

Why Music?
Roger Skoff writes about the most basic question of all.
Article By Roger Skoff
Many years ago, when I had a different audio company, I was absolutely shocked – something that really doesn't happen very often – when one of my dealers told me that he didn't like music. At first, I thought that I must have heard him wrong or misunderstood what he said and that it must be some particular piece of music or some style or instrument that he didn't like. But, when I asked him what he meant by that, and to please clarify, he told me straight-out that he found music of any kind to be annoying and didn't like to listen to it.
---> Why Music?



Video: McIntosh Laboratory Factory Tour Gramophone gives us a look at a legendary premium audio company.

Video: McIntosh Laboratory Factory Tour
Gramophone gives us a look at a legendary premium audio company.
Founded in 1949, McIntosh Laboratory offers premium home audio systems that produce an exceptional audio experience. While the company initially focused on stereo system, in modern times they have expanded to offer stereo and immersive audio multi-channel audio products. McIntosh Labs is best known for their signature blue Watt output meter and green logo. McIntosh Labs' products are designed and handcrafted at their Binghamton, New York factory by passionate employees who love music. Furthermore, McIntosh Labs has powered moments in music history and pop culture including the USA's then President Lyndon Johnson's inauguration speech to the first Woodstock music festival. Many also know the company for helping power the now-famous Grateful Dead 'Wall of Sound'.
---> Video: McIntosh Laboratory Factory Tour.



SVS SB-2000 Active Subwoofer Review

SVS SB-2000 Active Subwoofer Review
A reasonably-priced high quality 12" powered subwoofer system.
Review By Tom Lyle
At times I must come off as some sort of audio-curmudgeon, such as when I became upset when I noted some audiophiles calling a component a preamplifier rather than a line stage. There have been other times, too, that I've gotten upset over someone using what I consider the incorrect nomenclature for an audio component or part. Thankfully, I've gotten over that preamplifier versus line stage episode. But I'm still working on the fact that some sell speakers that they call "subwoofers" yet don't go below 20 Hz. "Sub" what? Thankfully, there's no reason to have any ill will in regards to the SVS SB-2000, since SVS claims that it reaches down to 19 Hz and might even reach lower depending on one's room size and its placement in one's room. What makes this SVS SB-2000 subwoofer even better is that it is rather small, measuring only about 14.5" x 14.5" x 15.5". The sub's depth is a little greater when attaching its curved grille, but even still, this is quite a small subwoofer when one considers how deep it reaches into the bass region with its 12" woofer and 500-Watt internal amplifier.
---> SVS SB-2000 Active Subwoofer Review.



Sennheiser HD 660 S Over-Ear Headphone Review

Sennheiser HD 660 S Over-Ear Headphone Review
If it ain't broke, fix it anyway.
Review By Dave Hanson
Updating a much-loved product like the Sennheiser HD 650 is a tricky task. But having spent nearly 75 years in the audio business, Sennheiser understands the importance of reading the tealeaves. The personal audio industry is in a period of tremendous growth and no single segment is growing faster than the portable devices category. So with that, Sennheiser made a bold move. While many companies would have left well enough alone, Sennheiser took one of their most popular products, the somewhat hard-to-drive HD 650, and updated it with and easier to drive design. The result is the new Sennheiser HD 660 S ($499). While the original could be a bit fussy with amplification – holding back some of its potential until you plugged it into the perfect tube amp – the HD 660 S skips all the fuss and sounds good with just about anything. And while there's a bit of a cost in terms of overall scalability, the headphone provides an intriguing option for an increasingly mobile audience.
---> Sennheiser HD 660 S Over-Ear Headphone Review.



Wells Audio Commander Level II Preamplifier Review

Wells Audio Commander Level II Vacuum Tube Line Stage Review
The Commander is in a club of one.
Review By Sam Rosen
A little while ago I reviewed the Wells Audio Cipher. I asked Jeff Wells, the owner of Wells Audio, to tell me more about the Cipher, and he more or less described it as his preamp circuit, with a single fixed input coming from the DAC. I was so impressed with the smooth analog nature of his DAC that I asked him if I could review his preamp. A few months later, a Commander Level II arrived at my door. The Commander Level II is Jeff Wells' mid-range preamp. The standard level I, sells for $3999, the level II (my unit) sells for $9000, and the Level III sells for $18,000. Each version has the same base design and circuit, and each upgrade introduces higher end and more expensive discrete parts into the build process. According to Wells Audio these improvements lower the noise floor, increase the dynamic range, and dramatically improve the experience.
---> Wells Audio Commander Level II Tube Line Stage Review.



Rotel Michi X3 Integrated Amplifier Review

Rotel Michi X3 Integrated Amplifier Review
More than the sum of its parts. Review By Francisco Duran.
Review By Francisco Duran
This has been one of the hardest reviews I have ever done because the MichiX3 integrated amplifier really surprised me. Out of the box and into my system it performed so well that I was at a loss for words. Not so much as in spectacular audiophile terms, but because it just went straight to work and played music, all kinds of music, and from all kinds of sources in such a relaxed but inviting manner, critique just kind of went out the window. But unless you have been living under an audiophile rock for the last few years, you probably have seen, even in passing, a review of the latest Rotel amplifiers. In fact, I have recently written about their neat A14MK.2. A solid performer, the sound signature of that unit being quite different from its big brother, the Michi X3.
---> Rotel Michi X3 Integrated Amplifier Review.



Rogue Audio RP-9 Vacuum Tube Stereo Preamplifier Review

Rogue Audio RP-9 Vacuum Tube Stereo Preamplifier Review
Exceeding the listener's expectations.
Review By Bob Grossman
Rogue Audio's RP-9 is the latest flagship preamplifier from the ingenious designs of the American manufacturing workshop of Mark O'Brien.  Having an interest in doing this review of the new RP-9 was a simple decision as a long-time user of the Rogue RP-7.  I have been using the remarkable powerhouse Rogue Apollo Dark Amps for several years as both a sonic and output upgrade to my previously owned Rogue 180 Amplifiers that were used to run Magnepan 3.6 speakers.  I replaced the Maggie 3.6 speakers with their 20.7 models several years ago and needed more powerful amps. I wondered if the increased musical experience of moving further up in the Rogue Amplifier line was going to be repeated with their new preamplifier by going from the RP-7 to the RP-9 model. However, before proceeding and hearing the RP-9, I wondered what was going on since the RP-7 has received numerous accolades, recognition, and rewards. Could designer Mark O'Brien improve upon the noteworthy RP-7 that I have been enjoying?
---> Rogue Audio RP-9 Vacuum Tube Stereo Preamplifier Review.




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