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ISSN 0847-1851
Canadian Publication Sales
Product Agreement
No. 40065638
RETURN LABELS ONLY
OF UNDELIVERED COPIES TO:
Box 65085, Place Longueuil,
Longueuil, Qué., Canada J4K 5J4
Printed in Canada
No. 87 CAN $6.49 / US $7.69
THE CD PLAYER PLUS: We listen to the April
Music Eximus player, and we use its suite of
digital inputs to shake down better ways to
get music from computer to loudspeakers
MORE REVIEWS: The successor to our
Audiomat phono stage, a hand-wound
step-up transformer, an affordable tube
integrated amp, and Pioneer’s latest Bluray player
PLUS: Hi-fi in tough economic times, putting
SACD on hard disc, and the Montreal show
Good Sound in Bad Times
by Gerard Rejskind
The times they are a-changin’, but less than you
think. A look back through the history of hi-fi
reveals the truth
26
Nuts&Bolts
Putting SACD on hard disc
Just one question: can you? Inquiring minds want
to know
Issue No. 87
32
Cinema
Pioneer BDP-51FD
36
We upgraded to a new Blu-ray player, and we were
glad we had
The Listening Room
April Eximus Player
Massive, fancy, and with a full set of digital inputs
40
Allnic Step-up Transformer
44
For years, the phono transformers we’ve heard have
been trash. Is this one a welcome exception?
Audiomat Phono 1.6 preamp
We’ve long used the older Phono 1.5 as our
reference phono preamp. Time to change?
46
Audio Space Galaxy 34 Amplifier
49
From Hong Kong, a gorgeous tube integrated with
serious ambitions
Music Through the Air
Can the inexpensive Airport Express be pressed
into service as a high end source?
Cover story: The Audio Space Galaxy 34 amplifier
floats near the Pleiades star cluster, as seen by the
Hubble telescope. At right, an extraterrestrial vessel
(actually an Apple Airport Express) boldly goes where
no audio gear has gone before.
Software
The Rubinstein Century
63
by Reine Lessard
Arthur Rubinstein was not only one of the greatest
pianists of his age, but a witness to it
Features
A Slimmer Montreal Show
by Gerard Rejskind
Fewer exhibitors, but big crowds. Worth touring,
despite the missing brands
52
18
Touring the Show With Guests
21
by Albert Simon
Lots more on this year’s extravaganza, with Albert
and several invited guests
Software Reviews
by Gerard Rejskind and Albert Simon
70
Departments
Editorial
Feedback
Free Advice
Gossip & News
State of the Art
4
7
9
76
82
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    3    
UHF Magazine No. 87 was published in October, 2009. All
contents are copyright 2009 by Broadcast Canada. They
may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or any information storage or retrieval system,
without written permission from the publisher.
EDITORIAL & SUBSCRIPTION OFFICE:
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Tel.: (450) 651-5720 FAX: (450) 651-3383
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PUBLISHER & EDITOR: Gerard Rejskind
EDITORIAL: Paul Bergman, Steve Bourke, Toby Earp, Reine
Lessard, Albert Simon
PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY: Albert Simon
ADVERTISING SALES:
Alberta & BC: Derek Coates (604) 522-6168
Other: Gerard Rejskind (450) 651-5720
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4   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
Editorial
Changes
There is no free, there’s only “who’s paying.”
I’ve just heard that phrase on the radio. The subject was water, but it seems
to me equally suited to the changing role of the media: music, movies, television, newspapers, and of course magazines like this one.
But how do you convince people in the age of the Internet that there’s no
such thing as free? Isn’t the Net full of free information? And was it not said
that “information wants to be free”?
Actually, not quite. The phrase is from Stewart Brand, whose work with
The Whole Earth Catalog and its later offshoots was a seminal influence on
UHF. Brand’s entire phrase reads like this:
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On
the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it
out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting
against each other.
The World Wide Web did not yet exist when Brand said that, in 1984, but
once it arrived it greatly lowered the cost of getting information “out there.”
Putting out music meant pressing an LP or a CD, packaging it and shipping
it. Today the music can be sent to anyone who wants it for only the cost of
bandwidth, which keeps dropping. Putting out news meant typesetting,
making printing plates, churning paper through giant presses, then trucking
the publication to thousands of newsstands. Today the same news is available
worldwide, for free.
Only who’s paying?
Television was free, because advertisers were paying for the privilege of
pitching their products. Today a majority of TV channels are pay channels.
You can actually buy programs at the iTunes store, and DVD stores are filled
with full-season collections of Sex and the City, Six Feet Under and Lost. Radio
was free, with sponsors, donors or taxpayers picking up the high cost of running powerful transmitters. Today a radio program can be streamed on the
Internet, not for free but nearly.
The trouble with information that can be put “out there” for next to nothing is that just anyone can put it out. That has made blogging and Facebook
possible, to be sure, but you still need to ask who’s paying. Remember that
companies are willing to spend millions of dollars to air a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl. You think they won’t leap at the chance of
getting “information” to you over an almost-free medium like the Internet?
On radio and TV you mostly know what is programming and what is a commercial. On the Internet, don’t count on it.
I don’t mean to sound as though I’m anti-Web. Our arrival on the Web,
which dates from 1996, has given UHF its worldwide presence. Of course it
will, more and more, force shifts in our business model, as it has done with
the record industry, Hollywood, and the newspapers.
Oh…and about that phrase with which I began? It was on a CBC radio
program called Outfront. Ironically, it’s one of the programs CBC cut last
June, for lack of funds. Until now the program has been free, only now no
one is paying.
“DOGS YES, DOG EARS NOT SO MUCH”
We hate those folded-down corners on magazines we just paid good
money for, and we know you do too. May we suggest a solution?
You see, oddly enough it’s the expensive copy that’s likely to be
tattered, torn, and… yes, dog-eared. We mean the newsstand
copy.
The reason is obvious. Where do copies sit around unprotected?
At the newsstand. Where do other people leaf through them before
you arrive, with remains of lunch on their fingers? At the newsstand.
Where do they stick on little labels you can’t even peel off?
Our subscribers, on the other hand, get pristine copies protected
in plastic, with the address label pasted on the plastic itself, not the
cover.
We know what you really want is a perfect copy, and if that means paying a little
less, then so be it.
As if that weren’t reason enough, there’s the fact that with a subscription you
qualify for a discount on one or all three of our much-praised books on hi-fi (see
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One more thing. Some newsstands run out of UHF four days after the copies
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reading other books easier. Includes in-depth
coverage of how the hardware works,
including tubes, “alternative” loudspeakers,
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lexicon makes this book indispensable. And it
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This long-running best seller includes
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How to compare equipment that’s not in the
same store. What accessories work, and
which ones are scams. How to tell a good
connector from a rotten one. How to set up
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Feedback
Box 65085, Place Longueuil
Longueuil, Québec, Canada J4K 5J4
uhfmail@uhfmag.com
lacking, not the tone arm.
I have heard your opinion about tube
equipment over the decades and all I can
say is I would never listen to a solid state
system for audio.
Richard T. Jobagy
WINDSOR, ON
We’re glad to hear it worked out for you,
bananas or Z-plugs anyway, so I had to Richard. We would point out, however, that
change at least one side. Given the high the Linn LP12 is a moving target. Though
quality of your reviews, I decided to it sort of looks the same as the original model,
change both ends, and replaced them it sounds totally different.
with the WBT nextgen spades. Before
I had received the new preamp/amp
Just a note regarding the Scheu
system, I had one week to test them with Premiere turntable review. I had the
I was wondering why you did not my Mimetism 15.2. And, indeed, there chance to audition one of these with
choose the BDP-05FD Blu-ray from is an improvement. I still do not under- a Schroeder arm. I was generally
Pioneer? I have the same Samsung stand why, because there does not seem impressed except for a speed instability
HDTV you have and am debating on to be a big difference in the amount of that was quite audible. It didn’t match
which one to go for (BDP-51 or 05).
metal between the two connectors, and my heavily-modified LP12, but it was
I value your opinion so any infor- I remain a bit skeptical about this theory. still impressive. Incidentally I hear that
mation that might help will be greatly Maybe, it is the sandwich structure of Linn has finally come out with a DC
appreciated. the WBT spade that allows a better motor; something I converted to on
John Kritikos contact?
mine years ago. I’m sure Linn’s price
Anyway, your article was right.
will be nowhere near the Origin Live
Martiat
Advanced
DCthe
kit that I use! John, after our experience with
first with a physical magazine,Philippe
our
Unlike
which forces
you to
turn pages,
BRUSSELS,
Now to your
Sony Blu-ray player, we can see
that the
on-line
version of UHF Magazine
helps youBelgium
along with technology.
Forsidebar on strobes:
previous
I think your
math is, er, shall we say,
Blu-ray standard is a work in progress.
Weclick on any title in the table of contents (on the
instance,
page),
considered whatever new player we
purchased
Incidentally,
John Carrick
and
you’ll be whisked
right Philippe,
to the article
itself. over “off.” + 1/3 to be an interim reference, and not
definiat table
Atlas of
wasadvertisers
less than ecstatic
to hear
from
aTurn
to the
on page
81 (and
that, by33
the
way, =is100/3
a
an
100/3
x 1/60 x 360 = 200 (exactly 200
tive choice. The BDP-11FD is not
an and
Eliteclick
you.
link),
on the name of a product or company, and
an instant
not 199.98) degrees per second.
model, but it is billed as having
the same
you’ll
be looking at the ad itself.
That works out to exactly 216 spokes
chipset as the BDP-09FD, which
is from
beenon
reading
And
then try I’ve
clicking
an ad…UHF since 1983,
mythe
math…and
Pioneer’s Elite line. It appears to have
it wastocalled
Hi-Fi Sound.
That
Ifbeen
you aare when
connected
the Internet,
you’ll be
taken using
right to
adver- perfectly doable. good choice, but how long it will tiser’s
remainWeb
our site
1983
issuedefault
had a Web
article
about Classé I think you are using the new “digital”
in your
browser.
math
that rounds
point of reference is anyone’s guess.
audio amps.
When
I read
the price
Those interactive
features
were
designed
for theofpaid
electronic
versioneverything off (with
By the way, Pioneer has entered
into but
a they
audible
results)!
this amp,
felt I would
own
of UHF,
workI every
bit as never
well on
thea great
free PDF
version
you’re “partnership” with Sharp for looking
future disc
system.The
Internet
(God, I hope I have this right!)
at. We
hope you enjoy
it. changed all that.
players. This could be a good thing, since
Armed with the knowledge from
Nick Dudley
Sharp over the past few years has made some reading your assessments of various
PORT COQUITLAM, BC
pretty…sharp design choices. Will it mean components over the years, and confirmthat future Pioneers will be rebadged Sharps? ing it with my own experience, I made
You mean we shouldn’t have calculated it
Who knows?
a decision to replace my Linn/Naim using Windows Vista?
system. I felt upgrading a turntable
I asked you previously about whether design from the seventies was the wrong
Have you heard of Sony Blu-spec
I should change the connectors of my way to proceed. On the advice from a audio CDs, promising to “reconstiAtlas Mavros loudspeaker cables. Then musician co-worker, I decided to take a tute quality sound equivalent to that of
I read your test in the last issue. I even chance on Decware. I also took a chance the studio master?”
wrote to John Carrick at Atlas, quoting and purchased an Orgin Live Calypso
Daniel Robichaud
your two articles, to know whether he turntable. I have been rewarded with a
MONCTON, NB
had tried it. He told me that it did not musical experience beyond anything I
make sense to replace a gold-plated OCC could have dreamed of in 1983.I am still
Yes we have, Daniel, and it is not what
plug with a WBT nextgen connector.
using the Ittok tonearm and the Asaka it sounds like. Is it a high-capacity Blu-ray
Meanwhile, I have upgraded my cartridge and getting results far beyond disc pressed into service as a very high qualsystem with the XP10 and X250.5 from anything I had heard before anywhere. ity audio disc? In fact, no. It is a convenPass Labs. The amplifier does not accept I know now it was the LP12 that was tional 16/44 Red Book CD, playable on any
One of the great pleasures of receiving UHF is reading Reine’s great articles.
Please put them into a book and publish
it.
Daniel Marois
GATINEAU, QC
UHF on line is interactive!
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    7    
Feedback
CD player. What is special about it is that
the authoring is done with the more precise
blue-violet laser employed for Blu-ray.
Supposedly it allows more precise carving of
the pits on the CD master. However it does
nothing to make the mass production of the
CD more precise, and that’s where the really
bad stuff happens.
In issue 82 and 84 you tested two
devices to get sound out of a PC/Mac
from the USB port. You said there were
three ways to get sound out of a Mac. I
think there is a fourth possibility you
don’t know about.
Each and every Mac model from
the MacBook to the Mac Pro have one
optical input and one optical output
(the headphone and microphone jacks
are hybrid analog/optical on all models
but the Mac Pro). For three years now I
have been using a Mac Mini as my main
audio source. The music is stored on an
external 1 TB USB hard drive and an
optical fibre links the Mini headphone
jack to a Benchmark D/A. I am enjoying
that setup a lot, even more so recently
thanks to you, now that you made me
8   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
discover I can buy HD music online. I
can now enjoy 24 bit/192 kHz music in
my living room!
Could you please test the optical out
and compare it with the Thingee and
Off-Ramp devices? I would be curious
to know which produces better sound.
Also I would recommend you test with
the music coming from an external USB
drive, since a lot of people will have that
kind of set-up and it probably influences
the musicality of the USB port.
Philippe Grégoire
MONTRÉAL, QC
We do know about the optical output,
which also exists on Apple’s Airport Express.
We will be doing exactly the comparison you
suggest in our next issue. Using an external
USB hard disc for this purpose is problematic, because USB 2.0 circuits have limited
current, and asking them to run both a hard
disc and an audio interface will not give
optimum results. Firewire is a better choice,
if of course your computer comes with it.
You have had the same experience
I have had (with Wawanesa insurance).
Years ago, when I was at university, my
albums were in my parent’s basement, a
flood occurred, vinyl floated all over the
basement. No claim was paid out for any
damages. My poor parents paid out of
pocket.
Several years later a similar incident:
water came out from the toilet, came
crashing down into the basement.
Luckily I had moved my Linn Karrik/
Numerik Linn LK1 and LK2 and LP12
out a few days earlier. They never paid
out fully. Glad you named them.
Glad to have met you and Mr. Earp at
the show sorry I took too much of your
time. Cheers. I still love the magazine
and still have the first issue.
Nick Lakoumentas
MONTRÉAL, QC
To be fair, Nick, Wawanesa had always
treated us well over a number of years.
Most insurance policies, incidentally, now
have a clause limiting liability for audio and
video software: CDs, LPs, DVDs, because
that’s what thieves prefer. Beyond $1000
you’re on your own, on pretty much any
policy.
Free Advice
Box 65085, Place Longueuil
Longueuil, Québec, Canada J4K 5J4
uhfmail@uhfmag.com
I have lately discovered high resolution 24/96 downloads and I’m impressed
with the quality of playback through my
laptop using an M-Audio Fast Track
Pro interface. This makes me wonder
if I should get rid of my CD players:
an Accuphase DP 500 and a Shanling
SCD-T200 SACD player.
I find the sound difference between
each of those players and my laptop
not so big, and I’m sure it can improve
dramatically if I use the right interface.
Your advice is vital here.
W hat wou ld be a not ver y
expensive(US$500-$1000) interface
between my laptop and amp that would
perform better than my M-Audio?
Would you recommend selling my
CD players and sticking to my laptop?
Things are changing so fast, and I’m
afraid those expensive CD players will
be obsolete in a very short time.
Welcome to the new staff at UHF.
Keep up the fantastic job this team has
been doing.
Jean-Paul Haggar
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt Actually, Jean-Paul, a CD player
won’t be obsolete as long as it keeps
doing something you want done. We do
believe that, at some point, these players
will be obsolete because people will stop
buying them, and those who own them
will use them less and less. That is what
happened to cassette decks, though they
still work as well as they ever did, and
some people still use them.
Your experience so far tells you that
the difference between your laptop
computer and your two players is not
large. Still, there is a difference. It is not
an inherent difference, as we noted when
we reviewed the Linn Klimax DS, but
making a computer sound like a very
good player takes a good deal of care...
and a good deal of money as well. Your
Fast Track Pro is aimed at small recording studios rather than audiophiles, but it
is unlikely that you can do significantly
better at the prices you mention.
What we expect to see is a strong
return of the standalone digital-to-analog converter. Most high end manufacturers had opted for single-box players,
largely because they can more easily be
made to work right. However there is a
growing demand for quality DACs that
can use a computer as a digital source.
Some of them have USB interfaces, and
we wouldn’t be surprised to see them pop
up with Ethernet connectivity as well.
Ethernet is an asynchronous system, and
it is immune to timing errors.
For our part, we are reluctant to
continue reviewing CD players that
don’t have digital inputs. They’ll work
for many years, but they are already
obsolescent.
While various incidents with pets
and children have brought me to downgrade to a relatively cheap (although
still quite enjoyable) cartridge, I would
like to make the move at some point to
a really nice moving coil, after I put up
an electric fence around the turntable
stand. For example I have heard the
Dynavector 20XL on a friend’s system
and it impressed me. I like my phono
stage, and because I like it I am tempted
to purchase the Quicksilver step-up
transformer as well. Still, I would like
to hear your opinion on the differences
(or lack thereof) among transformers.
John D.
MONTRÉAL, QC
We can give it to you pretty quickly
John. It’s extremely difficult to find
a step-up transformer that doesn’t inflict
major damage on the music, and that
includes some very expensive transformers we’ve heard. That’s a shame, because
a transformer of sufficient quality will
outperform the extra gain stage on an
MC phono preamp. Our feeling is that
winding a transformer capable of tiny
I quickly read UHF No. 86, dedicated
in large part to vinyl reproduction,
because I love my record collection, but
when you mention in the discussion of
phono stages the cost of manufacturing a
good step-up transformer for amplifying
the voltage of low-output moving coil
cartridges, you stirred up an old question
that has nagged me for years. I have been
tempted to make the move to a lowoutput moving coil cartridge but I have
never been able to find a good review, or
even a reasonably good discussion, of the
merits of different transformers.
My own system is composed of a
SOTA Nova vacuum turntable with an
SME series IV tone arm, a Denon DL110
high-output moving coil cartridge, two
Quicksilver M135 mono amplifiers
linked with Nordost Blue Heaven interconnects to a Quicksilver full-function
preamplifier, c.1989. The Spendor S
3/5 speakers are attached using single
Audioquest Type 4 cables.
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    9    
signals is a task that requires exquisite
skill, the sort of skill that is vanishing
in the modern world.
We haven’t heard them all by any
means, but we’ve heard some expensive
ones, and the results mostly weren’t
pretty. However we do have a review of
a step-up transformer, our first in many
years, in this very issue of UHF.
Feedback
Back in issue No. 21 you gave the
QED F79 speaker cable a good rating.
That is what I got 20 years ago.
Actually I still can’t afford expensive
cables but do cables go bad? I know there
can be physical wear, but these are like
new, connections have been tweaked
over the years. Could I do better? I can
afford a cable in the $5 to $6 a foot range.
Some Neotech and Kimber cables look
(sound???) interesting.
My next question is what would be
the best transport? I have two options:
an old Arcam Alpha-Plus with no issues
other than it now sounds terrible compared to new stuff, or a much newer
Oppo 981HD that sounds pretty good
when you consider the cost. I listen to
vinyl most of the time but still need to
spin CDs. One salesperson suggested
I could rip all my CDs, but that is not
something I will be doing anytime soon.
I enjoy spinning CDs (must be like a type
of vinyl addiction).
I will be purchasing a new Cambridge
DACMagic in the coming month, unless
you can suggest something better. I
have a large collection of downloaded
lossless music, so I need a USB input
on the DAC. I know the standard reply
to choosing gear is listen and choose.
Well I have, with a Buddy’s DACMagic
that he was kind enough to lend me for
a weekend. The verdict was…well there
was no verdict, we were not sure.
Keep up the good work. I used to
think you people at UHF were a little
crazy or “on” something, the way you
heard all these differences in amps,
cables etc. Well, 20 or so years later, I
must be nuts too, because I can hear the
differences, yet my hearing is not what
it was 20 years ago.
Scott Barta
LONDON, ON
No, but what you’ve picked up is
10   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
experience, Scott, which better lets you
evaluate what you hear.
The DACMagic looks like a pretty
good choice in its price range, which
is way below such products as the
Benchmark DAC1. Finding a transport
is harder. Cambridge once had its own,
designed to match the original DACMagic, but it no longer does. The CEC
belt-driven transport works very well,
and we own one ourselves. You can of
course use a standard CD player and
feed its digital output into the DAC. The
results may be less than predictable.
Do cables age? Yes, they probably do.
The reason so many cable manufacturers boast of their “oxygen-free copper”
is that oxygen is a vital ingredient in
corrosion. All the same, the copper
strands may corrode in time. They are
especially vulnerable at the ends, where
the wire leaves its sheath and enters the
connector. Reterminating an aged cable
can make it sound...perhaps not new, but
as though it had had a lifting and tummy
tuck.
I am in the process of “ripping” my
CD collection to a Mac Mini with a
500 GB hard drive. Currently, I am using
the optical out connected to an older
Aragon D2A. The optical cable came
from a local pro-audio store. For the $15
I paid, it is very obviously plastic.
I have been looking around for a
glass cable, and did find that a lot of the
high end cable makers also carry glass
TOSLINK cables. Prices seem to be
from around $200 to as much as $600.
Have you had experience with good
TOSLINK cables? I know it is worth
the change, but will price really make
a big difference in optical cable? Unless
the price is related to the quality of the
glass.
If all else fails, I will purchase a
USB/Firewire-to-coaxial converter,
probably from a pro-audio company like
M-Audio, or PreSonus, and use my Atlas
digital cable.
Tom Todorovski
TORONTO, ON
We have tried a number of fibre optic
cables, Tom, and we are preparing to
listen to some more. Our experience so
far: plastic TOSLINK cables don’t hold
a candle to a good coaxial digital cable.
Of course good coaxial cables aren’t
cheap either. As you note, several companies offer glass optical cables. Some
are indeed expensive, such as the one
from Wireworld (which we have tried,
however, and we liked it a great deal),
whereas others are inexpensive, such as
those from Amphenol and SonicWave.
We have yet to try them.
Incidentally, in a blind test some time
ago we confirmed the hypothesis that,
all else being equal, a 1.5 m long digital
cable will sound better than a 1 m cable.
We expect the same would apply to optical cables. We don’t know anyone who
makes a 1.5 m optical, though, and we
would suspect that a 2 m cable would be
the runner-up choice.
As a point of historical interest, we
might mention that there was once a
distinct standard for glass optical links,
set up by AT&T (yes, the people who sell
iPhones). No modern equipment comes
with the AT&T optical connector,
unfortunately, but glass fibres have been
adapted to the ubiquitous TOSLINK.
Advice
Feedback
Free
Back-to-front, my system consists
of: Equation 25 speakers, Actinote LB
speaker cables, Blue Circle AG8000
monoblocks, a Blue Circle BC3 Galatea
MK II preamp, a Sonic Frontiers DAC2,
a Harmonic Technology Platinum digital cable, and a Melos CD player. All the
interconnects are Wireworld Eclipse II
with Cardas RCA’s; all the power cords
are Cardas Cross and they plug into a
Chang CSL 6400 power conditioner.
First, since all of the components
in my system have vacuum tubes, I
shut the whole system down when I’m
not listening to it, in order to prolong
tube life. As I am often away from the
house, sometimes for weeks at a time for
work, I do not want to leave my stereo
powered all the time. With five separate
power switches to turn the whole stereo
on and off, I am considering having
a power switch on a dedicated power
circuit wired for the stereo, and would
like your opinion on whether this would
substantially degrade the sound or
negate the sonic advantage of putting in
a dedicated circuit. My goal is to have a
more convenient way to turn the stereo
on and off, without negatively affecting
the sound. If a regular wall switch in
the circuit would affect the sound, are
there higher-grade switches available
that meet the electrical code that do
not imprint on or degrade the supply
of power? Basically I’m looking for the
switch equivalent of a Hubbell hospital
outlet.
My next questions are about an
upgrade to the source, namely the CD
player. I am considering a used Ikemi or
Meridian 508.24 or a new CEC TL51XR.
I’ve heard and liked both the Ikemi and
Meridian in the past, but have not been
able to compare the two. Is there one that
you would recommend over the other?
Have you had experience with the new
CEC player based on the transport that
you already own; and if so, how would
it compare with an older player like the
UHF favorite, the Ikemi?
Third, what would be your suggestion for a good high-output MC or MM
cartridge to use with a Copland CTA305 phono section and an Oracle Delphi
MK II table? I have the Copland on the
way, mainly for its phono section so that
I can use my long dormant Oracle again
and get back into vinyl. I’m hoping that
sonically the Copland will be a match for
my Blue Circle Galatea, while having the
added convenience of a built-in phono
stage and remote. I think that the Blue
Circle is going to be very hard to beat,
and I might just use the Copland as a
standalone phono section.
Lastly, I would like to add my name
to the growing list of people requesting that you review Blue Circle Audio
components. I’m conscious that you are
a smaller publication and can’t review
everything on the market, but I think
that since Blue Circle is Canadian and
well established, their omission from
your reviews seems particularly conspicuous. I know that you have reviewed
the BC “Thingee” in the past, but that is
more of an accessory and I’d love to see
a review on one of their newer DC preamps or higher-end hybrid amplifiers.
Patrick Burek
HAMILTON, ON
Whew, what a set of questions, Patrick! Let’s see if we can come up with
some quick, glib answers.
If you’re frequently away from home,
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    11    
Get UHF on your desktop
anywhere in the world!
do go out of town and listen at high
end shops it is usually on a completely
different system, so it is very difficult to
determine the “sound” of an individual
component.
One possible problem is that my
preamp produces quite a bit of hiss when
no music is playing. The volume goes
from 1 to 50 and the hiss is steady until
about 40, when it becomes increasingly
louder, and at which point I can start
hearing the changes in volume as clicking sounds when increasing from 40 to
41, and a loud click at each increment to
50.
Simaudio assures me that this is the
background noise of the preamp, and the
unit has been back to them for a repair
when it stopped working completely, but
it still came back with the hiss audible
from my listening position. I can’t help
but think that this is covering up the
high frequencies.
I enjoy the sound of the system. It is
very captivating, smooth and detailed,
with a great midrange due to the three
www.magzee.com
way Energy’s. I hauled my PSB Stratus
Minis up from the basement and compared them to the Energy’s, and it didn’t
shutting everything down is a good idea Blue Circle products, but Blue Circle take long to realize that the Energy’s are
for a whole lot of reasons. Yes, adding is a boutique manufacturer who makes far better in all respects. But how much
a switch of any sort is going to add products in very small quantities. It better can it get? Missing is imaging and
resistance to the power circuit, but wait has happened that we have asked for a resolution, I believe.
Would a new preamp be a more pressa minute. Did we understand that your product for review, and that the company
ing upgrade than the speakers? On the
system will soon be fed from a dedicated was not in a position to supply it.
But that’s the luck of the draw, and other hand, I have always dreamed of
power line? Then you already have a
switch: the circuit breaker. Of course it in fact we have already received a Blue owning a pair of Focus Audio FS-788’s,
does degrade performance a little too, Circle product, scheduled for review in since I have never had floorstanding
speakers, but I wonder if these are out
but since both the electrical code and UHF No. 88.
of my league and would make the rest of
common sense make it mandatory, you
might as well use it.
My system is made up of a Simaudio my entire system the weak point. Your
The Ikemi player would probably be Celeste P-5003 preamplifier, Celeste advice, as always, is appreciated.
find
We one
don’t
version, amplifier
because you
Paul Hirvinen
a good choice, but if you
it mean
will this
W-4070SE
andalready
Energy know
Veritashow it works. It’s a PDF,
and
you
open
it
with
Adobe
reader,
etc.
THUNDER BAY, ON
have had a lot of use. You may want to 2.2i loudspeakers on Energy stands.
But
also haveMy
a paid
electronic
version,
which
is complete, without banners like
Linn
LP12, Ittok,
Adikt,
Valhalla
check out more modern
Linnweplayers,
this
one,
or
articles
in
fluent
gibberish.
Well, for now we would give the
such as the Akurate and the Classik. The turntable, Lehmann Audio Black Cube
one,
because
is complete,
has
to Linn
be ordered
card. Toour
open
preamplifier
undivided attention,
SEitphono
preamp,
and
Genkiwith
CD a credit
CEC player would not beThat
in the
same
it,
you
also
have
to
download
a
plugin
for
your
copy
of
Adobe
Reader
or
Acrobat.
league, though the CEC transport plus a player are not in question, since I am Paul. The P-5003 is not as good as the
receive
a userlooking
name and
allowpreamp
you to download
full copy
of
remarkable
W-4070SE
amplifier,
forpassword
either a to
better
or still your
good outboard DAC isYou’ll
another
matter.
the
magazine.
You’ll
need
the
same
user
name
and
password
the
first
time
you
open
A popular moderately-priced high- speakers, ones that will be able to keep but then you probably already know that.
on your
but in
only
the first
time. After You
that,should
it works
any to hear hiss from
notlike
be able
up computer,
with upgrades
source
components,
output MC cartridge isthe
themagazine
Sumiko Blue
other
PDF.
Point Special. For rather more money cables, and an eventual high end DAC listening position even if you live in an
the
For Talisman.
details, visit for
ourcomputer-sourced
Electronic Editionaudio.
page. ITo
buyfeel
an issue
or subscribe,
visit
unusually
quiet neighborhood.
the same company offers
also
MagZee.
The clicking sounds when you adjust
Goldring’s Eroica H is another possibil- that my power amp is good enough for
the volume are worrisome too. At the
ity. That’s hardly an exhaustive list, to a long while.
be sure.
Due to location I am not able to try very least we suspect wear on the volume
Finally, we are not against reviewing out preamps or speakers, and when I control, but a leaky capacitor can send
Advice
Feedback
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for C$4.30 including all taxes.
Imagine subscribing for as little as C$21.50.
Anywhere!
How the electronic version works
12   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
DC voltage into the control and cause
this symptom as well. We think this
aging preamp has given you all that it
has to give.
W hat to replace it with? Newer
Simaudio preamps would be a possibility.
That would mean at least the P-5.3, or
the P-7: more expensive but very good.
Another possibility is the Copland CTA305, a tube unit we still use in our Alpha
system. Incidentally, it has a very good
phono stage, which could advantageously
replace your Black Cube.
Now what about t he speakers?
We aren’t surprised that your Energy
speakers sound more impressive than
the smaller and simpler PSB’s, but we
can assure you that things can indeed
get better. Image and resolution are the
product of precise handling of tiny bits
of sonic information. Accurate reproduction of instrumental timbres depends
on the same thing. Your preamplifier
is the weak point right now, but once
it’s upgraded it will be time for better
speakers.
Could the Focus Audio 788’s be
the right choice? We don’t see why
not. They will represent a considerable
leap forward, and that’s what you want,
because small improvements are costly.
They will make your newly-refreshed
system sound its best, and they’ll have
the resolution to reveal in satisfactory
fashion the further improvements you
will continue to make.
All methods of plugging multiple
products into one power line are compromises, Mike. If you install four
outlet boxes — thus eight AC outlets
in all — the first pair will be providing
better power. That’s where you’ll want to
plug your amplifier, for instance, because
it needs all the current it can get. The
second outlet pair, being piggybacked on
the first, will be a little less good, and the
third and fourth less good yet. It’s easy
Advice
Feedback
Free
What do you think of four-outlet
electrical boxes instead of the conventional duplex outlet? My dealer
recommends this, but I worry about the
splitting of the primary electrical wiring
and its effect on sound.
Mike Ranfft
VICTORIA, BC
Exclusive North American Distribution
EUROPRODUCTS
Celebrating 12 years serving Canadian music lovers
www.europroducts-canada.com
to exaggerate the problem, however, and
if the installation is done properly the
performance hit will be minor.
But if you plug components into a
power bar, even an excellent one, you’ll
find similar compromises. The outlets of
the power bar will also be piggybacked,
and the current will first flow through a
long cord and an extra pair of connectors. That’s not likely to be better. Of
course some power bars are also power
line filters, and if they’re well designed
that is definitely the way to go.
604-522-6168
I have subscribed to your magazine
from the very first issue and continue
to look forward to each new one. Your
knowledge and candid assessment of
new products and industry events is very
refreshing and much appreciated.
I just acquired a used pair of Living
Voice Avatar OBX-R2 speakers — the
same speakers as in your reference
system. They are in perfect cosmetic
condition and sound wonderful. However, from the time I first hooked them
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    13    
not a solution, Ian. The fault is in your
power amplifiers, which have too high
a residual hum level. Contact Wyetech
about this.
Why didn’t you hear the hum with
your previous speakers? The more
sensitive the speakers, the louder an
amplifier’s residual hum or hiss will
seem. Totem speakers have relatively
low sensitivity, at 87 dB, whereas Living
Voice speakers have a sensitivity of 94
dB, well above average. The background
hum will be more than four times as
loud. This is a common problem with
horn speakers, which can have sensitivity
of 103 dB or more.
However hum should be inaudible
at listening position, and it seems likely
your amplifiers need service.
I would like to buy a stereo digital-toanalog converter with a volume control
to connect between my CD player and
purchased from the same gentleman. my integrated amplifier. The idea is to
Prior to inserting the LV speakers and improve the audio fidelity (the external
cables my system was dead silent. There DAC being higher fi than the internal
was absolutely no hiss or hum of any kind one) and allow me to adjust the volume
from the speakers (Totem Forest) or any of various CDs’ output without using
system component. I tried other speaker the volume control on my integrated
cables. However, the low level hum was amplifier (for recording purposes).
still present.
My components are not hi-fi (CD
My system consists of a Hovland player $250, integrated amplifier $500),
HP100 preamp, Wyetech Onyx mono thus I’m looking for a low budget DAC
amps, VPI TNT V turntable, Magnum and would be very grateful if you could
sue, and it is
Dynalab MD108 tuner, Bel Canto CD suggestuone
or fitwo
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You don’t mention how you will be
inherent in the speaker design. I look recording. If you’ll be doing it digitally,
forward to hearing from you as I weigh using a computer, you can choose
whether or not I should return the speak- software that lets you adjust volume
ers (which I am reluctant to do as they digitally. This is not ideal, and you may
sound fabulous).
prefer to use a digital recording box (the
Ian Mackay Edirol UA-25 is the one we use), which
KEMPTVILLE, ON you can connect to the tape out jacks
on your amplifier. Of course that means
Cables and speaker placement are the sound makes an unnecessary trip
Advice
Feedback
Free
dvice!
A
e
e
r
F
n
te i
Participa
up, a low-level hum came from both left
and right speakers, audible from within
the room when no music is playing.
The speakers are connected with
custom Silver Spirit speaker cables
made by Bogdan Audio, which I also
14   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
through analog. If the component you’re
looking for is to be at the heart of a much
higher quality system, you might look at
the Benchmark DAC1. It will, however,
be by far the most expensive link in your
present chain.
I own a 2.5 meter DH Labs Power
Plus AC cable. It has 12-gauge conductors and is fitted with Wattgate economy
power plug and IEC connector. My cable
serves to connect a Furutech ETP-60
to a dedicated hospital-grade AC outlet.
Would it make sense to upgrade the
connectors, and if so, what would be a
good choice? Otherwise, would a better
cable be in order ?
On another subject, there is a hum
coming from my Audio A nalog ue
Enigma. The Enigma is a three-in-one
small but heavy box (amplifier/CD player
and tuner). Less often, the hum can also
be heard from my Naim Supernait. The
hum varies in intensity and there is no
clear pattern of occurrence (day vs night).
Hopefully, the hum does not reach the
speakers, but I am curious to understand
its source. I cross my fingers that it does
not damage my equipment.
Jean-François Mondou
SAINT-HUBERT, QC
My current system consists of a pair
of KLH-6 speakers from the 1970’s,
which I consider to be superior, from
a purely musical point of view, to just
about anything out there regardless
of price (the only thing I’d ever trade
them for would be a brand new pair
of AR3a’s — which are impossible to
find — although the midrange on the 6’s
is actually more solid than the 3a’s.) The
Sixes were driven by an AR integrated
amp, also from the 70’s, which finally
gave out on me last year. I’m not going
to go on about the virtues of a $250 amp
that could knock the screw terminals off
any amp costing ten to twenty times or
more than that today. Suffice it to say
that it had a virtually perfect 10 kHz
square wave response, the likes of which
I do not see today in any amp at any price.
It had dual transformers for independent
channel supply, unlike the single toroidal
monsters one pays thousands of dollars
for today, and a damping factor of 100,
which allowed good tight control of the
woofers.
In any event, I am thinking of replacing it with either a Luxman 505u integrated amp or the Creek Destiny, both
of which are 100 watt per channel amps,
with the Luxman just edging out the
Destiny in distortion levels, frequency
response flatness, and noise and channel separation, not to mention having a
wider range of user features, such as tone
controls.
My problem is this: there is no way
I can hear them with the Sixes without
actually purchasing them, and since
there are no acoustic suspension designs
in stores these days — everything seems
to be some kind of ported vent design,
which I’ve never cared for — I have no
idea if they’ll work well with this kind
of classic speaker design. Also, the Sixes,
which have paper cones, and which
Advice
Feedback
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Jean-François, if the hum you hear
is mechanical, caused by vibration, we
wouldn’t worry about it. The source is
usually the power transformer, which
carries a considerable amount of 60 Hz
alternating current. Though the nowcommon toroidal transformers are supposed to be less prone to vibration than
the more traditional rectangular-shaped
transformers, they can be a source of
mechanical noise too. The noise can
increase somewhat with time, as heat
softens the compound in which the
transformer is sealed, and it can also vary
with ambient temperature. If the bolts
holding the transformer to the chassis
loosen slightly, the hum can get worse,
because then the chassis will be vibrating
as well. Unless the hum is objectionable
from listening position, we recommend
ignoring it.
You may be able to improve your
power cord by changing the economy
Wattgate connectors. Wattgate does
make several better models, and so by
the way does Furutech — we have had
good results with the Furutech copper
IEC plug. Before proceeding, however,
make sure that the plugs on your power
cable have not been sealed shut. If they
have, you’ll have to cut the cable short,
strip it, and dress the leads for the new
connectors. With a 12-gauge cable, that
won’t be a project you’ll look forward
to.
require a minimum of 25 watts rms, have
never been driven with more than 60
watts rms continuous, so I’m wondering
if there’s any danger of 100 watts blowing
the cones.
Sanford Klavansky
NEW YORK, NY
Well, Sanford, first off we suggest
not worrying about a possible mismatch
between the amplifier power rating
and the power that was commonly
recommended when your speakers were
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    15    
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is Alive and Well at
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SERVING
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604-522-6168
new. Chat with any competent speaker
designer over a beer, and by the second
brew he’ll ’fess up that his speaker power
rating doesn’t mean a whole lot, and
that’s especially true of the maximum
recommended power. But, you know,
people expect a number, so what are you
going to do?
When you think about it, it seems
obvious. What possible advantage could
there be to having the amplifier distort
and compress when you turn up its
volume? Would that protect the speakers? Quite the opposite. Distorted sound
is rich in unnatural harmonics that are
great for blowing tweeters. The problem
is at the other end of the power range:
can the amplifiers you’re looking at
drive these acoustic suspension speakers
adequately?
Raw power is not the only criterion.
The reason acoustic suspension speakers fell out of favor is that they were, by
modern standards, wickedly insensitive.
They required huge amounts of power.
You may know that modern speakers,
even those of conventional technology,
have sensitivity ratings around 92 dB.
Acoustic suspension speakers commonly
had sensitivity ratings that, in today’s
terms, might be around 78 dB. That
means the older speaker needed 25 times
more power than that efficient modern
speaker. At the same time these smaller
speakers had limited headroom.
The Luxman should have little difficulty driving your KLH speakers to a
respectable level. The Creek Destiny is
also a beefy amp, and should be up to
the job. We would add only not to put
too much stock in common published
specs such as harmonic distortion. Better
harmonic distortion figures are all too
often obtained through techniques that
are not good for music and other living
things.
I have a Hafler DH-200 amplifier
which I love. Unfortunately the left
channel has started to overheat which
causes the output to cut in and out.
I paid $400 for it used in 1986. Is it
worth repairing?
Paul Coaker
MISSISSAUGA, ON
Paul, unless you happen to know a
16   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
clever tinkerer who works cheap, we’d
say no.
The overheating could be caused by
the failure of a single component, such
as a resistor, but a more likely contributing factor is the gradual breakdown
of the silicone compound that bonds
the output transistors thermally to the
heat sink. The intermittent cutting out
may be a sign that the overheating is
causing failures elsewhere. After three
decades, it is also possible that certain
key components, such as capacitors, are
nearing the end of their useful life…
and the overheating isn’t helping them
any. By the way, the DH-200 used to be
available as a kit, so your amp may not
have been assembled at the factory.
We would organize a solemn funeral,
to express gratitude for the very good
value you’ve received all these years
Many new audio receivers list themselves as 7.1-channel, and also list dts ES
and Dolby EX as options.
Assuming 7.1 in Blu-ray indicates two
additional side channels and 6.1 standard
DVD means one speaker behind the
listener, how can the listener set up his
speakers? Must he choose to wire for
exclusively one format,, or will there be
enough speaker outs to handle 9 (counting the .1) channels? I was told that, in
at least one case, 9 outs means 7.1 plus a
stereo pair for a different zone.
Salespeople have not been informed
of the issue, much less the answer.
John Elliott
TRURO, NS
It’s confusing, no question, John.
Perhaps the nine outputs are for 7.2
channels, wit h prov isions for t wo
subwoofers.
Dolby EX and dts ES are obsolescent
playback formats. Intended to work with
conventional (i.e. highly compressed)
DVD sound, they use sonic steering
techniques like those in Dolby ProLogic to simulate extra channels. There
is an actual dts format with 6.1 channels,
but it is rarely used and is not likely to
have a future. Setting up speakers for
surround sound is difficult enough,
but setting up different configurations
for different discs…well, that way lies
madness.
The best sound available f rom
Blu-ray is uncompressed: either Dolby
TrueHD or dts-HD. If you have good
gear capable of handling it, we don’t suggest mucking it up by adding channels
that are just made up.
I recently came across your wonderful magazine while delayed in an airport.
I was particularly interested in a comment made by your editors in response
to a question about ripping CDs onto a
computer (issue No. 86, letter from Jeff
Tennant). In the response Windows
Vista is not recommended because
“with 16/44 data it lowers the volume
to 90% of normal, thus truncating the
bitstream.”
Could you please clarify what this
means? Is the audio file compromised
somehow as it is being ripped from the
CD (i.e., the resulting WAV file is now
an imperfect representation of the CD)?
Or is the comment referring to playback
using Windows Media Player (i.e., the
player somehow butchers a “perfect”
WAV file)? If it is the latter, can you avoid
the problem by using a different playback
program or an external DAC?
As you might guess from the questions, I have a Windows Vista computer
(64-bit) that I plan to use as the basis for
a music server.
Paul Rubas
BURKE, VA
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Internet is full of complaints by Vista
users who have found that audio from
their computers has become low, hissy,
or even inaudible.
Good news: the release candidate for
Windows 7 has arrived and can already
be downloaded. Here’s hoping it doesn’t
cause more problems than it solves.
As for Windows Media Player, you
should definitely use something else.
Foobar is known to work well, as is
JRiver.
FREE ADVICE ON LINE!
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Paul, you may be better off with the
64-bit version of Vista than the majority
of Windows users, who use the 32-bit
version. Vista is a whale of a big system,
and its processing overhead often causes
glitches. Pro audio users, the ones who
don’t use Macs, complain about it.
Our warning about Vista quoted the
advice of Steve Nugent of Empirical
Audio. If he is correct, it would mean
that Vista lowers the volume, and thus
the resolution, of music played through
it. However we don’t know whether
that blanket statement stands up. We do
know that, with Vista, Microsoft altered
radically the way Windows handles
audio. Certainly it did so for good
reasons, but the change caused huge
problems for sound card manufacturers,
whose drivers no longer worked well,
or indeed no longer worked at all. The
A QUIET REVOLUTION
FEATURES
A Slimmer Montreal Show
O
f course the show was slimmer this year, and unless
you’ve just landed from an
extended vacation on Venus
you know why.
Yet the exhibitors I talked to were
quite happy with their investment. Visitors had still turned out in droves, and
fewer rooms meant more visitors per
room. Elementary. Still, some exhibitors
had a wish list. See Looking Ahead on
page 20.
The visitors had their own wish
list. The Sheraton has narrow room
entrances that turn into bottlenecks
when there is appreciable traffic. What
about a better venue?
The smaller exhibitor list had an
upside. Some of the noisiest and most
annoying and inconsiderate exhibitors
were among the absent. Of course you
don’t expect me to name them, or do
you? On the other hand, Mutine wasn’t
there either, and that company’s twin
rooms had often been described as an
oasis in the middle of the desert. More
18   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
attendance next year? We can hope.
One aspect of the show that both
surprised and pleased me was the continuing — and growing — strength of
vinyl. There were many good turntables,
not only on show but actually spinning
records. You can see just a few of them
on page 23. Better yet, and in contrast to
some years past, they were set up so that
the advantages of vinyl were apparent
even to those who were born
digitally.
Def initely notable is the
analog-oriented tee shirt on page
24. Too bad the slogan can’t be
translated into French!
Something else that pleased
me was the presence of at least
a few products that gave the lie
to the all-too-common claim
that hi-fi is only for the rich and
crazy. An example: the Lil’ Doosey
monoblock, shown on this page. Built
by a company with the possibly appro-
by Gerard Rejskind
priate name of Mass Fidelity, the little
amp (class AB, too, not some offshoot
of class D or T) is $399. Unfortunately
that’s each, but even so… The amps were
playing through a pair of Reference 3a
De Capos, and sounding sweet as far as
I could tell in the questionable acoustics
of the hallway.
Then t here’s t he JohnBlue JB3
speaker — that’s the grey one at bottom
right on the next page. Right next to it
is the KingRex amplifier, which really is
a class T amplifier. Those, plus the Sony
DVD player that was the source, would
go for under $1000.
But I also have an eye for truly
luxurious goods, such as the Arabesque
glass speaker on the next page. That has
a story behind it. It’s the product of a
company called Crystal Cable, founded
by Gabi van der Kley, shown here with
her speaker. What’s surprising is that
Gabi’s husband is the boss of Siltech
Cable. “Are they still married?” wondered Steve Bourke. Indeed, and in fact
there was a Siltech poster in one corner
of the large room.
That room was in fact an impediment,
and it was almost exactly square besides.
The first day the speakers sounded
awful, despite the upscale Simaudio gear
plugged into them, suggesting that the
45,000 € price
ting mixed reviews
for its sound (I rather
liked it, actually), but
the sheer practicality
of the unit was obvious to everyone.
Another new speaker was the Avalon Aspect, bottom left
on the next page. The lines of this $8500 speaker evoke the
familiar angular Avalon shape. Teamed with a Clearaudio
Performance turntable and VTL tube electronics, it exhibited
power and dynamics, and a broad range of frequencies.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the two impressive-looking pillared components at left, a CD player and a preamplifier.
They’re prototypes from Exposure, and if
you associate that British
company with austere
chassiswork, perhaps
they grabbed your eye.
They certainly grabbed
mine. Here’s
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    19    
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might be going into mere glitz.
On the final day the speakers had been repositioned,
and they began to sound truly
excellent. In a better room, this
might be a really fine performer.
The speaker above left is an interesting one, from Winnipeg. The Coherent 8 Phy
Si is faced with
flaming birch,
an old-growth
wood you can’t
find anymore
(Indians used
to make fast
canoes from it).
But 19th Century
wood mills were a
little careless, and
some of their stock
wound up at the bottoms of
rivers. Well preserved by the water,
it is a treasure from the past. A pair runs
$14,500.
The source, incidentally, was
an all-digital component shown at
the bottom of the next page, and
still in pre-release form. You load
your music into it, and then play it
back the way you want. It was get-
Looking Ahead
incidentally,
and you can
expect to read
more about
t hat i n ou r
The exhibitors at this year’s Salon
pages shortly.
were scarcer than usual, and no one
Suffice it to say
is more keenly aware of it than CEO
that it is one of
Michel Plante.
the most excit Would the Salon even break even?
ing recent devel“That’s not even certain,” he told us,
opments in the
and he plans to canvass the stakeholdworld of digital
ers — that is, the people who do or should
audio.
exhibit — on what he should do next.
The speaker
When the torch was passed to him three
at bottom right is
years ago, he moved the show from the
the Verity Parsifal
Delta hotel to the huge Centre Sheraton
Monitor. If it looks
complex, which offered a much greater
smaller than you
array of large rooms to accommodate
expect a Verity
companies like Apple, Sony, Canon and
speaker to look,
Nintendo, to choose only those examples.
it’s because it is the top
And it worked…once. But it was clear this year that the Salon’s core clientele, the part of the Parsifal fullhigh end two-channel industry that has kept it going over more than two decades, range speaker, mounted on a stand of
was what remained strong.
adjustable height. It’s $10,000 the pair,
And several owners of major stores told us that what still works for them in a not including either the stand or the
time of trouble is two-channel stereo. More than home theatre.
Rocco subwoofer (Verity is maintaining
A number of exhibitors confided in us what their own wish is: a move back to the its penchant for operatic names — Rocco
Delta, with its acoustically superior
Plante
has
same
thing. And
a character
Beethoven’s opera
rooms.
For years
now,
weheard
have the
been
publishing,
on ourwas
Web
site, a free in
PDF
he knows he has work to do. “I’m version
tired of of
advertising
that someone like Marantz Fidelio, sung by a bass). Nice-sounding.
our magazine.
will be there,” he said, “and then getting
a couple
of receivers.”
was the impressively Thejust
reason
is simple.
We know you’re looking forDisappointing
information, and
In August we got the word: thethat
Salon
move,
but notwhy
back
to thecome
Deltatowith
styled
loudspeaker
shown at top
is will
almost
certainly
you’ve
visit our
site.Herald
And that’s
why
its impossibly-congested elevators,
the what
Bonaventure.
It sits atop
a hugeto be
left
on page 22.large
Looks like the natural
webut
givetoaway
some competitors
consider
a startlingly
convention space (which will be hosting
the
Home Show
amount
ofNational
information…for
free.that week) and child of B&W, no? In fact this $7000
has loading docks aplenty, as well as
very
own give
Métro
station.
chosen
dates:
self-powered
speaker is from China. The
itsWe
would
it all
away The
for free,
if we
could still
stay in business.
March 25-28 (the 25th is for trade andRecent
press only).
accompanying
figures indicate that each issue is getting
downloaded as electronics
many
Got suggestions? Drop by the show’s
Webtimes,
site: www.salonsonimage.com.
as 100,000
and that figure keeps growing. looked just as impressive. This gear has
Yes, we know, if we had a nickel for each download…
h o p i n g t h eTruth
y other
times
I’vebusiness
heard it,
it was
potential,
is, we’re
in the
of but
helping
you enjoy
music though
at home
sound as good
fedbest
from
a PS conditions.
Audio player
that
may too.
forWe’ll
now do
it’swhat
a little
under the
possible
And
movies
we need
have
been
working
quite to
perfectly.
as they look.
bland. I want to
to do innot
order
to get
the
information
you.
That player,
theyou
way,
was the
O n e m o rOf
e course,
keepeditions
an eye on
we alsoby
want
to read
our one
published
too.it.We
I had
heard
in this
Vegas
some
s p e a ker : hope
t he that,
having
read
far,playing
you’ll want
to of
read on.The next show
Audio Physics Reference Recordings’ remarkable HRx we’ll be covering
Virgo, shown recordings. I wanted to get a second is of course CES
at top right. It listen, but on subsequent days the lineups in Vegas in early
should have were long…which may of course be a January. The Monsounded ter- good sign.
treal Salon returns
We’ve done our own experiments on the final weekend
rific, as it has
with HRx, in March at the new
venue, t he spect ac u la r Hotel
Bonavent u re.
Did I mention
the four-season outdoor
swimming
pool?
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20   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
Touring the Show With Guests
“Y
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    21    
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u know,” said Marc as we by Albert Simon
o
tal Arabesque speakers in another room,
were going up the stairs to
Marc was doubtful. After listening to
another level, “we can spend two hours sitting my Schubert’s Stabat Mater CD, he looked at me with raised
together on the couch at home, Carmen and eyebrows, “It sounds even better,” he exclaimed and I pointed
I, listening to music.” Reaching the landing he paused, and to the help the stunning speakers got, in this case a combinaadded dreamily, “We just sit there quietly, eyes closed.”
tion of Moon CD-5.3 player, Moon P-5.3 preamp and W-5.3
Marc had met me at the entrance after leaving his office, power amp. He nodded.
and we were starting the tour, planning to continue with
The large room of Multi-Électronique featured a pair of
Carmen as soon as she could join us. Marc is a long time reader huge, third-generation Focal Grand
of UHF and, like other readers, he has learned to trust his ears. Utopia EM speakers. At 573
He is knowledgeable about audio gear but rarely talks about it lbs each, they are heftier than
for the sake of technical features. He’d most audiophiles, and proved
rather talk about the Montreal Sym- they can speak louder than most
phony Orchestra concerts they attend when driven by the Esoteric line
each season, or the youth brass outdoor of power amps linked to the P-01
concerts near Sherbrooke, which they transport, G-ORb clock unit and
never miss in the summer.
a mono D-01 DAC for each chan Thinking of eventually upgrading nel. The result was a spectacular
his amplifier, he was quite keen on lis- performance of Dvorak’s New
tening to the new units from Simaudio. World Symphony by the Vienna
After a few minutes he asked to listen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted
to the CD he had brought, Christopher by Istvan Kertesz. Did I say specHogwood’s version of Mozart’s Eine tacular? It was riveting to hear
Kleine Nachtmusik with the Academy this original Decca performance,
of Ancient Music. I find period instru- recently remastered as an SACD/
ments, especially higher strings, dif- CD hybrid by Esoteric using
ficult to reproduce. They often sound their best equipment — most of
thin to me, lacking in volume and it found in that room — and you
resonance. That’s what I was thinking may be glad to know that they also
when we heard the first movement with produced a 200 gram vinyl LP
Simaudio’s new line of Moon i-5 inte- of that performance. We walked
grated amp and CD-.5 player. “I wonder out silently and blended with
why the musicians sound so distant,” the rest of the world in the
said Marc. I thought they sounded sur- hallway.
prisingly good, considering the price of
We then met Carmen and
these high quality, entry-level units. A entered the Filtronique room, feaproject which started two or three years turing a Scarlatti dCS player, an Audio
ago, explained Simaudio’s Gilbert Guimond, a Research preamp, an Ayre power amp and a pair of Klimt
way of reaching a wider range of potential customers through Series speakers from Vienna Acoustics. An LP version of Anne
a wider range of outlets. Well done, I thought.
Bisson’s recent album Blue Mind was on. Carmen and Marc
But when Marc heard his CD played through the much both said how natural it sounded,
more expensive new combina- Carmen noticing that the piano
tion of an i-3.3 amp and CD-3.3 was superbly round. “We can
player, a large
easily hear all the
smile appeared. Clockwise from top right: notes well sepa“ T h a t ’s q u i t e t h e m a s s i v e Fo c a l rated, even in the
a d i f f e r e n c e ,” Gra nd Utopia E M, softest parts,” she
he said, staring Grant Fidelity’s version added. She didn’t
at the image in of the famed LS3/5a, care for Mozart’s
space. I had to the original Laf leur Nachtmusik on CD,
agree. It was truly Audio speaker (in a however, saying she
wonderful.
non-release finish), and “much preferred
Noticing the the new Spendor A-6 l i sten i ng to t he
transparent Crys- speakers.
pia no” ( ye s, she
might be part ial At left: the dramatically styled speaker ent textures. “It
to t he inst r u- from Herald. At right: the return of sounds so different
m e n t , s i n c e Pierre Gabriel’s Presence II speaker. from everything
she plays piano Below: the PMC OB1 speaker
we’ve heard so far,”
at home), and
said Carmen. “It’s
we all enjoyed synthesizers joining forces to unglue almost as if there
S c h u b e r t ’ s the wallpaper our collective nails were were to o muc h
Stabat Mater, desperately attempting to scrape. What of it,” she added,
Marc noticing a sorry time it might be if all that music trying to express
how different it lovers know are piles of various tunes, her a mazement.
sounded here.
irreverently played by unknown groups “They never had
A s we p r o - with no reference to the original pieces, turntables such as
gressed we came their music reduced to tunes, lasting this one in those
up on t he C D no longer than a song, fitting the short days,” said Marc,
version of Blue attention span of people raised on a fast- “to really appreciMind played in food diet of random play.
ate the quality of
anot her room,
There. I feel better now.
the recordings they
and something
Back at Gemme Audio, a wonder- made.”
ver y interest- ful jazz piece was playing and Carmen
We e n t e r e d
i ng happened. danced along as she walked in. It featured another spacious
No, this free version is not complete, though you could spend a couple
Ca r men c a l led me the Phénix Green Gem monitors coupled ro om to l i s t en
of hours reading it. Want the full version?
aside. “Why does it sound kind of cut with a pair of large 38 cm subwoofers to t he recent ly
You can, of course, order the print version, which we have published
up?” she asked in a hushed voice. “When built into a rare wood cabinet. The designed Parsifal
for a quarter of a century. You can get it from our back issues page.
we heard it before, it flowed, it was like CD player and amplifier were made in Ovation speakers by
But we also have a paid electronic version, which is just like this one,
a wave, we flowed along with it,” she France by Neodio. You should have been Verity Audio, coupled
except that it doesn’t have annoying banners like this one, and it doesn’t
added. (I’m not making this up, I wrote there to see Carmen and Marc jump off with the Rocco subwoof- ers. A track
have articles tailing off into faux Latin. Getting the electronic version is of
her exact words in my notebook right their seats when the next piece began. from The Tango Saloon was playing
course faster, and it is also cheaper. It costs just $4.30 (Canadian) anywhere
then.) I looked at her with a reassurIt was Aaron Copland’s on the dCS Scarlatti player, an album
in the world. Taxes, if they are applicable, are included.
ing smile and said that, with a few
Fanfare for the Common described as a joyful blend of “…Piazzola
It’s available from MagZee.com.
words and an image, she had just
Man, and it opens with and Morricone…mixed with country,
expressed the difference between
a sudden, thunderous jazz, Cuban and electronic music…” It
digital and analog. I watched Marc
blast of bass drum and was indeed a joy to see the instruments
and he had the audiophile’s I-toldlarge gong. “The trum- freely dancing in front of us around the
you-so kind of grin.
pets are beautiful,” said pyramid-shaped Nagra power amplifier.
Contrast that with the other
Carmen later, appre- “It is so clear,” said Carmen, “that we can
extreme. I’ve got to tell you this.
ciating the shiny brass easily distinguish the individual sounds
Later that day I went to the
sound qualit y we all of the various instruments.” I don’t know
room where Lafleur Audio speakheard, and Marc added why I added, “It’s as if the musicians left
ers were featured. I know how
that this system is well the room and their instruments started
good they sound and Steve had
matched to the power to play all by themselves.”
been impressed and suggested
of the sound.
In the Divergent Technologies room,
that I give them a listen. When
In the middle of the Marc’s CD was given a magic treatment,
I arrived, there was a big young
large Coup de Foudre and Carmen remarked that the sound
guy sitting in the front seat, in
room, stood a pair of was mellower than in other rooms.
a room slightly bigger than the
W ilson Audio Ma x x I noted that it encouraged us to take
elevator that brought us. With a
Speakers linked to a more time and listen longer. “That’s it,”
booming voice, he was asking the
pair of superbly styled she confirmed. The true reasons may
very polite and courteous person
Pathos power amps and have been the emmLabs CDSA player,
in charge to play his CD, a track
a Clearaudio turntable. Antique Sound Lab amplifiers and the
called The Prayer. “This is a big
T he mu sic of Ho m e Reference 3a Episode speakers.
piece, pump up the volume!” he
Cookin’, the 1958 soul
“Aaah!!” sighed Marc as soon as he
ordered. “Can your speakers play
jazz recording by The heard Mozart’s Nachtmusik in the Blueloud? I listen very loud!” And, in
Incredible Jimmy Smith, bird room, “look at the space!”
this tiny room, the rest of us
filled the room, creating
“Its beautiful,” added Carmen — not
were subjected to a catastrophic
a 3-D stage filled with too many words, too busy listening. They
imitation of Carl Orff’s Carmina
a wonderfully natural were standing in front of the new SpenBurana with choirs, percussion and
sound and transpar- dor A6 speakers, the music originating
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22   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
A
M
G Zee
just seems…too
round,” and Laetitia
would add, “the highs
are not quite clear…”
As I said, scarce.
Then we entered the Pierre
Gabriel room, where the Presence II speakers were featured, recalling
their debut 15 years ago. Everything
else was by Jadis, except of course for
the Pierre Gabriel cables. I wanted
them to hear a track of Sur les Quais, a
great CD by Daniel Mille’s ensemble of
small accordion (called accordina), piano,
double bass, guitar and
drums. The dimly-lit room seemed illuminated by the freshness of the playing
and the irresistible
rhythm. Laetitia
and Denis
uttered not a
word, staring
intently at the stage
created in front of them and
felt, to use Denis’ own words “into
the music.” We then listened to Anne
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    23    
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they felt the need to talk
about their experience in
high fidelity over a cup of
coffee. I had introduced
Denis and their two teenagers last year to the same
event in Montreal, and
during the following
months, that visit had
from the Exposure CD player through led t hem to Mutine products. With
the Exposure 3010S integrated amp. “It the help of Pascal Ravach they now have
doesn’t have the roundness of vinyl,” said an excellent system at home. It was a
Carmen on the way out. (Interesting family decision, and they were happily
to listen to her, I thought, she already surprised to report that their teenagers
UHF on your
sounds like a old-timer.)
were desktop
really enjoying listening to music
A sound that really caught their now. “I thought high fidelity meant that
interest was in the Audiophonie room. what you hear must always be equally
Turntable manufacturer Thorens has beautiful,” said Laetitia, “and that’s
produced a triple LP celebrating its not what we noticed with some of our
125th anniversary, and one of the jazz recordings.”
“Well, your system is trying to reccuts was playing on the Oracle Delphi
reate theC$4.30
original venue,” I suggested,
MkV turntable, the signal going
through
UHF
anywhere,
the Parasound JC2 preamp, a pair of “it reproduces the event as faithfully as
taxes.
and if there are flaws they’ll be
Parasound JC1 power amps, and including
reach- possible,
well reproduced too.”
ing us through a pair of British-made
www.uhfmag.com/
“I remember when I first met Denis,”
PMC OB1 speakers and APC
Power
ElectronicEdition.html
Conditioner. “I can’t get over the sound she continued dreamily. “He used to
that’s coming out of this system,” said explain everything to me and helped
Marc, soon after taking his seat. “It me discover all kinds of music. After
sounds as if we’re right there, live,” added we got married we moved to an
old house with our kids. There
Carmen. At the end of the piece some
was charm and a wonderful
atmosphere, the music was
always on and we used to
dance with the children. A
few years later, we moved to a new
house, the architecture was plain,
lines were straight, everything
seemed bare. There was no
more music at home,” There
was sadness in her eyes. “And
now, in an older house again,
of the performers chat briefly on with our new system, music is back.”
stage and Carmen, caught by surprise, Large smile.
We went from room to room and
suddenly turned around to see who was
I let them choose the ones in which
speaking in the room.
The next day I met with Laetitia they wished to sit and listen, my
and Denis, and before starting our tour point being to record their impressions as any other visitors to the
Clockwise from top left: the Oracle Delphi Salon. Having lived with a good
M kV, t he Clearaudio Innovat ion, system at home over a few months,
the Clearaudio Champion, amateur their comments were…well,
designer Sylvain Pichette’s hand-built scarce. A subtle glance at each
table (not for sale unless of course you other, a we’re-done-here kind
twist his arm), and the Clearaudio of nod, a what-can-I-say kind
Performance.
of sigh with raised eyebrows.
Sometimes, Denis would say “It
the smile, you say?
T hey fou nd t he ecofriendly Coherent speakers
fascinating, when I explained
that they were made of solid
burl maple harvested in water
up to 18 metres deep. They
had no comments on the
sound, however (which I
thought was quite good). And
they blended silently with the
slow crowds in the hallway.
By the way, as you walk through the Laetitia briefly shook her head, trying
corridors and the many different rooms, to get back to reality, and simply said
did you ever take time to spot the two “Vinyl … Whaou!” which means Wow!
extreme categories of audiophiles? There (see formidable).
are the ones who chat constantly, before,
They also both loved the new Small
during and after listening to every is Beautiful, Fidelio’s latest release, and
single system they encounter, having an their recent Deserts by the ensemble
opinion on everything and insisting on La Nef on DVD-Audio. Couldn’t get
sharing it. Then you’ll notice the others, enough of the lively percussion and 3-D
the silent types who travel in a daze, imaging.
However, having heard CDs and
it seems, room to room, floor to floor,
wrapped up in their thoughts, yet aware LPs in various rooms, including the two
of every new product, as they gather with versions of Anne Bisson’s Blue Mind,
a slow and practised reach, every single Laetitia admitted she preferred LPs
in every case. “I can hear the silences,
piece of information and pamphlet.
In one of the Coup de Foudre rooms, somehow,” she said. “I can’t hear them on
Sam Hopkins’ blues LP Lightnin’ was a CD.” Denis smiled knowingly again.
playing on a Clearaudio turntable with (Chances are they will eventually add a
a tube-powered Leben CS600 integrated turntable to their home system and bring
amp and DeVore Fidelity’s The Nines his preciously-guarded don’t-ever-touchback
speakers. “Wonderful atmosphere,” said it LP collection
pento? life. Methinks
hat w ill hap
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Denis. “I wonder if it’s duepag
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Ofofcomy visiting couple. For those of you music — the sound so remarkably light
who are still wondering if they liked it, and transparent. “It can be powerful
formidable can be translated as terrific, and, at the same time, so delicate,”
Bisson’s intimate interpretation of a tremendous, gorgeous, smashing, splendid said Laetitia, “no need to listen louder,
Brahms Volkslied (folk song) masterfully and, of course, awesome. The new Avalon one can hear the fingers sliding on the
recorded by Fidelio (using their tube Aspect speakers were linked to a Shindo strings.” Denis was quiet for a while then
microphone). No comments during preamp, uniquely handcrafted in Japan. added, “I am turned off by the showy
the music. More staring. “I felt myself “This preamp is formidable (see above),” demonstrations this year. I find myself
letting go of everything and going off explained André, a UHF reader I met attracted to the simplicity of the sound
with the music,” explained Laetitia once right outside that room, “I thought I now.”
we were out in the hallway, “I still have needed to replace my speakers, and then
Back to Marc for a bit. We walked
it going in my head.” Denis appreciated I tried this preamp in my system. It’s an
it too, though he would have preferred amazing unit!”
it louder. “I need to feel I am getting
In the Audiophonie room another Top left: an exhibit by a local audio
into the music, that I am part of it,” he encounter with analog, Tony Bennett museum named for recording pioneer
explained. “At home, we’re often telling singing Chicago with Basie’s orchestra Emile Berliner. Top right: a Pathos
him to turn it down,” added Laetitia with swinging away. Denis noticed how preamplifier
a tolerant smile. Sound familiar? Minus crystal clear everything sounded and
Features
Feedback
r acti
e
t
n
i
s
’
t
i
Yes,
24   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
ve
Top: Carmen and Mark
Bottom: Laetitia and Denis
the double basses…
well, they sound the
way double basses
actually sound.”
The next piece
we heard was Hugh
Masekela’s Stimela
(the last cut on side 6
of the Thorens 125th
Anniversary LP). As
it progressed, building its bitterness
into a fury, people
stopped moving around us, rooted to the
floor or nailed to their seat, including
Marc. I, of course, was the only sane one
who knew that it was only a recording,
and that we were just sitting in a hotel
room.
“What do you think I’m going to do,
as soon as I get home?” asked Marc on
his way out. Read a book or prepare a
meal, I thought. “Listen to music on my
system,” he answered with a smile and a
sparkle in his eyes.
Back to Laetitia and Denis and some
closing comments. They wanted to know
why Anne Bisson’s voice sounded more
natural on her Blue Mind LP than when
she sang the same songs live during her
concert (which we had attended at the
Salon earlier that same day). I
reminded them that her voice
was amplified during the concert, in order to fill the huge
hall, and so was her piano and
the instruments played by the
other two musicians. We all
agreed, however, that decent
recordings of live concerts,
in general, provide the best
experience of an event, even if
one has to sacrifice some level of
sound quality. “Supertramp live
is fantastic,” she said, “and yet
the studio versions of the same
songs don’t move me.”
“There is something similar with a great action film
documentary,” I added, as an
analogy. “You almost expect
the image style to be hurried
and kind of grainy. It says we
were there and that’s how it really
was.”
Denis was quietly thinking
about what he wanted to express
before he left. “When the music sounds
great, I can really get into it, let it envelop
me,” he said, “and when it’s over, I feel
a real sadness. Just like a good book
that you’ve read too fast because you
were totally absorbed in it, and you find
yourself slowing down as you reach the
last pages.”
They got ready to go. And then all of
a sudden he asked me ( I’m not making
this up, honest.) “Do you know what I’m
going to do, as soon as I get home?”
I knew the answer this time, but
before I could reply Laetitia answered
for me: “Listen to more music on our
system, of course.”
And she smiled with a sparkle in her
eyes.
Features
Feedback
into another large room and were
greeted by Frank Sinatra’s voice in full
swing. The front and middle parts of
that system were exclusively Bryston
models, the BCD-1 player and BDA
DAC, the BP26 preamp leading to a
pair of hefty 28B–SST mono amps. The
speakers were the new Martin-Logan
CLX speakers (the curved electrostatic
panel handling frequencies above 360
Hz), and all those happy units enjoyed
clean AC power from Torus Isolation
Transformers. Frank Sinatra’s voice and
band loved it. Stevie Ray Vaughan then
sang Tin Pan Alley. “Do we have to go
elsewhere?” asked Marc. I asked to hear
American Fantasy, a homage to Leonard
Bernstein’s West Side Story played live by
the Safri Duo of percussionists joined
by two pianos. The last track, America,
starts quietly with the four musicians
clapping in a complex rhythm, each
occupying a clear location on the stage,
each pair of hands sounding different
from the others. On most systems the
clapping of each pair of hands sound all
the same, and the space between them
disappears. It was also wonderful to hear
the whole piece build up into full percussive power cheered by an extreme piano
frenzy, reaching the final climax with
a huge bass drum bang as the audience
exploded in fireworks of applause. Wish
you were there.
Marc then wanted to listen to the
opening of Mozart’s Nachtmusik and I
could see him nodding along, smiling
widely. “We can tell the double basses
are located at the back,” he said pointing
to the far side of the stage, “not near the
violins playing in the front.”
We also loved the Pierre Gabriel
room, where we were treated to the
incomparable Felix Leclerc appearing
suddenly in 3-D, singing, of course, Moi,
mes souliers. But, before leaving, Marc
wanted to listen to the Audiophonie
system again. We arrived in a hushed
room and sat among the silent crowd.
After listening to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
he was all excited, “Quite different, huh?
The violins are period instruments, and
they are like silk here,” he explained, “and
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    25    
sit, a clear indication that the customer
is expected to get a quick listen and then
move along to the cash register. The
sources are all turntables, since stereo
FM is only a dream, and to a modern
eye those tables mostly
do n’t c ut it . T he
Good Sound
Feature
Feedback
Nuts&Bolts
T
he economy is a wreck. Actually it’s been a wreck for a
long time, but we’ve all been
pretending it wasn’t, and
we’ve only now been forced to face the
truth. It’s like recognizing you have termites only when you were on the second
floor and you suddenly find yourself in
the basement.
For the high end industry, it’s the
second stage of a double whammy. First
there’s the Internet phenomenon, which
has turned a lot of business models
upside down. Hot on its heels, there’s
the new age, in which conspicuous nonconsumption has become cool. And so
consumers don’t buy. If they do, they get
it on-line.
Let’s take a deep breath.
We’ve seen this movie before. True,
last time the movie was 16 mm black and
white, this time it’s 3-D IMAX. The
principles haven’t changed, though. And
that gives me a pretext for repeating what
I’ve written in the past.
With updates, of course.
The first section is from The Plot to
Kill Hi-Fi, drawn most recently from
UHF No. 72. The second is adapted from
my book, The World of High Fidelity. It
was written some 15 years ago, but you’d
be surprised how little I had to change.
Lessons from the past
The year is 1960. I’m a student, with
a need for money for books, fees and a
place to sleep. And I have a job that is
perfectly in line with both my interests
and my eventual livelihood.
I sell hi-fi equipment.
If you could travel back in time and
walk into my store, you’d find much of
it strangely familiar. Clearly it is what
would later be called a mid-fi store,
with a listening room that is little more
than an alcove, lined with cables and
loudspeakers, all connected to a large
comparator box. There is nowhere to
26   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
in
away, I can do a demonstration with
a Stromberg Carlson turntable which
sounds amazingly good. It is my only
belt-driven turntable, and it uses a pair
of synchronous motors to drive it. The
arm is relatively light, and it is all metal.
The mat is smooth, as it should be. The
spring suspension has a compliance that
is unique for the time. Using that gear, I
Bad Times
prime model is a
Garrard, which
incorporates a number of
obvious design blunders,
including an inaccurate two-pole motor,
a ribbed record mat, and a tone arm
with a plastic headshell. Even so,
it looks pretty good alongside the
original Dual, whose entire tone
arm is made of resonant plastic, and
whose cartridge cannot be adjusted for
tracking angle. The rest of the store
doesn’t feature VCR’s and microwave
ovens, items which are still spotlighted
at world’s fairs, but cameras. Despite
appearances, however, this is a hi-fi store,
the best one you’ll find within several
thousand kilometres…er, miles.
As the bloodied bruiser said as he
staggered back into the bar after a brawl
in the alley, “You should see the other
guy.”
You see, no one talks about “hi-fi”
and “mid-fi.” Rather, the distinction
is between consoles and component
stereo. Most people shop for consoles,
everywhere from department stores to
hardware stores. The typical console
contains a record changer, a radio, two
or four cheap speakers in a simple baffle
with a Masonite back, and an amplifier
rated optimistically at perhaps 100 watts
per channel. Alongside that, the plastic
tone arms I sell look pretty good.
And if you look carefully on my
shelves, you’ll see signs of what even
you would call real hi-fi. My amplifiers
include the Dynaco Mk III, a large
monoblock tube amp that will still be
valued decades later. They’re hooked
up to a pair of AR-1’s, the original
sealed “acoustic suspension” speakers.
In a drawer are plans that, for $5, will
let you build your own Klipschorns
or Karlson enclosures. And although
the Linn Sondek is still a dozen years
by Gerard Rejskind
can give you a pretty good
demo.
Or at least I could,
were it not that the room is
acoustically terrible. There is
no door, so the music mixes with
the sound of clicking shutters. There’s
too much gear present. And everything
goes through the comparator box,
including — believe it or not — the
fragile signal from the turntable. So I
have the potential to make the music
come to life, but the store is wrong for it.
I can let you hear more than a hundred
different component combinations,
but all of them will sound noisy and
distorted.
Though it’s not yet obvious, that
is to be a major reason for the hi-fi
revolution.
Comes the revolution
The ot her factor for change is
inflation. Though 1960’s inflation is low
compared to what is still to come, prices
are nonetheless rising, and that works
against hi-fi. People who once wanted a
“good little system” for $400 still want to
spend only $400, even though the same
system now costs $550 and continues to
rise. In my store in 1960, you may notice,
in passing, a strangely-st yled little
amplifier with instructions in unreadable
English.
The name on the panel is not yet a
household word: Pioneer.
So the Japanese are already here.
They are proving their engineering
skills with transistor radios, before
hitting us with their marketing skills
as well. Through the magic of solid
state engineering and mass production,
consumers really can get more and more
for less and less money. As inflation revs
Buying On-Line
its motor, the major Japanese companies
begin stealing market share from the
traditional (i.e. American) companies.
They even begin swallowing American
companies.
E-commerce used to be marginal, and it was once predicted that even Amazon
In some ways, the new breed of would eventually go bust. The dot-com meltdown of 2001 seemed to prove the
equipment really is better. The sloppy skeptics right, but look what’s happened since then! And the hi-fi field is far from
assembly work that plagues many garage immune to the tide.
enterprises is replaced by competent
Tum veliquat ulpute dolore volore facipsum esequat. Ut lan veliquat praese
production techniques. Buttons feel facilit lutpat nibh euguero ea feuguer suscing enismod dolorero odiamco rtiscil
nicer, and there are certainly more lamconsequat wismod modion vel ulputat. Utpation utpat augait am, core tisi.
of them. Quality hasn’t improved, of
An hendreet nonsenim dit, ver sustrud dunt utet autem quam, sis augue magniam
course, and it has even become worse, but consequat adipis adiam, consed te ming esent loborper iure commodio commodit
what does that matter? Most consumers lum zzriure vullumsan henim iustin utatum vel ilis aut loborperilla feum do odolore
are buying with their eyes rather than commodolore dolore dolesto eu feu feu feuipsu scipit ad molorem ex ero odolobore
their ears, and everyone believes in dolobortie digna conullaor si bla consecte et exerit lum alismolore ming esent vulpublished technical specifications, which lamc onullan henisl ute core vent volor si.
get regurgitated by the “hi-fi” magazines
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of the time.
dolutat, volobore diat praestismod te facilla facil inci blan et aliquis ciliquiscil dignis
But hi-fi is not quite dead.
am quis niamet nisse eniamet, sis nibh eraesen dionum zzrilla feuipis modolut adip
Here a nd t here, worldw ide, a euis dolessi.
few companies keep the faith and
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don’t follow the hot new trend. They facilit lutpat nibh euguero ea feuguer suscing enismod dolorero odiamco rtiscil
make design decisions the old way: by lamconsequat wismod modion vel ulputat. Utpation utpat augait am, core tisi.
No, this free version is not complete, though you could spend a couple
actually listening to what they build. Of
An hendreet nonsenim dit, ver sustrud dunt utet autem quam, sis augue magniam
of hours reading it. Want the full version?
course, building equipment to the old consequat adipis adiam, consed te ming esent loborper.
You can, of course, order the print version, which we have published
standard costs a good deal of money,
for a quarter of a century. You can get it from our back issues page.
and consumers often wonder why. Why ulputat. Utpation utpat augait am, core ortinim digna autpat lobor sectetum
But we also have a paid electronic version, which is just like this one,
pay so much for an amplifier whose paint tisi.
quamconulla commy niation sequatie el
except that it doesn’t have annoying banners like this one, and it doesn’t
sags, with screwdriver scratches on the
An hendreet nonsenim dit, ver sus- ip ea augait, consequam adionsectet alis
have articles tailing off into faux Latin. Getting the electronic version is of
top panel, whose switches feel as though trud dunt utet autem quam, sis augue ex exer sum zzriure eugiam iriurerit ad
course faster, and it is also cheaper. It costs just $4.30 (Canadian) anywhere
they’ll break when you touch them? But magniam consequat adipis adiam, consed eros dit alit num del ullutpat, sisisl et et
in the world. Taxes, if they are applicable, are included.
a few people know about the one thing te ming esent loborper iure commodio volorper si blam, quatem init, consequi
It’s available from MagZee.com.
this stuff can do that the flashy new commodit lum zzriure vullumsan henim bla coreet, vent iriusci bla feu feuipis
generation of equipment can’t do.
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It c a n play mu sic so t hat it ’s feum do odolore commodolore dolore ilit lutpatin el in velisci ncilla facinibh
enjoyable.
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Now and then I hear some of this orem ex ero odolobore dolobortie digna feummod do coreros eugait il ex eugait
stuff, and I wish I were selling it. A few conullaor si bla consecte et exerit lum wisi ex et num quisim aut atum del del
“hi-fi” salesmen do more than wish. alismolore ming esent vullamc onullan dolobore eros endigniatue dolor secte ex
They quit their jobs and rent inexpensive henisl ute core vent volor si.
eugiat. Illa corperostrud tisi.
storefront properties.
Sumsandre con hent ilit nim nis
Rud doloreet wis alit ut lum in henisAnd so is born the revolution, and accum nissequam ero eraestrud dolore cidunt aut ing et lorper sequis non ut ilit
the true high fidelity store.
ese dolore dolutat, volobore diat praes- lore facilis sequat. Duis ad dolor adiam
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A different way of doing things
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The new store owners are driven by eniamet, sis nibh eraesen dionum zzrilla
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one thing: love of good sound. They are feuipis modolut adip euis dolessi.
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evangelists for true high fidelity, and
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their new stores are their temples.
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Get the complete version
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ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    27    
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28   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
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augait.
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duis dignisc iliscipissi.
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facipsum esequat. Ut lan veliquat praese
facilit lutpat nibh euguero ea feuguer
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tisi.
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te ming esent loborper iure commodio
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The Truth About the Grey Market
The name says it: it’s not quite the black market, but it’s getting there.
A “grey market” product is one that has not come from the factory-approved
distribution: national distributor to accredited dealer. There may be substantial
savings in buying grey market, or there may be misery and heartbreak.
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consequat adipis adiam, consed te ming esent loborper iure commodio commodit
lum zzriure vullumsan henim iustin utatum vel ilis aut loborperilla feum do odolore
commodolore dolore dolesto eu feu feu feuipsu scipit ad molorem ex ero odolobore
dolobortie digna conullaor si bla consecte et exerit lum alismolore ming esent vullamc onullan henisl ute core vent volor si.
Sumsandre con hent ilit nim nis accum nissequam ero eraestrud dolore ese dolore
dolutat, volobore diat praestismod te facilla facil inci blan et aliquis ciliquiscil dignis
am quis niamet nisse eniamet, sis nibh eraesen dionum zzrilla feuipis modolut adip
euis dolessi.
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facilit lutpat nibh euguero ea feuguer suscing enismod dolorero odiamco rtiscil
lamconsequat wismod modion vel ulputat. Utpation utpat augait am, core tisi.
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consequat adipis adiam, consed te ming esent loborper iure commodio commodit
lum zzriure vullumsan henim iustin utatum vel ilis aut loborperilla feum do odolore
commodolore dolore dolesto eu feu feu feuipsu scipit ad molorem ex ero odolobore
dolobortie digna conullaor si bla consecte et exerit lum alismolore ming esent vullamc onullan henisl ute core vent volor si.
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dolore dolutat, volobore diat praestismod.
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feu facip eu feugait ulputat, volortisisi.
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adit luptat. Ud dolor incipis modigniat
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commod ea aut essequate ming ea facin
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augiamcore commy nisi.
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bla facip et autatis autem dolenim nit,
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adionsent ad molore deliqui psummy nit
luptat, venibh erat.
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am erit adiam, susci bla faci exerilit at
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augait.
Re facin henis nisl iustrud enim aute
duis dignisc iliscipissi.
Tum veliquat ulpute dolore volore
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    29    
Features
Feedback
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iure do ero dignit ullaortion ute feugiat.
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nos aliquatuerit iusto con velenit ilit
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ad doluptat. Quat ip eugait wissenis
adipissecte do eu feugait praessit ute
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sum zzriustrud tat, suscips ustrud tie
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diat, quipit nonsequate magna facip
Features
Feedback
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facilit lutpat nibh euguero ea feuguer
suscing enismod dolorero odiamco
rtiscil lamconsequat wismod modion vel
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tisi.
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feum do odolore commodolore dolore
dolesto eu feu feu feuipsu scipit ad molorem ex ero odolobore dolobortie digna
conullaor si bla consecte et exerit lum
alismolore ming esent vullamc onullan
henisl ute core vent volor si.
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tat.
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ex et enisit prat vulputat iure dunt verit
lutpat nullam velesto commolortie
30   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
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dipisim zzrillutetue corpera esendit
ipisi blandrer susci te magna feugait
vel ut iniam, velis amcore facilisl erit
venit augait lute tem ing ercilit, velisci
liquatuer il utatue consequat.
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iure do ero dignit ullaortion ute feugiat.
Lorem eum iurer iure tatue modigna
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nos aliquatuerit iusto con velenit ilit
luptat.
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vullaor se ex enim dignim digna commodolore commy num veniam dolut
wiscipit exercil ut ilis eum non volessim
dunt wisl do do commod magniat. Ut
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What About Audio Magazines?
Is the ground shifting under our feet too? Of course. We offer audio and home
theatre information, and a simple Google search will get you more of that than
you can digest.
But you probably know that the saying “you get what you pay for” applies here
too. There have always been publications peddling misinformation, and indeed they
were once dominant. Today? You can disseminate opinions without even having
to pay for a printing press. Do the math.
The print media are taking a beating, as you know, but the hurt is not evenly
spread. General interest media, such as newspapers and newsmagazines are bleeding, and may not be able to stay in business. Specialized publications, on the other
hand, are seeing their readerships growing. That’s the case of UHF, incidentally.
Some magazines have left the printing press in favor of Net publishing. We
ourselves have two electronic editions (one paid and complete, one free and about
half complete), but we don’t think that’s the future. Just as television wasn’t “radio
with pictures,” and the car was more than a “horseless carriage,” so a magazine on
the Web has to be more than a PDF copy of a printed magazine. That’s a transitional technology, but you can’t stop the transition.
We plan to go on printing UHF, but we’ll be developing material that doesn’t
look like a magazine, and our business plan will evolve with it.
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dipisim zzrillutetue corpera esendit
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vel ut iniam, velis amcore facilisl erit
venit augait lute tem ing ercilit, velisci
liquatuer il utatue consequat.
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iure do ero dignit ullaortion ute feugiat.
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elenisi.
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nos aliquatuerit iusto con velenit ilit
luptat.
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wiscipit exercil ut ilis eum non volessim
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nonsed delenim dolenis adiatem zzrilisit
ad doluptat. Quat ip eugait wissenis
adipissecte do eu feugait praessit ute
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in eniam, vulla coreet, venim eugiate
dolore dionseniam nulla conse dip ex
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sum zzriustrud tat, suscips ustrud tie vel
dolore modo conse modolortio et nos nit
utem zzrit irit pratueros dolorem diat,
quipit nonsequate magna facip exer summodion vullaore duis euismod ignibh
esting et.
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    31    
Features
Feedback
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conullaor si bla consecte et exerit lum
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henisl ute core vent volor si.
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Nuts&Bolts
SACD on Hard Disc?
W
e’ve been aware for
a while that many of
our hard core readers
are transferring their
digital music onto hard disc. That
makes it available for placement
on an iPod or other player,
of course, but having instant
access to all your music is frankly
addictive. See Music Through the Air
in this issue.
Of course the music most people are
transferring is on Compact Disc, but
perhaps you’ve also built up a collection
of SACDs. What about those? Can they
be added to your playlist?
The answer is yes, but with how
much of a compromise? We set out to
find out.
The bad news is that there is no direct
way to transcode the contents of an
SACD to the pulse code modulation used
for other digital music processes, including the CD. That’s because SACDs are
recorded not with PCM but with Direct
Stream Digital (DSD), which works
totally differently. We’ll leave aside for
now the claims for or against DSD, but
let us see how it works, and how it is
different from the more familiar pulse
code modulation used in such systems
as the Red Book CD.
Let’s look first at PCM.
Here the signal level is sampled at a
regular, pre-determined interval, 44,100
32   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
times
per second
in the case of
the CD, more often
with modern professional systems. The values
gleaned are encoded as binary
digits, from which a jagged version of the
original waveform can be reconstructed.
It is then smoothed with a low-pass filter.
This works well providing (as per the
Nyquist theorem) the sampling rate is at
least double the highest signal frequency
to be encoded.
The DSD system, by contrast, is
asynchronous, which means it doesn’t
pay attention to the clock. The system
monitors the waveform as it arrives. If
the level of a sample is higher than the
previous one, it generates the binary
digit “one.” Otherwise it generates a
zero. Silence is represented by alternating ones and zeros.
Sony, which developed the DSD
recording system that is at the heart of
SACD, likes to say that this is the system
closest to analog, and that, indeed, if
you simply take the DSD code and run
it through a low-pass filter, you will
actually hear the analog signal,
albeit with a lot of noise.
What is certain is that
moving from DSD to
PC M i n t he d ig it a l
domain is not simple,
and for the audiophile there
is but one way to accomplish
it, and that is by making a detour
through the world of analog.
It’s not ideal, we know. Going from
analog to digital or vice versa is like (we
imagine) getting beamed up by Scotty.
You arrive nearly intact, but you don’t
want to do it too often. We’ve seen Star
Trek, but we’ve seen The Fly as well.
But how bad is the process? Here’s
how we set out to evaluate the method.
To get the music out of the proprietary DSD format, we played our test
discs on our Linn Unidisk player, whose
performance appears to be at or near
the state of the art. We bypassed our
preamplifier and went from the Linn’s
analog outputs directly into our Edirol
UA-25 audio interface box, which you
can see overleaf. The Edirol, in turn,
was connected to a MacBook Pro laptop
computer with a USB cable. We did the
recording work using the free opensource program Audacity, set to record in
24-bit resolution with a 96 kHz sampling
rate.
If you have a newer DAC that can
handle 24/96, you can stop right there,
because you now have your music right
where you want it. For the purpose of
this test, however, we did something you
may not: we burned our newly-created
PCM files to a blank DVD. Since 24/96
reproduction is part of the basic DVD
standard, that disc will play fine on any
DVD player. We listened to it with the
Back Issues
THE ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION:
Issues No.7-19 (except 11, 15, 17 and 18, out of
print): nine issues available for the price of five
(see below). A piece of audio history. Available
separately at the regular price.
No.86: Digital: We review the Scheu Analogue
Premier II turntable and Cantus arm, and we try
two phono preamps: the Allnic H-1200 and the
Moon LP3. Also: We continue our investigation
of speaker connectors by putting WBT nextgens
on our reference cable, we listen to Beats headphones, as well as the Shure SE530 and SE420
phones. We also put the Zoom H2 palm-sized
digital recorder through a tough test. Plus: color
space in home theatre, Paul Bergman on analog
in a digital world.
No.85: Integrated amplifiers: the luxurious
Sugden A21SE and the affordable Vecteur
Ai4. We evaluate Eichmann’s new Quiessence
cables, and chat with Keith Eichmann himself.
We listen to a very good mid-priced speaker
cable with four different connectors, and the
results leave us stunned. Plus: We choose
(and evaluate in depth) a new HDTV reference
monitor, Paul Bergman winds up his series on
acoustics, and we tell you how to transfer music
to hard drive without saying you’re sorry.
No.84: Digital streaming: the awesome Linn
Klimax DS and the Off-Ramp Turbo 2 interface.
Also: the classic Harbeth HL5 speaker, the
affordable Moon CD-1 and i-1 amplifier, and
a great phono stage from Aurum. Plus: UHF
chats with Linn’s Gilad Tiefenbrun and Harbeth’s
Alan Shaw, Paul Bergman discusses signals for
acoustic measurement, and we look at the prospects for 3-D…at home and in the cinema.
No.83: Digital: The Raysonic CD128 and a lowcost player from VisionQuest. Other reviews: The
Moon LP5.3 phono stage, the Castle Richmond
7i speaker, the upscale Mavros cables from
Atlas, and a retest of the Power Foundation III
line filter, with a better power cord this time. Plus:
The acoustics of speaker placement, the two
meanings of video image contrast, and a portrait
of super tenor Placido Domingo.
No.81: Digital: The newest two-box CD player
from Reimyo, and the magical Linn Majik
player. Headphones a new version of our long
time reference headphones, from the Koss pro
division, and the affordable SR-125 headphones
from Grado. Plus: The astonishing Sonogram
loudspeakers from Gershman, a small but lovely
tube integrated amplifier from CEC, and the
London Reference phono cartridge.
No.78: Integrated amplifiers: the affordable
Creek EVO, and the (also affordable) Audio
Space AS-3i. Loudspeaker cables: six of them
from Atlas and Actinote, in a blind test. Plus:
the astonishing Aurum Acoustics Integris 300B
complete system, and its optional CD player/
preamplifier. Whew! Also: Bergman on taming
reverberation, how to put seven hours of uncompressed music on just one disc, and the one
opera that even non-opera people know.
No.77: Electronics: The Simaudio Moon P-8
preamplifier, the successor to the legendary
Bryston 2B power amp, the Antique Sound Lab
Lux DT phono stage. Plus: the Reimyo DAP-777
converter, an affordable CD player/integrated
amp pair from CEC, and five power cords. Also:
Paul Bergman on room size and acoustics, how
to dezone foreign DVDs, and how to make your
own 24/96 high resolution discs at home.
No.76: Loudspeakers: a new look at the modern
version of the Totem Mani-2, an affordable ELAC
speaker with a Heil tweeter, and the even more
affordable Castle Richmond 3i. Plus headphone
amps from Lehmann, CEC and Benchmark, a
charger that can do all your portables, and the
Squeezebox 3, which gets true hi-fi music from
your computer to your stereo system. Bergman
on speaker impedance and how to measure it.
No.75: Amplifiers: The new Simaudio Moon W-8
flagship, and integrated amps from Copland (the
CTA-405) and CEC. Speakers: the Reference 3a
Veena and the Energy Reference Connoisseur
reborn. Plus the Benchmark DAC converter. And
also: Bergman on the changing concept of hi-fi
and stereo, a chat with FIM’s Winston Ma, and
the rediscovery of a great Baroque composer,
Christoph Graupner.
No.74: Amplifiers: Mimetism 15.2, Qinpu A-8000,
Raysonic SP-100, Cyrus 8vs and Rogue Stereo
90. More reviews: Atlantis Argentera speaker,
Cyrus CD8X player, GutWire MaxCon 2 line
filter, Harmony remote, Music Studio 10 recording software. Cables: Atlas, Stager, BIS and
DNM, including a look at how length affects
digital cables. Plus: the (hi-fi) digital jukebox,
why HDTV doesn’t always mean what you think,
and Reine Lessard on The Man Who Invented
Rock’n’Roll.
No.73: Integrated amplifiers: Audiomat Récital
and Exposure 2010S. Analog: Turntables
from Roksan (Radius 5) and Goldring (the
Rega-designed GR2), plus two cartridges, and
four phono stages from CEC, Marchand and
Goldring. The Harmonix Reimyo CD player,
Audiomat Maestro DAC, ASW Genius 400
speakers, and the Sonneteer BardOne wireless
system. Plus: Paul Bergman on the making of an
LP and why they don’t all sound the same.
(Eichmann, WBT nextgen, and Wireworld). The
McCormack UDP-1 universal player, muRata
super tweeters, Simaudio I-3 amp and Equinox
CD player. Paul Bergman examines differences
behind two-channel stereo and multichannel.
No.70: How SACD won the war…or how DVD-A
blew it. Reviews: Linn Unidisk 1.1 universal
player and Shanling SCD-T200 player. Speakers:
Reference 3a Royal Virtuoso, Equation 25,
Wilson Benesch Curve. Other reviews: Simaudio
W-5LE amp, the iPod as an audiophile source.
Plus: future video screens, and the eternal music
of George Gershwin
No.69: Tube Electronics: Audiomat Opéra ,
Connoisseur SE-2 and Copland CSA29 integrated amps, and Shanling SP-80 monoblocks.
Audiomat's Phono 1.5, Creek CD50, GutWire's
NotePad and a music-related computer game
that made us laugh out loud. Paul Bergman on
the return of the tube, and how music critics did
their best to kill the world’s greatest music.
No.68: Loudspeakers: Thiel CS2.4, Focus
Audio FS688, Iliad B1. Electronics:Vecteur
I-6.2 and Audiomat Arpège integrated amplifiers, Copland 306 multichannel tube preamp,
Rega Fono MC. Also: Audio Note and Copland
CD players, GutWire MaxCon power filter. And
there’s more: all about power supplies, what’s
coming beyond DVD, and a chat with YBA’s
Yves-Bernard André.
No.67: Loudspeakers: An improved Reference
3a MM de Capo, and the Living Voice Avatar
OBX-R. Centre speakers from Castle, JMLab,
ProAc, Thiel, Totem and Vandersteen. One of
them joins our Kappa system. Two multichannel
amps from Copland and Vecteur. Plus: plans for
a DIY platform for placing a centre speaker atop
any TV set, Paul Bergman on the elements of
acoustics, and women in country music.
No.66: Reviews: the Jadis DA-30 amplifier, the
Copland 305 tube preamp and 520 solid state
amp. Plus: the amazing Shanling CD player,
Castle Stirling speakers, and a remote control
that tells you what to watch. Also: Bergman on
biwiring and biamplification, singer Janis Ian’s
alternative take on music downloading, and a
chat with Opus 3’s Jan-Eric Persson.
No.65: Back to Vinyl: setting up an analog
system, reviews of Rega P9 turntable, and
phono preamps from Rega, Musical Fidelity
and Lehmann. The Kappa reference system for
home theatre: choosing our HDTV monitor, plus
a review of the Moon Stellar DVD player. Antivibration: Atacama, Symposium, Golden Sound,
Solid-Tech, Audioprism, Tenderfeet. Plus an
interview with Rega’s turntable designer,.
No.64: Speakers: Totem M1 Signature and
Hawk, Visonik E352. YBA Passion Intégré amp,
Cambridge IsoMagic (followup), better batteries
for audio-to-go. Plus: the truth about upsampling,
an improvement to our LP cleaning machine, an
interview with Ray Kimber.
No.80: Equipment reviews: From Linn, the
Artikulat 350A active speakers, the updated
LP12 turntable, the Klimax Kontrol preamplifier,
and the Linto phono stage; ASW Genius 300
speakers, ModWright preamp and phono stage.
Also: Bergman on absorbing low frequencies,
emerging technologies for home theatre, and
coverage of the Montreal Festival.
No.72: Music from data: We look at ways you
can make your own audiophile CDs with equipment you already have, and we test a DAC that
yields hi-fi from your computer. We review the
new Audio Reference speakers, the updated
Connoisseur single-ended tube amp, upscale
Actinote cables, and Gershman’s Acoustic Art
panels. How to tune up your system for an inexpensive performance boost. And much more.
No.63: Tube amps: ASL Leyla & Passion
A11. Vecteur Espace speakers, 2 interconnects (Harmonic Technology Eichmann),
5 speaker cables (Pierre Gabriel, vdH ,
Harmonic Technology, Eichmann), 4 power
cords (Wireworld, Harmonic Technology,
Eichmann, ESP). Plus: Paul Bergman on
soundproof ing, c ompar ing c omponents
in the store, big-screen TV’s to stay away
from, a look back at the Beatles revolution.
No.79: Digital players: Simaudio’s flagship
DVD (and CD) player, the Calypso, and Creek’s
surprising economy EVO player. Phono stages:
A slick tube unit from Marchand, and the superb
No.71: Small speaker: Reference 3a Dulcet,
Totem Rainmaker, and a low cost speaker from
France. A blind cable test: five cables from Atlas,
and a Wireworld cable with different connectors
No.62: Amplifiers: Vecteur I-4, Musical Fidelity
Nu-Vista M3, Antique Sound Lab MG-S11DT.
Passive preamps: Creek and Antique Sound
Lab. Vecteur L-4 CD player. Interconnects: VdH
Integration, Wireworld Soltice. Plus: the right to
copy music, for now. Choosing a DVD player by
features. And all about music for the movies.
No.61: Digital: Audiomat Tempo and Cambridge
Isomagic DACs, Vecteur D-2 transport. Speakers:
Osborn Mini Tower and Mirage OM-9. Soundcare
Superspikes. And: new surround formats, dezoning DVD players.
No.60: Speakers: Monitor Audio Silver 9,
Reference 3a MM De Capo, Klipsch RB-5,
Coincident Triumph Signature. Plus: a Mirage
subwoofer and the Audiomat Solfège amp. Paul
Bergman on reproducing extreme lows.
No.59: CD players: Moon Eclipse, Linn Ikemi and
Genki, Rega Jupiter/Io, Cambridge D500. Plus:
Oskar Kithara speaker, with Heil tweeter. And:
transferring LP to CD, the truth on digital radio,
digital cinema vs MaxiVision 48.
No.58: Amplifiers: ASL AQ1003, Passion I10
& I11, Rogue 88, Jadis Orchestra Reference,
Linar 250. Headphone amps: Creek, Antique
Sound Lab, NVA, Audio Valve. Plus: Foundation
Research LC-2 line filter, Gutwire power cord,
Pierre Gabriel ML-1 2000 cable. And: building
your own machine to clean LP’s.
No.57: Speakers: Dynaudio Contour 1.3,
Gershman X-1/SW-1, Coincident Super Triumph
Signature, Castle Inversion 15, Oskar Aulos.
PLUS: KR 18 tube amp. Music Revolution: the
next 5 years. Give your Hi-Fi a Fall Tune-Up.
No.56: Integrated amps: Simaudio I-5, Roksan
Caspian, Myryad MI120, Vecteur Club 10, NVA
AP10 Also: Cambridge T500 tuner, Totem Forest.
Phono stages: Creek, Lehmann, Audiomat.
Interconnects: Actinote, Van den Hul, Pierre
Gabriel. Plus: Paul Bergman on power and current…why you need both
No.55: CD players: Linn CD12, Copland
CDA-289, Roksan Caspian, AMC CD8a. Other
reviews: Enigma Oremus speaker, Magenta
ADE-24 black box. Plus: the DSD challenge for
the next audio disc, pirate music on the Net, the
explosion of off-air video choices.
No.54: Electronics: Creek A52se, Simaudio W-3
and W-5 amps. Copland CSA-303, Sima P-400
and F.T. Audio preamps (two of them passive).
Musical Fidelity X-DAC revisited, Ergo AMT
phones, 4 line filters, 2 interconnects..
No.53: Loudspeakers:Reference 3a Intégrale,
Energy Veritas v2.8, Epos ES30, Totem Shaman,
Mirage 390is, Castle Eden. Bergman on biamping, biwiring, balanced lines, and more.
No.52: CD players: Alchemist Nexus, Cambridge
CD6, YBA Intégré, Musical Fidelity X-DAC,
Assemblage DAC-2. Subwoofers: Energy ES-8
and NHT PS-8. Plus: Paul Bergman on reproducing deep bass, and behind digital television.
No.51: Integrated amps: YBA Intégré DT,
Alchemist Forseti, Primare A-20, NVA AP50
Cambridge A1. CD players: Adcom GCD-750,
Rega Planet. An economy system to recommend
to friends, ATI 1505 5-channel amp, Bergman on
impedance, why connectors matter, making your
own power bars.
No.50: CD: Cambridge DiscMagic/DACMagic,
Primare D-20, Dynaco CDV Pro. Analog: Rega
Planar 9, Linn LP12 after 25 years. Also: Moon
preamp, Linn Linto phono stage, Ergo and Grado
headphones. Speaker cables: Linn K-400,
Sheffield, MIT 750 Also: 15 years of UHF.
SEE MORE AT:
http://www.uhfmag.com/IndividualIssue.html
EACH ISSUE costs $6.49 (in Canada) plus tax (13% in Québec, NB, NS and NF, 5% in other Provinces), US$7.69 in the USA, CAN$10.75 elsewhere (air mail included).
THE ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (issues 7-19 except 11, 15, 17 and 18) includes 9 issues but costs like 5. For VISA or MasterCard, include your number, expiry
date and signature. UHF Magazine, Box 65085, Place Longueuil, Longueuil, Qué., Canada J4K 5J4. Tel.: (450) 651-5720 FAX: (450) 651-3383. Order on line at www.
uhfmag.com. Recent back issues are available electronically at www.magzee.com, for C$4.30 each, all taxes included.
Listening Room
No.82: Amplifiers: A large sweet tube amplifier
from Audio Space, the Reference 3.1, and the
reincarnation of an old favorite, the Sugden A21.
Digital: Bryston's first CD player, and the Blue
Circle "Thingee," with USB at one end and lots of
outputs at the other end. Plus: the BC Acoustique
A3 speaker, a small subwoofer, two more London
phono cartridges, line filters from AudioPrism
and BIS, a blind test of three interconnects, Paul
Bergman on soundproofing, and a thorough test
of Sony's new-generation Blu-ray player
Sonneteer Sedley, with USB input and output.
Plus: the talented JAS Oscar loudspeakers, the
Squeezebox plus our own monster power supply.
Also: Bergman on what absorbs sound and what
doesn’t, what’s next in home theatre, Vegas
2007, and the secrets of the harmonica.
Feedback
Nuts&Bolts
same Linn Unidisk we had used to play
the original, thus coming full circle.
Best of all, we avoided all the unwanted
variables, so that we could truly evaluate
what the trip through analog does to the
music.
For this comparison we chose three
highly familiar SACD selections, ones we
have used in equipment tests before.
The rest of this article can be found in
the complete print or electronic version
of UHF No. 84. Order the print issue
from www.uhfmag.com/IndividualIssue.html (it’s case sensitive). Or subscribe
at www.uhfmag.com/Subscription.html.
The electronic issue is available from
www.magzee.com.
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Coming up in issue No. 88 of
BIG LOUDSPEAKERS
from Audes and Reference 3a
DIGITAL
A CD transport and DAC from Cyrus
ANALOG
Phono preamplifiers from Blue Circle
MOVIES
The Bond franchise over nearly five decades
AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!
Get UHF on your desktop or in your hand!
www.uhfmag.com
Cinema
Pioneer BDP-51FD Player
W
e h ad pret t y muc h
reached the end of the
road with our original
Blu-ray player, the Sony
BDP-S300. Not only were there better
players available, but the Sony would
actually not play the latest discs. On
Quantum of Solace, for instance, it would
go into an endless loop, trying to load
Java code it couldn’t understand. Java is a
mandatory part of the Blu-ray standard,
but in the interests of getting to market
faster, there was a “period of grace,”
during which manufacturers could
ignore the standard. Strange they didn’t
mention that to consumers!
Sony has a downloadable updater
on line, but we couldn’t get it to work
(it requires a Windows computer, and
you need software that can burn a disc
image; we have both, but our burned
DVD didn’t work). Sony also offers an
upgrade DVD by mail, but only in the
USA. Finally a reader supplied us with
a DVD, but we put off the upgrade until
this comparison session was over. The
reason: the four pages of instructions
include paragraphs that are in upper
case, warning that if we didn’t do everything exactly as stated, or if there were to
be a power interruption, we would wind
up with a brick. And that would kill this
comparison.
We still consider Blu-ray to be a work
36   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
in progress, but this Pioneer player looks
like a good bet because it has what is (or
was when we bought it) the latest chipset,
the same one found in the Elite player,
the BDP-09FD. We ran it in, and lined
up a few films we thought might show
up significant differences in pictures and
sound.
The Pioneer is much larger than the
Sony, though it isn’t much heavier. One
nice touch: it has an actual IEC power
connector at the rear, and can therefore
be used with an upscale power cord (on
the Sony, with its skinny two-conductor
cord, we had used a GutWire adapter to
fit a proper cord). The Pioneer is also
much faster to obey commands, which
is a refreshing change from the glacially
slow pace of the first Blu-ray players.
The feet on the Pioneer are the usual
generic plastic feet found on countless
products from numerous countries
(there seems to be, somewhere, a factory
turning out these things like cookies).
Since our Blu-ray player is on a tempered
glass shelf (not our first choice, but you
don’t get much choice these days) we
used a set of Audioprism Isobearings
underneath it.
The Pioneer can play all the formats
you would expect it to, including BonusView, which provides extra interactive
material written in the Java language.
However it lacks any kind of Internet
connectivity, either Ethernet or WiFi,
which excludes downloading any of the
BD-Live material (like we care). That
means future firmware upgrades, as with
the Sony, will require downloading and
burning the upgrade to your own blank
DVD.
For the comparison, we selected
four scenes from current Blu-ray films,
and threw in one conventional DVD to
see how the two players would do. The
players were connected to our Samsung
plasma panel via an Atlas HDMI cable,
and to our Moon Attraction preampprocessor via an Atlas Opus digital
cable.
The first sequence is the famous
“parkour” (chase) scene from the James
Bond film Casino Royale, in which Bond
pursues parkour champion Sébastien
Foucan through a building in construction, and on cranes high above Coral
Harbour in the Bahamas. The scene
has a huge range of colors, and of course
plenty of fast movement.
Though there were differences in the
image between the two players (Gerard
noted the better clarity in the very brief
glimpse of the snake and the mongoose),
it was the difference in sound that was
most noticeable, and that came as a surprise. “The sound is a lot more open, and
better balanced,” said Albert. “There’s
an unnatural emphasis on the bass, as in
storm on Earth, then a space view of
desert regions.
This time we were unanimous: both
the image and the sound were superior
with the Pioneer player. Steve admired
the Earth view, finding the white and
silver hues of the clouds more luminous
than bright. “There’s a great finesse of
detail in both sound and picture,” said
Albert. It looks the way real life does
after the rain has cleared the air.”
Summing it up…
Brand/model: Pioneer BDP-51FD
Price: C$499
Size (WDH: 42 x 36 x 12.4 cm
Most liked: Outstanding sound, very
good picture
Least liked: No Ethernet or WiFi
Verdict: Perhaps not the last word,
but a good step forward
Gerard, for his part, admired the
way the subtle music weaves through the
piece, and noticed for the first time that
it doesn’t actually stop during the thunderstorm (which was more overwhelming than ever). We could hear the rain
fall behind and in the room. Steve was
following the solo flute. “It was beautifully complex,” he said approvingly.
On to an operatic aria. The Metropolitan Opera has obtained great success
by broadcasting its productions in high
definition to movie theatres, where you
can therefore see live opera for perhaps
$22, instead of a gazillion dollars at the
Lincoln Center. Albert had recently seen
the broadcast of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene
Onegin with Renée Fleming. And here
we had the same performance on a
freshly-minted Decca Blu-ray disc. We
chose the letter scene, “the best one,”
said Albert.
It looked and sounded fine even on
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    37    
Room
Listening
Feedback
many action films, but with the Pioneer
the low-end sounds don’t hide the rest.”
Steve agreed, noting the better rendition
of small transient sounds.
We knew we would be focusing
on sound in the next film, Master and
Commander, which won a well-deserved
Oscar for sound editing, and which uses
the surround sound field better than any
film we know of since Saving Private
Ryan. We selected chapter 3, in which
the ghostly shape of the French privateer
is glimpsed through the fog, leading to a
truly frightening cannon battle.
It got a lot more frightening with the
Pioneer, with the cannonball travelling
through us. “I’m amazed at how accurately they get the sound of splintering
wood,” said Steve. Unlike in the Bond
film there is no undue emphasis on the
lower frequencies, but of course if your
ship is hit by cannon fire there are going
to be major impact sounds.
And it wasn’t just the cannons. “The
sound is fantastically realistic,” said
Albert, ‘with surround effects in every
direction, including up and down.”
Indeed, in the moments when we are
below deck immediately after the attack,
we can hear sailors running above our
heads, and the effect was so real it was
disconcerting. “Even the voices are
better,” added Albert, “more real and
less electronic.”
Was the image better? Albert was so
taken with the sound he wasn’t certain,
especially since there is fog throughout
that first part of the film. Gerard noted
that the rolling fog in the opening of the
chapter had a shape, instead of being just
a veil, and at the end of the chapter he
could make out the name of the privateer, the Acheron, impossible to do with
the Sony player. Steve noted that when
some of the characters were backlit you
could still see their hair color, and they
were not mere silhouettes.
We proceeded with the IMAX film
Blue Planet. Because of the very sharp
IMA X film stock (70 mm film, run
horizontally to double the image area),
the resolution would put the Blu-ray
system to the test. We began about a
minute before the opening of Chapter 2,
showing the space shuttle’s open cargo
bay, the Canadarm, and the earth below.
Following that is a spectacular thunder-
sound seemed to wrap itself about us.
Gerard noted some spatial cues from the
rear, totally absent with the Sony. “This
is good enough to stand on its own as a
Connecting to an HDTV via HDMI, which is an all-digital pipeline, gives such pure music recording,” said Steve.
superior results that other connecting methods, such as component video, should
We didn’t want to end the session
not even be considered, But are all HDMI cables alike?
without playing a conventional DVD.
We knew the answer to that, because we had had occasion to compare our Atlas We picked the director’s cut of Amadeus.
HDMI cable to one of those cables that come free with various gear. Big difference. It has now been released in Blu-ray, by
But we had a couple of other cables in hand, one with a brand name, the other the way, though we’ll get to that another
not.
time. We began with chapter 39, with an
This was a blind test for Albert and Steve, who were not told what this com- ailing Mozart conducting the Queen of
parison was all about. We viewed once again the IMAX scene from Blue Planet, the Night scene from The Magic Flute.
using our Atlas HDMI cable (C$110 for 1.5 m). We then viewed it again with two
A fter the intense sessions with
other cables.
Blu-ray discs, dropping down to DVD
The first test cable actually was a bit of a shock. “You hear people
has no name. It’s made in China, claim there isn’t a lot of difference,” said
as are even many cables with Gerard. “They should watch Blu-ray for
famous names. The workman- a while, and then drop down to standard
ship is impressive, as is the price: definition. That’s when it really hits
under US$10. It was amazingly you.”
good, to the point that Albert
Indeed, with the Sony it left a good
and Steve saw little difference. deal to be desired. The high notes were
Gerard thought the scenes seemed too sharp, even shrill at times, and even
flattened out a little, but he knew the orchestra was a little edgy. The
what the cable cost.
candle​l it theatre interior was murky.
The second cable is from a Gerard likened the applause to buckshot
company called PPC, which has dropped on a tin roof.
introduced an innovation: an
The Pioneer player couldn’t turn
HDMI conductor that locks, that into Blu-ray, but the difference
much like an XLR connector. Since HDMI connectors tend to fit tightly you might was anything but subtle. The voice was
think that superfluous, but professional installers might disagree. They know what smoothed out, and the orchestra took
it’s like to get a late evening phone call because the customer’s dog has dislodged a on body. “It’s not really surround,” said
cable, and no one knows where it’s supposed to go. We had seen the PPC connector Albert, “but it’s detailed, and it’s not all
in Vegas, and asked whether the company planned to license it. No, we were told, closed in. This player is the audiophile’s
thought.
For years now, we have been publishing,
our Web
site,
a free PDF
PPC would use it on its own cables. A pity, we
best on
friend.”
The
applause
was much
version
of
our
magazine.
Well, we need not have worried, because the cable turned in a very good perform- improved as well, and we could now see
The
reason isaspects
simple.ofWe
you’re
looking
forshadows
information,
ance. “I liked it best,” said Steve. “I was focusing
on various
theknow
image,
into
the half
in theand
theatre,
that
is
almost
certainly
why
you’ve
come
to
visit
our
site.
And
that’s
whyBlu-ray
looking for detail and clarity. On the image of the thunderstorm seen from space,
“I really have to pick
up the
we
give
away
what
some
competitors
consider
to
be
a
startlingly
large
there were better nuances in the shades of blue on the horizon.” Gerard thought version,” said Gerard.
of information…for
free.
there were more tonal nuances, and slightly amount
bluer whites.
Albert identified
a posWe were left in no doubt that we had
We
would
give
it
all
away
for free, if done
we could
stay in business.
sible improvement in contrast, though he judged it not significant.
wellstill
to upgrade
to the Pioneer.
Recent
figures
indicate
that
each
issue
is
getting
downloaded
as manyon the
The PPC costs US$73 for our 12-foot length.
It lacks some features found
as 100,000 times, and that figure keeps growing.
competition, but they’re not perfor Yes, we know, if we had a nickel for each
download…
mance
features. We are of course left
Truth
is,
we’re
in
the
business
of
helping
you enjoy
musicsome
at home
the Sony, but Albert wasn’t satisfied, You can even make out the occasional wondering
whether
(presumably
under
the
best
possible
conditions.
And
movies
too.
We’ll
do
what we need
blaming the lackluster sound on the rustling of pages by the musicians.”
expensive) upscale famous-name
Blu-ray
toThere
do inmight
order have
to getbeen
the information
you. will emerge to put this one in the
limitations of a live production. “I have
an improve- to players
in
Ofthe
course,
yousaid
to read
published editions too. We
a studio recording of this scene, and it ment
imagewe
as also
well.want
Gerard
he our
shade.
hope
that,
having
read
this
far,
you’ll
want
to
read
on. is yes, and having this
sounds way better,” he said.
noticed early in the scene that Fleming
Our
guess
With the Pioneer it sounded radically was barefoot, something not evident already excellent player puts us in a
better, and we glanced at each other as with the slightly more diffused image position to make comparisons. It took
the strings picked up the theme. “You’re from the Sony, but our discussion cen- the Compact Disc years to go from its
just arrested right away by the sound of tred almost entirely around the music. shrill, thin beginnings to genuine high
the strings,” said Albert, “not to mention The orchestra seemed farther forward, fidelity. We expect Blu-ray to continue
the woodwinds and the French horns. for one thing, as it would be in the actual evolving for a while too, and we’ll be
Fleming’s voice is particularly present. opera house, and the warm, majestic watching with great interest.
Three HDMI Cables
Room
Listening
Feedback
Why a free version?
38   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
I
Jim thiel (1947 - 2009)
t seemed to me that Jim Thiel
had always been around, and had
always been making loudspeakers.
Certainly he was already a legend
in the audio world when I first
began editing this magazine,
and as you probably know that
was a long time ago. That made
him a pioneer, I guess. There
were other pioneers who had
named their companies after
them, but so many of them are
today mere marketers. Or else
their iconic companies were long
ago taken over by conglomerates.
Jim Thiel was different. He and
cofounder Kathy Gornik made the
perfect team and continued to pool
their complementary talents from
1977 to now. The company began
in a garage with startup funding
from Jim and Kathy’s respective
parents. Today it occupies 35,000 sq.
ft. of space, and ships its distinctive
loudspeakers throughout the world. By
1978 Jim brought out his first speaker
with a slanted front, like his flagship CS
3.7, shown here.
Like a few (very few) of the major
designers of high-end loudspeakers, Jim
was not the sort who picked drivers out
of a catalog and bolted them into a box.
The drivers were of his own design,
and that included the tweeters. Who
still builds tweeters today instead of just
ordering them? Nor were his custom
drivers mere minor variations on offthe-shelf drivers, as so many are.
Here’s an example, among many I
could cite. Most woofers have deep voice
coils, in order to boost efficiency. However as the coil moves back and forth,
it goes to the outskirts of the magnetic
field of the permanent magnet. Jim’s
solution: a short voice coil and a very
deep magnetic field, so that the coil could
never move outside its influence.
The diaphragm materials were not
off-the-shelf either. The newest speaker
uses aluminum diaphragms that look like
pie plates, and even the top cap on the
speaker you see on this page is aluminum.
Jim often used sandwiches of materials
by Gerard Rejskind
that would resist breaking up into nodes
that would generate distortion. At his
regular CES presentations, Jim would
provide measurements indicating that
these materials could lower distortion
by as much as an order of magnitude.
No mean feat!
Then there’s the little matter of
crossover networks. The textbooks on
crossover design were mostly written
half a century ago. Some designers
reduce the crossover to something as
simple as a capacitor, whose role is merely
to keep low frequencies from blowing
the tweeter. Jim Thiel’s crossovers were
at the opposite extreme, so large they
looked like amplifiers. The crossover
design would come last, when everything else was frozen. I first saw the
CS 3.7 speaker at CES in 2006,
but I didn’t hear it because, Jim
told me, the crossover wasn’t done yet.
Most designers could have given a
demo the next day, but I got to hear
the CS 3.7 only a year later!
UHF has reviewed Thiel speakers
twice. The CS 2.4 was reviewed in
issue No. 68. At that time we praised
it for a lack of midrange veiling and
uncommonly low distortion. A nd
UHF No. 67 had the MCS1 centre
speaker on its cover.
Today that speaker is part of
our Kappa home theatre reference
system, and its sound dominates that
system.
The CS 3.7 will stand as Jim’s
magnum opus. However I would
nominate other products for equal
honors, the SmartSub series. These
large and expensive boxes are not for
everyone or for every room, but there
are no other subwoofers like them.
The optional electronic Integrator has
myriad settings to make a SmartSub
work perfectly with an existing system.
You can “tell” it the characteristics of
your main speakers, and you can even
“tell” it where it is located in the room,
and it will adjust itself accordingly.
I chatted with Jim in January, and
at that time he looked drawn and
concerned. He didn’t breathe a word
concerning his health, but Thiel had just
laid off a sizeable portion of its production staff, and he was worried about what
the massive recession might mean for the
sales of what are, by any measure, luxury
products. We talked about how you
broaden the market for your products
without trashing your brand.
Jim Thiel was known for his passion,
courtesy and modesty, a modesty that
seemed odd in a man of his accomplishments. It is painful to realize there can
be no more products from the mind of
one of audio’s most brilliant creators.
Thanks for a great 32 years, Jim.
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    39    
Listening Room
April Music Eximus
I
s South Korea the new Japan?
Though Japan had originally
invaded the hi-fi world with rather
generic gear, it subsequent ly
became known as a source of precise,
hand-made products conceived in accord
with century-old traditions of perfection. In this issue we have a review of a
hand-wound step-up transformer from
Korea, and then there is this upscale
CD player.
And the Eximus CD-10 (the word
is the first-person plural present active
indicative of the Latin exeo, which gave
us the English word exit), is a classic
Red Book CD player, with a Philips CD
Pro2 top-loading drive. What makes it
a little different is what you can see on
the next page: there is a wide choice of
digital inputs, which allows you to use
its digital-to-analog converter with your
computer, or pretty much any digital
source you have or may have in the
future.
This is not just a nice extra, because
many audiophiles are shifting strategy,
perhaps listening to both CDs and vinyl,
but also moving at least some of their
favorite music to computer hard drives.
We don’t think that CD players are
obsolete, but expensive players whose
digital-to-analog converters can be used
only with their built-in transports belong
to the past. This one is an example of the
40   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
new generation.
And its DAC is a modern one, too,
capable of decoding not just the usual
16-bit 44.1 kHz digital data, but also files
with up to 24 bits and sampling rates of
96 kHz. That takes in a lot of ground.
Note that a 96 kHz file can be further
upsampled to 192 kHz, though decoding
of files that already have 192 kHz resolution is not possible.
Incidentally, that extra resolution
is not just for external sources. Frontpanel buttons allow you to upsample
Red Book material to one of the higher
standards. Though we did experiment
with this feature, we were — as usual —
not totally convinced that it was adding
significantly to the quality, and we would
do the actual listening tests without such
wizardry. You may want to make the
same comparisons for yourself.
This might be a good time to mention that, happy as we were to see such
an array of digital inputs, we found an
unfortunate error. On the next page
you’ll see that the input jack is the same
flat USB-A type that is found on computers. Trouble is, most USB cables can’t be
used, because they have a flat connector
for the computer end, but a smaller,
USB-B square connector for peripherals.
Double-ended cables do exist, but they
are exceedingly rare.
Please don’t think we are merely
being officious. There’s a good reason
computers and peripherals don’t use
the same connector, and that’s because
it’s potentially dangerous. If you have a
cable with a USB-A plug at each end, you
could plug one computer into a second
computer and blow up the motherboards
in them both. In the immediate we were
disappointed not to be able to use such
upscale USB cables as those lent to us
by BISAudio. For both these reasons we
hope April Music will correct this.
The drive’s top cover is on rails, and
though it’s not motorized it makes a
satisfying woosh sound when you open
or close it, rather like the doors aboard
a Starfleet ship. A magnetic puck holds
the disc in place. Like most top-loading
players (except the YBA) the Eximus will
not play with its bay open.
A full-featured remote is included,
but it’s made of a plastic that seems out
of tune with the upscale ambitions of the
Eximus.
Elsewhere in this issue we use the
player’s accessible converter to experiment with computer-based sources, but
in this review we concentrate on its basic
talent: actually playing silvery discs. Of
course we compared it to our reference
Linn Unidisk 1.1 player. Both were connected to our Omega system.
We began with a particularly smoothsounding piece for string orchestra (at
least it should sound smooth), Glazunov’s
Sérénade espagnole played by I Musici de
Montréal (Analekta AN 2 9897). As per
our usual practice, we didn’t attempt
to use our test microphone to match
levels (we know from experience that
this doesn’t yield satisfactory results).
Rather, we chose a level that everyone
found comfortable, with our reference
player first, and then with the Eximus.
However our first listen was less than
satisfying. We were happy to note that
the solo cello remained silky, without
hardness, and indeed Albert (who briefly
played the cello himself) even found it
improved. However the tonal balance
had shifted away from the low frequencies, and was therefore lacking in the
chocolaty richness it had with our Linn
saps much of the pleasure.
The soft passages were what came
through best, and the cascades of soft
notes were a wonder. In louder passages
the bottom end was solid, revealing in
most satisfying fashion the sheer power
of this often underestimated instrument.
We were less pleased with notes in the
high midrange, whose character was
not what we are used to hearing on this
remarkable recording. “A harp doesn’t
sound like that,” said Steve. “It loses the
organic nature of the instrument.”
We turned to a popular song next,
Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Where Time
Stands Still from her album Stones in
the Road (Columbia CK64327). This is
a gorgeously evocative song about lost
love, with accompaniment by Carpenter’s solo piano.
Played the first time we enjoyed it
(Steve made a comment about the power
of poetry), but the piano notes were of
uneven volume. It sounded rather too
loud, and of course major-label engineers
tend to master their recordings louder
than audiophiles do. We suspected that
lowering the level would help, and we
dropped it by 3 dB. We were right.
Summing it up…
Brand/model: April Music Eximus
CD-10
Price: C$6995, US$6000
Size (WDH): 44 x 45 x 12 cm
Most liked: Outstanding sound, full
access to its excellent converter
Least liked: Wrong connector for
USB connectivity
Verdict: A terrific choice for CD…
and for the future
At softer volume the upper midrange
was back in balance with the rest of the
spectrum, and there were no more complaints. Indeed, both Albert and Gerard
thought the text was easier to follow even
than with our Linn. “It’s not just the
lyrics,” said Albert, “it’s also her way of
singing them.”
We pulled out our double album of
Love, the remastered Beatles disc made
for the Cirque du Soleil Beatle-themed
show in Las Vegas. Though we usually
play the second disc, which has a highresolution DVD-Audio version (as well
as a dts surround version), we listened to
the Red Book CD disc in order to keep
the comparison fair. We listened to the
opening a cappella song, Because.
It was nothing less than glorious,
with the voices of John, Paul and George
(overdubbed to make a total of nine
voices) flowing without effort from our
speakers. We made a note to check back
to the original LP (it’s on Abbey Road)
to see whether it sounded this good. In
this remastered version natural sounds
of birds have been inserted into the
pauses, and we were pleased to note
that, soft and subtle though they were,
they were perfectly preserved by the
Eximus player. Though our much more
expensive Linn had what seemed to be
more dynamics, the Eximus left us with
nothing to complain about.
One final song, this one from Jennifer
Warnes, specifically from her album
The Hunter. Warnes became particularly famous for her collaboration with
Leonard Cohen on Famous Blue Raincoat.
But The Hunter includes one song put
together partly by Cohen and Warnes,
titled Way Down Deep. It’s a love song…
no, perhaps a little more direct than
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    41    
Room
Listening
Feedback
player. “The texture of reality is not
there,” said Steve.
The result was that we had second
thoughts about the playback level we had
selected. Our Omega system has a huge
dynamic range, and we could certainly
get away with raising the horsepower a
notch. We added some 2 dB of level and
listened again. The sound was certainly
richer this time.
Does that mean the Eximus needs to
be listened to at louder level? Not really,
as we would soon see.
We continued with the choral recording Now the Green Blade Riseth (Proprius
PRCD9093). We maintained the higher
level we had settled on for the Glazunov,
but we quickly reconsidered.
Oh, t he recording came out in
satisfactory fashion, with exemplary
clarity, very good separation of choral
voices, and a transparency that let us
easily follow the counterpoint of the
solo flute with the singers. However we
also noticed that on louder passages the
voices hardened up. We listened again
with 2 dB less volume. That’s not a big
difference, and most listeners would
consider it barely detectable, but it was
just enough. “Forget what I said before,”
commented Albert, who praised the
subtlety and finesse of the sound. “My
respect for this player is growing,” said
Steve, who admired the long decay of
bass notes.
The other familiar qualities of this
recording were intact, including the
gorgeous three-dimensional space. We
wish all choral recordings sounded like
this. For that matter — even though we
had more recordings to listen to — we
wished all CD players could make it
sound like this.
Although loud passages can reveal a
lot about a CD player’s performance, in
fact digital systems have more trouble
with softer passages, because they
have less data available to work with.
Our favorite harp selection (Marcel
Tournier’s Vers la source dans le bois,
from Susann McDonald’s Caprice album,
Klavier K11133) has a broad dynamic
range, but it also includes delicate and
delicious passages that, even at high
playback levels, hover just above the limit
of audibility. All too many players add a
layer of fog that obscures the details and
that! It includes rhythm provided by a
drum that, on the evidence, must be big
enough to live in. There is, therefore, a
fabulous low end, and that’s the way the
Eximus communicated it. At the same
time the clarity was outstanding, and
the player never allowed the percussion
to cover up Jennifer’s single entendre
lyrics. “At first I wasn’t sure,” said Steve,
“but now I am. It’s a home run.”
Would the Eximus also hit a home
run on the test bench? We put on some
test discs and watched the scope.
Above left is a 100 Hz square wave,
and it’s a good one. There is but a hint of
overshoot, and it’s quickly damped even
so. There is only the slightest rightward
tilt of the wave top, indicating a barelythere high frequency rolloff. Nothing to
see here, let’s move along.
The sine wave on the right is a 1 kHz
signal recorded a very low 60 dB below
maximum level. The shape is excellent,
with a little bit of noise causing ripples
across it (in this immobilized image it
shows up as an anomaly at the very top
and bottom of each cycle). There are
indeed quieter players than the Eximus,
but it’s not significant enough to be
audible.
Jitter was low, though we saw it
increase noticeably when we played a
disc that had been deliberately cut with
a laser. Jitter aside, the player tracked the
damaged record well, easily meeting Red
Book standard.
The April Music Eximus has a large
footprint, and it is in fact too deep to fit
smaller equipment racks comfortably.
But there’s a lot in the box, and that’s
why it’s so big. It will play your CDs with
style and musical satisfaction far into the
future. It will also play the music that is
already on your computer, or soon will
be.
The Compact Disc drive is limited to
Red Book specs. The Eximus converter
is not.
Room
Listening
Feedback
CROSSTALK
The Eximus’s appearance reminded
me of a very well-cut grey flannel suit, and
its sound matched its impressively elegant
image. Its harmonic presentat ion was
flawless. Layer after layer of music blended
beautifully. Resolution and detail were
equally strong, and it competed tenaciously
with the Linn in these respects.
Though the sonic personalities of the
two players differ, I won’t say the Linn is
always the better player. In fact the Eximus
and the Linn seem almost cut from the same
cloth, and that cloth is a superb weave.
—Steve Bourke
Take your time with this player. We did.
It needs time to grow on you, because at first
it doesn’t seek to impress or call attention
to its many qualities, it just plays music as
simply as it was recorded. Nothing added it
seems, no frills, and that is the best compliment I can think of when it comes to high
fidelity. Relax, get involved and enjoy. Its
42   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
purpose is to remove the unnecessary and
extraordinary attributes of recorded material, allowing you to partake of the essence
of the music and the emotional quality
conveyed by the performers.
Transparency became a given, as I could
have written in the air the clearest lyrics I
had heard in a long time. Bass was solid and
particularly musical, not just an impressive,
heavy thud. Massed voices rose and floated,
while others appeared on the stage, clearly
set behind the first rows. It seemed the kind
of player one could listen to without the
slightest hint of strain.
No strain, as in live unamplified music,
would you say?
Exactly.
—Albert Simon
There’s one really important thing the
Eximus has that our superlative reference
player does not: you can plug something
into its digital-to-analog converter other
than the built-in disc drive. That is as it
should be. A lot of the considerable money
you’re spending if you buy an Eximus is for
its outstanding DAC. What if, like many
audiophiles (including us) you also stock
music on a hard drive? Are you supposed to
buy another DAC just for computer music?
The Eximus, then, can be the centre of
your digital music system, able to reproduce
bitstreams from pretty much anything. And
that, I am convinced, is what can justify the
upscale cost.
Not that it is at all weak just as a CD
player, because the opposite is true. Of
course you can play it too loud and notice
artifacts you would rather not have heard,
but its resolution is so good that you don’t
need to turn it up to 11 just to enjoy the music
or even understand the lyrics. And if it’s an
upgrade from a lesser player (which is to say
most players), you’ll hear music you’ve never
heard before.
—Gerard Rejskind
Good enough UHF uses them!
This remarkable cable is from Atlas.
Unlike so many cable companies, this Scottish
company keeps markups reasonable.
Navigator All-Cu is made from strands of pure
copper, each drawn from a single crystal.
So are the connectors.
The Navigator All-Cu passed a blind test
in UHF No. 71.
Can it pass your test?
THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
www.uhfmag.com/Cables.html
Allnic Step-up
Room
Listening
Feedback
M
ov i ng coi l c a r t r idge s
are of ten referred to,
incorrectly, as having low
output. In fact what they
have is low impedance. And perhaps that
calls for a little explanation.
A cartridge’s output power can be
defined as its voltage multiplied by its
current (assuming voltage and current
are in phase, but let’s not complicate
things). A typical moving magnet cartridge will have an output at relatively
high voltage (perhaps 2 to 3 mV) at
low current. A low impedance (MC)
cartridge will have perhaps a tenth of
that output voltage, but it will be able
to supply higher current. The output
is therefore not really low, merely
different.
That causes a problem, however.
A phono preamplifier expects to “see”
voltage, and so low voltage might as well
be low output. The usual practice is to
add extra amplification to increase the
voltage to what you would get from a
high impedance cartridge.
But amplification stages add noise
and distortion, and there is another solution that used to be common. A step-up
transformer can trade off current against
voltage, and allow a low impedance
cartridge to drive a phono preamp with
no extra amplification.
So why doesn’t everyone use transformers? It’s because making one good
enough for a tiny signal requires extraordinary precision work, and it’s not the
sort of craftsmanship you can easily
automate. Because a step-up transformer
44   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
handles such a small signal, it requires
extraordinary shielding against the
electromagnetic interference generated
by our increasingly connected world.
The result is that, over the past decade
or more, we have heard step-up transformers whose sound can be charitably
described as disastrous.
We ourselves have long owned a
Bryston TF-1 transformer, which was
once an everyday element of our reference system, and which two decades
ago was surprisingly affordable, perhaps
around $450 (we’re quoting this from
memory). Though Bryston still uses that
transformer in some of its preamplifiers,
it no longer offers it as a standalone
product. Certainly it would cost several
times more today, and it was a bargain
even when we acquired it. Hammertone
Audio shipped us an earlier model of the
Allnic, and then asked us to send it back
and try this newer one instead.
The AUT-2000 is in a massivelyshielded box, with holes that look as
if they are made for heat dissipation,
though of course the tiny signal produces
no significant heat. The twin switches,
which can be set with a coin, can vary
the gain from the multitap transformer
to provide the best signal that won’t overload the MM (conventional) input of the
phono preamp. We ran them all the way
up and noted that they did not overload
our phono preamp even on the loudest
passages we could find (obviously, your
mileage may vary).
We did note a glitch: we thought we
had lost the right channel, and began
looking for improperly-inserted interconnect cables, only to find that one of
the Allnic’s switches was not set just so.
The switch detents are not as positive as
they could be.
We did our listening in our Alpha
room, connecting our Bryston to our
Audiomeca J-1 turntable and Goldring
Excel moving-coil cartridge. We listened to four selected LP’s, and then
repeated the session using the Allnic
transformer. We used one of our Atlas
Navigator All-Cu interconnect cables
between transformer and preamp.
The first thing we noted is how very
quiet the Allnic was. Of course you would
expect a transformer to be quieter than a
low-impedance amplification stage, but
that will be true only if the shielding is
adequate and if internal grounding has
been done properly. Phono preamplifiers are often noisy in our Alpha room,
whose ungrounded lead-filled side wall
pulls in plenty of less-than-delightful
radio frequency interference. Not in this
case.
The rest of this article can be found in
the complete print or electronic version
of UHF No. 84. Order the print issue
from www.uhfmag.com/IndividualIssue.html (it’s case sensitive). Or subscribe
at www.uhfmag.com/Subscription.html.
The electronic issue is available from
www.magzee.com.
We now cont inue in im itat ion
Latin.
Re facin henis nisl iustrud enim aute
duis dignisc iliscipissi.
Tum veliquat ulpute dolore volore
facipsum esequat. Ut lan veliquat praese
facilit lutpat nibh euguero ea feuguer
suscing enismod dolorero odiamco
rtiscil lamconsequat wismod modion vel
ulputat. Utpation utpat augait am, core
tisi.
An hendreet nonsenim dit, ver sustrud dunt utet autem quam, sis augue
magniam consequat adipis adiam, consed
te ming esent loborper iure commodio
commodit lum zzriure vullumsan henim
iustin utatum vel ilis aut loborperilla
feum do odolore commodolore dolore
dolesto eu feu feu feuipsu scipit ad molorem ex ero odolobore dolobortie digna
conullaor si bla consecte et exerit lum
alismolore ming esent vullamc onullan
henisl ute core vent volor si.
Sumsandre con hent ilit nim nis
accum nissequam ero eraestrud dolore
ese dolore dolutat, volobore diat praestismod te facilla facil inci blan et aliquis
ciliquiscil dignis am quis niamet nisse
eniamet, sis nibh eraesen dionum zzrilla
feuipis modolut adip euis dolessi.
Iquametuerat nullamc ommolore con
utatuer ostinit nos eugiam nos adionsed
euisi ex eril ilismod te te mod et adionse
quissent aliquisi te doluptat ing enit
ea alis accumsan velessectem dolorpe
rostrud dipis nonsenisi.
Iril iure molobor sustismod molore
mincilit acing er accum v ulput in
utat, quat ad eril doloreet lan euismol
ortinim digna autpat lobor sectetum
quamconulla commy niation sequatie el
ip ea augait, consequam adionsectet alis
ex exer sum zzriure eugiam iriurerit ad
eros dit alit num del ullutpat, sisisl et et
volorper si blam, quatem init, consequi
bla coreet, vent iriusci bla feu feuipis
modolore dolesse conulla feuis adit laor
ilit lutpatin el in velisci ncilla facinibh
eugait adipit nibh et nis nonsed magna
feummod do coreros eugait il ex eugait
wisi ex et num quisim aut atum del del
dolobore eros endigniatue dolor secte ex
eugiat. Illa corperostrud tisi.
Rud doloreet wis alit ut lum in heniscidunt aut ing et lorper sequis non ut ilit
lore facilis sequat. Duis ad dolor adiam
quatiscidunt praestie er ametummod
tat.
Agna feuipisl essequis accum in utat.
Andigna feuguer sustrud dolore conum
ex et enisit prat vulputat iure dunt verit
lutpat nullam velesto commolortie
dolorpe riurem zzrit, senit nonsequis
nibh er sum nim aliquis at accumsa
ndrercipsum vent nullam, venis nim
ipisim irit num euisis nisl ing elit wis
adionullamet praestrud tie consequatue
faccum autet, quis aliquat irilismolore
exerat acidunt dolesto ex er incilis essim
numsandrem verosto eum my nim
Summing it up…
Brand/model: Allnic AUT-2000
Price: US$1600
Size (WDH): 16 x 11.5 x 5.8 cm
Most liked: Iril iure molobor sustismod molore mincilit
Least liked: Lorem eum iurer iure
tatue modigna feugait eros
Verdict: Iquametuerat nullamc ommolore con utatuer
velendre er ing euis nonulla faccumm
olortionulla feuipsum eu facipis cipit,
volobore erillaor in utpatie vel iustisl
dipisim zzrillutetue corpera esendit
ipisi blandrer susci te magna feugait
vel ut iniam, velis amcore facilisl erit
venit augait lute tem ing ercilit, velisci
liquatuer il utatue consequat.
Cil et veraessisl utat, sed tio dionsendipit nit aliquisi eu facincidunt lobor
iure do ero dignit ullaortion ute feugiat.
Lorem eum iurer iure tatue modigna
feugait eros nisl utatum ip el ex eu feui eu
facipsusto ea faccums andignis dit illaore
do odit ilis dipit do euis eui te feugait niamcom modolor perilluptat. To commy
nim iustio duipis num nostrud magna
facip euis exerosto dolor sequipit augait
lor se commodo lobore dolore conse
conumsandit aliquisci tet lore tio eugait
ad magnit utpat la feum nisl exercil
lutatio consed tatem zzrilit aliquam quat
utpat wisit praestie feuisim num do od
exer augait duisse et lumsan etuercilisit
nonsectet wissi blamcon utpat verostio et
wisi tetueros nos autat lutat prat, commy
nullamet adip esto delis dignisl dolorpe
rcilis eum eu feu feugiam zzrit utat, con
elenisi.
Commod dolestrud!
CROSSTALK
facil inci blan et aliquis ciliquiscil dignis am
quis niamet nisse eniamet, sis nibh eraesen
dionum zzrilla feuipis modolut adip euis
dolessi.
Iquametuerat nullamc ommolore con
utatuer ostinit nos eugiam nos adionsed
euisi ex eril ilismod te te mod et adionse
quissent aliquisi te doluptat ing enit ea alis
accumsan velessectem dolorpe rostrud dipis
nonsenisi.
Iril iure molobor sustismod molore
mincilit acing er accum vulput in utat, quat
ad eril doloreet lan euismol ortinim digna
autpat lobor sectetum quamconulla commy
niation sequatie el ip ea augait, consequam
adionsectet alis ex exer sum zzriure eugiam
iriurerit ad eros dit alit num del ullutpat,
sisisl et et volorper si blam, quatem init,
consequi bla coreet, vent iriusci bla feu
feuipis modolore dolesse conulla feuis adit
laor ilit lutpatin el in velisci ncilla facinibh
eugait adipit nibh et nis nonsed magna
feummod do coreros eugait il ex eugait wisi
ex et num quisim aut atum del del dolobore
eros endigniatue dolor secte ex eugiat. Illa
corperostrud tisi.
Rud doloreet wis alit ut lum in heniscidunt aut ing et lorper sequis non ut ilit lore
facilis sequat. Duis ad dolor adiam quatiscidunt praestie er ametummod tat.
Agna feuipisl essequis accum in utat.
Andigna feuguer sustrud dolore conum ex
et enisit prat vulputat iure dunt verit lutpat
nullam velesto commolortie dolorpe riurem
zzrit, senit nonsequis nibh er sum nim aliquis
at accumsa ndrercipsum vent nullam, venis
nim ipisim irit num euisis nisl ing elit wis
adionullamet praestrud tie consequatue
faccum autet, quis aliquat irilismolore exerat
acidunt dolesto ex er incilis essim numsandrem verosto eummy nim velendre er ing
euis nonulla faccumm olortionulla feuipsum
eu facipis cipit, volobore erillaor in utpatie
vel iustisl dipisim.
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    45    
Room
Listening
Feedback
Re facin henis nisl iustrud enim aute duis
dignisc iliscipissi.
Tum veliquat ulpute dolore volore facipsum esequat. Ut lan veliquat praese facilit
lutpat nibh euguero ea feuguer suscing enismod dolorero odiamco rtiscil lamconsequat
wismod modion vel ulputat. Utpation utpat
augait am, core tisi.
An hendreet nonsenim dit, ver sustrud
dunt utet autem quam, sis augue magniam
consequat adipis adiam, consed te ming
esent loborper iure commodio commodit
lum zzriure vullumsan henim iustin utatum
vel ilis aut loborperilla feum do odolore
commodolore dolore dolesto eu feu feu
feuipsu scipit ad molorem ex ero odolobore
dolobortie digna conullaor si bla consecte
et exerit lum alismolore ming esent vullamc
onullan henisl ute core vent volor si.
Sumsandre con hent ilit nim nis accum
nissequam ero eraestrud dolore ese dolore
dolutat, volobore diat praestismod te facilla
Audiomat Phono 1.6
Room
Listening
Feedback
S
ay, don’t we
a l read y ow n one
of these? No, ours is the
Phono-1.5. But with software
a “point-one” upgrade is just a minor
update and bug fix (and typically it’s
free, too, but dream on). Yet this new
preamp, Audiomat’s only solid state
product, other than the DAC’s, looks
totally different from ours. And it’s billed
as a major upgrade, the result of years of
research.
It would need to be a major upgrade,
because the Phono-1.5 — successor to a
Phono-1 that was merely pretty good —
was definitely reference quality. It was, in
short, a tough act to follow. Then again,
this new preamp has been something like
a decade in the making.
Despite the small change in the
model name, the Phono-1.6 doesn’t
look anything like its predecessor. That
preamp was wide and black, with an
external power supply that looked like
an experimenter’s box, with a captive
power cord. The new one, which you can
see above, is back to being half-width,
just like the original Phono-1, and it too
looks like an experimenter’s box, only a
much nicer one. The power supply, at its
right, is in a disparate but rather more
handsome box than the old one, and now
has a standard IEC jack, so that you can
choose your favorite power cord. Like
the previous one, the Phono-1.6 comes
mounted on a set of three hefty cones.
Curiously, the power supply sits on little
stick-on rubber feet. If it were ours we
would fix that, we thought, and…who
knows?
The power supply itself has a captive
umbilical cord, with a five-pin XLR
plug that connects to the main chassis.
46   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
L i k e t he
earlier preamp,
the Phono-1.6 has no
settings to accommodate different moving coil phono cartridges.
This may be a deal-breaker for some,
though it should be said that today’s MC
cartridges are less weird than they once
were, and the days when you needed to
choose extreme impedance or capacitance settings are pretty much gone.
As we have explained before, the task
facing the designer of a phono preamplifier is so huge that it’s a wonder anyone
ever gets it right, and indeed at one
time no one did. The circuits must deal
with impossibly small signals, often well
under a millivolt — and that’s peak level,
with even tinier currents representing
the subtle nuances that make music so
thrilling. Despite that, there must not
be audible noise at the output. As if
that weren’t enough, the amplification
is not flat across the whole frequency
range, but must greatly boost the lows
and attenuate the highs, to compensate
for the curve used in the recording
process. It must be able to follow even
the quickest transients, something some
phono preamps are notoriously rotten
at. Last but hardly least, it must be able
to transmit the visceral, organic power
of music. When it succeeds it feels like
magic, because it is.
You can, of course, get a phono
preamp for as little $20. It gets the job
done, but don’t be too surprised if it
flunks out on pretty much all the criteria
we’ve mentioned.
Still, this Audiomat is a long way
from a $20 preamp, which means we
went into the session with a tall stack of
expectations. First, of course, we began
by putting the Phono 1.6 through a
rigorous break-in process, using the
special Granite Audio break-in CD (it is
recorded at very low level, with
a reverse RIA A equalization
curve, so that a phono preamp
“sees” it as a phono cartridge).
Though we would be doing the
evaluation with the MM input,
we gave both the MM and MC
inputs about 200 hours of running
time. Each!
Our cartridge, the London Reference mounted on our Linn LP12, is not
actually a moving magnet cartridge,
but it does have high output, just like
an MM. We listened, then, with our
Omega system, comparing the Phono 1.6
directly to its illustrious predecessor.
We noticed one difference right off:
the Phono 1.6 is quiet. We know we
said that about the older model too, but
quietness is relative. It shows up like this:
turn the preamp volume up to normal
listening volume, and cycle through
the inputs. Can you tell, from listening
position, which one is the phono input?
With the Phono 1.5 we just could. Not
with this one.
We picked out four albums that we
figured would let us determine the difference between the two phono preamps,
if indeed there was a meaningful one.
Those albums would not turn out to
be enough, but let’s not get ahead of
ourselves.
We began with the wind band piece
76 Trombones, found on Frederick Fennell’s double LP, Beachcomber (Reference
Recordings RR-62). It begins softly, as
though a marching band were approaching from the distance, but it sure doesn’t
remain soft!
The music had impressive power, but
then we are used to hearing it that way,
because we have both the amplification
and the loudspeakers to do it justice.
Albert and Toby were immediately
impressed by the Phono 1.6’s rendition.
“There’s more substance,” said Albert,
“the music has more body and more
density, with more natural warmth.”
Toby agreed, finding a fuller sound
with greater density in the higher frequencies. “The odd harmonics in this
music are smoother. The cymbals are
re-release by Cisco
music (for more about
this recording, see Software
Reviews in this issue).
With the Phono 1.6 it was better,
more realistic and natural, yet it had
already wowed us the first time around.
“Jennifer has a warm voice anyway,”
said Toby, “but it’s even warmer with
the Phono 1.6. And it’s wonderful to be
able to hear the fricatives…like the final
“d” in “heard.” Indeed, Albert had the
impression that Warnes was taking more
time to articulate each word correctly.
There was also a tighter integration
between the voice and the orchestral
accompaniment.
The stereo image was particularly
good too. Though that is a detail that
is not strictly of a musical nature, you
expect that a phono preamp with this
sort of price tag will get it right. Still,
the music predominated. “With the
Phono-1.5 I had been noting where each
instrument was located in the sound
space,” added Toby. “With the Phono1.6 I didn’t care.”
The second new acquisition was
South African jazzman Hugh Masekela’s
album Hope (Triloka/Analogue Productions APJ82020), from which we selected
the famous song about the coal train,
Stimela. We have used the CD of this
recording before, but we now have a
vinyl version. We put it on, knowing
that, to get all of its impact, it needs
plenty of volume. Playing loud of course
lets you hear not only what’s right about
a piece, but also what’s wrong.
And there was indeed something
wrong. Gerard noted with approval
the delicious subtleness of the lightlytouched cymbal, but also a disturbingly
artificial aspect of the sibilance. Some-
thing wasn’t working as it should.
Of course we were aware that it might
be the extra clarity of the Phono-1.6
that was letting bad stuff through,
and we wondered how clean the tiny
stylus on our London Reference
cartridge was. Just before listening
to this selection we had given it what
we had thought was an adequate
cleaning with the Enzow Zerodust,
that gummy little pad that seems to
suck dirt off the tip. But we know
we can’t rely on that alone, and we
once again cleaned the tip using the
little brush in the Last Stylus Cleaner
bottle. The usual (safe) way is to brush
from the rear of the cartridge toward the
front. We had of course done that at the
start of the test, and we did it again, but
to no apparent avail. We then tried it at
a different angle, with the brush parallel
to the cartridge instead of perpendicular,
so that the bristles could better clean the
sides of the stylus.
Success! The slight edge to Masekela’s voice, which Toby referred to as a
resonance, disappeared.
At this point, however, neither Albert
not Gerard was certain that the Phono1.6 truly sounded right on this recording.
“The sound is denser,” said Albert, “with
very good depth. Masekela’s voice is
very good, but not better than with our
reference. I’m not convinced.”
We weren’t about to go out on such
an ambiguous note. We pulled out two
more recordings, and listened to them
with our own preamp, before putting
the Phono 1.6 back into service.
The first was the older Mobile Fidelity version of Beethoven’s Symphony
No. 9, with Solti conducting the Chicago
Symphony. We enjoyed the astonishing fireworks of the final movement.
“Beethoven sure knew what he was
doing,” commented Gerard.
So do the Audiomat engineers, apparently. Good as the recording sounded the
first time, its sound became richer and
better defined with the newer Phono 1.6.
Lower strings had more presence, with
satisfying resonance, and there was
better definition of full orchestra. The
extra liveliness just felt right. “The
Phono-1.5 is detailed,” said Albert, “but
it’s detailed in the higher frequencies.
With the newer one there’s extra warmth
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    47    
Room
Feedback
Listening
better. There’s more space, and the piece
seemed to go by faster.”
Gerard, for his part, was reserving
judgement. “The clarity is very good,
the dynamics are great, and there’s
a little more top end when all the
instruments play at once, but I’m
not sure it’s better.”
Fortunately there were more
recordings to be listened to.
We continued with our old
favorite, William Walton’s wonderfully entertaining suite, Façade
(Reference Recordings RR-16). Ours
is the 45 rpm version, made when its
master tape was fresh and before it had
undertaken its surprisingly steep decline.
Properly reproduced, it is unbelievably
rich.
Certainly it sounded impressive
with the Phono-1.6. “There’s even more
subtle detail, and you hear it without
having to make an effort,” said Albert,
“and yet it’s not as though the music
sounded labored before.” Gerard, for
his part, found the Phono-1.6 growing
on him. “The timbres are magnificent,
and the articulation of the instruments
is particularly excellent,” he said. “The
depth is tremendous, and the soft passages are full of fine details.”
Toby, for his part, found the preamp
excellent even for an Audio­mat. “Their
products are highly tuned,” he said. “The
wrong kind of tuning, too close to the
limit, can actually sound overstressed
and fatiguing, but there’s nothing fatiguing about this preamp. There’s better
definition of instruments and the space
they are in. Listen to how far back the
snare drum is in the sound field. The
woodwind duo is better too, with better
unison.”
This recording, we might add, is a
particularly favorite in our tests, not only
for its sheer sonic excellence, but also
because its variety of instrumentation
can wring out every aspect of a system…
or any part of that system.
We had a couple of recent acquisitions standing by. One was Leonard
Cohen’s Song of Bernadette, performed
wonderfully well by Jennifer Warnes. It’s
from the justly celebrated album Famous
Blue Raincoat, not the noisy original
1986 pressing, which we have used
before, but its recent four-disc 45 rpm
because of the detailed midrange.”
We still had one question concerning
the slightly odd sound of the voice in
Stimela. Our London Reference phono
cartridge is neither a moving coil nor a
moving magnet type, but its nominal
5 volt output is some 6 dB higher than
that of the typical MM cartridge. That
could be high enough to cause problems
with a preamp that lacks sufficient
headroom. The Phono-1.5 did just fine
with it under all circumstances, but
did its successor have the same talent?
Gerard had just the recording to settle
the question.
It may have been in fact possibly the
second stereo LP ever released (the first,
from Audio Fidelity, was a test master
launched hastily into production in
violation of contract). It featured drummer Shelly Manne and a young pianist
named Andre Previn, with bassist Leroy
Vinnegar. This outstanding LP, a jazz
adaptation of the music from Broadway’s Lil’ Abner (Stereo Records S7019)
unmatched by pretty much anything
today, has grooves the width of a small
airport runway. Would this bundle of
raw energy overwhelm the Phono 1.6?
No it didn’t, but we certainly heard
differences between the two phono
preamps. “It’s a better recording than
I thought,” said Toby, “and I thought
it was good before.” Albert agreed.
“The instruments don’t just float in
space, they carve out their space.” The
dynamics were downright explosive,
inviting comparisons with Sheffield
LPs of the direct-to-disc era. Once
again, the Phono-1.6 seemed to have
more solid midrange than its illustrious
predecessor. We hasten to add that this
is a dynamic effect, caused by the way it
Summing it up…
Brand/model: Audiomat Phono-1.6
Price: C$3290
Size (WDH): Main unit 14 x 23.5 x
8 cm, power supply 10.5 x 12.5 x 6 cm
Most liked: Very quiet, very transparent performance
Least liked: No adjustments available
for weird MC cartridges
Verdict: The magic of its predecessor,
and a little more
behaves with a changing music signal,
and it isn’t something you expect to see
on a static frequency response test.
We were glad we had added in those
two other LPs, because they reassured
us that we really heard what we thought
we heard. After just the first four recordings we would have been in for a long
inconclusive discussion as to the wisdom
of migrating to the new phono preamp.
After six recordings we knew where we
were going. Yes, the Phono-1.6 would
join the long list of our reference gear.
Beyond any question of dynamics or
fuller midrange, what a component like
this one can deliver is not something one
would attempt to measure, and that is a
serving of magic. We heard it when we
first listened to the Audiomat Phono-1.5
some years ago, we have heard it with
a few — but very few — other audio
components. And we heard it during this
test session.
What can this sort of magic do for
you? It can make you eager to free up
some time to listen to some music,
and there’s nothing more magical than
that.
Room
Listening
Feedback
CROSSTALK
It’s funny — and delightful — how a
technical improvement can translate into a
richer experience of music.
The Audiomat engineers consider this a
“point one” increment, from 1.5 to 1.6, but I
felt the result — an increase in musical appreciation — was a good deal richer than a tenth
of a point or the price difference between the
two models. The first time ’round, with the
1.5, I noticed how clearly Jennifer Warnes’
accompanists were positioned in the sound
stage; but the second time around I didn’t
even care. I stopped writing and just listened
to the way she shaped her notes.
A gain w it h t he 1.5 version, Hugh
Masekela’s African place names in Stimela
were close to overacted, nearly a rant.
With the 1.6 they were less overdone, more
discreet, and for that reason much more
effective.
The difference wasn’t just in the vocals.
Everything benefited, from double bass to
cymbals.
—Toby Earp
48   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
I was so used to the quality and refinement of the 1.5 reference unit that I kept
reconsidering my impressions during the
listening tests until the very end, when it
became quite obvious that this new phono
stage was quite an improvement.
This unit is not just a decent upgrade, as
I felt in the beginning, most likely because
I found it hard to believe that much of an
improvement could be added to the previous
model. It is a substantial accomplishment.
The differences became striking when we
switched back to the reference. It seemed as
if, with the 1.6, we had done a major cable
upgrade.
More of the essence of the music was
allowed to f low, filling wonderfully the
whole frequency range with — dare I say — a
gorgeously juicy sound. There, I dared.
Ever tasted a nice, crisp pear and then a
deliciously ripe one? Then you know.
—Albert Simon
I had to do a lot of listening, and listening
again, to be sure of what I was hearing. The
difference wasn’t as clear cut as it had been
when we had adopted the Phono 1.5 in the
first place. Then, it was the sheer magic of
this preamp that had made the decision easy.
But what happens when you have two phono
preamps that are graduates of Hogwarts?
I have to add that I wasn’t wildly eager
to adopt this new preamp in any case.
Ideally our reference systems would never
change (look up the word “reference” in the
dictionary, and you’ll see why). When we do
make changes, it’s because we figure a new
product will make a better working tool. A
better phono preamp can let us do better
evaluations of amplifiers and loudspeakers.
But that’s a tall order, even if a new product
is judged “better” than what we own.
After the long listening session had
ended, I was satisfied. This new preamp
really does everything better than even the
old one did, and it’s quieter besides. What’s
not to like?
—Gerard Rejskind
Audio Space Galaxy 34
T
and Ultralinear mode. This
involves a tradeoff between power and
quality, but as we shall see it is not the
same tradeoff we have seen on amplifiers
from other manufacturers.
The EL34, like the other members
of its family, is a pentode, which is to
say it has five elements. A triode, as the
name suggests, has only three. One of
the two added elements to the pentode
is what is called the screen grid, which
is positively charged and accelerates
electrons flowing from the cathode.
In so doing it increases the flow, and
therefore the level of amplification. The
increased flow is also accompanied by
non-linear changes in the tube’s characteristics. Is a triode therefore better?
Many audiophiles believe it is. You can
make an EL34, or any other pentode or
tetrode, into a triode by tying its screen
grid to the other positive element, the
plate. Of course its power output then
goes down.
A compromise was developed some
decades ago, known as Ultralinear
operation. Invented by Alan Blumlein,
the same British engineer who defined
the classic microphone configuration
for stereo recording, it calls for a trans-
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    49    
Room
Listening
Feedback
his pleasant little tube
amplifier is not the first product from this Hong Kong
manufacturer that we have
reviewed. We first ran across the brand
in UHF No. 78, in which we listened to
the AS-3i, also an integrated with EL34
output tubes. It pleased us, and we were
even more impressed by the gigantic
Audio Space Reference 3.1, reviewed in
UHF No. 82.
This amplifier is compact, but pick it
up (carefully, remembering to bend your
knees!) and you’ll realize it’s more than
an empty box. The back end, with its
three transformers, is particularly heavy,
which is as it should be. It is common for
tube amplifiers to have too little iron in
their output transformers, with disastrous performance at low frequencies.
The “34” in the name refers to the
EL34 output tubes. It’s not the most
powerful tube in the extended 6L6 tube
family, but it is possibly the sweetestsounding. For those who need more
than this amp’s 32 watt maximum, there
is also a Galaxy 88, which uses (you
guessed it) KT88 tubes.
Like many ot her t ube amplif iers, the Galaxy 34 offers a choice of
operational mode: a switch on the front
panel — duplicated right on the remote
control — lets you switch between triode
former with extra screen taps, so that
the screen grid is neither tied entirely to
the plate nor to the high voltage supply.
It is not uncommon for modern tube
amplifiers to be switchable between
Ultralinear and full pentode
mode. Audio Space, on the
other hand, lets you choose
between Ultralinear and triode
operation.
Anyone searching for raw
power should look elsewhere. A
pair of EL34’s can develop
some 50 watts if driven
hard enough, but these
are rated at 32 watts in
Ultralinear…and just half
of that in triode mode.
It goes without saying that
you’ll want to use this amplifier
with rather efficient speakers,
but fortunately such speakers have
become common today. You could, the
reasoning goes, choose triode mode for
chamber music or ballads, but switch to
Ultra­linear for rock or large orchestras.
To make this simple, you can switch
from one mode to another with the
remote control.
Which is what we did initially, but
comparisons are difficult, because the
volume drops in triode mode, and the
volume knob has no calibrations. Worse,
it has an index dot only on its front face,
and the mirrored panel is pretty much
unreadable anyway. Based on initial
listening comparisons, we opted to do
most of our listening in triode mode.
The front panel is attractive, though
we found the shiny chrome knobs and
insert more flashy than informative.
Note the presence of a headphone jack
on the front panel. Such a jack is a mixed
blessing, because the main output shuts
down when you plug phones into it, and
that means the presence of a switch at
the output. The middle knob controls
the meter display, which can be set to
read the bias setting on each of the
four output tubes. It can then be easily
adjusted with a small screwdriver.
The rear panel, shown on the next
page, is simple but perfectly adequate.
There are just three inputs, rather
fewer than we would have liked. There
is, however, a “direct” input, which lets
you bypass the preamp section and use
Room
Listening
Feedback
the Galaxy 34 as a power amplifier. Like
most recent amps it has no tape loop, but
there is a pair of record-out jacks, to let
you record on tape or on your computer
regardless of the setting of the amplifier
volume control.
The Galaxy 34 comes with a heavy
and well-built remote, but its back has to
be removed with a screwdriver (included)
to insert batteries. The supplied batteries had text entirely in Chinese, but
their appearance suggested they were
the common misnamed “super heavy
duty” batteries, and we dumped them
in favor of alkalines. We suggest you do
the same.
The amplifier is designed for reasonably efficient loudspeakers, which
fortunately are in vogue these days. We
listened to it in our Alpha room, with its
easy-to-drive Living Voice Avatar speakers. We compared it to our reference
electronics: a Copland CTA-305 tube
amplifier and a Moon W-5LE power
amplifier. Those two units are linked by
a cable which actually cost more than the
whole Galaxy 34!
We anticipated that a small amplifier
might have problems with high-octane
percussion, and to check this out we
put on the Fantasy on a Theme by Haydn
(Norman Dello Joio, Klavier K11138).
To give the amp an even break, we
maximized its output by first listening
in Ultralinear mode.
“This is very interesting,” said Albert.
“Of course there’s less power available,
but this amplifier has vigor, and the
orchestra is detailed and energetic.”
“I like the word ‘vigor,’ said Toby.
“The low end is surprising. There isn’t
quite the same sustained energy, and the
overall sound is less articulate, but the
rich harmonics are actually better.” We
noted the spaciousness, too, which was
very good, though all of the instruments
were a little more distant.
But what would happen if we downshifted into triode mode? We played the
piece again, and we liked it even more this
time. A few back-and-forth comparisons
merely confirmed our initial impression.
We decided we would do the rest of the
listening in triode configuration. We
would now be down to a (rated) 16 watts
per channel, but we weren’t about to go
easy on the amplifier. If it turned out
50   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
to have insufficient power for the typical music
installation, well then, let the chips fall
where they might.
Our second recording…
The rest of this article can be found in
the complete print or electronic version
of UHF No. 84. Order the print issue
from www.uhfmag.com/IndividualIssue.html (it’s case sensitive). Or subscribe
at www.uhfmag.com/Subscription.html.
The electronic issue is available from
www.magzee.com.
We now cont inue in im itat ion
Latin.
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nos aliquatuerit iusto con velenit ilit
luptat.
Summing it up…
Brand/model: Audio Space Galaxy 34
Price: C$1859 (equiv. US$1728)
Size (WDH): 39.5 x 30 x 19.5 cm
High-level inputs: 3
Most liked: Warm, engaging sound
Least liked: Front panel more flashy
than practical, a need for more inputs
Verdict: Among smaller tube amps,
this one is a find
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inciduis aliquam eum doloborer sed tionsenit lum nos dolore eum niam iustrud
euis am euipsum.
CROSSTALK
Another
unique feature!
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    51    
Room
Feedback
Listening
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You know how most audio magazines do their reviews: a number of
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dignisc iliscipissi.
reviewers, some with doubtful “reference” systems, are assigned reviews of
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individual components.
adionullamet praestrud tie consequatue
sum esequat. Ut lan veliquat praese facilit nonsenisi.
UHF, on the other hand, maintains actual reference systems, on which
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lutpat nibh euguero ea feuguer suscing enisall reviews are done. All our reviewers participate in each review. The
mod dolorero odiamco rtiscil lamconsequat mincilit acing er accum vulput in utat, quat acidunt dolesto ex er incilis essim numsanmain article is based on the concensus, if there is one, but sometimes on
wismod modion vel ulputat. Utpation utpat ad eril doloreet lan euismol ortinim digna drem verosto eummy nim velendre er ing
divergence.
autpat lobor sectetum quamconulla commy euis nonulla faccumm olortionulla feuipsum
augait am, core tisi.
And then each reviewer gets to write a “Crosstalk,” a personal comAn hendreet nonsenim dit, ver sustrud niation sequatie el ip ea augait, consequam eu facipis cipit, volobore erillaor in utpatie
ment, which may even disagree with the others.
dunt utet autem quam, sis augue magniam adionsectet alis ex exer sum zzriure eugiam vel iustisl dipisim zzrillutetue corpera esendit
There is no pressure to confirm. What you read is really what we
consequat adipis adiam, consed te ming iriurerit ad eros dit alit num del ullutpat, ipisi blandrer susci te magna feugait vel ut
think. And that is what makes UHF unique.
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lum zzriure vullumsan henim iustin utatum consequi bla coreet, vent iriusci bla feu lute tem ing ercilit, velisci liquatuer il utatue
vel ilis aut loborperilla feum do odolore feuipis modolore dolesse conulla feuis adit consequat.
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Music Through the Air
Room
Listening
Feedback
T
here are now numerous
ways to move music
that is stored
in your computer over to your stereo
system, and most of
them involve somehow
getting a USB cable from the
computer over to the hi-fi. That
can be handy if the computer and the
system are nearby, but what if they’re
not? There’s a less messy way: over the
air.
We’ve looked at that possibilit y
before. In UHF No. 76 we reviewed
the Squeezebox 3 (from Slim Devices,
now a division of Logitech). And there’s
another popular method: Apple’s Airport
Express.
“Airport” is the clever name that
Apple gave to its Wi-Fi devices. Most
Airport units are simply wireless routers,
not unlike those from D-Link, Linksys
and Netgear. The Airport Express is
unique, however, and its relatively low
price (US$99, C$109) has attracted
audiophiles eager to experiment, and
also equipment modders.
Us too.
The Airport Express is deceptively
simple. Shaped just like the battery charger for a MacBook portable, it plugs right
into any convenient AC outlet. It has an
Ethernet connector (necessary so that
you can set it up from your computer),
a USB plug intended for a printer that
is then made accessible to your Wi-Fi
network, and an audio miniplug output,
for headphones or an audio cable to your
amplifier.
But there is also a hidden output. At
the bottom of the audio jack is an optical
transducer that gives you access to the
raw digital bitstream from the Airport
Express’s signal. That requires a special
optical cable, a point we’ll get to in a
moment. A similar hybrid outlet is found
on some laptops, and on all current
Macintosh computers.
Actually, it would have been nice if
Apple had found room for a full-sized
TOSLINK optical jack. Where do you find
an appropriate cable, with a mini-optical
52   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
the chain. We chose five CDs, which
we played one after the other. We
then listened to the same selections
through the Airport Express,
connected to the Eximus by the
Monster optical digital cable.
We added an operational shortcut. It’s not
what you would call
convenient to get up
and walk to the room
where your computer
is stored in order to
choose your next music
selection. However our
iPod Touch has a free
application from Apple
called Remote (shown on the next page).
It lets you see titles and artwork for the
music that is on your computer, not on the
iPod itself, and use the iPod as a remote
control. The application is intended
for use with iTunes, but other remotes
are available free or inexpensively for a
number of other “juke box” programs:
for instance, the $4.99 iAmpRemote
can control t he popular Win A mp
program.
jack at
one end and a conventional TOSLINK
plug at the other? Apple sells one…
from Monster, available only as part of
a cable kit, which includes an extension
AC cable for the Airport Express and an
analog cable, going from a mini-phone
plug to a pair of phono plugs. The kit is
expensive, too, at US$39 or C$49.
We do in fact have one of the Monster
cables, and we also have a much lowerpriced TOSLINK cable and an adapter.
We don’t have, for the moment, a glass
TOSLINK cable, though several years Heading for the Airport
ago we liked what we heard from one
We began with our long-standing
such cable, a Wireworld Super Nova. favorite choral recording, Now the Green
Amphenol also makes a glass optical Blade Riseth. It can easily turn to mush,
cable, as does SonicWave.
or worse, if mishandled, and initially
To set up our Airport Express we we were pleasantly surprised by the
connected it to a Mac Pro computer numerous qualities that moved intact
using Ethernet, and fired up the Airport through the pipeline. The choral voices
Setup Assistant (part of Mac OS X — the were well defined, and the flute which
For
yearscomes
now, on
wethe
have
been publishing,
onpiece,
our Web
site, a free
PDF in
Windows
version
included
opens the
and which
continues
version
of
our
magazine.
installer disc). Though Apple products a delightful counterpoint, was smooth.
The reason
is simple.
We
know
looking
forsonic
information,
all but configure
themselves,
this
one
is you’re
Even the
purely
aspects, and
such as
that
is
almost
certainly
why
you’ve
come
to
visit
our
site.
And
that’s
an exception, and the manual could use the depth and the impression
of why
height,
give away
what we
some
consider
to be a startlingly
large
a totalwe
rewrite.
However
didcompetitors
succeed were
surprisingly
good.
amount
information…for
free.
in coaxing
it toofjoin
our Wi-Fi network,
The down side was what we would
We
would
give
it
all
away
for free,
if we
could still
stayainCD
business.
and we then connected it to our Omega
have
expected
from
player less
Recent
figures
indicate
that
each
issue
is
getting
downloaded
as many
system with the optical cable.
competent than the Eximus,
namely
as
100,000
times,
and
that
figure
keeps
growing.
Though we have a reference DAC, increasing hardness in louder vocal
Yes, we know,
if we had
a nickel for
each download…
the Counterpoint
DA-10A,
we opted
passages,
accompanied by a somewhat
Truth
is,
we’re
in
the
business
of
helping
you enjoy
music
home
for the DAC that is part of the Eximus rougher texture.
That
was at
not
a surprise,
under
the
best
possible
conditions.
And
movies
too.
We’ll
do
what
player (reviewed in this issue). We could to be sure. And, let us repeat, we
thisneed
is a
to
do
in
order
to
get
the
information
to
you.
then compare what we heard to the difficult recording to reproduce even
disc
Of played
course,on
wethe
also
want
you to read
our published editions too. We
original
same
Eximus
acceptably.
hope
that,
having
read
this
far,
you’ll
want
readinued
on. wit h one of our
player, thus taking one variable out of
We tocont
Why a free version?
as they are for loudspeakers, but the
Airport Express did well with the song,
perhaps better than it had with any of
the previous selections.
“At the very beginning,” said Albert,
“you can sense her eagerness to get into
the song. The emotion of the song comes
through.” Indeed, even the shortcomings
were turned into advantages. “There’s
less resolution, and the lower register is
less rich,” said Toby, “but that means it’s
a little less ‘zippy’ too. I got a better sense
of the sort of song this is, and I enjoyed
it.”
A first conclusion: getting music from
hard disc in this way results in sound that
is always pleasant and — this is perhaps
even more important — never annoying.
Could we make it a little better yet?
Some variations
The optical cable we had used might
movement). This recording is a delight, have a famous (or infamous some would
at least it is when it is played properly.
say) name on it, but it looks like the
And the Airport Express did well sort of product you’d pick up in a dollar
with it. The melody came through fine, store. Of course lots of companies make
What long-time readers tell us they most like about UHF is that it
and in every way we found the experi- optical cables, but few have the minidoes more than review amplifiers and speakers.
ence pleasant. Of course we did notice TOSLINK connector that will fit the
In every issue, we discuss ideas.
the somewhat thicker sound, which Airport Express. We found another, with
We try to tell you what you need to know, besides what CD player to
kept us from hearing how terrific this no brand name but a fit and finish that
buy.
guitarist truly is. “There’s more string put the Monster to shame (the two are
It’s one of the features that makes UHF Magazine unlike any other
noise,” said Toby, “and it stands in for shown below). We added an inexpensive
audio magazine.
the missing detail. There is a lot to like, mini-TOSLINK adapter, and we were
though when we played the CD there good to go.
was just more of it.”
We played the Margie Gibson song
We ended with a song by Margie once more, and the difference between
Gibson, not from her famous Sheffield the two optical links was evident for all
recording Say It With Music, but from her three of us.
self-produced album All We Need to Know
There was simply more detail for
(Gibson Girl Music GG-1). We played A one thing. The sibilance (Margie was
Song For You, familiar from versions by quite close to the microphone for this
Karen Carpenter and Leon Russell, but recording) was a little more evident, but
which Gibson sings particularly well.
so were lots of musical cues. There was
Of course female singers are a lots more to the solo cello that opens the
challenge for digital playback systems, song, and we could hear Margie’s breathing. “There’s much more energy in the
double bass,” said Toby, and the ‘liquidity’ is back too.” The softly-brushed
snare drum was a delight.
This was getting pretty good, and
Gerard thought it was good enough to
compete with many a CD player with
audiophile pretensions.
We’ve already mentioned that some
computers have the same hybrid output
jack as the Airport Express. We copied
Margie Gibson’s song to the hard drive
Not just hardware…
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    53    
Room
Listening
Feedback
favorite violin recordings, the Dvorak
Romantic Pieces with violinist James
Ehnes (Analekta FL 2 3191). The violin
is a challenge for any digital system,
because its sound is so rich in upper
harmonics, which digital doesn’t always
handle well.
The Airport Express didn’t handle it
as well as the Eximus player itself had, of
course, but it sinned more by omission
than by commission. The melody flowed
with great transparency and fluidity.
So did the piano accompaniment. It
sounded very good, and unless you heard
better you might not realize you were
missing something.
But some aspects of the music were
missing nonetheless. “There’s less of the
violin’s woody resonance,” said Albert,
“and you lose some of Ehnes’ subtle
bow work.” There were several signs of
diminished resolution, but the liquid
character of the sound kept it from ever
being disturbing. Not perfect, but not
bad.
We had another voice recording
on tap: soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian
singing Pauline Viardot-Garcia’s Haï
Luli (Analekta AN 2 9903). We have
toured shows with this one too, and it is
common for other visitors to ask us for
the record number.
Once again we were impressed by the
sense of flow to the music transmitted by
the Airport Express. Albert proclaimed
this the most successful recording yet,
and he noted that, as in the violin piece,
the accompanying piano flowed like a
mountain stream. Bayrakdarian’s voice
was clear and touching, the words satisfyingly audible.
And yet, despite the fact we were
using the same converter (that of the
Eximus) for both sides of the comparison, there were notable losses. Louder
passages did not sound quite right, and
we were less mesmerized by the illusion
that the singer was really present before
us. “It’s a bit like listening to the CD on
FM radio,” said Toby, “but with a notbad tuner.”
Our fourth recording was of another
solo instrument, acoustic guitar. We
played the romantic ballad Rosa from
the album Seresta Brasileira (Milestone
MCD-9212-2), by Baden Powell (the
guitarist, not the founder of the Scout
of a MacBook Pro laptop computer, and on coffee break. The dynamics were Some conclusions
plugged the same optical cable into it.
anything but natural, and the…aw, the
There’s much talk in audiophile
There was a noticeable improve- heck with it.
circles of the inadequacy of USB conment, though a subtle one. More of the
We had one more variation to try. nectivity for high-quality audio. In this
fine detail in Margie’s voice emerged, We own an Edirol UA-25 interface box, limited set of tests, however, USB beat
making the song even more expressive, which we use for digital recording with the optical link, even though the optiand increasing the (still imperfect) illu- our MacBook Pro, and which we also use cal was plugged into a very high-grade
sion that she was there with us. However with our test microphone for instrument converter. What does it mean?
Youdidn’t
knowsolve
how most
magazines
do their
number
the change of source
all theaudio
tests.
It includes
bothreviews:
a DACa and
its of We were intrigued by the huge difreviewers,
some
with
doubtful
“reference”
systems,
are
assigned
reviews
of
problems. Louder passages remained opposite, an analog-to-digital converter. ference
between the two TOSLINK
individual
components.
hard and not quite natural.
No optical cable this time. We plugged cables. The no-name cable is going to
UHF,
on thewas
other
hand,the
maintains
actual
on which
A preliminary
conclusion
that
Edirol into
the reference
MacBooksystems,
Pro’s USB
pick up a name — our own — and we
all
reviews
are
done.
All
our
reviewers
participate
in
each
review.
Thewill add it to our Audiophile Store. That
the process of transmitting music over connector, and plugged the Edirol to our
maintransparent.
article is based on the P-8
concensus,
there
is one,
but sometimes
the air is not quite
preamp ifwith
a pair
of Atlas
Naviga- on
said, we suspect that we can find far
divergence.
On the Airport Express the Mon- tor cables. We then played A Song for You better optical cables yet, and we will go
And then
each reviewer gets
write a “Crosstalk,” a personal comster cable had turned
in a second-best
onceto
more.
hunting for them.
ment,
which
may
even
disagree
with
the others.
performance. We plugged it into the
It wasn’t
quite the equal of the
We also know that it’s possible to
There
is no
pressure
What you
is really
what
we get true high-end performance using a
MacBook Pro and
listened
again.
To noto confirm.
Eximus playing
theread
original
CD,
with
Andinthat
is what makes
UHF that
unique.
one’s surprise think.
it turned
a miserable
a sound
was a little more laid back different connection, namely Ethernet:
performance. The sound was out of and understated. Still, after suffering see our review of the Linn Klimax DS
focus, with a surprising lack of energy, through several listens with optical in UHF No. 84). Ethernet uses packet
and the tone was cold and lifeless. Not cables, we were grateful for what the switching, an asynchronous protocol
good.
Edirol offered us.
immune to jitter and other timing
We wondered, if only fleetingly, what
The snare drum had returned from errors.
the laptop’s own converter would sound break, for one thing. The presence was
Having come this far, we plan to
like it we plugged an analog cable from vastly better. The piano was particularly continue exploring ways to get better
it directly to our Moon P-8 preamplifier. attractive, and so was Margie Gibson’s sound from music stored on your hard
We didn’t make it all the way through astonishing voice. Her lip and tongue disc. Some improvements will come
the song. The accompanying instru- sounds were audible once more, adding from genuine technological advances,
ments were bunched up, all except for to the feeling that she was there, singing and some from quiet refinements. We’ll
the snare drum, which appeared to be a song for us.
let you know what we find.
Another unique feature!
Room
Listening
Feedback
CROSSTALK
What’s not to like? It’s small and affordable, and it provides a pretty good rendition
of your computer’s stored music.
You may be tempted to herald its arrival
at home with a confident smile, as in Ta
daaa…look, honey, no cables. Expecting overwhelming praise, you’ll probably have to
settle for a slightly raised eyebrow. Or, filled
with inner pride at an affordable upgrade,
you may casually declare, “Guess what,
honey…no new mortgage.” Two eyebrows.
However it turns out, let your desktop or
laptop sing with its new voice for a few days,
and you’ll love the convenience so much that
the entire family may soon vote to bring
home its twin.
—Albert Simon
It occurs to me that judging the potential
of music-from-computer is like judging the
potential of the Compact Disc by listening
54   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
to the Philips CDP-101 of 1982. Though
both are digital sources, the CD is a mature
technology, and computer audio has only just
taken its first steps.
Notwithstanding the uneven results we
heard with the Airport Express, I think it
has huge potential, given its affordable price.
Not many people will add a $2000 laptop to
an audio system, but the little Apple box costs
next to nothing. With a better link, my guess
is that it will deliver on its promise.
There’s something magical about having
all your music just a click or two away. This
is, in any case, the future.
—Gerard Rejskind
Hi-fi was the cool thing to tinker with
in the Fifties, today it’s computers, wireless
networks, digital music libraries. On the
evidence of these sessions, even with a good
modern DAC, you can’t pop your laptop into
your system where your CD player was and
expect even the same quality of sound.
Pretty good digital sound, yes, especially if you use an optical cable instead of
a wireless link. The Airport Express gave a
good-sized image on Green Blade. The optical connection via the Monster cable let me
hear that and also the marvellous lift in spirit
at the final crescendo, despite a coloration I
would call “golden afternoon.” The no-name
optical lost the gold and had more detail,
like the breath sounds on A Song for You.
An analog cable from the laptop’s earphone
jack — oh, I was getting tired of this. The
session began to seem long, and I thought
fondly of the reference player.
A computer source may be a worthwhile
step on the way to a great system, but none
of what I heard this time would be a goal I
would aim for.
—Toby Earp
THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
SPEAKER CABLES
INTERCONNECTS
ATLAS MAVROS CABLES
ATLAS NAVIGATOR
Oxygen-free continuous
cast (OCC) cable: each
strand is a single copper
crystal. Two internal
conductors, plus double
shielding. The double shielding is copper mylar plus close-lapped
99.997% pure OCC copper multi-stranded screen providing 100%
RFI protection. This premium “All-Cu” version (shown here) uses
solid copper connectors that are also continuous cast. The copper
is then silver-plated and double-shielded. We use two in our
reference systems.
ORDER: ANA-1 All-Cu, 1m, $405, ANA-2 All-Cu, 2m, $495
ORDER: ANAB-1 All-Cu balanced, single crystal XLR, 1m, $675
ATLAS QUESTOR
We’ve adopted them for our Alpha system, which sounds better
than ever before. This is a four-wire monocrystal cable with
porous Teflon dielectric. We are not recommending them with
standard bananas or spaces, but we offer them either with ETI
Bayonet Bananas, at no extra cost, or WBT nextgen..
ORDER: AMBCu-3, 3 m pair, Bayonet bananas, $2150
ORDER: AMBCu-5, 5 m pair, Bayonet bananas, $3850
ORDER: AMSCu-3, 3 m pair, WBT nextgen bananas, $2390
ORDER: AMSCu-5, 5 m pair, WBT nextgen bananas, $4090
A big winner in one of UHF’s blind tests of speaker cables is
Hyper 2, an oxygen free stranded wire in Teflon dielectric.. Plus
connectors (we recommend Eichmann Bayonet Bananas, $99.95/
set, two sets needed for AH2, three for biwire).
ORDER: AH2, Hyper 2 cable, $29.95/metre
ORDER: AHB, Hyper Biwire cable, $49.95/metre
ATLAS EQUATOR
ATLAS ICHOR SPEAKER CABLE
Perhaps the best $150
interconnect cable you could
buy. Only it costs just $90. And
yes, that’s in Canadian funds.
Other lengths on order.
ORDER: AE-1, 1 m pair Atlas Equator, $90
ORDER: AE-2, 2 m pair Atlas Equator, $125
ATLAS QUADSTAR
Terrific in our blind test.
With Eichmann Bullet plugs,
or balanced with Neutrik
XLR's. Silver solder included with kit.
ORDER: AQS-1 pair Quadstar kit, 1m $124.95
ORDER: AQS-1A pair Quadstar assembled, 1m $199.95
ORDER: AQS-X pair Quadstar balanced kit, 1m $95.95
ORDER: AQS-XA pair Quadstar balanced, assembled, 1m $169.95
PRISMAL DUAL INTERCONNECT
Continuous-cast single-crystal cable, ready for biwiring. It costs
just $235 per meter of double cable (a 2 m pair has 4 meters of
wire). We suggest adding the Eichmann Bayonet bananas, $99.95
per set of 4, or Furutech connectors, $70 a set of 4..
SINGLE CRYSTAL JUMPERS
Not biwiring? Dump the free jumpers
that came with your speakers. Atlas
jumpers are made from single-crystal
copper, gold-plated spades.
ORDER: ACJ, four single crystal
jumpers, $99.95
DIGITAL CABLES
This Swiss-made cable has especially solid connectors. Teflon
dielectric. oxygen-free copper Toss your “free” interconnects!
ORDER: PD-1, 1 meter pair Prisma Dual Interconnect, $34.95
ATLAS COMPASS DIGITAL
MAVROS INTERCONNECTS
Truly terrific, a pair of these connects our phono preamp to the
preamp of our Omega system
Excellent performance at an affordable price. Single crystal pure
copper. The 1.5m version sounds way better than a 1m.
ORDER: ACD-1.5 digital cable, 1.5m, $160
ATLAS OPUS DIGITAL
ORDER: AMI-1, 1 m Mavros interconnect pair, $1195
ORDER: AMI-2, 2 m Mavros interconnect pair, $1895
TWO CABLES INTO ONE JACK
Need to feed two preamps into two
amps? This solid Y-adapter (two
jacks into one phono plug) is gold
over brass, with Teflon dielectric.
ORDER: FYA, one pair Y adapters, $20
CONNECTORS
EICHMANN BAYONET BANANAS
The Eichmann Bayonet
Banana uses a minimum of
metal, and tellurium copper
at that, but clicks tightly into
any binding post with spring
action. For soldering or crimping, or both.
ORDER: EBB kit 4 bayonet bananas, $99.95
EICHMANN SPADES
ATLAS HYPER SPEAKER CABLES
This could be the world’s lowest-cost
interconnect with single-crystal copper. It has
the same connectors as the Equator (below),
and we thought it sounded like a much more
expensive cable.
ORDER: AQ-1, 1 m pair Atlas Questor, $140
ORDER: AQ-2, 2 m pair Atlas Questor, $180
55
We dumped our reference cable for this one! And to be at its very
best, it has to be this length.
ORDER: AOD-1.5 digital cable, 1.5m, $399
Ready to solder, in
gold-plated copper, or
pure silver. Two sizes,
plus extra narrow for
barrier strips (McIntosh,
Vandersteen, etc.). Price for sets of four.
A. ORDER: EXB, set of 4, barrier strips, (now discontinued)
B. ORDER: EXQ, set of 4, 1/4" (6.3 mm), $32
C. ORDER: EXQA, set of 4, 1/4" (6.3 mm), silver, $55
D. ORDER: EXF, set of 4, 5/16" (8 mm), $44
E. ORDER: EXF,A set of 4, 5/16" (8 mm), silver, $67
EICHMANN BULLET PLUGS
The first phono plug to maintain
the impedance of the cable by using
metal only as an extension of the
wire. Hollow tube centre pin, tiny
spring for ground. Two contacts for
soldering, two-screw strain relief.
Gold over copper. Got silver cable? Get the unique Silver Bullets!
ORDER: EBP kit 4 Bullet Plugs, $77.95
ORDER: EBPA kit 4 Silver Bullets, $154.95
EICHMANN CABLE PODS
Minimum metal, gold over tellurium
copper. Unique clamp system: the back
button turns but the clamp doesn’t.
Solder to it, or plug an Eichmann
banana into it, even from inside!
ORDER: ECP, set of four posts, $119.95
CONNECTOR TREATMENT
DeOxit (formerly ProGold)
cleans connections and
promotes conductivity. Small
wipes for cleaning accessible
contacts, or a squirt bottle for connections you can’t reach.
ORDER: PGW box 25 DeOxit wipes, $35
ORDER: PGS, can DeOxit fluid, $35
ORDER: PGB, both when ordered at the same time, $56
SILVER SOLDER
This is a lovely solder, from the
company that makes Enacom
line filters (which we also like).
Wakø-Tech solder contains 4%
silver, no lead.
ORDER: SR-4N, 100 g solder
roll, $59.95
TOSLINK OPTICAL DIGITAL
The best we’ve found yet,
though we’re still looking.
Add the mini-TOSLINK
adapter for Airport Express or computers with hybrid jacks.
ORDER: TD-1 TOSLINK cable, 1m length $22.95
ORDER: TMT mini-TOSLINK adapter, $3.95
www.uhfmag.com/AudiophileStore.html
SEE EVEN MORE PRODUCTS
IN OUR ON-LINE CATALOG
www,uhfmag.com/AudiophileStore.html
56
THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
MORE CONNECTORS
ANALOG PRODUCTS
For crimping connections to certain connectors from WBT or
Furutech, we recommend the gold crimping sleeves from WBT,
and the special crimping tool.
Buy the tool at the same time as appropriate WBT or Furutech
connectors, and we’ll buy it back at the price you paid when
you’re through.
ORDER: WBT-0403 crimping tool (refundable), $125.
The sleeves are shown here, actual size.
WBT-0431
WBT-0432
WBT-0433
WBT-0434
WBT-0435
WBT-0436
WBT-0437
WBT-0438
0.75 mm sleeve
1 mm sleeve
1.5 mm sleeve
2.5 mm sleeve
4 mm sleeve
6 mm sleeve
10 mm sleeve
15 mm sleeve
$0.50
$0.50
$0.50
$0.50
$0.60
$0.70
$0.85
$0.95
MORE ANALOG…
EXSTATIC RECORD BRUSH
LONDON REFERENCE
The Super
eXstatic. Includes
a hard velvet pad
to get into the
grooves, two sets
of carbon fibre
tufts. We use it every time!
ORDER: GSX record brush, $36
Yes we can supply the awesome London
Reference phono cartridge that we have
adopted for ourselves. Other models on
special order. this unique cartridge has
a line contact stylus, and an output of
5 mV…right for an MM preamp.
ORDER: LRC cartridge, $4695
GOLDRING ELITE
If you have limited funds and
want an MC cartridge with
line contact stylus, this is a great
choice. It's a detuned version of the
very expensive (but discontinued)
Excel we still own.
ORDER: GEC cartridge, $745
J. A. MICHELL RECORD CLAMP
you
a
MOON PHONO PREAMPS
Simaudio has done it:
come up with a worldclass phono preamp that
does magic. The LP5.3 is
one of the best available.
Adjustable MM/MC.
ORDER: Moon LP5.3,
silver (black available on
special order), $1599.
WBT NEXTGEN CONNECTORS
Special price on interconnect, one with an LP5.3 order.
ORDER: ANA-1 Navigator All-Cu, 1m, $405, for $260
ORDER: ANA-2 Navigator All-Cu, 2m, $495 for $350
ORDER: ANAB-1 Navigator balanced, 1m, $675, for $475
ORDER: AMI-1, 1 meter Mavros, $1195, for $895
ORDER: AMI-2, 2 meter Mavros, $1895, for $1495
WBT makes banana plugs and spades for speaker cables, all of
which lock tightly into any post. All use crimping technology.
These nextgen connectors are far superior to previous versions
ORDER: WBT-0610 Kit 4 angled nextgen bananas, $130
ORDER: WBT-0610Ag Kit 4 nextgen silver bananas, $290
ORDER: WBT-0681 Kit 4 nextgen spades, $130
ORDER: WBT-0681Ag Kit 4 nextgen silver spades, $220
The high-tech minimum metal “nextgen” phono plugs. Easy to
solder, with locking collar. Silver version available.
ORDER: WBT-0110, kit 4 nextgen copper plugs, $170
ORDER: WBT-0110Ag, kit 4 nextgen silver plugs, $280
Even more
astonishing: the LP3
includes much of the
LP5.3 technology, still
offers MM/MC, but
costs only a fraction.
Lively and musical, it’s
difficult to match.
ORDER: Moon LP3,
$599
Special price on interconnect, one with an LP3 order.
ORDER AQS-1, Kit ,1 m Quadstar, $124.95, for $59.95
ORDER AQS-1A, Fully assembled Quadstar, $199.95, for $99.95
NOTE: The Moon preamps are shipped set for moving magnet
setting. We’ll reset it to your specification so you won’t have to.
LP RECORD CLEANER
Clamp your LP to the turntable
platter. We use the J. A.
Michell clamp, machined
from nearly weightless
aluminum. Drop it on,
press down, tighten
the knob.
ORDER: MRC Michell
record clamp, $75
ORDER: MRC-R clamp for
Rega and short spindles, $85
ATLAS QUADSTAR PHONO BOX
Got a tone arm with a 5-pin DIN
plug. Substitute this Quadstar cable
and box, and add the interconnect
of your choice. straight DIN (shown)
needs 7 cm clearance. If you have
less, get the version with an angled
DIN plug.
ORDER: AQPS, Quadstar phono
box, $248
ORDER: AQPA, Quadstar phono box, angled DIN, $248
TITAN STYLUS LUBRICANT
Amazing, but true: dabbing
a bit of this stuff on your
stylus every 2 or 3 LPs makes
it glide through the groove
instead of scraping. Fine artist’s brush not included, but readily
available in many stores.
ORDER: TSO-1 Titan stylus oil, $39.95
ZEROSTAT ANTISTATIC PISTOL
A classic
adjunct to
the brush is
the Zerostat
anti-static
gun. Squeeze
the trigger
and release: it
ionizes the air,
which becomes
conductive and drains off the static charge. By the way, it works
for a lot more than LP’s. No batteries needed.
ORDER: Z-1 Zerostat antistatic pistol, $94..95
LP SLEEVES
FURUTECH CONNECTORS
Rhodium-plated banana tightens under pressure. Installs like
WBT banana. The spade installs the same way too..
ORDER: FTB-R, set of four bananas, $70
ORDER: FTS-R, set of four spades, $70
Concentrated cleaner for LP vacuum cleaning machines.
Much safer than some formulas we’ve seen! Half litre, mix with
demineralized or distilled water to make 4 litres.
ORDER: LPC, $19.95
PRICES CAN CHANGE AFTER WE GO TO PRESS.
WE WILL ALWAYS GIVE YOU THE BEST PRICE
www.uhfmag.com/AudiophileStore.html
Keep your records clean and
scratch free. Replace dirty,
torn or missing inner sleeves
with soft-plastic-in-paper Nitty
Gritty sleeves.
ORDER: PDI, package of 30
sleeves, $30
IF WE DON’T LIKE IT YOU WON’T SEE IT HERE
THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
VINYL ESSENTIALS TEST LP
This precision-made German test record lets you check out channel
identification, correct phase, crosstalk, the tracking ability of your
cartridge (it’s a tougher test than the old Shure disc was, and the
resonance of your tone arm and cartridge. When we need to test a
turntable, this is the one we reach for.
ORDER: LP 003, Image Hifi Test LP, $48.95
TURNTABLE BELT TREATMENT
What this is not
is a sticky goo for
belts on their last
legs. Rubber Renue
removes oxidation
from rubber belts,
giving them a new
lease on life. But what astonished us is what it does to even a brand
new belt. Wipe down your belt every 3 months, and make analog
sound better than ever.
ORDER: RRU-100 drive belt
treatment, $14.95
SUPER ANTENNA
MkIII
Ours has no stupid rotary switch to muck
things up, and with a 1.8m low-loss 75
ohm cable and gold-plated push-on F
connector, it has low internal loss. Covers
analog and digital TV bands as well as FM.
ORDER: FM-S Super Antenna, MkIII, $55
CLEANER POWER
MORE POWER TO YOU
Better access to
electrical power.
Change your 77-cent
duplex outlets for
these Hubbell hospital
grade outlets. Insert a
plug and it just snaps
in. A tighter internal
connection as well.
The cheapest improvement you can make to your system.
ORDER: AC-DA Hubbell duplex outlet, $23.95
ORDER: AC-D20 20A duplex, red color, $28.95
UHF 14 POWER CORD
No budget for a premium
cable? Make your own!
We use several ourselves.
Foil-shielded, to
avoid picking up or
transmitting noise.
Assembled or as a kit.
With Hubbell 8215
hospital grade plug and
Schurter 15 A IEC 320
connector. For digital
players, preamplifiers,
tuners, and even medium-powered amplifiers.
ORDER: UHF14-1.5K, 14 gauge power cable kit, $74.95
ORDER: UHF14-1.5 14 cable, assembled, $99..95
Need it longer? Add $20 per metre extra
20-AMPERE POWER CORD
The Power
Foundation III is
a bargain, and
does a wonderful
job of cleaning
the gunk from
the power line.
Requires 20A power cord (it has a different IEC connector. We
recommend the UHF14, shown at right.
ORDER: APF, Audioprism power line filter, $849
ORDER: UHF14-20-1.5 cable, $99..95
This is the one with the big IEC connectors whose contacts are
rotated the other
way. It’s for certain
large power amps
and the Audioprism
Power Foundation
filter. Marinco 20
amp hospital-grade
wall plug, which
fits only a 20 amp
wall outlet. Available with a 15 amp Hubbell wall plug instead.
ORDER: UHF14-20-1.5 cable, assembled, $99.95
Need it longer? Add $20 per metre extra
ENACOM LINE FILTER
UHF/FURUTECH POWER CORD
AUDIOPRISM POWER FILTER
Economy price, but astonishingly effective, we wouldn’t run our
system with less. It actually shorts out the hash on the power line.
ORDER: EAC Enacom line filter, $105
STINGRAY POWER BAR
Most power bars knock
voltage to your equipment
way down, and generate more
noise than a kindergarten
class. The Gutwire Stingray
Squared doesn’t. 12 gauge
double-shielded cable,
Hubbell hospital grade
connectors at both ends. Indispensable!
ORDER: GSR-2 Stingray Squared power bar, $285
We were so pleased with the performance of our UHF14 cable that
we wanted to hear it with
the upscale Furutech
connectors. Wow! Pure
copper IEC connector and
copper/gold wall plug.
ORDER: UHF14F-1.5K,
14 gauge power cable kit,
149.95
ORDER: UHF14F-1.5 14
cable, assembled, 174.95
GUTWIRE G CLEF POWER CABLE
Multiple shielding, including external electrostatic shield connected
to a clip. Used by UHF. Length 1.7 m, longer cords on order. G Clef 2
has 195 conductors, 3 shields providing 98% shielding. Available
optionally with 20A IEC plug (for amplifiers requiring special plug)
ORDER: GGC G Clef, Square 1.7m, $385
SEE EVEN MORE PRODUCTS
IN OUR ON-LINE CATALOG
www,uhfmag.com/AudiophileStore.html
www.uhfmag.com/AudiophileStore.html
57
INSTANT CIRCUIT CHECKER
Plug it into an AC outlet, and the three lights can
indicate a missing ground, incorrect polarity, switched
wires — five problems in all. The first thing we did
after getting ours was phone the electrician.
ORDER: ACA-1, Instant Circuit Checker, $21
IEC ON YOUR DVD PLAYER
Why do big name DVD players come with those
tiny two-prong plugs for their
cords? A good shielded power
cable will do wonders!
ORDER: DVD-A, GutWire
adapter, $39
HOSPITAL GRADE CONNECTION
When we put a quality
AC plug on our kettle,
boiling time dropped by
90 seconds! The best AC
plug we have ever seen is
the Hubbell 8215 hospital
grade plug. It connects to wires under high pressure, and it
should last forever.
ORDER: AC-P2 Hubbell cord plug, $25.95
Amazingly good at a
much lower price are
these two cord plugs
from Eagle. Male and
female versions.
ORDER: AC-P1 Eagle male cord plug, $5.95
ORDER: AC-PF Eagle female cord plug, $5.95
Making your own power cords for your equipment? You’ll need
the hard-to-get IEC 320 connector to fit the gear.
ORDER: AC-P3 10 ampere IEC 320 plug, $9.95
ORDER: AC-P4 15 ampere Schurter IEC 320 plug, $18.95
BETTER DIGITAL
IMPROVED CD WITH FINYL
The maker of Finyl claims it reduces surface
reflections and provides a higher contrast image for
the laser cell of your player. Use it just once. We get a
lot of repeat orders on it. One kit can treat over 200
discs. Or order the refill.
ORDER: F-1 Finyl kit, $40.00
ORDER: F-1R Finyl refill, $35.00
CLEAN YOUR PLAYER
After a few months,
your player may have
more trouble reading
your CD’s. Unlike
some commonlyavailable discs, the
Milty CD lens cleaner
is non-abrasive, so
we use it and rest
easy. Can be used wet
or dry.
ORDER: 2021 Milty CD lens cleaner, $35
58
THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
SUPPORT SYSTEMS
THE SUPERSPIKE
TENDERFEET
Machined cones are wonderful
things to put under speakers or
other audio equipment. They anchor
it mechanically and decouple it
acoustically at the same time.
Tenderfeet come in various versions:
tall (as shown) or flattened, in either
anodized silver or black. Tall Tenderfeet have threaded holes for
a machine screw, or for the optional hanger bolt, which lets you
screw it into wood. If you have a fragile hardwood floor, add the
optional Tendercup (shown above) to protect it.
ORDER: TFG, tall silver Tenderfoot, $15
ORDER: TFGN, tall black Tenderfoot, $16.50
ORDER: TFP, flat silver Tenderfoot, $10
ORDER: TCP, silver Tendercup, $10
ORDER: THB, hanger bolt for Tenderfeet, each $0.80
ISOBEARINGS ARE BACK!!!
Long discontinued, this product from Audioprism
is back. Of the many anti-vibration products
we have tried, this is the one that is by far most
effective for both vertical
and lateral vibration
(unfortunately some of
the most famous ones
don’t work at all). Each
Isobearing consists of a
small ball and a cup to receive it.
There are two models, each with a weight rating. The rating
indicates the maximum weight each Isobearing should bear, but
for optimum performance it should bear at least half of its rated
weight. Use three or more Isobearings, placed according to the
weight of the different sections of the amplifier, digital player,
etc. We now use Isobearings on our DVD player, and we’re glad
they’re back.
ORDER: ISO-M, single Isobearing, 2 kg/4.4 lbs $25 each
ORDER: ISO-G, single Isobearing, 7.5 kg/17 lbs $40 each
It’s blue, and it’s a sort of modelling clay
that never dries. Anchor speakers to
stands, cones to speakers, and damp out
vibration. Leaflet with many suggested
uses.
ORDER: AT-2, Audio-Tak pack, $10
AN ON-THE-WALL IDEA
This is unique: a sealed unit containing a spike and a cup to
receive it. It won’t scratch even hardwood floors. For speakers
or equipment stands, on bare floors only. Four sizes of threaded
shanks are available to fit speakers or stands.
ORDER: SSKQ, 4 Superspikes, 1/4” shank, $75
ORDER: SSKT, 4 Superspikes, 5/16” shank, $75
ORDER: SSKS, 4 Superspikes, 6 mm shank, $75
ORDER: SSKH, 4 Superspikes, 8 mm shank, $75
WHAT SIZE SUPERSPIKE?
Do you prefer spikes for your speakers? Target spikes and sockets
mount in wood. Available with or without tools.
ORDER: S4W kit, 8 spikes, sockets and tools, $39
ORDER: S4WS kit, 8 spikes and sockets, $30
AUDIO-TAK
A good ruler will let you figure it out. The stated size is the outer
diameter of the threaded shank. Then count the threads:
1/4” shank: 20 threads/inch
5/16” shank: 18 threads/inch
M6 (6mm) shank: 10 threads/cm
M8 (8mm) shank: 8 threads/cm
OTHER
SUPERSPIKES
We have also have a Superspike foot
(at right) that replaces those useless
feet on CD players, amps, etc., using
the same screws to fasten them. And
there’s a stick-on version (not shown) for other components.
Need to fasten a speaker
securely to the wall? Nothing
beats the Smarter Speaker
Support for ease of installation
or for sheer strength. And
it holds the speaker off the
wall, so it can be used even
with rear-ported speakers.
Easily adjustable with two
hands, not three, tested to an
incredible 23 kg! Glass-filled
polycarbonate is unbreakable.
Screws and anchors included,
available in two colors.
ORDER: SSPS, pair of black speaker supports, $29.95
ORDER: SSPS-W, pair of white speaker supports, $29.95
TARGET WALL STANDS
We keep our turntables on these, secure from floor vibrations,
wonderful for CD players, amplifiers, and all components.
ORDER: VW-1 Target single-shelf wall stand, $225
ORDER: SSKF, 4 Superspike replacement feet, $80
ORDER: SSKA, 3 stick-on Superspike feet, $50
SPEAKER STANDS
Your “bookshelf” speaker shouldn’t be on a bookshelf. We have the
four-pillar Target stands, in 24” or 28” height, ready to be filled
with sand.
ORDER: MR-24, one pair 24” Target stands, $325
ORDER: MR-28, one pair 24” Target stands, $349
ORDER: VW-2 Target dual-shelf wall stand, $280
AUDIOPHILE RECORDINGS, RECOMMENDED BY UHF STAFF
REFERENCE RECORDINGS
Tutti (HDCD, SACD)
A terrific symphonic sampler from Reference, with dazzling music
by Bruckner, Stravinsky, etc. Also available as RR’s very first SACD
release. Wow!
30th Anniversary Sampler (HDCD)
A collection of excerpts from recent Reference albums.
Yerba Buena Bounce (HDCD)
The (terrific) Hot Club of San Francisco is back, with great music,
well-played, wonderfully recorded by “Profesor” Johnson!
Crown Imperial (HDCD)
The second chapter of the famous Pomp&Pipes saga, with the Dallas
Wind Symphony, in a set of perfectly recorded pieces in glorious
HDCD.
Organ Odyssey (HDCD)
Mary Preston, the organist of Crown Imperial, in a dazzling program
of Widor, Mendelssohn, Vierne, and others.
Beachcomber (HDCD) �
Fennell and the Dallas Wind Ensemble.Includes Tico Tico, A Chorus
line, and a version of 76 Trombones you’ll remember for a long time.
Serenade (HDCD)
A collection of choral pieces, wonderfully sung by the Turtle Creek
Chorale, with perhaps the best sound Keith has given them yet.
Holst (LP) �
From the composer of The Planets, 3 suites for wind band, plus the
Hammersmith Prelude and Scherzo.
Nojima Plays Liszt (HDCD)
The famous 1986 recording of Minoru Nojima playing the B Minor
Sonata and other works is back…in HDCD this time!
Trittico (HDCD) �
Large helping of wind band leader Frederick Fennell doing powerhouse music by Grieg, Albeniz, Nelhybel, etc. Complex and energetic.
Nojima Plays Ravel (HDCD)
Nojima’s other hit disc, now also in glorious HDCD.
Fennell Favorites (LP)
The Dallas Wind Symphony: Bach, Brahms, Prokofiev and more.
Fireworks on this rare Reference LP.
Garden of Dreams (HDCD)
David Maslanka’s evocative music for wind band.
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THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
Jazz Hat (HDCD) �
Pianist Michael Garson, in re-releases of some of his famous recordings
Blazing Redheads (LP)
Not all redheads, this all-female salsa-flavored big band adds a lot of
red pepper to its music.
Felix Hell (HDCD)
The young organ prodigy turns in mature versions of organ music of
Liszt, Vierne, Rheinberger and Guilmant. Huge bottom end!
American Requiem (HDCD)
Richard Danielpour's awesome Requiem mass is all about war, and
about the hope for peace too, with a dedication tied to 9/11.
World Keys (HDCD)
Astonishing young pianist Joel Fan amazes with music from all the
world, including that of Prokofiev and Liszt
Ikon of Eros (HDCD)
Huge suite for orchestra and chorus, by John Tavener. Inspired by
Greek Orthodox tradition. Overwhelming HDCD sound.
Say It With Music (CD) �
Margie Gibson sings Irving Berlin in what may be one the greatest
jazz vocal recordings of all time. And she’s right in your living room!
Growing Up in Hollywood Town (XRCD) �
The Amanda Albums (CD) �
How did they do it? The two complete McBroom recordings, Growing
Up in Hollywood Town and West of Oz, on one terrific CD
I’ve Got the Music in Me (CD) �
This was originally Sheffield’s LAB-2 release. If you haven’t heard
Thelma Houston belt out a song, you’re in for a treat.
Kodo (CD)
A Japanese neo-folk group plays astonishing music, including a 400pound drum that can take out a woofer. Or a wall!
Harry James & His Big Band (Gold CD)
Harry said he would have done this recording for free, because he
sounded better than ever.
Drum/Track Record (XRCD2) �
OPUS 3
Test Records 1, 2 & 3 (SACD)
A blast from the past! Here are 14 cuts from the samplers that
launched Opus 3. They sound better than ever, too
Swingcerely Yours (SACD)
An SACD re-re-release of tracks from superb vibraphonist Lars
HDCD transfer is luminous.
Unique Classical Guitar Collection (SACD)
An SACD, mastered from analog, of some of Opus 3’s long-discontinued classical guitar LPs. Terrific!
Levande (CD) �
The full recording from which “Tiden Bara Går” on Test Record No.1
is taken. Believe it or not, this great song isn’t even the best on the
album! A fine singer, doing folklike material…and who cares about
understanding the words?
Beyond (SACD)
The second recording by the versatile guitarist Peder af Ugglas (who
also did Autumn Shuffle, below), who plays every instrument there is:
jazz, rock, blues, country. From Sweden???
Autumn Shuffle (SACD/LP)
Ugglas plays a number of different guitars, and borrows from jazz,
Blues, and (yes!) country. Piano, organ, trombone, bowed saw, etc.
Showcase 2005 (SACD)
The latest Opus 3 sampler, with Eric Bibb, Mattias Wager, the Erik
Westberg Vocal Ensemble and lots more, in glorious SACD.
Organ Treasures (SACD) �
All those showpieces for big organ you remember hearing through
huge systems…only with all of the power and the clarity of Super
Audio. 4.1 channels, plus 2-channel CD.
Comes Love (HDCD) �
Another disc by the terrific Swedish Jazz Kings, led by saxophonist
Tomas Ornberg, proving again Sweden understands jazz. The sound
is luminous, sometimes dazzling.
SHEFFIELD
The King James Version (CD)
Harry James and his big band, live from the chapel!
Erstrand, from 1983 to 1995. Long overdue!
Just Like Love (SACD/LP) �
The newest from Eric Bibb, less oriented to Gospel and more to Blues.
Bibb’s group, Needed Time, is not here, but he’s surrounded by half a
dozen fine musicians. A nice recording. Hybrid SACD.
PLUS THESE HDCD RECORDINGS:
Pomp&Pipes (HDCD) �
Requiem (HDCD) �
From the Age of Swing (HDCD) �
Swing is Here (HDCD) �
Copland Symphony No. 3 (HDCD) �
Medinah Sessions, two CDs for one (HDCD)
Ports of Call (HDCD)
Bruckner Symphony No. 9 (HDCD) �
Ein Heldenleben (HDCD) �
59
It’s Right Here For You (HDCD) �
Is there, anywhere, a better swing band than The Swedish Jazz Kings
(formerly Tömas Ormberg’s Blue Five)? Closer to Kansas City than to
Stockholm, they are captivating.
Test CD 4 (SACD)
A sampler of Opus 3 performers, clearer than you’ve ever heard them
before. Hybrid disc.
Test CD 5 (HDCD) �
Another of Opus 3’s wonderful samplers, including blues, jazz, and
classical music. A number of fine artists, captured with the usual pure
Blumlein stereo setup. A treat.
Showcase (SACD/LP) �
Available as a hybrid SACD/CD disc, or a gorgeously-cut LP, with
selections from Opus 3 releases.
Good Stuff (DOUBLE 45 LP/HDCD/SACD) �
As soothing as a summer breeze, this disc features singer Eric Bibb
(son of Leon), singing and playing guitar along with his group. Subtle
weaving of instrumentation, vivid sound.
Spirit and the Blues (DOUBLE 45 LP/CD/SACD) �
Like his father, Leon Bibb, Eric Bibb understands the blues. He and
the other musicians, all playing strictly acoustic instruments, have
done a fine recording, and Opus 3 has made it sound exceptional.
Tiny Island (SACD)
If you like Eric Bibb and his group Good Stuff as much as we do, pick
this one up.
20th Anniversary Celebration Disc (HDCD) �
A great sampler from Opus 3. Includes some exceptional fine pieces,
jazz, folk and classical. The sound pickup is as good as it gets, and the
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Concertos for Double Bass (CD/SACD) �
This album of modern and 19th Century music is a favorite for its
deep, sensuous sound. And the music is worth discovering. It is sensuous and lyrical, a delight in every way.
Across the Bridge of Hope (SACD)
An astonishing choral recording by the Erik Westberg Ensemble,
famous for its Musica Sacra choral recording.
Musica Sacra (HDCD/SACD) �
Test Record No.4 (LP) �
PROPRIUS
Antiphone Blues (CD) �
This famous disc offers an unusual mix: sax and organ! The disc
includes Ellington, Negro spirituals, and some folk music. Electrifying performance, and the recording quality is unequalled.
Antiphone Blues (SACD/HDCD) �
This is the Super Audio version, with a Red Book layer that is HDCDencoded. The best of both worlds!
Now the Green Blade Riseth (CD/SACD) �
Religious music done a new way: organ, chorus and modern orchestra. Stunning music, arranged and performed by masters, and the
effect is joyous. The sound is clear, and the sheer depth is unequalled
on CD. The new SACD version is the very best SACD we have yet heard!
Jazz at the Pawnshop Set (SACD) �
The entire set oin glorious SACD, plus a video DVD with interviews
with the set’s creators.
Jazz at the Pawnshop 2 (CD/SACD) �
From the original master, another disc of jazz from this Swedish pub,
with its lifelike 3-D sound. Now a classic in its own right.
Good Vibes (CD)
The third volume of Jazz at the Pawnshop. And just as good!
Cantate Domino (CD/SACD) �
This choral record is a classic of audiophile records. The title selection is stunningly beautiful. The second half is Christmas music, and
includes the most stunning version of O Holy Night we’ve ever heard.
Sketches of Standard (CD)
ANALEKTA
Violonchello Español (CD) �
I Musici de Montréal comes to Analekta, with a stunning album of
Spanish and Spanish-like pieces for cello and orchestra.
Vivace (CD) �
Classical or rock? Claude Lamothe plays two cellos at the same time
in an amazing recording of modern compositions.
Pauline Viardot-Garcia (CD) �
Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian steps into the role of 19th Century
singer and composer Pauline Viardot so convincingly that listening
to her is like going back in time. One of the best classical recordings
of all time!
60
THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
Romantic Pieces (CD) �
How does James Ehnes manage to get such a sweet sound from his
Stradivarius? Czech pieces from Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek. The
playing is as glorious as the tone, and the sound is sumptuous.
Cantabile (CD)
The Duo Similia is made up of striking blonde twins, who play flute
and guitar. Familiar airs from Mozart, Fauré, Elgar, Ravel, lots more.
Fine listening.
Nota del Sol (CD) �
The Labrie twins are back, with a delightful recording of flute and
guitar music by Piazzola, Pujol and Machado. Joyous works, wonderfully played and recorded
Fantasia (CD)
A third, gorgeous, recording by the twins, on flute and guitar.
Fritz Kreisler (CD)
Possibly the best recording of Kreisler’s delightful violin music: James
Ehnes and his Strad bring a new magic to this fine disc.
French Showpieces (CD) �
Awesome violinist James Ehnes, with the Quebec City Symph. takes on
Saint-Saëns, Berlioz, Chausson, Massenet, and more.
Handel (CD) �
Superb soprano Karina Gauvin is joined by the Toronto chamber
ensemble Tafelmusik in a series of glowing excerpts from Handel’s
“Alcina” and “Agrippina.” The sound is smooth and lifelike, with an
acute sense of place.
Little Notebook of Anna Magdalana Bach (CD) �
Over 30 delightful pieces, most by Bach himself. Soprano Karina
Gauvin’s voice is mated to Luc Beauséjour’s harpsichord work. The
sound is deep, detailed and warm, truly of audiophile quality.
Vivaldi: Motets for Soprano (CD) �
The wonderful soprano Karina Gauvin tackles the gorgeous but very
difficult vocal music of Vivaldi: two motets and a psalm.
AUDIOQUEST
Mississipi Magic (CD/SACD)
The legendary Blues, Gospel, rock and world beat singer and musician Terry Evans, in an energetic recording we loved.
Come to Find (CD) �
The first by Bluesman Doug McLeod, as impressive as the second, and
no Blues fan should resist it.
You Can’t Take My Blues (CD) �
Singer/songwriter Doug MacLeod and colleagues present one of the
most satisfying Blues records ever made.
Unmarked Road (SACD)
The third disc from the great blues singer and guitarist Doug McLeod
is every bit as good as the first two.
Bluesquest sampler (CD)
Styles (CD)
Is this ever a surprising disc! Violinist Marc Bélanger worked up these
string études for his music students, but they actually deserve to be
put out on a gold audiophile disc! The more strings he adds, the better
it gets.
Fable (CD)
Easygoing modern jazz by Rémi Bolduc and his quartet, on this gold
disc. Some exceptional guitar and bass solos.
Musique Guy St-Onge (CD)
One-man band St-Onge plays dozens of instruments — scores for
fourteen films which never existed outside of his imagination. Fun
pretext, clever, attractive music that makes you wish you could see
the films!
HI-RES MUSIC (FOR DVD PLAYERS)
Tres Americas (CD)
A gold audiophile disc of lively Latin fusion music. Irka Mateo and
Tadeo de Marco sing and play, drawing their influence from Africa as
well as their native Brazil. Clear, close-in sound.
Sonatas for Flute and Harp
These same great artists with sonatas by Krumpholz and Damase, as
well as Spohr and Glinka. Oh yes, and a spectacular solo harp version
of Ibert’s hilarious Entr’acte .
Norman Dello Joio (CD) �
This contemporary composer delights in the tactile sound of the wind
band, and the Keystone Wind Ensemble does his music justice. So
does the sound, of astonishing quality!
Carmina Burana (CD)
The celebrated Carl Orff oratorio sends chills down your spine, thanks
to the huge orchestra, gigantic choir, and of course the clarity and
depth of the Klavier sound.
Obseción (CD)
The Trio Amadé plays Piazzola, Berstein, Copland, and Emilion
Cólon…who is the trio cellist. The Colón and Piazzola is definitely
worth the price of admission. Lifelike sound.
Brazilian Soul (24/96 DVD)
Guitarists Laurindo Almeida and Charlie Byrd, plus percussion and
bass, in an intimate yet explosive recording of samba and bossa nova
music. Great!
Misbehavin’ (CD)
The superb Denver Brass does Gershwin (Cuban Overture, Porgy and
Bess), plus On the Town, Sweet Georgia Brown, and of course Ain’t
Misbehavin’. Great sound.
Jazz/Concord (24/96 DVD)
It's 1972, and you have tickets to hear Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, Ray Brown
and Jake Hanna at the Concord Jazz Festival. You won’t ever forget it.
You can be there, with this high resolution disc that goes in your DVD.
Hemispheres (CD)
The North Texas Wind Symphony with new music by contemporary
composers who know how to thrill. Some of the best wind band sound
available.
Rhythm Willie (24/96DVD) �
Guitarists Herb Ellis and Freddie Green, With bassist Ray Brown and
others. This is an uncompressed 24 bit 96 kHz disc that can be played
on any video DVD player. Awesome!
Illuminations (CD)
Absolutely great chamber musicians take on music by Villa-Lobos,
Malcolm Arnold, and some composers you may not know but you’ll
wish you did. Sublime sound, nothing less.
Trio (24/96 DVD) �
Pianist Monty Alexander with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown. “Makes CD
sound seem as if it’s coming through a drinking straw.” Playable on
any DVD player, uncompressed.
Kickin’ the Clouds Away (CD)
Gershwin died more than 60 years ago, but you can hear him playing
piano in glowing stereo. Nineteen of his pieces are on this fine CD,
including a solo piano version of the Rhapsody in Blue.
Seven Come Eleven (24/96 DVD)
Herb Ellis and Ray Brown again, but this time with guitarist Joe
Pass (he and Ellis alternate playing lead and rhythm), and a third
guitarist, Jake Hanna. This is a live recording from the 1974 Concord
Jazz Festival.
FIRST/LAST IMPRESSIONS
Soular Energy (24-96 DVD/ 24-192 DVD-Audio) �
Perhaps the world’s greatest bassist, the late Ray Brown, playing with
pianist Gene Harris, whom Brown called one of the greats. The proof
is right on this 24/96 recording, made from the analog master. Side 2
has a 24/192 DVD-A version.
KLAVIER
Evolution (CD)
Lowell Graham and the USAF wind band, with two superb suites by
Holst, plus music by Nelhybel, Hanson, etc. Lively, tactile sound with
impact by Bruce Leek..
Poetics (CD) �
A superb wind band recording which includes a breathtaking
concerto for percussion.
SILENCE
Djembé Tigui (CD)
This gold disc features the voice and percussion of African artist
Sekou Camara, captured by the famous Soundfield microphone.
Camara died just before the disc was released. A long-time best-seller
worldwide
Caprice (CD) �
Can harp be spectacular? Believe it! This famous Klavier recording
features Susann McDonald playing Fauré, Glinka and Liszt, is a
powerhouse! Engineered by Keith O. Johnson, with a great transfer by
Bruce Leek.
www.uhfmag.com/AudiophileStore.html
La Fille Mal Gardée (XRCD)
A fine ballet with the Royal Ballet Company orchestra, from the
original 1962 Decca recording. Exceptional
Film Spectacular II (XRCD)
The orchestra of Stanley Black plays some of the greatest film music
of bygone years. From the original Decca Phase 4 tape.
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante (XRCD)
Igor and David Oistrakh with the Moscow Philharmonic, in a glorious
1963 recording, from the original master tape
Artistry oi Linda Rosenthal (HDCD) �
The great violinist Rosenthal plays favorites: Hora Staccato, Perpetuum Mobile, Debussy’s Beau Soir, etc.
Suite Española (XRCD) �
The Albéniz suite, gorgeously orchestrated by Rafael Frühbeck de
Burgos, who conducts the New Philharmonia. Beautifully remastered
from the original 1963 tape.
Audiophile Reference IV (SACD) �
A stunning sampler, with recognizable audiophile selections you have
never heard sound this good!
Songs My Dad Taught Me (HDCD)
Jazz pianist Jeremy Monteiro and three other musicians, with a retro
collection of unforgettable tunes.
THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
Café Blue (HDCD/CD) �
Gold HDCD version of jazz singer Patricia Barber’s 1994 classic, an
audiophile underground favorite. Or get the original CD, at lower cost.
MISCELLANEOUS
Pipes Rhode Island �
John Marks recorded this tour of the organs of the tiny state, with
amazing tones, captured in astonishing sound
All We Need to Know �
Jazz singer Margie Gibson’s first album since Say It With Music, on
Sheffield. No one sings the way she does!
Classica d’Oro (CD)
All of the classical world’s most important heritage, on 50 audiophilequality gold CDs, at under $4 per CD. Fine artists from Germany,
Austria, the UK, Eastern Europe. Listen to excerpts on line.
61
Neil Diamond: Serenade (CD)
Just eight songs on this European CBS disc, but what songs! I’ve Been
This Way Before, Lady Magdalene, Reggae Strut, The Gift of Song,
and more. Glowing sound too.
Nocturno (CD)
Some are saying that this is Bïa’s best and most touching album since
Sources. See if you agree. You won’t be disappointed.
Harry Belafonte (CD)
We haven’t heard Belafonte sound like this except on analog. The 16
songs include Island in the Sun, Jamaica Farewell, Midnight Special,
Michael Row the Boat Ashore, Brown Skin Girl, etc.
Duke Ellington 70th Birthday Concert (LP)
A double 180-gram LP set, recorded live in England Includes Take the
‘A’ Train, Satin Doll, Perdido, many others.
Sources (CD) �
A wonderful recording by Bïa (pronounced Bee-yah). She’s Brazilian,
lives in France, recorded this terrific album (in 5 languages!) in
Montreal. Just her warm voice and guitar,
La mémoire du vent (CD)
The original recording by Bïa, in French, Portuguese and English. If
you love her second one, don’t hesitate.
Carmin (CD) �
The third by Bïa. Different this time, with more money for production,
but it has been spent wisely. Superb songs, gloriously sung in Portuguese, French and the ancient Aymara language.
Blues for the Saxophone Club (HDCD) �
Swing jazz pianist Jeremy Monteiro, with guest artists, including
saxophonist Ernie Watts. The HDCD sound is explosive!
My Foolish Heart (CD)
A collection of live and atudio pieces by Monteiro and other musicians, notably saxophonist Ernie Watts
Coeur vagabond (CD)
Bïa sings French songs in Portuguese, Brazilian songs in French. A
delight, as usual from this astonishing singer
PURE PLEASURE LPs
Is That All There Is? (LP)
Yes, it’s a 180-gram vinyl version of what must be Peggy Lee’s most
famous album. Includes Me and My Shadow, I’m a Woman, Don’t
Smoke in Bed, more.
Blue Rose (LP)
In the 50’s, Rosemary Clooney was at the top of her form, with a
technique that sends chills down your spine. She is accompanied by
Duke Ellington and his musicians. She does definitive versions of
Ellington songs, such as Sophisticated Lady, It Don’t Mean a Thing
If It Ain’t Got That Swing, I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good. This is a
mono LP, but listen to hear how great mono could be!
After Midnight (LP)
A mono double-album of Nat King Cole’s greatest performances,
with his own trio. Includes Sometimes I’m Happy, Caravan, It’s Only
a Paper Moon, Route 66, You Can Depend on Me. A great classic,
available on premium vinyl once more..
Payment by VISA or MasterCard, cheque or money order (in Canada). All merchandise is guaranteed unless explicitly sold “as
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62
THE AUDIOPHILE STORE
VINYL ALBUMS
After Midnight (2 LP)
W782
Autumn Shuffle
LP22042
Blazing Redheads
RR-26
Blue Rose
CL872
Duke Ellington 70th B’day (2 LP)60001
Fennell Favorites
RR-43
Good Stuff (2 LP)
LP19603
Is That All There Is?
ST-386
Jazz at the Pawnshop
7778-79
Just like Love
LP20002
Showcase
LP20000
Spirit and the Blues (2 LP)
LP19401
Test Record No.4
OPLP9200
Trittico
RR-52
Vinyl Essentials (test)
LP003
48.00
27.95
25.00
36.00
48.00
25.00
47.95
36.00
65.00
27.95
27.95
47.95
27.95
32.00
48.95
NEW MEDIA (SACD, DVD, ETC.)
Across the Bridge of Hope
CD22012
24.95
Antiphone Blues (SACD)
7744SACD 37.95
Audiophile Reference IV
SACD 029
40.00
Autumn Shuffle (SACD)
CD22042
24.95
Beethoven/Mendelssohn
5186 102
29.95
Beyond (SACD)
CD22072
24.95
Brazilian Soul (DVD)
HRM2009
24.95
Cantate Domino (SACD)
PSACD7762 29.95
Conc. for Double Bass (SACD) CD8522
37.95
Good Stuff (SACD)
CD19623
37.95
Jazz at the Pawnshop (3-SACD)PRSACD7879 90.00
Jazz at the Pawnshop 2 (SACD)PRSACD7079 37.95
Jazz/Concord (DVD)
HRM2006
24.95
Just Like Love (SACD)
CD21002
24.95
Mississipi Magic (SACD)
AQSACD1057 24.95
Musica Sacra (SACD)
CD19516
24.95
Now the Green Blade Riseth PRSACD9093 29.95
Organ Treasures (SACD)
CD22031
24.95
Rhythm Willie (Audio DVD)
HRM2010
24.95
Seven Come Eleven (DVD)
HRM2005
24.95
Showcase (SACD)
CD21000
24.95
Showcase 2005 (SACD)
CD22050
24.95
Soular Energy (DVD/DVD-A) HRM2011
24.95
Spirit & the Blues (SACD)
CD19411
24.95
Swingcerely Yours
CD22081
24.95
Tchaikovsky: Symph. #6 (SACD) 5186 107
29.95
Test CD 4 (SACD)
CD19420
24.95
Test Records 1-2-3
CD19520
24.95
Tiny Island (SACD)
CD19824
24.95
Trio (Audio DVD)
HRM2008
24.95
Tutti (SACD)
RR-906SACD 24.00
Unique Classical Guitar (SACD).CD22062
24.95
Unmarked Road (SACD)
AQ1046SACD 29.95
Whose Truth, Whose Lies?
AQ1054SACD 29.95
RED BOOK COMPACT DISCS
20th Anniversary Celebration
30th Anniversary Sampler
Alleluía
All We Need to Know
An American Requiem
Antiphone Blues
CD19692
RR-908
AN 2 8810
GG-1
RR-97CD
7744CD
19.95
16.95
21.00
21.00
16.95
21.95
Artistry of Linda Rosenthal
Bach Sonatas, violin & harpsi.
Bach Suites, Airs & Dances
Beachcomber
Best of Chesky & Test, vol.3
Best of the Red Army Chorus
Beethoven Symph. 5 & 6
Blues for the Saxophone Club
Bluesquest
Bossa Nova
Bruckner: Symph. No.9
Café Blue
Café Blue (HDCD gold)
Cantabile
Cantate Domino
Caprice
Carmin
Carmina Burana
Classica d’Oro (50 CDs)
Come to Find
Come Love
Companion
Coeur vagabond
Concertos for Double Bass
Copland Symphony No.3
Djembé Tigui
Drum/Track Record
Ein Heldenleben
Evolution
Eybler Quartets
Fable
Fantasia
Felix Hell
Flm Spectacular II
French Showpieces
Fritz Kreisler
From the Age of Swing
Garden of Dreams
Gitans
Good Stuff
Good Vibes
Growing up in Hollywood Town
Handel
Harry Belafonte
Harry James & His Big Band
Hemispheres
Illuminations
Infernal Violins
It’s Right Here For You
I’ve Got the Music in Me
Jazz at the Pawnshop
Jazz at the Pawnshop 2
Jazz Hat
Jazz/Vol.1
Keep on Movin’
Kickin’ the Clouds Away
Kodo
La Fille Mal Gardée
La mémoire du vent
Les matins habitables
FIM022VD
27.95
AN 2 9829
21.00
FL 2 3133
21.00
RR-62CD
16.95
JD111
21.95
AN 2 8800
21.00
AN 2 9891
21.00
26-1084-78-2 21.95
AQCD1052 21.95
JD129
21.95
RR-81CD
16.95
21810
21.95
CD 010
39.95
AN 2 9810
21.00
7762CD
21.95
K11133
21.00
ADCD10163 21.00
K 11136
21.00
GCM-50
149.95
AQCD1027 21.95
CD19703
19.95
22963
21.00
ADCD10191 21.00
OPCD8502 21.95
RR-93CD
16.95
SLC9605-2 22.00
10081
21.00
RR-83CD
16.95
K11161
21.95
AN 2 9914
21.00
SLC9603-2 22.00
AN 2 9819
23.00
RR-101CD
16.95
XR24 070
35.00
FL 2 3151
21.00
FL 2 3159
21.00
RR-59CD
16.95
RR-108
16.95
Y225035
24.95
CD19603
19.95
PRCD9058 19.95
LIM XR 001 38.95
FL 2 3137
21.00
295-037
19.95
10057-2-G
24.00
K11137
21.00
K11135
21.00
AN 2 8718
21.00
CD19404
19.95
10076
21.00
PRCD-7778 19.95
PRCD9044 19.95
RR-114
16.95
JD37
19.95
AQCD1031 19.95
K77031
21.00
12222-2
21.00
XR24 013
38.95
ADCD10144 21.00
GSIC-895
21.00
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Levande
OPCD7917
Leyrac chante Nelligan
AN 2 8815
Liszt-Laplante
FL 2 3030
Little Notebook of Anna M. BachFL 2 3064
Masters of Flute & Harp
KCD11019
Medinah Sessions
RR-2102
Mendelssohn: 2 Violin Conc. FL 2 3098
Misbehavin’
K77034
Mozart Complete Piano Trios AN 2 9827-8
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante XR24 069
Mozart: Soprano Arias
FL 2 3131
Musica Sacra
CD19506
Musique Guy St-Onge
SLC9700-2
Musiques d’Europe centrale 88001
My Foolish Heart
26-1084-92-2
Neil Diamond: Serenade
465012-2
Nocturno
ADCD10227
Nojima Plays Liszt
RR-25CD
Nojima Plays Ravel
RR-35CD
Non-Stop to Brazil
JD29
Norman Dello Joio
K11138
Nota del Sol
AN 2 9817
Now the Green Blade Riseth PRCD9093
Obseción
K11134
Opera for Two
FL 2 3076
Organ Odyssey
RR-113
Pauline Viardot-Garcia
AN 2 9903
Pipes Rhode Island
CD101
Poetics
K11153
Pomp&Pipes
RR-58CD
Ports of Call
RR-80CD
Requiem
RR-57CD
Rio After Dark
JD28
Romantic Pieces
FL 2 3191
Sans Domicile Fixe
19012-2
Say It With Music
CD-36
Serenade
RR-110
Sketches of Standard
PRCD 9036
Songs My Dad Taught Me
FIM0009
Sources
ADCD10132
Spirit and the Blues
CD19401
Styles
SLC9604-2
Suite Española
XR24 068
Swing is Here
RR-72CD
Telemann Sonatas for 2 Violins FL 2 3085
Test CD 5
CD20000
The King James Version
10068-2-F
Tres Americas
SLC9602-2
Trittico
RR-52CD
Tutti (HDCD)
RR-906CD
Ultimate Demonstration Disc UD95
Villa-Lobos
FL 2 3051
Violonchelo Español
AN 2 9897
Vivace
AN 2 9808
Vivaldi: Motets for Soprano
FL 2 3099
Vivaldi: Per Archi
FL 2 3128
World Keys
RR-106
Yerba Buena Bounce
RR-109
You Can’t Take My Blues
AQCD1041
19.95
21.00
21.00
21.00
21.00
16.95
21.00
21.00
27.50
38.95
21.00
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22.00
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Software
The 20 Century
Rubinstein
th
I
n the picture above you see the famous
man, immortalized with a life-sized
statue in his native city of Łódź. But
look on the next page, where you’ll
see a lad with curly blond locks and spark­
ling eyes. Who is this cherub who is such a
charmer at the age of three? What path will
he follow, what life will he lead? What will
he leave behind?
We are stunned when we study the avalanche of what has been written about him,
about the many demonstrations of his prodigious talents, not only in piano but also in
languages and in history. Such intelligence!
And did I mention his charm?
Yet his life nearly ended when he was
but 20, when he attempted suicide. Having
failed in that enterprise, he will embrace life
without limit, refusing any guilt over sterile
regrets. Well into his nineties, he will affirm, with a touch of humor, that to find the
happiest man he knows, he has but to look in
the mirror, This exceptional being impressed
me no end, and I invite you to discover Arthur Rubinstein…or rediscover him.
To follow this sparkling personality across nearly a century is a voyage
of delightful discovery. In his Memoirs,
there is no trace of the banality, of the
platitudes and clichés that are often the
mainstay of biographies. Without wish-
by Reine Lessard
ing to minimize any gaps or errors that
may be found in the two volumes of
his life, I can say that his phenomenal
memory and his incomparable story­
telling talent provide a rich trove of
fascinating historical details. Rubinstein
lived through two world wars and was a
witness to the horrors of Communism,
Nazism and Fascism. Such an auto­
biography can outshine many a history
book, whose author may have his own
agenda.
Arthur Rubinstein sees the light of
day in 1887 in a Jewish family in Łódź,
which is today in Poland, though it was
then dominated by the Russian empire.
In Polish and other Slavic languages,
Arthur is often written Artur, but his
name really is spelled with an h. His later impresario, the legendary Sol Hurok,
will bill him as Artur, perhaps because
it sounds more exotic. He will in fact
call himself “Artur” in countries where
that spelling is current, just as he will be
“Arturo” in Spain and Italy.
One event in particular launches his
precocious career. At the age of two he
borrows his sister’s piano in order to
exercise his memory by improvising
popular airs. Yet none of his forbears for
several generations had shown a particular interest in music (Arthur is not
related to the pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein, nor to another Russian
pianist, Nicolas Rubinstein). And yet his
uncle, Nathan Follman, is sufficiently
cultivated to realize that not only is Arthur fascinated by the piano, but he has
a considerable gift. Fluent in German,
Follman writes to Joseph Joachim, the
director of the Royal Academy of Music
in Berlin. In a warm letter of acknowledgement, Joachim advises him to find
a good teacher for the lad, but cautions
against putting undue pressure on the
boy. He adds, if you could bring him to me
in Berlin, I would be delighted to see him.
In the meantime Arthur’s mother
signs him up for lessons with a Madame
Pawlowska, whose rigidity however repels him. He is soon introduced to another teacher, one whose appearance is
strange and worrisome for the sensitive
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    63    
Software
Feedback
the authenticity of the people.
At the Warsaw Conservatory, he
meets the magnificent pianist specializing in Chopin, Alexander Michalowski.
Finding Arthur too young, he refers
him to the noted teacher Aleksander
Rózycki. Arthur is boarded with a relative during the period of his studies with
Rózycki.
Though the pain of his separation
from his family will leave traces, it is
compensated by the opportunity of
playing with children his age. His hostess’s library gives him access to literary
treasures that feed his insatiable curiosity and his love of reading. He is less
pleased with Rózycki, whom he finds
tedious. He therefore directs his attention to musical styles he considers more
stimulating, to the displeasure of his old
teacher.
One day, in a Warsaw street, he witnesses a pogrom, a horror that will mark
him for life.
boy. However Adolf Preschner is an
excellent teacher. Arthur makes rapid
progress and, not long after, he is invited to participate in a charity concert.
Of course a special authorization is required, since he is only seven. Preschner agrees without hesitation. And thus
begins the preparation for a substantial
program that will bring him his first
successes.
Warsaw
Though Arthur is surrounded by
loving family, he is shattered by the loss
of his adored little cousin Noemi, shown
with him in the picture above, and that
64   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
of his grandfather. During this period of
mourning, he maintains only enough interest in music to practice his scales. He
throws himself into voracious reading,
seizing upon everything he finds: fairy
tales, history books and biographies of
illustrious men. Preschner deplores his
laziness and his lack of motivation.
In 1898 his parents consider that the
time has come to send him to Warsaw.
Never before having left his native city,
Arthur discovers the beauty of his country. He admires the countryside, he is
ecstatic before the majesty of its forests,
its limitless fields and its gold-tinged autumn leaves. He is equally impressed by
Berlin
Arthur receives an occasional visit
from members of his family in Łódź,
and one morning his mother arrives
unannounced to bring him home. Arthur then learns that his father Isaac,
who owns a textile factory, is ruined,
as indeed are many of his compatriots.
Needing to seek out new trades, they
scatter to the four corners of the land.
The Warsaw experience has not
been the much-anticipated success, and
that for several reasons. Madame Rubinstein, who is tireless in her presence
for her son, begins once again to evoke
Berlin and Joseph Joachim. It should be
said that Joachim had also been a prodigy, considered at the age of 13 one of
the greatest violinists of his time!
Not only does Joachim agree to take
charge of the lad’s musical education,
but his cultural guidance as well. He
poses a condition: Arthur must complete his education until he is mature,
and he must never be exploited as a child
prodigy. The promise will be kept.
And so we see the young Arthur
at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin,
where Joachim introduces him to Karl
Heinrich Barth, the dean of piano at the
Imperial Academy of Music.
Barth is a demanding teacher, and
under his tutelage Arthur makes rapid spite his lack of enthusiasm for reliprogress. Under the agreement with gion in general, he is a willing particJoachim, Barth receives no remunera- ipant in exercises intended to make
tion, and indeed looks after the young him ready for this important step in
boy’s expenses. To avoid sending him to the life of a Jewish adolescent.
high school, he spends two days a week After the ceremony one of the
with him at home, and opens the door female guests, propelled by her emoto courses in theory, harmony and musi- tions and possibly a few more glasses
cal ensemble at the Royal and Imperial than she absolutely needed, kisses
Academy.
him on the mouth, leaving him in a
When he turns 11 Barth seeks to fearful state. He even asks the bold
perfect his culture by getting him les- lady if she will accept to wait a desons with Theodor Altmann, who, like cade or so that he might marry her!
a magician, leads him into a voyage He lays it on thickly, playing the desthrough the centuries of human expe- perate lover who craves her company
rience, overcoming the boy’s resistance for the night-time. So persuasive is
to school texts. Arthur meets Plato, So- he that she actually agrees to come
crates, Aristotle, and a little later Kant by regularly after the household is
and Schopenhauer.
asleep. But the affair ends abruptly
Though Arthur is fascinated by the- when his landlady catches on, and
atre, it is musical life that has the stron- lets the nighttime intruder know
gest attraction for him. Surrounded by she is no longer welcome. The lady
the musical and cultural elite, always leaves without protest, and Arthur con- Then, one day, a miracle. Joachim
prepared to enrich his knowledge, he cludes that her interest was more mater- announces that he has secured an aucontinues to astonish one and all with nal than erotic.
dience with the legendary Polish piahis precocious acquaintance with the It is his first heartbreak.
nist Ignacy Paderewski at his villa in
whole spectre of cultural flux. Joachim’s But let us not dismiss too lightly this Switzer­land. Joachim hopes to obtain an
little protégé is more and more popu- youth’s yearning for a maternal pres- evaluation of the young Arthur’s artistic
lar. Invitations flow, and he is treated as ence, a yearning that will in fact never potential. Arthur, for his part, is at the
though he were an adult rather than a cease. Did his mother abandon him peak of excitement and spends his wakschoolboy. It is thus that, barely at the when he was too young? What we know ing time at the piano, hoping to erase in
threshold of puberty, he spends his is that he will have a voracious appetite just a few days the result of a long period
time with philosophers and learned folk for members of the opposite sex, and of indolence.
of myriad disciplines. Add to that the he will be eternally vulnerable to their Finding himself before the great
What
readers tell
they most
UHF man,
is thatafter
it a long trip and a few worcountless occasions on which
he long-time
is able advances,
nousmatter
theirlike
ageabout
or their
does of
more
amplifiers
to hear the greatest artists
thethan
con-review
social
rank. and speakers.
risome incidents, he is stunned by PaIn everycomissue, we discuss ideas.
temporary world: the immortal
derewski’s handsomeness, by his el and
Weconductor
try to tell you
what you need to know, besides what CDegance,
player to
poser, pianist, professor
Paderewski
and especially by his charm and
buy. French vio- A series of untoward events begin to his smile. Arthur compares him to the
Ferruccio Busoni, the great
It’spianist
one ofand
the features
that makes
UHFhe
Magazine
unlike any
linist Jacques Thibaud, the
affect Arthur:
a concert
himself consun.other
A long chat with the master results
audiothe
magazine.
composer Eugène d’Albert,
Belgian siders a flop, increasingly tense relations in an intimate confidence by Paderewski.
Not just hardware…
A first love affair
Arthur’s 13th birthday falls January
28, 1900. Preparing for his bar-mitzvah,
he studies Hebrew, to be sure, and de-
with the severe Barth, and Barth’s great
pettiness toward Rubinstein père. Worse
yet are Barth’s jealous rages against the
wonderful Altmann, whom he fires summarily to be replaced by someone of his
choosing. Above all there is his mother’s
fierce determination to come share his
life, the better to run it. It requires no
more to break down the resistance of
this hypersensitive boy who has passed
from puberty to adult life far from those
he loves. He has no appetite, and sleep
does not come. Pale, thin and depressed,
he tumbles into serious inertia which
touches anything and everything to do
with music.
His only son, born with a congenital
malformation, has just died. Though
Paderewski may not wish to minimize
the young musician’s problems, he says,
“Don’t take your problems too much to
heart. As you can see, there can be even
greater grief in the life of an artist.”
It is a moment that will remain engraved in the adolescent’s memory. Also
unforgettable, of course, is his private
recital for Paderewski, followed by the
famous pianist’s advice on fingering,
complex pedal work and other important pianistic matters. The young Arthur is invited to return during his summer vacation.
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    65    
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violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe,
whose exuberance and sensuality captivate him, the brilliant pianist Teresa
Careno, not to mention Edouard Risler,
Gabrilowitsch, Arthur Schnabel, and
the famous Joachim quartet.
Regularly invited to the feast tables
of the rich, Arthur always agrees with
grace to play his favorite composers. It
is his way of saying thanks, but it is also
a most enriching experience.
A bronze casting of Arthur Rubinstein’s hands
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For the moment, Arthur pursues his
language studies, and continues to read
with passion.
It should be said that, notwithstanding Arthur’s admiration and gratitude,
he will always resist the great pianist’s
rubato, which he views as exaggerated,
as well as his frequent use of arpeggio
chords.
Once back home. Arthur learns that,
to his relief tinged with guilt, his mother has changed her mind about moving in with him and running his life.
Shortly after comes Paderewski’s letter
to Joachim, confirming Arthur’s brilliant talent, and predicting the greatest
of futures.
66   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
Hello Chopin, goodbye Barth
In the first decade of the 20th Century, Arthur meets Juliusz Wertheim
(called by the sobriquet “Frederic Harman” in his autobiography), a young and
talented musician, the scion of an influential Warsaw family. The Wertheims,
who possess a colossal fortune, organize
salons, at which Arthur is a regular. Juliusz is an unconditional enthusiast of
Frédéric Chopin, and introduces his
new friend to the music of Chopin by
casting it in a new light. He stresses the
qualities that he believes have been overlooked by generations of musicians, of
which Paderewski is the most famous.
Through his friend, Arthur discovers a Chopin whose elegance and emotion are buttressed by a virile strength
that belies the composer’s sickly constitution. Arthur will become Chopin’s
apostle, and his most brilliant performer.
Not going so far as to reject rubato (the
variation of the length of notes, done for
emotional effect) altogether, he learns to
moderate it, and to remove what some
regard as sappiness, and even a lack of
naturalness he has often deplored in the
playing of even some talented pianists.
On the contrary, he brings forth from
Chopin’s music a power and exuberance
that will mark his style, and which will
henceforth delight audiences.
Once sound recordings enter the
musical landscape, Arthur will record
an important part of Chopin’s output,
helping anchor Chopin’s reputation as
a major, powerful composer. His legendary performances will remain unequalled. Even at his final concert at the
age of 89, his failing eyesight leaving
him unable to see the keyboard, he will
perform the Scherzo No. 2 with energy
and power that border on the infernal.
Among his enduring friendships are
those with the great Russian/Polish violinist, Pawel (or Paul) Kochański, who is
also a composer and arranger and taught
at the Warsaw Conservatory from 1909
to 1911, as well as pianist and composer
Karol Szymanowski.
These young people, prodigies to
a man, are the core of a joyous band.
They love music and life, and their gettogethers are always memorable. Arthur,
the youngest of them, conquers many a
society woman, or one of the actresses
passed on to him by Juliusz, for reasons
that will be evident later.
But Arthur tires of Berlin and dreams
of returning to Warsaw. He plays a concert in the Polish capital, and it is there
that — too young to understand feminine psychology — he is once again
wounded by Cupid’s arrow.
He raises his head, and determines
to continue. Henceforth he will look
after himself, with no more tutors and
other guides to interfere. After a final,
fiery argument with Barth, Arthur sets
out toward a new life.
An adolescent in the tumult
In Warsaw Arthur continues to inflame his senses with evenings at the
theatre, animated suppers with his
many friends, lunch with one or another, meetings with the famous of the
worlds of the arts, sciences and politics.
At the age of 17 he is impetuous but
still inexperienced, ready to plunge into
what life can offer in the way of exquisite experiences. He is at a stage where
he truly needs moral support in order
to continue his musical studies in disciplined fashion.
This extroverted young man has
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Paris
In 1904 Rubinstein plays the Brahms
Piano Concerto No. 1 as well as a work by
his new friend, Wertheim’s Fantasy, with
the Warsaw Philharmonic conducted
by Wertheim himself. The same year
we see him in Paris, launching his career in no uncertain terms. Let us, then,
picture this adolescent in the company
of composer and pianist Maurice Ravel,
orchestral genius Paul Dukas, French
violin virtuoso Jacques Thibaud, cellist
Pablo Casals, the eminent organist and
composer Gabriel Fauré, and so many
more leading lights. He even plays
Saint-Saëns’ Concerto No. 2 in G Minor
in the presence of the composer, who is
conquered. The name of Arthur Rubinstein is now known across Europe.
It takes him little time to accommodate himself to the lively life of the
City of Light…so little time, in fact,
that he quickly finds himself penniless.
His need of funds drives him to accept
a concert tour in the United States. In
January of 1906 he plays Carnegie Hall
with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
The critics are but lukewarm, for
American concertgoers don’t much like
his habit of using the forte pedal in order
to mask inaccurate fingering. He pursues his American tour nonetheless, and
his international engagements take him
as far as Russia.
Back in Paris, he throws himself once
again into a frantic lifestyle. He is sometimes so poor he must seek a place to
lay his head, and he is sometimes lionized by a rich and cultivated élite whose
members are only too happy to be seen
in his company. To be blunt, he is not
above using his friends in order to live
beyond his means.
He befriends conductor Serge Koussevitzky and a young composer named
Igor Stravinsky. His circle of friends
widens, and yet…
In 1907, with his taste for high society unbounded, he begins to harbor
doubts about himself. Indebted to the
point of homelessness, he falls into despair, and he even tries to end his life.
As luck would have it, however, the mechanical device he puts together in order to hang himself malfunctions. Thus
saved from oblivion, he feels reborn,
and never again will his love of life betray him.
In these years Berlin is in full transformation, with a quickly growing population, great developments in architecture, a building boom, and a wide array
of cafés, fancy restaurants and theatres.
It becomes a world metropolis, in which
artistic and cultural matters fill a central
role. Rubinstein’s several triumphs in
Two photos from the museum devoted to another great pianist, Emil Gilels. The second photo bears a dedication to Gilels
little difficulty establishing relations
with women of different ages and marital situations, captivated by his talent,
the irresistible charm emanating from
his personality, and the halo which results from his great popularity. How can
they not fall for him? Piano practice can
wait.
Among his conquests are Juliusz’s mother, Aleksandra Wertheim
(“Magdalena Harman” in his Memoirs),
a charming and desirable woman who
pays him much attention and who loves
to sing with him accompanying her. A
full-blown love affair is inevitable, but
she is a demanding mistress. His days
with her are so busy that he neglects the
piano, and so it is only at night that he
finds himself at the keyboard.
However he puts aside what he considers Barth’s limited and old-fashioned
repertoire in favor of a style better suited to his inner Romanticism. He must
prepare for a concert at the Morskie Oko,
which he is counting on to finance his
departure for Paris. Happily, his unique
aptitude for identifying rapidly the sense
and structure of a musical work is of
much aid, as is a phenomenal memory
which will never let him down.
In truth, he often accuses himself of
laziness, for he eschews mere detail in
order to plunge straight to the heart of
a composer’s message. Certainly it’s easy
to become indolent when everything
comes so easily, and when others must
make twice the effort in order to get the
same results…if indeed they can.
But let us not leap to the conclusion that Rubinstein’s young years are
marked by drinking and wenching.
During this time he has much occasion
to perfect his technique and add to his
artistic baggage. He gives numerous
recitals and he never misses a chance
to share music and artistic experiences
with the greatest composers of his era.
Berlin lead to a truly international career: the United States, Australia, Italy,
Russia and Great Britain. From here on,
his life will be made up of a succession
of events that will be fodder both for the
readers of popular publications and the
great music journals.
Rubinstein is conscious of his immaturity, and he returns to his studies
and perfects his repertoire before tourULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    67    
Rubinstein’s wife Nela examines a bust of her husband
his pantomime Pet- is cheery and generous, speaking seven
rouchka, and writes his languages, often welcomed into the
Piano Rag Music (1919) homes of such luminaries of the time as
for him.
Maria Callas, Baron Guy de Rothschild,
The latter piece is not Marc Chagall, and a number of others.
to Rubintein’s liking, Her divorce finally comes through and
and his open hostility to she and Arthur wed in London in 1932.
it puts Stravinsky into a They will have four children.
fury. It is, however, by Now married, Arthur determines
hearing Rubinstein play to look after the promotion of his cait that he will under- reer. Realizing his shortcomings as a
stand that the piano is performer, he spends several years out
more than a percussion of the public eye to polish his technique
instrument, and that its and add to his already immense reperstrings can be made to toire. In 1937, now at the height of his
sing. The two will be- powers, he makes a triumphal return to
come lifelong friends.
New York.
Arthur Rubinstein is He has lost none of his prodigious
now a star. In 1924 two liveliness. His marathon concerts of
recitals at the Théâtre chamber music, alongside Paul Kochaning the capitals of Europe. In London in des Champs-Élysées in Paris are a tri- ski and Jascha Heifetz, among others,
1912 he plays alongside Pablo Casals. In umph, and he settles in Paris. At the keep him at the summit of his popular1914, disgusted by the shameful conduct same time he begins a new aspect of ity. Without forgetting Brahms, whom
of the Germans in the tragic and unnec- his career, recording. He loves making Rubinstein has always adored, there is
essary Great War, he plays a final con- records, convinced that they will help his interpretation of Chopin, luminous
cert in Germany, and then vows never to make him eternal.
and lyrical, sometimes meditative, but
return. During the course of the War he The 1930’s are fertile for several always powerful, inviting the listener to
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of his family, seeks refuge overseas. He
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age. Rubinstein’s concert series dazzles
his audiences with his flamboyant playing as well as his unique personality that
leaves no one indifferent, In 1920 De
Falla will dedicate his Fantasia Beatica to
him.
Then Arthur is off to South America,
where he becomes a favorite of concertgoers, and where composers dream of
having him play their music. Brazilian
composer Heitor Villa-Lobos dedicates
his Rudepoema to him (Rubinstein will
premiere it in Paris in 1926). Stravinsky
transcribes for him three excerpts from
68   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
to remedy them.
Beginning his fifth decade
Paris opens its arms to him once
more, and Rubinstein falls once again
into a life of pleasure. He is already
40 when he decides to settle down and
marry. His choice is an attractive blonde
with turquoise eyes, Aniela Mlynarska
(1908-2001), daughter of the eminent
Polish composer and maestro, Emil
Mlynarski. At 24 she is much younger
than Rubinstein, and what is more she is
already married. A talented dancer, she
elects domicile in Los Angeles, in a
community of artists and intellectuals
in exile. There, his artistic output grows
considerably, as does his income. He invests a large part of his riches to charities working with refugees.
In 1946 he receives American citizenship, though he has spent most of his
life in Europe. He has recorded nearly
the entire works of Chopin, as well as
the repertoire of the great piano concertos (he recorded the five Beethoven
concertos no fewer than three times).
In 1951, following the creation of
the state of Israel, he tours, giving 20
concerts in just 23 days.
It is only in 1958 that he returns
to Poland. In 1964 he performs in the
Soviet Union. In both countries he is
greeted with almost hysterical enthusiasm. However he will never agree to
play in the countries responsible for the
Shoah and the destruction of his family.
At the age of 83, he leaves Nela, his
wife of 43 years, to live with a woman
in her 20’s, Annabelle Whitestone. He
had entrusted her with two of his protégés, and he has been seeing her in
secret when he is in Geneva, before finally moving in with her. It is a bright
but brief love story, considering Arthur’s
advanced age. She helps in the writing
of his second book, which is dedicated
to her.
Annabelle says of her late husband
that he “once sold as many records as
rock stars, and was as much at ease in
the White House as he was with his
chums Picasso and Charlie Chaplin.” In
January of 2008, she organized an event
titled Remembering Rubinstein, a day of
concerts and presentations at the Royal
Academy of Music. Annabelle herself
went on to marry a British publisher
whom Rubinstein himself had introduced her to.
An urn containing Rubinstein’s ashes is buried in the Rubinstein Forest in
Israel.
A
side from Rubinstein’s wellknown modern recordings,
available in full stereo, he
also made numerous liverecording player piano music rolls for
the Aeolian Duo-Art system and the
American Piano Company (AMPICO),
all of which survive today. Unlike
common player pianos, the expensive
reproducing pianos could reproduce
dy namics and even pedal action.
Several performances were for some
years available on the Klavier label,
though they are now largely out of
distribution.
These reproducing piano performances have been much praised,
especially those of 1929, performed on
a Bechstein reproducing piano. In some
circles these are still considered to be
Rubinstein’s best performances.
Rubinstein has been the subject of a film too. François Reichenbach, a great art
collector and amateur, and a filmmaker who has immortalized painters, sculptors,
actors, directors, musicians and singers, made a 1969 film about him, titled Love of
Life.
His two-volume memoir are certainly to be recommended. The first volume, My
Young Years, are available only on the second hand market. The second volume, My
Many Years, is even rarer. There are numerous biographies still in print, including
Rubinstein: A Life in Music by Harvey Sachs, and Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey
by Perri Kniz.
his evident love of playing, his hilarious sense of humor, this adorable ham
conquered not only audiences, but also
the numerous women with whom he
had not always smooth affairs. Yet he
was always forgiven by his mistresses,
who were at once lovers and mothers,
encouraging him, advising him, sometimes tyrannizing him. They also gave
him admiration and affection.
To be frank, he himself admitted he
had been neither a model father nor an
ideal spouse, caught up as he was in the
maelstrom of his career and his equally
effervescent social life.
I cannot recall reading as much
about such a major figure as Arthur
Rubinstein. Especially engaging is his
autobiography, though it is confusing,
because he always gives the impression
that he was older than he was in reality.
In reading it, I found myself stopping to
check dates, only to realize that, having
only just grown out of short pants, Arthur was already receiving the passionate favors of a long list of much older
women who loved him.
Precocious in everything, this remarkable adolescent lived his social,
romantic and sexual life like a seasoned
man, and on the contrary he lived his
old age like an adolescent, with a passion and a love of life that are beyond
compare.
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    69    
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Epilogue
If I have dedicated so much of this
article to Rubinstein’s young years, it is
because there can be found the essentials of his life. Starting with the 1960’s
I could have told you little you don’t already know, such as a list of his musical,
social and romantic successes.
His was a changing personality, fluctuating between extreme self-confidence
and periods of depression, or at least of
anguish. An authentic epicurean, he
sought out gastronomic adventures and
the finest wines and spirits. He was often in debt, the result of the excesses resulting from his hedonism and his impatient nature. He could pass in but a few
days from a garret to a palace, from total
penury to abundance, and back again.
Because of Arthur Rubinstein’s incomparable charisma, his joyousness,
Rubinstein in
Film and Print
Software Reviews
by Gerard Rejskind
and Albert Simon
Bach: Cello Suites, vol. 1
Martin Zeller
M•A M073A
Simon: Get it for the sound. Period.
That’s it. No need to add anything else.
You’ll be stunned.
When I heard the gorgeous sound
of that cello, my jaw dropped. It’s not
just that it was “right there,” it felt more
as though I were right there, within
touching distance of the instrument.
And what a wonderful cello this one is,
crafted around 1673 by Austrian Jacobus
Stainer, a superb violin maker who may
have had an association with the great
makers of Cremona. It was lent to Zeller
for this recording. You’ll know what I
am talking about when you listen to the
first suite’s slow Sarabande on track 4, for
instance, and literally feel the richness
of the chords, deeply resonating in your
chest if you sit close enough to Martin
Zeller…I mean to your loudspeakers.
Speaking of this young and talented
Swiss cellist, he is currently principal
cello at the Kammerorchester Basel, and
among his many other responsibilities,
teaches Baroque cello at the Musikhochshule Zurich.
His particular interest in Baroque
music gives a unique feeling of authenticity to his playing. It is striking right from
the beginning, in the first bars of Suite
1. He attacks the Prelude with surprising
speed (compared to, say, historic recordings by Casals or Starker), and I smiled
spontaneously at his unusually marked
downbowing, which gave the piece a
liveliness I had not expected. You can
listen to the beginning of that Prelude
70   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
on the M•A Recordings web site (www.
marecordings.com), and make sure you
have a decent pair of headphones on or
a good connection to your system.
Listening with amazement to the
rest of the movements and the other
two suites, I noticed the meticulous care
Zeller took in clearly outlining each
note, whether it be part of a flourish or
as soft as a whisper, and it seemed true to
what it must have sounded like in Bach’s
time, that it evoked images such as finely
ornate Baroque paintings and elegantly
carved furniture. You’ll understand
exactly what I mean when you listen
with delight to the Minuet in Suite 2, for
example.
The same care has gone into the
production of this absolutely remarkable
88.2 kHz High Sampling recording
using M•A’s custom-made, line-level
DC-powered microphones. It even
features striking cover photographs by
Peter Han (I hope you’ll appreciate the
differences in the three cover shots).
The second volume of the Bach Suites
is scheduled to be recorded sometime
during the fall of 2009.
If you are not familiar with these
suites, you’ll discover a monument to
the art of the cello and to music, as they
have been arranged for countless instruments, including a version for saxophone.
Describing them properly would be like
describing the Mona Lisa to someone
who has never seen it (let’s see now, “a
bust of a woman, no eyebrows, head covered, hands crossed, a slight smile”).
Warning: after you hear the sound
quality of this CD and Martin Zeller’s
unique interpretation, other versions
may sound thin and lacking in heart and
genuineness.
If, however, you are familiar with
the Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello,
this album is a must, and I don’t say that
lightly. I dare say this version might even
successfully challenge all your previous
references.
It did in my case.
Deserts
La Nef
Fidelio FACD026 (or downloadable at
www.fideliomusique.com)
Simon: This unique album is the result
of a collaboration between Claire Gignac
of La Nef and Pierre Hamon, flutist
and joint artistic director of the French
ensemble A lla Francesca, bringing
Medieval music back to life. Contralto
and player of various instruments, Claire
Gignac is also joint artistic director of
La Nef, a Montreal-based musical and
production company dedicated to Early
and World Music, with an added interest in New Music including multimedia
productions, music theatre and school
workshops. It’s all a wonderful example
of music without borders.
Deserts is a collection of original compositions inspired by the landscapes and
peoples of North Africa, Asia and the
Americas, plus three traditional pieces.
It is a musical exploration of the world’s
vast and windswept landscapes.
Rub al Khali opens with a cascading
series of notes on the santoor by Shawn
Mativetsky, answered by the hauntingly
low sound of one of Pierre Hamon’s
flutes, and soon joined by composer
Andrew Wells-Oberegger on oud. The
contrasting textures of high and low
drums that soon surround them carry us
into a desolate, treeless land somewhere
in Asia Minor or North Africa. You can
almost feel the welcome coolness of an
early evening, the starry sky, with shades
of pink lingering on the western horizon,
and the tiny, crackling fire surrounded
From Age to Age
Lowell Graham & Denver Brass
Klavier K11165
Simon: There is a majesty in the first
piece, Ceremonial Prelude, with a sense of
restraint, the organ making no attempt
at being spectacular but sharing the
stage equally with the brass orchestra.
The piece ends with dignity, accented
by softly-played bell tones.
Reading the very comprehensive
liner notes after writing this, I learned
that Arthur Bliss composed this Ceremonial Prelude late in life, for the occasion
of “a special service in 1965 to mark
the 900th anniversary of the founding
of Westminster Abbey,” and that it was
“designed to accompany the Queen from
her entry in procession…to her Stall in
Quire.” The music had said it all.
The first of three movements of Age to
Age starts with the organ calling the scattered crowd to attention. Vigorous brass
and closely-miked rhythmic tambourine
join in to send us back a few centuries to
a Renaissance Dance. It’s a let’s-be-happyand-carefree type of composition you
might easily imagine as entertainment
for the festive and noisy banquet guests
in the local castle hall. Romance is not
what one might expect, however. I was
surprised by a serene and introspective
melody with wonderful chords from the
trombones (which reminded me of John
Barry’s opening score for Dances with
Wolves). The piece is all velvet and soft
glow.
In contrast, the Toccata bursts with
sunshine and exudes feelings of exaltation. As a practicing church organist,
Chris Hazell has written it in the proper
tradition, and Joseph Galema plays it
with exuberance, carried by the bright
voices of brass.
I liked Natalis by Martin Ellerby a
three-part composition — reflecting
hope, struggle and triumph — which
includes a passing wink at Berlioz as he
briefly borrows a theme from the last
movement of the Symphonie Fantastique
(no mention of that in the liner notes,
however, and I wonder why Ellerby did
it). The remarkable middle section is a
tumultuous argument between tympani
and brass, with an ominous deep organ
presence. Another extraordinary feat by
Bruce Leek who recorded, edited and
mastered this album.
It was 1897 and Queen Victoria
was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee
with “the eyes of London, the British
empire and the world on the celebrations.” Edward Elgar was “swept along
by national fervor” and composed the
next piece. If you jut out your chest and
straighten your back at the first sound
of a march, you’ll find his Imperial
March very impressive in this arrangement, making full use of the large wind
orchestra, organ and splendid percussion. In my case, unable to partake in the
veneration of anyone by crowds, I found
the sound merely impressive.
It is said that this composition,
adapted from one of Elgar’s own cantatas, made the composer — barely known
for his choral works — famous overnight.
Hmmm. Other times indeed!
It was a delight to discover such an
array of different compositions on this
album. And it can be fully appreciated
with its excellent recording quality. The
space is huge, extending in breadth,
height and depth. The organ has a rich
and glowing timbre, revealing all the
subtleties of the lowest and highest
pipes. Nothing hinders the separation of
the multitude of brass instruments, and
we can easily follow the weaving of the
different groups around the organ, a bit
like dolphins joyfully racing alongside
and ahead of an ocean liner.
Philip’s Wish
Quartet Equinox
DIP Records 90209-2 (SACD)
Simon: This is an interesting album by
Dirk K, who composed all the pieces
and plays flamenco guitar, the rest of
the quartet featuring Andy Suzuki on
sax, flute and bass clarinet, Dean Taba
on upright bass and Cristiano Novelli
on percussion. I should add that Dirk
K (Kleutgens) is practically responsible
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    71    
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by hot, rounded pebbles.
Everything in this album is about
atmosphere. Listen to Hamon’s solo
flute, accented by an appropriate echo,
playing his composition Aube (Dawn),
and you might even see the vast open
landscape all around you, becoming
slowly brighter as he calls upon the
sun to rise. The two traditional Mayan
Chants are wonderful travels in space and
time, smoothly carried by Claire Gignac’s warm voice. The finely-recorded
sound surrounds us, the percussion is
so naturally realistic that it moves us
physically, and the lyrics are so clear we
are tempted to learn the language.
On track 6, titled Soleil de Sang (Blood
Sun), wait for the dialogue between
Hamon’s striking flute and a huge deep
drum. There is adult-sized bass here!
More of that on Cent Pas dans le Désert
(One Hundred Steps in the Desert), a
strictly percussion piece. A seemingly
meditative piece, Pluies (Rains), pairs
Hamon on a warm-sounding bass ethnic
type of flute, and Patrick Graham on
various percussion in a joint composition, quiet yet complex music, evocative
of warm sunshine and mottled shade.
Imagine, then, the wind howling on
icefields stretching to the limits of what
your squinting eyes can see and an
Inuit lament rising hauntingly from the
moving whiteness. No need to imagine
it, because when you listen to Quijavit
on track 12 you’ll hear it all, including
the wind. The album closes with Trans­
humance, another slow, meditative piece
written by Claire Gignac in a percussion
style reminiscent of Indonesian Gamelan
playing.
As I said at the start, I consider this
album unique, a rare documentary
on the vast and sparsely-populated
expanses of our world as felt, written
and interpreted by unusual musicians.
Let go of your surroundings during your
listening, and ride the wave around the
globe. The sound quality is amazing,
the textures palpable, the stage huge and
airy. It lives up to what we have come to
expect from Fidelio. And then some.
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for the whole production of this SACD,
since he also recorded and mixed the
live sessions January 14 and 15 of 2009
at Hyperium’s studio. It was recorded in
DSD and includes a multichannel layer
in 5.1 surround sound.
And what a sound it is! Timbres are
natural and finely detailed, rhythms
initiated on Dirk K’s guitar are beautifully rendered, supported by a deep
double bass accompaniment and striking
percussion. Melody lines flow freely
from guitar strings to flute, as in the
Antagonist, the first track. It starts with
a beautifully rich and resonant guitar
melody, soon accented by deep percussion, and then a very different theme
is introduced on the flute. No, I didn’t
feel the tension and opposition between
those two lines, as Dirk K alludes to
about this piece. I perceived the themes
as complementary, and becoming part
of a whole as the piece progressed. (Difference is not always tension — my two
cents personal comment in response to
Dirk’s — it can also be balance.) Actually, as I continued, I decided to skip the
explanations in the liner notes as to the
original inspiration for each composition, and let my impressions develop
freely.
I liked Philip’s choice. Track 6, titled
Philip’s Wish, is Dick K’s son’s favorite
composition, and he wished it could
be named after him. The f lamenco
inspiration is wonderfully present,
with a unique contribution by bass
clarinet and double bass, all supported
by lightning fast and precise percussion.
The next one, Calico Cat, is more jazz
than flamenco, and the tenor sax has a
predominant role through most of it.
The last track, The Traveler, starts with
72   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
a sudden percussion exchange, an exotic
sounding Brazilian rhythm, and flowing
melody lines follow smoothly between
guitar and bass clarinet. The realism was
such that I had the uncanny impression
of being among the musicians. It felt as
if I could just get up and weave my way
through the percussion instruments.
I must say I appreciated this album
more as I listened to it again and again.
No somber, brooding or melancholic
moods here; each piece is fresh and
bright, and rhythm is prevalent. A very
successful blend of flamenco and jazz.
Famous Blue Raincoat (4-LP)
Jennifer Warnes
Cisco CLP7060-45
Rejskind: What a wonderful project this
is, saving this valuable recording from
obscurity. Perhaps you’re familiar with
it, because it was once a staple of audio
shows despite a lackluster pressing. The
transition to CD pretty much killed it…
until now.
Some thirt y years ago Jennifer
Warnes was a successful pop singer, with
such songs as The Right Time of the Night
getting plenty of radio play. Her record
company was pleased with her, but she
longed to do something better. What
happened to her is what has happened
to a number of talented performers
who signed contracts with big record
companies: she no longer wanted to
sing throwaway songs, but her contract
prevented her from singing for anyone
else. Unable to be a soloist, she sang
backup for other artists, including…
Leonard Cohen. In 1986 Warnes and
Cohen did an album together, and the
result was nothing less than magic.
A number of well-known Cohen
songs were on the album, including First
We Take Manhattan, Bird on a Wire, The
Song of Bernadette, and of course the
title song. The remarkable Joan of Arc
turned into a duet, with Cohen singing
the role of the fire to Warnes’ Joan.
Warnes actually composed the music to
Song of Bernadette (with Bill Elliot) and
collaborated on the text as well.
Cisco set out to do this famous
recording justice, turning what had been
a single LP into a four-disc box 45 rpm
set. It does contain some extra songs that
were not on the original, though that
turns out to be a mixed blessing.
One of the “extras” is another Cohen
song — almost a monologue — The
Ballad of the Runaway Horse, originally
recorded with bassist Rob Wasserman on
the album Duets. That version may not
have been available, since it was on the
MCA label, and Warnes re-recorded it
with bassist Dave Stone and (alas!) plenty
of other musicians. More is less, in this
case, and the new recording doesn’t hold
a candle to the original. Also included
is a Cohen song If It Be Your Will, and a
somewhat superfluous concert version of
Joan of Arc. I was disappointed that the
album didn’t include Way Down Deep, a
Cohen/Warnes collaboration found on
her album The Hunter.
The sound is generally excellent,
with superb pressings, but noticeable
groove noise indicates errors made in
the cutting suite. This is an expensive
album, which will unfortunately limit
the copies available, and now that Cisco’s
LP business has closed, it won’t get any
cheaper.
The re-release, fortunately, also
exists on CD. It is vastly superior to the
older CD and I recommend it warmly.
Earl Wrightson
Earl Wrightson/Lois Hunt
Sony Music COL-CD-7581
Rejskind: I ran across this disc not long
ago, and I snapped it up, because I had
been searching for it for years.
The album I was especially looking
for is titled Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits.
Shakespeare’s plays often include songs,
but only words, not music. They cry out
for the right music and a voice to render
them. Enter Dick Hyman.
songs still pack a punch. Listen to the
opening number, The Song of the Vagabonds, a showstopper that would surely
have drawn an ovation. Also memorable
is the familiar Donkey Serenade. Though
it has often been done, surely no one has
ever sung it like Earl Wrightson.
I actually have this recording on a
pretty good stereo LP, and I was pleased
to find that the transfer to digital preserves the richness and power of the
original, without annoying artifacts.
Getting these two superb albums on
one CD is an unexpected find.
Z
Yves Montand
Christal Films 50660
Rejskind: This year is billed as the 40th
anniversary of this landmark film, the
greatest political thriller of all time,
but in fact I first saw it in 1968, when it
existed only in its original French version. I attended a weeknight late show,
with less than half the theatre full.
When it was over, there was an ovation
so intense and extended you would have
thought director Costa-Gavras had been
present. On DVD, Z has lost none of
its power.
The plot line will seem disquietingly
familiar. In an unnamed country (actually Greece, as Costa-Gavras reveals in
sly hints), an energetic young left-wing
parliamentarian ( Yves Montand) is
campaigning for an election he appears
poised to win. He is anti-military and
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    73    
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Yes, that Dick Hyman, the jazz pianist
and swing bandleader you may know
for his several albums for Reference
Recordings. In the early 60’s he actually
composed music for a number of Shakespeare’s songs and sonnets (he repeated
the exploit a few years later, though with
less good results). The songs were sung
by the wonderful operetta baritone Earl
Wrightson, whose heroic golden tones
bring this superb music to life.
The mood shifts from song to song,
no doubt as the Bard intended. Hyman
wrote a robust, rollicking tune for It Was
a Lover and his Lass, drawn from As You
Like It. From Measure for Measure, the
song Take, O Take Those Lips Away is a
wistful ballad. Who is Sylvia from Two
Gentlemen of Verona is set to a soaring
melody entirely worthy of this oftquoted song.
As for Wrightson, his name was once
a household word. He was a popular
radio star back when radio had live talent
before its microphones, and was often
seen on early television, singing songs
from operettas and musical comedies.
He starred in road show versions of Kiss
Me Kate, Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the
Roof, and many others, His unique voice
was perfectly suited to Dick Hyman’s
evocative music, and of course Shakespeare’s immortal poetry.
The CD however includes a second
complete album, titled A Night With
Rudolf Friml. Friml was a Viennese composer who made his career in the United
States composing popular operettas.
Though some of the songs sound risible
today (Rose Marie and Indian Love Call,
sung with his long-time companion Lois
Hunt, are but two examples), some of the
especially anti-NATO, underlining that
each time a cannon is fired an amount
equivalent to a teacher’s annual salary
goes up in smoke. Not surprisingly, he
makes powerful enemies. Following a
political rally, he dies in what is initially
billed as a banal traffic accident, and then
as a killing by two anti-social losers with
radical political connections…acting
independently, of course!
To put this into perspective, I saw Z
a mere three months after the assassination of Robert Kennedy by an anti-social
loser acting “independently.” Like many,
I did not then subscribe to the hypothesis
of a high-level conspiracy in the murder
of either Bobby or JFK. Such a plot
would be too complex, too many people
would have to be in on it, the secret
couldn’t possibly be kept. The genius
of Z is that it demonstrates how such a
conspiracy would work. I emerged from
the cinema shaken, convinced that the
US had undergone not one but two coup
d’états in a single decade.
However there is more to Z than its
story. Costa-Gavras, working on a small
budget (some of it donated by one of his
actors), did nothing less than reinvent
cinema. The conspiracy is complex, and
telling its story conventionally would
have resulted in a very long film whose
details would have been difficult to grasp,
as they are in such later political films as
JFK and All the President’s Men. CostaGavras telescoped his story into less than
two hours by using editing techniques
they warn against in film schools, such
as jump cuts. Backstory is provided in
flashbacks that last mere seconds, with
little or no dialog. Amazingly it works,
and you always know what is going on.
The story is relentless in its intensity,
but with a mixture of humor and tension
that points to one of the director’s major
influences, Alfred Hitchcock.
This telescoping of the story results
in great economy. After I had seen the
film a second time (four days later), I
realized that, in this dense and “talky,”
scenario, there is not a word wasted.
What seem like casual comments have
deeper meaning, sometimes ironic,
sometimes chilling. Even in the scene
before the main titles, which depicts
a boring lecture on agriculture, you
shouldn’t miss a word. You should also
remember the faces, because you will be Rejskind: I reviewed the original DVD
But in fact there’s more. The film’s
seeing them again.
vision of this superb film in UHF No. 72, second Oscar was for cinematography,
The performances are remarkable. but the new Blu-ray release is worth a and of course the higher definition of
Aside from Montand, Jean-Louis Trin- second visit.
Blu-ray enhances it too. The images are
tignant is brilliant as the juge d’instruction
The full title is Master and Com- not notably razor-sharp, because there
(the investigating prosecutor) who mander: the Far Side of the World, and is a lot of fog, and some scenes are set in
gradually unravels the plot. Greek it is based on just one of a series of the dimly-lit bowels of the ship. However
actress Irene Pappas, as the wife of the popular cult novels by Patrick O’Brian. what the images lack in sharp delineation
murdered politician, gets little dialog, The film was so highly praised when it they gain in nuances, and the differences
but watch her in the silent scene when was released, eight years ago, that it was are considerable. A rolling patch of fog in
she is left alone in the hotel room her widely assumed it would be but the first the foreground, which looks just fine on
late husband
haddon’t
occupied.
of O’Brian’s
novelsknow
to be how
transported
DVD, turns out to have several layers
We
mean this version, because
you already
it works.toIt’s the
a PDF,
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is based
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theetc.
screen. Hasn’t happened.
on the Blu-ray disc, and indeed I found
open iton
with
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reader,
unreadable
Vassili
is which
really too
bad, because
it’s a banners
myself like
wondering how it was done. The
novel
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have Vassilikos,
a paid electronicWhich
version,
is complete,
without
also titledthis
Z, inspired
by the 1963
murder
great story, and it was made into a terrific result, with a large, high-quality screen,
one, or articles
in fluent
gibberish.
of Gregoris
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Since itthe
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That
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considerable
liberties with
thefull copy
I stand
You’llshot
receive
a user name
and password
to allow
you to download
your
of by my earlier review, however.
Gavras has
taken liberties
with the
thesame
story.
French
privateer Acheron,
for you
The
DVD version, now available at a
the magazine.
You’ll need
userThe
name
and password
the first time
open
chronology,
and particularly
the but
instance,
occupies
a central
the bargain
the magazine
on yourwith
computer,
only the
first time.
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that,in
it works
like anyprice, is about as good as DVD
ending. But
of PDF.
course Shakespeare did film, but isn’t in the novel at all.
can get. If your home theatre system
other
this too, andFor
thedetails,
inventions
in
The “master
is includes
visit are
ourused
Electronic
Edition
page. Toand
buycommander”
an issue or subscribe,
visit Blu-ray, however, don’t miss
the pursuit
of a greater dramatic truth. Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), captain this quality re-release.
MagZee.
Z caused much unease in political of the British navy ship Surprise. SteIt will tide us over until, perhaps,
circles when it was first released, and phen Maturin (Paul Bettany) is the another of the novels arrives on the
perhaps for that reason it did not get ship doctor, and he and Aubrey are old screen.
the credit it deserved. It did glean the friends. During rare off-duty time, they
Oscar for best foreign film, but not the even pull out their instruments (the
best picture award for which it was also cello and the violin) and play a little
nominated. I was then convinced that, Bach. However Aubrey is very much
half a century later, Z would be studied the military man, while Maturin is an
by students of film frame by frame. It amateur naturalist. When the Surprise
still may be, though I suspect that some sails near the Galapagos islands, you can
close to the centres of power wish the well imagine that fighting is not the first
film would simply disappear.
thing on his mind.
Their nemesis, in the film but not in
the novel, is the Acheron, a French privateer, whose guns have a much longer
reach. Thus outmatched, the Surprise
will survive only through the military
tactics of its master and commander.
The film earned one of its two Oscars
for sound editing, and the multi-dimensional soundtrack is a wonder. In a scene
near the start of the film, we see the flash
of a cannon from the fog-enshrouded How the West Was Won (Blu-ray)
corsair ship, and the cannonball goes All-star cast
through the listening room, with a MGM 8392903497
realistic splintering of wood. Excellent Rejskind: As our home theatre screens
though it was on the original DVD, grow ever larger commercial movie
it has even more depth and realism in screens are shrinking. Even IMAX is no
the Blu-ray release. The rear channels longer a guarantee of screen real estate,
are used extensively to make us feel as since some new “IMAX” cinemas have
though we are really aboard a wooden screens scarcely bigger than those of a
Master and Commander (Blu-ray)
ship, with the creaking of its hull and multiplex, equipped with digital projecRussell Crowe, Paul Bettany
the solid footsteps on the upper deck. tors not wildly unlike one you might
20th Century Fox 2243554
have at home. And so we look back with
It’s worth picking up if only for that.
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74   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
awe at the biggest, widest-screen system
of all time, Cinerama,
Like IMAX today, Cinerama was
ultimately watered down to a shadow
of what it had been, supposedly because
moviegoers wouldn’t be able to tell
the difference, but at its peak it was
an adrenaline rush. Three cameras
arranged in a near-semicircle, captured
a huge image, which was then thrown
by three projectors onto a deeply-curved
screen that spanned an awesome 146º.
Unlike 3-D, which also flourished in the
early 50’s, Cinerama required no glasses,
only a stout heart.
Cinerama films did not translate well
to a more conventional format, such as
CinemaScope, and for that reason no
doubt, the three-camera process was
used almost entirely for travelogue
features. Only two dramatic films were
ever made in “real” Cinerama, and this
is the more famous of the two.
How the West Was Won is an epic
Western, a multi-generational tale made
by three different directors (John Ford
among them) as well as an all-star cast:
Debbie Reynolds, Richard Widmark,
John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Gregory Indians, who were experts at falling off makes everything look convex, and the
Peck, Raymond Massey (as Abe Lincoln horses without getting hurt, and thus image itself occupies only a narrow band
if you can believe it), Thelma Ritter and picked up a few dollars while participat- across an HDTV screen. The Smilebox
process maps the three-image Cinerama
so many more. Not all are well cast — ing in their own dehumanization.
Once you get past that — if you picture digitally across a virtual curved
Jimmy Stewart is as wrong as he can be
as a supposedly young trapper court- can — there’s a lot to like in the film. screen, to undo the unnatural convex
ing Carroll Baker, and Andy Devine’s There are some poignant scenes, and curvature and to use more of the screen
distinctive voice makes you jump when spectacular ones as well. And it’s fas- real estate. In the images above, you can
you hear it, though not for the right cinating to see so many of the great see both versions.
that
No,the
this
free is
version
is notHollywood
complete, though
could
a couple The Smilebox process has not been
stars inyou
what
are, spend
for most
reason. To say
script
historiof
hours
reading
it.
Want
the
full
version?
universally praised, but I thought it
cally flawed would be too kind, because moviegoers, unfamiliar roles.
Youfilms
can, of
course,
order the For
print
version,
which
we have
publishedadded a good deal to the experience.
the
original
audience,
of course,
it makes Roy Rogers
look
like BBC
forIta is
quarter
of a century.
can get
our back
issuesI’m
page.
there
wasit from
Cinerama
itself.
old Certainly the image perspective is much
documentaries.
dispiriting
to thinkYou
But
we
also
have
a
paid
electronic
version,
which
is
just
like
this one,better than on the conventional CD. I
that this ridiculous scenario actually won enough to have seen several Cinerama
thatwhole
it doesn’t
have
banners
like thisthe
one,
and itThis
doesn’tdiscovered that if one sits quite close to
productions,
including
original
an Oscar, andexcept
that the
movie
gotannoying
have
articles
tailing
off
into
faux
Latin.
Getting
the
electronic
version
ofscreen (the Blu-ray image is so sharp
the
is Cinerama, though not this one. I admit is
a Best Picture nomination.
course
faster,
and
it
is
also
cheaper.
It
costs
just
$4.30
(Canadian)
anywhere
You won’t be surprised to hear that to having been a fan. How much of the that this is actually doable), some of the
in theare
world.
Taxes,
if they
applicable,
included.
film’s
originalare
impact
remains in the new Cinerama impact does come across. The
Native Americans
treated
with
the are
It’s
available
from
MagZee.com.
reason: the deeply curved screen was
casual racism we once took for granted. re-release?
In the conventional DVD version, intended to add realism by engaging the
The Cheyenne are understandably put
off that railroad crews, moving onto not much. However the Blu-ray ver- viewer’s peripheral vision. Only if the
their land, include buffalo hunters, but sion includes a disc with an alternative screen fills your field of vision can you
their concerns are dismissed in the usual version, intended to give at least a hint reproduce that giddy feeling of being in
Hollywood fashion: every rif le shot of what Cinerama was all about. The the scene.
The re-release of this film is recommeans another injun bites the dust (the system is called Smilebox, not to be conIndians are badly outmatched, since even fused with the photo and video sharing mended if you have a Blu-ray player
in the second half of the 19th Century software of the same name. The original and a large and very good HDTV. For
they are shown using spears and arrows, Cinerama screen was so wide (2.89:1) everyone else it’s pretty much a waste of
not rifles). The film did create work for and deeply curved that a “flat” depiction time.
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ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    75    
Gossip&News
The Glass CD
A
ny record producer who cares
about the quality of audio
production will tell you the
same thing: there’s a big
difference between the sound of
the digital master recording
that is sent to the pressing
plant, and the stamped
polycarbonate discs
that come back from
the plant. Indeed,
v a r i at io n s f r o m
plant to plant, or
even batch to batch,
are often cited.
That may puzzle
a nyone who feels
secure in the belief
that “bits are bits,” and
there should be no such
analog-like variations. In
actual fact, the Compact Disc
is an analog medium. That is to
say, though the information on the disc
is digital, it is stored in analog form
because analog is so much more compact.
For example, it is more economical to
express how many “zeros” will go by
before the next “one” than to record all
those zeros individually. The number of
zeros will be represented by the length of
a pit in the disc surface…and that length
is an analog value.
Is there a better way to press a CD?
A Japanese recording organization,
Memory-Tech, thinks it has found one:
glass CDs. Instead of injection-molding
polycarbonate, the company uses a precision metal stamper
In the diagram at right, resin is
sandwiched between the metal stamper
(already pitted to represent the music)
and the glass substrate. They are pressed
together to bond, while ultraviolet light
cures the resin. The disc is now inverted,
and a thin layer of gold is applied to the
resin. A protective sheet is added, and
once more cured by UV, and finally the
label is applied.
76   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
There is a major sonic difference, with
the Crystal CD sounding markedly
superior in every way.
In dynamics, notably, though several
of the pieces on the conventional
disc were not exactly lackluster.
Pianist Akiko Grace and her
bassist play Delancey Street
Blues with a verve and
an energy that made it
difficult to believe we
were listening to a Red
Book CD. Another jazz
trio, on track 11, had us
exclaiming. Soprano
Hiroko Kouda, singing
Mozart’s Allelulia from
the Exultate Jubilate, was
as smooth as one could
wish, with a natural sheen
that is def initely not a CD
artifact. Minoko Honda’s haunting
version of Amazing Grace may not have
been a purist natural recording, but on
the glass CD her voice seemed to pick
up an extra dimension.
There were some disappointments,
Memor y-Tech had inevitably, the fault of the original
us
Foran
years
now,
we have
publishing,
on ourrather
Web site,
freeCrystal
PDF CD
sent
early
demo,
withbeen
musical
engineers
thana the
version
of
our
magazine.
selections pressed on conventional CD technology.
on
The
reason is simple.Crystal
We know
you’re looking
forthe
information,
andare from
and
a Memory-Tech
CD.
Although
music samples
that
is
almost
certainly
why
you’ve
come
to
visit
our
site.
And
that’s
why (actuThere was a considerable difference, “Columbia Music Entertainment”
we
give
away
what
some
competitors
consider
to
be
a
startlingly
large
but we complained that neither actually ally Denon, not Sony Music), you won’t
amountgood.
of information…for
sounded
We have since free.
received see any mainstream company adopting
We
would
givethe
it allnews
awayisfor
free, if the
we could
still
stay
in business.
new samples, and
good.
Crystal
CD
process,
because it has
Recent figures indicate that each issue
is
getting
downloaded
as many
some obvious drawback. One
drawback
as 100,000Glass
times,
and that figure keeps growing.
substrate
is weight. A Crystal Disc weighs 32 g,
Yes, we know, if we had a nickel for each
download…
exactly
double the weight of a polycar Truth is, we’re in the business of helping
youCD.
enjoy
music
at homeinto added
bonate
That
translates
Metalpossible
stamper conditions. And movies too. We’ll do what we need
under the best
shipping cost. Glass breaks, too. Then
to do in order to get the information to there
you. is cost. Making one is a timeGlass substrate
Of course, Resin
we also want you to read our
published
editions
too. We
consuming
process:
taking
perhaps five
hope that, having read this far, you’ll want
to
read
on.
minutes per disc as opposed to under five
Metal stamper
seconds. The company says it can turn
out 300 discs a day at present. MemoryGold layer
Tech will charge you 100,000 Yen (about
C$1230) just to make the metal stamper
Resin
which is at the heart of the technology.
Glass substrate
That doesn’t sound so bad, as long as the
Gold layer Protective layer
Label
actual price per disc is affordable. In fact
it’s 21,000¥, about C$230 per disc!
Is that way beyond the means of the
Resin
Glass substrate
market? Well, duh! But then again per-
Why a free version?
haps not. Memory-Tech itself markets
calibration discs, and paying that kind of
money for an industrial product is by no
means outlandish. If you exhibit at hi-fi
shows, you could do worse than one of
these.
But can the audiophile recording
market bear such costs? Our guess is
that it can’t, but perhaps that price is not
fixed in glass, as it were. Wider adoption
would certainly drop the price.
The Crystal Disc adds no new information, unlike SACD, say. What it can
do, potentially, is avoid the tremendous
deterioration of the music encountered
in the pressing process. It requires
no special player. If the price can be
improved enough, this could be the CD
counterpart to 180-gram vinyl.
Want your next music release on
glass? Visit the Memory-Tech Web site:
www.memory-tech.co.jp/eng/
The site doesn’t include anything
about the Crystal Disc, but contact
information is there. Let us know how
it works for you.
Klipsch Sells
Aragon
A number of companies the size of
Mondial Designs (the original parent
corporate name) didn’t survive even the
bursting of the dot-com bubble, never
mind this year’s financial demolition
derby. Mondial Designs folded in 2001,
and the Aragon and Acurus names and
intellectual property were snapped up by
Klipsch, which seemed to be in a buying
mood at the time.
Need we mention that the mood at
tronics. It takes over support of legacy
products immediately, and the new
designs are expected in early 2010.
By the way, the name “Indy” means
more than the fact that the new company
is independent. Its plant is located in
Indianapolis, Indiana. We’re not sure,
though, that the word “plant” is appropriate. The Indy site says that the name
“Acurus” means Accuracy, designed in the
US. Notice that it says “designed,” not
“built.”
We’re just saying.
The UHF Reference Systems
Equipment reviews are done on at least one of
UHF’s reference systems, selected as working
tools. They are changed as infrequently as
possible.
The Alpha system
Our original reference is in a room with special
acoustics, originally a recording studio, letting
us hear what we can’t hear elsewhere.
Main digital player: Linn Unidisk 1.1
Additional CD player: CEC TL-51X
belt-driven transport, Counterpoint
DA-10A converter with HDCD card.
Digital cable: Atlas Opus 1.5m
Digital portable: Apple iPod 60 Gb
Turntable: Audiomeca J-1
Tone arm: Audiomeca SL-5
Pickup: Goldring Excel
Phono preamp: Audiomat Phono 1.6
Preamplifier: Copland CTA-305
Power amplifier: Simaudio Moon W-5LE
Loudspeakers: Living Voice Avatar
OBX-R
Interconnects: Pierre Gabriel ML-1,
Atlas Navigator All-Cu
Loudspeaker cables: Atlas Mavros with
WBT nextgen banana connectors
Power cords: Gutwire, Wireworld Aurora
AC filters: Foundation Research LC-2
(power amp), Inouye SPLC.
The Omega system
It serves for reviews of gear that cannot easily
fit into the Alpha system, with its small room.
Digital players: shared with the Alpha
system
Turntable: Linn LP12/Lingo II
Tone arm: Alphason HR-100S MCS
Pickup: London Reference
Phono preamp: Audiomat Phono 1.6
Preamplifier: Simaudio Moon P-8
Power amplifier: Simaudio Moon W-8
Loudspeakers: Reference 3a Suprema II
Interconnects: Pierre Gabriel ML-1,
Atlas Navigator All-Cu
Loudspeaker cables: Pierre Gabriel ML1 for most of the range, Wireworld Polaris
for the twin subwoofers.
Power cords: BIS Audio Maestro,
GutWire B-12, Wireworld
AC filters: GutWire MaxCon Squared,
Foundation Research LC-1
Acoustics: Gershman Acoustic Art panels
The Kappa system
This is our home theatre system. As with the
original Alpha system, we had limited space,
and that pretty much ruled out huge projectors and two-metre screens. We did, however,
finally come up with a system whose performance gladdens both eye and ear, with the
needed resolution for reviews.
HDTV monitor: Samsung PN50A550
plasma screen
DVD player (provisional): Pioneer BDP51FD Blu-Ray player
Preamplifier/processor: Simaudio Moon
Attraction, 5.1 channel version
Power amplifiers: Simaudio Moon W-3
(main speakers), bridged Celeste 4070se
(centre speaker), Robertson 4010 (rear)
Main speakers: Energy Reference Connoisseur (1984)
Centre speaker: Thiel MCS1
Rear speakers: Elipson 1400
Subwoofer: 3a Design Acoustics
Cables: Atlas, Van den Hul, MIT,
GutWire, Wireworld
Line filter: GutWire MaxCon Squared
All three systems have dedicated power lines,
with Hubbell hospital grade outlets. Extensions
and power bars are equipped with hospitalgrade connectors.
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    77    
Feedback
Gossip&News
Who? Oh, so soon we forget! Aragon
used to make some pretty well-regarded
high end amplifiers and preamplifiers
under the Aragon name, with Acurus
as its (relatively) low-priced line. Now
do you place them? This is the Aragon
StageOne.
most companies has changed? Slashing
and burning is more the trend now.
K lipsch had shut down production
four years ago, keeping the brand in
“maintenance mode,” supplying parts
and repairs, mostly. Now, improbably,
it has found a buyer.
And it didn’t have to look far from
home. Two of its own engineers, Rick
Santiago and Ted Moore, have left
Klipsch in order to set up Indy Audio
Labs LLC and take over design and
production of Aragon and Acurus elec-
Gossip&News
Feedback
Sing It, Anne
T
hat’s Anne Bisson, sitting at
the keyboard, singing songs
from her new album, Blue
Mind. Technically it’s her
second album, but the first one came out
a long time ago, and in the meantime she
carved out a solid career as a TV host.
And she does more than sing. The
songs on this album are her own.
Though she is francophone, all of the
songs on the album are in English
(an earlier song, on a sampler, was in
German). The music, also her own, is
inventive, veering in the direction of
jazz. And the words…
We first met Anne last November at
the inauguration of producer/musician
Guy St-Onge’s new mastering facility
north of Montreal (see Gossip&News
in UHF No. 86). It was in St-Onge’s
beautiful lakeside studio that she had sat
down at the piano, along with her bassist and percussionist, who were careful
78   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
to leave the road clear for the lyrics. In
November Anne was champing at the bit
for her recording to be released, but her
recording label, Fidelio, wisely waited,
unwilling to let her be washed away
in a tidal wave of superstar recordings
that were being released in time for
Christmas.
You may have noticed the large Sonus
Faber loudspeaker behind her in the
picture above. The album launch party
was held in a hi-fi store, the Filtronique/
Son Or complex in Montreal. After she
had finished singing, the party guests
were invited upstairs in groups in order
to hear three different versions of one of
the songs: the original high-resolution
master recording, the commercial CD,
and a test pressing of the LP version.
Was there a difference? Need we
underline it? The master recording was
particularly lively, as one would expect,
and a small majority of visitors in the
first group voted for it. The LP did only
slightly less well, and the CD brought up
the rear, garnering just two votes. One of
those voting for the CD had found the
master and the LP to be overwhelming,
and he himself preferred to use music as
a pleasant background. Enough said!
As already indicated, Anne Bisson
doesn’t do jazz standards. These are
original songs, meant to be listened to.
Check out Do What You Please, September in Montreal, and especially Secret
Survivor.
For Anne Bisson, this new recording
may be the beginning of a long-delayed
career as a singer-songwriter and as a
performer.
Protecting the Goodies
I
ing, though certainly not scuba diving).
For instance, rather than having just a
hole for the headphone plug, it has an
internal plug that fits the iPod’s jack,
and leads to an external jack (see the
bottom photo). The jack is made extra
tight, Otter says, so that the plug can’t
easily get pulled out during strenuous
exercise.
Contrary to the Defender case, the
Armor case offers only limited functionality for the iPod touch. The big grey
button below the screen works very well
to actuate the iPod touch’s home button,
but the on/off button — the one at top
left — is not accessible. That means that
while the iPod is in the case you can’t
turn it off. Of course it will turn itself
off unless you’ve set the preferences
otherwise, and if you are using it for
music it will go on playing even when the
screen goes dark. The plastic membrane
covering the screen gives quite good visibility, though it is dimmer than with the
Defender case, and it transmits touches
just fine, though you need to press a little
harder.
Once the unit is in the case there’s no
access to the charging plug, but where
this case goes you’re not likely to be
needing access to it.
Be aware that each of these cases is
made to fit a particular model. We were
sent one for the first generation iPod
touch because that’s what we have. It’s
now discontinued, and the version for
the second generation is somewhat different, more contoured, less squarish,
though with the same functionality. If
you buy a new model, you’ll also need
to buy a new case.
The back of the OtterBox includes
a rather formidable belt clip, which is
removable. A lanyard is also supplied.
We maintain that, for everyday use,
a soft slip case is the best choice, and
lets you handle the product the way
Steve Jobs or Jim Balsillie intended. But
for the beach, for skiing, for camping,
or anywhere you and it are exposed to
the elements, the OtterBox Armor case
is just the ticket. We recommend it
highly.
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    79    
Gossip&News
Feedback
f a store sells iPods, you’ll see a
whole wall of iPod cases next to
them. Actually, even if it sells
iRivers and Zunes, you’ll still see a
whole wall full of iPod cases.
By and large we’re not keen on any
of the cases for iPods, or for iPhones,
Blackberries or other portable electronic devices. The engineers at Apple
or RIM burn the midnight oil to make
their products small, thin and light, so
why would you put it into a case that
will double its weight and triple its
thickness?
The alternative is of course a slip
case, with a loop to fit a belt or a purse
strap, from which you can easily extirpate your device when you need it. But
there may be instances where you need
something a little more rugged.
Several of us do own iPods: a couple
of nanos, an older iPod Photo (which
seems risibly large and heavy today), and,
the best sounding player we’ve heard yet,
an iPod touch. The most serious cases
for portable gear we have seen are from
a company called OtterBox.
It offers two series of cases, one of
them more interesting than the other,
as it turned out.
The Defender case (US$29.95) is
designed to give moderate protection
from rough handling, but we were less
than enthusiastic. It’s large and bulky,
and yet it offers limited protection. In
the top photo our iPod touch is shown
in a Defender case. It slips into a belt
pouch of rigid plastic, so you’ll have lots
of weight on your belt.
We should add that Otter sent us the
wrong case, and although it did fit, our
iPod was not fully operable once in the
case. Still, the fit was good enough to
give us an idea of what it offers, which is
not enough considering the bulk it adds
to the sleek iPod.
Otter then sent us one of its Armor
cases (US$49.95), shown in the central photo, and we were a lot more
impressed.
For one thing it’s waterproof, not just
humidity resistant, down to a claimed
depth of one metre (enough for snorkel-
LEDs at Samsung
Feedback
Gossip&News
F
or logistical reasons we never
did get our guided tour of the
huge Samsung “city” in Vegas,
but the company made it up to
us…by trundling their products up to
the Mont-Trembland ski resort, north
of Montreal. We got to see it all: DVD
players, cameras, refrigerators and
washing machines. Naturally it was
the TV sets that particularly held our
attention, especially since in fact we
have a Samsung plasma in our Kappa
reference system.
It was easy enough to confirm that
the Samsung plasmas remain among
the top plasmas available, even more so
with Pioneer pulling out of the race. The
main visual difference since we bought
ours in 2008 is the “Touch of Color”
feature, a subtle color strip (usually red,
80   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
though it can be other colors, including
grey), which had concerned us. When we
watch TV we’re not keen on the bezel
competing with the picture. Happily,
the color strip is subtle.
The other touch of color is green:
Samsung claims it has made its plasma
panels less hungry for energy, and at
the same time it has greatly increased
the dynamic range, making for even
blacker blacks. Well, we’re all for both
of those advantages, but how is it done?
It’s done by actually turning off parts of
the panel which should be
black. This may not be a
good thing. Our Samsung
plasma already offers what
is billed as a million-toone luminance ratio, but
to get it you need to dial
in the appropriate settings,
and those aren’t settings
that will please anyone who
wants to forget that he or
she is watching a television
picture.
Of course you know that we favor
plasma among currently-available large
screen panel technologies. Nonetheless,
we must confess to being impressed by
a new LCD line from Samsung. Instead
of being backlit by a fluorescent bulb, it
is lit by an array of LEDs, light-emitting
diodes. Unlike f luorescents, LEDs
have a continuous spectrum, and can
produce a larger and better range of
colors. Certainly the sets we saw (which
Samsung refers to as “LED TV’s,”
though LEDs are only the light source)
were impressive. Fast motion was well
accommodated, without smearing or
trailing images. And the color range, as
nearly as we could tell on the material
used for demonstrations, was broader
than we can recall on an LCD panel.
Like the Samsung plasmas, by the
way, the LED sets love to show off reds.
Appropriately enough, a Ferrari kept
popping up in the demos.
What about the blacks? LCD’s are
not strong on those, because a liquid
crystal pixel can never be truly opaque,
The demo sets were set up in a brightlylit room, and so it was difficult to tell.
There were new Samsung Blu-ray
players as well, including one that can
mount right in the wall next to your wallmounted TV. We asked about reviewing
one, but none was made available in
time (we wound up reviewing
and indeed purchasing a Pioneer player
instead — you’ll find that review elsewhere in this issue).
This not-so-little expo among the ski
hills was a reminder of how much stuff
Samsung makes: not just TVs and other
audiovisual gear, but also music players,
camcorders, still cameras, refrigerators,
and even washers and dryers. All these
products were trucked in and installed
for us to see.
Definitely worth the trip.
How’s Blu-ray
Coming Along?
I
t has now been more than a year
since Toshiba waved the white flag
and shut down its HD DVD project,
leaving the way clear for Blu-ray.
Since then the prices of Blu-ray players
have dropped, but has that been enough?
Canada Blacklisted
on Copyright
I
t appears that the Obama administration is cozy with the music and
film industry. In April US Vicepresident Joe Biden told industry
spokespeople he favors more action
to deter theft of intellectual content,
singling out Canada.
An ill-fated bill proposed last year
provided a $20,000 fine for copying a
movie even for private use. In Canada
it is still legal to copy a CD or DVD,
for yourself. Now the United States has
blacklisted us for our “lax stance” on
copyright violations, along with Algeria,
China, Russia and Indonesia.
More than 10 years ago Canada and
many of the world’s other countries
signed two treaties promising to bring
intellectual property protection “into the
digital age.” According to the critics (and
we’re among them), that means preventing anyone from doing anything. Indeed,
the US Digital Millennium Copyright
Act is so stringent it is widely ignored,
though some randomly-chosen citizens
get their lives ruined because of it.
Canada is a signatory to the WIPO
treaties. New legislation was proposed
on two occasions, but died before being
enacted. Now, with a fragile minority government in place, and with the
economy bleeding, it seems the wrong
time to threaten consumers with jail or
financial ruin.
ADVERTISERS
Allnic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 2, 9
Audiophileboutique.com . . . . Cover 3
Audio Dream. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Audiophile Store. . . . . . . . . . . 55-62
Audio Space. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Audio Zendo. . . . . . . . . . . Cover 3
BIS Audio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Blue Circle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Charisma Audio. . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Codell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Cyrus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Diamond Groove. . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Divergent Technologies. . . . . . . . . 43
Entre’acte. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
ETI (Eichmann). . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Europroducts International . . 13, 16, 17
Hammertone Audio. . . . . . Cover 2, 9
Lavardin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Leema Acoustics. . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
MagZee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Marchand Electronics. . . . . . . . . 10
Moon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Mutine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover 3
Reference 3a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Simaudio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
UHF Back Issues. . . . . . . . . . . . 34
UHF Books. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine    81    
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Perhaps not, because t he price
premium for Blu-ray discs remained
high. We have been convinced that it
is the disc price that matters, not the
player price. And a strange thing has
happened since Blu-ray was launched.
Conventional DVD prices have fallen
off a cliff, making the difference even
more evident. Are you going to pay $30
for the Blu-ray version of a film you can
now buy for $8.99?
And there’s been this little…uh,
glitch in the economy.
A n outfit unknown to us called
Adams Media Research says that some
9 million Blu-ray discs have been sold so
far. The figure a year ago was 4.8 million. We don’t know whether those are
worldwide figures, but these researchers
are not in the habit of crossing borders.
Also not known is whether those are
sales to stores or to actual consumers.
The report also says that there are
10.6 million “Blu-ray households.” Wait
a minute…you mean there are more Bluray households than discs sold??? Does
anybody at Adams think that perhaps,
just perhaps, that could require some
explanation?
Let us hazard our own guess. The
reason is probably that a lot of those
Blu-ray players are actually Sony PSP
game consoles, whose owners often don’t
know what Blu-ray is, and who certainly
aren’t about to pick up a Blu-ray movie
instead of a copy of Grand Theft Auto
XXVI.
In the meantime Blu-ray gets badmouthed all over the Internet by the “what
the hell, it’s good enough” crowd, who talk
up fake high-res downloadable movies.
But we have seen some Blu-ray films,
including some blockbusters, drop
sharply in price. Quantum of Solace, the
new James Bond flick, in its Blu-ray
incarnation, was $29, but within days
soared to $33. Then we saw it on line
for $18. Yes, all those amounts are in
Canadian dollars.
A shift is about to come, we think.
There has been an explosion in the
range of films being burned to Blu-ray,
and they’re getting more space on the
shelves. They’re even properly alphabetized instead of being jammed into a rack.
Watch for falling prices.
D
State of the Art
oe s you r mu sic s y stem
finally sound the way you
had hoped? Congratulations
if the answer is yes. Now you
can leave it the way it is and turn your
attention elsewhere.
Or maybe not. Is anything ever so
good that it couldn’t be better yet? As
Robert Browning famously said, a man’s
reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s
a Heaven for?
So yes, you’re going to upgrade your
system, since otherwise you wouldn’t
be reading this, but in what fashion? It
depends on how satisfied you are with
what you hear. If you are, look in one
direction, but if you’re not…
Over my years at the helm of UHF,
I’ve seen literally thousands of letters
from audiophiles who were more or less
satisfied with the sound of their systems,
but who in any case wanted advice on
how to improve them. Or fix them. Different problems, different solutions.
The philosophy of this magazine
has remained steady over the years.
Whether a music system is capable of
thundering bass, liquid midrange or
light, sparkling highs, it must above all
get the music right. The melody should
be easy to follow. Rhythm should be
communicative. In a good recording,
harmony should give you at least a small
case of goosebumps. Words should be
intelligible. I need hardly add that the
system should not annoy you in any
way.
That looks like a pretty tough list,
and certainly there is no inexpensive
mid-fi system in existence that can give
you even half of it. However there are
well-chosen entry-level systems that can
give you most of it, perhaps even all of it.
Such a system need not cost a fortune,
perhaps $3000 or $4000, or about the
price of the decor group on a mid-sized
car. It can be improved, to be sure, and
we’re here to help with that.
But perhaps you’re not at all happy
with your system, even if you’ve spent
a lot more money than the strict minimum. Perhaps it puts you to sleep,
or — this is a lot worse — it hurts your
82   ULTRA HIGH FIDELITY Magazine
by Gerard Rejskind
ears. Perhaps you can’t figure out what
anyone is singing, or what instruments
you’re hearing. One symptom of serious
trouble: you search through your music
collection, and you can’t find anything
that tempts you. Oops!
If you’ve already spent a lot on your
system, you may go into panic mode.
Perhaps a new interconnect cable is what
you need. How about that power filter
you’ve read about? A $600 power cord
should make things better, shouldn’t
it? Is it true that silver bullets can stop
werewolves? Please, doctor, anything,
only make it stop hurting!
Those are the worst conditions for
making a decision. Werewolves are
found only in books and movies, and
there is no silver bullet for hi-fi. However
the potential for wasting money is huge,
and money ill spent can make a system
worse rather than better.
We suggest starting with measures
that are free, or at least inexpensive.
Repositioning the speakers is such a
measure, and you’d be surprised how
much difference even a small change in
placement can make.
STATE OF THE ART:
THE BOOK
Get the 258-page book
containing the State of the Art
columns from the first 60 issues
of UHF, with all-new introductions.
See page 6.
And placement is just one aspect of
room acoustics, as you no doubt know.
You can considerably improve your
room by adding materials (Paul Bergman wrote an entire series on this topic
in issues No. 77 through 85), and these
are not necessarily expensive. Some
affordable changes can be good enough
to let you know you’re going in the right
direction. That will encourage you to
proceed cautiously, confident that you’re
not travelling the wrong way on a oneway street. Also remember basic maintenance, such as cleaning connectors.
A good dealer can be of great help.
Perhaps you suspect your CD player of
being at the origin on the pain in your
ears. Pack it carefully, and make an
appointment with the dealer to go and
hear it in the showroom (don’t just drop
in unannounced if you want to stay on
good terms). Of course the associated
equipment and the acoustics will not
be the same as at home, but the session
may possibly answer one key question:
can this player be made to sound good?
If it can, then it isn’t the leading cause
of what’s bothering you.
Of course, a friend who also owns a
high end system can fill that role too.
What’s important is not to start
throwing money at a problem without
knowing what the problem is. With a
few exceptions, gear from competent
manufacturers can be made to sound at
least pretty good, which is to say reasonably revealing and not annoying. Perhaps
your player or your amp was not a good
choice, but that doesn’t make it the sole
cause of your woes.
What you need to do, with the help
of your own ears, a friendly dealer, and
of course UHF, is getting your existing
system to sound at least reasonable. It
may not be as revealing as you like, but
it shouldn’t be opaque to music values,
and it definitely shouldn’t be painful to
listen to. At that point, you can move
forward again.
But if you’re hoping for a silver bullet,
you will in fact be firing a lot of expensive
buckshot at a target you can’t see. Fix the
worst stuff first.
Luxury audio electronics of unique value and reference quality at unique prices.
Some of the best-built high-end products ever made
The legendary Van den Hul amplifiers and preamps at less than half the original price
M-1 Monoblocks, US$7350 now $3350
S-1 Stereo power amplifier, US$3795 now $1865
A-1 Preamplifier, US$3895 now $1750
See them at:
www.audiophileboutique.com
New, with one-year North American warranty
Shipped from points in either Canada or
USA. Billed in Canadian dollars, equivalent to stated price in
US dollars.
ALSO AT THE AUDIOPHILE BOUTIQUE:
Moon phono preamplifiers, tube headphone amps,
Thorens turntables.
audiophileboutique.com
a division of UHF Magazine
contact@audiophileboutique.com
(450) 651-5720
Why do
UHF readers
start reading
their magazines
at the back?
Countless readers have confirmed it over the
years: when they get their hands on the
latest issue of UHF, they open it to the last
page.
The reason all of them mention: Gerard
Rejskind’s last-page column, State of the Art. Since
the magazine’s founding, the column has grappled
with the major questions of high end audio. It has been
acclaimed by readers around the world.
Now, the columns from the first 60 issues of UHF are
brought together into one book. Each is exactly as it was originally
published, and each is accompanied by a new introduction.
Order your copy today: $18.95 in Canada or the US, C$32
elsewhere in the world, air mail included.
What do we know about
indoor FM and TV antennas
that they don’t?
A lot, it turns out. With the stampede to satellite and cable
over the past 20 years, the design of dipole antennas has been
left to the makers of junk.
It was years ago that UHF designed a high-quality antenna for its
own use. It was so good we offered it for sale as the Super Antenna,
and saw thousands of them sold. Why? Because it’s better.
In this, the Super Antenna’s third incarnation, we buy one of
those trashy antennas, rip everything out until we are left
with the rods and the case, and we rebuild it. We add our own
high-quality transformer (can you believe the junk antenna
didn’t even have one?), and a luxurious shielded cable with a
24K gold plated slip-on F-connector.
The broadband design covers the range from analog channels 2 to 69, including
the entire FM band. And yes, it does a fine job with digital channels, including
over-the-air HDTV.
SEE THE SUPER ANTENNA MkIII at The Audiophile Store, page 59
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