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04 / 16 / 14

Dr. Chesky Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc  Chesky Records has released their Dr. Chesky Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc in 192kHz/24-bit. Featuring 45 tracks of tests for headphones, it also includes all-star Chesky artists like Bucky Pizzarelli, Wycliffe Gordon, Candido Camero, and more. "There’s no doubt about it; we are living in the Golden Age of Headphone Design" says Chesky. "At every price category, headphones have never sounded better. You can hear superior detailing and clarity from headphones and typical room acoustic problems with speakers are completely eliminated. With the best headphones you hear what the microphones 'heard', and nothing else. Of course a stellar headphone can't make a poor quality recording sound great, so if you want to hear your headphones’ full potential you have to listen to the best recordings. Gathered on this test disc is an assortment of the latest Chesky recordings to show off the best of what your headphones can do." In addition to the music tracks, the album includes a selection of tracks that can test your headphone's dynamic range and imaging capabilities. Binaural+'s 360 degree spatial cues will sound very different on in-ear, on-ear, and over-the-ear headphones. There is no after-the-fact mixing or alteration to the balance. This recording is a must-have for headphone enthusiasts.


soulution 560 DACThe new soulution 560 DAC ($26,000) is the company's top-of-the-line converter with preamplifier grade output stage. There are five different digital inputs (AES/EBU, S/PDIF, TosLink optical, USB and LAN) ensure versatility in all systems. The USB interface is an asynchronous design based on a high performance DSP and is clocked by the 560's high precision master clock. This clock receives powered via ultra-stable power supplies that are not USB bus powered. For the LAN connection, the soulution 560 is equipped with a separate dedicated DSP that manages the communication to the local area network and buffers/decodes the incoming music signal. Decoding capabilities include PCM from 16 to 24 bit and upward to 192 kHz. It also decodes DXD 24-bit/352.8kHz and DSD 1bit/2.82 MHz plus double DSD 1-bit/5.62 MHz.


04 / 15 / 14

Salon Son & Image 2014 Report  Enjoy the Music.com just posted part 2 of Rick Becker's extensive Salon Son & Image 2014 show report. Salon Son & Image 2014 was held at the Montreal Hilton Bonaventure in the heart of downtown Montreal, Canada, from March 28th through the 30th. Exhibitors included manufacturers, distributors, retailers and craftsmen from the consumer electronics industry. There were a wide selection of audio and video entertainment for sale from vinyl LPs to CD and Blu-ray discs. See part 2 of Rick Becker's Salon Son & Image 2014 report at this link.


Spatial Audio Hologram M2 LoudspeakerSpatial Audio will be at AXPONA 2014 room 450 introducing their new Hologram M2 loudspeaker ($1999). Development of their passive, plug 'n' play open-baffle speaker has been ongoing since 2011 and represents designer Clayton Shaw's first major step forward in his open baffle design technique since the original Emerald Physics CS2 in 2007. According to the press release, "The new Hologram technology provides outstanding musical realism in a completely passive design, eliminating the need for bi-amp'ing or DSP equalization. The Hologram’s compact, full-range design exhibits a sensitivity of 100dB, recreating music's entire dynamic envelope, without compression. Unlike most high-efficiency speakers, the Hologram M2 exhibits very high accuracy via its linear frequency response and controlled-directivity design philosophy." This two-way point source design employs dynamic drovers mounted on an open baffle that consists of a five layer sandwich made from aluminum and MDF composite. The pair of 12" drivers each have a 1" exit compression high frequency driver coaxially mounted. The crossover is a special 'Hologram Circuit' at 800 Hz; with an overall frequency response from 48 Hz to 20 kHz (+/-3dB). Impedance is 4 Ohms and sensitivity is 100dB/W/m. Dimensions are 28" x 16" x 2.7" (HxWxD) and weight is 40 lbs each. Available finishes include White and Graphite for $1995 per pair, with the Hologram M2 Turbo (Premium crossover) being $2495 per pair.


04 / 14 / 14

Cardas Audio EM5813 Ear Speakers Contest!  Enjoy the Music.com and Cardas Audio are giving away a set of their incredible EM5813 Ear Speakers to one lucky contest winner! Cardas Audio, after four years of exhaustive research and development encompassing every part of the human hearing system, has been receiving critical acclaim for their EM5813 Ear Speaker/In-Ear Monitor ($425). The human hearing system, musical chords, and the Cardas Audio EM5813 Ear Speakers are reflections of the Golden Ratio — closely related to the Fibonacci Sequence — George Cardas has based his cable and microphone designs on this age old mathematical sequence that naturally occurs in nature, architecture, and art. Created by company founder George Cardas, the custom designed ultra-thin ear tip ensures a precise and comfortable fit. You can learn more and enter the contest by clicking here.


04 / 11 / 14

Sonos and Google Play  Sonos, an industry leader in multi-room home audio distribution systems, has added Google Play music directly to their system. Music enthusiasts can use the Google Play music app on their Android device to send music directly to Sonos and enjoy all their favorite tunes. You can cast a song, playlist, etc directly to a Sonos player on your Android device too. Thus no more missing a single beat of music when you go from one location to another. You can also blend your entire personal library in the Google Play Music cloud in addition to accessing their 20 million track on-demand streaming service. Google Play Music makes it easy to explore, share, store, and listen to your favorite music. Play millions of songs instantly from anywhere on any device. Get free cloud storage for up to 20,000 tracks, create custom radio stations, and enjoy smart recommendations that get smarter the more you play. Sonos also easily handles playback of Beats Music, Pandora, Songza, Amazon Cloud Player, iHeartRadio and many other online music services too.


04 / 10 / 14

LH Labs Geek Wave  LH Labs, a division of Light Harmonics, announced the development of their newest product called the Geek Wave ($399). The Geek Wave is said to solve two common smartphone complaints: poor sound quality and short battery life. "Geek Wave works with smartphones to improve audio quality by making everything from MP3s to online music services such as Pandora and Spotify 128x clearer and 8x louder" says the company. Beyond making music, movies and games easier to hear, Geek Wave will charge smartphones twice and charge them twice as fast, plus works as an additional storage device with a built in 256 gig hard drive, enabling users to hold more than 50,000 songs with them everywhere their smartphone goes. Geek Wave is sleek and portable, plus works directly with a smartphone interface unlike similar audio devices on the market or in development that only act as standalone music players. One of the most common complaints with smart devices is that they don't have enough bass and volume. This is partly because up to 40 percent of a phone manufacturers' budget goes into the ultra-high-resolution screen, leaving about a dollar for sound components according to LH Labs. To achieve higher performance audio, Geek Wave is built on a high-performance digital to analog converter core that Light Harmonic has had in development since 2008 and uses it is "cost-no-object" audio components. Utilizing Light Harmonic's "INSTANT POWER" technology, currently used in its high-end Da Vinci DAC, Geek Wave delivers two times more power to headphones. This provides them to be heard to their fullest potential, even in the most crowded of places. For the millions of listeners that have entire libraries of lower quality MP3 music or stream through services like Pandora and Spotify, Geek Wave uses Light Harmonic's Duet Engine to improve the digital signal. Geek Wave also adds storage capacity with 256 GB of memory. Technical specs include USB micro-B connector or Apple Lightning connector, a 3000mAh internal battery, and 1/8" headphone jack with an output impedance of 0.47 Ohm. PCM decoding is from 44.1 to 352.8 kHz at 16 to 32 bits. DSD decoding is from 2.822 to 6.144 MHz @ 1 bit. Play time on battery is up to 12 hours.


HDtracksHDtracks has reported a 20% increase in their high resolution audio downloads during the first quarter of 2014 as compared to last year. This continuing trend reflects the growing demand for better quality digital music downloads. Notably, consumer demand for the better sounding music downloads available at HDtracks spans a broad range of music categories and genres, with sales increases seen throughout the label's growing roster of both classic jazz, rock and contemporary pop albums – all available via DRM-free CD and DVD-Audio quality downloads at the highest possible bit/sampling rates. Since the launch of HDtracks in 2008, the company’s business has seen significant growth each year, a success that mirrors the explosive, double-digit growth of high-resolution digital downloads overall. HDtracks recently added three legendary Bob Dylan albums as well as new digital downloads from Skrillex, Foster the People and Shakira. This month HDtracks will offer high-resolution album downloads from Cream, Blind Faith, Bonnie Raitt, Emmy Lou Harris and the B52s. For total flexibility, consumers can often choose their favorite format as well, and many HDtracks offerings are available in either 24-bit/96kHz or 24-bit/192kHz.


04 / 09 / 14

Sadurni Acoustics Staccato Horn Speaker System  Sadurni Acoustics is now selling their Staccato horn speaker system ($40,000 ) after five years of development. This four-way system uses compression drivers for both the high and upper mid frequencies plus is one of the first horn systems using a front-firing (not folded) wooden bass horn that extends down to 120 Hz. Frequencies below 120 Hz to 25 Hz are delivered via a proprietary bass unit. An array of three or four Bass modules per side can be used according to room size and bass appeal. For smaller rooms, only two bass modules are enough and stay almost out of sight hidden behind the horns. The sound from the Staccato hornspeaker highlights the positioned drivers that are time aligned, yet detached and individually connected. Sadurni Acoustics developed a manufacturing process that is claimed to remove distortion from the horns to "deliver crystal clear sound, avoiding the famous horn shout and horn sound". Each driver was meticulously selected for its ability to maintain the correct timber and tone of the music. To complement the very fast dynamics and disappearing distortion in the Staccato Horn Speaker system, Sadurni developed a very fast bass system for deep low bass that will keep up with the horns and yet fill a room of any size. The horns are made with MDF wood, overall system frequency response is from 25 Hz to 40 kHz and sensitivity is 110dB/W/m. An active line Bass Xover is included and the speaker is available in custom color options.


04 / 08 / 14

Gryphon Audio Designs Pantheon Reference Loudspeaker System  Gryphon Audio Designs new Pantheon Reference loudspeaker system (€35,000 per pair) is a new five-driver, three-way design housed in a sleek cabinet. Positioned as the brand's most compact floor-standing model, the family resemblance to these acclaimed reference monitor systems is strong and readily apparent. Gryphon Audio Designs' Pantheon draws heavily on technologies and components developed specifically by and for Gryphon Audio Designs. Like its predecessors, Pantheon employs proprietary constant phase technologies to ensure that all drivers are in phase at all frequencies at all times. Like all Gryphon Audio Designs loudspeakers, the high-frequency is handled by an extraordinary Air Motion Transformer (AMT) drive unit with an extremely low-mass folded metal diaphragm capable of instantaneous response and a highly desirable point source sonic presentation. The Pantheon cone drivers are made in Denmark by ScanSpeak to Gryphon’s exacting specifications and custom designed for low Q and minimal dynamic compression. The dual 8" bass drivers and dual 5" midrange units are specially developed with tightly focused, ultra-linear motor systems for maximum force and focus and total control of the motion of the layer-damped fiberglass cones. The fourth order filter network is based exclusively on the finest components (Duelund, Jensen, Holm, Mundorf) in a layout carefully calculated to eliminate electromagnetic interaction and fitted to a decoupling platform to prevent vibration. The crossover network is pre-biased by a 28 Volt battery for constant charge to the electrolytic capacitors in the impedance correction circuit. Gryphon says the battery-biased Class A operation ensures a smoother, more richly detailed three-dimensional presentation. Each crossover network is hand-adjusted to ensure precision and transparency. The drivers are housed in a sleek, tall, massively braced sculpted enclosure with precisely contoured modular baffle and driver surrounds. The baffle covering was carefully selected and applied to effectively address baffle reflections and eliminate diffraction phenomena. Independent baffle elements for each driver break up the pathway through which vibrations would otherwise be transmitted in a single, shared baffle. The five dedicated Pantheon baffles allow precision time alignment of the individual drivers based on the now classic, subtle Gryphon baffle curvature. The side panels are an ingenious modular construction for simple removal and replacement at any time. Like every Gryphon product, Gryphon Pantheon is designed by Gryphon founder and CEO Flemming E. Rasmussen and manufactured in Denmark. System response is from 25 Hz to 40 kHz (-3dB), weight per unit is 195 lbs and dimensions are 148 x 29 x 69 (HxWxD in cm).


Intel Thunderbolt 2 NetworkingIntel's just-announced Thunderbolt 2 networking builds on the latest version of its Thunderbolt technology, with a bandwidth increase up to 20Gbps. With the addition of Thunderbolt Networking, this marks a new way to directly connect computers together with a standard Thunderbolt cable. Thunderbolt Networking, emulating an Ethernet connection environment, provides 10Gbps throughput between two computers. Already released on the Mac with OS X Mavericks, a PC driver will soon be available to connect two PCs together or a PC to a Mac, adding a new level of workflow flexibility for media professionals. By offering simple and fast file sharing, Thunderbolt Networking enables backup or upgrade across two computers using existing cables and connectors. Many versatile Thunderbolt storage products have been recently introduced including the Western Digital My Passport Pro, the first portable, bus-powered, dual-drive solution to deliver the performance to run the most demanding applications in the field and user-selectable RAID functionality. Promise Technologies announced a new Thunderbolt 2 portable storage solution, the Pegasus2 M4, which provides a highly portable 2.5" HDD/SSD external RAID solution, on the heels of the Pegasus2 R8 launch this past January. LaCie's Little Big Disk features Thunderbolt 2 and is now shipping. Billed as the world's fastest portable external storage solution, it delivers speeds up to 1375 MBs and fits in typical sized laptop bag. LaCie's 2big, 5big and 8big with Thunderbolt 2 provides industry leading capacity and bandwidth.


04 / 07 / 14

The Absolute Sound  Enjoy the Music.com just posted The Absolute Sound's April edition filled with many great equipment and music reviews plus think pieces. This issue includes equipment reviews of the Rotel RCD-1570, RC-1570 P7 and RB-1552 Mk II Pro-Ject XTension 10 record player, a four speaker shootout with Neat Acoustics Iota, Gallo Strada 2 with Tr-3D Subwoofer, Dynaudio Excite X34, and Von Schweikert Audio UniField Two Mk2. Also reviews are the Audio Research VSi60 integrated amplifier, Westone ES5 custom IEM, and Audio Research Reference Phono 10 phonostage preamplifier. In his editorial, Robert Harley says "The recent public discussion about income inequality seems to have touched a nerve with some of our readers. I've received more than the usual share of letters complaining about the high cost of certain audio products. These correspondents don't just want to see more coverage from TAS of affordable equipment; they also object in principle to the very existence of ultra-high-end gear" See the April issue of TAS by clicking here.


AXPONA 2014This Just In: John Hamm, CEO of PonoMusic, to speak at AXPONA on Friday, April 25th, 6:00 to 7:00 PM. PonoMusic, the brainchild of Neil Young, is focused on the mission to allow listeners to experience music the way artists intended. PonoMusic is both an online music store and playback device offering the finest quality, and highest-resolution digital music. Join John Hamm, CEO of PonoMusic for an informative seminar and Q&A session to learn about this unique digital music experience.


04 / 05 / 14

Salon Son & Image 2014 Report  Enjoy the Music.com's Salon Son & Image 2014 show report is now online! Salon Son & Image 2014 was held at the Montreal Hilton Bonaventure in the heart of downtown Montreal, Canada, from March 28th through the 30th. Exhibitors included manufacturers, distributors, retailers and craftsmen from the consumer electronics industry. There were a wide selection of audio and video entertainment for sale from vinyl LPs to CD and Blu-ray discs. Attendees had access to a wide range of high-end products plus expert information directly from designers and equipment engineers. During the three days of the Salon Son & Image 2014 Montreal event there will be a variety of seminars and discussions too. See part 1 of Rick Becker's Salon Son & Image 2014 report at this link.


04 / 04 / 14

Pro-Ject Audio Systems Xtension 9 Evolution Turntable  Pro-Ject Audio Systems' Xtension 9 Evolution (€1990 without cartridge or €2490 with Ortofon MC Quintet Black cartridge) incorporates all of the company's turntable design and high-end know-how from more than 20 years experience in a slim-line unit. The Xtension 9 Evolution chassis is made from ultra dense MDF that gives high mass and is non-resonant. Unique magnetic feet decouple the main plinth from its base. These feet effectively isolates the weighty 35 lbs turntable mass from outer vibration and adds up to a combination of 'mass loaded' principle and 'floating turntable' design. Instead of a pure metal main platter, pro-Ject found an aluminum alloy which is damped with thermo plastic elastomer (TPE). Additionally, they glued recycled Vinyl records to the top, which they say acts as a perfect mat, and bake this 'sandwich' before precision balancing it. The final product subsequently benefits from a resonance-free heavy platter that runs silently on an inverted ceramic bearing (ball & plate) with magnetic suspension. This virtually reduces the platter-mass, so the platter 'floats' on the bearing with lowest rumble possible. Pro-Jects Xtension 9 Evolution features a quartz-generated high precision electronic speed regulation (Speed Box) with microprocessor control. An absolutely clean AC power is generated, which is led directly into built-in synchronous motor. The tonearm with the 9cc Evolution is of the conical carbon-fiber armtube variety that avoids standing wave reflections. It glides on an inverted bearing design with four hardened ABEC7 spec ballraces allows friction-free arm movement. A solid armbase permits accurate height adjustment of armtube and VTA (vertical tracing angle). Azimuth (horizontal tracking) can be adjusted precisely, by rotating armtube and single-point fixing. For universal use with nearly all quality cartridges, four different counterweights are included as an accessory to meet all different cartridge masses from 5 to 14 grams. A highly flexible top-grade copper internal wiring provides a 5-pole premium connector cable with RCA or XLR plugs that will fit unbalanced or balanced phono preamplifiers. An unbalanced arm cable is delivered as standard, balanced XLR by request. This dedicated phono cable is made in Europe in cooperation with Van den Hul and uses twin-core (balanced) geometry with very low capacitance (75pF/m), dense silver coated high purity OFC + Linear Structured Carbon saturated layers and is PVC-free. RCA and XLR plugs offer silver plated contacts for best connectivity. A heavy-weight record clamp and acrylic dustcover round out this design. The Pro-Ject Xtension 9 Evolution is available in five different high gloss lacquer finish options that include Mahogany, Olive, Piano Black, Red, and White.


RIAA Music StreamingThe Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has posted their Music Industry Shipment and Revenue Statistics for 2013. In 2013, strong growth in streaming revenues contributed to a United States music industry that was stable overall at $7 billion for the fourth consecutive year. Overall, this was a decrease of 0.3% versus 2012 revenues (at wholesale, the industry was $4.8 billion, up 1.9% versus 2012). The increase in digital sales was driven by streaming music services, which at $1.4 billion were up 39% versus 2012. This category includes revenues from subscription services (such as Rhapsody and paid versions of Spotify, among others), streaming radio service revenues that are distributed by SoundExchange (like Pandora, SiriusXM, and other Internet radio), and other non-subscription on-demand streaming services (such as YouTube, Vevo, and ad-supported Spotify). These streaming services have grown rapidly over recent years, contributing 21% of total industry revenues in 2013, compared with just 3% in 2007. Paid subscription services grew the fastest of the digital formats, up 57% to $628 million in 2013. Growth came not just in dollars, but in the number of subscribers as well, with the annual average totaling over 6 million subscriptions. You can see the complete report in PDF format at this link.


04 / 03 / 14

Hi-Fi+ Magazine  Enjoy the Music.com just posted Hi-Fi+'s April edition filled with many great equipment and music reviews plus think pieces. This issue includes equipment reviews of the Estelon XC standmount speakers, Roksan Darius S1 speakers, CEntrance HIFI-M8 portable DAC/headphone amplifier, Sonus Faber Olympica I speakers, Kuzma CAR-20 MC cartridge, Rega RP8 turntable, REL S/3 active subwoofer and more! In his editorial, Alan Sircom says "This month we have loudspeakers from Estonia, Italy, Germany, and the right in the heart of London; we have turntables from the UK and cartridges from Slovenia, power products from the USA and a headphone amplifier designed in the US and EU and made in China. We truly are a global village today..." See the April issue of Hi-Fi+ by clicking here.


OPPO PM-1 HeadphonesOPPO Digital has just introduced its PM-1 and PM-2 planar magnetic headphones ($1099 and $699 respectively). OPPO's PM-1 is result of many years of research and development led by a team of passionate audio and acoustics engineers, chemical and material scientists, and audiophiles. The technology encompasses a wide range of innovative solutions that deliver exceptional performance. The OPPO PM-1 utilizes a planar magnetic driver that features a 7-layer diaphragm and an FEM-optimized high energy Neodymium magnet system. The diaphragm has a spiraling pattern of flat conductors etched on both sides, and the double-sided design allows twice as many conductors to be placed within the magnetic field, which leads to higher sensitivity, better damping, and even drive force. The magnetic field and conductor patterns are optimized for maximum driving force and consistency of the applied force over the radiating area. It's circumaural (over-the-ear), open back design provides excellent sound quality and comfort. The OPPO PM-1's high sensitivity and low weight also allow the headphones to be used freely with many portable devices without requiring additional amplification. OPPO will be releasing a PM-2 model, which is the more affordable version of the premium PM-1. The PM-2 will maintain very similar performance to the PM-1 while reducing costs to the customer. It utilizes the same planar magnetic driver, the same acoustic design principles and tuning techniques, tight tolerances for quality control, and its lower price is achieved "without sacrificing acoustic performance" according to OPPO. Certain metal parts that require many hours of machining time and have relatively low yields in the PM-1 have been replaced by materials and processes that are more suitable for quantity production, and the luxurious hand-picked lambskin found on the headband and ear pads of the PM-1 has been replaced with synthetic leather that offers similar comfort and durability at a much lower cost. The PM-2 is estimated to be available in summer 2014.


McIntosh Labs MHA100 Headphone AmplifierMcIntosh Labs is now shipping their MHA100 dedicated headphone amplifier ($4500). It employs a new adaptation of their unique Autoformer technology to produce three headphone impedance ranges of 8-40, 40-150 and 150-600 Ohms so that every headphone - from ear buds to studio quality phones - will receive the optimal McIntosh sound. McIntosh's MHA100 features a new Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD) to allow high quality recordings to image like conventional speakers in your headphones. This is said to bring new depth and spatiality to music. Four digital inputs allow the McIntosh Digital Engine to decode your music at up to 32 bits and 192kHz. There are two analog inputs for non-digital sources. For normal loudspeaker hookup, 50-watt stereo amplification with Power Guard will prevent clipping that could damage your headphones or speakers. Tone controls include a 5 Step Bass Boost Control for further customization. The entire unit is housed in McIntosh's signature polished stainless steel chassis that compliments the classic glass front panel. The front panel also has the company's classic knobs and brushed aluminum end caps. Full specifications are as follows:

Headphone Output: High selection @ 1 Watt, normal selection is 250 mWatt
Headphone Output Impedance: 8-40, 40-150 and 150-600 Ohms
Amplifier Power Output: 50 Watts per channel with both channels operating into 8 Ohms
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.005% maximum from 20Hz to 20kHz
Inputs: High level unbalanced, high level balanced, and four digital 
Outputs: Headphone (1/4"), preamplifier and binding posts for speakers
Digital Section: USB 2.0 asynchronous, S/PDIF coax, TosLink optical PCM and AES/EBU
McIntosh Digital Engine is 32 bit 192kHz,
Tone Controls: 5 Step Bass Boost Control
Overall Dimensions (WxHxD): 11.5 x 5.6" x 18"
Weight: 26.5 lbs


04 / 02 / 14

iFi Audio  iFi Audio is asking their customers what they want to have within the company's upcoming Micro iDSD unit. It is to be the bigger brother of the nano iDSD, which is their top-selling portable DAC in Japan and has a loyal following around the globe. The micro iDSD is expected to be on sale in early June, yet iFi Audio is still within their design stage of the unit. Right now is the time you can specify features for the upcoming micro iDSD! You tell iFi Audio what you would like to see via their Facebook page or e-mail and they shall do their best to meet your goal. Over the course of the next few months, iFi Audio will be collecting all the data and there will be a constant flow of updates on the company's Facebook and Twitter accounts. A pre-production version is scheduled to be showcased at the upcoming Munich High-End Show from May 15th through 18th. The top-10 contributors whose features are adopted will each receive the all-new micro iDSD.


04 / 01 / 14

  Enjoy the Music.com celebrates April with excellent equipment and masterful music reviews plus a few humorous April Fools 'reviews'. Our Salon Son & Image 2014 show report will be online shortly and we look forward to seeing many of you at AXPONA in Chicago!

See the April Review Magazine by clicking here.

Review Magazine     
Regular Reading
Daily News: Audiophile news updated each weekday!

In This Issue... April Fools, AXPONA And Adventures In Audio
Plus the industry's first live TV studio @ AXPONA 2014!
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

Enjoy the Music.TV
Positive Feedback's David W. Robinson And
Musician / Singer / Songwriter David Elias
We discuss from early music recording to DSD.

Paul McGowan of PS Audio & Ted Smith of DirectStream

Michael Mercer of Enjoy the Music.com & Audio360.org

Manufacturer Article
Headphone Amplifiers
Specifications are only part of the story.
Article By Benchmark Media Systems

High-End Audio Contest
Win A Set Of Cardas Audio EM5813 Ear Speakers!

Superior Audio
Accuphase DP-720 SACD Player
Capable of going incredibly deep into the recording, without losing sight of the whole.
Review By Wojciech Pacula

Oracle Audio Delphi MK VI Turntable With SME V Tonearm
A first-class turntable and tonearm with incredibly advanced power supplies.
Review By Tom Lyle

World Premiere!
SoulSonics Impact LE Speakers
An interesting value among $90,000 loudspeakers.
Review By Matej Isak

Audiophile Equipment Reviews
World Premiere!
Audio By Van Alstine Synergy Integrated Control Amplifier
No audiophlake nonsense.
Review By A. Colin Flood

Naim Nait Integrated Amplifier
Martin Colloms revisits the original Naim Nait, originally introduced some thirty years ago.
Review By Martin Colloms

LIRPA DDRX - 401 Reference Converter
Eating one's cake and having it too. A quantum leap in progress.
Review By Claude LeMero

Tweaking To Beat The Band
Tweaks made especially for the April Fool in you!
Article By Rick Becker

We Tree Audio Ring Turntable
Bringing real life to music.
Review By Raven Stocklin

DIY Audio
Sony VFETs In Push-Pull Class A
Part 1: Common Source Mode, Transformer Coupled.
Article By Nelson Pass

Vacuum Tube Valley Magazine
Get the entire 20 magazine set for free!
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

Music Reviews
Fascinating pairing of Schoenberg and Berg works for strings.
Review By Joe Milicia

Black Sabbath 13 And Voďvod Target Earth
Great metal music on vinyl LP!
Review By Claude Lemaire


See the April Review Magazine by clicking here.


HIFICRITICEnjoy the Music.com just posted the new issue of HIFICRITIC magazine with many informative equipment and music reviews plus think pieces. This issue's equipment reviews include Naim's compact DAC-V1, PMC's Fact.12 loudspeaker, JPLAY + JCAT software, Audio Research VSi75 integrated amplifier, affordable MC cartridges, Linn's DSP-based Exakt speaker, Musical Fidelity's V90-series headphone amplifier/phono stage and more! In the editorial by Paul Messenger it says, "When reading Martin Colloms' piece on reviewing techniques (pp30-33) I started to realise just how personal such a process can be. I'm not criticising Martin's methodology, which has a rigour and thoroughness that I rather envy (up to a point anyway), but the fact that it varies considerably from my own approach does interest me, and I daresay readers too." You can see this issue of HIFICRITIC by clicking here.


03 / 31 / 14

IFPI  Music subscription revenues help drive growth in most major markets according to the IFPI's newly released digital music report. The IFPI represents the worldwide recording industry and the interests of 1300 record companies from across the globe. Their report says, "Music fans' growing appetite for subscription and streaming services helped drive trade revenue growth in most major music markets in 2013, with overall digital revenues growing 4.3% and Europe's music market expanding for the first time in more than a decade. The United States recorded music market continues to stabilize, growing by 0.8% in trade revenue terms with strong demand for streaming services. Europe has returned to growth after 12 years, with all top five markets -- France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the UK -- seeing an increase in revenues. Latin America saw a 1.4% growth, with strong digital revenues helping offset declining physical sales." Europe's marketplace for online music streaming has grown for the first time in 12 years. Revenues have stabilized in the United States and are increasing in Latin America. There has been a sharp drop in Japan. You can read the complete report in PDF format at this link.


03 / 28 / 14

V-MODA XS  V-MODA announced the latest addition to their award-wining M-Class Series - the XS ($212 in Matte Black Metal and White Silver including customization or $200 in standard form). Designed for comfort and ergonomic fit, the XS combines professional-grade quality and a personalized style. The angles and headband design of the XS 'mind the gap' by minimizing the space between the headband and your head. The result is a snug fit, added comfort, and ensures top quality sound. V-MODA spent over five years of R&D that contours evenly to the shape of most people's heads, with angles that frame facial features. This way you look attractive while wearing them and not some freakish alien clown from outer space. "For nearly 10 years I have studied global fashion trends and paid close attention to individuals who wear and don't wear headphones including the different shapes and sizes," says Val Kolton, CEO of V-MODA. "While on- and over-ear headphones have gained popularity due to substantial mainstream marketing, I found that many consumers are conscious of their silhouette and don't like wearing bulky headphones. For instance, in quadrilatero della moda (quadrilateral of fashion) in Milano where V-MODA's design studio is located, it is a rarity to see anyone wearing headphones. Until now, there have been no viable headphone options for the fashion-conscious music lover." V-MODA's XS features 40mm dual-diaphragm drivers, a CliqFold folding hinge, dual inputs and SharePlay with V-CORK seals, an exoskeleton case and Kevlar-reinforced universal SpeakEasy microphone cable for Apple iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows devices. Frequency response is from 5 Hz to 30 kHz, sensitivity is 105dB and impedance is 28.5 Ohms. The combination of steel and metal materials stands up to military-level standards of the MIL-STD-810G testing guidelines as they can survives up to 60 drops on concrete.


03 / 27 / 14

Drobo 4 Bay NAS  Music lovers on a budget seeking more data storage space and the security of data protection in case a hard drive fails may want to get the latest four-bay Drobo NAS ($349 without hard drives). This third generation Drobo is more affordable, three times faster than the previous release and includes new features such as USB 3.0, significantly faster rebuild times and enhanced support for Apple's Time Machine. Four times faster rebuild times maximize data availability in the event of a disk drive failure. If a drive fails, Drobo automatically protects data without user intervention. In addition, you can purchase the capacity you need now and increase space by adding additional disk drives, or by just swapping smaller disks with larger ones later. Drobo even protects against one or two simultaneous drive failures with just one click. A special customer loyalty program for first and second generation Drobo customers means you can get a $50 discount when purchasing a new Drobo through their store and select channel partners through June 9th, 2014.


The Wu – Once Upon A Time In ShaolinIf you are seeking to hear ultra-rare modern recordings, then look no further than the just released Wu-Tang Clan's double-album The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin. With only a single copy of the album made, plans are to exhibit it at museums and other art exhibits. Recorded in secret and mixed by multi-Grammy winner Ken Lewis during the past few years, The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin is a special double Wu-Tang album filled with 31 new tracks and includes guest appearances by Bonnie Jo Mason, Redman, FC Barcelona soccer players and many others. Instead of a standard box, the album is presented in a hand carved nickel-silver box designed by world-renown British Moroccan artist Yahya. So why only a single album being produced? According to their promotional website, "History demonstrates that great musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach are held in the same high esteem as figures like Picasso, Michelangelo and Van Gogh. However, the creative output of today's artists such as The RZA, Kanye West or Dr. Dre, is not valued equally to that of artists like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst or Jean-Michel Basquiat." The album will eventually be for sale to one owner, who can choose to do with it as they feel is best. The press release continues, "While we fully embrace the advancements in music technology, we feel it has contributed to the devaluation of music as an art form. By taking this step, we hope to re-enforce the weight that music once carried alongside a painting or a sculpture. The album will be put on listening display in renowned galleries, museums, venues and exhibition spaces around the world for only the most dedicated to experience before it disappears into the private collection of a buyer. The public will know that what they will hear will be a once in a life time experience."



03 / 26 / 14

Vacuum Tube Valley  It is well known that editor of Enjoy the Music.com Steven R. Rochlin was good friends with editor of Vacuum Tube Valley Charlie Kittleson were good friends over the years. Vacuum Tube Valley (VTV) was a magazine produced by Charlie 'C.K.' Kittleson for the DIY and tube enthusiast. The publication spanned many years; producing 20 issues in total packed full of excellent information about audio vacuum tubes, vacuum tube equipment and a variety of DIY projects. Sadly, Charlie Kittleson passed away on February 10, 2009. Upon inquiring to the family concerning Enjoy the Music.com publishing various articles of Vacuum Tube Valley per Charlie's wishes, as he asked Enjoy the Music.com to republish his writing before he passed away, the family signaled us to delay our effort and we followed their wishes. Now that some years have passed, the entire collection of VTV is now available online for all to enjoy! You can download all 20 issues of Vacuum Tube Valley at this link.


Dynamic Range Day 2014Come celebrate Dynamic Range Day 2014 on March 28th where we ask musicians, engineers, record labels, etc to cease highly compressing the dynamic range of the music they produce. The 'Loudness War' has been going on for decades as music labels want their music to somehow 'stand out' over others. Many people feel that much of the music produced today and sold to consumers -- and heard on the radio -- could sound better subjectively if there were some semblance of more natural dynamics. To quote the DDR site, "The Loudness War is a sonic 'arms race' where every artist and label feel they need to crush their music onto CD at the highest possible level, for fear of not being 'competitive' -- and in the process removing all the contrast, all the light, shade and depth – ruining the sound. In order to achieve these super-high levels, the music has to be squashed up against the digital maximum level 'ceiling' -- reducing the difference between the peak and average levels in the music. In the process, the contrast between loud and soft moments (often referred to as the dynamic range) is dramatically reduced." The sites says that research shows there is no connection between loudness and sales. In addition, dynamic music sounds better on the radio too. You can follow @DynamicRangeDay on Twitter and use the #DRD14 hashtag.


03 / 25 / 14

Hagerman Cornet3 DIY MM Phonostage  Vacuum tube amplification comes to K'starter with Jim Hagerman's Cornet3 DIY MM phono and Piccolo2 step-up for MC cartridges (from $200 for Piccolo2 in DIY form up to $650 for both fully assembled). So how can Jim offer the Cornet3 for only $200? To quote their K'Starter campaign, "By thinking outside the box, I was able to eliminate the two most expensive components in a tube preamp - the power transformer and metal chassis. The critical high voltage supply is now created using a boost converter running at 44kHz. And this is not a cut-rate design where tubes are starved by running them at low voltage. No, the Cornet3 B+ supply feeds the tubes properly with a +200V rail, the way they are meant to be operated. The result is a robust, powerful, wide-band, low distortion sound with superb bass. The other benefit of such a compact design is that it could fit into a small plastic enclosure. Basically, these two tricks cut the cost in half without any loss of sonic performance." Features of each unit include:

• 43dB gain (perfect for MM carts)
• 47k input impedance
• 1k output impedance
• 10Hz to 600kHz bandwidth
• +/-1dB equalization accuracy
• -67dB noise floor (ref 5mV)
• <0.05% distortion
• 9VDC universal power supply

Piccolo2 (step-up)
• 0dB, 13dB, 21dB, 26dB gain (adjustable)
• 1k, 470, 220, 100, 47 Ohm input impedance (adjustable)
• 300 Ohm output impedance
• 6Hz to 800kHz bandwidth
• 24VDC universal power supply


03 / 24 / 14

  Enjoy the Music.TV's interview with David W. Robinson of Positive Feedback magazine and singer/musician/songwriter David Elias.is now available online! Hosted by Steven R. Rochlin, we discuss creating and recording music, early Internet mp3.com and other services plus the places to buy modern DSD files today. As always, in the end what really matters is that you.... enjoy the music!


Music Industry News 10 Years Ago
Sony in wedded bliss with McDonalds? Microsoft trouncing the iPod? Apple reaching 75 million? All this in the news today as recording label and electronics manufacturer Sony is following the Pepsi/iTune bandwagon with a promotional deal where McDonalds would offer free songs to their customers. Naturally these free songs will be through Sony's new online music company. Then we have Microsoft who are going to offer an audio/video portable device for approximately $700 that is said to have very large storage, play a wide variety of formats, and will include a color screen for video playback. Lastly, while computer manufacturer and online music company Apple will fall short of their hopeful 100 million iTunes music downloads, we must rejoice that they are expecting to reach approximately 70 million within their first year! This is 70 million songs being legally downloaded online within only a year's time, or 191,780 per day for a new online music business! Most impressive indeed. And for those wondering, the 70 million tunes add up to a revenue of $23,100,000.


03 / 21 / 14

Waves Audio MaxxAudio  Waves Audio, a leading developer of audio DSP technologies and a recipient of a Technical Grammy Award, continues its expansion into the international mobile device market. This time they are integrating their MaxxAudio Mobile technologies in the latest smartphone from Oppo Electronics. By using MaxxAudio, the new Oppo Find 7 devices offer professional-quality sound and performance for audio and communications applications ranging from streaming audio to gaming content and online video clips. Developed to fully utilize the latest in bandwidth data and communications technologies, MaxxAudio on the Find 7 enables Oppo's vision for customized, high quality sound experiences on mobile devices. "Oppo are always after the most innovative technologies and exceptional sound quality. We have found the best of both in Waves," stated Tony Chen, CEO Oppo Electronics. "Using MaxxAudio, which is powered by the same professional technologies used by the world's leading studios and artists, we can now provide high-quality natural sound performance and extended user controls for a premium mobile audio experience on Find 7."


WyWires Red Series CablesWyWires has announced their Red Series premium headphone cables ($299) that are designed to "liberate audio signals from the adverse characteristics of stock conduit. This all-new series provides an instant upgrade to reference headphones" says the company. The Red Series extends WyWires design principles into the high-performance headphone market as the company focuses on maximum conductivity and low dielectric constant to yield improvements in transient-rise time while reducing the frequency loss occurred with traditional cable windings. The Red Series' physical design was engineered with regard to optimum weight, flex and texture for unobtrusive use. These cables have upwards of 4x the conductivity of stock cables, reduces capacitance that causes time-delay smearing and transient masking plus reduces signal cross-talk. The cables are available in common source connectors including 1/8", 1/4", 3-pin XLR, and balanced 4-pin XLR. Standard 5 foot cable length, with additional lengths and extensions available at additional costs. The WyWires Red Series is available with connections for Sennheiser HD580, HD600, HD650, HD700, HD800; Audeze LCD-2, LCD-3, LCD-X, LCD-XC; HiFiMAN HE-4, HE-6, HE-300, HE-400, HE-500 and JPS Labs Abyss. All WyWires solutions are custom-built by hand.


Music Industry News 10 Years Ago
Cirrus Logic CS4382Manufacturers of DVD-Audio and SACD players may enjoy using the new multi-channel Cirrus Logic CS4382 8-channel digital-to-analog (D/A) chip. This new chip also performs digital interpolation, fifth-order Delta-Sigma D/A conversion, digital de-emphasis, volume control, and analog filtering. According to Cirrus "The advantages of this architecture include ideal differential linearity; no distortion mechanisms due to resistor matching errors; no linearity drift over time and temperature; and a high tolerance to clock jitter." The CS4382 accepts PCM (pulse code modulation) data at sample rates from 4kHz to 192kHz (for CD and DVD-Audio) while it also handles Direct Stream Digital (DSD, for Sony's proprietary SACD format). Features of this new chip include:

* 24-bit conversion 
* Up to 192kHz sample rates 
* 114dB dynamic range 
* -100dB THD+N 
* Supports PCM and DSD data formats 
* Selectable digital filters 
* Volume control with soft ramp 
* 1dB step size 
* Zero crossing click-free transitions 
* Dedicated DSD inputs 
* Low clock-jitter sensitivity 
* Simultaneous support for two synchronous sample rates for DVD-Audio 
* Microcontroller or standalone operation


03 / 20 / 14

Hi-Fi World Magazine  Enjoy the Music.com has just posted Hi-Fi World's May 2014 edition including the complete editorial and table of contents. This issue includes reviews of the VPI Traveler turntable, Usher N-6311 speakers, Hi-FiMan HM-901 portable digital media player, Sugden LA-4/fPA-4 Pre/Power, Advanced Acoustics X-I60 integrated, Pro-Ject Stream Box DSA... and the prestigious Hi-Fi World 2013 Award Winners! The editorial by Noel Keywood says, "The only innovation in amplifiers has been the rise of Class D. It's cheap and it can be made to work well, as NuForce and Hypex show. One of the problems facing Class D is old-fashioned Class A. Spend time with a good Class A and you'll realise that all others are losing something. And that's what we found yet again with Sugden's quietly impressive FPA-4 Class A amplifier, reviewed by Jon Myles (see p10) this month. Like earlier Sugdens, notably the A21SE we used as a reference until it was sold from under us (!), the FPA-4 needs a little understanding." See the complete March table of contents and editorial of Hi-Fi World by clicking here.


03 / 19 / 14

Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1 Vacuum Tube Stereo Linestage  Backert Labs new Rhythm 1.1 vacuum tube stereo linestage ($7500) preamplifier features a 'revolutionary' new power supply using V-Cap capacitors and innovative developed self-biasing circuit. Designed and hand-made in the United States of America by veteran amplifier designer and CEO Bob Backert with the aid of his son, Chief Operations Officer Gary Backert, the Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1 preamplifier is point-to-point wired. For system integration, the unit has five stereo inputs, two stereo outputs, and a stereo record-out. The front panel has input control, volume adjustment, mute, mono switches and balance control. Remote volume control is also provided for. The innovative power supply is claimed to bring high quality rhythm and dynamics not achievable with normal supplies. Patented by Mr. Backert, 'GreenForce' is claimed by the company to be the first completely new kind of power supply since switched-mode power supplies were conceived in the 1950s. It can use the fine and high quality V-Cap brand capacitors. "The way this power supply works is equally important," said Mr. Backert. "It's very different, because it pushes power into the amplifying circuit, proactively, instead of passively bleeding out power when the circuit demands it. That 'push' gives GreenForce its accuracy, which leads to better rhythm and dynamics." Innovations in the tube circuit include active self-bias so that each brand of tube used will sound its very best. A pair of 12AU7 tubes are utilized and are easily accessible by a convenient one-touch door in the top panel. The Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1 vacuum tube stereo preamplifier is available in silver or black.


Audience Au24 SE MP CablesAudience's introduction of their Au24 SE MP (medium power), Au24 SE LP (low power) and Au24 SE c7 powerChord AC line cords further extends the company's reach into high quality cabling. The Au24 SE MP, Au24 SE LP and Au24 SE c7 are designed to best suit the demands of components like preamplifiers, CD players and D/A converters that require lesser amounts of AC power than their larger amplifier counterparts. The Au24 SE MP powerChord features 14 AWG wiring and is recommended for use with components that require up to 150 watts of AC power. The Au24 SE LP employs 16 AWG wiring and should be used with components that require up to 50 watts. The Au24 SE c7 is also 16 AWG and fits into the c7 AC connector used on some audio/video components. The MP, LP and c7 models all provide the same level of performance according to the Audience. All Au24 SE powerChords are designed to thwart traditional weak points of conventional power cords. Au24 SE powerChords are constructed using the highest quality materials including OHNO high-purity monocrystal copper wiring, rhodium-plated copper plugs and IEC connectors and are available in both United States of America and European (Schuko) styles. Audience Au24 SE MP, Au24 SE LP and Au24 SE C7 powerChords are available now with suggested retail pricing as follows: Au24 SE MP, $1,250 @ 6 ft, +/- $75 per foot; Au24 SE LP, $1,080 @ 6 ft, +/- $50 per foot, Au24 SE c7, $799 @ 6 ft, +/- $35 per foot.


Save 15% Off AXPONA 2014 TicketsEnjoy the Music.com can save you 15% off AXPONA tickets! Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) 2014 is an audiophile show that will be held from April 25th through 27th and is open to the public. Taking place at the Westin O'Hare in Chicago, the AXPONA show is now in their sixth year and offers demonstrations of home audio playback equipment and software replicating live music as accurately as possible. AXPONA 2014 is Chicago's high-end audio show featuring hundreds of listening rooms, informative daily seminars, live music, Ear Gear Expo (EGX) for portable music enthusiasts, and much more. Music lovers and audiophiles from across the country should attend AXPONA for demonstrations and access to the latest high-end audio equipment and accessories that the high fidelity audio industry has to offer! Come to AXPONA this Spring and experience your music as it was meant to be heard! Click this link and use code AXP52D to save 15% off AXPONA tickets.


For previous high-end audio industry news click here.



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