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


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04 / 27 / 17

AXPONA 2017 High-End Audio Show Report Part 2
AXPONA 2017 High-End Audio Show Report
Audio Expo North America coverage by Steven R. Rochlin, Part 2

 

04 / 26 / 17

IFPI Says Global Recorded Music Revenues Increase By 5.9% In 2016
IFPI Says Global Recorded Music Revenues Increase By 5.9%According to the IFPI, the voice of the recording industry worldwide. We represent the interests of 1300 record companies from across the globe, there are now 112 million users of paid streaming subscriptions. This brings streaming revenue growth of an outstanding 60.4%. Digital income now accounts for 50% of global revenues. The IFPI feels that 'Value Gap' remains biggest challenge to sustainable growth. "The global recorded music market grew by 5.9% in 2016, the highest rate since IFPI began tracking the market in 1997, according to the IFPI Global Music Report 2017, released today. Total revenues for 2016 were $15.7 billion. At the end of 2016 there were 112 million users of paid music streaming subscriptions driving year-on-year streaming revenue growth of 60.4%. Digital income last year accounted for half the global recorded music industry’s annual revenue for the first time. Growth in streaming more than offset a 20.5% decline in downloads and a 7.6% decline in physical revenue. Streaming is helping drive growth in developing music markets, with China (+20.3%), India (+26.2%) and Mexico (+23.6%) seeing strong revenue growth. Record companies have fuelled this revenue growth through ongoing investment, not only in artists, but also in the systems supporting digital platforms, which has allowed for the licensing of over 40 million tracks across hundreds of services. The industry is now working towards a return to sustainable growth following a 15-year period during which revenues dropped by nearly 40%. Success requires resolution of the market distortion known as the 'value gap' – the growing mismatch between the value that user upload services, such as YouTube, extract from music and the revenue returned to those who create and invest in music. User upload video streaming services, benefiting from the misapplication of 'safe harbors', comprise the world’s largest on-demand music audience, conservatively estimated at more than 900 million users. The revenue returning to rights holders through these services in 2016 amounted to US$553 million. By contrast, a much smaller user base of 212 million users of audio subscription services (both paid and ad-supported), that have negotiated licenses on fair terms, contributed more than US$3.9 billion."

 


Ear Gear At AXPONA 2017 High-End Audio Show

 

Noble Audio Releases Their New Lightning-To-2-Pin In-Ear Monitor Cable
Noble Audio Lightning-To-2-Pin In-Ear Monitor CableNoble Audio, a leading high-performance in-ear monitor (IEM) specialist, has launched a new Lightning-to-2-pin IEM cable designed to instantly connect the latest Apple iOS devices with all current and legacy Noble products ($80 for 1.2-meter length). Noble Audio's new Lightning-to-2-pin IEM cable allows consumers to instantly connect any Noble product ever produced, to the latest iOS devices. This dedicated cable has been designed to optimize sound quality from the latest Lightning iOS devices when used with Noble's universal fit and custom IEMs. Its industry-standard two-pin configuration allows it to enable a wide range of other compatible two-pin IEMs, too. The new Lightning cable is compatible with all current models in the Noble range and is also backwards-compatible with all products since the Californian company's inception, including its custom-fit models (CIEMs). This new high-performance cable also benefits from Noble Audio's new ear-hooks, which keep the cable ideally positioned behind the ear when in use. The new ear-hooks are pre-formed and increase comfortable (and style) compared to conventional memory wires.

 

04 / 25 / 17


AXPONA 2017 High-End Audio Show Report
Audio Expo North America 2017 coverage by Steven R. Rochlin, Part 1

 

OPPO UDP-205 Audiophile Universal Player Delivers A Performance Boost
OPPO UDP-205 Audiophile Universal Player Delivers A Performance BoostOPPO Digital just announced that their UDP-205 4K Ultra HD Audiophile Blu-ray Disc player ($1299) is available for purchase. This is a step-up version of the recently released UDP-203, as the UDP-205 brings top-of-the-line audio performance to a universal player that supports 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and many other digital audio and video formats. The OPPO UDP-205 carries many of the same features as the UDP-203: playback of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD, Audio CD and many other formats; High Dynamic Range (HDR10) and firmware upgradeable to Dolby Vision; dual HDMI outputs – HDMI 2.0 for UHD and HDMI 1.4 for audio; and an HDMI 2.0 input port for external streaming devices or set-top boxes. The audio performance of the OPPO UDP-205 is a significant upgrade over the UDP-203 and previous generation players. The UDP-205 provides reference level sound quality through the analog outputs, improves the clock precision of the HDMI audio output, and increases the power of the built-in headphone amplifier. For the analog output stages, the UDP-205 utilizes two ES9038PRO DACs, which are the flagship of the ESS Sabre Pro series, delivering best-in-class audio performance. Since stereo listening accounts for a large part of audiophile usage of a universal player, and that is why the UDP-205 offers a dedicated stereo output in addition to its 7.1-channel analog audio output. The stereo audio output is powered by a dedicated ES9038PRO DAC chip and specially designed buffer and driver stages. It provides both XLR balanced and RCA single-ended connectors. The balanced output features a true differential signal path all the way from the DAC to the 3-pin XLR connector. By transmitting a pair of differential signals, the balanced output provides better common-mode noise rejection and improves signal quality. For a more intimate listening experience, headphones can be connected directly to the UDP-205's built-in headphone amplifier. The headphone amplifier is connected directly to the ESS SABRE PRO DAC and offers a unique performance advantage over standalone headphone amplifiers. Compared to the built-in headphone amplifier in our previous generation BDP-105/105D players, the new design offers more power and higher performance. In addition to its playback capabilities, the UDP-205 adds a USB DAC, a coaxial and an optical digital audio input so users can take advantage of the excellent audio performance of the UDP-205 with other sources. The asynchronous USB DAC input supports sample rates up to 768 kHz PCM and DSD 512. By bypassing the low fidelity, poor quality DAC of traditional computer soundcards, the UDP-205 turns any computer into a high performing multi-media source by utilizing the ES9038PRO DAC. For additional convenience and flexibility, the UDP-205 can convert digital signals from cable and satellite boxes, televisions, video game consoles and other digital transports with coaxial and optical digital outputs to analog.

 

Chris Sommovigo's High Fidelity Partners AIRWAVE XLR & RCA Cable
Chris Sommovigo's High Fidelity Partners AIRWAVE XLR & RCA CableAIRWAVE cables have been named for a unique method that uniformly suspends signal conductors within an air-tube, such that air - and not plastic - constitutes the major portion of the dielectric behavior. This is said to diminish the overall influence that the dielectric may have on the audio signal, and elevates performance parameters such that AIRWAVE cables make very formidable high-performance competitors while being accessibly priced. Airwave cables are made in the same artisan workshop and on the same machines that Mr. Sommovigo manufactures his Black Cat Cable products, which he considers a point of pride and something that makes his products stand out from an otherwise crowded cable market. "My intention was to deliver AIRWAVE for regular-guy prices, and that's what I've tried to do here,” remarked Chris Sommovigo, designer of the Airwave products. "I wanted to make sure that AIRWAVE cables were the kind of Giant Slayer that would pleasantly surprise anyone who uses them - and to do it without breaking the bank. These cables are not some thermoplastic industrial cable-sausage being squeezed out of an enormous industrial extruder at some sweat-shop factory, tens of miles at a time. They are made, layer by layer, in my workshop in Japan, on my machines and by my own hands.” Mr. Sommovigo has released the first products from the AIRWAVE collection: RCA and XLR interconnects. Loudspeaker cables are said to be following soon, and power cords are being considered for release at a later date. AIRWAVE XLR and RCA stereo pair are priced at $249 on up depending on your desired length.

 

04 / 24 / 17


Montreal Salon Audio - Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report
Part 4 By Rick Becker

 

Dr. Atsumi Ohno, Creator Of OCC Research Lab, Has Passed
Dr. Atsumi Ohno, Creator Of OCC Research Lab, Has PassedIt saddens us to report on the passing of Dr. Atsumi Ohno, who was the creator of Ohno Continuous Casting (OCC) Research Lab. OCC copper and OCC silver are used in many of the finest audio cables available in the industry. While there is an abundance of information on the Internet about the OCC process, there is little information about Dr. Ohno himself and the history of OCC. Dr. Ohno developed the OCC process at the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan and patented the process in 1986. Dr. Ohno received his Ph.D. degree in Material Science (Metallurgical Engineering) from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1963. When Dr. Ohno returned to Japan in the mid 1960's, he took a position at the Chiba Institute with the simple goal of establishing a metal casting research program. The rapid development of the electronics industry in Japan in the 1970's led to the aggressive miniaturization of electronic components. This in turn drove the demand to draw wire of increasingly fine gauge. It became evident to Dr. Ohno that it would be necessary to develop metal materials with no casting defects or crystal grain boundaries to continue the miniaturization. (These metallurgical properties would also become advantageous for audio signal transfer applications.) This became the motivation for Dr. Ohno's research which led to the patent of the Ohno Continuous Casting process in 1986. By using a heated mold with the temperature profile carefully selected and drawing the material at a very slow rate it is possible to cause the solidification process to start from the inside-out resulting in the formation of very long crystals in the metal, rather than the many short crystals that form in conventional casting when the material cools from the outside-in. The OCC process was licensed to Furukawa Electric and Sumitomo (Japan) and Wan Lung Electric (Taiwan). Dr. Ohno worked very closely with these companies to move the OCC process from Lab to Production scale. Donations were made to the university as a way to thank them for their kindness over the years. The University of Toronto Department of Metallurgical Engineering established an OCC research lab in recognition of the donation. The Chiba Institute of Technology and University of Toronto became the leading OCC research centers in the world. Even into his eighties, Dr. Ohno remained a Professor Emeritus at both Chiba and Toronto, and continued to keep in touch with researchers at the two institutions. We thank Dr. Atsumi Ohno for his kindness, and immense contributions, within the electronics industry.

 

04 / 21 / 17

AXPONA 2017 Show Coverage


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

 

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

 

04 / 19 / 17

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

 

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

 

04 / 18 / 17

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

 

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

 

04 / 17 / 17

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

 

04 / 14 / 17

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

 

04 / 13 / 17

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

 

04 / 12 / 17

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

 

04 / 11 / 17


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

 

04 / 10 / 17

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

 

04 / 07 / 17

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

 

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

 

04 / 06 / 17

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

 

04 / 05 / 17

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

 

04 / 04 / 17

Enjoy the Music.com Has Updated Our Partner Magazine Sites

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

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

 

 

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

 

04 / 03 / 17


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

 

04 / 01 / 17

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 


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

 

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

03 / 31 / 17

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

 

03 / 29 / 17

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

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

 

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

 

03 / 28 / 17

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

 

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

 

03 / 27 / 17

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

 

 

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