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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 193 June / July 2009   Welcome to The Abso!ute Sound online! We explore music and the reproduction of music in the home. We believe that the sound of music, unamplified, occurring in a real space is a philosophic absolute against which we may judge the performance of devices designed to reproduce music. Our goal is to provide the resources consumers need to judge how a component's sound either honors or departs from the music's truth, and to make sound purchasing decisions that maximize their experience of reproduced sound. Below is our Issue 193, June / July 2009 contents and editorial.

Read this edition's editorial by clicking here.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
8 Letters
Praise for our analog-focus issue, reaction to the Spectral review and interview, a musical bargain, powered loudspeakers, counterfeit Koetsu cartridges, and that ol' analog-versus-digital debate.

12 From the Editor
Alan Taffel, in a guest editorial, considers the high-end's pursuit of spatial realism in reproduced music.

14 Future TAS

16 Industry News

110 Manufacturer Comments


Equipment Reports
18 Start Me Up
Primare DVDI10 CD/DVD Receiver
Neil Gader on this affordable all-in-one package from Sweden ’s Primare

20 Absolute Analog
TW Acustic Raven One Turntable
Is the Raven One the best value in mid-priced turntables? Wayne Garcia weighs in. 

24 DaVinci Audio Labs Reference Grandezza Phono Cartridge
Jonathan Valin listens to a world-class cartridge from Switzerland .

28 Mainstream Multichannel
Sony STR-DA5400ES Receiver and BDP-S5000ES Blu-ray Disc Player
Sony puts the emphasis on sound quality in its new AVR and Blu-ray player. Neil Gader reports.

32 Next-Gen Digital 
Logitech Transporter Network Music Player
Sound Science Music Vault II 
Steven Stone on a high-def music server for under $2k, coupled with the Fort Knox of networked hard drives.

58 Goldenote S-1 Signature Integrated Amplifier and Koala CD Player
Robert Harley reports on one of the best sub-$2k integrated amps and a tubed CD player, both from Italy’s Goldenote

60 Harbeth HLP-3ES2 Loudspeaker
Paul Seydor on his reference in small monitors, along with an interview with its designer, Alan Shaw.

66 Argentum Acoustics Aureus-2 Speaker Cable and Mythos Interconnect
Neil Gader discovers a bargain in mid-priced cables.

70 Wyrd4Sound SX-1000 and Bel Canto Ref 1000 Mk II Monoblock Power Amplifiers
Are Class D amplifiers ready for prime time? Steven Stone reports on two new samples.

76 Krell S-300i Integrated Amplifier
Thought you couldn’t afford a Krell? Think again. Neil Gader on this big-bang-for-the-buck integrated.

80 Conrad-Johnson ET2 Preamplifier and LP66S Power Amplifier
Dick Olsher finds much to like in the entry-level tubed gear from one of the most venerable marques in high-end audio.

86Running Springs Audio Dmitri AC Power Conditioner
Robert Harley discovers a new reference in AC power conditioning.

92 Tascam DV-RA1000HD High-Resolution Digital Recorder
Make your own high-res recordings (or LP arch

98 Loiminchay Chagall Loudspeaker
With a stunning — and stunningly different — enclosure, the Chagall makes a highly favorable impression on Anthony H. Cordesman.

104 Cover Story
Focal Grande Utopia EM Loudspeaker
Roy Gregory reports on this $180,000 contender for world’s best loudspeaker.

114 HP's Workshop
HP's 2009 Golden Ear Awards


124 Feature: Impulse and Blue Note Reissues from Acoustic Sounds
Wayne Garcia on the newest batch on jazz classics reborn on 45rpm vinyl. 

126 Rock
New releases from Antony and the Johnsons, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks,
and Joan Baez, along with the Band’s classic second album reissued on LP, and a collection of 40-year-old Willie Nelson recordings re-produced "naked."

130 Classical
Diva Cecilia Bartoli shines in Bellini’s La Sonnambula, Rudolf Kempe in Strauss, and
Guitarist Jason Vieaux in Bach. Plus new recordings of Shostakovich and Mozart in multichannel.

134 Jazz
Recent offerings from Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing Trio, Branford Marsalis, Benny Golson, John Scofield, and Joe Lovano.

137 Top Ten
Greg Cahill selects Ten Great Gypsy-Jazz CDs.


TAS Back Page
144 An interview with Parasound founder Richard Schramm.



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