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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 219 January 2012   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 219, January 2012 table of contents and link to the editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
6 From the Editor
The Price Of Progress.
Editorial By Robert Harley

8 Letters

12 Future TAS

15 Industry News: Dick Olsher offers a tribute to audio pioneer and Acoustic Research founder Edgar Villchur.

53 We Name the Very Best Products of 2011.

38 Computer Audio: Sound Quality
Dr. Charles Zeilig and Jay Clawson report on their groundbreaking project to evaluate and quantify every sonic variable in computer audio. Part Two of a four-part series.

16 Feature: Pursuing The Multichannel Download
Multichannel aficionado Andrew Quint tells you how to play back downloaded high-res multichannel music files.

20 Start Me Up: Fritz Loudspeaker Carbon 7
Fritz's affordable two-way makes a special magic, says Neil Gader.

24 Absolute Analog: Soundsmith Sussurro and Paua
Anthony H. Cordesman on two exceptional moving-iron cartridges.

32 Next-Gen Digital: Oppo BDP-95 Blu-ray Player 
This universal disc player sets a new standard for what's possible in an under-$1000 unit, says Chris Martens.


Equipment Reports 
92 Monitor Audio GX300 Gold Loudspeaker
Wayne Garcia finds much to like in this mid-priced floorstander.

96 Ray Samuels Audio SR-71B Fully Balanced Portable Headphone Amplifier
Paul Seydor explains why the “high-end-in-miniature” SR-71 is such a mind-blower.

102 Triode Corporation TRX-1 Line Preamplifier
Tube maven Dick Olsher explores this mid-priced triode-based preamp from Japan.

108 Shunyata Research Hydra Talos and Triton Power Conditioners
AC-conditioning leader Shunyata brings new technology to the Talos and Triton. Kirk Midtskog gives them a listen.

112 PrimaLuna DiaLogue 3 Preamplifier
Jim Hannon on a 53-pound all-tubed beauty that offers amazing build and parts quality, plus terrific sound and value.

116 Spread Spectrum Technologies Ampzilla 2000 Monoblock Power Amplifiers and Ambrosia Preamplifier
James Bongiorno, creator of the classic seventies amplifier Ampzilla, is back with a monoblock and matching preamplifier. Paul Seydor puts these new electronics through their paces. Plus James Bongiorno talks with Robert Harley.

130 Audience au24 powerChord
Neil Gader on a terrific-sounding AC cord from Audience.

132 Edge Electronics NL-10.2 Power Amplifier
The NL-10.2 is the latest in a long line of truly exceptional amps from Edge, says Wayne Garcia.

138 Vandersteen Model 5A Carbon Loudspeaker
Richard Vandersteen brings his revolutionary balsa-wood and carbon-fiber drivers from the Model 7 to a lower price point. Anthony H. Cordesman delivers a full assessment.

146 Magico Q1 Loudspeaker
Jonathan Valin on a tiny, two-way, stand-mounted mini-monitor from Magico that delivers genuinely outsized performance. 


The Cutting Edge
154 Steinway Lyngdorf S-Series System
Robert E. Greene offers an in-depth evaluation of this paradigm-busting, out-of-the-box approach to creating a high-performance music system. 

164 Scaena Model 3.4 Loudspeaker
Jonathan Valin on the quasi-ribbon/cone line-source loudspeakers that at last year's CES made certain singers and instruments sound downright real.

Focal Stella Utopia EM Loudspeaker
Robert Harley finds this ambitious loudspeaker from the 30-year-old French manufacturer to be supremely musical and satisfying. PLUS! Behind the scenes at the Focal factory. 

190 HP's Workshop: HP discovers several spectacular new LPs to add to his Super Disc List.

200 Manufacturer Comments


202 New Girls on the Scene
Jeff Wilson profiles a baker's dozen of today's most talented young female jazz singers.

208 Forty Years of Funky
Bill Milkowski on the zigzaggy career of the clavinet in pop music and jazz.

212 Rock 
New releases from Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, Superheavy, Steve Cropper, Imelda May, Ricky Skaggs, and Samantha Fish, and a sterling reissue from seminal folk/rock guitarist Davy Graham.

218 Classical
Operas on SACD, Brahms on Linn, Rameau on Alia Vox, Eighth Blackbird on Cedille, and Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings Symphony.

222 Jazz
The latest from Chick Corea, Anthony Wilson, and Darren Johnston, along with five classic Blue Notes remastered on Analogue Productions SACD.


232 Back Page
TAS talks to MBL's chief engineer, Juergen Reis.


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