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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 230 February 2013   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 230, February 2013 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
6 From the Editor: Back To The Future
Editorial By Robert Harley

8 Letters

12 Editorial

14 Industry News: Thiel Audio, one of the founding members of the American high-end audio movement, has been sold to a private equity firm.

16 Future TAS: New products on the horizon.

18 Now on theabsolutesound.com: Highlights of the best content on our new Web site.

20 Start Me UpSonus Faber Venere 1.5 Loudspeaker
Neil Gader explains why this $1198 stand-mount won our Product of the Year Award.

25 The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest: We report on the hottest new components from the Denver show.

54 Next-Gen Digital: Wadia 121 Digital Decoding Computer
The digital audio pioneer brings advanced technologies to this $1299 DAC, says Steven Stone.


Equipment Reports
50 NuForce HAP-100 Preamplifier/Headphone Amplifier
Chris Martens on a versatile product from NuForce that can serve as a preamplifier or high-quality headphone amplifier.

62 Z-Infinity Audio Z120F Tube Power Amplifier
Dick Olsher lives with an affordable (and very likeable) 60Wpc stereo tube amplifier.

66 Cambridge Audio Azur 851C CD Player/DAC
Five years after the wonderful Cambridge C840C CD player, the British company introduces its successor. Robert Harley reports on how it stacks up next to its celebrated predecessor.

70 Zesto Leto Linestage Preamplifier
Following up on its Andros phonostage, Zesto has another hit with the Leto linestage. Paul Seydor brings you the good news.

76 Esoteric D-07X DAC: Alan Taffel on this mid-priced DAC from one of high-end digital audio’s most esteemed companies.

80 Esoteric K-01 CD/SACD Player and DAC
Esoteric’s flagship player combines terrific CD and SACD playback with an outstanding USB DAC, says Alan Taffel.

86 Audience Au24 SE Phono Cable
Jacob Heilbrunn on a first-rate phono cable.

88 DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 DualCore Digital Signal Processor
Robert E. Greene extols the latest version of this ingenious digital signal processor.

94 Von Schweikert Audio VR-44 Aktive Loudspeaker
Loudspeakers with integral powered woofers have many technical advantages. Garrett Hongo explores the concept and the results in this new model from Albert Von Schweikert.

106 Lamm ML2.2 Single-Ended Triode Amplifier
Does an amplifier with 18W of output power at 3% distortion belong in the pantheon of the world’s greatest components? Robert Harley thinks so.


The Cutting Edge
110 DaVinciAudio Labs Master's Reference Virtu Tonearm
Jonathan Valin on a genuine masterpiece of Swiss engineering — one of the most lifelike tonearms that (a lot of) money can buy.

118 Classé Audio CP-800 Preamplifier
Classé brings fresh capabilities and features to the preamplifier category, says Jacob Heilbrunn.


128 Imaginary Road Studios: Jeff Wilson talks with William Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill Records, about his unexpected success in the music industry and subsequent endeavors at his new recording studio.

132 Rock: New releases from Donald Fagen, Aaron Neville, Beth Orton, and the Grass Cats; the Beatles reappear on LP; traditional Irish fiddle tunes; and a stellar tribute to guitar icon Les Paul.

136 Classical: Bach, Debussy, Ravel, Mussorgsky and more on piano; Prokofiev concertos on SACD; Vivaldi on vinyl; and Gidon Kremer plays arrangements in honor of Glenn Gould.

140 Jazz: Recent offerings from Elina Duni, Paradoxical Frog, and Ron Miles, along with spiffy audiophile vinyl reissues of Sam Rivers, Jon Hendricks, and Kenny Burrell.

141 Five Faves: Stephen Estep selects five albums he'd rather hear on vinyl.


124 Manufacturer Comments

144 Back Page: TAS talks to Michael Kelly of Aerial Acoustics.


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