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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 236 October 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 236 October 2013 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue

8 Letters

12 From the Editor: The Ultimate Format?
Article By Robert Harley

14 Future TAS

16 The Absolute Sound's Illustrated History of High-End Audio
Robert Harley shares the details of our epic project to document the history of the high end in a series of coffee-table books.

23 T.H.E. Show Newport
We report on the newest gear from America's premier hi-fi show.

131 Manufacturer Comments


Start Me Up
40 B&W Z2 Wireless Music System
Neil Gader on an affordable all-in-one music system from B&W.


Absolute Analog
42 Musical Surroundings Nova II Phonostage
This new version of Paul Seydor's longtime favorite phonostage, the Nova, has been upgraded, refined, and sports a sleek new chassis.


Next-Gen Digital
48 Astell&Kern AK100 and AK120 Portable Music Players
Finally, someone has created a true audiophile-grade portable music player —and it has high-res capability! Alan Taffel has the very good news.


Special Report on Cables
56 Cable and Interconnect Construction
Why are high-end cables built the way they are, and how are they different from conventional cables? Robert Harley offers a primer on cable design.

Cable and Interconnect Equipment Reports
62 Nordost Purple Flare Interconnect and Loudspeaker Cable
Neil Gader on an affordable new line from industry leader Nordost.

66 Mid-Priced Cable Survey
Ron Doering compares and contrasts the latest cables and interconnects from three major players: Cardas, MIT, and Wireworld. 

70 Analysis Plus Big Silver Oval Interconnects
Neil Gader listens to a superb new interconnect from one of his favorite cable manufacturers.

72 WyWires Blue Speaker Cable and Interconnect
Neil Gader reports on a humble-looking cable with a mighty sound.


Equipment Reports
76 Audience ClairAudient The One Loudspeaker
Steven Stone reports on a tiny, crossover-less, single-driver speaker capable of an astonishing disappearing act.

80 Rogue Audio Sphinx Hybrid Integrated Amplifier
What does $1400 buy you in today's integrated amplifier market? Quite a bit if that amplifier is the tubed/Class D hybrid from Rogue Audio, says Ron Doering.

84 Primare I32 Integrated Amplifier
The Scandinavians have a knack for electronics, as evidenced by this latest gem from Primare. Neil Gader takes a listen.

88 Silver Circle Audio Tchaik 6 AC Power Conditioner
Scot Hull is wowed by this unusual power conditioner from Silver Circle Audio.

90 Triode Corporation TRX-M300 Monoblock Amplifier
Dick Olsher on a new monoblock that brings the glories of the 300B output tube to an affordable price.

94 YG Acoustics Kipod II Signature Loudspeaker
This new greatly improved version of the Kipod just might be the full-range speaker for mid-sized rooms. Kirk Midtskog has the details.

114 Cover Story
Raidho C 4.1 Loudspeaker
Raidho of Denmark's flagship ribbon/cone floorstander is not only exceedingly beautiful to hear and see; it also manages to sound uncannily realistic. Jonathan Valin on a loudspeaker that may well delight every type of listener.


The Cutting Edge
102 Soulution 520 Preamplifier and 501 Monoblock Amplifiers
Jonathan Valin reviews a new line of electronics from Soulution that adds seemingly inexhaustible power and newfound tonal color to the Swiss firm's famously high-resolution presentation — and does all this for less dough.


134 Indie Rock Goes Audiophile (Sort Of)
Jeff Wilson muses about the curiously shared aesthetics of indie rock and audiophile vinyl. Plus an interview with MoFi's Josh Bizar.

142 The Electric Recording Company 
Mark Lehman on an eccentric English firm that carries classical music vinyl reissues to cost-no-object extremes.

144 Rock 
The latest from Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes, and Alela Diane, along with a brand-new album of very old favorites, and reissues from Blood, Sweat & Tears, Nilsson, R.E.M., and It's a Beautiful Day.

150 Classical 
Recent offerings from the Harlem Quartet, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, and guitarist Roberto Perez; multi-disc audiophile vinyl reissues from Speakers Corners and Mercury.

154 Jazz
New releases from Roberto Fonseca, John Scofield, Matthew Shipp, and Youn Sun Nah, and LP reissues of Von Freeman and Hank Mobley.

160 Back Page
We chat with Mat Weisfeld of VPI Industries.


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