Issue 237 November 2013
Best of the Best
Editorial By Robert Harley
In keeping with what has become an annual tradition, the November issue of
The Absolute Sound is our special Buyer's Guide, in which we highlight the very best products in all price ranges and in every category. Whether you're looking for an entirely new system, a component upgrade, or accessories to improve your sound, you'll find our top picks in these pages. If you're in the market for new musical discoveries, our writers share with you their favorite hidden treasures in the music feature — recordings that aren't well known but which, nonetheless, combine great music and sound quality.
For the inveterate tweaker, this issue includes a special feature detailing simple yet effective system set-up secrets: insider tips and tricks used by industry pros when setting up systems at shows or in customers' homes.
We're also pleased to bring to you Steven Stone's step-by-step primer on turning an ordinary Macintosh computer into an audiophile-grade music server. This article comes at a perfect time; the long-awaited
"mainstreaming" of high-resolution digital audio is just around the corner. As reported by Alan Taffel on our Web site,
theabsolutesound.com, Sony has just announced three innovative high-res music players aimed at the mass market. One of these, in the upscale ES line, includes a 1TB hard drive and a
"remastering engine" that upsamples all files to double DSD (that is, twice the 1.228Mbs data-rate of DSD on SACD). Sony knows better than anyone that hardware needs software (and vice versa), which is why it has also announced that it will be making high-res DSD downloads available of many, many titles from the Sony Music, Columbia, Universal, and Warner Records catalogues. Our next issue includes a special report on DSD downloads, including a comprehensive survey of, and commentary on, a variety of download sites offering the format.
We've assembled this Buyer's Guide issue just as we're putting the finishing touches on our epic project, The Absolute Sound's Illustrated History of High-End Audio, Volume One: Loudspeakers. This richly illustrated book documents the creation of the high-end's most iconic loudspeaker designers, brands, technologies, and products largely through first-hand accounts by the company founders and archival photos. For many months we've been working on individual components of the book on our computer screens, but recently, for the first time, I read the entire manuscript from front to back on paper. Despite my intimate familiarity with the book's content, viewing it in its entirety, as a single volume, was thrilling. Written by the TAS editorial team, the book is packed with fascinating histories, stories, and insights. I couldn't be happier with the result; it's comprehensive, entertaining, and authoritative. Moreover, The Absolute Sound's Illustrated History of High-End Audio is stunning visually — it's nearly the size of an LP cover, 320 pages in length, and includes more than 600 photos and illustrations. There's never been anything like it, and I can't wait to share the results of our effort with TAS readers and interested audiophiles worldwide. You can learn more about The Absolute Sound's Illustrated History of High-End Audio, see sample page layouts, and download free excerpts at
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