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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 253 May / June 2015   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 253, May / June 2015 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
8 Letters

12 Guest Editorial
Andrew Quint decries distorting the musical message through a misuse of recording technology.

14 Future TAS
New products on the horizon.

17 Industry News
T.H.E. Show Newport moves to a fresh venue—and adds some surprises. 

19 A Better Way To Buy Speakers
Roger Skoff on the best way to get the thrill of great bass and the soundstaging and imaging of great mids and highs in a single, affordable, relatively compact system.

155 Manufacturer Comments


Think Pieces
50 Beyond High Resolution: Meridian Audio's
Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) 
Robert Harley brings you an in-depth look at a revolutionary new technology that not only delivers sound quality better than 192/24, but does so at a bit rate that can be streamed to your phone. Plus: MQA co-architect Bob Stuart reveals the inside story behind MQA in this candid interview.

34 Understanding Digital Music Systems
Confused by all the new component categories — renderer, streamer, server, bridge? Dr. Jeffrey Barish tells you everything you need to know about the new digital architecture in this comprehensive primer.


Start Me Up
24 PSB X2T Loudspeaker
Julie Mullins listens to PSB Speakers' remarkable $1295 floorstander.


Absolute Analog
28 JR Transrotor Orion Reference FMD with TR 5009 Tonearm
Andre Jennings takes a German 'table with an innovative magnetic bearing for a spin. 


Equipment Reports
78 Kharma Elegance S7-S Signature Loudspeaker
This stunning two-way floorstander from the Netherlands transcends mere hi-fi, says Neil Gader.

82 Lyngdorf Audio TDAI-2170 Integrated Amplifier with Room Correction
Robert E. Greene on a Danish wonder that combines digital amplification with the RoomPerfect DSP room-correction system — all at a reasonable price.

90 Exogal Comet DAC
Several former Wadia engineers swing for the fences in cost-to-performance ratio with this new mid-priced DAC. Vade Forrester reports. 

98 Rowland Continuum S2 Integrated Amplifier
Short on space? Neil Gader discovers the classic Rowland sound, build-quality, and chassis work in the Colorado master's compact Class D integrated.

104 Estelon XB Loudspeaker
Alan Taffel finds much to love in a superb new loudspeaker from Estonia. 

110 Arcam A49 Integrated Amplifier
Arcam proves that the Brits can do high power as well as anyone. Neil Gader has the full story.

114 IsoTek EVO3 Sigmas AC Power Conditioner
Jacob Heilbrunn discovers the charms of this "mains conditioner" from England's IsoTek.

116 Ultimate Ears PRM Custom In-Ear Monitors
Imagine an in-ear monitor that's custom molded to fit you — and custom equalized by you for the perfect tonal balance. Jonathan Valin (!) takes the plunge into personal audio and likes what he hears.

120 Moon by Simaudio 430HA Headphone Amplifier
Canada's Simaudio makes its statement in the standalone headphone-amplifier category with the Moon 430HA. Robert Harley reports.

142 Cover Story: Jadis DA88S MkII Integrated Amplifier
The iconic French marque has created a musical, technical, and visual masterpiece with this new integrated amp, says Jacob Heilbrunn. 


The Cutting Edge
126 Avantgarde Acoustics Trio Loudspeakers and Basshorn Woofers
Jonathan Valin listens to the mother of all horn-loaded bass drivers, the Avantgarde Acoustics Basshorns, in conjunction with the German company's latest Trio three-way spherical horn system. 

158 Black Gospel from the 1940s Onward
Stephen Estep examines "the soul-freeing riot of rhythm, harmony, and spirituality that makes black gospel so enticing."

162 BluePort Jazz, A Label of Love
Jeff Wilson talks with Jim Merod, a jazz and audiophile raconteur.

164 Download Round-Up
Alan Taffel and Andrew Quint review hi-res pop/rock and classical downloads.

168 Rock
New releases by Buena Vista Social Club, Ralph Stanley, Steven Wilson, and Duchess; reissues by Junior Wells, Neil Young, and Tony Bennett; plus The Eve Folk Recordings, a compilation of folk music from 1965.

174 Jazz
Mosaic's The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions, vinyl reissues by Duke Ellington and J. J. Johnson, a 10-CD Steve Lacy box set, and new releases by Vijay Iyer and Abdullah Ibrahim. 

180 Classical
A violin concerto by Vernon Duke, symphonies by Haydn, Bruckner's Symphony No. 4, Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2, and the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo performing Bach.


Back Page
184 We talk to Dave Nauber, President of Classé Audio.


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