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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 254 July / August 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 254, July / August 2015 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
8 Letters

12 From the Editor
Robert Harley reflects on the remarkable 40-plus-year career of legendary amplifier designer Nelson Pass.

14 Industry News
Mastering engineer extraordinaire Doug Sax passes away.

16 AXPONA 2015
We report on the hottest products from the bigger-than-ever Chicago show.

123 Manufacturer Comments


Equipment Reports Analog Focus
50 Pro-Ject RPM 9 Carbon 
Neil Gader listens to an upgraded version of the popular and affordable Pro-Ject RPM 9.

54 DS Audio DS-W1 "Nightrider" Optical Cartridge
Jonathan Valin explores an ingenious cartridge that uses light to turn grooves into music. 

58 Air Force 1 Turntable and Graham Phantom Elite Tonearm 
Paul Seydor reports on a no-holds-barred assault on the state of the art in turntables and tonearms.

72 EAT C-Sharp Turntable 
This new turntable from the European Audio Team brings high-end performance to a down-to-earth price. Our analog guru Andre Jennings has the story.


Equipment Reports Cable Focus
80 Cardas Audio Clear Reflection Interconnect and Cable
Kirk Midtskog on a new cable from Cardas that offers much of the performance of the company's flagship at a more affordable price. Plus: an interview with George Cardas.

88 Two USB Cables
Neil Gader compares two USB cables, one priced at $250 and the other at $1195.

92 Audience Au24 SE USB Cable
Audience swings for the fences with its ambitious new USB cable. Robert Harley reports.

94 Nordost Valhalla 2 Reference Interconnect, Speaker Cable, and Power Cable
Jacob Heilbrunn on a newly revised version of Nordost's popular Valhalla cable and interconnects.

98 AudioQuest Wind Interconnect
This new upper-end interconnect from AudioQuest hits all the right notes, says Robert Harley.


Equipment Reports
100 Focal Aria 948 Loudspeaker
Julie Mullins discovers much to like about this stellar $5k floorstander from France's Focal. 

104 Hegel H160 Integrated Amplifier
The Norwegian company Hegel scores yet another triumph in affordable integrated amplifiers with its new H160, says Jacob Heilbrunn.

108 Dynaudio Focus 600 XD Active Wireless Digital Loudspeaker
Is the world ready for active wireless digital speakers? The giant Danish speaker manufacturer Dynaudio thinks so. Robert Harley puts the company's first offering in the category through its paces. 

112 JL Audio Gotham Subwoofer and CR-1 Active Crossover
All by itself, the Gotham can legitimately lay claim to being one of the world's best subwoofers, says Jonathan Valin. But JL Audio's new CR-1 crossover vaults its performance to an even higher plane.


128 Don Grossinger and the Art of Mastering
Andrew Quint talks to the great mastering engineer about changes in the industry.

130 The Cello Becomes Cool
Greg Cahill on "the hippest of bowed stringed instruments."

134 Box-Set Bonanza
Mark Lehman examines new box-set bargains including recent collections by Charles Rosen and Pierre Boulez.

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

140 Rock
The latest from Mark Knopfler, Punch Brothers, Shelby Lynne, Doug Mac-Leod, and The Church, a previously unreleased live set by Bob Marley, a Stevie Ray Vaughan anthology, and a Staple Singers reissue. 

146 Classical
SACDs on Praga's Reminiscences Series, Symphony No. 8 by Shostakovich, choral works by Eric Whitacre, string quartets by Jacques Hétu, and piano performances by Gloria Cheng. 

148 Jazz
New releases by Jack DeJohnette, Matthew Shipp, and Myra Melford, plus vinyl reissues from Bobby Jaspar, Barney Wilen, Donald Byrd, and Keith Jarrett.


Back Page
We talk to Jeff Catalano of High Water Sound.


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