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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 259 January 2016

   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 259, January 2016 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
4 A Matter of Perspective Editorial By Andrew Quint


8 Letters


12 Guest Editorial


16 Future TAS
New products on the horizon.


18 Industry News
Jonathan Valin and Julie Mullins report from the Tokyo Audio Show. And Alan Taffel visits Harman's new Mark Levinson engineering center. 


32 Special Preview
Robert Harley gives you a peek at Volume Two of TAS' comprehensive Illustrated History of High-End Audio.


222 Manufacturer Comments


The Absolute Sound's 2015 Product of The Year Awards
This is the big one! We celebrate the finest products of 2015 in these, our most prestigious awards.


Absolute Analog
98 Kronos Sparta Turntable
How is this Canadian turntable like a Russian helicopter? Greg Weaver tells all. 


104 Zanden Audio Systems 120 Phonostage
Jonathan Valin on a superior solid-state phonostage from Japan.


Next-Gen Digital
112 Bryston BDP-2 Digital Player
Karl Schuster on a category-defying device for playing digital files.


120 Oyaide Neo d+ Class A USB 2.0 Cable
Discover why this affordable USB cable surprised Karl Schuster.


122 Melco NA1 Music Server
Vade Forrester on a highly capable yet affordable server from England. 


Personal Audio
128 Audeze EL-8 Headphones and Audeze Deckard Amp
Steven Stone on the latest headphones and headphone amplifier from Audeze. 


Equipment Reports
140 Elac B3 Loudspeaker
Designer extraordinaire Andrew Jones does it again with the $279 Elac Debut B3 compact speaker, says Neil Gader. 


142 Essence High-Definition Audio Control Center
Steven Stone on a $499 DAC/amp/preamp with an HDMI input that is a natural for dual-purpose systems.


146 Audible Illusions L3A Linestage Preamplifier
A classic, the Audible Illusions Modulus, lives on in the new L3A linestage, says Dick Olsher.


152 Morrow Audio SP7 Grand Reference Speaker Cable and MA4 Reference and MA7 Grand Reference Interconnects
Neil Gader on Morrow Audio's leap into the big time of cable offerings.


156 PS Audio NuWave DSD DAC
PS Audio brings the technology of its vaunted DirectStream DAC to the $1299 NuWave, says Steven Stone. 


160 D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Classic Stereo Power Amplifier
Jacob Heilbrunn listens to Dan D'Agostino's sexy stereo amplifier.


162 Spendor D7 Loudspeaker
This mid-priced floorstanding speaker hits all the right notes, says Neil Gader.


166 PS Audio BHK 300 Power Amplifier
Anthony H. Cordesman on Bascom King's ambitious hybrid power amplifier.


176 Sonus faber Lilium Loudspeaker
The Italian speaker-maker uses its most advanced technologies in the gorgeous new Lilium, says Jacob Heilbrunn.


180 Pass Labs XA160.8 Monoblock Power Amplifiers
Greg Weaver on the 160W XA160.8 monoblocks from Nelson Pass.


188 Skogrand Beethoven Loudspeaker Cables and Interconnects
Jacob Heilbrunn auditions cables that are hand-made in a Norwegian castle.


190 Ayon CD-3x CD Player/DAC/Preamplifier
Andre Jennings on Ayon's excellent tube-based digital player/preamp.


The Cutting Edge
196 CH Precision M1 Power Amplifier and L1 Linestage Preamplifier 
Jonathan Valin on CH Precision's superb high-resolution electronics.


224 Bossa Nova Keeps Its Cool
Jeff Wilson on new releases of bossa nova and Brazilian jazz.


230 Multichannel Gets Taller
Andrew Quint attends an Auro 3D 9.1 demo hosted by Belgian pop singer Ozark Henry.


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


238 Rock 
The latest by Chris Isaak, Billy Gibbons, Melody Gardot, Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters, the Wainwright Sisters, and Samantha Crain, plus live recordings by Glen Campbell and Mose Allison, and a book on Austin City Limits.


244 Jazz 
Reissues by Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, Barry Harris, and Jimmy Heath, plus a previously unreleased live recording by Tubby Hayes.


248 Classical
Wagner's Ring, string quartets by Hindemith, previously unpublished works by Allegri, piano concertos by Bartók, and antiphonal brass music by Gabrieli.


256 Back Page
We talk to Jim Aud of Purist Audio.



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