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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 263 May / June 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 263, May / June 2016 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
4 MQA: The View from 30,000 Feet
Editorial By Robert Harley

8 Letters

10 From the Editor
Robert Harley on MQA's place in the history of ones and zeros.

14 Future TAS
New products on the horizon.

16 Industry News
Steven Stone takes a tour of the Westone factory, where the company's in-ear monitors are made.

162 Manufacturer Comments


58 Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) Is Here!
Robert Harley offers an extensive evaluation of this revolutionary new digital technology and reviews the first MQA-compatible products, the Meridian 808v6 and Explorer2 DAC.

23 Pioneers of High-End Audio
We celebrate three of high-end audio's pioneering founders in this special excerpt from The Absolute Sound's Illustrated History of High-End Audio, Volume Two: Electronics.


Start Me Up
36 NuPrime IDA-8 Integrated Amplifier
NuPrime once again shows its penchant for innovation and design with this superb $995 integrated, says Julie Mullins.


Personal Audio
42 Astell&Kern AK380 Portable Music Player
Just how good can a portable player get? If it's the AK380, real good, says Alan Taffel.

46 Wireword Nano Eclipse and Crystal Cable Next Headphone Cables
Alan Taffel discovers the prime importance of headphone cables.


Absolute Analog
52 Pear Audio Blue Kid Thomas Turntable with Cornet 2 Tonearm 
Andre Jennings on an unusual British 'table that takes the late Tom Fletcher's designs to new heights.


Electronics Focus
88 Yamaha A-S801 Integrated Amplifier
Yamaha shows off its engineering chops in this highly capable new integrated. Vade Forrester has the details.

96 First Watt F7 Power Amplifier
Hi-fi legend Nelson Pass' First Watt brings low-power, ultra-minimalist designs to music lovers. Dick Olsher reports on Pass' latest masterpiece.

100 SST Thoebe II Preamplifier and Son of Ampzilla II Power Amplifier
Spread Spectrum Technologies advances James Bongiorno's designs in these two latter-day classics, says Paul Seydor.

108 BAT VK-P12SE Phonostage
Jacob Heilbrunn is seduced by the charms of this all-tube phonostage from Balanced Audio Technology.

112 Pass Labs INT-250 Integrated Amplifier
Neil Gader on a new product from Pass Labs that redefines integrated amplifier sound quality. 

116 ModWright Instruments PH 150 Reference Phonostage 
This hybrid phonostage melds the best qualities of tubes and transistors, says Greg Weaver.


Equipment Reports
120 Falcon Acoustics LS3/5a Loudspeaker
The venerated LS3/5a BBC monitor has been painstakingly recreated by Falcon Acoustics. Paul Seydor offers his opinion, as well as a history of this iconic speaker.

130 Linn Products Majik DSM Network Music Player 
Steven Stone reports on a cutting-edge network music player that includes Linn's advanced Space Optimization room correction.

138 AVM Evolution MP 5.2 Media Player
Neil Gader lives with a versatile German media player complete with CD drive. 


The Cutting Edge
144 Valve Amplification Company Statement Electronics
Jonathan Valin considers a trio of "swing for the fences" tube electronics from VAC. Plus: VAC's Kevin Hayes tells us why he believes tubes are the ultimate amplification devices. 

164 "Bird" Takes Flight
Derk Richardson on a 10-LP set of classic Charlie Parker sessions on Savoy and Dial.

166 Smoke Sessions Keeps the Fires Burning
Bill Milkowski samples some new releases on the young Manhattan-based jazz label.

168 "Gone" But Not Forgotten
Larry Nager explains how the Cox Family's lost album finally came together.

170 Download Round-Up
Alan Taffel, Andrew Quint, and Dave Baubach review hi-res pop/rock, classical, and jazz downloads.

176 Rock
New releases by Ennio Morricone, the Violent Femmes, the Jayhawks, Buddy Miller, and the Randy Rogers Band, plus a Magic Sam reissue, a Them anthology, a County Records compilation, and a collection of early Frank Sinatra radio performances.

184 Classical 
New releases by the Boston Cello Quartet, Uri Caine and Jenny Lin, and Shin-Ichi Fukuda, plus Re-imagining Sondheim from the Piano, Bach cantatas, and concertos by Karl Weigl.

188 Jazz
New releases by Charles Lloyd & the Marvels, Ivo Perelman, and the Lyle Mays Quartet, plus reissues by Sonny Sharrock and Hank Garland, and a John Abercrombie Quartet anthology. 

192 Back Page 
We talk with Alex Sventitsky of WyWires.


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