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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 268 December 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 268, December 2016 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
10 Letters


14 Guest Editorial
Mark Lehman ponders the relationship between sound and music.


17 A.J. Conti: 1957–2016


18 TAS Legacy


20 Belated Golden Ear Awards
Oops! We inadvertently left Alan Taffel's Golden Ear Award winners out of Issue 265. Here's what you missed.


22 Industry News
Sony launches an ultra-high-end line of portable music players, headphones, and headphone amplifiers.


154 Manufacturer Comments


Hall Of Fame
41 The Absolute Sound's High-End Audio Hall of Fame
We add five of high-end audio's most important innovators to our Hall of Fame.


Focus On Digital Audio 
60 Linkplay Muzo Cobblestone Wireless Internet Music Player
Want to stream music wirelessly to any audio system in your home? Steven Stone has the answer—and it costs just $59.


66 Linn Klimax DS Streaming DAC
This new, completely redesigned version of Linn's flagship streaming DAC knocked the socks off Alan Sircom.


70 3beez Wax Box 4 SE Music Server
Frustrated by the user interface on most music servers? Andrew Quint takes you on a tour of the Wax Box and the most sophisticated music-management software on the planet.


78 dCS Vivaldi Version 2.0
Vivaldi owner Jacob Heilbrunn reports on the comprehensive update to dCS's flagship digital playback system.


80 Esoteric N-05 Network Player
Vade Forrester evaluates a new breed of digital components from Japan's celebrated Esoteric.


94 T+A PDP 3000 HV CD/SACD Player
This flagship disc player and DAC from Germany's Theory+Application is packed with innovative technologies and never-before-seen features. Robert Harley reports.



Personal Audio
24 Westone W60 In-Ear Monitors
Steven Stone auditions the newest in-ear monitors from industry leader Westone.


Absolute Analog
30 Lyra Etna SL Phono Cartridge
Jacob Heilbrunn tells you why the new Etna is creating such a buzz among vinyl aficionados. 


Start Me Up
34 Revel Concerta2 M16 Loudspeaker
At just $900 per pair, Revel's new M16 may just be the world's best under-$1000 speaker, says Neil Gader.


Equipment Reviews
110 Optoma NuForce STA200 Power Amplifier
This $1300 amplifier is the joint effort of Optoma and the jewel of Swiss audio, Goldmund. Steven Stone reports on the results of an unusual collaboration.


116 Ryan Speakers Tempus III Loudspeaker
Ryan Speakers may appear to be a new player, but the company's roots go back more than 30 years. Andrew Quint listens to the company's new flagship.


124 Audience aR-12-TSOXX 
AC Power Conditioner
Greg Weaver on the latest update to Audience's top power conditioner—plus a comment from Neil Gader on the aR-6 version.


128 Atoll Electronique IN400SE Integrated Amplifier
This beautifully built integrated from France has Neil Gader saying, "Extraordinaire!"


132 Audio Research Reference 250 SE Power Amplifier
The Reference 250 SE brings the vaunted ARC sound to a mid-priced, all-tube amp. Don Saltzman reports.


138 Quad Artera Linestage/DAC/CD Player and Stereo Power Amplifier
Paul Seydor considers a modern update of one of the most iconic of all amplifier circuits, Quad's "current dumping" amplifier. 


146 Monitor Audio Platinum PL500 II Loudspeaker
If you're looking for flagship performance without the flagship price, look no further than Monitor Audio's new Platinum PL500 II.


158 Return to the Hollywood Bowl
Steve Matteo talks to Giles Martin about a reissued Beatles album with new tracks and better sound.


160 Rhino's Chicago Quadio Box Set
Andrew Quint examines the quadraphonic releases from the band Chicago's "most artistically vital period."


164 Duck Baker, Guitarist
Five new releases by an acoustic guitarist whose staggering range of styles impresses Derk Richardson.


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


172 Rock
The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Sara Watkins, Angel Olson, Vanessa Fernandez, the Allman Brothers, Ryan Adams, and Michael Martin Murphey.


175 Yarlung Recording Session
Robert Harley visits an award-winning audiophile label.


176 Classical
Weinberg's complete string quartets, saxophonist Anna Marie Wytko, the Sibelius Piano Trio, and a program of early American classical music.


180 Jazz
John Scofield, Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau, Dave Douglas, the Cookers, and an unmastered SACD hybrid of Patricia Barber's Café Blue.


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