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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 273 May / June 2017

   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 273, May / June 2017 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
8 Letters


10 From the Editor
In a reply to Jonathan Valin's editorial in our previous issue, RH extols the benefits of streaming audio and music servers.


12 Future TAS
New products on the horizon.


14 TAS Legacy
We look back at the venerable NAD 3020 integrated amplifier.


16 Industry News
The all-new LA Audio Show is set to take the City of Angels by storm. Plus Galen Carol Audio in San Antonio, Texas, hosts the North American debut of the new Estelon YB speaker and a Robert Harley book signing. Julie Mullins reports on an exciting new line of speakers from Italy's Sonus faber.


153 Manufacturer Comments


Start Me Up
48 Rotel A14 Integrated Amplifier and CD14 CD Player
Vade Forrester on two affordable new products that show why Rotel continues to be a "go-to" marque for great sound at a reasonable price.


Personal Audio
58 Astell&Kern AK70 Portable Music Player
Astell&Kern brings its vaunted technology to an entry-level price with the AK70. Steven Stone reports.


62 Grace Design m9XX Portable DAC
Steven Stone on an inexpensive portable DAC that may be the best value in its category.


70 MrSpeakers Ether C Headphones
These closed-back headphones offer the best of both worlds, says Steven Stone: outstanding isolation plus superb planar-magnetic sound.


76 Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier
Pass Labs applies its talents for the first time to a headphone amplifier. Neil Gader on why the HPA-1 is so compelling.


The Absolute Sound Issue 273 May / June 2017


Electronics Focus
80 Wyred 4 Sound SX-1000R Power Amplifier
Steven Stone on a Class D amplifier that offers high power and great sound at a very fair price.


86 Audio by Van Alstine DVA 850 Hybrid Power Amplifier
With a tube input stage, Class D output section, and 850W of power on tap, this new amp offers an intriguing mix of technologies and performance, says Jacob Heilbrunn.


90 Linear Tube Audio ZOTL40 Mk. II Power Amplifier
Equipped with David Berning's groundbreaking ZOTL output-transformerless circuit, this moderately powered tube amplifier brings you tube musicality without tube euphonics. Dick Olsher has the scoop.


96 NuPrime STA-9 Preamplifier, HPA-9 Power Amplifier, DAC-9 Digital-to-Analog Converter
Advanced features and high power are on tap with NuPrime's affordable new 9-Series electronics. Vade Forrester reports.


110 AVM Ovation SD 6.2 Preamplifier/DAC
Anthony H. Cordesman on a versatile and highly advanced preamplifier from Germany's AVM.


Equipment Reports
116 Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC
If you've ever dreamed of owning a reference-level DAC that doesn't cost a fortune, Robert Harley has some very good news.


122 Audience ClairAudient 1+1 V2+ Loudspeaker
This mighty mini speaker is equally at home on the desktop or on stands, says Robert Harley.


126 Starke Sound IC-H3 Halo Elite Loudspeaker
Neil Gader on one of the more memorable blends of style and substance he's come across in a loudspeaker.


130 Stein Music Harmonizer
He may not understand how this "voodoo" room-treatment device works, but work it does, says Jonathan Valin.


132 Crystal Cable Minissimo Loudspeaker and Submissimo Subwoofer
This diamond-tweetered version of Crystal's small, comma-shaped stand-mount is well worth a listen — even more so when it's coupled with its dedicated subwoofer. Julie Mullins and Jonathan Valin report.


154 Prog-Rock Is Dead, Long Live Prog-Rock
Greg Cahill recommends some recent albums by progressive rock bands.


158 The Saxophone in Classical Music
Joseph Wytko discusses the history and high points of the saxophone in classical music.


162 Carly Simon on SACD
MoFi's reissues of Simon's first four solo albums impress Stephen Estep.


164 Three Duruflé Requiems
Alan Taffel recommends the three best Duruflé Requiems.


166 Download Roundup
Andrew Quint reviews classical downloads.


168 Rock
John McEuen, Kris Kristofferson, Foxygen, Marty Stuart, Alison Krauss, Soul Scratch, Mississippi Heat, Cary Morin, and MoFi's mono reissue of Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding.


174 Jazz
Joey DeFrancesco, Brad Myers & Michael Sharfe, Jihye Lee, Miroslav Vitous, Lucky Thompson, Cameron Graves, Brian Dickinson, and vinyl by Musica Nuda and Gil Evans.


181 Classical
Renée Fleming, Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette, Handel's Messiah, and the music of Gavin Bryars, David Wilde, and Vincent d'Indy.



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