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Let's Talk About Luxurious Premium Audio Shows
Hi-fi shows and what they ought to be.
By Roger Skoff
you're an audiophile, you've almost certainly either been to a high-fidelity
audio event (Hi-Fi Show) or wanted to go to one. Back in the days before I got into the industry, every time
the Consumer Electronics Show
came around (There used to be two of them
Las Vegas and Chicago), I would always ask my industry friends if they had
gone to it; how they liked it; what had been the hit of the Show; and what new
great stuff I should hunt down and buy for myself. Invariably, the answer I got was that they had been too busy
working their own exhibits to actually go and see or listen to anybody else's;
and that they had effectively seen or heard nothing. NO FUN! That was back years ago, when hi-fi was following the
great hi-fi boom of the late 1950s and 1960s when stereo LP records were first
introduced, and the second boom in the 1980s, when CDs came along offering "perfect
sound forever," a common interest....
Let's Talk About Luxurious Premium Audio Shows.
Audio, Power, And Efficiency
Engineered to provide the best audio quality experiences possible.
Editorial By J. Martins
The first half of 2023 allowed us to get back on the road and attend some of the busiest trade shows ever for the audio industry. From CES and a deep immersion into cutting-edge innovation in the consumer space to professional audio shows at
ISE, the NAMM Show, and NAB. We also attended AXPONA and more recently, an extremely successful HIGH END show in Munich, Germany. With a few other events in the mix, this provided us a very good overview of the state of the audio industry. From the most affordable (and highly competitive) segments in consumer electronics, to the pro audio segments of live performance and touring, content production, media, and
broadcast. We do it to better understand the audio industry and gain a broad outlook of the trends and the opportunities. More importantly, we can follow the companies that are active in each space, and understand how relative things can
---> Audio, Power, And Efficiency.
Product Launches During Recent Audio Shows
News surrounding proprietary lossy MQA as Tidal chooses to offer lossless FLAC.
Editorial By Becky Roberts
Since the last issue of
Australian Hi-Fi magazine, a great deal more hi-fi products have been introduced into the wild.
That's because the 40th HIGH END Munich show took place last month, giving high-end audio manufacturers a world stage on which to launch their latest and greatest creations. Many of them took advantage of that this time round, too, as
you'll see in this issue's Soundbites news section, which exclusively covers launches from the Europe show. In fact, some of my colleagues on
What Hi-Fi? who were in attendance said they struggled to think of a previous Munich show where there were as many launches in all of the core hi-fi areas perhaps not surprising as many would consider this the first
'big return' event after the Covid years.
---> Product Launches During Recent Audio Shows.
Pacific Audio Fest 2023
Enjoy hearing premium audio
gear in Seattle at PAF 2023.
The Pacific Audio Fest (PAF) 2023, which took place at the Doubletree-Hilton
Sea-Tac / Seattle from June 23rd through 25th, is the USA's very best Northwestern premium audio event. There
was live music Friday and Saturday nights, with NW regional wine and beer
tastings, and ~80 rooms of quality audio, Marketplace, Record Fair, HeadZone and much more! Renowned audiophile and reviewer Greg Weaver
enjoyed Friday and Saturday evenings presenting his curated after-hours music sessions.
---> Pacific Audio Fest 2023 Show Report.
T.H.E Show 2023 SoCal Report
T.H.E. Show's June Orange County music and luxury
audio show in California.
T.H.E. Show SoCal 2023 (The Home Entertainment Show) took place at the the Hilton Orange County Costa Mesa from June 9th through 11th.
This was the destination where music, entertainment, tech, and media meet in an integrated, state-of-the-art experience trade show. Spotlighting a breadth of brands spanning from classic industry leaders to up-and-coming rising stars, T.H.E. Show
2023 was no ordinary luxury audio event. T.H.E. Headphonium section specialized on personal / portable audio
including DAPs, headphones and more, and was presented by Enjoy the Music.com partners
eCoustics! For vinyl LP lovers, an expanded section this year called T.H.E.
Vinylonium featured a variety of outstanding vintage and budget LPs to rare and high-end audiophile
---> T.H.E Show 2023 SoCal Report.
HIGH END 2023 Munich Show Report
High End Society's Event In Munich Germany
From May 18th to 21st, 2023, the very special 40th HIGH END trade show in Munich
will once again shine the spotlight on luxurious premium music reproduction systems, inspiring listening enjoyment and exquisite audio technology. For many years, the HIGH END has been providing both the big players in the industry and smaller owner-managed companies with their ideal presentation platform as the
world's leading audio trade show. It is the perfect place to establish business relationships, expand networks and exchange ideas and experiences with other industry
---> HIGH END 2023 Munich Show Reports.
World Premiere Review!
LampizatOr Horizon DAC Review
A new benchmark!
Review By Greg Weaver
My history, and fascination, with Łukasz Fikus and
his Poland-based LampizatOr heralds back to my first exposure to the Golden Gate's
introduction at AXPONA 2015. It may be significant to point out that this timing
is eerily coincident with my choice to begin to more deeply explore the validity
of digital audio as a source. To that point, in my system, digital file playback
had shown no real ability to favorably compete with my analog reference system,
sonically or with the breadth and depth of my LP collection. Keep in mind,
Norway's Tidal, the first music streaming service to offer at least Redbook CD
quality streaming had just launched in the US that previous October, and I
was not an early adopter.
LampizatOr Horizon DAC Review.
Triangle Art L-200 MK2 Stereo Vacuum
It is Triangulicious!!!
Review By Dr. Matthew Clott
The fascinating thing about
reviewing Triangle Art's L-200 MK2 vacuum tube preamplifier is that it's a tube
and that I know, when I agree to review it, that this review
will not get half the readership to click on it because it has the word
"tube" in it. And I will lose even more because Triangle Art is not a
mainstream name and many do not recognize it. So, for the 20% to 30%-ish of our
readership that made it this far, you will be rewarded by learning about a
pre-amp that everyone should know about! The Triangle Art L-200 MK2 is a $25,000 tube preamp that can
compete with a $40,000 preamp (tube or solid-state), built by a company that has
a creative philosophy similar to Porsche. Take a design and just keep making it
better (think 911 of the 1980s and today); they call it, "Think it
Triangle Art L-200 MK2 Stereo Vacuum Tube Preamplifier Review.
World Premiere Review!
Metronome Audio Le DAC 2 Review
The Spice must flow.
Review By Paul Schumann
secret that Hollywood has become the land of the sequel. Nine of the top ten
grossing movies from 2022 were sequels. I excluded The Batman because it
technically wasn't a sequel, but it was a reboot, for goodness' sake. Now I'm
not going to bash sequels out of hand. I watch a bunch of them myself. My big
complaint is when a sequel is done by a different set of writers and a new
director and is so different from its predecessor in tone and theme that about
halfway through I throw up my hands and ask, "Why am I watching this?". One sequel I'm looking forward to watching is Dune: Part 2.
While they call it a sequel, it's more of a continuation of the first movie with
Denis Villeneuve and his team completing the task. Even though I've only seen
2.5 minutes of it in a trailer, I am incredibly hopeful that this crew will
bring the ship safely into the harbor. Yes, I could be wrong, but like Fremen, I
---> Metronome Audio Le DAC 2 Review.
ATOLL ST200 Signature Streamer / DAC / Preamplifier Review
Wonderful tonality with transparency and speed.
Review By Neven Kos
aren't many devices like the ATOLL ST200 Signature. It's a streamer, a DAC, and
a full-blooded preamplifier in one case. And while trends dictate that DACs /
streamers be incorporated with one kind of volume control or another, it is
clear that they rarely represent a real preamplifier solution and volume control
takes place most often in the digital domain, mainly by reducing resolution. Few
have built-in analog volume control systems, and even rarer devices like the
ATOLL Electronique ST200 Signature, have a built-in and right preamplifier. Add to this the volume control performed by a resistor
network, which is a more precise solution than a conventional potentiometer, and
it will become clear to you that the ATOLL ST200 Signature is a well-designed
and elaborate device.
ATOLL ST200 Signature Streamer / DAC / Preamplifier Review.
FiiO R7 Music Server / Streamer / Headphone Amplifier Review
Review By Gary Alan Barker
quite some time now I have been using my FiiO M11 as my music server for burning
in products and more recently since I changed computers, for running my
reference system as my tube amp picks up noise from the computer's USB out. The
drawback of this is the M11 is not a desktop device so it doesn't have a direct
power-in (meaning I can either use the single USB port to charge or drive my
DAC, but not both at the same time), and it is not fully ergonomic for desktop
use. Enter the new FiiO R7, a fully functional streaming music
server that can run on either AC or DC, has two USB ports (so I can connect to
my hard drives and DAC at the same time), its own ES9068AS DAC built in,
connected to two THX AAA 788+ Headphone Amplifiers for both single-ended and
FiiO R7 Music Server / Streamer / Headphone Amplifier Review.
Dudley's The Intro
Editorial By Art Dudley
Recently I received some new CD re-issues from JVC who have begun applying their very nice XRCD process to the RCA Victor catalog of classical recordings from the 1950s and
1960s. Among this batch was a personal favorite: Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony orchestra performing Beethoven's
Symphony No.7. I enjoy this one the most of all the Sevenths in my collection, and the fact that my copy is a mono LP isn't something I ever gave all that much thought to. In fact, until someone corrected me on the point, I half assumed that LM-1991 might be one of those recordings in the RCA catalog that never came out in stereo in the first place.
(I am not the sort of record collector who concerns himself with such details, although I am often thankful for the knowledge of those who
are.) I also remember thinking that a stereo version of this LP, with that big, gaudy LIVING STEREO banner across the top, must surely suffer by comparison in terms of its cover art, which is
Botticelli's La Primavera, reproduced on a sturdy fold-over sleeve the likes of which I haven't seen on any other
---> Art Dudley's The Intro.
I Never Met A 2A3 Amp That I
Article By Editor Joe Roberts
From Sound Practices
Nothing in audio is a sure deal but if I were
forced to come up with a foolproof recommendation to stake my name on, I would have to go with the classic no-brainer:
"It's hard to build a bad 2A3 amplifier." There might be some bad ones somewhere
but I have to say that every 2A3 amp I ever had the pleasure to hear was at least pretty
good and some were downright amazing. My introduction to triode amps came with restoring a few Brook 2A3 amps of the
early 1950s, which I didn't get to hear until they were certified antiques in the early
1980s. Even in the late 1940s / early 1950s when they were current models, the Brook
designs were a throwback to prewar technologies (see Sound Practices
issue 2), valued by a few purists who knew that those newfangled pentodes were nothing but a sell
---> I Never Met A 2A3 Amp That I Didn't Like.
High Efficiency Speakers
The continuing saga of a search for a loudspeaker for single-ended tube amplifiers.
Article By Dan Schmalle
Without a doubt, the single most revolutionary
change to take place in audio in this decade is the widening acceptance of single ended topology as the most
musically accurate form of signal amplification. The term revolutionary may be a bit
mild. So much audio angst has been stirred up by the idea of going 'backwards'
to 1920's technology that a new audio subculture has grown up around the concept, sharing information when
the mainstream audio press turned a deaf ear to the topic. By now of course, the mainstream is listening. We see reviews of single ended
amps in recent issues of every large publication. And the reviewers aren't saying "Gee this is cute" anymore.
They're calling some examples of this 'old fashioned' technology the best there
---> High Efficiency
Enjoy the Music.com Sponsors
The Pacific Audio Fest 2023 Exhibitor And Media Party
Enjoy the Music.com,
premium audio's celebrated site for 28 years and a leader in providing high-end audio and music industry news, equipment reviews, and show reports, is pleased to announce that we are sponsoring The Pacific Audio
Fest's Thursday night media and exhibitor celebration. Show exhibitors and members of the press are invited to join us for drinks, music, and good times on Thursday starting at
6 p.m. within our private club for the weekend; Maxi's Lounge on the 14th floor. The Pacific Audio Fest will be held
from June 23rd through 25th at the Doubletree Hilton Sea-Tac with easy access to the
Sea-Tac Airport and Light Rail line.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Press Release: Pacific Audio Fest 2023 Exhibitor And Media Party!
Enjoy the Music.com Sponsors T.H.E. Show
SoCal 2023 Media
& Exhibitor Party
Enjoy the Music.com,
premium audio's critically-acclaimed site
for 28 years and a leader in providing luxury audio and music industry news,
highly respected hardware reviews, and sensational show reports, is excited to announce that we're sponsoring
T.H.E. Show SoCal's Thursday night media and exhibitor party! To be held from Friday, June
9th through Sunday, June 11th at the Hilton Orange County Costa Mesa,
exhibitors and members of the press are invited to join us for drinks, music, and good
times. For decades, T.H.E.
Show has been the must-attend event for Southern California music enthusiasts, audiophiles, and hi-fi
Enjoy the Music.com Sponsors T.H.E. Show SoCal 2023 Media & Exhibitor Party.
LSA Diamond Headphones Review
A revelation in detail and musicality.
Review By Frank Iacone
Sound Audio is a company that Walter Liederman started with the intent to build
world-class speaker designs that are offered at real-world affordable
prices through Walter's retail outlet Underwood HiFi. As an extension of this
LSA began sourcing headphones made exclusively for them under their brand name
manufactured by Kennerton, a world-class headphone company that specializes in
designing and manufacturing dynamic planar drivers. The Diamond has an 80MM
Planar Magnetic Driver that has a frequency response of 10 to 55000 Hz with an
easy-to-drive 105 dB efficiency, making it easy to match with portable music
players and low-powered amplifiers. The Diamond is made using lightweight wood outer cups with
comfortable leather pads. Unique to the Diamond is the headband which adjusts
automatically on the user's head without moving the band. The design makes this
one of the most comfortable planar headphones on the planet.
---> LSA Diamond
Stereo Headphones Review.
Vertere Techno Mat
For Turntables Review
A change almost comparable to a significant cartridge upgrade.
Review By Martin Colloms
Call me a mat skeptic: it's not that I am against accessory mats but rather that I have tried numerous examples on my
highly-spec'ed Linn LP12, and so far have not found better than the current thin, designed and calibrated density, black wool felt example Linn provides. I recall extensive tests on the LP12 some eleven years ago
(July Aug Sept 2009 issue) where I even went as far as to check the sound difference for the Linn mat for the normal side up and then when inverted: yes, there was a small difference as felt manufacture involves laying the wool fibres such that there is a graded density with thickness. The
'correct' upper side is a better impedance match in the mid treble for the audio vibrations induced in the LP disc by the speaker-generated soundfield, and also from the stylus tip reaction while tracking the music
---> Vertere Techno Mat
For Turntables Review.
Aavik Acoustics I-180 Integrated Amplifier, D-180 DAC, And S-180
Streamer / Network Player Review
A symbiotic sonic relationship... for
your listening pleasures.
Review By Tom Lyle
high-end audio manufacturer Aavik was nice enough to send me three components
from their entry level-line. I call this gear "entry-level" not because it is a
system priced for those new to the exciting world of high-end audio but because
they are the least expensive components in Aavik Acoustics' 180 / 280 / 580
line. I did not know the price of these three components when they
arrived at my home for review. On looks alone, I assumed that they would cost
much more. About halfway through the review period, I peeked inside the cabinet
of this integrated amplifier. Its innards looked as if they were constructed by
an engineer but also by a visual artist. Its complex yet very neatly arranged
interior was impressive. During my audition of all three components, I determined that
their display and intelligent functionality belied their relatively low price.
Aavik Acoustics I-180 Integrated Amplifier, D-180 DAC, And S-180 Streamer /
Network Player Review.
World Premiere Review!
JERN 11S Compact Loudspeaker Review
A well-balanced speaker that presents a lovely neutral rendition of music.
Review By Robert Jorgensen
What is a
poor reviewer to do when he would rather put on some more music than write on
the review? My wife might say "Suck it up and get on with it". This could imply
that I do not want to say anything but that's not the case. I am just enjoying
the music too much. There is a bit of a backstory here. If I remember well, the first time I saw the JERN Speakers was
a couple of years ago at the ISE Exhibition in Amsterdam. Ole Lund Christensen,
whom I have known for 20 odd years, was banging away on a piece of steel, a
piece of aluminum, and his very heavy cabinets made of a special kind of cast
iron using a little hammer. There is a video floating around on YouTube where he
does it with a piece of aluminum and a piece of his special "Vibrakill" cast
iron. It was very instructive since both the steel and the aluminum
rang like bells and the JERN cabinet just gave a dull thud. As he explained that
was exactly the point of the demo.
---> JERN 11S
Compact Loudspeaker Review.
World Premiere Review!
Verdant Audio Blackthorn 1 Monitor
An over-achieving monitor with a musical performance well beyond its' modest size.
Review By Dr. Michael Bump
I first had the pleasure of meeting Scott
Bierfeldt, President and Chief Designer
at Verdant Audio, at AXPONA 2019 in a
by-chance meeting. I was planning on heading out earlier than expected on
Sunday, as the snow was starting to come down (attendees may recall), and I was
a bit nervous about the six-hour mark. drive home to the cornfields of Missouri.
Nevertheless, the rooms beckoned me back for one more quick tour that morning,
where I happened to walk by a familiar blue glow within the Verdant Audio room.
At the center of a very attractive system were a
pair of stunning Art Audio Quartet 845 push-pull monoblocks. I was familiar with
Art Audio from an introduction years prior to their 50-Watt SET Adagios, and was
aware that Verdant Audio had re-introduced the UK company to the U.S. earlier
that year as the sole domestic distributor. Needless to say, my curiosity was
piqued stepping into the room noting several examples of Art Audio pieces, as
well as the premiere of two monitor designs created by Scott, under the Verdant
Verdant Audio Blackthorn 1 Monitor Speaker Review.
McIntosh MP100 Phono Stage / Stereo Preamplifier Review
Does it make sense to spend $2000 on a phono preamplifier? The McIntosh MP100 might be the best reason yet.
Review By Ian White
more I listen to vinyl and the wide range of phono cartridges at my disposal
the more I realize that a phono preamplifier is either the weakest link or most
important component in the chain. The more I listen to the McIntosh MP100 Phono
Preamplifier, the more I realize just how wide of a gap there is between
them. Our picks at either end of the spectrum will not break the bank
for most audiophiles, but I'm starting to finally hear the differences between
those phono preamplifiers that I've always considered to be great and the phono
stages that actually are "great." The McIntosh MP100 stereo unit is not inexpensive at $2000; some
audiophiles will think it's pretty affordable considering the brand behind it,
but I know that $2000 is a very firm ceiling for 99% of the population that
listens to records with the same passion as the rest of us.
McIntosh MP100 Phono Stage / Stereo Preamplifier Review.
Pass Labs X260.8 Monoblock Amplifier Review
Prestigious power, glorious grace, and terrific transparency.
Pass Laboratories, Inc., is a name that most audiophiles
utter, after describing a product that comes close to perfection. "XXX
amplifier almost sounds as good as the Pass Labs XXX model". We've
all done it. Fortunately, "as good as" will have to wait. Thanks to the good
people at Pass Laboratories; I get the real thing. As the world was on pause, my
listening room entertained a pair of Pass Labs X260.8 monoblock amplifiers. In full disclosure, I would like to admit that I have been a
fan of Pass Labs products for many years. I've never owned or reviewed any of
their products, so I was looking forward to this delivery.... The Pass Labs X260.8 monoblock amplifiers require two people to
move. I know most amplifier manufacturers recommend this, but this is the first
time I heeded their recommendation. Luckily, my good friend Michael was able to
help me wrestle these beasts into place.
Pass Labs X260.8 Monoblock Amplifier Review.
Mark Levinson No.5909 Noise-Cancelling Stereo Headphones
The No.5909 is versatile, solidly built, and demonstrates the virtues of a neutral tonal balance.
Review By Keith Howard
If we set
aside its in-car systems, Mark Levinson has never before had its imprint on a
transducer. But a step into the headphone market with the No. 5909 a £999
design intended for use boat at home and peripatetically is clearly a
watershed moment. You could argue that its involvement in automotive systems and
turntables had already widened the Mark Levinson brief from the electronics-only
product line-up of yore, but this is a move you might argue has arrived a little
late given that the heat is going out of the audiophile headphone market. And had I known in advance an ML headphone was due, I'd have
supposed it to be an uncompromisingly purist, open-back design for the hi-fi
cognoscenti. But perhaps precisely because that market is approaching
saturation Harman Audio took the decision to make the No.5909 a headphone
for all seasons.
Mark Levinson No.5909 Noise-Cancelling Stereo Headphones Review.
Audiophile Gift 2022 December
Audiophile Gift 2021 December
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See our archives section for all reviews.
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