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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 200 February 2010   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 200, February 2010 contents and editorial.

Read this edition's editorial by clicking here.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
8 Letters

12  From the Editor
Our 200th Issue

14 Future TAS
New products on the horizon.

19 Industry News
We preview a new $240,000 mega-speaker from Hansen Audio.

40 200th Issue Retrospective
To commemorate our 200th issue, we reprint HP's editorial from Issue 1, his reflections on founding The Absolute Sound, and a classic HP review. 

53 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest Report
Twenty pages of the hottest new gear from the Denver audio show.


Equipment Reports
20 Start Me Up
Cambridge Audio Azur 550A Integrated Amplifier and 550C CD Player
This $599 integrated amplifier and $599 CD player prove that high-end sound doesn't have to be high-priced.
Neil Gader brings you the good news.

24 Absolute Analog
Musical Surroundings SuperNova 2 Phonostage
Paul Seydor listens to a no-holds-barred version of one of his favorite phonostages.

28 Next-Gen Digital
Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 3 and Overdrive DAC
Steven Stone on two cutting-edge products tailor-made for the computer-audio age.

91 Bel Canto S300iU
Integrated Amplifier and USB DAC
Integrated amplifiers with built-in USB DACs are all the rage.
Chris Martens reports on a great example from Bel Canto.

94 Reference 3A Episode Loudspeaker
Dick Olsher auditions this highly musical and affordable speaker from Reference 3A.

98 PSB Image T6 Loudspeaker
Has Paul Barton ever designed a bad-sounding loudspeaker?
Robert E. Greene on a new winner, a $1200 floorstander from PSB Speakers.

104 Coincident Super Victory Loudspeaker
Sue Kraft discovers a speaker that has her reaching for the checkbook.

110  21st Century Digital 
A little box called the U-Clock from Great Britain's pioneering firm dCS not only makes a great CD player better, it also turns it into a high-resolution decoder for music servers. Robert Harley reports on the remarkable Puccini CD/SACD player and U-Clock USB-converter/clock, with a sonic commentary by Jonathan Valin.

120 HP's Workshop
Personal reflections from the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

119 Manufacturer Comments


124 Feature
Andrew Quint talks with two of Stile Antico's singers and Harmonia Mundi's recording team about capturing the group's gorgeous a cappella vocal music in surround sound. 

128 Rock
Blues from Joe Louis Walker and Laurie Morvan, soul classics from Rod Stewart, and stellar live performances by Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. 

132 Classical
New recordings of a recent Finnish opera, early versions of Mendelssohn orchestral works, 20th century American piano toccatas, and a "classically trained garage band" for three string virtuosi. 

136 Jazz
New releases from Keith Jarrett and Robby Ameen, vinyl reissues of Diana Krall and Sun Ra, and a 70-CD box of Miles Davis in his glory years. 

139 Top Ten
Andy Downing gets down and dirty with ten best-ever grunge rock recordings.


144 Back Page
Industry icon Richard Vandersteen talks with Neil Gader.


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