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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 223 May / June 2012   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 223, May / June 2012 table of contents and link to the editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
6 From the Editor
The Single-Ended Triode Paradox
Editorial By Robert Harley

8 Letters

12 From the Editor

15 Industry News

16 Future TAS

141 Manufacturer Comments

18 Start Me Up: Rega Brio-R Integrated Amplifier and USB DAC
England’s Rega makes high-end sound affordable with these two outstanding products. Neil Gader reports.


Next-Gen Digital
24 NAD C 446 Digital Media Tuner
Neil Gader covers a classic tuner from NAD with a few new digital twists.

30 M2Tech Young DAC and Palmer Power Supply
Steven Stone on an Italian-made USB DAC tailored for the computer-audio age.


Special Electronics Focus
39 The 12 Most Significant Preamplifiers of All Time.

53 Designer Roundtable: Nine of the World’s Most Distinguished Designers Weigh In on the
State of Amplification.

72 Reviews of 11 Preamps and Power Amps at Every Price.


Electronics Equipment Report
72 Onkyo P-3000R Preamplifier and M-5000R Power Amplifier
In a return to its roots, Onkyo brings you a retro-looking preamplifier and stereo power amplifier that are anything but "retro" in sound. Neil Gader has the good news.

76 T+A P 1260R Preamplifier and A 1560R Power Amplifier
Wayne Garcia on a preamp/power-amp pair from Germany’s T+A (Theory and Application) that sounds all the right notes.

80 Conrad-Johnson ET5 Preamplifier and LP125M Power Amplifier
The new ET5 and LP125M are “trickle-down” versions of CJ’s $55k reference-quality GAT and ART. Dick Olsher puts these superb tube electronics to the test.

86 Hegel H30 Reference Power Amplifier
The 350Wpc H30 stereo amplifier establishes Hegel as a serious contender in upper-end electronics. Robert Harley brings you the details.

94 Constellation Audio Virgo Linestage, Centaur Power Amplifier, and Perseus Phonostage
Can’t afford Constellation’s $200k Altair and Hercules? Jonathan Valin has the scoop on Constellation’s new Performance Series electronics, which offer virtually the same Altar/Hercules sound for a small fraction of the price.

102 "Mini-Maggie" Loudspeaker System
Chris Martens reports on Magnepan’s attempt to bring the famous sound of its planar loudspeakers to a smaller package — and at a lower price.

110 Amphion Krypton 3 Loudspeaker
Robert E. Greene lives with a Finnish loudspeaker that takes the listening room out of the system.

116 Pass Labs XP-30 Linestage
Dick Olsher reports on the most ambitious linestage yet from one of high-end audio’s most venerable marques.


122 Ghosts in the Machine: Jeremy Eichler muses on the conflicting claims of sonic realism and documentary nostalgia in Zenph Sound Innovations’ digital “re-performances.” Plus a statement of Zenph’s philosophy by company founder John Q. Walker.

126 Downloads: Alan Taffel and Andrew Quint on recent high-res downloads: rock, pop, and classical.

130 Rock: The latest from Lyle Lovett, Dion, Otis Taylor, Willie Nelson, Levee Town, and the Kentucky Headhunters, along with audiophile reissues of TajMahal and Muddy Waters.

136 Classical: Symphonies by Shostakovich, Sibelius, and Vaughan Williams, chamber music by Bacewicz, piano music by Handel, and an offbeat requiem by Gregory Spears.

140 Jazz: New releases courtesy of Esperanza Spalding, Chano Dominguez, and Vijay Iyer; vintage recordings of George Russell and Steve Lacy.

141 Five Faves: Wayne Garcia’s music for late-night listening.


144 Back Page: TAS talks to Kathy Gornik, President of Thiel Audio.


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