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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 224 July / August 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 224, July / August 2012 table of contents and link to the editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
6 From the Editor
Hearing Vs. Seeing
Editorial By Alan Taffel

8 Letters

12 Guest Editorial

14 Future TAS: New products on the horizon.

16 Industry News: Neil Gader reports from the Axpona Jacksonville Show, and Alan Taffel has the scoop on T.H.E. Show New York.

130 Manufacturer Comments


Equipment Reviews
26 Start Me Up: Paradigm Shift A2 Powered Loudspeaker
Neil Gader discovers a perfect use for Paradigm’s aptly named Shift desktop speaker.

30 Focal XS Book Powered Loudspeaker
One of high-end audio’s premier speaker-builders brings its technology to a $399 desktop speaker — with startling results. Steven Stone has the story.

38 Absolute Analog: Rega RP3 Turntable: Wayne Garcia listens to an entirely new, affordable ’table from England’s venerable Rega.

42 What Exactly Are CD-Quality and High-Resolution Audio?
Robert Harley explains what is — and what isn’t — high-resolution digital audio.

48 How I Justify Buying Expensive Stereo Equipment 
Nationally syndicated talk-show host and best-selling author Dennis Prager explains why a high-end audio system is worth the price of admission.

54 Next-Gen Digital: NAD C 390DD Direct Digital Integrated Amplifier
This new NAD incorporates the groundbreaking technology of the M2 in a unit at half the price — and adds more features, to boot. Robert Harley has the scoop.

96 Clarus Aqua Interconnects and Loudspeaker Cables
Neil Gader evaluates the new Clarus high-end cable line from industry pioneer Tributaries.

98 AVM Inspiration C8 CD-Receiver
Germany’s AVM might be a new name to North American audiophiles, but this 30-year-old company won’t stay a secret much longer, says Wayne Garcia.

102 Valve Amplification Company Signature IIa Preamplifier
Garrett Hongo is wowed by VAC's flagship preamplifier.

112 Venture Ultimate Reference Loudspeaker
Will Venture’s Ultimate Reference live up to its lofty name — and equally lofty price tag? Robert Harley reports.

122 Raidho C 1.1 Loudspeaker
This new compact two-way may be the most realistic-sounding loudspeaker Jonathan Valin’s heard. PLUS! An interview with Raidho’s Michael Borreson.


64 Compacts for Connoisseurs: Penaudio Cenya, Audio Physic Step 25,  and Living Sounds Audio LSA 1 Statement Monitors. Neil Gader surveys three speakers that are small in stature but big in sound.

74 Anthony Gallo Acoustics Classico CL-3 Loudspeaker
This conventional-looking modest floorstander is anything but conventional in sound quality, says Chris Martens.

80 Dynaudio Focus 260 Loudspeaker
The Danish manufacturer continues perfecting the art of the mid-priced floorstanding speaker. Kirk Midtskog has the details.

86 Eficion F300 Loudspeaker
Jacob Heilbrunn on a hybrid loudspeaker that combines dynamic drivers, ribbons, and a Heil Air-Motion Transformer in a magical mix.

90 Nola Metro Grand Reference Loudspeaker : Jim Hannon lives with this ambitious system from Nola.


134 The Zen of Tagging: MusiCHI’s Music Cataloguing Software
Andy Quint on a new, highly sophisticated program for dedicated collectors who want all the metadata and archival interconnectivity digitally encoded recordings allow.

138 Download Round-Up: Alan Taffel and Andrew Quint on recent high-res downloads: rock, pop, and classical.

140 Rock: New releases from the Cowboy Junkies, Dr. John, Norah Jones, Eric Bibb, Bruce Springsteen, the Chieftains, and the Steep Canyon Rangers, along with a smooth vinyl MoFi of Patricia Ahn.

146 Classical: Delibes on Reference, Jonny Greenwood on Nonesuch, Bach on Telarc, Canfield on Enharmonic, and Tchaikovsky on 2L hi-res download and vinyl.

148 Jazz: The latest from Joel Harrison, Gary Husband, and Ran Blake; Getz/Gilberto on SACD; and recovered treasures from Wes Montgomery on CD and LP.


153 Back Page : Mark O'Brien of Rogue Audio talks with Neil Gader.


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