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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 225 September 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 225, September 2012 table of contents and link to the editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
6 From the Editor
A Mystery Solved?
Editorial By Robert Harley

8 Letters

12 From the Editor
Robert Harley shares with you a startling new book that might explain why humans are such a musical species.

14 Future TAS
New products on the horizon.

45 The Munich High-End Show: Robert Harley and Jonathan Valin report from the world's biggest high-end extravaganza.

59 The 2012 Golden Ear Awards
Our editors and writers name the products, brand-new and classic, that most impressed them last year.

152 Manufacturer Comments


Start Me Up
16 Polk Audio LSiM703 Loudspeaker: Polk returns to its audiophile roots with this affordable stand-mounted three-way. Neil Gader has the scoop.


Next-Gen Digital
20 Audirvana Macintosh Music Playback Software: Steven Stone discovers a bargain-priced music-software package that greatly improves the sound of iTunes.

24 PS Audio PerfectWave: A DAC, player, and server that compete with the best for considerably less. Anthony H. Cordesman reports.


Absolute Analog
34 Simaudio 310LP Phonostage: An affordable new phonostage from Canada that impressed our Mr. Garcia.

38 Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 Turntable: Jim Hannon on George Merrill's latest innovation in analog playback.


Equipment Reports 
88 Naim SuperUniti All-in-One Player: Naim'sSuperUniti is perhaps the most versatile single-box audio system on the planet, says Wayne Garcia.

92 Audio by Van Alstine Fet Valve 600R Power Amplifier and Transcendence 8+ Preamplifier
These affordable new electronics from Frank Van Alstine combine the best of tubes and solid-state. Dick Olsher brings you the good news. 

98 Thiel SCS4T Loudspeaker and USS SmartSub Subwoofer: Neil Gader on a great floorstanding speaker from Thiel that solves the subwoofer integration problem. PLUS: Jonathan Valin visits the Thiel factory.

108 Stillpoints Ultra Equipment Rack, Ultra 5 Isolator, LPI LP Isolator
Stillpoints' highly sophisticated vibration-isolation technology can transform an audio system, says Robert Harley.

114 Audio Research Corporation DAC8 D-to-A Converter
Alan Taffel compares the DAC8 to the DAC7 — and the results may surprise. 

118 Acoustic Signature AsconaTurntable and Kuzma 4P Tonearm
Jonathan Valin lives with a terrific-sounding turntable from Germany's Acoustic Signature—and a terrific-sounding tonearm from Kuzma.

126 Concert Fidelity CF-080LSX2 Line Preamplifier: Dick Olsher discovers a new reference in this ultra-minimalist tubed preamplifier from Japanese artisanal-audio maker Concert Fidelity.

132 A New Beginning: Wilson's XLF Loudspeaker: Although the XLF might look like Wilson's Alexandria X-2, this new flagship represents a fresh beginning for one of America's most celebrated loudspeaker manufacturers.  Jacob Heilbrunn reports.


140 Symphony & Cinema: Arthur Lintgen surveys the best recordings of film music of the Golden Age and after.

154 Rock: New releases courtesy of Jack White, Regina Spektor, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Boy Arnold, Dirty Three, Ian Tyson, Lisa Mills. And a set of legendary demos by Carole King.

160 Jazz: The latest from Jenny Scheinman, Ravi Coltrane, John Abercrombie, and Hank Roberts, along with a two-album reissue from Dave Douglas.

164 Classical: Shostakovich quartets, Lutoslawski symphonic music, Barber choral works, Argentinean piano miniatures, and a stellar tribute collection in memory of the great early-music singer Montserrat Figueras.

165 Five Faves: Jazz covers of Jimi Hendrix tunes


168 Back Page: Abey Fonn, President of Impex Records, talks with Neil Gader.


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