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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 228 December 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 228, December 2012 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
8  Letters

12 Editorial: Jonathan Valin offers a tribute to TAS Founder Harry Pearson on the occasion of his retirement from The Absolute Sound.

14 Industry News: Robert Harley reports on Mercedes-Benz's new FrontBass audio system that mounts woofers inside the car's structural members, as well as on a new surround disc specially mixed for the car.

18 Jim Hannon reports from the California Audio Show.

32 CES Preview: An advance look at the most anticipated new high-end products to be introduced at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show.

38 'TisThe Season: Our writers pick the most desirable holiday gifts for the audiophile.

24 Start Me Up:  Pioneer SP-BS22 LR Loudspeaker
Why would TAS review a $129 loudspeaker? Because it was designed by TAD's Andrew Jones that's why. Neil Gader reports.

26 Absolute Analog: Acoustic Signature Challenger II Record Player
Wayne Garcia evaluates a mid-priced record player from Germany's Acoustic Signature.


Digital Equipment Reports
44 Micromega MyDAC DAC: Find out why Robert Harley calls MyDAC "the $399 miracle."

46 Four USB DACs Go Head-to-Head: USB DACs are the hottest product category, and Steven Stone puts four new models ranging from $699 to $3600 through their paces.

60 Vanity93 Module: Want to turn your Oppo into a state-of-the-art all-format transport? Andrew Quint shows you how.

66 Spatial HD Software Suite: Steven Stone reports on an unusual new audio software suite that provides custom-tailored room correction.


Equipment Reports
80 Usher Audio Dancer Mini Two Diamond DMD Loudspeaker
Usher brings a diamond tweeter to a mid-priced floorstander in the Mini Two Diamond. Chris Martens has the details.

84 Klipsch Heresy III Loudspeaker
Dick Olsher explains the importance of loudspeaker sensitivity and why the Heresy can sing with just 2.5 watts.

88 Exposure 3010S2 Monoblock Amplifier
These 100W monoblocks live up to Exposure's motto "Real Hi-Fi at Real-World Prices," says Wayne Garcia.

90 EnKlein Amphora Phono Cable
Jacob Heilbrunn finds much to like in this phono cable from EnKlein.

92 Stirling Broadcast LS3/6 Loudspeaker
The venerable British speaker has been reimagined for the 21st century. Robert E. Greene has the news.

100 Coincident Loudspeaker Technology Frankenstein Monoblock Amplifier
Dick Olsher says that the Frankenstein might just deliver the sweetest eight watts in all of high-end audio.

106 Marten Django Loudspeaker
Alan Taffel on the loudspeaker that was a surprise hit at last year's CES.

110 Carver Black Beauty 305 Monoblock Amplifier
A hand-wired 305W tube monoblock amplifier from long-time solid-state guru Bob Carver?Yup. And it really is a beaut, says JV.

114 MBL 120 Loudspeaker and Corona-Series Electronics
Neil Gader on MBL's "entry-level" omnidirectional loudspeaker and its new Corona line of electronics.

122 Sonusfaber Amati Futura Loudspeaker and REL G1 Sub
The Italian maestros have created another musical masterpiece in the Amati Futura, says Jim Hannon.


The Cutting Edge
128 Estelon X Diamond Loudspeaker
In the past ceramic-driver loudspeakers have been mixed bags, says JV. Here is one that isn't a genuine sonic marvel from Estonia, of all places.

138 More than Skin Deep: Jeff Rowland Design Group Corus Linestage and 725 Monoblock Amplifier
These visually stunning electronics belie the adage that beauty is only skin deep. Robert Harley reports.


154 Christmas Classics on Record
David McGee surveys the great American tradition of Yuletide music-making in recordings from the 1940s, the earliest days of the LP, and the following decades.

162 Download Round-Up: Alan Taffel and Andrew Quint review recent hi-res downloads.

166 Rock: The latest from Robert Cray, Willie Nelson, Lianne La Havas, and the Holy Ghost Tent Revival; a new Blu-ray Disc from Mark Chesnutt; and reissues of Roxy Music and Art Garfunkel.

172 Classical: Bernstein conducts Mahler, Gilbert conducts Nielsen, Lubimov plays Debussy, Lysy plays Ginastera, and the Dallas Winds play holiday favorites.

176 Jazz: New releases from Fred Hersch, Chick Corea and Gary Burton, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, along with vintage dates from Duke Ellington and Pharoah Sanders.


177 Manufacturer Comments.

184 Back Page:Neil Gader chats with Richard Rives Bird, President of Rives Audio.


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