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The Absolute Sound


The Absolute Sound Issue 233 May / June 2013   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 233, May / June 2013 table of contents and editorial.


Articles & Reviews In This Issue
4 From the Editor: Audio Acquaintances — Discovering New Music
Editorial By Kirk Midtskog

6 Letters

8 Guest Editorial

10 Industry News

10 Now on theabsolutesound.com

124 Manufacturer Comments


Show Report
27 AXPONA Chicago 2013
Jonathan Valin and brand-new TAS contributor Scot Hull report on the goodies they heard at the first high-end show in the Windy City in almost two decades.


Start Me Up
12 iFi iDAC, iCAN, and iUSBPower
Steven Stone on three remarkably high-performance products — a DAC, a headphone amplifier, and a USB power supply — that start at just $249.


Absolute Analog
20 Ortofon MC Anna Phono Cartridge
Ortofon has created the finest phono cartridge in the company's 104-year history, says Jonathan Valin.


Equipment Reports
44 Hegel H300 Integrated Amplifier
The Norwegian company behind the fabulous H100 and H200 integrated amps raises the bar with its new flagship, the H300. Neil Gader brings you the details.

48 PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium Integrated Amplifier
PrimaLuna kicks it up a notch with higher-end parts and design in this new “Premium" edition all-tubed integrated amplifier. Tube maven Dick Olsher reports.

52 Marantz Reference Series PM‑11S3 Integrated Amplifier and SA-11S3 SACD/CD Player
Gorgeous build quality, a plethora of features, and great sound are only the beginning of these Reference Series' components appeal, says Paul Seydor.

60 Gato Audio AMP-150 Integrated Amplifier and CDD-1 Compact Disc Player
This gorgeous looking — and sounding — integrated amp and CD player from Denmark's Gato Audio has Wayne Garcia swooning. Find out why.  

66 Constellation Audio Centaur Monoblock Power Amplifiers
Robert Harley discovers that the Constellation Centaur comes mighty close in performance to Constellation's nearly three-times-the-price Hercules, the world reference in solid-state amplification.

70 Technical Brain TBP-Zero EX Electronics
JV sticks his neck out (yet again) for some of the most realistic-sounding solid-state electronics he's heard, Naoto Kurosowa's fantastic Technical Brain monoblock amp, preamp, and phonostage.

80 Nola Contender Loudspeaker
Neil Gader on a knock-out floorstander from Nola's Carl Marchisotto.

84 Bryston BDA-2 Digital-to-Analog Converter
Kurt Schuster extols Byrston's much improved DAC.

90 High-End Headphone Survey
Chris Martens picks the crème de la crème headphones.

98 Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grand Loudspeaker
Ron Doering auditions an impressive mid-priced floorstander from Austria.

104 Shunyata Typhon Power Conditioner
A two-box power conditioner? Kirk Mitdskog reports on a worthy add-on to Shunyata's Talos or Triton.

108 dCS Vivaldi Digital Playback System
The Vivaldi is easily the most ambitious assault yet on the state of the art in digital playback. Robert Harley brings you an in-depth report on the technology behind this remarkable product along with a full assessment of its sound. Plus! Inside the dCS factory.


128 From Grooves to Bits
Arthur Lintgen surveys transfers of vintage analog classical recordings into digital formats.

138 Rock
New releases from Richard Thompson, Doug MacLeod, Heather Masse and Dick Hyman, Delta Reign, and Mark Lee Gardner; treasures from the vaults from Jimi Hendrix, Stephen Stills, and Marcos Valle.

144 Jazz
The latest from Ahmad Jamal, Kevin Eubanks, and Rudresh Mahanthappa; a multi-disc reissue from Arve Henriksen; and bootleg recordings of Miles Davis.

148 Classical
Latin American showpieces on Brilliant, Stokowski on Decca, saxophone gems on ACA, and a wind ensemble spectacular on 2L Blu-ray.

152 Back Page
We talk to Bent Holter of Hegel Music Systems.



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