If you’re like me, you probably don’t know much about the Triad brand, but as it turns out Triad has been manufacturing speakers in their factory in Portland, Oregon, for 30 years now. Triad specializes in the custom installation of complete audio systems in homes and commercial spaces, and an interesting aspect of their product line is that they make multiple versions of each speaker: in-ceiling, in-wall, on-wall, and freestanding, to suit your room layout. At the 2014 CEDIA Expo, it was Triad that Dolby Labs partnered with to debut the Dolby Atmos home-theater system. Since then, Triad has designed and installed more than 600 Dolby Atmos home theaters.
dBpm DBPM-010-20-LP (LP), DBPM-010-20-CD (CD)
Formats: LP and CD
I was three songs into my second playing of Ode to Joy, Wilco’s 11th album, when I realized that drummer Glenn Kotche wasn’t using cymbals anywhere. He plays drums and other percussion, but no ride or crash cymbal, no hi-hat to fill in time or sound. That doesn’t keep him from providing a rhythmic foundation for these songs, even as he helps them flow and adds texture -- much as jazz drummer Paul Motian did on many of his recordings.
Lately I’ve been busy churning out reviews for SoundStage! Access and SoundStage! Hi-Fi, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process. While listening to, evaluating, and comparing audio gear comes naturally -- I’ve been involved in the hobby for 25 years -- I’m relatively new to reviewing that gear, and in the past year I’ve learned a lot about how to write reviews. As a career public servant working in the sciences and regulatory sectors, I’ve done my fair share of technical writing, and that’s helped me in writing the technical sections of my reviews -- but I continue to sharpen my skills in describing, in the Listening sections, what I hear.
Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.
Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries (DALI) grew out of Scandinavia’s leading audio retail chain, HiFi Klubben, in 1983 -- both companies were founded by Peter Lyngdorf. DALI now claims more than a million owners of their products worldwide, in 70 different countries.
Singer and guitarist Brittany Howard is best known as the lead singer of the Alabama Shakes, and for her side project and alter ego Thunderbitch. Although the Shakes are steeped in Southern soul, their second album pulled in other influences, including funk and 1960s psychedelia. Thunderbitch is searing garage rock. But Jaime, Howard’s first solo outing under her own name, is harder to classify. While rooted in the well-established genres of funk and neo-soul, it has an exhilarating immediacy.
Note: Measurements can be found through this link.
New Acoustic Dimension (NAD) was founded in London, England, in 1972. Since 1999, the electronics manufacturer has been owned by the Lenbrook Group, the Canadian parent company to sister brands Bluesound and PSB Speakers. NAD’s reputation for making no-nonsense, high-value gear began in 1978 with the 3020, a legendary integrated amplifier that combined genuine hi-fi sound quality with supreme affordability ($135 USD in 1978). In 2012, to celebrate NAD’s 40th anniversary, the 3020 was reimagined as the D 3020, a diminutive, class-D integrated amplifier-DAC. In August 2018, Sathyan Sundaram raved about that model’s successor, the D 3020 V2 ($399), which was then named one of our Products of the Year. The D 3020 V2’s combination of a power rating of 30Wpc into 8 ohms, a moving-magnet phono input, and a variety of analog and digital inputs and outputs, make it a flexible, albeit not universally comprehensive, one-box integrated-DAC. It’s not perfect -- 30Wpc is enough for smaller rooms, but not for larger spaces and/or inefficient speakers. The D 3020 V2 also lacks some useful connections, and has some uncommon connectors; e.g., stereo miniplugs for its subwoofer and preamp outputs.
Although saxophonist Joe Lovano has appeared on a number of ECM recordings since the early 1980s, Trio Tapestry, from earlier this year, was his first release as leader for the label. On his own recordings, Lovano is probably best known as a post-bop player with a solid, unerring sense of swing. Trio Tapestry was a move in a slightly different direction -- Lovano’s 11 compositions were atmospheric and contemplative without descending into background music. He was aided greatly by his accompanists, pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi.
When, in June 2019, I reviewed SVS’s SB-3000 active subwoofer for Soundstage! Access, I liked it enough to buy the review sample -- and we gave it a Reviewers’ Choice award. I noted that in my room, the sealed-box SB-3000 ($999 USD in Black Ash, $1099 in Piano Gloss Black) effectively equaled the quantity and quality of sound produced by my reference sub, SVS’s own sealed-box SB-4000 ($1499 in Black Ash, $1599 in Piano Gloss Black). The following July, the SB-3000 earned a slot on the Recommended Reference Components list of SoundStage! Hi-Fi.
Audiolab was founded in the early 1980s, in the UK, and first achieved critical acclaim for the 8000A integrated amplifier. In 1997, under new owners, the brand was renamed TAG McLaren Audio, and in 2004 was sold to International Audio Group, when its original name was restored. In 2010, Audiolab released its 8200 series of models, to build on the legacy of the 8000A. Most recently, Audiolab launched the five models of the 8300 series, which includes the 8300A integrated amplifier.
In July of this year I auditioned Parasound’s Halo A 23+ power amplifier and found it an exceptional performer for the price at $1495 USD. Parasound also sent me their NewClassic 200 Pre preamplifier-DAC ($895), a slim, solidly constructed model that occupies only a single rack space. I wondered if it could match the Halo A 23+ in quality of sound for dollars spent.