Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - GoldenEar Technology's Anechoic Chamber (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - PSB's M4U 4 Earphones (April 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - GoldenEar Technology's Triton Two+ and Three+ Loudspeakers (March 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- KEF's LS50 (February 2016)

Planet Mu/Timesig TIMESIG008CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

In 2016, Daniel Lanois used his pedal steel guitar as the basis for Goodbye to Language, a series of ambient compositions that recalled Brian Eno and Harold Budd, two composers he’s worked with. His collaborator on that album was Rocco DeLuca, who played lap steel. The complex, layered compositions revealed new sounds and evoked new emotions with each hearing. Tracks that had at first seemed contemplative and calming later opened the way to deeper, sometimes darker territory.

Geffen B0028266
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

“At the end of the tour, in early April [1968], the Who recorded their show at the Fillmore East,” Dave Marsh writes in Before I Get Old, still the definitive history of the band. “The tape of the Fillmore East concert is extraordinary,” he continued; “a remarkable burst of sustained energy.” Unfortunately, when the Who listened to the tapes, enough flaws jumped out that they decided not to release them. Nonetheless, over the years, bootlegs of those New York City concerts of April 5 and 6, 1968, enhanced the band’s reputation as a powerful live act.

Matador OLE-1123-2 LC 11552
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

The 15 tracks of Belle and Sebastian’s latest release were originally issued on three five-song EPs titled How to Solve Our Human Problems, Pts. 1-3. Does that make this latest edition a coherent album or a compilation? After the first listen, I found that the music made sense either way, though on repeated hearing I found myself pausing after each quintet of songs. At 70 minutes, How to Solve Our Human Problems is a lot to absorb; listening to these songs in three groups of five each gives this listener more space and time in which to digest them, and has let some tracks that at first sounded like filler come into their own.

4AD LTD 4AD0035CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

The Breeders reunited in 2013 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their second and best-known album, Last Splash, and soon decided to record music for a new album, their fifth. All Nerve took a few more years to complete, but the same lineup that appeared on Last Splash has produced a record that embodies the qualities that made them unique. The strangely likeable, almost hummable melodies and hooks are slight reminders of Kim Deal’s other band, the Pixies, but the Breeders use dissonance and buzz-saw guitars in ways that set them apart from everyone else.

Columbia 88985476052
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden formed a band in 2002, while attending Wesleyan University, in Connecticut. They called it the Management, but because another group was already using that name, they changed it to MGMT. Both men are multi-instrumentalists, but they’ve used additional musicians in the studio and on tour since their second album, Congratulations (2010).

Yep Roc YEP-2556
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Grant-Lee Phillips’s ninth solo LP is a reaction to the current climate of American politics and culture, but it’s not shrill or hysterical. Even at its angriest, Widdershins is full of wit and a sense of shared responsibility, both for our current predicament and for what we might need to do about it. It’s also tuneful and skillfully played.

March 2018

Daptone DAP-051
Format: monaural CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

James Hunter made some albums and EPs as Howlin’ Wilf in the late 1980s before making . .  . believe what I say, his first recording under his own name, in 1996. Whatever It Takes is his seventh album with the James Hunter Six, and his second for Daptone Records, a label founded to handle just such a devoted carrier of the soul-music torch. The English singer has a natural feel for the music, and sings it in the sophisticated manner of a Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye. He’s also a formidable guitarist and bandleader whose sextet plays his songs with understated skill.

Blue Note B002780402
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Organist Dr. Lonnie Smith returned to Blue Note Records in 2016 with Evolution, an entertaining and intelligent slice of soul jazz that was one of my favorite discs of that year. He’s back again on Blue Note, and this time producer Don Was recorded him live with his trio at the Jazz Standard, in New York. The show was a celebration of Smith’s 75th birthday, and this seven-song set illustrates the organist’s versatility and the timelessness -- the freshness, even -- of the kind of music he’s been playing for so long.

Columbia/Legacy 88985454672
Format: 2 CDs

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Of all the many phases of Bob Dylan’s career, his turn to charismatic Christianity in the late 1970s was the most puzzling and controversial, to fans and music critics alike. Dave Marsh, in The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983), wrote of Slow Train Coming (1979), the first album professing Dylan’s new faith, that the singer-songwriter “seemed to be using religion to front some new found right-wing political views.”

Mercury Nashville B0027408-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Chris Stapleton has written six No.1 hits for other singers, and more than 150 of his songs have appeared on albums by musicians as diverse as Adele, George Strait, and Tim McGraw. Stapleton is no Music City hack but a skilled singer, songwriter, and guitarist whose knowledge and command of Southern music idioms runs deep. Last year’s From a Room: Volume 1 owed as much to Gregg Allman as to George Jones, and was well played and refreshingly unslick. The Country Music Association awarded it Album of the Year.