Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • 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)

Dirty Hit/Interscope B0029121-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

In the nearly three years since The 1975’s last release, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, Matt Healy, the band’s rhythm guitarist and lead singer, entered rehab to deal with a drug problem, while the rest of the band continued to write and record the music that has resulted in its third and newest album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. Healy’s experience seems to have affected the lyrics of these songs, but musically The 1975 continue to play with their combination of synth pop, alt-rock, and whatever other genre they take a fancy to.

Smalltown Supersound STS343CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Neneh Cherry had a hit in 1989 with “Buffalo Stance,” a track from her first album, Raw Like Sushi, but since then her career has been eclectic and experimental. In addition to her solo recordings she’s been a member of the trip-hop band cirKus, and has worked with the Swedish jazz trio The Thing as well as the post-punk band The Slits. Her last album, Blank Project (2014), was bracing and complex, the kind of work that demands close attention and yields deep rewards.

Concord CRE00791
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Elvis Costello’s recording career is remarkable for its variety and consistency. It’s hard to name a single bad album in his discography. Even Goodbye Cruel World (1984), which Costello himself dislikes, has some good moments, and that record is pulled down more by the production than by the songs or performances themselves. Some of his albums of the last ten years, however, have shown an occasional tendency to go for familiar melody lines or chord changes, and it was possible to wonder if he was beginning to lose steam.

British Grove/Blue Note B002920602
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

It’s not unusual for me to buy a new Mark Knopfler album, enjoy it for a few plays, then file it away, thinking, “Another solid album.” I do the same with albums by Van Morrison and James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. But invariably, when I pull any of them off the shelf six months or so later, I find that I enjoy them even more than I remembered. Consistency can make me take certain musicians for granted, only to be reminded, when I play their music again, that their greatness remains undiminished.

Sony Legacy 19075841442
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

On September 7, 2018, two great 1960s singer-songwriters named Paul released new discs. Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station, his 18th solo recording, was accompanied by a big PR push and the announcement that Sir Paul will tour in support of the album. Paul Simon’s newest disc, In the Blue Light, was preceded by the news that his tour ending in September would be his last.

Because Music/Caroline 0525436048
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Héloïse Létissier, born in Nantes, France, in 1988, performs as Christine and the Queens and has released two full-length CDs and eight EPs. Her music addresses many of the issues of gender and sexuality that are so much a part of conversations these days. For her new album, Chris, Létissier has adopted a masculine persona, with hair and attire to emphasize it, in an attempt to examine her own freedom to choose a fluid definition of gender, as well as to look at male attitudes toward women, sexuality, and other issues.

Adventure Music AM1115 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Mandolin master Mike Marshall has been recording for more than 30 years on labels large and small. For the last 12 years he’s recorded for Adventure Music, a label he founded with the late Richard Zirinsky. Marshall has played or collaborated with many musicians, including fiddle player Mark O’Connor, guitarist Jerry Douglas, banjoist Béla Fleck, and the Turtle Island Quartet. In 2010, he and classical mandolinist Caterina Lichtenberg recorded their first collaboration, Caterina Lichtenberg & Mike Marshall, and in 2015 they returned with a disc of arrangements of works by J.S. Bach. For Third Journey, the two selected a program of classical, traditional, and modern compositions, each work showing off their virtuosity without being a mere showpiece.

Atlantic 572449-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Thank You for Today is Death Cab for Cutie’s ninth studio album, and the first without guitarist Chris Walla, who had announced his departure during the recording of the band’s last album, Kintsugi (2015), to which he contributed guitar, keyboards, and vocals. But even then, for the first time in Death Cab’s recording career, Walla wasn’t in the producer’s chair. Rich Costey produced Kintsugi, and now this new one as well.

ECM 2608 (6025 675 16187)
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

The Norwegian jazz pianist Tord Gustavsen has released eight recordings on ECM since 2003, the first three of which were trio sessions. The most recent, The Other Side, returns him to the piano-trio format after leading two quartet albums, and two ensembles featuring singers. Drummer Jarle Vespestad has played on all of Gustavsen’s recordings, but this is bassist Sigurd Hole’s first appearance on record with the pianist. Hole’s interest in Norway’s folk music as an inspiration for jazz is something he shares with Gustavsen, and makes him a good choice for this trio.

Sony Legacy 19075841402
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Gary Louris, the guitarist, singer, and leader of the Jayhawks, has collaborated over the years with other songwriters on songs recorded by them or other artists. Nine of the 11 songs on the group’s new album, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, fall into that category, yet the result is more stylistically consistent than the band’s last album, Paging Mr. Proust (2016), for which Louris wrote most of the songs himself. Proust took the Jayhawks into new territory while reinforcing their strengths. But if on first hearing Back Roads seems less exciting, it soon becomes clear that this album further confirms Louris’s compositional talents even as a co-writer, and that the Jayhawks remain the best band for his work.