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)

Legacy/Sony Music 88875150542
Format: CD

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

When I was 12, two friends and I decided to start a rock’n’roll band. I had a cheap Woolworth guitar, my friend Brad played his brother’s set of Rogers drums, and his neighbor Kevin played a powder-blue Sekova hollow-body guitar. We didn’t have a bass player. The first song we learned had three chords. At that moment we joined kids around the world who, in the mid-to-late ’60s, were filling their parents’ basements and garages with the sound of “Gloria.”

Provogue PRO 7463 5
Format: CD/DVD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Picture Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

When I caught Robert Cray in concert about ten years ago, he played a very good, very professional show that somehow fell just short of being memorable. When I saw him last spring, he played a show that I’d rank among the best I’ve seen. At both events he was in good voice, his guitar playing was outstanding, and his band was on point. The difference was that indefinable quality that lifts a performance or a record from the level of routine into the category of special.

Warner Music Canada 2-052349
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

Blue Rodeo has been around for 30 years now, and while a large US audience seems to elude them, they’re enormously popular in their native Canada. Their command of folk, country, and rock is so acute that US fans of alt-country should have flocked to them. But in the end, all that matters is that this band has an extensive catalog of great music and a reputation as a potent live act.

Work Song WSD009CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

For more than 35 years, Joe Jackson has refused to be pigeonholed, making records that embrace everything from new-wave rock (Look Sharp! and I’m the Man, both from 1979) to the Latin-jazz influences that crop up on Night and Day (1982) and Body and Soul (1984). He’s recorded a uniquely orchestrated Symphony No.1 (1999), a tribute to Duke Ellington (The Duke, 2012), and a collection of jump-blues tunes.

Columbia Records 88875123262
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

David Gilmour certainly takes his time between recordings. He has released four discs since 1978, and there was a more than 20-year gap between his second LP, About Face (1984), and his next outing, On an Island (2006). He was at the helm for two Pink Floyd records during that period, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994), both of which sold well but received largely poor notices.

Prestige/Analogue Productions APRJ 7180
Format: LP

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

Although, in his liner note for Rudy Van Gelder’s 2005 remastering of Gene Ammons’s Boss Tenor, Bob Porter calls this 1960 recording a “masterpiece,” he points out that Ammons was not in great shape at the time: “That it came off as well as it did is something remarkable. Take a look at the cover photo. Gene Ammons is as high as a Georgia pine.” Indeed, Ammons looks as if he’ll nod out at any moment.

dBpm/Anti- 87438-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

I am always tempted to throw words like “daring” and “experimental” at Wilco, but my favorite discs by them are so tuneful it is easy to forget the thorny guitar sounds that sometimes populate them. Summerteeth (1999), Sky Blue Sky (2007), and The Whole Love (2011) are filled with melodies that stay with you the way the great AM hits of the ’60s did, but with enough noise and edge to make them bracing and challenging.

Blue Note/Music Matters MMBST-81595
Format: LP

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

The current availability on vinyl of many classic albums from Blue Note Records pleases jazz fans like me, but it can be a little confusing to shop for them. About a year ago, when I looked online for a LP of Somethin’ Else, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s 1958 recording for the label, I had a choice of pressings. I’d intended to buy the reissue that was part of Blue Note’s 75th anniversary celebration, but instead bought a 2008 pressing mastered by Ron McMaster (Blue Note 7 46338 1).

Interscope 20023337 02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

On tour, Tame Impala is a five-piece band, but in the studio it’s all Kevin Parker. He plays every instrument and sings all vocals on his recordings, and produces, engineers, and mixes the results. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Parker’s inspiration for Lonerism (2012), Tame Impala’s second full-length album, was Todd Rundgren’s epic 1973 recording, A Wizard, a True Star. Rundgren similarly keeps a firm hand on every aspect of his recordings, on which he, too, has occasionally played all of the instruments.

Columbia 88875 08914 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

When I saw the cover of Leon Bridges’s debut CD, Coming Home, I thought I was looking at a compilation of tunes by a little-known regional soul singer from the 1960s whom I’d somehow missed. I expected to find a Wikipedia page that would tell me of his passionate following in England among Northern Soul fanatics. Turns out that Bridges has just turned 26, and hails from Fort Worth, Texas.