Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

The SoundStage! Network's mulit-author blog section related to hi-fi, home theater, and more.

Newvelle Records and Greenleaf Music Attend Listening Party at DeVore Fidelity's Monkeyhaus

On December 7, 2018, I traveled to DeVore Fidelity’s “Monkeyhaus” factory and listening room, located in New York’s Brooklyn Navy Yard, to attend a party hosted by DeVore for two independent audiophile-approved jazz record labels: Newvelle Records and Greenleaf Music. According to the invite, the party offered “high-end pizza, wine, and spirits and a special selection of vinyl on some very beautiful speakers.” Present were John DeVore, the company’s chief designer and owner, and many of his employees, distributors, and other partners, as well as the founders of these two labels and many of their recording artists.

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Gershman Acoustics and Michael Arthur -- Speakers and Art at Adirondack Audio & Video

On December 6, 2018, audiophiles and hipsters gathered to attend a 1970s-themed audition of Gershman Acoustics’ Posh flagship speaker ($129,000 USD per pair) combined with an exhibition of the work of renowned artist Michael Arthur at Adirondack Audio & Video’s HiFi Loft, owned in part by Jason Tavares and located in the fashionable Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. The evening featured the playback in their entirety of two iconic ’70s LPs: Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Sly & The Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On.

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VPI House Grand Opening and Launch of the 40th-Anniversary HW-40 Turntable

On October 21, 2018, I travelled to Matawan, New Jersey, to attend the grand opening of VPI House, a showroom built by VPI Industries, which manufactures turntables and related analog products. According to Mat Weisfeld, VPI’s president and the son of its founder and owner, Harry Weisfeld, the showroom was built for customers, dealers, and (luckily) reviewers to listen to music in a comfortable, home-like setting. The event also marked the introduction of VPI’s HW-40 direct-drive turntable ($15,000 USD), the “HW” and “40” portions of which celebrate Harry Weisfeld and his 40 years in the audio business.

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The Best of Both Worlds? Holter's Clear and Compelling Case for Hegel's SoundEngine Technology

Hegel Music Systems’ founder, Bent Holter, has such a deep knowledge of electronics that when he speaks on the topic, it’s easy for him to get so in-depth so quickly that what he says flies right over most people’s heads. I’ve seen it happen to others, and I’ve experienced it myself -- eyes glaze over.

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On the Road at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab

In early April I drove up from an artist retreat south of San Francisco, where I’d been staying for a month, to Sebastopol, which is in Sonoma County, California, where Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) is located. Mobile Fidelity specializes in remastering new LP records from the original master tapes and has been doing so since 1977.

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Howard's Trip to Tokyo to Visit Esoteric

My visit to Esoteric’s Tokyo, Japan, headquarters and factory in January of this year not only promised to be interesting; it also offered a temporary respite from the harsh US Northeast winter. With Tokyo’s high temperatures logging in at a relatively balmy 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, I left my winter coat at home.

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BACCH-SP at the Hi-Fi Sales "Bringing It All Together" Manufacturers' Event

I traveled several hours on a rainy May afternoon to the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, showroom of Hi-Fi Sales for its “Bringing It All Together” manufacturers’ event. Scheduled to attend were Gary Ko, president and CEO of Genesis Advanced Technologies; Robert Pleyer, sales director of Rogers High Fidelity; Princeton University professor Edgar Choueiri, the founder of Theoretica Applied Physics; and the father-son team of Harry Weisfeld and Mat Weisfeld, the founder/owner and president, respectively, of VPI Industries.

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Roger's Montreal Moon 888 Adventure

In his February 2017 SoundStage! Hi-Fi editorial, “The Best of the Worst CES in Decades: 2017,” Doug Schneider named Simaudio’s Moon 888 mono power amplifier one of the best new products of CES 2017 -- and it’s easy to see why. Weighing in at more than 250 pounds and rated by the manufacturer to deliver 888W into 8 ohms or 1776W into 4 ohms, this massive $59,444 USD behemoth monoblock ($118,888/pair) is an all-out assault on the state-of-the-art in amplifier design. It also just happens to be one of the most gorgeous solid-state amplifiers that I have ever seen, with a shining machined-aluminum faceplate offset by the matte-black, cast-aluminum heatsinks and a swooping top cover with an inset Moon logo.

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YG Acoustics Sonja 2.2 at GTT Audio

It was only a matter of time before some of the technologies behind YG Acoustics’ two-tower Sonja XV (extreme version) flagship speaker system ($265,900 USD/pr.) trickled down to one of the company’s lower-priced model lines. That’s exactly what has happened with the new Sonja 2.2 speaker ($76,800/pr.), which YG introduced to the press in early December at Bill Parish’s GTT Audio & Video, located in Long Valley, New Jersey. I was fortunate to be treated to my own private listening session during what has become an annual pilgrimage to GTT in order to hear YG’s newest speaker design.

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Pre-Tokyo Surprise -- Devialet's Gold Phantoms and Dialog Arrive

A few days before I boarded the first of two planes that would take me to Tokyo, Japan, to cover TIAS 2016, the UPS deliverywoman arrived at my door with two big brown boxes and one smaller one. The country of origin was marked clearly on all three: France. Only one company sends us products directly from there -- Devialet.

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YG Acoustics' New Two-Tower Masterpiece: The Sonja XV

When YG Acoustics unveils a flagship loudspeaker, the press comes running, and that is exactly what happened last week at GTT Audio & Video, one of YG’s largest dealers, located in Long Valley, New Jersey. This new speaker is the $265,000 USD (per pair) Sonja XV (eXtreme Version), a 15-year-anniversary model consisting of two towers -- one main tower and one woofer tower. A new ultra-high-end addition to the company’s Sonja line of speakers, the XV incorporates YG’s latest technologies. YG’s president, Yoav Geva, says that the XV is the closest that the company has ever come to the natural sound of a live performance.

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Bowers & Wilkins’s 50th Anniversary: The 800 D3

There’s no question about it: it’s kind of lame to call the presser for a new loudspeaker an “event.” A plywood box with some extruded-aluminum and fancy drivers doesn’t get the blood flowing quite like the introduction of automotive stalwarts, such as Ferrari’s V8-powered sports car models, Porsche’s iconic 911, or BMW’s benchmark-setting M3. But in the case of the Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3, the newest flagship of the company’s legendary 800-series, the “event” moniker strikes me as warranted.

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Paul Barton's RoomFeel Explanation and Experiment

On May 20, Lenbrook Industries brought a group of journalists to Ottawa, Canada, so PSB’s Paul Barton could show them the acoustics lab at Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) and explain what RoomFeel technology is and how it applies to headphones he develops there. Barton has been going to NRC since 1973, the longest of any speaker designer.

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Off Again, On Again -- the 2016 Montréal Salon Audio Show

On March 9 I received an e-mail from the Chester Group (CG), which is based in the UK, saying that the annual hi-fi show in Montréal had been cancelled this year, but the organizers promised to attempt it again in 2017. It was scheduled for March 18 to 20. In that same e-mail, they cited a lack of exhibitors this year as their excuse for letting everyone down so close to the show dates. What a blow to the Canadian hi-fi scene, I thought. But less than one day later, I received an e-mail from Michel Plante saying that it was still on. They were both right. I’ll explain . . .

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Keeping the LPs and the Wife

I hate water. Over the past 20 years, I’ve had a number of house-related floods, including a sewer-backup shit-water apocalypse, two washing-machine overflows, and a leak behind a wall that required removing and replacing the entire wastewater stack, spanning four floors of my home.

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