The SoundStage! Network’s multi-author blog about hi-fi, home theater, and more.
On the morning I submitted my previous (first) column, I stepped outside to my backyard workshop shed and unfastened the wood clamps from a fun little project I had no intention of keeping.
I’ve long felt that a kid who doesn’t know what he wants to do will soon find out exactly what he doesn’t want to do. That is, there is no greater motivation for suddenly embracing (any) plan B than first being confronted with a disagreeable plan A.
Something struck me when I interviewed Michael Levy, president of New York’s Alta Audio, for a recent SoundStage! Talks video on the SoundStage! YouTube channel. First, Michael is a wealth of information, and his speaker-design knowledge goes back—way back. If you haven’t checked out that video, and you only know Alta from a few ads and maybe a quick experience at an audio show, you’ll gain a whole new perspective on the company and its products from watching that Talks episode.
When I visited Magico at its Hayward, California, factory back in July of this year, my main focus was exploring the new Magico flagship, the mighty M9 ($750,000 per pair). I saw M9s being built and tested, and I got to hear a pair of these in Magico’s custom listening room. It was quite a treat.
With the process of setting up the SVS SB16-Ultra complete, it was time to put this monster of a subwoofer through its paces to see how it performs. The first question I wanted to answer was whether the SVS app is preferable to the included small, plastic remote control. In a word, yes. The remote does provide basic controls such as volume and turning the display on or off, but the app gives the user far more control with direct access to functions such as the Parametric EQ and adjustable crossover. For users who don’t want their smartphone by their side in the listening room, the remote is handy in a pinch. The app, however, is made for you control freaks who want everything the sub is capable of right at your fingertips. I’ll use the app.
I’ve had a set of Monitor Audio Studio standmount speakers ($1400 per pair when available, all prices USD) anchoring my multipurpose music/movie/YouTube stereo system for a few years now. This two-way minimonitor (mini Monitor?) is a high-resolution transducer, what with its AMT tweeter and dual midrange-woofers—both drive units derived from the company’s costlier Platinum series of flagship loudspeakers. The thing they lack, though, is deep bass. That is of course where SVS comes in.
In my May 1, 2021, SoundStage! Ultra article, “What Matters Most in an Audio System: The Loudspeaker Drive Unit,” I interviewed Vivid Audio’s technical director, Laurence Dickie, one of the world’s preeminent loudspeaker designers. The interview was all about drivers, obviously, and their importance above all other single factors in the design of a finished loudspeaker. In that article, Dickie—whose Vivid loudspeakers such as the Giya series are legendary in the industry—said something important:
Rarely does high-end audio offer a value proposition like that seen in the SVS SB16-Ultra subwoofer ($1999.99, all prices USD). Now that might sound like a bold statement, but as I was unboxing this big, bad SVS sub, I couldn’t help thinking about just what was enclosed in the massive cardboard box my son and I had hoisted up into my listening room.
With its large, analog VU level meters and old-school design aesthetic—and considering Technics’ reputation for producing turntables like the legendary SL-1200—you might think that the Technics SU-R1000 is an all-analog integrated amplifier at first glance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lurking below its impeccably polished casework are a plethora of novel technologies, including an all-digital signal path and the company’s effort to take on the absolute state of the art with its Reference Class integrated amplifier.
Among the best-known British hi-fi brands, there are some much smaller “under-the-radar” companies that almost never receive the recognition or acclaim for the quality of products that they design and produce. Some of you may already be familiar with Temple Audio, but for those who are not, the company designs and creates a range of high-end products (most notably, amplification and power supplies) at their headquarters in Manchester, North West England.
The story of Audeze’s CRBN electrostatic headphones, which the company announced today, is unusual. And judging from the brief listen I got last week at Audeze’s Santa Ana, California, headquarters, so is the end result.
My visit to Magico LLC at its Hayward, California, factory on July 16, 2021, was all about the company’s new M9 flagship loudspeaker ($750,000 per pair; all prices USD). You’ve seen the M9 press release. Maybe you’ve seen a few of the available M9 photos. My goal was to dig into the heart of it. I wanted to see the guts of the M9: cabinet, drivers, nuts, and bolts. And once I had all of that digested, I wanted to hear it.
Music is universal and healing, and no one is more committed to using those qualities to promote harmony than Simeon “Sanch” Sandiford, a record executive, promoter, and music enthusiast. His love for the music of his native island, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is boundless, as is his belief that music can bring people together. On August 14, 2016, Sandiford organized a concert featuring pianist Felix Roach at the Little Carib Theatre in Port of Spain. Sandiford promoted the show to help call attention to Roach’s album Felix Roach Plays the Spirituals, which Sandiford’s record company, Sanch Electronix, had released on HDCD a few weeks earlier.
As I said in “Part 3” of this series, Monitor Audio sent a Gold W12 subwoofer ($3300 USD) to pair with the Gold 100 loudspeakers I had in for audition. I’ve owned Monitor’s discontinued Studio loudspeakers for several years, and I wondered what the logical next step up the Monitor line would be. The Gold 100 proved to be a worthy successor to the Studio, although the improvements were more subtle than groundbreaking—after all, the Studio is a fantastic speaker in its own right. Would the W12 take the Gold 100s to the next level?
Founded in 1997 by Ken Ishiguro, Acoustic Revive is a Japanese maker of audio cables and accessories that is headquartered in the city of Isesaki-shi, about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo. As a teenager growing up in Isesaki-shi during the 1970s, Ishiguro became swept up in the ten-year anniversary of the Beatles’ Japan invasion and frequently visited local audio shops to hear the band’s music.
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