There’s a brunch restaurant near me that’s insanely busy on the weekends. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, there’s a lineup of about 20 people waiting to be seated. This amazes and repulses me. The concept of lining up and waiting—probably for quite a while—is completely foreign to me.
Canadian sister brands Paradigm and Anthem are hi-fi powerhouses, with extensive manufacturing and design capabilities. Both brands have roots in the advanced loudspeaker research done at Canada’s National Research Council (NRC). In fact, some Paradigm and Anthem employees worked at the NRC and conducted some of that research. As a result, both brands offer high-performing hi-fi products with unique features that allow users to set up their systems in interesting ways.
There’s something about tubes, right? Maybe it’s the shiny, glowing glass bottles, maybe it’s their benign low-order distortion character, or maybe it’s a mix of those two with a healthy glug of nostalgia thrown in. Or maybe it’s just that the voltages are high enough to flash-fry you if you touch the wrong wire.
I know it’s juvenile, but I know I’m not alone in this. I’m a sucker for bass. Exhibitors know how they can use this little kink to draw in showgoers, but they have to walk a fine line. Sloppy bass doesn’t work. Boomy mid-bass doesn’t work.
“Poproszę jedem pączek. I cappuccino, proszę.” The woman behind the café counter dutifully set my plate on the glass countertop and set about steaming the milk for my drink. We’d ducked into the small, French-styled café to get out of the rain and refuel as we wandered around Warsaw’s Old Town. I brought my pączek (it’s like a jelly donut, but better) to the table and sat down across from SoundStage! Ultra senior editor Jason Thorpe and SoundStage! founder Doug Schneider. Doug gaped at my newly acquired ability to order a donut in Polish. “You know, you’re the most un-American American we’ve ever brought on one of these trips,” he said and laughed.
On Monday, October 16, at 4:15 p.m., the shipping company picked up the Estelon XB Mk II speakers that I reviewed in July for SoundStage! Ultra. The XBs had lived in my main system for close to six months, and, as you can read in my review, I spent those months enamored by their dynamic prowess, retrieval of detail, and utter musicality.
“It’s the flight, Doug. It exhausts me,” I said to Doug Schneider as we were discussing our plans for Audio Video Show 2023 in Warsaw, Poland. “I can never sleep on planes. These overnight flights leave me crippled and exhausted.”
Here’s the third and final instalment of my coverage of UK Hi-Fi Show Live 2023 from Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England. As in my first and second reports from Ascot, this one includes a raft of new product launches, informative audio presentations, and another world-class system.
Featuring a huge swath of new products and some genuinely world-class systems, this second part of my coverage of UK Hi-Fi Show Live 2023 from Ascot Racecouse in Berkshire is even more diverse than the first. A strange thing about Ascot is that it never feels busy, even when there’s a huge number of people in the venue. Only when I visited the exhibit rooms did I realize just how many people were in attendance. Most of the manufacturers I spoke to seemed to be having a good show. All prices are in UK pounds.
It’s hard not to be awestruck as you walk up to Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England. Located 25 miles west of London, Ascot was the site of UK Hi-Fi Show Live 2023, held September 29 to October 1. The scale of the venue, not to mention its rich heritage, reminds you how important this event is. It’s put on by the UK magazine Hi-Fi News & Record Review.
Seldom does a consumer product attain the success or longevity to affect a collective consciousness, let alone a hi-fi product. But the Bose 901 speaker system is exactly one such product. With a nearly half-century-long history, the 901 has enjoyed incredible commercial success and has generated much conversation amongst audiophiles. The 901 is one of the most unconventional designs in the history of audio and one of the most recognizable.
I knew that Portland, Oregon, was noted for its fine audio emporiums: Pearl Audio, Encore Audio, and Fred’s Sound of Music among them. But on a recent vacation trip to the City of Roses, my wife, a friend, and I discovered a new one, the Record Pub (TRP), in the city’s Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood. We were intrigued and went in.
Bowers & Wilkins, commonly known as B&W, was founded in 1966 by John Bowers in Worthing, West Sussex, England. It grew out of an electronics store that John Bowers and his friend Roy Wilkins had started after World War II.
I love hotels, especially those set in the great country houses of England. They always have king-size beds and blackout curtains, so I generally sleep better there than at home. Your every need is catered to: food and drink are served with a smile wherever and whenever you wish. Furthermore, nobody who lives in a normal house has this much land to roam around. It was a delight to explore the acres that make up Cranage Hall Estate, site of the North West Audio Show, held June 17–18 in Cheshire, England. I’ve already reported on my first day at the show. Here’s what I experienced on day two. All prices are in British pounds.
It’s not often one gets to spend the weekend listening to some of the world’s best audio systems in an Elizabethan-style manor house built in 1828, surrounded by Doric columns and illuminated by glorious chandeliers. It’s not often that one enters a hi-fi show by walking Oscars-style up a red carpet before getting personally greeted by the organizer and receiving a perfectly chilled glass of fizz from a silver platter. But that was my experience entering the North West Audio Show, which was held June 17–18 at the De Vere Cranage Hall Estate in Cheshire, England.
I found it somewhat challenging to get a handle on the town of Civitavecchia, which is about an hour southeast of Rome. On the one hand, it has a sleepy, small-town feel—lots of narrow streets lined with cafes and restaurants, exuding charm and quiet, old-world sophistication. But Civitavecchia is also a major port that services Rome. I saw two enormous cruise ship monstrosities moored just offshore, out of which poured waves of tourists whom the locals seemed to bear with admirable patience.
Following the Unison Research and Opera Loudspeaker factory tour, the Fidelity Imports caravan pulled into the Santa Maria Novella train station in downtown Florence on late Tuesday afternoon of the week after the High End Show in Munich. After a short tram ride, we were met by Ottavio Marino Cerrato, Tom Dolfi, and Alice Zoppi, Gold Note’s graceful, stylish, and friendly representatives. We traveled along some of the twistiest one-lane mountain roads I’ve ever experienced, up an ear-popping circuitous route that devolved into a rough dirt track. The end game was the classically marvelous Le Fonti a San Giorgio “farmstay” villa. I melted into a puddle as I soaked up the twilight views of hillsides layered with vineyards, cypress trees, and flowering honeysuckle.
As is my wont, I woke up early on my first morning in Treviso, Italy. My presence here, an extension of my week in Munich covering High End 2023, was arranged by Steve Jain of Fidelity Imports. A US distributor of high-end audio gear, Fidelity represents Opera Loudspeakers, Unison Research, Gold Note, and Audia Flight—all of which I’d be visiting over the course of the week, along with several other journalists and one dealer. Jain had arranged this trip so that we could gain some familiarity with these Italian brands.
When I first heard from Yamaha Canada about its yet-to-be-released integrated amplifier with an integral DAC and streaming capabilities over a year ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. All of the previous models in the company’s four-digit series of high-end integrated amplifiers and preamplifiers have been all-analog affairs requiring an outboard DAC or optical disc player for digital playback. Case in point, the gorgeous A-S3200 integrated amplifier I reviewed a couple of years ago. While I loved the sound of the A-S3200, including its fabulous MM/MC phono stage and its absolutely stunning cosmetics and build quality, I lamented its lack of an internal DAC.
At the end of each year, the SoundStage! editors pick the best products based on the reviews that have appeared across our network of sites during the previous 12 months. This year, we created an award for Outstanding Achievement in the industry—and there were three people in 2022 who won.
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