Our new-to-us forever home is a mid-century modern designed by architect Carter Sparks for builders Jim and Bill Streng, Sacramento’s mid-century modern specialists. Sparks studied under Joseph Eichler’s architects, the former designing more than 3000 homes in the Golden State’s capital. Ours features a post-and-beam aesthetic, east-facing sliders and windows, and a large internal atrium skylight with exposed aggregate walkways and three internal garden beds.
Here’s the thing about Toronto, Canada: I don’t think it’s all that pleasant or pretty once you get too far from the downtown core. That comment might piss off some people I know, but I also know many others who will agree with me. Toronto, like any large city, has its pros and cons. But what can’t be disputed is that it’s the Canadian city that the world knows well, probably because of its professional sports teams (the Blue Jays, Raptors, and Maple Leafs), finance sector, film industry, and population.
Since I began writing for SoundStage! back in 2011, I’ve written from—erm—compromised listening spaces. My grad school apartment building was full of senior citizens whom I respected too much to play music too loudly. My first apartment with my now-wife was a 750-square-foot concrete studio in Center City Philadelphia that was an acoustic nightmare. And our century-old, 1020-square-foot first home together, in South Philadelphia, was a long, narrow row house that left my stereo most of the way down the long wall of its open-floor-plan first floor, resulting in horrendous room modes. I vowed that if we ever lived that suburban life, I would have two things: (1) a proper listening room that was truly my own, with as few compromises as possible, and (2) a big family room with a nice television and an audio system that was both inconspicuous and super user friendly.
When I spoke with Rotel’s CTO, Daren Orth, last year about the company’s decidedly high-end Michi X5 integrated amplifier-DAC I was reviewing at the time, he emphasized how the Michi products weren’t just intended to be one-off designs to show off what Rotel engineers could create at higher price points. Instead, they were designed as scalable platforms that could be used as a basis for other Rotel products. Some of that Michi technology went into very affordable models like the MKII versions of the brand’s A and RA series of integrated amplifiers, but to celebrate its 60th anniversary, Rotel has gone all out by introducing two top-of-the-line components in its new Diamond series, the DT-6000 DAC/CD transport ($2299, all prices in USD) and the RA-6000 integrated amplifier-DAC ($4499). While products in the new Diamond series have the same general appearance as other Rotel products with traditional black and silver finishes and slightly updated cosmetics, they are described as having “Michi-inspired” circuit designs.
If you regularly read my articles, watch my videos, and/or follow me on social media, you’ll probably already know that I like to travel to hi-fi companies around the world. In fact, I think I’ve already visited more companies than any hi-fi writer ever has—and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
Herewith please find my third and concluding installment from the 2022 Southern California CanJam headphone show, which ran September 17 and 18 at the Irvine Marriott in Irvine, California, south of Los Angeles. We’ve already covered earphones in our first segment and some headphones in our second segment, and now we’ll wrap up with more headphones. Companies are listed in alphabetical order, and all prices are in USD.
Here’s my second installment from the 2022 Southern California CanJam headphone show, which filled a large ballroom and a couple of hallways at the Irvine Marriott in Irvine, California, south of Los Angeles. Our first installment focused on earphones; this one will focus on headphones, and I’ll follow up soon with a second one on headphones. Companies are listed in alphabetical order, and all prices are in USD.
Though they were less numerous than today, a plethora of hi-fi companies in the postwar era developed and sold the products that laid the groundwork for stereo both as a hobby and as ubiquitous home entertainment. Some of their names are recognizable to us still: loudspeakers by Klipsch and Tannoy; electronics from McIntosh Laboratory and Harman/Kardon; turntables by Thorens and, later on, Technics. Today, these companies are regarded as hi-fi royalty, with reputations built on their accomplishments more than half a century ago. However, off-the-shelf speakers and electronics weren’t an early hi-fi enthusiast’s only option: in the days of stereo’s infancy, it was not uncommon for one to assemble or even fabricate the components of the system oneself.
The annual Southern California CanJam show took place September 17 and 18 at the Irvine Marriott in Irvine, California, south of Los Angeles. The show seemed to be fully in post-pandemic mode. The large ballroom at the Marriott that held most of the displays was packed, and some of the companies—Audeze, Focal, and ZMF, to name a few—were so swamped with visitors that it was difficult to get a listen.
It’s rare for something that would normally be of interest to a few audiophiles—a small slice of an already small pie—to get attention from the outside world. I was among the many vinyl lovers who were following what became known as the Mobile Fidelity scandal for a few weeks when the Washington Post published a story about it on August 5th. Two days earlier, SoundStage! Global had posted a piece by Matt Bonaccio that gave an overview of how the story unfolded, so I’ll direct you to those links for the details.
Quick! What’s the second-largest hi-fi speaker manufacturer in the world? I’d say that you’ll never guess, but since this article is gonna tell you about my recent tour of the DALI factory in Nørager, Denmark, I think I may have given it away.
“On your left you can see the Queen of Denmark’s residence, and if you look over to the right, you can see shipping containers converted into university students’ residences,” said our guide as we putted through Copenhagen’s harbor on a tour boat.
I have this recurring dream that hits me about once every six months. I’m back in university, it’s getting close to the end of the year, and I realize that I haven’t attended a single class for one particular course. I’m now silently dream-freaking. I realize I can’t complete the course, I can’t drop it, and it’s all my own fault.
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL), the record label known for its audiophile-grade remasters of hundreds of classic albums, has recently become a cause célèbre among collectors and audiophiles on YouTube and social media. In July, it was revealed that the label’s supposedly all-analog vinyl mastering process actually involves converting the source tapes to DSD files before cutting the master disc, flying in the face of their previous claims.
Can you call the Paradigm Monitor SE 8000F ($1699.98 per pair, all prices in USD) a legend if it is the first iteration of this new model? I do, because it’s based on the highly regarded and long-running Monitor 11, the largest model in Paradigm’s previous Monitor line. The model names for the Monitor SE line are mostly new, but the 8000F clearly owes much of its heritage to the beloved Monitor 11. In fact, Zoltan Balla and Blake Alty from Paradigm said as much in their recent interview with Dennis Burger on our SoundStage! Access website.
It feels great to finally say it. We’re moving. We’ve been in our current house on the wrong coast for eight years (plus another year in an apartment), the longest we’ve ever stayed in one place. It’s a lovely little mid-century modern at the top of a cul-de-sac in a great spot—near trails, good schools, and community comforts that we value.
Back in 2015, I reviewed the Cyrus Audio Stereo 200, an excellent-sounding power amplifier based on the British audio manufacturer’s proprietary class-D amplification topology. Our own Hans Wetzel heard a prototype Stereo 200 during a previous Cyrus factory tour and was also impressed. I have not seen or heard much about Cyrus in the past few years, although I saw its products at High End 2018 in Munich, where it was displaying the One HD integrated amplifier-DAC, which also utilizes the brand’s class-D amplifier circuitry.
It seems acceptable to be fashionably late. But can you say the same about being fashionably early?
I’ve been listening to MartinLogan Masterpiece Classic ESL 9 loudspeakers in my reference system for five years now, and when SoundStage! Network editor-in-chief Jeff Fritz recently asked me if I was still happy with them, I answered with an emphatic yes. And when asked why, I realized that, although they have their limitations, I have yet to hear other speakers near their price that outperform them in the areas that I find most critical for my own musical enjoyment.
I wrote the first High End 2022 product-coverage article we published, and then I turned my attention to taking most and editing all of the photos. But during that time with the photos, I came across a number of products I knew that the others on the team didn’t get, and I wanted to make sure they got published—so that’s how I ended up writing this final product-coverage article. All prices are in US dollars or euros.
Anyone who loves sports and watches ESPN—the United States’ most influential sports-related cable network—and, specifically, commentator Stephen A. Smith, knows what the term hot take means. Merriam-Webster defines the hot take as “a quickly produced, strongly worded, and often deliberately provocative or sensational opinion or reaction.” As I traversed the halls of High End 2022, ate in the restaurants of Munich, or worked in various places on my computer, I muttered myriad opinions both to myself and folks I know in the industry. A thought occurred to me: why should the sports reporters have all the fun?
The final day of High End 2022 was much like the first few: lots of new products, some of them very cool. In fact, I came to the realization that we would only cover a fraction of what was on display in Germany—I regret that we’ll definitely miss some relevant products. One thing is for sure, though: customers have some wonderful stereo components to choose from when shopping for a new audio system. Prices below in US dollars or euros.
Approximate system cost: €600,000.
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