Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

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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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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Shunyata Research and the Power-Cable Tryouts -- Part 2

If you read “Shunyata Research and the Power-Cable Tryouts -- Part 1” when it was first published in early January, then you will know that I am about a month behind with this article. In that first part, I wrote that I installed Shunyata Research Venom PS8 power distributors, Venom HC power cords, and Venom Defender noise suppressors in my system and that you should “check back for an update toward the end of this month to find out how it all performed.”

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Shunyata Research and the Power-Cable Tryouts -- Part 1

When I first talked to Shunyata Research’s Grant Samuelson back in May 2015 about the company’s products, I could sense that he initially thought I was a power-cord skeptic -- someone who didn’t believe cords or conditioners could make a hint of difference to the sound of a system. It was probably because he could hear some hesitation in my voice when we started talking.

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Umbrella Branding: World of McIntosh Officially Begins

What’s in a name? When it comes to selling goods today, pretty much everything -- brand-name recognition is crucial when it comes to connecting with buyers. This is something CEO Mauro Grange stressed at the press event held at his corporate group’s Manhattan-based townhouse on November 19, 2015. I attended the affair, as did about 15 other press members, who were mostly from outside North America. Also on hand were a handful of key distributors and dealers.

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Hans Begged Me to Listen to the Hegel H360

Hans Wetzel pulled a Jeff Fritz-inspired move when he was at High End 2015, which was held in Munich in May. The moment he learned that Hegel Music Systems was replacing the H300 integrated amp-DAC, which he owned and used as a reference, with the H360, which the company was debuting there, he made the decision to sell his -- and did so lickety-split. He wanted to have the latest and greatest from the brand whose stuff he owns, like Jeff. So the day after he got home from High End, the H300 was out his door.

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France Meets the U.S. in Canada -- Focal's No2 and Audio Research's GS150

Focal's Sopra No2 loudspeaker was one of the main highlights at High End 2015, held last May. In fact, I picked it as one of my five favorite loudspeakers when I wrote "The Best of High End 2015 -- Loudspeakers," which appeared on SoundStage! Hi-Fi in June. Shortly after, I was able to secure the first review pair to land in North America. The Sopra No2 costs $13,999 USD/pair.

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The Pryma Premiere

Go big or go home. It’s a well-known saying in the United States that, according to answers.com, originated in Southern California as a slogan for a motorcycle exhaust system. I had no idea. I asked Mauro Grange if there was an Italian version of it, and he said no -- but he said he certainly knows what it means!

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Crystal Cable's Minissimo: Luxury-Grade Hi-Fi Concealed in Plain, Brown Boxes

In Venezuela, where my wife is from, you are wise to wear your wealth with caution. With inflation at an all-time high and crime rates soaring, you're either a complete fool to wander out in public with any kind of jewelry on display, or you're simply looking for trouble -- you'll be robbed in no time, likely at gunpoint. So if you cherish your valuables and your life, you're better off to dress down in public and display that stuff behind closed doors, preferably at home.

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Big Boxes, Spectacular Finishes: PSB's Imagine T3s Arrive

Fellow reviewer Philip Beaudette (in photos below) lives in my city, and he knows exactly what I mean when I call him and ask for some help. Basically, he’s being recruited to do some heavy lifting in order that I can safely get whatever review product that just arrived at my doorstep up to my listening room, which is on the third floor. Since boxes don't fit around all the corners in my house, everything usually has to be unpacked on the main floor and then moved up. I've come to the conclusion that Philip is a good guy -- he never says no (although that's not saying he hasn't wanted to). The latest: a pair of PSB's Imagine T3 speakers.

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A Periodic PhD Course in Loudspeaker Design from PSB’s Paul Barton

I've been an audiophile since 1981 and a reviewer since 1995, yet I'd be hard pressed to tell you that I've ever had a conversation with PSB's founder and chief engineer, Paul Barton, without learning something new or coming away with something to think about. In fact, Paul's talks almost always remind me of how little I really know compared to someone like him, who has been designing speakers for more than 40 years. But I also feel grateful, since these talks are like periodically receiving personalized PhD-level courses in loudspeaker design from one of the greatest speaker-engineering minds in the world.

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Tangerine Time: KEF's Reference 1 has Arrived

One of the highlights of High End 2014, which was held in Munich in May, was KEF's introduction of its new Reference-series speakers, comprising two floorstanders (5 and 3), two center-channels (4c and 2b), a subwoofer (8b), and the model that caught my eye, the stand-mounted 1. Why was the Reference 1 so appealing to me? Because it's the kind of speaker I'd been hoping manufacturers would build for a long, long time -- a cost-no-object stand-mounted design that's not a two-way like most are, but a true three-way, for all the advantages that kind of topology provides. I've been calling such a beast a "muscular monitor." The Reference 1 sells in the United States for $7499 per pair.

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Sunday Morning Ripping Comparisons

Shortly after we published "Thursday Afternoon Ripping Experiment," fellow writer S. Andrea Sundaram wrote me and posed a good question: Do you think byte size is a reliable way to determine file differences? My answer to him was mixed.

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Thursday Afternoon Ripping Experiment

At about noon yesterday I found myself with an hour to kill, so I did something that I've been meaning to do for years (yes, literally that long) -- convert digital music files between numerous lossless music-file formats to prove to myself once and for all that the lossless file type you initially rip to, compressed or not, is irrelevant, because you can convert files to other formats many times with no degradation or change. This is something others have done numerous times, so there was really no need for me to do it, but with that hour on hand, I felt compelled to since I could then tell someone that I in fact did it myself and witnessed the results.

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