Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

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

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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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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One Day at Magico

I often find that a company’s products are a reflection of their creator, and in the case of Magico’s loudspeakers, the resemblance to Alon Wolf is unmistakable. The founder of the Hayward, California, manufacturer is a serious man, one who talks with an unwavering sense of purpose. As I sat across from him in his office, his fanatical attention to quality became quickly apparent. Behind him was part of a medium-format camera on a gorgeous wooden tripod that he used to take the stunning photographs that adorn the walls of his office. On his wrist was a Japanese watch with a movement that makes a Patek Philippe’s look amateurish by comparison. And on his desk were a couple of drivers from a competing loudspeaker maker that he eagerly compared to his own designs, explaining in detail how the materials and methodologies that Magico employ offer superior performance. For Wolf, appearance comes a distant second to technical excellence. “We build loudspeakers, not furniture,” he told me matter-of-factly.

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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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Newest Videos

SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
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