Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

The SoundStage! Network’s multi-author blog about hi-fi, home theater, and more.

Michi On a Budget?: Celebrating 60 Years of Rotel With the Diamond Series RA-6000 Integrated Amplifier-DAC and DT-6000 DAC/CD Transport

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.

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The Joys of DIY Audio

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.

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Mobile Fidelity and Walking Through the Vinyl Jungle

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.

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Denmark’s DALI Expands Its Global Hi-Fi Reach—Factory Tour and Observations

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.

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The DALI Kore Loudspeaker Experience: To Copenhagen and Beyond

“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.

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MoFi . . . Just Another Record

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.

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The Needle and the Damage Done: Mobile Fidelity's DSD Scandal

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.

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Return of a Legend: Upgrading with the Paradigm Monitor SE 8000F Loudspeakers

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.

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New Noise #5: Moving, in Stereo

We’re moving.

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.

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British Short Stack: Getting Acquainted with the Cyrus CDi-XR CD Player and i9-XR Integrated Amplifier-DAC

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.

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A Day Early at EQ Audio Video's Focal Powered by Naim Grand Opening

It seems acceptable to be fashionably late. But can you say the same about being fashionably early?

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Five Years Living with MartinLogan Masterpiece Classic ESL 9s

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.

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How Going Half Deaf Made Me Stop Worrying and Love the Beatles in Mono

Perhaps the scariest thing that can happen to an audio enthusiast and journalist is sudden and near-complete hearing loss.

Ask me how I know.

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New Noise #4: Little Box #2

Sometime after the last Leo’s Stereo closed, my father would take me to The Wherehouse on Saturday mornings to shop for CDs. When that chain of stores folded, he moved on to Target or Best Buy or Sam Goody at the local shopping mall. That one could own music, a tangible thing for personal enjoyment, shaped my upbringing. What we didn’t know then was that store shopping—seeing the newest displays, rifling through plastic letter dividers and name placards—was an endangered endeavor.

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The Reavon UBR-X200: One of the Few Available High-End Universal Disc Players

If you’re like me and use your audio system to both enjoy stereo music and watch films with multichannel audio, you’ll appreciate a high-quality, universal disc player. Optical disc players are still the best way to watch movies with 4K Ultra HD video and uncompressed Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks, and there are also some audio enthusiasts who still like to play SACDs, CDs, and even DVD-As. Granted, there aren’t many audiophiles whose main systems do double duty like mine, and with the proliferation of streaming services for both music and movies, optical disc players in general, let alone universal disc players, aren’t as highly sought after as they once were.

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