Newest Updates - Quick View
- Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
- "The Big Knife"
- Monoprice Monolith M300 Earphones
- The Differences Between Home Theater and High-End Audio . . . Two Decades On
- ECV: "Sticks and Stones"
- Stuff You Really Want for Christmas 2017!
- MartinLogan Wireless Ensemble Bravado Loudspeaker
- Paradigm PW Soundbar / PW 600 Loudspeakers / Monitor Sub 8 Subwoofer
- The Problem with Blind Testing
- Living Colour: "Shade"
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 / C3 v.3 / ADP3 v.3 / Sub 1 / PBK Home-Theater Speaker System
- Monitor Audio Silver RX6 / RX Centre / RXFX / RXW-12 Home-Theater Speaker System
- Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Reference 3.5 Loudspeakers
- Explaining HDMI while Solving the Cause of Blue-Screen Nightmares
- Jienat: “Mira”
- Back Cover
- Peter Gabriel: "Scratch My Back"
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 Loudspeakers
- Beat Kaestli: “Invitation”
- Paradigm Reference MilleniaOne / Seismic 110 Home-Theater Speaker System
Feature Articles & Reviews
Here we are, closing in on the end of another year. It’s been a doozy, with political storms equivalent to the 1960s, seemingly endless gun violence, and nightly reports of sexual abuse by entertainment bigwigs and national politicos. On the positive side, we’ve had a breadth and quality of music that spanks the intellect and caresses the spirit. We’ve even had some wonderful films, though you’d have to be Sherlock Holmes to find them.
Life changes. People move up, they slip down. They get kicked out, they get invited in. One day they rent, the next day they own. If they’re lucky, someday they’ll own the house of their dreams, and be attached to the humans and pets of their dreams. If they’re really lucky, they’ll have a place where they can listen to music.
A couple of years ago, I was working on a story about Roon and its use as a database tool for recording studios. As I talked with one engineer, he mentioned that studio monitor speakers -- especially those made by Barefoot Sound -- had achieved such a high level of quality that musicians and engineers could now hear the functional equivalent of a straight wire with gain from recording studio to control room. Pro-audio magazines and websites were passing along a lot of similar buzz about Barefoot monitors, especially from musicians, many of whom requested -- even demanded -- having Barefoot monitors in the control rooms of the studios they worked in. Over the last decade, Barefoot’s monitors grew in reputation until one model, the MicroMain27 Gen2 ($10,495/pair), became the recording industry’s de facto standard.
Everyone who pays regular attention to the world of audio and video equipment knows the name Oppo Digital, Inc. Here at SoundStage!, we’ve been fans since 2006, when Roger Kanno and I reviewed their first two DVD players, the DV-970HD ($149 USD) and the OPDV971H ($199). Both players became instant Reviewers’ Choice winners. Since then, Oppo has released a string of impressive silver-disc players that have resided at or near the top of critics’ lists of recommendations.
For the past 20 years, I’ve been preaching that buyers of audio gear in the mid- to upper price levels should spend some of their shopping time appraising the professional marketplace. In the beginning, I had to recommend jury-rigged systems with huge audio interfaces that had multiple microphone preamps, various digital inputs and outputs, and inputs/outputs that most audiophiles have never used. (Got any balanced TRS 1/4” cables in your storage box?)
Does the name Billy Woodman ring a bell? Although he may not have been involved in any of the audio components you use at home, it’s very likely that Woodman designed some of the gear used in recording the music you listen to. All over the world, many of the finest musicians and audio engineers make their most crucial judgments of their work by listening to it through monitors made by ATC, the company Woodman founded in 1974. Beck, Kate Bush, Coldplay, Mark Knopfler, Diana Krall, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Supertramp, Jack White -- all have depended on ATC monitors to get an accurate idea of what’s really on their master recordings. If you’ve ever enjoyed records engineered and/or produced by T Bone Burnett, Bob Ludwig, Mark Ronson, or Doug Sax, or in the studios of Electric Lady or Telarc, or Sony’s massive SACD remastering facilities, you owe some of that pleasure to Woodman’s stunning speaker designs. Even at Abbey Road Studios, right next to the Bowers & Wilkins monitors you always see advertised, you also see ATCs.
Whenever I start getting snobby, the only one who loses is me. You’d think I’d learn. After all, it happens with enough regularity that I ought to be able to recognize the warning signs.
In my last column, I wrote about the wonderful Channel Islands E•200S two-channel amplifier. But what really got me excited was Bruno Putzeys, the Belgian designer of the Hypex UcD module used in the E•200S. Putzeys has been in the audio world for several years. He started at Philips, where he worked extensively in labs, experimenting with input stages, power types, and supplies. Unfortunately, as soon as he came up with a great design, he was confronted with a multinational conglomerate’s tendency to do nothing when presented with a new idea.
Chasing Bruno Putzeys Down the Rabbit Hole of Audio and Discovering the Channel Islands Audio E•200S Stereo Amplifier
“Hey, Wes, I want you to look up the new Bruno Putzeys speaker. Giant killer.”
Thus spake Jeff Fritz, Commanding Officer of our enterprise. We’d been e-mailing about another speaker, and this recommendation came as a pleasant surprise. Jeff’s ears regularly experience the best, most expensive loudspeakers made, so when he uses even mild hyperbole, my ears prick up. I looked up Putzeys and the speakers and found only Grimm Audio’s LS1 speaker with LS1s subwoofer. It was obviously a great speaker, but too rich for my blood at $39,895 USD per pair.
With Christmas fast approaching, I was worried that you might be concerned about what to get for me. I mean, I really loved that John Varvatos shearling coat you gave me last year. But I know how difficult it is to run over to Nordstrom and do all that shopping, and when I found this article, I thought it was a nice coincidence.
The items below are recommended by Wes Marshall, my all-time favorite writer, so I know I’d love any of them. That suite of Oppo items is particularly interesting, but I’d be happy with any of these recommendations -- or all of them! Thanks, and I hope this helps save you some time.
___________ (your name here)