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Stereophile November 2020

Every month Stereophile magazine offers authoritative reviews, informed recommendations, helpful advice, and controversial opinions, all stemming from the revolutionary idea that audio components should be judged on how they reproduce music.

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United States
AVTech Media Americas, Inc.
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12 Edities

in deze editie

12 min
grandinote shinai

I was doing my press beat for Stereophile in the hallway of Montreal’s 2019 Audiofest when I glimpsed something that stopped me in my tracks. It was a marketing slogan, across the room on importer/exhibitor Goerner Audio’s floorstanding banner: “Tubes or semiconductors? Magneto-solid technology amplifies emotions.” Intrigued and with pen and paper in hand, I settled into one of the listening chairs and soaked in the smooth, luscious, musical sound coming from a system with the Grandinote Shinai integrated amplifier at its core—and wondered: tubes or transistors? The line was blurry. I’d never heard of Grandinote, whose electronics have an unobtrusive, elegant look that sets them apart from the typical fare. The man helming the room—Goerner Audio’s amiable Reinhard Goerner—clued me in. Designed and manufactured in Italy, Grandinote products are exported to…

14 min
rotel michi p5

Before starting this review of Rotel’s Michi P5, the 60-year-old, Japan-based audio company’s recent preamplifier design, I thought it appropriate to consider “What is an audio preamplifier? What should it do?” There are plenty of opinions to be found at stereophile.com: “What a preamp ought to do, apart from changing volume and switching sources, is as little as possible,” wrote Stereophile Editor Jim Austin in his 2017 review of the PS Audio BHK Signature preamplifier. And yet “the preamplifier is the heart of a system,” noted Technical Editor John Atkinson in his 2013 review of Pass Labs’ XP-30 line preamplifier, “[in] that it colors and adds its own character to every signal that passes through it.” Every preamplifier has features, from the most minimal (source selection and volume control) through, well, much more.…

6 min

I measured the Alta Audio Alyssa’s farfield behavior with DRA Labs’ MLSSA system and a calibrated DPA 4006 microphone. I used an Earthworks QTC-40 mike for the speaker’s nearfield responses. A full set of measurements was performed with serial number ALY4004. I repeated some of the tests with serial number ALY4003. Other than when noted, the magnetically attached grille was left off for the measurements. Alta specifies the Alyssa’s sensitivity as 87.5dB/2.83V/m. My estimate was significantly lower at 81.5dB(B)/2.83V/m, and the Alta did sound a little quieter than the BBC LS3/5a that I always measure at the same time I have a loudspeaker on the test bench. (The LS3/5a’s sensitivity is 82.5dB.) Both samples of the Alyssa had the same sensitivity. Although the Alyssa’s nominal impedance is specified as 4 ohms,…

11 min
hi-fi products of the year

EVERY YEAR, a panel of judges from the Expert Imaging and Sound Association convenes at some exotic locale to hear presentations by companies vying for the awards in a range of categories—home theater (audio and video), photography, mobile devices, in-car electronics, and hi-fi—listen, and vote. It’s a gathering of representatives of the most important specialist publications worldwide, from the United States, Europe, India, Japan, Australia, Russia, Canada, and Hong Kong. Every year, that is, except this year. This year, due to COVID-19, we all stayed home, and they sent the products to us. Instead of taking place over a few days, the judging extended over months as the competing products were shipped among all the EISA member countries. Products were discussed via various electronic means. It wasn’t as much fun as…

1 min
associated equipment

Digital sources dCS Rossini SACD/CD transport & Rossini DAC & Rossini Clock & Network Bridge; EMM Labs DV2 Integrated DAC; Synology 5-bay NAS 1019+; Roon Nucleus+ music server with HDPlex 200 linear power supply; Uptone Audio etherRegen, Small Green Computer Sonore opticalModule, TP-Link gigabit Ethernet media converters plus multimode duplex fiberoptic cable (2), Linksys routers (2); Small Green Computer linear power supply & Small Green Computer/HDPlex four-component 200W linear power supply (3); external hard drives, SSD USB sticks, iPad Pro; Apple 2017 Macbook Pro computer with 2.8 GHz Intel i7, SSD, 16GB RAM. Preamplifier Dan D’Agostino Momentum HD. Power amplifiers Dan D’Agostino Progression monoblocks. Loudspeakers Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia 2. Cables Digital: Nordost Odin 1 & Odin 2 & Valhalla 2 (USB) & Frey 2 (USB adapter), Wireworld Platinum Starlight Cat8 (Ethernet). Interconnect: Nordost…

1 min

The ensemble Tashi—later known as the Tashi Quartet—consisted of violinist Ida Kavafian, pianist Peter Serkin, cellist Fred Sherry, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. Krystall joined the group on tour, on tenor sax, performing Anton Webern’s Op.22 Quartet for Violin, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, and Piano and playing contemporary compositions, including Krystall’s “Igor’s Blues”; those with a subscription can find a review of a performance on the New York Times website (https://nyti.ms/2YkMDj0). The group recorded the Webern on Tashi Plays Webern and Takemitsu (RCA Red Seal ARL1-4730). Last May, that album was released on CD for the first time as part of the 35-disc collection, Peter Serkin, the Complete RCA Album Collection. The Op.22 is also available on an album with two other works featuring Krystall, including the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, in very…