The Absolute Sound September 2021

The Absolute Sound is the world’s preeminent source of expert reviews, features, and commentary on high-performance audio and music.

United States
Nextscreen LLC
11 期號


6 分鐘

Call Him Impressed A big thank you to Steven Stone for his excellent article on Plangent Processes [Issue 317]. I streamed the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty from Qobuz and compared it to the original CD and to a 24/96 rip. Listening to “Sugar Magnolia,” I wholeheartedly agree about how much more distinct the harmony vocals are. Other than the recordings Steven mentions, is there anywhere to get a list of titles that use this process? Do the liner notes indicate when a recording has been processed by Plangent, the way HDCD-encoded titles are indicated? Ed George RH replies: Plangent Processes will soon post on its website a discography of titles mastered with its process. Really? I have been involved with good sound since the early Sixties. In the early days of audio there were three…

3 分鐘
a wrong turn

“Let’s not forget that Stereo Review was largely responsible for promulgating the view that all amplifiers are sonically indistinguishable.” In this issue’s Letters, long-time reader Chuck Proctor castigated Jonathan Valin over one tertiary sentence in his review of Ken Kessler’s new company-history book, Audio Research: Making the Music Glow. Jonathan commented on how, beginning in 1970, Audio Research took a very different approach to designing amplifiers—one that ran counter to the accepted wisdom of the day. In that era, the total harmonic distortion (THD) specification ascended to nearly the sole criterion by which amplifier quality was judged. Jonathan wrote: “While pouring negative feedback on inherently nonlinear quasi-complementary circuits generated the great THD numbers that AES (and Stereo Review) loved, it was like putting a Band-Aid on a compound fracture.” You can read…

8 分鐘
the “focal powered by naim” store

High-end audio faces an imperative: to expand its market before traditional customers age out, young prospects opt for ultimate convenience over superior sonics, and well-heeled, middle-aged professionals succumb to the more discreet aesthetics and intuitive usability of CI. (For those unfamiliar with that last acronym, it stands for “Custom Installation.” CI is a massive field, in which the bulk of high-end manufacturers play no role.) Every producer in our industry is aware of the imperative to expand the customer base. Most are addressing it in the form of new products aimed at attracting new customers. Thus, we see even uber-high-end purveyors like Goldmund offering headphone amps and compact integrateds. Yet, while moving into new product categories is clearly a necessary step, is it a sufficient one? In particular, is the traditional audio…

51 分鐘
the absolute sound’s 2021 golden ear awards

Matt Clott, Anthony H. Cordesman, Neil Gader, Wayne Garcia, Robert E. Greene, Robert Harley, Jacob Heilbrunn, Andre Jennings, Kirk Midtskog, Dick Olsher, Andrew Quint, Paul Seydor, Stephen Scharf, Steven Stone, Alan Taffel, and Jonathan Valin Matt Clott Timbernation Racks Price varies. Chris from Timbernation is a down-to-earth guy, who knows how to build a solid product customized to your exact needs at a fair and reasonable price. He utilizes thick shelves of solid maple to reduce resonance and incorporates brass spikes when the customer requests them to create a functional, great-sounding, and beautiful piece of audio furniture. There is no state-of-the-art, constrained-layer-damping tech or suspended isolation implemented—just good ol’ high-quality carpentry and hand-built quality. I had Chris make me a custom-designed two-tone equipment rack (from tiger maple), and he knocked it out of the…

7 分鐘
polk audio reserve series r200

The Polk Audio Legend L100 is one of my favorite compact speakers. When I reviewed it in Issue 308, I concluded that it was not only well-crafted and superbly musical; it also represented a terrific buy in its class and beyond. Still, with budgets and other priorities being what they are in this post-pandemic world (and even at a reasonable asking price of $1199/pair), a lot of aspiring audio enthusiasts might have to sit the L100 out. Speaking to no one in particular, I asked myself, “Hey Polk, how about something in the sub-$1k range that approximates the Legend L100’s sonic performance?” Evidently the Polksters were listening to my thought bubble. Hence, the wide-ranging, nine-model Reserve Series. The collection includes three floorstanding speakers, three center-channels, two bookshelves, and a wall-mountable…

8 分鐘
nuprime amg sta power amplifier and amg pra preamplifier

I don’t have a ton of experience with NuPrime, but here’s a quick, high-level history lesson: The company was founded back in 2014 by Jason Lim, the former CEO of NuForce, and it specializes in boutique Class D amps, media streamers, and many other products. I was very excited to get a nearly complete system of its AMG STA power amplifier and AMG PRA preamp. The amp and preamp combination have the same form factor and were clearly designed to work in tandem. While I’m a fan of mixing and matching equipment from a wide range of manufacturers, there’s something special about listening to the products from a single line, and getting a sense of how they work in tandem. Diving in, the NuPrime AMG STA ($1695) is a sleek, compact…