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The Absolute Sound

October 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
R 28,81
R 144,75
11 Issues

in this issue

3 min

Apples to Oranges I was reviewing The Absolute Sound’s 2021 Ultimate Directory to High-End Loudspeakers and Cables and enjoyed seeing products that will never come our way, even here in the Los Angeles area. Looking at some of the speaker prices, it appears that not only billionaires are reaching for the stratosphere these days. I think the highest price per pair was for the Kharma EV-1D at $812,500. For comparison (and as the son of a Depression-era father), I hit my calculator and found that for that money you could have had 2447 pairs of Large Advents or 1223 “double Advents,” as tested by HP in Issue 1. Of course, you’d need a lot of room for all those Advents, a lot of amplifiers, and 5.5 miles of speaker cable, if…

4 min

In this month’s editorial, I’d like to sing the praises of my colleagues, whose collective effort brings The Absolute Sound to you eleven times per year. It’s not often that a magazine is created by editors, writers, and graphic designers who have worked together over such a long period of time and whose sensibilities are so closely aligned. TAS is put together by three full-time editorial staffers and a part-time music editor, a team of freelance writers, and an outside graphic-design house. The three of us for whom this is a full-time profession—Jonathan Valin, Neil Gader, and I—have collectively spent 85 years working on audio magazines, 71 of them at TAS. The three of us couldn’t be more different in personality, temperament, and skill sets, but that’s what has made this…

2 min
future tas

JBL 4349 Loudspeaker The JBL 4349 Studio Monitor features the patented JBL D2415K dual 1.5” driver mated to a large-format, High-Definition Imaging (HDI) horn. Bass frequencies are supported by a 12” cast-frame woofer, with a pure-pulp cone diaphragm. The enclosure is heavily braced with 1"-thick walls to provide a solid acoustic foundation, and incorporates a bass-reflex design with dual, front-firing, computer-optimized, flared ports. The resulting two-way design is a triumph for accurate sound reproduction and an affirmation of Harman’s unique capacity to deliver professional studio-grade performance for discerning consumers. The JBL 4349 Studio Monitor features a classic JBL monitor design with a blue baffle and is finished in a choice of walnut or black-walnut furniture-grade satin-wood veneers. A blue (walnut) or black (black walnut) cloth grille completes the elegant appearance. Dual sets…

25 min
2021 tas tapeography

Although they were the go-to (in fact, the only) sources for audiophiles at the very start of the stereo era, reel-to-reel tapes and tape decks dropped off the screen in the 1980s, only to make a totally unexpected comeback in the 2000s, when The Tape Project (see below) started releasing tasty titles on 15ips two-track. Since then, tapes and tape machines (most of them refurbished, though some—like the Ballfinger M 063 H5 and the Metaxas & Sins Tourbillon and Papillon—brand-new) have been enjoying a mini-comeback. Nowadays, you see and hear a large number of R2R decks at trade shows worldwide, especially in ultrahigh-end displays, where the best possible playback is critical. If you’re willing to do the research and not troubled by purchasing bootleg copies, you can find any title—or, at least,…

11 min
hegel music systems v10 phonostage

“A Hegel phonostage? Nah!” That’s what I thought for years—with good reason. Hegel has never produced a phonostage before now, even though the vinyl renaissance has been underway for years. In fact, Hegel’s chief designer Bent Holter told me he could not envision making one when I asked him about it a few years ago. In a typically Norwegian way of considering his answer carefully before speaking (Hegel is based in Oslo), and I am paraphrasing here, Holter said something like: “Ja.... well... we are more oriented towards digital sources. They fit well with our amplification products.” So, what changed Holter’s mind and led to the creation of the V10 solid-state phonostage under review here? According to VP of Sales and Marketing Anders Ertzeid, the long-standing resurgence of vinyl in general,…

14 min
ortofon mc anna diamond moving-coil cartridge

Three paramount virtues triangulate Ortofon’s MC Anna Diamond phono pickup, which retails for a breathtaking $10,499: phenomenal control, uber-transparency, and unprecedented dynamic range (at least in my experience of vinyl). No matter how thick, dense, intricate, or large-scale the source material, nothing seems to faze or frazzle it, including the detritus on so many records that detracts from the musical experience. It exhibits an astonishing clarity, unsurpassed and rarely equaled in pickups with which I have any familiarity In concert with these qualities is a startling impression of precision, notably when it comes to imaging, soundstaging, and the rendering of whatever sense of location, venue, ambience, and acoustics the recording engineers have managed to capture. Its timing is absolutely impeccable, so it commands attention and demands involvement. Use this pickup…