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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

January 1987

"Few things can set hi-fi enthusiasts squabbling faster than a discussion of amplifier sound."  So starts the famous, (or infamous, perhaps) David L. Clark and Ian G. Masters article in the January 1987 issue of Stereo Review entitled: "Do All Amplifiers Sound the Same?"  The conclusion seems clear- they pretty much do if you can't see which one you're listening to.  I just got a hold of a worn copy of this issue, and I have yet to read it again in detail.  The amps compared are a $12,000 pair of Julius Futterman mono tube amps (the name alone is worth the money I suppose), a $2,000  Mark Levinson ML-11, a Hafler DH-120 at $320, a $548 NAD 2200 and a lowly Pioneer SX-1500 receiver- $219.95.  Keep in mind that same Pioneer would cost you $436.97 in today's dollars, so those Futtermans ain't cheap.  I fall into the category of believing that I have heard differences between amplifiers, so I can't wait to read the article and through the whole issue- there's also a great picture of a Linn Axis turntable on the cover.  I intend to keep an open mind.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tosin Abasi

I'm listening to "Infinite Regression" which is the first track on "Weightless" by Animals as Leaders.  I didn't feel like using quotes just there.  Anyway, it's late and I'm in front of the computer, so the sound is coming through the iGrados again, this time with tracks played through iTunes, which isn't very good, but is better than the awful Zune software.  For someone into stereo, my computer music situation sucks.  More about that some time later, if I ever consider computer music to be more than convenience. 

Tosin Abasi is the guitarist for Animals as Leaders, and he is something of a mix between Stanley Jordan and Eddie Van Halen, with some Vernon Reid thrown in for good measure.  There are a few videos of him floating around, so Google away.  Better yet, buy one of the albums.  He taps and hammers the strings frequently, often at lightning speeds and punctuated by short, powerful chord bursts.  He certainly keeps the drummer busy.  Very neat stuff, and I highly recommend it.  No vocals, which is refreshing- in my opinion it has absolutely, positively, all been said before.  besides, until the craze with whatever the kids consider to be "irony" these days passes, lyrics are going to be an awful mess. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Watching TV

I think I finally have the home theater system to about where I want it.  I have an Oppo BDP-93 for discs and streaming upon which I cannot heap enough praise.  Next to my old 1989 vintage Sony CDP 605ESD it is my favorite disc player.  We use a somewhat (for an AV receiver anyway) older Marantz SR6003 as the brains, and a very old (1982?) Hafler DH 200 (again updated and modified by Wayne at In House Stereo Repair) running the mains.  This is an amplifier to keep forever.  The speakers are all new Dynaudio DM series- DM2/7 fronts and DM center.  They sound great, even though they are not broken in.   The center is 1/3 the size of my Dynaudio Audience C122 center (which is in storage now) but has a wonderfully natural timbre on voices, which is obviously important.  It's also on a neat stand it comes with to give it clearance over the top of the cabinet, which is perfect given the cabinet's depth.   No sub (yet, I think- the DM 2/6s have great bass) and no serious thoughts for surrounds, but just fine as is for most stuff.  I will admit that the Emerson Lake and Palmer Brain Salad Surgery DVD-A could use surrounds though, as could some of my Porcupine Tree stuff, but the ELP- there's a TON of weirdness in that mix.

Yamaha A-S2000 caps

Just some quick shots of the 4 very large capacitors in the A-S2000, and my old Sony TA-F444ES for comparison.  There's also a shot of the new binding posts on the 444 (thank you In House Stereo Repair)- one of the better inexpensive integrated amplifiers Sony ever made, and given the current quality of the company certainly the last I'll ever own.


Here are some shots of the outriggers for the Dynaudios up close- very nice, as I said earlier.  I've also included a shot of the Tara Labs cones the Rega 1 is sitting on- I removed the stock feet.  The inexpensive stand everything is on is made with glass shelves, which are supposedly terrible for sound.  I've found a craftsman in PA that does amazing stuff- I'll post a link to his site later- but I think I will definitely be purchasing a new stand fairly soon.

Speaking of feet, the Yamaha A-S2000 integrated comes with huge feet that have magnetic spikes one can affix- but I still haven't even taken the tape off them.  Again, when I change the rack it sits on I'll get them set up. . .

Thursday, February 9, 2012

iGrado and Animals As Leaders

I'm not a big fan of in-ear headphones.  There's something about them that just creeps me out.  I look at them and get the feeling that I'm one step closer to home theater being a chip installed in my skull.  *Blink* 50000p video and 21.1 surround all in my brain *Blink* and I'm out of the Matrix.  Whatever.

Anyway, the latest pair of portable-ish head phones I am using are the very good iGrados.  They were about $40 I think, (from our friends at Audio Den) and fit pretty well.  They have much better bass than any in-ear I have used at twice the price (Klipsch, Sennheiser).  You just can't recline with them on- there is a hard plastic band that wraps around the back of your head that prevents that.  They would be fine for exercise though, even though I prefer to run without music. I would imagine the iGrado would keep your ears warmer than running outdoors in February than iPod buds!  I also use larger Grado S60 cans for late-night listening to the main system, and for the money ($70?  there may be an improved version- check out Music Direct: http://www.musicdirect.com/p-7148-grado-sr-60i-headphones.aspx)  they are hard to beat.

I had meant to order the SACD of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here,"  but as is so often the case on Amazon, I found myself scrolling through the "Other People Who Bought This. . . "  and discovered a band called "Animals As Leaders."   I know nothing about the band, but as I sit here typing I am listening to a track on their MySpace page called: "Tempting Time."  The guitarist is a speed demon. Kind of a cross between Eddie Van Halen and Stanley Jordan for Progressive Metal.  Interesting.  I'm ordering it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

FedEx Strikes Again!

Actually, this is an older picture compared to the Oppo box damage I posted around Christmas.  nevertheless, Bravo, Federal Express!  Good thing they were both double-boxed.