I bought a Linn LP-12 way back in 1978, and used Linn turntables until five years ago, when I bought a VPI Classic. Turntables last practically forever, which is one of my favorite things about high-end audio gear: the best products have incredibly long lives. As I recall, the LP-12's initial claim to fame was conceptual; Linn promoted the idea that the "front-end," aka the source -- a turntable, CD player, or cassette deck -- would make or break the overall sound of a music system. If the source's sound quality was poor to start with, … Read more
I visited Stereo Buyers' Brooklyn headquarters to get a first-hand look at their gear. Located in Red Hook, the facility was flooded by Hurricane Sandy last summer, and most of the inventory was literally underwater. Stereo Buyers' Adam Wexler did his best to prepare before the storm hit, but his best line in recalling the disaster was, "I bet you didn't know that Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 5 speakers (that weigh over 100 pounds) can float, but they can. It was crazy and depressing; the financial losses were a bummer." He didn't have flood insurance, but … Read more
There's no sense denying vinyl's imperfections. First there are the noise issues -- pops, clicks, and rumble -- and they all get a little worse every time you play an LP. Then there are problems with speed stability, off-center pressings, warped records, less than accurate vinyl and phono cartridge frequency response curves, poor stereo separation, and limited dynamic range. That was all true back in 1983, and digital has only improved since then. So why are vinyl sales up year after year since the early 2000s?
Most formats wither and die soon after the replacement format takes over … Read more
Atomix Productions' Virtual DJ Free not only mixes and mashes beats from a classic two-deck console, but also it serves as audio central for your system since it also records audio and video, burns discs, and even broadcasts online using a radio server or your own PC as a client-limited server. A survivor, Virtual DJ has been making music for millions of users for more than a decade. The latest version adds new controllers and full compatibility with Windows 8 multitouch surfaces. And it's still free.
Like similar tools, Virtual DJ takes its functional and style cues from the … Read more
Let's face it: our "indulgences" can get expensive, so whether we go to sports events or concerts, buy flashy clothes or jewelry, gamble, drink, or take lots of vacations, those things can add up to a lot of money. Smoke a $6 pack of cigarettes every day, and you'll see close to $22,000 go up in smoke over the next 10 years. In that context, dropping serious cash on a great hi-fi doesn't seem out of line.
Middle-class audiophiles with $10,000 hi-fis might appear to be a wee bit over the top, but … Read more
We don't manufacture TVs, computers, cameras, or phones in the U.S., and American audio companies have been outsourcing production for years, but it's starting to come back. Not just for ultra-high-end products -- Schiit Audio's $99 Magni headphone amp and $99 digital converter were designed and built here. Magnepan, Tekton, and Zu Audio are all making affordable high-end speakers in the U.S. And this past Wednesday, Dan Laufman, president of Jade Design, announced the acquisition of Bob Carver, LLC, a manufacturer of tube amplifiers.
I've interviewed Bob Carver a number of times -- he … Read more
VPI has been making turntables in New Jersey since the early 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president, and everyone thought the CD would kill the LP in a few years. Well, VPI is still there and is currently experiencing a sales boom.
Harry Weisfeld has been at the helm since Day One, but he's about to step down and let his son Matt run the company. Harry will continue to design turntables and tonearms. He makes prototypes, listens to his handiwork, and then goes back and tweaks the design. I spotted lots of failed designs all over the factory, … Read more
Leaked from today's 404 episode:
- Sony MDR-R10: The world's best headphone?
- The top 10 reasons why music is compressed.
- Compare your favorite albums in the Dynamic Range Database.
When I dropped by the Oswalds Mill Audio (OMA) showroom/loft space, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I'd heard OMA speakers at hi-fi shows and was always impressed by the sound, but the full immersion OMA experience was a very different trip. The wildly retro-futuristic designs looked more extreme than I remembered them. Jonathan Weiss, OMA's founder and CEO and also my tour guide put on quite a show, but not by hammering my ears with a high-decibel attack. I have no doubt Weiss' huge Imperia four-way horn speakers and 21-inch subwoofer could easily reproduce … Read more
The Wilson Alexia speakers and Dan D'Agostino electronics in the Innovative Audio room at the New York Audio Show stopped me in my tracks. I heard a lot of great gear at the show, but the sound in that room was closer -- a lot closer -- to the sound of the real thing than anything else. The system had a "this is happening now" quality that takes you back to the recording session, proof that cutting edge high-end gear is getting better all the time. Yes, ubergear prices are in the stratosphere, but there were plenty … Read more