The flight home from Rome to Toronto following my factory tours of Unison Research and Opera Loudspeakers, Gold Note, and Audia Flight and Alare was near-as-dammit ten hours. That gave me plenty of time to cogitate on what I’d experienced at each stop.
In my mind, home-stereo loudspeakers can be grouped into three classes. Class One fulfills the primary goal of speaker design: this class of speaker just has to make music. All other goals are secondary. So they have to sit there, generally in front of the listener, and play sound through their drivers. These speakers should be, and generally are, dressed up somewhat, either in a nice wood veneer or a lacquer finish. But beyond that, they’re two MDF pillars, upon which you wouldn’t be remiss in resting a doily and a lamp or a potted plant. Or if you’re like me, the record sleeve from whatever’s playing on the ’table at that moment.
In+Out Records IOR LP 77146-1
Formats: LP, 24-bit/96kHz WAV download
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½
In 2002, jazz guitarist Larry Coryell was more than 30 years into his career when he recorded Tricycles for In+Out Records, a jazz label based in Germany. He was touring Europe with two other American musicians, drummer Paul Wertico and bassist Mark Egan, and in November they went into a studio in Heidelberg. According to Coryell’s liner notes, the weather had been bad during the tour. While the musicians were recording, they came down with “influenza or something . . . but somehow, we could still play.”
The Professional Monitor Company, aka PMC, is a major hi-fi loudspeaker manufacturer, with its roots in studio monitoring. PMC was established in the UK in 1991 by Peter Thomas, an ex-BBC engineer, and his business partner, Adrian Loader. The company’s first product was a large studio monitor: the BB5-A. The British public service broadcaster was one of PMC’s first customers, and still uses those monitors at the BBC Maida Vale studios in London, England.
I was single at the time. I had two cats, both male, and the Siamese had started to lose its mind. Goddamn thing started pissing in my basement listening room and ended up soaking the carpet. Fortunately, it was old and already in poor condition. Have you ever smelled male cat piss? It’s a horrific ammonia stench that catches in your throat and makes your eyes water.
Back in the 1970s, I lived in Japan for a year, ostensibly to study Buddhism and the Japanese language; in reality, I was knocking around Kyoto as much as I pleased. I was living with my girlfriend in a small eight-mat room, watching kabuki plays at the Minami-za theater, reading poetry in coffee shops, and hanging out at a blues club on weekends.
The email came to me courtesy of Brent Butterworth, who until recently was our go-to guy for headphones. “I can’t do anything with this, but it’s super-cool and I figured you might want to write about it.” The pitch Brent forwarded was a press release describing how Vinyl Moon, a company that each month releases a unique LP of mixed new music along with nifty original artwork, is now providing an augmented reality (AR) visualization of their experience.
Jazz Is Dead 17
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***
Overall Enjoyment: ***½
Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad have helmed 16 previous recordings for the Jazz Is Dead series. They’ve worked with well-known jazz musicians, such as Roy Ayers, Brian Jackson, and Gary Bartz, as well as more obscure players. For Jazz Is Dead 17, they’ve developed nine tracks with jazz keyboard player Lonnie Liston Smith, whose discography includes 16 titles as a leader, and many other outings as a sideman. He contributed keys to albums by Miles Davis, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Gato Barbieri, and many other musicians over a career that began in the late 1960s.
Rightly or wrongly, Germans have a reputation for being an exacting bunch—often concerned more with function than form. For this car-loving reviewer, automobiles are a prime example of what fuels this stereotype. If you want a high-end sports car that you can run ragged day in and day out, buy a Porsche 911 GT3. This car’s beauty has been honed through decades of refinement of the underlying 911 body shape. If, on the Freudian continuum, you tilt less towards the ego and more towards the id, and tend to forego Teutonic pragmatism in favor of more primal urges, then the sensual lines of a new Ferrari F8 Tributo would be a better choice. While significant engineering resources have been poured into each of these automobiles, the German model is the dedicated workhorse compared to the Italian show pony.
My first audio review, which detailed my experience with the Wisdom Audio Adrenaline Dipole 75 loudspeaker system, was published in October of 1998 on SoundStage.com—at the time, the equivalent of SoundStage! Hi-Fi. I’ve written hundreds of product reviews since then, along with a bazillion opinion articles, show reports, and features of all sorts. SoundStage!—the network that now includes ten sites, a YouTube channel, busy social media platforms, and measurement and photography labs—has been my professional home for about 25 years. Since this is the last article I’ll be writing for SoundStage!, I thought it fitting to share some of my favorite memories from my career as a SoundStager.
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