I’d say that, month after month, 90% of the correspondence I receive from readers of SoundStage! Ultra asks, in some way or other, the same question: What should I buy? I’m not alone -- look at the letters addressed to publisher Doug Schneider over on SoundStage! Hi-Fi, or to Hans Wetzel at SoundStage! Access. What amp will drive these speakers? Assuming I can get them at the same price, should I buy component A or component B? Which product will sound better in my room? And so on.
The NADAC ST-2 is Swiss-company Merging Technologies’ first foray into consumer electronics. However, Merging Technologies is hardly a newbie -- their reputation in professional audio is that of legend.
Merging Technologies was founded 25 years ago by Claude Cellier, who’d previously worked with electronics maker Nagra, another Swiss company with a rich history in pro audio -- namely in various types of recorders -- that then ventured into high-end home audio. Though probably best known for their Pyramix professional audio workstation, Merging has recently ventured far into networked audio interfaces with their Horus and Hapi products. It was the experience gained in designing the Horus and Hapi models that convinced Merging to launch the two-channel Networked Attached Digital-to-Analog Converter (NADAC) ST-2; an eight-channel version, the NADAC MC-8, is also available.
Blue Note Records B002427702
Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****
Saxophonist Charles Lloyd has played in a number of unique lineups, including an early stint as music director for drummer Chico Hamilton’s group in 1960, which included the Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó. Szabó’s distinctive style employed single-note runs that showed a rock influence and he often used open strings to create a drone effect. Bill Frisell has mentioned him as an influence, and Frisell is one of the guitarists in the Marvels. Steel guitarist Greg Leisz is the other, and together with the rest of Lloyd’s new group they create haunting, often ethereal music that embraces blues and country while retaining the complexity of jazz.
Last summer, I got a call from Eric Pheils, North American distributor for Zanden Audio Systems. He proposed driving up from San Francisco, where he was staying, to my place in Oregon. “Great!” I said. “What electronics are you going to bring?” He hedged. Turned out he didn’t have an amp or preamp with him this time, but was eager to show me some new sound treatments -- acoustic tubes and panels -- developed by Kazutoshi Yamada, president of Zanden.
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