Re-experiencing Jimi Hendrix's Epic Debut through the Marantz Model 40n Integrated Amplifier

September 2022

Jimi Hendrix turning 80. It’s unfathomable, of course. Would he be dipping into hip-hop? Playing his hits in casinos? To quote one of his later compositions: Who knows?

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Dafnis Prieto's Expanded Horizons and the Totem Kin Play Tower Powered Speaker System

August 2022

Vintage hi-fi components may be having a moment, but design-conscious dwellers of contemporary homes likely prefer a sound source that matches the aesthetic of their Miele steam oven and Minotti seating system. If your chic downtown apartment is more sleek finishes than the period wood of my 130-year-old abode, the super-clean look of the Totem Kin Play Tower stereo speaker system ($2250 per system in US or Canadian dollars) will likely appeal to you. My review sample was in the company’s Satin Black finish, and with the grilles removed, the two 5″ soft-dome woofers on each speaker gleamed. Each speaker also has a 1″ soft-dome tweeter.

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The iFi Audio Zen One Signature and Go Bar Open the Door to Charles Lloyd’s "Chapel"

Note: for the full suite of measurements on the iFi Audio Zen One Signature from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

Note: for the full suite of measurements on the iFi Audio Go Bar from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

July 2022

At 84, reed player Charles Lloyd has expressed himself in a wide variety of settings over his long career, and has always found an audience, whatever his role: Eric Dolphy’s replacement in Chico Hamilton’s popular band; the trendsetting leader of his own group in the ’60s, with youngsters Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette; godfather of the Big Sur musical tribe, which included members of the Beach Boys; or as one of several saxophonists who have been viewed as the successor to John Coltrane. Coursing through everything he has done—and a large factor in how he has maintained his audience all these years—has been a sense of quiet spirituality.

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Battling Anxiety with Arcade Fire and the Rotel A12MKII Integrated Amplifier-DAC

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

June 2022

As much as I love listening to music, I love the stories associated with the creation of music even more. Whether it’s the heartbreaking irony of seminal jazz trumpeter Buddy Bolden suffering a mental collapse just before the dawn of sound recording or the unlikely second act of Tina Turner—it’s the humanity that gets you.

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Up Close with Percussionist Ches Smith through Ollo Audio S4R 1.1 Recording Headphones

May 2022

I have a friend in New York City who shares my audiophile leanings and many of my musical tastes, and we frequently exchange thoughts on recordings I review here. However, as an apartment dweller, my friend keeps his amplifier turned down low, limiting how deeply he can delve into them. He relies on headphones for most of his listening.

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Re-evaluating ZZ Top’s "Rio Grande Mud" through Monitor Audio Bronze 100 Bookshelf Speakers

Note: for the full suite of measurements for the Monitor Audio Bronze 100 loudspeaker performed in the anechoic chamber at Canada’s National Research Council, click this link.

April 2020

As revolutionary as the popular music of the 1960s was, some things didn’t change. When that decade ended, artists were still expected to be from somewhere rather than remaining regionally based.

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Brawling with Vintage Charles Mingus and the NAD Masters M10 V2 BluOS Streaming Amplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

March 2022

A couple of months ago, 2021 was capped off for me by the arrival of NAD’s C 700 BluOS streaming amplifier, which I wrote about in the January edition of “Art+Tech.” As I always do, I turned to the manufacturer’s website to see where the C 700 sat in the company’s product line. I couldn’t help but linger over the description of the Masters M10 V2, the C 700’s grander sibling.

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Cecil Taylor Dances Out of the Vault and into the Emotiva BasX TA1 Stereo Receiver

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

February 2022

Five decades ago, many leading jazz musicians were at a chaotic, crowded crossroads.

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Revisiting the Best of 2021 with the NAD C 700 BluOS Streaming Amplifier

Note: for the full suite of measurements from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

January 2022

Over the first year of this “Art+Tech” column, I’ve explored some intriguing new pieces of equipment and listened to a lot of great music in the process. I’ve mentioned some of the music I’ve most enjoyed in 2021 along the way; but not all of it. And of all the terrific gear that passed through my office, the piece that really caught my eye—NAD’s C 700 BluOS streaming amplifier ($1499, all prices in USD)—has only recently landed on my desk. That’s perfect timing for revisiting my ten favorite albums of the past year and seeing how the C 700 treats them.

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Streaming Contemporary Composition Through the EarMen Tradutto DAC

Note: for the full suite of measurements for the EarMen Tradutto DAC from the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, click this link.

December 2021

For a time, about a decade ago, I had this fantasy of promoting a concert that would feature an all-star band of top-flight musicians who held PhDs. As it happens, it wasn’t as far-fetched as it seems; pianist Vijay Iyer and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa have already collaborated, and the French Moutin twins, drummer Louis and bassist François, would make a great rhythm section.

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