Feature Articles & Reviews
In my last column, I wrote about the wonderful Channel Islands E•200S two-channel amplifier. But what really got me excited was Bruno Putzeys, the Belgian designer of the Hypex UcD module used in the E•200S. Putzeys has been in the audio world for several years. He started at Philips, where he worked extensively in labs, experimenting with input stages, power types, and supplies. Unfortunately, as soon as he came up with a great design, he was confronted with a multinational conglomerate’s tendency to do nothing when presented with a new idea.
Chasing Bruno Putzeys Down the Rabbit Hole of Audio and Discovering the Channel Islands Audio E•200S Stereo Amplifier
“Hey, Wes, I want you to look up the new Bruno Putzeys speaker. Giant killer.”
Thus spake Jeff Fritz, Commanding Officer of our enterprise. We’d been e-mailing about another speaker, and this recommendation came as a pleasant surprise. Jeff’s ears regularly experience the best, most expensive loudspeakers made, so when he uses even mild hyperbole, my ears prick up. I looked up Putzeys and the speakers and found only Grimm Audio’s LS1 speaker with LS1s subwoofer. It was obviously a great speaker, but too rich for my blood at $39,895 USD per pair.
With Christmas fast approaching, I was worried that you might be concerned about what to get for me. I mean, I really loved that John Varvatos shearling coat you gave me last year. But I know how difficult it is to run over to Nordstrom and do all that shopping, and when I found this article, I thought it was a nice coincidence.
The items below are recommended by Wes Marshall, my all-time favorite writer, so I know I’d love any of them. That suite of Oppo items is particularly interesting, but I’d be happy with any of these recommendations -- or all of them! Thanks, and I hope this helps save you some time.
___________ (your name here)
After spending a couple of quality months with Eclipse’s TD510ZMK2 speakers ($5990 USD per pair), I couldn’t help thinking how great they might work as desktop speakers. After all, they sounded best when aimed directly at my ears, to avoid the dreaded single-driver beaming, and few activities make it easer to maintain that type of position better than staring at a computer monitor. But there was one big problem. Despite their svelte, sexy looks, the TD510ZMK2s were just too big for a domestic desk.
Remember that romance? You thought you were deliriously happy -- until the next one came along and opened your eyes to how great love really could be. It’s easy enough to let lassitude and time combine to make you think things are better than they are. But sometimes you don’t realize how bad you have it until you’re rescued by something new and different.
December 12 of this year will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Francis Albert Sinatra, one of the 20th century’s most outstanding artists. During his life he was a multiple threat who rode the crests of amazing waves of popularity -- as a live entertainer, a recording artist of popular music, and a film actor, producer, and even director. Sinatra’s presence in the culture was ubiquitous -- it would probably be impossible to find anyone in North America who didn’t know of the man and his work.
My wife and I recently moved from a very large single-family home to a loft in a downtown condo. This is called “downsizing,” but the term is relative -- the folks who bought our place in Texas were downsizing as well. They also wanted to buy our house’s entire contents, and we agreed -- so I lost my well-loved audio/video system. That meant that, in our new place, I’ve had to assemble two entirely new systems: one for the entire house, another for my office. In doing so, I’ve tried to accomplish a few goals.
My wife and I recently moved from a Texas ranch to a downtown loft condominium in the Northwest. The condo has its benefits, most having to do with proximity to almost anything I could ever want. The primary downside is that the largest screen our new loft can accommodate is 75”. Back at the ranch, I had enough room for a massive home theater built around a 144”-diagonal screen fashioned from Stewart Filmscreen’s premium screen glass. Fed by a powerful, quasi-4K JVC projector, the picture was way better than in most cinemas.
Three years ago, I wrote “What About Us? Post-Holiday Gift Ideas to Give Ourselves.” The thought behind it still resonates for me. We’ve just been very generous with family and friends, most of whom were kind enough to reciprocate in . . . kind. But unless you were very lucky, it’s unlikely that you got everything your soul desires. So I recommend that you reserve January as a great time for a little auto-largess (or a lot).
Start with some little stuff . . .
A few years ago, some very nice people gave me an Apple iPad Mini. I love the shape, the speed, the weight, but the model they gave me has one downside -- a storage capacity of only 16GB. But even that is way more than enough for my selected use: it makes a hell of a universal remote control. Virtually every electronics company now releases iPad and/or iPhone apps for their products. Given the numbers of components working their way through the Marshall household, having the easy and intuitive Mini available seems a blessing. They cost about $250 these days, a bit more than a universal remote, but less than a lot of the Tiffany trade items that seem to come standard with multi-million-buck McMansions.
For 20 years, I lived in hi-fi heaven. We had a small ranch outside Austin, Texas. I had a huge room -- big enough that I could have a rear-projection setup using Stewart Filmscreen’s top glass screen and a parade of the world’s best projectors and surround-sound processors. With rear projection, the viewer looks directly into the light gun, which offers the brightest possible picture. Add to that the structural stability of glass over fabric, and we had maximum clarity. Open a closet door and there was the back of my equipment rack, readily accessible and easy to change out. This was important -- I was changing components every month.
When we built our home, streaming media was just a dream. Our Internet connection was ultraslow dial-up. Downloading a film would take at least a day. Today, huge amounts of data come in at lightning-fast speeds, but back then we had to have our software on hardware. We built in an enormous amount of shelf space, for LPs, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.