December 15th: Our best-selling issue
Could UHF No. 95 turn out to be the best-selling issue of all time? Perhaps not. That honor would go to issue No. 58, which has long been sold out. The reason for that issue's popularity is the article on building one's own record-cleaning machine. There are now more such machines available than ever, and that has forced prices down a little. Still, our machine cost us just $150, and a clever tinkerer with a few power tools could easily shave a few dollars from that.
Just before you ask, we repeat that the issue is now out of print. There is no electronic version, because it wasn't until issue No. 68 that we began assembling the magazine purely by computer, with no films or other physical materials. And no, we're not going to start sending out photocopies.
The good news is that issue No. 95 probably won't ever be out of "print," because a lot of the sales are of Maggie's electronic version. It's just $4, and is available from our usual back issues page.
The reason for the popularity of UHF No. 95 is obvious, the article shown at right. It distills everything we know (so far) about making your computer an important part of your music system. We also explain why you should do it, and it's about a lot more than mere convenience. We decided on a long article rather than, say, a book, because what we think today may not be what we'll think two years from now. Computer audio is a moving target. There are constant new innovations, but a lot of bogus dead ends too. As always, we try to help you steer your way through the confusing road signs.
As for us, we're using a dedicated computer (a Mac mini), nestled among all our other audio components. And our digital sound is better than ever.
Of course, we still like to break out an LP now and again. And we have an interesting article about that coming up in UHF No. 96.
December 2nd: T.H.E.Show folds 'em
At least the Las Vegas version has thrown its cards on the table. Over a period of 16 years, T.H.E.Show (the name stands for The Home Entertainment Show) has been the nemesis of International CES, the giant consumer electronics show that takes place in Vegas in early January. The high-end exhibits, which are now largely at the Venetian complex, are but a small part of CES, and so an alternative high-end show doesn't bite very deeply into the CES bottom line. Still, CES has been swatting at this fly for years. The Flamingo hotel-casino, which T.H.E.Show has been calling home, is a short walk away from the Venetian.
It used to be worse. Back when the high-end part of CES was at the Alexis Park, a long way from anywhere, T.H.E.Expo (as it was then called) was right next door. There was worse. One year, the rebel show set up a shuttle between itself and Alexis Park, and CES got the shuttle driver arrested for "trespassing."
But that's over now. T.H.E. Show will concentrate what is now its only other venue, in California next May. That leaves a question mark. CES forbids sales during its four-day run. The exception was The Marketplace at Alexis Park, where record companies and several other small companies had sales booths. When CES left Alexis Park, T.H.E.Show took it over. So what happens to The Marketplace now?
Our guess? CES has bigger fish to fry, and will be frying them.
Have you dropped by our Audiophile Boutique?
It's loaded with new and refurbished Moon products from Simaudio.
Amplifiers, preamplifiers, monoblocks, DACs, CD players with digital inputs,
all with factory warranties.
November 28th: A warm amplifier
We've been busy listening to new products, and writing up the results for our next issue, UHF No. 96 (coming soon).
One of them is the new incarnation of the Copland CTA-405 amplifier (it has a "B") after the model name. When we tested the original one, some five years back, we fell in love with it. It won our affections this time around as well, and we'll have all the details, as usual, in the new issue. The test sessions are mostly done, in fact, and we'll tell you more about them. We're just setting up the final ones.
You can also expect a feature on 4K television, a quick-moving format, and why you should -- or should not -- think about buying one. And we'll have a feature by Paul Bergman on tone arm design. It should help explain why arms often look alike but don't work alike. Or cost alike.
BY THE WAY: Yes, we know it's Black Friday, and we're headed for Cyber Monday. So we're starting our usual weekend Flash Sale a few hours early, and we're running it through Tuesday morning. As last week, we're offering credit notes with purchases: buy the product at full price, and get a credit of as much as $2,000.
November 14th: Upgrading the Kappa system
Three of us (Toby, Steve, Gerard) spent Thursday with the Oppo Blu-ray player. For reasons we've explained, we need a new player for our Kappa system. Good players are rare, today, and Oppo looked like the most likely choice.
It was. We spent part of the session with our Omega (audio-only) system, comparing the Oppo to a Linn player which cost 34 times as much. We also compared its HDCD performance to that of our computer with external HDCD decoding. No miracles, we're sorry to say, but it didn't embarass itself either. With Blu-ray, it was another matter, and we were stunned by the difference.
The full story in our next issue.
BY THE WAY: We have new products coming to our Audiophile Store, and this weekend's Flash Sale is intended to make room. Have a look.
November 11th: Listening sessions start
We're moving forward toward the release of UHF No. 96. We now have all of the products we will be reviewing. The list includes the Oppo BDP-103, which you see here. Readers have been asking us for a long time when we would be paying attention to Oppo.
Our hand was forced by circumstances, truth to tell. Our reference Blu-ray player, a Pioneer BDP-51FD, was failing, crashing so hard on certain discs that it could be resurrected only by pulling the plug. A number of months ago, we had saved it by cleaning its laser lens with one of the cleaning discs our Audiophile Store had once carried. It had worked, but now the player would no longer even load the cleaning disc, and would crash.
So here's the spoiler alert: we bought the Oppo. At a time when even most famous-name players have become commodities, with the performance you would expect, Oppo looks very much upscale. It also plays CDs, SACDs, DVD-Audio (remember them?), and it decodes HDCD. It is one of the last players to do so.
Next Monday, Albert will be doing the photography for the issue.
November 5th: Goodbye Harry
Who knew that Harry Pearson was 77? Still, it did seem he had been at the helm of The Absolute Sound forever, and so he couldn't possibly be in his forties or fifties. Harry died in his sleep yesterday at his home in Sea Cliff, NY.
His was a voice different from so many of the voices that dominated hi-fi in decades past. He insisted on comparing the sound of audio components to that of live music, not other components. He insisted that reviewers who were not themselves professional musicians submit ticket stubs four times a year to prove they knew what real music sounded like. Oh, and it had to be unamplified music. He would refuse lucrative ads, including those for "known carcinogens." An avid photographer, he would place one of his own Kodachrome images on his back cover rather than an ad. He didn't lack for hubris, calling his company "The Pearson Publishing Empire."
But empires don't last forever. All magazines became strapped for money, and some 20 years ago Pearson sold his company. He remained on the editorial board, but he didn't much like the magazine's new orientation. Two years ago, now marginalized in the magazine he had founded, he resigned. He set up a Web site called HP Soundings, on which he was pretty blunt of what he thought of the new TAS.
Love him or hate him, he was a giant.
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