May 17th: The Toronto show moves to November
It's called TAVES (Toronto Audio Video
Entertainment Show). After two late-September stints at the downtown
King Edward Hotel, the show is moving to November, actually November
1st to 3rd.
Scheduling an audio show is tricky, because
there are not so many of them, and you need to avoid conflicts. The
Toronto show is rather close to the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival in
Denver, which opens this year on October 11th. Exhibitors can't be in
two places at once, and they may have more to do than set up, play
music, then tear down and go home.
The 2011 edition of TAVES was the first
Toronto show in many years, and it was a success, to the relief of
those who had feared that you just couldn't do a good show in Toronto.
In 2013 it was about the same, which suggested it might be treading
water. Year three will tell the tale.
We covered the last Toronto show, and of course we'll be at the new one too.
BY THE WAY: In Canada this is a
long weekend, as we celebrate...well, that depends where you live, but
in any case it takes up three days. Our office is closed Monday, and
our weekly Flash Sale lasts an extra day.
May 16th: The free version of UHF 93 is on line
is not a freebee, because...well, we need to eat, and generating the
content takes funds. For a long time, however, we have offered a free
version of the magazine. It's in PDF form, available for $0.00 from The Reading Room.
It's not quite complete, for the reason already mentioned, and some
articles tail off into what looks like Latin. Even so, some article are
included in their entirety. This electronic edition is interactive,
which means it has live links from the table of contents. Click on an
ad, and you're taken right to the advertiser's Web site.
Our hope in offering this free issue is that
you'll like what you read, but you'll want to read more. Of course, you
can, by ordering the print issue, or (a faster, cheaper option) ordering the electronic edition from Maggie for just $4.
Maggie's version, which is DRM-free (if we can't trust you, whom can
we trust?), has been available since last Friday, and the print issue
was delivered the day before that. If you're a print subscriber and you
don't yet have it, it will arrive soon. If you're a Maggie subscriber,
you'll already have received an e-mail with the download link.
May 13th: Maggie delivers
Issue No. 93 of UHF Magazine
is now on line. If you've ordered it, or if you have an electronic
subscription, you will already have received an e-mail with the
download link and a reminder of your user name and password. If you
want to get the electronic issue right away, now's the time.
We may as well repeat a usage tip for users of
the iPad, which we find an especially pleasant way to read a magazine
or a book. Depending on your browser's settings, the magazine may
appear in your browser window and not download -- if you close the
window it's gone. To have it on the iPad, double-tap the page, and at
top right you'll see buttons for downloading the magazine to Apple
iBooks or to the program of your choice. Our own favorite is GoodReader. Other tablets have similar functions.
For the foreseeable future, we are continuing with the printed issue of UHF,
but more and more audiophiles are choosing to subscribe to Maggie's
electronic version. However, continuing to receive it requires that we
know how to find you. If your e-mail address changes, let us know. Our
letters to two subscribers have bounced back, which means two people
didn't get the electronic issue for which they have paid. We recommend
using an e-mail address that is unlikely to change, such as one from
gmail, rather than one from your Internet service provider (Bell,
Comcast, Rogers, etc.) or from your employer.
We're now working on the free version of the
issue, which will be on line shortly. We'll let you know once it's done.
May 9th: UHF 93 published
We were expecting it tomorrow, but the truck arrived late this morning, with boxes of the new issue. Maggie
is putting the finishing touches on her electronic version, and it will
be arriving tomorrow (Friday the 10th). If you've preordered it, or if
you're a subscriber, you'll be getting the download link by e-mail.
As you possibly know, there's a second
electronic edition, which is not quite complete, but has the not
inconsiderate advantage of being free. We should get that one on line
tomorrow as well.
Naturally, we're sketching out the next issue.
We already have some products on hand. There are two loudspeakers, the
new affordable Gershman Idol and the Küdos Super 10 from Denmark. We
have the ADL DAC and phono preamp, from the people at Furutech. We're
also expecting amplifiers from Audio Analogue and (we hope) Sugden. We
have a number of other interesting articles lined up too. We'll keep
you in the loop.
May 3rd: UHF 93 coming next week
The new issue went to press Monday and is being printed as we speak...well, write.
We're now preparing the two electronic versions. One is free, and as usual, will be available at The Reading Room.
As usual, it isn't complete, since we do want to stay in business. The
other is the paid version from Maggie. If you subscribe to Maggie's edition,
she'll be sending you a download link next week. You can also get an
individual issue from her, anything in between issue No. 68 and the new
issue 93. As usual, the magazine is not copy-protected (we know we're
taking a risk, but we trust you), and you can read it on a computer, an
iPad, and most electronic devices.
Of course, if you did have a subscription to
either the print or electronic edition and you no longer do, now's a
good time to renew.
But we're already starting work on issue 94.
We'll be telling you more once the new issue is on your hands.
BY THE WAY: We're taking a four-day weekend after the sprint for the issue, and so we're offering an extended version of the weekend Flash Sale. It runs until Tuesday morning.
April 26th: Did Alexander Graham Bell invent the CD?
You've probably heard about the Smithsonian
finding a disc from April 15, 1885, with the voice of Alexander Graham
Bell. But did you see the disc itself? Here it is, at left. Can it be
that Bell actually invented the Compact Disc?
Well, no, as it turns out. What looks for all
the world like a CD suffering from a bad case of laser rot is actually
a cardboard disc with a layer of wax over it. The precious disc
couldn't safely be played, even if we had the appropriate apparatus,
and so it was scanned optically, with the scan then transformed into
audio. The audio quality is quite poor, as you can well imagine (and as you can hear for yourself).
Though Bell is usually credited with the
invention of the telephone, it was Thomas Edison who built the first
phonograph, in July of 1877. For the details of that amazing story, see
How Hi-Fi Really Began in UHF No. 81.
However he soon had competitors, Bell being among them. Indeed, Bell
had anticipated Edison by being the fiurst to turn a sound wave into a
visible graph, though he had not found a way to reverse the process and
reproduce the original sound.
What is especially surprising is not so much
that the Bell disc looks for all the world like a modern CD, but that
it is a disc at all. Edison used a cylinder, and it was Emile Berliner
who set up his own company to produce discs...in 1909.
The sound on the disc is just awful, but Bell
had excellent diction, and for good reason. Bell's father had been a
renown elocution teacher, and was the model for Professor Henry Higgins
in Shaw's Pygmalion and the musical My Fair Lady.
April 19th: iTunes, gloves and forks
iTunes still rules.
It has been several years since Apple's iTunes has been the world's
number one music retailer. And it still is. The NPD Group, which
pronouces on such matters, says iTunes still has 63% of the US
market (tes, the US market, because NPD doesn't seem to have worldwide
reach). Number two is Amazon with 22% of the digital market. NPD says
iTunes now has a smaller slice of what is, however, a growing market.
But Apple doesn't give out figures, so who knows?
Redbox hits a million.
With video rental stores having largely folded (except in Quebec, where
Videotron remains strong), those little kiosks from Redbox are
proliferating, and have marked their millionth rental (does the renter
get a prize?). But a competitor, Coinstar, has plans for 2500 kiosks
from across Canada. Just don't expect to find a classic from Chaplin or
Audio classifieds. Positive Feedback magazine is launching an online classified sale section. It's free for now, but will ultimately cost $4 per 30 days.
Fork it over. The weirdest product from CES in January was the HAPIfork,
billed as the world's first connected fork. It's Kickstarter project,
so don't expect too much, but the first 2500 will go to those who have
invested. The device is supposed to convince you to eat more slowly.
The HAPIfork is "inconspicuous and appropriate for out-of-home use. The
Bluetooth enabled smart fork also collects information for future
analysis or monitoring in clinical settings. All data is transmitted to
a ‘personalized online dashboard’ when the HAPIfork is connected to the
users computer or mobile device making it easy to monitor eating habits
and health improvement at home or on the road." Inconspicuous? That's
probably why it's being offered in green, blue and pink.
Sensoglove. Actually, it's been that sort of week. The SensoGlove
is billed as the world's first digital golf glove, which will help you
have a coonsistently smooth and powerful glove swing. Actually, all our
gloves are digital...five digits per glove.
April 18th: The future of print?
It's not exactly
news that print publications, such as magazines, books and newspapers,
are finding the times hard. There is a lot of information available
free on the Internet. A lot of it is bogus, but then quite a bit of
what's found in printed publications is bogus too, so what now?
Some publications have electronic editions, as
we do, either downloadable or accessible via proprietary software. The
emergence of tablets, led by the iPad, have made reading electronic
magazines a lot more palatable. Because we designed our own system,
named Maggie, this has
turned into a pretty good source of income. We remain far
from the day when we can kill off the print issue, though these things
are hard to predict.
Newspapers have it especially rough, because
running a good newsroom is expensive. A number of papers a decade ago
put up paywalls to keep from cannibalizing their print revenue. The
experiment failed, but the people who tried that and retreated have
since retired or died, and so the experiment is being tried once more.
The New York Times claims it's working for them, but how about the others? The Montreal Gazette, arguably one of Canada's worst newspapers, initially tried matching the Times
subscription rates, then dropped them by nearly half. Since the paper
doesn't know how to do anything right, its paywall technology is
laughably easy to get around.
But now another Montreal paper, La Presse, has launched an alternative to the paywall, and it is so brilliant that we hope it catches on. It's called La Presse+.
Now, we knew that the publisher of La Presse
had been thinking along these lines. Two years ago there was a rumor
that the paper was thinking of killing its print edition and offering a
free iPad to all its subscribers. That sounded crazy, though we did the
math, and that would actually pay. What it has done is actually totally
different. The new publication is available through Apple's Newsstand.
You do have to subscribe, but the subscription is free. Giving the
publisher personal information is optional. The "paper" is delivered to
your iPad at 5:30 each morning. Far from being a cut-down version of
the newspaper, it contains the whole paper plus
videos and other materials the print version doesn't have. There are of
course ads, but they are scattered through the paper in totally
unobtrusive fashion, so that they don't interrupt your reading unless
you want them to. And you may find that sometimes you do, because these
are not mere banner ads.
As publishers, we are happy to see a
publication take a fresh new approach to survival in the age of the
Internet, an approach that doesn't have the smell of death about it. We
anticipate that the paper will be offering its technology to other
newspapers. Those papers have every reason to pay attention.
So do we.
April 17th: Goodbye FAX
getting our very first facsimile machine and paying nearly $3000 for
it. Still, it seemed like magic, as (fuzzy) images from across the
world appeared in its tray.
But that was a long time ago, and technology
has moved on (we hear this Internet thing might be catching on). We've
seen the number of FAXES dwindling, except for spam communications from
criminal organizations that carefully hide their identities. We can no
longer justify maintaining an extra phone line just to receive ads for
vacations in the sun and leadership training sessions. We have
therefore killed off the FAX line.
The one remaining appeal of facsimile
transmission was that it made it possible to transmit sensitive
information, such as credit card numbers, with an illusion of security.
However it was pretty much an
illusion. We have secure credit card transactions via Internet on our
store. And those without computers can use snail mail or even POTS
(Plain Old Telephone Service).
Thanks, facsimile. We loved you, but it's time for you to retire where you belong, the tech museum.
April 12th: LEDs and 3D
Light-emitting diodes are not just for pilot lights anymore.
Today they're brighter and they're whiter. Your local power utility may
even be doing as ours does, and giving out rebate coupons for household
LED bulbs. We suggest getting them. They are even more efficient than
those awful compact fluorescents, they deliver the full spectrum, they
last some 25,000 hours, and if you break one you don't need a hazmat
suit. Germany's Fraunhofer-Hertz Institute says the LED may have
another use too. Because they turn on and off so fast, they could be
used to transmit data. So...could you use a table lamp to send music
from your computer to your music system? You can't trip over a light
beam, though the cat can walk right through its path.
Panasonic in the doldrums.
We reported last week that Panasonic had denied that it was dropping
plasma TV sets, and in fact it launched its new lineup of TVs,
including its excellent plasmas. The word this week is that it will go
on making (or at least selling)
plasma sets, but it won't be doing any more research on them. It may be
significant that Panasonic, which was so gung-ho on 3D in previous
years, didn't even demonstrate 3D at CES 2013.
Speaking of 3D,
Dolby is joining Philips and director James Cameron in trying to get
home 3D to have momentum. It's an odd matchup. Philips has just dropped
its TV set line. And Cameron, after his much-praised use of 3D in his
film Avatar, "converted" his film Titanic
to fake 3D. What they're after is development of autostereoscopy, which
means 3D without glasses. Oh, it exists. And it is dreadful beyond
belief. Our prediction: it will improve to merely terrible.
April 12th: UHF 93 in production next week
It will soon be
here: issue No. 93 is just undergoing corrections, not to mention the
placement of ads. We're also overhauling The Audiophile Store, with some new products appearing.
The products you can see on the cover are both
DACS -- digital-to-analog converters. The one on the right is a
familiar one, the Moon 300D, now in its second version (the major
difference is an asynchronous USB input). The one on the left is from
Brik. It's low in cost, and we set out to see (or, actually, hear) how
much of a compromise it is.
Also reviewed are a turntable, the Well
Tempered Versalex, two power filters, and a new and affordable
current-dumping amplifier from QUAD.
You can see the full-sized cover and the table of contents over at The Reading Room. We will soon be adding the free (but incomplete) electronic version, and the complete version from Maggie.
April 5th: The week in audio...and more
Gibson nibbles at TEAC.
Yes,the guitar people. Gibson has bought more than a third of TEAC,
best-known for recording gear and other audio products. Gibson says it
wants to expand into music and lifestyle products.
Panasonic hangs in there.
You may have seen the rumor that said Panasonic was about to dump its
plasma TV sets in favor of LCD. That would have left the quality market
pretty much to Samsung. That has now been denied, but Panasonic is
having problems. It is launching a two-year restructuring plan,
accompanied by some $2.7 billion of spending. More specifically, the
company will expand its automotive and housing development businesses,
and cut back on consumer electronics. We assume that takes in plasma
Best Buy shrinks.
It turns out that Best Buy's founder is not buying back the company,
but what we're seeing is very tiny Best Boy locations. Some are phone
stores (that should work, because as we know there aren't enough phone
stores in shopping malls). Others are just machines, selling iPods,
headphones, etc. And they're not just in airports now.
Praise for Roger Ebert.
It's not surprising that the death of the much-loved and respected film
critic is getting lots of ink. And pixels. But a lot of the talk is
about his TV appearances, and his famous "two thumbs up" ratings.
That's superficial. He was an exceptional writer, and that's what
everyone should be talking about. Read him.
CD players with digital inputs. Simaudio makes them, and we have some refurbs, with factory warranty, at The Audiophile Boutique.
April 4th: Goodbye Roger
unexpected, but we didn't expect it so soon. Roger Ebert, the eminent
film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, had lost the power of speech
because of cancer and the resulting surgery, and he revealed only
Tuesday that a fracture he had suffered was in fact a new cancer. He
was taking, he said in his blog,
a "leave of presence." He would still be reviewing films, but far
fewer. The end came far more quickly than he could have guessed.
There have been lots of film critics; there
will be more, many more. Yet Roger Ebert was unique. Though he could be
as snarky as any of his colleagues, it was evident that he had a deep
love of movies, and he enjoyed nothing more than to express that love
through his writing. And such writing! He was often as interesting --
and indeed more interesting
-- than even the best films he wrote about. There is no writer who
cannot be become better at his or her craft by reading Roger Ebert.
That is doubly true of writers who review the work of others. As he
did. As we do at UHF.
It was also two days ago that Roger, his
amazing wife Chaz, and managing director Josh Golden launched a new
on-line venture, Ebert Digital. Go and visit, and gaze with sadness, as we have, at what might have been.
Should have been.
March 26th: Write if you get work
We told you back
on November 30th that the famed high-end loudspeaker company Thiel had
been sold. The company had been run, since the untimely death of Jim
Thiel in 2009, by his co-founder, Kathy Gornik (left), with her
daughter, Dawn Cloyd (right), handling international sales. With the
purchase by a private equity firm (gee, what could go wrong?), both
were out. (Micah Sheveloff of WIRC Media, at centre, handles public
relations for Thiel).
What would they do next? Gornik has been very
active in the consumer electronic community, having served as the
Consumer Electronics Association's first female chair. Would some other
CE company snap them up?
Yes, though the choice is unexpected (two
industry people we talked to called it "weird"). Gornik and Cloyd have
joined Quadrant Solutions to handle new business development. Quadrant
makes permanent magnets and magnetic assemblies. In other words, they
make parts for loudspeaker companies like Thiel. It's a little like
going from making cars to making steering wheels. We wish them both
well in this new venture.
BY THE WAY: We're finishing up the
corrections of UHF 93 before it goes into production, but we're not in
the office for the next few days. That's why we're offering an extended Flash Sale, through next week.
March 25th: After the Montreal Salon
The 26th edition of Montreal's Salon
Son&Image is now done, and we're prepared to declare it a success.
We feared the unseasonal snowstorm might prevent some exhibitors from
arriving, but we heard no such stories. You can read our complete blog, with text and pictures, for the details of what we saw and heard.
At the Salon we lined up some gear that will be reviewed in UHF
No. 94, and we'll be telling you more about that shortly. In the
meantime we're just polishing off the corrections and final details on
issue No. 93, which goes to press shortly.
Over the long Easter weekend we will be taking
some time off from our office work, but we will be hard at work anyway,
poring over the pages to get them ready for the presses.
Oh, but of course Maggie's electronic edition needs no presses, and will be out to subscribers and anyone who orders it even before. We'll keep you up to date.
March 19th: Preparing for the Salon
If it's snowing
in Montreal, it must be time for the Salon Son&Image. Yes, it
nearly always snows during this show, and as we write this another
major storm is falling on our heads. Not that it matters. We'll be at
the show Thursday, the press day, and on Friday through Sunday, the
public days. You can preview the show and even reserve tickets on line
on the Salon site. And you can follow our Salon blog, which is already on line.
In the meantime, we are in the thick of the
corrections and revisions of issue 93, which goes to press shortly. For
this purpose we have added another member to our small team. Kathe
Lieber is a veteran editor and translator, and knows how to polish a
text until you can find it in the dark! She will be participating more
in the creation of the magazine in the issues ahead, and that will help
us a lot.
By the way, because of the show our weekend
Flash Sale begins early, at 9 am on Thursday. It runs, as usual,
through Monday morning.
BY THE WAY: Because of the Salon, an extended version of our weekend Flash Sale is already on.
March 15th: Table of contents
As we prepare to send UHF No. 93 to press, we have the final table of contents on line over at The Reading Room.
Just click on the thumbnail of the cover to see the full-sized cover,
and click on that cover to see the contents. You can also already
preorder either the print issue or Maggie's electronic issue.
Reviews include some unusual products,
including two power conditioners (they both work, and they're both
recommended, but we liked one of them better than the other -- you'll
see why). There will be a review of one of the very last means of
getting quality cinema surround sound without spending a fortune.
That issue aside, we're preparing for the Montreal show, known formally as Le Salon Son&Image.
It opens on Friday the 22nd, and it runs through Sunday. We'll be
previewing the Salon on Thursday, a special day set aside for the
industry and (ahem!) the press.
See you there?
February 12th: Free Advice updated
Thanks for keeping the questions coming for our Free Advice section.
We've updated it with some answers. Naturally, there is an even larger
Free Advice section in the print and electronic issues of UHF.
Speaking of those issues, we are busy doing
the corrections for issue No. 93. We will be reserving the presses
shortly, and we'll have the issue in your hands as soon as possible.
In the next day or so we'll have the final table of contents ready to look at at The Reading Room. It has changed over the past few weeks, but it's now final.
January 11th: Last day at CES
The 2013 edition of International CES (as the organizers now call it) is winding down. You can read about some of it on our CES blog, which, however, will have more updates in the days ahead as we get caught up.
One thing we can say right off is that
this is one of the smallest shows we have seen in a while. That was
especially true of the high end audio exhibits, the ones in the
Venetian tower. At a guess there were perhaps half the usual number of
exhibitors, and it was quite feasible to tour the floors completely in
a single day.
We can say much the same of the "other"
high end show, T.H.E.Show at the Flamingo. A half day was enough. Which
was a good thing, because the organizers had not provided for any
Internet communications for journalists, forcing them to go elsewhere
to do updates.
Our office has been closed during CES,
and we have had only the usual skeleton staff handling what needed
immediate handling. We reopen on the morning of Wednesday the 16th.
Shipping of products, books and magazines will start that day.
January 7th: Our blog from Vegas
year we're in Vegas for CES and the parallel high end audio event,
T.H.E.Show, and as usual you can follow along on our blog.
As we write this the press day is just
ending, to be followed by Pepcom's Digital Experience. Tomorrow the
real show begins, and we'll be going through the high end exhibits at
January 4th: Off to Vegas
We've been been
doing this for decades now. We're off to Vegas, because it's time for
International CES. (NOTE: for unknown reasons, the organizers don't want us to call it the "Consumer Electronics Show," and so we aren't.)
During our absence, there will be only a
skeleton crew at the UHF office, and no product shipments will take
place. In point of fact that's why we are presenting an extra-long Flash Sale. It runs through the morning of Wednesday the 16th...that's when we reopen.
We will of course be working, since this is not vacation time for us. You can check in any time to our Vegas 2013 blog. Thanks to the miracle of portable electronics, we will be updating the blog frequently.
CES promises to be bigger than ever, if only
because they keep adding extra sections to it. Aside from the usual
sections, there are special ones for startup companies (those are the
ones where you can show up for work in your bare feet), and for
companies with particularly bright ideas. Well...so they say.
January 3rd: Previewing UHF 93 cover
We've been working hard
(we know -- not hard enough!) on completing issue 93 of UHF, and as we
prepare to head for International CES in Las Vegas, we wanted to leave
you with the cover of the issue.
You can see it bigger over at The Reading
Room. Once there, click on the small cover, and you'll be able to see
Among the products reviewed will be an Onkyo
A/V receiver (no, we don't usually review receivers, but you'll see why
we've made an exception), a new "current dumping" power amplifier from
Quad (accompanied by an article about its operating principle from Paul
Bergman), the new version 2 of the Moon 300D DAC, a lower-priced DAC
from Brik, and two power filters from King Audio and GutWire.
And we'll have an in-depth feature on one of our favorite musical instruments, the violin.
More in the days ahead.
December 19th: Moon 300D v.2 converter available
We have long used
the Moon 300D in our reference systems (we moveit as needed). Indeed,
in our current setup, which uses a dedicated computer, even the best CD
player is outmatched. However the 300D had an Achilles heel, its USB
input, which was at the toy level. The new version 2 has the USB
circuit it always should have had. The new 300D is now listed at our
You'll notice that it costs more, and you may
be tempted to buy one of the remaining original 300D's, of which we
have some stock. It can be upgraded at the factory, through us, for
December 17th: Review sessions done
It took a number
of sessions to wrap up the equipment reviews for UHF No. 93 (coming
soon). Even so, we ran into a problem, as one product actually failed
during testing. We've ordered a new sample, but the review will run in
The amplifier you see here is among the
products reviewed. It's a Quad Elite QSP power amplifier, using the
"current dumping" technology developed by Peter Walker in 1975. Current
dumping is also called "feedforward," and the review will be
accompanied by Paul Bergman's explanation of the twin techniques of
feedforward and feedback.
Other reviews include a turntable, the new
flagship Versalex from Well Tempered, the new version of the Moon 300D
converter (a key part of our reference systems), a less expensive DAC
from Brik, and two power filters, respectively from GutWire and King
December 10th:Ongoing tests
We've been busy the past few days with listening tests for issue No. 93 of UHF. And the machine at left has actually joined our reference systems.
What? A receiver? At UHF?
Yes. Home cinema sound processors now use a
host of high-end processing chips thatare broadly available. The real
high end processors are breathtakingly expensive, and we can't even
review one, because they are made in such tiny quantities that their
manufacturers really don't want writeups (we've asked). Many receivers
use the same chips, but most of them no longer have preamp-level
outputs. We don't want to use the on-board class D power amplifiers,
and you won't want to either.
So here we are with a surprisingly good
receiver. To test its suitability, we used it as a pure two-channel
stereo preamplifier. And the results...
Well, you'll be reading all about it.
November 30th: Thiel sold
Perhaps it was
inevitable. This justly famous loudspeaker company was founded in a
garage in 1976 by Jim Thiel and Kathy Gornik. When Jim died of cancer
in 2009 at the age of 61, Kathy hired a new engineering team to
transform Jim's many paper designs into reality, such as the CS3.7,
shown here. Now the company has been sold to an unnamed private equity
firm based in Nashville. Bill Thomas replaces Kathy Gornik as CEO.
Is this bad news for Thiel fans (and we count
ourselves in their number)? Thomas says the company will inject the
capital needed to speed up research and get speakers to market faster.
That would be good, because getting to market is something that has
always taken time at Thiel. The Thiel facility in Lexington, KY will
remain, as will much of the existing staff. It's clear that the new
owners are taking a hands-on role. We also hope they know that progress
can take time.
We say that because in the past we've seen
takeovers of high end companies by people who thought they would
conquer the world within six month or a year. When it didn't happen,
took their money out. We don't know anything about Bill Thomas, but we
hope that either he understands the pecuiar business that is high end
audio, or that he has trusted advisors who do.
November 27th: Blu-ray problems
about this before: there doesn't seem to be any such thing as a Blu-ray
standard. There is for a while, then it changes, and you find you
bought a Blu-ray film that won't play. This has now happened twice with
our Pioneer reference player.
Why does a supposed standard keep changing? At
times it has been for legitimate reasons. An earlier update allowed the
player to decode dts-HD sound. More recently it has been to allow all
sorts of cockamamie interactive extras. And the major studios are
always adding new anti-copying measures. Those measures don't even slow
down the real pirates, needless to say, but they are major
inconveniences for actual customers, who find they've paid $20 for a
movie that won't play.
But all is well. Pioneer does have the
v1.73 version on line. True, the accompanying instructions are wrong.
It's a good thing we know a thing or two about computers. We think a
$600 player should have a clearer upgrade path.
Anyway, two films slated for review in our next issue now play, including The Rocketeer and Midnight in Paris.
ovember 23rd: Free Advice updated
Yes, it was about time. Free Advice is the oldest section of our three-decades old magazine. You ask, we try to answer. You can submit questions at our usual e-mail address. Of course your questions may also pop up in the magazine as well.
We're working on more questions, and so if we
haven't gotten to yours, hang on. We're also working on the final
lineup for issue No. 93 of UHF. Reviews will include a Quad "current
dumping" power amplifier, the new Well Tempered Versalex turntable,
Simaudio's renewed version of the 300D DAC, some much less expensive
DACs, a couple of devices for checking turntable speed, and more.
More details shortly.
November 16th: Bryston's new DAC
everyone did the same thing. Digital-to-analog converters normally came
with coaxial (S/PDIF) and XLR (AES/EBU inputs, and possibly an optical
input too. That was all you needed, because the digital source was
inevitably a CD transport. But what happened once computers made their
appearance as a source? Then you also needed USB.
But nost audio engineers knew little about
USB, beyond the fact that theit computer keyboards were hooked up that
way. Most of them picked up an off-the-shelf USB circuit so bad... And
since they knew so little about USB, they assumed that the USB standard
did not allow for high-definition audio.
The workaround was to use an external USB box
(we use the superb Stello U3 in our reference system), but a new
generation of DACs is appearing. We've just received version 2 of our
reference DAC, the Moon 300D. And now Bryston is launching the BDA-2,
the upgrade over its original BDA-1.
There are several improvements, including the
use of 32-bit chips, and of course that asynchronous USB circuit.
Suggested list price is US$3295. The BDA-1 remains in the lineup for
We've already asked for one, for review in UHF No. 94.
November 9th: Mac goes Italian
This news is about
McIntosh, not the Macintosh. The venerable American company has seen a
number of homes in the past few years. It once belonged to Clarion
(yes, the car audio people, Heaven knows why), who however balked at
spending the money that was clearly needed to keep the company afloat.
It was sold to D&M Holdings, whose initials stand for its major
brands, Denon and Marantz. D&M itself, once a Japanese sompany, got
hawked about, however, and at one point belonged in part to Bain
Capital. Yes, that Bain Capital. And it wasn't a hands-off investment, either.
Now it's been sold again...to the Italians!
The new buyer is Fine Sounds, the Italian
company that owns Sonus Faber, Wadia Digital and Sumiko. Oh, and also
Audio Research -- we bet you didn't know that.
It's good to see McIntosh find a home with an
actual high-end audio company. We will be following developments with