LogoUHF
TitreBlog

January 19: Turntable back in actionlp12
     It's no secret that we enjoy listening to vinyl and to everything else too), so our two reference turntables need to be operational. That's doubly true because we are about to do the listening sessions for UHF No. 99, and a phono preamplifier is on the list of products.
     But the turntable we use most, our Linn LP12, had serious problems. Was it the cartridge? Was it the lead wires on our Alphason tone arm? We installed new lead wires, and listened again. No, it really was the cartridge, putting out a strange, low-energy out-of-phase signal. It's a London Reference, and it will need a factory rebuild. So be it...it has had a lot of use, and we love it.
     So we installed a Goldring Excel, the same one that is on our other turntable (an Audiomeca J-1). The verdict? Our Linn sounds glorious once more. Frankly, we had missed it.
     Oh yes...the light over the turntable.
     It was originally a quartz lamp. with a transformer right in its base. But we couldn't leave it on while playing music, because the transformer's magnetic field got into the audio. The new lamp uses cool LEDs, and its own transformer is down on the floor. Much better.

January 13: After CES

noces

     The record may belong to Saxe Brickenden of Canada's Evolution Audio. He says this was his 46th consecutive CES. Granted, CES used to be a twice-a-year event (the "summer" one was in Chicago), but even so...
     VPI turntables were at CES 2018, but VPI's Mat Weisfeld was not. The reason: he and his wife Jane were expecting any day. So Mat is holding his own Micro-CES in New Jersey, along with a few friends who brought along their own products: Joseph Audio, Totem, Rogers Hi-Fi, Transparent Cables, etc.

vpiparty

     It's not uncommon for companies to have demo suites off-site (typically, the Mirage, Caesar's Palace, the Golden Nugget), but rarer to have it on the other side of the continent.

January 12: CES 2018 is over

venetian

     The Consumer Technology Association, which organizes a number of shows, and notably CES, is going to say that this year's edition was the biggest version yet. They always do, except for the period following the 2008 crash. For high-end audio, however, CES has been shrinking more and more each year. This year the exhibits were almost entirely on a single floor of the Venetian (the palace above). And there is no longer a T.H.E.Show, the alternative exhibition that CES was trying to shut down.
     We've covered this year's CES at a distance, because the number of exhibitors was so small. Even worse is that so many of the people we would have wanted to meet weren't there.
     So how was the Venetian this year? Better than might have been expected. Bill Leebens (of PS Audio) was touring for what he said was the last time ever, and initially found the crowds thin. He reported bigger crowds later, perhaps because by now his expectations were low. Ray Kimber was delighted with the people he met and the business he wrote up, but then you'd expect that. With so few exhibitors, visitors have few places to go.
     Half a dozen years ago, there was a rumor that, with Vegas no longer the bargain destination it once was, CES was looking for somewhere new. Orlando was mentioned, though it wouldn't have the facilities for this huge show. Singapore was also mentioned. We think the rumor was put out by CES itself, to put pressure on some of the greedier hotels and casinos. But it could still happen.

January 11: Laser television
     And so...the contest seems to be between OLED television (Sony and LG) and microLED. But there's a third system: laser.

hisenselaser

     Sony was of course first to show a Laser TV projection system. It was expensive, but the wow factor was breathtaking. There's a second entry, this one from China, HiSense. This projection box can sit just 19 cm from the screen. The heavy keystoning of the image is corrected electronically. This year's HiSense projector has built-in sound as well, from Harman/Kardon.
     The price? Well, last year's version cost $10,000, and we know that TV technology keeps dropping in price.


Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

January 10: Sony televisions
sony4k
     The Sony presentations was a lot less dramatic than those from Samsung, LG and Hisense, but in part that's because Sony, long lagging in TV technology, was leading, in at least some categories. Sony has been building OLED sets (buying panels from their competitors, it should be said), and it has been able to claim leadership. The new OLED sets, including the one shown here, uses Sony's X1 Extreme Processor, offering (says Sony) unprecented brightness but also deep blacks.
     It's impossible to gauge image quality at a show, of course, and we're disturbed that Sony, like its competitors, continue to use images like this flower array rather than real-life scenes. Can we please see a human being on your screen? One with plausible skin tones? Flowers and flowing liquids look wonderful, but that's not what any of us will buy a high-end TV display to watch.
     Among other products Sony was showing was a full-frame camera with a silent shutter. The silence means the camera can be used at such events as golf tournaments. Of course, the silence may also be an advantage shooting in the dressing rooms...
     The worst thing that can happen at CES is a power break. And there was one at the Last Vegas Convention Center in the middle of the day Wednesday.
nopower
     It lasted about two hours, but its effect was felt throughout the day. CES evacuated the south and central halls, and by the time power was restored a lot of people were enjoying their third margaritas. It seems Vegas had been three month without rain, and then got a flash flood that took out a major transformer.
     But don't mention, climate change. That's a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

January 10: Technics SP-10 turntable returns
     Two years ago, Panasonic drew the attention of audiophiles by bringing back one of its classic direct-drive turntables, the SL-1200. It was a limited edition, which has since gone into full production. But there was no sign of the top Technics table, the SP-10. That turntable was used in radio stations (for one thing, it could hit full speed within an eighth of a turn). Some audiophiles loved it too, and would mount it in a special base, made from granite or some other dense material. Well, Panasonic is at CES, and the SP-10R is the latest incarnation of the famous turntable.

sp10r

     You'll notice that there's no space for a tone arm. That means whatever arm you choose will have to be mounted on the base. Unless you choose a base that is absolutely rigid, you'll be losing musical detail hand over fist. The picture doesn't show a record mat, probably so you can admire the brass platter. Technics tables usually came with thick rubber mats, and they lost a lot of detail as well.
     We don't know the price, but the original SP-10 wasn't cheap, and the new SP-10R probably won't be either. Despite that, we expect there will be a waiting list.


Not bi-wiring?
Still using the gold-colored jumpers that came with your speakers?
We have great jumpers made from single-crystal copper..


January 10: Samsung goes even bigger

samsungwall
     LG tried to upstage its major competitor (that is, Samsung) by launching its monstrous 88-inch OLED set before CES had even opened. But now CES is on, and Samsung has done some upstaging of its own. This new set, aptly named The Wall, has a diagonal size of 146 inches. That's about 371 cm.
     
Of course, that's absurd. You couldn't bring a TV that size into anything smaller than a château...or a ballroom at the Mandalay Bay. This is another "mine is bigger than yours" moment.
     But that's not truly the point. The new Samsung is an LED set...a real one. That means it's not just a standard liquid crystal set backlit with light-emitting diodes, like nearly all current TV sets. Rather, it uses arrays of tiny LEDs to form the actual image. Is that the future? It might be. It is, at any rate, the likely alternative to OLED.
     Samsung, as usual, drew laughter for its increasingly ridiculous refrigerators. Not content to have fridges whose contents you can view on your smartphone when you're at the store, it now has a model that "knows" what it contains, knows the taste and food allergies (if any) of family members, and suggests recipes.
     Stick to TV sets, Samsung. You may be on to something.

January 6: LG at CES
lg88
     CES is about to get underway in Las Vegas. No, no one from UHF is going. The hi-fi section of the show has been shrinking year by year, and can now be thoroughly covered on the first day before lunch.
     One aspect of CES we miss, however, is the launch of new TV technology. There may not be a lot of money in retailing TV sets, because they’re now such a commodity, but a lot of money is poured into the displays at CES, especially by such companies as Samsung, Sony, HiSense and LG.
     But why wait? CES opens on the 9th (with press events on the 7th and 8th), but LG has already shown its latest and biggest TV set. This is it.
     It's billed as an 88-inch set. That seems an odd size, and its not a much rounder figure in its metric equivalent, 223.5 cm. That's big, big enough that you’ll probably need to remove a window to get it in. And if it breaks down, you won't want to hear a technician says he has “to take it in to the shop.”
     It’s s an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) said, of course. LG is the world's biggest manufacturer of OLED panels, and it sells them to its competitors as well, including Sony and Panasonic. But that's not all. It’s no mere 4K set, but an 8K set. That's 4,320 pixels high by 7,680 pixels wide. That's a lot of data. So where do you get an 8K signal?
     Well, if you're in your living room you don't. Some studios do master their material in 8K, but there’s no medium for getting it to you.
     Which may not matter, because we don't expect this gigantic set to turn up at your local Best Buy or Costco. It's a statement, to convince you that if you're looking for the manufacturer with the goods, LG is it.


Not bi-wiring?
Still using the gold-colored jumpers that came with your speakers?
We have great jumpers made from single-crystal copper..

December 20: TAVES not coming homeinternationalcentre
     
TAVES of course stands for Toronto Audio-Visual Entertainment Show, and in its early days it really was right in the centre of Toronto, at the King Edward, and then at the Sheraton. Then, for the next two years it moved to Richmond Hill, to a pair of hotels, one of them good, the other not. Then, in 2017...
     The transition was not entirely a happy one. It was held in Etobicoke, in an awful centre in which you couldn't even get a cup of coffee (and where signs prohibited bringing in outside food and beverages. Our coverage of that show is in UHF No. 98, our first interactive electronic edition.
     The 2018 edition won't be in Toronto either, but in Mississauga, even closer to the airport. That's the venue at right. Yes, it's a conference centre, and no, it does not have listening rooms. TAVES says it will once again build temporary structures, well away from the rest of the exhibits, and that they will be offering a professional outside appearance and air conditioning.
     The next TAVES will be held October 12th to 14th.

December 15: Classé purchased?classe

     We still spell Classé with an acute accent on the "e," because it had one when it was founded in Montreal in the 80's. The company was purchased some time ago by B&W, which has, however, been winding down the business. Now, rumor has it, there's been a purchase offer from Sound United of Vista, California. This is a bit of a surprise, because B&W had considered three other possible purchasers.
     Who is Vista Sound? It owns three speaker companies, Polk, Boston Acoustics and Definitive Technologies, and it is on a buying spree. It has also purchased Denon and Marantz, both of which make mid-priced to lower-end electronics. The Classé acquisition, if it pans out, would give it a foothold in the high end.
     But the signatures are not yet on the contract, so stand by.

December 1: Leonard Cohen in UHF No. 98
     It was just over a year ago that the celebrated poet and songwriter died. He was 82, and had just brought out his latest, arguably his greatest, album, You Want It Darker. It was only natural that our new issue should feature a profile of Cohen.

cohen

     The original profile was written by the late Reine Lessard, who also died just before the end of 2016. In homage to her, we updated her article (it needed surprisingly little in the way of retouching) and added interactive features. Click on a song title, and you'll hear it.
     If you don't yet have your copy of UHF's interactive issue, it's just $4 plus any sales tax that applies.
Click here to get it.
     Kathe Lieber is working on the music feature for
UHF No. 99: the music of the resistance.


Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

November 28: The platterless turntable
     At first we were pretty sure it was a joke, but it's not. The RokBlok turntable is...er, not a turntable. Instead, the cartridge, amplifier and speaker do the spinning. Click on the image to see it in action.

RokBlok

     No, we couldn't believe it either. It reminded us of a joke article published years ago by Audio magazine under the name I. Lirpa (which you'll recognize as April 1 spelled backwards). Polk has
a scan of the original article, which is a hoot.
     But that was a joke. The RokBlok was a Kickstarter project that has now (we are told, but don't hold us to it) become reality. See for yourself.
     Perhaps the RokBlok doesn't quite break the laws of physics, but it certainly bends them. What is the stylus pressure? What about Doppler shift as the box spins around? Does it need special tires for winter?


Not bi-wiring?
Still using the gold-colored jumpers that came with your speakers?
We have great jumpers made from single-crystal copper..

November 24: Toshiba boughttoshibatv
     Making TV sets is a rough game. Even big-screen 4K sets are dropping in price, and now the luxurious OLED sets are becoming a commodity, with makers struggling to get noticed for something beyond price.
     One of the victims of this commoditization is Toshiba, once the dominant maker of top-grade high-definition TVs, but now roadkill.
     Toshiba's TV business has now been bought by Hisense, a large Chinese TV maker. Though the deal includes the right to use the Toshiba name for the next 40 years, we don't know whether Hisense will actually produce Toshiba TV sets.
     This isn't the first time that Hisense has sought to acquire a famous name. Two years ago, it signed a deal with Sharp to make its TV sets. Sharp subsequently accused Hisense of making substandard sets under its name. The dispute is under arbitration.

November 17: The next issue...years
     The launch of the new interactive version of UHF has been a tremendous amount of work, not that we ever thought it would be otherwise. We had to notify our many existing subscribers of the change, and give them user names and passwords, and then code all those user names and passwords into the software. Fortunately, all but a small handful of subscribers have moved over to the new interactive issue. Some have done so reluctantly, but have let us know how important the magazine is to them.
     But we can't rest on our laurels. One of the benefits of the new interactive electronic system is to make the process of publishing more flexible, and therefore allowing us to publish much more frequently.
     So you've let us know that you liked issue 98...but what will be in issue 99?
     We've already begun receiving gear for future tests: a new speaker (from Totem) and a new phono stage (from (Simaudio). We will shortly be receiving a turntable, this one from Oracle. And we'll be finishing up the lineup shortly.
     But we've always thought that the equipment reviews, necessary as they are, were less important than the articles, so what else will be in the issue?
     Paul Bergman will have a major article on getting music from a groove. We'll do a complete analysis of TV screen sizes, and the pros and cons of getting a really big screen. We'll look at the question of whether music really is a human necessity, like food and water. Kathe Lieber is researching The Music of the Resistance, the long history of using music to put an end (unsuccessfully so far) to war. We'll give you a primer on discovering Shakespeare on the screen.
     We'll even have a story about Star Wars revealing details that you may not know.
     Oh yes, the medallion above...did you know this was our 35th anniversary?

November 9: UHF interactive FAQfaq
     A lot has been happening in the past week. We announced the publication of UHF No. 98, the first interactive issue, on November 3, but actually began sending out the previous day. We have been tremendously busy bringing over our print subscribers, giving them user names and passwords, and sending them the download links.
     But we also got a lot of questions, suggesting that either we hadn't explained ourselves clearly enough, or that some subscribers had not read us carefully enough. Hence this list of Frequently Asked Questions.

What's the difference between an interactive issue of UHF and an electronic issue?
We have offered electronic versions of UHF since issue No. 68, but they were clones of the printed issues. As of issue 98, it has become interactive, with on-page links that can't exist in print. Thus it is more than just an electronic version of the magazine.We mean for it to be a value-added product.

What took so long?
We apologize for the long lead time, but we spent a great deal of time pondering just what we would do. Would we do one more print issue in the face of soaring costs and the virtual disappearance of newsstands? If not, how could we make its successor actually denser and more useful?

Will the print issue still be available?
This is the question most asked. No, no, and no. Issue 97 will have been the last paper issue. Of course, back issues can still be had in printed form, but even so that is true in Canada only. Elsewhere in the world, the mailing costs are much higher than our selling price.

I got your e-mail about the new issue, but I still haven't received the link for the download.
That first e-mail was an offer to convert your subscription to the interactive version. Because it is optional (the alternative is to cancel your subscription), we await your answer before proceeding.

You're offering a credit of $2.50 per issue remaining on a print subscription. How does that work?
The credit is being offered because the print subscription cost more than the electronic subscription. If you accept the transfer, we add a credit to your file. Any time you place an order (for a subscription renewal, a book, a recording, or some other product from our Audiophile Store), we'll deduct the amount of the credit. No need to ask for it, we'll do it automatically.

What about readers who refuse the conversion?
We're happy (and relieved) to say that they aren't numerous, about 15 as of this date, and that's a tiny proportion. Once we have completed the conversion of subscribers who have opted to follow us, we will proceed to the reimbursement of unused subscriptions. The refund will be for the cost of the subscription less the value of the issues already delivered. Refunds will be made by a credit on a credit card, or by cheque, as appropriate. However, Canadian cheques cannot be cashed outside Canada. If a refund to an international client cannot be made via credit card, it will be offered as a credit on our store.

Have you considered the impact on older readers who don't have and don't want a computer or tablet?
Anyone without computer access will have problems with a lot more than UHF. Governments and large organizations now assume that you have your own computing device, or have access some other way, for instance a local library. Many service organizations have resources for those without computers, especially the elderly. Those services are generally free.

Will the changeover mean more frequent issues of UHF?
We believe so. The abandonment of the paper version gives us much more flexibility, and flexibility means speed. For instance, the cover photo of the issue No. 98 cover was taken less than a week before the publication date.

Can I buy issue 98 without subscribing?
You certainly can, just as you always could. Click here to order that one issue for $4 plus any applicable sales taxes. Or click here for a six-issue subscription, for $20, starting with issue 98.


Get a brand new Focus Audio integrated tube amplifier,
built in Canada, at a huge discount,
from UHF's Audiophile Boutique.

November 3: UHF 98 in your mailboxCover98
     In your e-mailbox, that is. We've reinvented the magazine as an interactive electronic publication, able to deliver more information than the print edition ever could.
     The final articles in this long-awaited issue were proofread Thursday morning. By Thursday evening some subscribers were already receiving their download links. By today at noon, everyone had them.
     Well, almost everyone. Inevitably, some subscribers changed their e-mail addresses and didn't let us know. Our e-mails with the links came back as undeliverable. Or at least undelivered.
     There can be one more problem. We know that spam is a time-wasting blight, but if your e-mail address requires some action (for example, a captcha), our system will ignore you. You need to give us an address that we can reach. We also recommend using an address that's permanent, such as gmail. If you use e-mail provided by your Internet provider and you then change providers...well, you can see what will happen.
     We know it has taken us a long time to bring out this issue, and we apologize. We spent a lot of time figuring out what we wanted to do next. And then turning the electronic issue into a value-added product took longer than we had supposed.
     We know we had shown you the cover of this issue some time ago, and it has been long enough that we have redone it. Yes, we still have a front cover (though not a back cover), and we've made the new magazine look as much as possible like the magazine you're used to. We've also used high-resolution photos, as we always did for print, so that they don't fall apart when you zoom in on them.
     Now...on to issue No. 99.

Hundreds of recommended products at The Audiophile Store


Bargains on used, discontinued and specially-purchased products at
The Audiophile Boutique

Have you taken our quick hi-fi course?

Get Maggie's electronic edition.

bannerflash2
BannerBoutique
bannerflash2