Recording of October 1983: The Stranger
Billy Joel: The Stranger
CBS CD 35DP2 (CD) and JC34987 (digitally mastered, CX-encoded LP).
This is one of four recordings we now have on hand in both the CD and digital-mastered LP formats, and all reviews of these will be parallel reviews. In the case of the CBS discs, there is no "conventional" version, as all of their recent LP releases are CX-encoded. Thus, I will be comparing decoded CXed CBS LPs (footnote 1) with their CD equivalents.
A Conversation Between Kenny Barron & Dave Holland
I know folks, dedicated jazz fans no less, who cannot be dragged into piano and bass duo gigs. Something about not having a drummer spells boredom for them. Not enough going on I guess. Or more likely, there isn't a horn at work. While jazz virtuosity is most often thought of in terms of the more ostentatious sounds of saxophones and trumpets, and the most common perception of jazz groups is quartets or quintets, it's the duo format, at its most pure piano and bass, that has always inspired a special vocabulary and sonic signature. Just a pair of instrumental voices and musical visions engenders the kind of special chemistry and quiet connections that can be heard on the new Kenny Barron and Dave Holland project, the appropriately named The Art of Conversation.
"Is it wrong to love it for its physical beauty?" asks Michael Lavorgna of Astell&Kern's extraordinary (and expensive) AK240 portable file player, which gets the star treatment on the November 2014 issue's cover. But as he also found it a joy to listen to, the question becomes moot . . .
On the Beach: New LPs from Universal Music
The story is familiar. The British Invasion caused a deadly tsunami in the American music scene. Established stars, from Elvis to John Lee Hooker to Tony Bennett, saw their careers swept away in a matter of months in 1964. Few groups were impacted quite like the Beach Boys, whose resident genius, Brian Wilson, went into an emotional tailspin trying to compete with the Beatles . . .
RMAF 2014: In Another Class Entirely
Stereophile editor John Atkinson claims the best seat in the house to listen to the system put together by Luke Manley and Bea Lam (top right). Photo: Peter McGrath.
Despite having covered more audio shows than there are angels dancing on the head of a pin, I always look forward to the moment when all preconceptions vanish, the rug is pulled out from under, and I can do is marvel at the mystery of music reproduction at its finest. The time doesn't always come, but when it does, it feels as if childlike wonder has been born anew. Such was my experience in the VTL and Wilson Audio Room . . . this $548,483 system [breathe] was so mesmerizingly musical that it really cannot be discussed in the same space as the other systems I encountered at RMAF 2014.
WRMAF 2014: John Atkinson Wraps Up His Wreport
When I entered the On A Higher Note room on the Marriott's mezzanine, Synergistic Research's Ted Denney was talking about the sonic benefits of his new Atmosphere ($1995, the vertical black tower between the equipment racks in the photograph). "RF pollution affects how we perceive sound," Ted said," explaining that that is why our systems unpredictably sound good or bad. The Atmosphere, he said, creates a binaural RF field that swamps external RF pollution, allowing our perception to operate correctly. It affects the listener, not the system . . . "Yeah, right," I was thinking.
RMAF 2014: When the Jacks are all back in their boxes . . .
I have been reading and readingall about the new Sony loudspeakers. John Atkinson rave-reviewed the Sony SS-AR2 (October 2012
) and the SS-NA2ESs (September 2013
)! Have I ever heard them? No. Well, finally on the last RMAF day I got to sit up close in a dem hosted by Sony's Motoyuki "Yuki" Sugiura (above) and see if I, too, thought the Sony SS-AR2s ($20,000/pair) were as neutral, lively, well-balanced, detailed, and transparent as JA said. Hmmmmm?
RMAF 2014: More From Mr. A.
Nola's Carl Marchisotto was demonstrating the Studio Grand Reference Gold floorstanders ($19,800/pair) when I entered his second-floor room. This new speakers is similar in concept to the Metro Grand Reference Gold ($33,000/pair) that I review in our November issue but has just one of the reflex-loaded SEAS magnesium-cone/alnico-motor woofers rather than two. But Carl wanted me to hear the new Nola Brio desktop ($995/pair), which he is holding in the photo and describes as a one-and-a-half-way design. The Brio has two 3.5" cone drivers, one of which is reflex-loaded, the other open-baffle.
RMAF 2014: Serinus on the Home Stretch
In one of their many rooms, the Audio Alternative of Fort Collins showcased a luscious system that paired an AMG Viella 12 turntable and 9W2 tonearm ($21,500 total) and a Linn LP12 table with Lingo Mk.III power supply ($6000), both outfitted with Lyra Kleos MC cartridges ($2995 each), with D'Agostino Master Audio Systems' integrated amplifier ($43,000), Audio Research Corporation's Reference 2SE phono preamp ($13,000), and Wilson Duette Series 2 loudspeakers with dedicated stands ($22,500/pair).
RMAF 2014: the Atkinson Beat
Danish manufacturer Gamut has had a patchy history in the US, with a succession of distributors, none of who could establish the brand here. But Gamut has now set up a US-based distributor, who will likely have more success. Gamut's head of engineering, Benno Meldgaard, premiered the new RS5 two-and-a half-way speakers ($31,900/pair) at RMAF.