Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 28, 2012 2 comments
Never has a title been more apropos—The New York Rags. David Chesky composed this suite of 18 sumptuous rags performed on a Yamaha DCFX Mark IV Disklavier Pro concert grand piano and as he tells us in the liner notes, "You’re living in New York City … art reflects time and culture. So you take what’s around you and you write. And in the end, is it symphonic? Is it jazz? It’s a crossover. The way American music should be, like how Bernstein or Gershwin did it." The pace of Chesky's New York Rags is, for the most part, frenetic and mimics life in the big city with its many touches of spice and flavors from other times and places. I immediately heard traces of Conlon Nancarrow, Gershwin, Bernstein, and Joplin with the skeletal structure of the Second Viennese School barely containing the jaunt and roll. Nice.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 27, 2012 0 comments
You can now read my As We See It, "The Road to Analog-Sounding Digital: Are We There Yet?", in its entirety on Stereophile.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 24, 2012 3 comments
iFi is an outgrowth of Abbington Music Research (AMR) "with trickle-down technology licensed from AMR and aimed primarily at the future, Computer Audio generation". We have two components under review from their Micro line—a USB DAC/Headphone amp and a USB power supply. For a combined price of $500, the iFi pair offers a lot of musical muscle for your money. The rest of the Micro line includes the iCan headphone amp ($249), and iPhono MM/MC phono preamp ($399).
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 22, 2012 0 comments
Boomkat's list appeared after my list of lists but its so good it deserves its own post. And one of the great/dangerous things about it is you can purchase many of the Chart-makers right from the same page. Tis the season, after all. Check out Boomkat's Top 100 Albums of 2012, their Top 100 Reissues/Archival Recordings of 2012 and their Top 100 Singles/EPs of 2012.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 21, 2012 2 comments
Julia Holter's Exstasis (Greek for "outside of oneself") is a beautiful, dreamy, heady, and carefully crafted record. It's one of those albums that you immerse yourself in, float around within, and wish it would last just a little longer. As a matter of fact, since downloading Exstasis, I've listened to it a number of times and always all-the-way-through. My one wish, let's call it one of my Christmas list items, would be to get my hands on the 24-bit download that's available from Qobuz—unless you live in the USA. Dammit!
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 20, 2012 12 comments
There are three main approaches to room treatment—treat the room, treat the music, treat yourself (i.e. do nothing). The main problem with room treatments is they usually look like room treatments and most people prefer that their home look more like a home than a recording studio. I have found that everyday items like books and LPs can help and unlike traditional room treatment slabs and cylinders, the more books and LPs you have the better off you, your home and your decor are. But what about treating the signal to fit your room?
Dirac Live® is a state-of-the-art digital room correction technology which optimizes the sound system both in terms of the impulse response as well as the magnitude frequency response. The result is a substantially improved musical staging, clarity, voice intelligibility, and a deeper and tighter bass, not just in a small sweet spot but in the entire listening volume.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 19, 2012 4 comments
Our top 10 (each) HD releases from 2012 (and some from before that) selected by yours truly, Steve Plaskin, and Jon Iverson = 30 great-sounding music picks. Enjoy!
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 19, 2012 11 comments
While we're waiting for 2013 and Neil Young to reveal all of the facts about his Pono player/service that appears to be based on a proprietary file format, Korea's Iriver has come to market with a portable player that supports good old-fashioned 24/192 files. The Astell&Kern AK100 MQS Portable System ($699) features a Wolfsen WM8740 24-bit DAC and 32GB of internal memory and can accommodate two 32GB MicroSDHC cards for total storage capacity of 96GB. The MQS Player supports WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG and APE formats (no AAC or Apple Lossless support) and sports a 2.4″ LCD IPS color screen and Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP/HFP and is about the size of a deck of cards (3.11 by 2.33 by 0.57 inches and weighs 4.30 ounces). There are optical audio outputs to connect to your DAC of choice, a micro USB port for charging and syncing media, a 5-band equalizer, and of course a 3.5mm headphone jack.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 18, 2012 6 comments's Top 10

It's that time of year for everyone's "Best of" lists so here's my list of the best lists. Feel free to share yours so we can make an even bigger list of lists! Most of the music mentioned is available as a CD-quality or better FLAC or WAV download mainly from and Boomkat, and some are available as 24-bit "Studio Master" downloads from Qobuz (geographical restrictions apply to some albums).

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Dec 16, 2012 10 comments
The current issue of Stereophile magazine includes, among many other interesting articles like a review of a pair of speakers for under $40!, an As We See It titled, "The Road to Analog-Sounding Digital: Are We There Yet?" penned by yours truly. I'm not going to give anything away except to say that regular AudioStream readers should recognize my point of view.


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