LATEST ADDITIONS

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 13, 2013 7 comments
Jared Sacks, who we know from his Channel Classics record label, presented his new venture Native DSD Music (www.nativedsd.com) to a full house in the On A Higher Note room at RMAF. Jared explained that his years of experience in the SACD and DSD download business have "taught him what not to do" and one of those lessons has to do with quality. Every label that offers DSD downloads through www.nativeDSD.com has to sign a contract which stipulates among other things that the music they sell through the site wil be native DSD. This means either DSD recordings or DSD music sourced from analog tape.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 11, 2013 0 comments
As fas I'm concerned, everyone needs a little Blixa in their life. Actually more than a little and I've certainly made due with more than my fair share. From his earliest and most clamorous days with Einstürzende Neubauten to Silence is Sexy, to his stint as a Bad Seed with Nick Cave, and even his outing with Alva Noto, I've been enjoying Blixa in one form or another for decades. And its been rich and rewarding. Now we've got Still Smiling his collaboration with Italian composer Teho Teardo that adds strings courtesy of The Balanescu Quartet and cellist Martina Bertoni to Blixa's multilingual vocals and Teardo's guitar. Lovely.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Oct 11, 2013 1 comments
I have always enjoyed the music of Jimmy Webb. Going back to Richard Harris performing "MacArthur Park" and Glenn Campbell singing "Galveston" brings back many good memories.

Jimmy Webb’s new release Still Within The Sound Of My Voice, offered in 24/44.1 on HDtracks, presents new versions of these classic songs. As in his previous release, Just Across The River, Jimmy teams up with a stellar group of performers. Carly Simon, Lyle Lovett, The Jordanaires, Keith Urban, David Crosby and Graham Nash, Joe Cocker, Art Garfunkel, Amy Grant, Kriss Kristofferson, Marc Cohn, Rumer, and America. The song "MacArthur Park", sometimes ridiculed by reviewers, teamed up Brian Wilson singing in the background with Jimmy Webb. The song has withstood the test of time and is probably considered a classic Jimmy Webb tune.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 10, 2013 4 comments
SOtM "Soul Of the Music"
The battery-powered SOtM sDP-1000 DAC and Pre-Amplifier has a host of digital and analog inputs, it can handle up to 32-bit/192kHz PCM files as well as single rate 64x DSD, while offering both RCA and XLR outputs. It can, therefore, act as the heart of a hi-fi system handling a number of sources including a turntable as long as you add a phono pre into the mix. It wraps all of these functions into a very nicely designed aluminum-wrapped form.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 09, 2013 7 comments
I'm still loving Lucrecia Dalt's last album Commotus (see review) so I've been looking forward to her next release, Syzygy coming October 15th on HEM, with bated breath. While she has released just two tracks for preview, I found this message on her website heart warming and worth sharing:
wait, try not to listen to this in your computer speakers because you will definitely lose half of the song, not only it has low frequency drones but I sing at almost the low end of my register. Play it loud, ask a neighbour to use his stereo, borrow some headphones, i guarantee a better experience!
"I guarantee a better experience!". I couldn't have said it better myself and isn't that what hi-fi is all about? (consider that a rhetorical question since the answer is most definitely a big yes)
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 08, 2013 5 comments
The Little Asus That Could
I was impressed with the Asus Xonar Essence One MUSES Edition that I reviewed back in November of last year (see review) finding it fun and engaging to listen to. The new Essence STU due to be released later this month is the Essence One's little brother offering much of the same functionality of its bigger brother minus the latter's XLR outputs. Inside the STU we've got the Texas Instruments (TI) PCM1792A DAC, the 32-bit/192kHz-capable Cmedia CM 6631A asynchronous USB receiver, the TI PCM9211 S/PDIF receiver, and the TI TPA6120A headphone amp. The STU wraps all of this tech into a slender iPad-sized dark gray chassis with an analog volume control for the RCA outs and a separate volume control for the heapdhone out. Add in a two-position Headphone Gain switch and you've got yourself one fulsome package for a hair under four hundred bucks. Nice!
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Jon Iverson Posted: Oct 07, 2013 2 comments
The HDTracks.com heavens opened this fall and out poured all 13 Grateful Dead studio albums. Your choice: 24/96 or 24/192 PCM in WAV, AIFF, ALAC or FLAC, fresh from the original master tapes.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 04, 2013 7 comments
PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish lends his producing and guitar playing skills to this, Rokia Traoré's fifth album. Beautiful Africa released on the Nonesuch label rocks but thankfully still within the framework of African music and Traoré's Malian home in part due to the presence of Mamah Diabaté’s n’goni lute and the music's shifting and swirling rhythms. There are a total of three guitarists on this record including Traoré, Parish, and Stefano Pilia, and English drummer Sebastian "Seb" Rochford provides the foundation along with bassist Nicolaï Munch-Hansen over which Traoré's vocals swing, dance, mourn, and ultimately delight.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 03, 2013 21 comments

I reported on my outing, along with my friend Stephen Mejias (see his show report), to the Jenny Hval concert at the Mercury Lounge. Stephen sent me a link to this video of one song that was recorded at that show by a guy standing about two feet to my left. And its interesting because there's something missing from this video.

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Oct 03, 2013 11 comments
One week from today I fly out to Denver, CO for the 10th annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I've already received a number of emails announcing new products that will make their debut in Denver and RMAF always promises to deliver tons of hi-fi fun. If there's anything special you'd like me to check out, just let me know.

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