Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 08, 2014 2 comments
O my. Talk about a dynamic duo...Two of Norway's finest singer/songwriters, Jenny Hval (we loved and still love her Innocence is Kinky) and Susanna have teamed up for what sounds to me like a concept album of extreme proportions. Intimate, jarring, noisy, lovely and challenging filled with fluids (milk, blood, honey, spit...), body parts, and enigmas (e.g. where do I end and the world begin? Or so I imagine). Jo Berger Myhre joins in on double bass and zither, and Anita Kaasbøll is the third voice you hear while everyone is credited with the effects and noise that scar these songs. Lovely.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 05, 2014 45 comments
photo credit: Devialet

Luxury Goods
It's funny how in hi-fi some people look at beautifully made gear with scorn. As if that beauty were worse than secondary to its main purpose of playing music. As if beauty was misplaced, as if it was just plain wrong. Of course we're talking about personal taste and nothing more. I happen to appreciate the way things look (and feel) and this pertains to hi-fi as much as anything else. And I find the Devialet kit to exhibit this love of design both in terms of how it looks and feels and of course how it plays music.

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 04, 2014 39 comments
Scott Wilkinson and Dr. AIX, aka Mark Waldrep, have teamed up to provide a high res listening test. The test consists of three tracks with two samples of each; one in 16/44.1 and the other in 24/96. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to listen to all six files and determine which is which. Check out the AVS Forum for all of the details. Interestingly enough, at least one person so far has taken these files, loaded them up into the Foobar2000 ABX comparator and picked the correct files every time. But this really shouldn't come as a big surprise, should it?
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Aug 01, 2014 13 comments
Histoire de Melody Nelson is, for all intents and purposes, a dirty record. There's no doubt that some people would love to stick a big warning sticker over the entirety of its delightfully mischievous cover. But why Histoire de Melody Nelson now? Originally released in 1971, its as fresh as ever and I've been digging it for some time on vinyl and now, thanks to Qobuz Hi-Fi, I've been streaming the crap out of the CD-quality version.
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 31, 2014 137 comments
Synergistic Research’s latest implementation of their Uniform Energy Field Technology, better known as UEF, has resulted in a new product designed to balance close proximity electromagnetic fields in electronic circuits. The product is called the Electronic Circuit Transducer or ECT. These tiny devices, approximately the size of the previously reviewed HFT (High Frequency Transducer), are placed on D to A chips, fuses, near vacuum tubes, capacitors, transformers, op amps, and analog and digital cables. The ECTs can also be placed on the exterior of the chassis to improve the electromagnetic environment of the component. Synergistic Research states that high frequency noise is reduced with a resultant drop in the perceived noise floor. Compression of the sound is decreased with application of these devices on your electronic components. Improvements in clarity and definition, along with soundstage size and air, are claimed to improve with use of the ECTs. The ECTs convert ultra-high frequencies that are found with RFI-EMI circuit board component emissions to more musically consonant frequencies.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 28, 2014 7 comments
credit: Spotify

"When people say that Spotify doesn’t pay anything, I can tell you it’s not true." Billy Bragg

In an article on the Independent (see article), three artists are interviewed who actually support Spotify. Bragg continues, "If you’re getting a lot of plays, you’re going to make some decent money." What's decent money? Independent musician Ron Pope says, "When I started I was averaging a million or so plays a month on Spotify, and now I’m getting four million. I have 76,759,686 total plays on Spotify, and earnings of $443,826 to date." So what's all the negative press relating to streaming services being cheapskates about?

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 25, 2014 0 comments
The allstars in the band's name refers to the fact that the Kasia Allstars are comprised of players from 5 different bands. They also happen to be from different ethnic groups with different musical traditions all from within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Beware the Fetish isn't western-inspired funk or acid rock rather its African roots music amplified. Repetitive, intense, complex, and hypnotic, this is joyous music-making at its finest. Fans of joy should be well satisfied with all 100+ minutes worth.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 24, 2014 15 comments
Alpha Dog
The new entry level Alpha line from Focal is meant to bring Focal quality to the discerning listener on a budget. I very favorably reviewed the more upscale Focal CMS 40 (see review) and the top of the line Solo6 Be (see review) so I was more than excited to see this new lower-priced line from Focal. The Alpha 50s are the smallest monitor in the Alpha series which also includes the Alpha 65 and Alpha 80. The 50s are equipped with a 5" woofer/midrange, the 65's with a 6.5 midrange/woofer, and the 80s, you guessed it, an 8" mid/woofer. I opted for the 50s for this review because that's what Focal recommends for extreme nearfield listening (2-3 ft.).
Steven Plaskin Posted: Jul 22, 2014 21 comments
The 3 products under review all deal with common issues encountered in USB computer audio. Most USB DACs require a 5 volt line (VBUS) in the USB cable to supply power to the USB controller in one’s DAC. Unfortunately, this power line from the computer brings with it noise that can contaminate the audio data leading to degradation of the sound one hears from the DAC. The idea behind the Schiit Wyrd USB Decrapifier is that supplying clean power to your USB DAC, or better-quality USB port power management, can result in improvements in sound and performance. Schiit believes that glitches and dropouts can be prevented using the Wyred USB Decrapifier.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jul 21, 2014 13 comments
Photo Credit: Omniphone

From the Pono Kickstarter page:

Omnifone was selected to power the PonoMusic store because of its award-winning cloud music platform and its industry-leading audio expertise and commitment to audio quality. Standing at 35 million tracks, MusicStation - Omnifone’s cloud music platform - hosts the industry’s largest catalogue of high resolution content, obtained from rights holders in all corners of the world. This rich collection of premium quality audio - and its distributed delivery from the cloud - will enable PonoMusic to achieve global scale quickly.


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