High-End Audio & Watches
Another month, another reference to high end watches - haute horology - vis-a-vis high end audio. But, is there really any sort of formal alignment in reality, or is this merely another feeble attempt at attempting correlation without causation? Writes Srajan of 6Moons fame, “There’s no justification for high prices relative to time keeping” as he opined about said similarities between the watch and audio industries. Problem is, that while audio folks and marketeers would love to have strong correlations between these two industries, I just don’t see them, strictly speaking as someone who’s into horological time pieces myself.
First, to start with Srajan’s point, high prices in high end audio aren’t necessity relative or indicative to playback quality (or quantity) either. Case in point, mega-buck separates that don’t bring any more fidelity than a 30 year old Mac stack. Second, the horological industry as a whole is vastly, and I do mean vastly bigger than all of high end audio put together times one thousand. Thus, simply from a market cap / visibility perspective, high end audio is utterly dwarfed by Switzerland’s largest export good (next to chocolate of course). Third, the value proposition in high end audio is completely out of whack. Cables selling for tens of thousands of dollars vs. an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chrono retailing for $22k is positively hair raising to an outsider looking in. Fourth, the time keeping industry as a whole is running a far higher clout factor compared to the little peanuts we are. Take for example the media coverage just one swiss watch show produces via the usual suspects at Hodinkee, Haute Time or Worn & Wound and you’ll see the rift we are up against.
Finally, there’s just the overall quality of reporting that is just hilariously stacked against high end audio. Take for example the following two video reports to see what I mean:
AV Showroom reporting on whatevertheheckIcan’tevenwatchthis, vs. Hodinkee’s Basel show video, illustrates the point to a T.
Reporting and video issues aside, there’s a glimmer of hope with new sites like New Record Day, hosted by the affable Ron Brenay, which are gaining momentum and driving excitement towards high end audio.
Thus, while I personally would love to see high end audio elevated to the status of haute horology, we still have ways to go and the work that needs to be done to get there won’t be all peaches. I’ve always said that high end audio needs to simmer down each of the various factions and get behind a band wagon to lead the business to the 21st century. Time will tell!
Video: Pet Shop Boys West End Girls
Video: Ford Fiesta R5 WRC
And so it goes. Bam. Nice.
Newsflash: Acoustic Sounds launched Super Hirez DSD site
Well, it didn't take too long: internationally known suppa-playah, Chad Kassem, owner of the world's foremost online authority in specialty music sales, Acoustic Sounds, has now launched yet another humdinger of a site for customers to download and purchase DSD (and hires PCM) content. Wow. While the initial selection contains but a glimpse of what will become available down the road, Chad none the less is super happy about his latest value add to the high-end, high-def, high-res community at large. Take a look and see what you can get for $24.99 per title. I say, way to go. Disc formats are dead. Long live analog vinyl and analog DSD downloads. Yay. A+++
Review: Nordost "System", QB8, Qx4, Qv2 and Norse 2
Nordost… not much needs to be said about this cultbrand. Launched by affable Joe Reynolds back in 1991 (!), Nordost had become one of, if not the most respected brands of high performance Hi-Fi cables. Recently all cables have been upgraded to Version 2 (V2) status, prompting a delivery of the entire ensemble at casa K for review. Link to full review at Postive-Feedback Online is here, and a German version will be available at my other home away from home, Hifistatement shortly as well. Meanwhile, enjoy a few snippets and all the gorgeous hi-res images. Drool factor 4. A+++
Factory Tour: Lexani Motorcars
Lexani Motorcars … on a mission.
No, not Lexus. Lexani. Similar, yet oh so different. Huh? Yup. You see, Lexus of course, is Toyota’s upscale premium brand of fine automobiles. Lexani on the other hand, is a custom coach builder. Wait, they still have those? Indeed. Think back to the good old days of custom, bespoke automobile building. Rolls-Royce. Bugatti. Back then of course, the world was a far different place. Far less regulation – yay – for far more ingenuity and engineering. Then again, that was 80 years or so ago. How much has changed, yet, how similar things are. When Lexani's PR agency rang my phone to ask if I was interested in checking out their facility, I jumped. Cool.
TAD Evolution 1
Stereophile's Kalman Rubinson penned the review of TAD's entry level speaker the Evolution 1 and he likes it. Well, let's say he probably loves them, is the more appropriate word, given the accolades he's presenting in his review. Measuring the shnaz's fidelity output was none other than Mr. Atkinson, who simply professed: "Kal concluded that the Evolution One is a "marvelous" loudspeaker. Its measured performance leads me to agree."
Review: LessLoss DFPC Signature power cable
When, in March of this year, I met up with Louis Motek, proprietor of LessLoss, an offer was made I simply couldn't resist: "Care to evaluate the latest series of DFPC Signature power cables?". "Sure", I replied, with seemingly zero hesitation. 5 PCs were promptly dispatched to casa Kaey and soon after the listening fun began. No matter the source, a calmness and certain sense of ease was leveled at the system, each track appearing that much more tuneful, nay, tasteful. Powered via Nordost's otherwise exquisite power conditioning line consisting of the QB-8, QV-4 and QV-2, these LessLoss cables appeared to do precisely what they said they would: lower the noise floor and reduce apparent HF transmissions to/from the system. For more detailed impressions read the review at Positive-Feedback Online, where, you guessed it, I highly recommend these puppies. Well done team LessLoss, highly recommended. A+++. Bonus: hit the space link to read a conversation with Louis Motek...
HDtracks hi-res release of Van Halen in 24bit / 192khz
HDtracks has been on fire lately: not a week goes by where I don't receive some email from Lisa Hershfield - HDtracks PR person - informing me of some new release, that's actually interesting. Heck, just the other week, HDtracks announced the availability of James Bond's soundtrack Goldfinger in hi-res. Wowza. Needless to say, their service is gaining in popularity and wider market acceptance.
Review: B&W Z2 AirPlay streamer
“Hey, what do you recommend I get for speakers around $400?” A query I hear all too often from my fellaz. “Ok, let’s see here… do you expect magic?” Is, quite frankly, the answer I give back most of the time. I mean seriously, what do you expect to get sound wise for $400? Then again, technology has marched on considerably over the past decades, in particular as it relates to boom boxes, aka. that thang you use to listen to music… background music that is. After all, even as far as technology has progressed, it’s still – nearly – impossibly to recreate a true stereophonic image via a shoebox, no matter how many fancy drivers and DSP you put in there. Punch warp drive to read the rest...
Update: LessLoss DFPC Signature power cables
Arriving late last week from Hawaii, a nice little non descript USPS box awaited me… Contained with the magical package were 5 LessLoss DFPC Signature edition power cables, for me to review and spend time with. My current reference line of cables are Kubala-Sosna's Emotion series, Nordost's latest Norse series' Frey 2 (with QB8 and QX4 power distribution products - amazing!) and Zu Audio's power cables. Thus, being able to re-audition the latest generation of LessLoss's DFPC Signature power cables was a welcome gesture.
And so it goes… unbox, unplug, replug, listen. First impression…? Clarity, calm and calamity all at once. Dynamics galore, quiet, smooth back ground. These cables are rumored to be giant killers for less than giant killer prices. Let's see what happens in a week or so. Stay tuned!
Further thoughts on DSD
So the past few months I have been pondering my own thoughts about this whole push for DSD. Unless you have nothing to do with high performance audio, one can't help notice the increased demand for DSD (and double-DSD) from both the consumer and manufacturers side. Case in point, Nagra will be announcing their very own DSD capable DAC at this year's Munich Hi-Fi show. Such is life. Having had the mighty fine Playback Designs MPS-5 for the better part of two years, and, most recently the addition of the USB-X interface, I can say that this is in fact the finest digital playback system I have ever heard in a controlled environment, ie. casa K.
Preview: LessLoss DFPC power cables
Incoming: long time reader and fan of SonicFlare, Louis Motek, of LessLoss fame, is sending us his latest power cables for inspection. I have known Louis for at least six or seven years and have always been fascinated by his approach to audio: nothing but the best, no detail is overlooked, his passion clearly shining through. Since those early years, LessLoss has grown to be quite a formidable player in the world of audio. Not satisfied with power cables, he has since moved into interconnects, speaker cables, power distribution and management systems whilst also maintaing a foot in the digital playback domain, courtesy of the acclaimed DAC 2004 and his latest - soon to be released - Laminar streamer.
Preview: 2013 Maserati Quattroporte with Bowers & Wilkins Hi-Fi
Maserati is synonymous with style, sportiness and that special italian thing. The only automotive brand to sport a trident, Maserati captured the hearts and minds of many a car collector. Unlike Ferrari, Maserati never focused on the extreme performance category of automobiles, rather, it was coupes, GTs and 4-door saloons that made the marque famous. Since Maserati's relaunch in the US market in the 2000's, lots has changed. The old BITURBO moniker that plagued the brand in the 80's has now been replaced with quality, reputation and solid branding, all courtesy of Ferrari's ownership of the brand.