A Sunday with Alma Audio
Sunday. Sunday. Fabio Storelli, proprietor of Alma Audio in La Jolla, California, hosted a terrific audio event full of the usual gizmos and gadgets audiophiles come to expect. The faithful gathered July 19 and 20, 2015 for an audio extravaganza. More of a “society” event - that is, audio society - notable luminaries like Yoav Geva and Dick Diamond (YG Acoustics), Dan D’Agostino (D’agostina Masters Audio Systems) and Joe Kubala (Kubala-Sosna cables) were in attendance as well. Smart. So what exactly does one get from such an event? Naturally, a full belly for one, as delicious cuisina-Mexicana was on tap; alas, everyone of course was there to see, hear and mingle with the latest and greatest.
Tired of checking in with your local audio show? No problem. Set your sights to your favorite audio salon’s iCal and follow the tune. Seems like these types of events are popping up everywhere. As Ted Turner famously said, “Only more is more”. Fair enough. While I delight in the sights of Yoav, Dan and Joe, I often ponder the effect on the general audio populus. Surely, Shirley, said populus must agree with such sentiment. IDK. Maybe? I think it depends on the audience. The converted seem to know the message already. Hi-Fi is what it is. How does one reach the audience at ground zero? Maybe that’s too lofty a goal. Maybe it is in fact the focus on the lowest hanging fruit that will bear the most rewards. IDK. What I do know is that those already reached have a distinctly different need that needs to be met. It follows then that one should have a different curriculum for those yet uninitiated. Therein lies the rub, how do you do that?
Food for further thought. Not like that conversation has never taken place. Alma Audio makes a good start: from entry level to highest end, you can shop for records and buy a new ’table or accessory. All set in a homely surrounding to boot. Headphones I heard are next. That’s clever and in line with the latest trends. The rest? Perhaps an invitation to those not yet initiated is in order. Keep the tacos, add the educational component. You hear this, because of that. If your average La Jollian looks to Bose as high-end, there’s not a glimmer of hope we can connect them to $78k YG Sonja 1.2s. However, if we educate them and reach them at ground zero… food for thought. As once famously said: “if you can explain the why, the how will follow”. I agreed then, I agree now. Enjoy the pics! See you all soon.
Are you still into that sound stuff?
Over at Stereophile, Robert Schryer (newbie to Stereophile? I confess that I haven’t read anything by him before) speaks of his mom’s quest to identify audiophilia nervosa:
"The times they may be a-changin', but I believe they bode well for audiophiles. In terms of playback gear, we're at a historic juncture of quality, price, and options. We can now own several different sources of superior sound reproduction for what it used to cost to install just one in a dedicated listening room. Plus, there's that other thing that makes my heart tingle again: the anticipation of what's coming up next, just around the corner from where we're all standing now."
Agreed. I’d also add that we haven’t seen this kind of massive product expansion ever (in the history of high performance audio or anywhere else audio related for that matter) and as such the question begs: what exactly is an audiophile these days? It seems that the lines have been blurred considerably and notably so. The description, in my humble opinion, has changed dramatically. More on that in a bigger post, soon enough.
2014 LA Auto ShowHard to believe it is that time of the year again… The 2014 LA Auto show is upon us and we will be there reporting on the hottest trends in all things high-end audio, nay, automotive. Stay tuned for more!
Preview: Schiit Audio Mjolnir headphone amp
Hot off the trails of its companion, nay, brother… son… partner (?), Schiit audio will soon be afforded with yet another review right here on these phine pages: Mjolnir, is supposed to be among the finest of dedicated headphone amps - retailing for a mere $749. Well, heck, I can't believe it - what's taken them so long? Having heard Mjolnir and Gungnir at various shows over the last year or so, call me impressed - for starters. Let's see how these puppies will do long term. Stay tuned!
Preview: Schiit Audio Gungnir DAC
Folks, this will be hot: Schiit audio's latest and greatest Gungnir DAC… paired with their Mjolnir state of the - current - art, headphone amp, this should be a block-rockin' party. For $749, made in America, how could it not be. Stay tuned...
Review: 2013 Aston Martin DB9 avec BeoSound
Well, well, well… it's about that time to dive back into the things we love the most: fancy cars. The circle of cars evoking such caption as Aston Martin's latest all new for 2013 DB 9 are far and few between. Yet, somehow, each model generation that AM produces somehow seems to significantly enhance that experience that much more. Such is the case with the all new for 2013, DB9, which has taken on cues from the previous top line model, the venerable DBS and now sits just right beside the brand's ultimate crown jewels, the even more awesome Vanquish. The DB9 is, of course (anything else would in fact be utterly uncivilized, unless it was powered by AM's own V8) powered by the company's tried and true V12 petrol engine, churning out more than enough stallion power to drive you from point A to B. Alas, that is merely half - a third? - the story as it isn't so much about sheer power, rather, the confluence of how it all gets together that is oh so mesmerizingly captivating. It is after all, billed as the "world's most timeless, elegant sports grand tourer", a distinction that it carries with grace, might I add.
The guys over at Art Vinyl dug up something neat. Always keen on displaying and showing off some of the cooler record album covers - yep, they still make them - I have played with many a system over the years. From the el' cheapo stuff you find at your local Walmart, to more esoteric designs, Art Vinyl's seems to have struck the perfect balance between well, art and vinyl. Their Play & Display 12" flip up album frame covers are quite ingenious and actually work exactly as described. Slightly nudge the front cover up and the album tray opens up wide enough for you to slip your favorite record cover behind it. Slide it back down and voila, off you go hanging your stash. Made of nicely finished matte black plastic, they should stand the test of time. Care for white? They have those too! Clean, neat and tidy, not to mention quick and painless. Best part? Say you get tired of looking at your favorite prizes, simply replace the covers one by one or two by one for a theme. Clever. My review sample is proudly showing off Porgy and Bess Metronome Stars 1956. I am definitely ordering a bunch! A+++
Music and audio…
Scot Hull over at parttimeaudiophile.com, ran an interesting piece the other day discussing the music we listen to as audiophiles. Shock. Gasp. Awe. I didn't realize that audiophiles actually listen to music! Ha. Just joking, or jj as my 19 year old step-daughter says as of recent. Having read his notes, I felt the need to chime in from my perspective, which in many ways mirrors Scott's findings (and no doubt that of many others).
Personally I think that audiophiles have gotten a bad rap over the years precisely because of the music that's associated with our hobby: extremely well recorded, but otherwise boring music. In other words, music that makes your system shine, not your heart and soul. Fair enough. Problem is, that I really don't care about that kind of music. Sure, impressive as it is to hear a full range system knock your socks off - clean - with perfectly reproduced dynamics, lows, mids and highs, if the music has no soul or narrative to move you, then what good is it.
Case in point, I was out record shopping this weekend at the Buena Park swap meet and came home with the following stash: Kris Kristofferson, Alan Parsons Project, Ray Price, Janis Joplin, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Marty Robbins, Judy Garland, Was Not Was and Michael Jackon's Thriller. In other words, about as diverse music genres as you can get. Are any of these records considered audiophile music? Not in the least. Do any of these records sound great? Some do, some are ok, some are just that: music captured on tape, pressed on vinyl.
Does any of that matter to me? Not really. Would I love for all of these records to have been recorded perfectly, edited perfectly and mastered perfectly? Of course. Alas, such is life - it's still music and to be perfectly frank, it sounds pretty darn good, errors, pops, ticks and all! Point is, I'd much rather listen to those records than the latest "audiophile" stuff that's available and makes your system shine like no other. I wish that we'd hear more music like this at audio shows, reviews, etc. Isn't that what this hobby is all about anyway? Maybe it is the other way around. Who knows.
CES: Marten Coltrane TenorMarten, no stranger to launching fancy new speakers at CES, did it again. Their Coltrane Tenor is the latest addition that super speaker line, which dates back to 2005, when they launched the original super speaker, the Coltrane. Using Accuton's latest ceramic drivers and Leif Olofson's latest understanding and ideas around crossover design prove that he can do it and in fact does it again and again. Spectacular sound and definition, the Coltrane Tenor is an incredible value at a foot print that can be integrated into just about anyone's home. A+++!
Brinkmann LaGrangeThe Brinkmann LaGrange turntable system, consisting of the Brinkmann LaGrange 'table, Brinkmann 12.1" tonearm, Brinkmann EMT-ti cartridge, Brinkmann RöNt tube power supply (and in this image, a second arm, the Thales Original tonearm) is among the finest of world-class turntable systems you can buy. You have never heard your vinyl sound this good - absolute black backgrounds and total silence followed by explosive lifelike dynamics is what will bring new meaning to the term record player. Stunning!
Congratulations Josh Ray!Well, well, well… Looks like Josh has finally made good on his promise to conquer the Hi-Fi space… From all of us here at SonicFlare (naturally, that would be me, myself and I), we congratulate Josh on his new endeavor and wish him the best of success! If anyone is up for the task, it is Josh…
Stay tuned for more news on SonicFlare and the direction we will be taking…
Aston Martin DBS with BeoSoundBond. James Bond.
Spotlight: Sonic Impact T-Amp Madness!!!
What?!? You've never heard of the Sonic Impact T-Amp? Well, for those who aren't familiar with the T-Amp phenom, this Spotlight is for you. Priced at $30 or so, the SI is a tiny little battery powered amp pumping out a massive 6 watts. Made for cheapo speakers, the Sonic Impact wasn't born to be a contender. But for some reason beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals, the SI T-amp sounds amazingly good.
Don't believe me? Check out the next page for all the goods on the deal of the century and how you too can get involved in the T-amp revolution.
Spotlight: Pass Labs Amplifiers
Our first Spotlight will focus on Pass Labs and their glorious amps. Pass Labs is one of the keystone solid state amplifier manufactures along with Krell and Mark Levinson and, unlike the other two, goes against the grain of what to expect from solid-state amp design by championing lusciousness, warmth and other tube-like qualities. And, as you can see, Pass Labs sports some of the finest industrial design around.
Keep reading for the rest on Pass Labs and a roundup of past reviews.
Announcement: SonicFlare Spotlight on Manufactures
As you know, or are just finding out, the world of high-end audio and video is a sprawling mess of reviews, equipment and a whole lot of BS. As such, we've decided to launch a new Spotlight series of posts in addition to coverage of new products and reviews.
A Spotlight post will highlight a particular manufacture and offer a bit of insight as to where the company stands relative to competitors, what the company is known for and provide links to recent reviews. For large manufactures with multiple product lines, the Spotlight will only focus on one area.
And, like everything on SonicFlare, the Spotlight posts will be pinnacles of rampant, unfounded opinion. So use with caution. If you want the manufacture's air-conditioned statements or the opinion of a person who has actually listened to the gear, click the links provided at the end of the Spotlight posts. Otherwise, enjoy our inane ramblings as we bring you the latest and greatest from the world of audio and video and set you on your way towards sonic nirvana.