Yamaha GT-5000 review
December 30, 2020 Comments Off on Yamaha GT-5000 review
It won’t come as a surprise to regular readers to find that that very first LP I placed on the Yamaha GT-5000’s platter was my new favourite recording of Eric Satie’s Gymnopédies as performed by Anne Queffélec (Virgin Classics 522 0502) whose tempi are perfect and whose rubato is glorious. I just love the liberties she takes with the score, which elevates it from just being ‘another virtuoso performance’ into another league completely. (Though as another reviewer was insistent I point out, she was not brave enough to omit the final chord.)
The reason for playing Satie was, of course, that slow (very slow, insanely slow) piano music will immediately reveal if a turntable’s platter is ‘wowing’ (slow speed variations) or ‘fluttering’ (higher speed variations) as it rotates. I can happily report that I heard zero wow and zero flutter when auditioning the GT-5000. I also did not hear any cogging effects which, of course, is precisely the reason Yamaha elected to use a belt drive rather than a direct drive for its GT-5000 in the first place.
ACCUSTIC ARTS MONO II MK 2 POWER AMPLIFIERS £22,500 REVIEW
December 30, 2020 Comments Off on ACCUSTIC ARTS MONO II MK 2 POWER AMPLIFIERS £22,500 REVIEW
The weight and authority of a pair of big mono amps can be a double-edged sword. Faced with no crosstalk in a stereo amplifier and an amplifier with a lot of power in reserve, music can come across as a bit ‘soulless’… but not here. The Mono II Mk 2 manages to combine much of the lithe sound of smaller amplifiers with the bold and effortless sense of dynamic range and scale that only comes with big power amps. That combination comes across regardless of music played; whether it’s Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’ [Deadpool 2 OST, Columbia] or Mahler’s Eighth [Solti, Decca] – and that’s a back-to-back musical combination that you don’t often hear – the Mono II Mk 2 delivers the ‘grace’ and the ‘space’, and quite a lot of the ‘pace’ too. In terms of soundstage, the amplifier goes more for depth than outright width; the stereo imagery is still wide of the loudspeakers, but not Cinemascope-like wide.
Downsides? Naturally, when an amplifier is this good, it is tempered by the quality of the rest of the devices in the signal path. Don’t even think of using these amplifiers in an ‘almost there’ system, as the Mono II Mk 2 will highlight limitations, especially those upstream, and especially in your power delivery. Also, these are not ethereal, floaty sounding amps and neither are they the almost supernaturally fast leading-edge led fast-paced designs. But, even here I’d argue that at the Mono II Mk 2’s price (and way beyond), what you lose by chasing such goals is usually more than you gain. Yes, when you get to the absolute pinnacle of performance, there is something of a convergence, but criticising a £20,000 hand-built pair of amps for not being a pair of £120,000 pair of amps tailor made to your system is more than a little unfair. Besides, what you get here is balance in all things, which is often lost irrespective of the amplifier design, and its price tag.
New Woo Audio First Look & Unboxing
December 30, 2020 Comments Off on New Woo Audio First Look & Unboxing
Cambridge Audio CXA81 integrated amplifier $1299 Review
December 29, 2020 Comments Off on Cambridge Audio CXA81 integrated amplifier $1299 Review
I greatly enjoyed my time exploring the CXA81. It helped me realize how much music can be had for such a low price. It knocked me flat with its ability to sound good in so many ways. It is versatile, well-made, and smartly designed. Most important, it sounds good to great. If you’re in the market for an affordable integrated amplifier, this one should be on your audition list.
Paradigm Persona B Loudspeakers £8600 Review
December 29, 2020 Comments Off on Paradigm Persona B Loudspeakers £8600 Review
This speaker sounds superb with anything you care to throw at it. The Marshall Tucker Band’s live recording of ‘Everyday (I Have the Blues)’ [The Marshall Tucker Band; 44.1kHz/16-bit FLAC] is ramshackle and riotous, the group at times clinging onto its blues rhythm with levels varying wildly. The Persona B conveyed it sublimely, placing crowd claps and whistles at the back of the soundstage, and capturing every half-pitch bend and leading edge of Toy Caldwell’s guitar playing.
Changing tack entirely, Chase & Status’s dance anthem ‘All Goes Wrong’ [Tribe; 44.1kHz/16-bit FLAC] benefited from the speaker’s precision timing and bass handling. The continuous deep notes that carry the chorus had a purity that spoke of a cabinet and driver working in perfect harmony. Less all goes wrong, more all goes right…
RME’s ADI-2 DAC FS
December 29, 2020 Comments Off on RME’s ADI-2 DAC FS
Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature loudspeaker $3999 Review
December 28, 2020 Comments Off on Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature loudspeaker $3999 Review
I always turn to solo piano recordings to judge a loudspeaker’s midrange quality. I recorded Canadian pianist Robert Silverman live in concert in 1992 with a spaced pair of omnidirectional microphones, so the stereo imaging on the subsequent CD (Concert, Stereophile STPH005-2) is diffuse (footnote 2). But Robert’s performance of Schubert’s six Moments Musicaux remains a favorite all these years later. The rich, warm tone of his Steinway that was captured by the microphones was reproduced in almost full measure by the 705 Signatures, only the lowest notes—in the middle section of the first Moment, for example—lacking body. However, the image of the piano was more forward in the low treble than I am used to, both with my Silverman recording and with Murray Perahia’s 2017 performance of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” piano sonata (24/96 WAV file, DG 4798353). This didn’t get in the way of the music, but it does suggest that the 705 Signatures won’t be an optimal match with source components or amplification that themselves have balances on the forward side.
E.A.T. E-Glo I integrated amplifier $9995 Review
December 28, 2020 Comments Off on E.A.T. E-Glo I integrated amplifier $9995 Review
I hope JA’s measurements reveal low levels of distortion, because that’s the subjective impression I had. The E.A.T. allowed me to hear all the way “to the moon on gossamer wings,” as Sinatra sang (footnote 3).
The E.A.T.’s reconstruction of Antal Doráti leading the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra performing Iberia/Interlude and Dance No.1 La Vida Breve (LP, 1958 Mercury Living Presence SR90007) provided a similar perspective. Iberia played with scary, almost violent dynamics. Instruments were presented with good textural shading and were extremely well layered in the large soundstage.
SVS SB-3000 powered subwoofer
December 28, 2020 Comments Off on SVS SB-3000 powered subwoofer
Klipsch Cornwall IV Speakers $6,000 Review
December 27, 2020 Comments Off on Klipsch Cornwall IV Speakers $6,000 Review
“Addressing tastes of listeners who bought into certain buttoned-down principles promulgated by audio tastemakers who never negotiated the musical sea changes that occurred once the 70s revved into gear, the market overflows with speakers that nail classical, small-scale jazz, low-key Americana, and close-miked vocal music—only to run with their veritable tails between their legs when called to unpack information in dense, complicated recordings. All-rounder designs “are rarer. Cornwall IV excels with rock, metal, R&B, rap, electronic, and jazz. Still, the manners in which it handles classical and acoustic-based fare please, and hint at both delicacy and sophistication.
Not to suggest Cornwall IV suits everyone. It certainly does not—and will not suffice for those exclusively bent on critical listening and/or playing the role of recording engineer. But, if you listen to a variety of genres, place a premium on the sound of live music, value engagement over crack precision, possess the requisite space in your room, or, alternatively, want to construct a second system devised for concert-like experiences, you could do far, far worse—and will likely spend thousands more in the process
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