Not Quite a Vinyl Epiphany, but Close—My Brief Encounter with a DS Audio Optical Cartridge

Around the middle of last month, I was at SoundStage! Hi-Fi writer Jason Thorpe’s place, which is in Toronto, Canada, helping him take photos of a Kuzma turntable he had in for review. While we were shooting photos, Jason was rattling on about me having to hear his system before we left for supper.

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Bryston, Simaudio, EMM Labs, and Meitner Audio—Homegrown Hi-Fi Heroes of Made-in-Canada Electronics

A hot topic among today’s hi-fi consumers is whether it matters where a company’s products are made. This topic can veer off in myriad directions, but the elephant in the room is China. Labor rates are low there, but ethics and human rights are a concern—yet it’s where many European and North American companies offshore manufacturing, either to third-party manufacturers or factories they own there.

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Summer Music Lessons—Mobile Fidelity's Digital LP Scandal and PMC's Dolby Atmos Demo

Mobile Fidelity’s failing grade

The biggest story in hi-fi so far this year was the Mobile Fidelity “digital step” scandal, which broke in July. You can find numerous videos on YouTube about it, including one by me, so I’ll skip most of the details, though I will reiterate the basics.

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Past, Present, Future—How Monitor Audio and PSB Speakers Are Celebrating 50 Years

I can’t help but wonder what was going on in 1972 that prompted so many entrepreneurs to launch hi-fi companies that year. The two companies featured in this article—Monitor Audio and PSB Speakers—were founded in 1972. Many others were, too, and likewise have stood the test of time: The famous American brand Mark Levinson was established in 1972, as was Taiwanese speaker maker Usher. Germany’s Canton, another speaker maker, also started operating that year. NAD Electronics was born in London, England, in 1972. Then there’s Polk Audio, one of the most successful and influential speaker manufacturers of all time—Matthew Polk, George Klopfer, and Sandy Gross established that iconic brand in 1972 in Baltimore, Maryland. The legendary Japanese firm Accuphase Laboratory also began 50 years ago, and I’m sure there are many more.

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The Best of High End 2022

After two years when hi-fi shows have been few and far between, 2022 saw them return in force. First, the Florida Audio Expo in Tampa, Florida, in February; then Canada’s Montreal Audiofest in March; in April, AXPONA in Chicago; and then, the focus of this article, High End in Munich, Germany, in May. No one from our team attended AXPONA, but I was at Florida Audio Expo with fellow-writer Jason Davis and then at Montreal Audiofest on my own, with the express purpose of providing coverage of those events for our SoundStage! Global site.

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Monitor Audio's 50th Birthday Celebrates the Ordinary and the Extraordinary

At the end of last month’s article, “The Best of Montreal Audiofest 2022,” I wrote that I would highlight my picks for the standout products at High End 2022 for this month’s column. We had a team of four at the show—held from May 19 to 22 in Munich, Germany—to produce coverage for our SoundStage! Global site, which we put online as the show was happening. I decided to put my picks on hold, however, because I felt that what Monitor Audio displayed in Munich had to take precedence.

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The Best of Montreal Audiofest 2022

As Gomer Pyle used to say: “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”

That’s what I wanted to say after Montreal Audiofest 2022 wrapped up on March 27. From what I could glean while covering the show for our SoundStage! Global site, the three-day hi-fi show had about 60% of the exhibitors it had had in 2019—the last show before the pandemic shut it down. That drop in exhibitors didn’t surprise me because no one expected that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers would be clamoring to display at hi-fi shows. Many of them have had great sales over the last two years without trade shows. Yes, the pandemic lockdowns were, on the whole, beneficial to hi-fi.

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The Best of Florida Audio Expo 2022

Florida Audio Expo 2022 was held from February 18 to 20 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore in Tampa, Florida. The city and hotel have been home to the Florida Audio Expo since the inaugural show in February 2019, and from what I’ve been told by the show organizers, it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

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Doing Our Due Diligence: Room Gain Revisited with the Stenheim Alumine Two Loudspeakers

On January 15, we published Diego Estan’s Stenheim Alumine Two loudspeaker review on this site. Diego’s review was extremely positive: “The Alumine Twos’ midrange and treble reproduction was, without question, the finest I’ve ever heard in my room, providing spot-on tonal accuracy combined with transparency that was second to none—I could hear the recordings so clearly it was uncanny.” But Diego also highlighted the inability of the small Swiss speakers to generate enough low bass—something his in-room and our anechoic measurements corroborated. However, when he paired them with his dual SVS SB-4000 subs, Diego experienced the “best sound” ever in his current room.

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"Licorice Pizza" and Post-Pandemic Hi-Fi Shows

A day before I sat down to write this article, I did something I used to do every week, but haven’t done in two years—I saw a movie at a theater. It was Licorice Pizza, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who has previously made some films I’ve really liked—Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Hard Eight, and Punch-Drunk Love are the ones that spring to mind.

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