Good news in the brave new world of streaming music.

‘Deezer, the premier digital streaming music service, and Sonos®, an innovator in wireless home audio products, announced an exclusive partnership that will bring streaming High-Resolution Audio (HRA) to music lovers around the world. Deezer’s product “Deezer Elite” is the first global HRA streaming service available to consumers and it’s offered exclusively through Sonos, a system of smart speakers that let you stream all your favorite music to any room in your home in high fidelity sound.’

Streaming until now has been of compressed files. Deezer Elite is making CD quality sound available through streaming, a big step forward. Deezer Elite subscribers will have access to over 35 million tracks and will able to stream in 16-bit, 44.1kHz, FLAC lossless. Deezer Elite costs $9.99/month (with a year’s subscription). Monthly price is $19.99.

For audiophiles used to 192kHz/24bit and DSD files available on HDtracks and sites like it, ‘high definition’ sound still has a way to go. But it’s a good first step. Remember the sound of the early CDs? Who knows, maybe the purchased computer file will go the way of the CD — a hobbyist purchase only? Much like the LP.

Presently, the Deezer deal is only with Sonos, the lifestyle company that manufactures high quality and hugely popular sound bars, subs, standalone units and connectivity devices. We will be reviewing both the Sonos products and the Deezer Elite sound quality in the near future.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited. And I’m looking forward to reporting it all to our readers.

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Re-listening to the track ‘Roundabout’ from the progressive rock album ‘Fragile’ by Yes (1971) recently, I once again became fascinated by the unusual sound, the precision and odd syncopation of drummer Bill Bruford’s high-pitched snare drum, and reminded myself that Bruford is one of my favorite ‘rock’ drummers; a drummers’ drummer, if I might say?

This is the same guy who 32 years later played drums on the exceptional live 2003 acoustic jazz album ‘Random Acts of Happiness’ by ‘Bill Bruford’s Earthworks’, which has been one of my favorite reference recordings for some time now (in particular, the tracks ‘With Friends Like these…’ and ‘Speaking With Wooden Tongues’ (in which he even uses Polynesian log drums). I also reminded myself how lucky I was to have seen him perform live four times (twice with King Crimson; once in the 1970s and once in the early 1980s, once with Genesis in the 1970s, and once with Patrick Moraz in the mid 1980s). As such, I thought it was time to write something in deference to the great musician.

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Messiaen – Turangalila-Symphonie [75:08]
Hewitt / Hartmann-Claverie / Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Lintu
Ondine SACD 1251-5 (2014)

This huge work was written during the mid-1940s, a difficult period for any French composer but one which had already seen several of Messiaen’s finest works – including Quatuor pour la fin du temps and Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus. Commissioned by the conductor of the Boston SO, who premiered it in 1949 to mixed reactions, its sprawling structure and “surrealist” ethos anchors to the solo piano, but is also notable for featuring the “ondes Martenot”, an early electro-acoustic keyboard reminiscent of a primitive synthesiser. The work’s 10-movement structure, while obeying an internal logic, is largely incoherent to those of us habituated to the classical symphony!

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There are legacy manufacturers in our avocation. Audio Research Corporation and Wilson Audio are the first two that come to my mind. There are legacies in editorial, too. J. Gordon Holt of Stereophile and the founder of ‘high end’, Harry Pearson of The Absolute Sound. Legends, both. The hard work of the business, the daily grind, the dealers, they have their giants as well. Toronto’s American Sound of Canada is certainly one of them. Blessed with the best name in the dealer business and run by force-of-nature owner Angie Lisi, ‘American Sound’, as well call it, is filled with legacy components and new, exciting products pushing the limits of the business and staffed by knowledgable, friendly people.

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Labour Day is done. That means only weeks ’till the must attend audio show of the year, Denver’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

I was under some silly false assumptions about the show before my first attendance a few years ago. Folksy, small, and a few other damning with faint praise terms were the uneducated reasons I had never been. Save the pennies for CES and something sexy in Europe. I was wrong.

Denver is a perfect host city. Clean, safe, great food, cheap car rentals, great airport, excellent arts and the wonderful Rocky Mountains on your doorstep. The show itself is the opposite of what I assumed. Sophisticated, very large (200 rooms), focused on two channel audio and ‘CanJam’, the foremost headphone/computer music/mobile audio show in the world, supremely well run, and filled with very pleasant, very passionate audiophiles. Live music, seminars, well-treated rooms, accessible elevators, restaurants, meeting places, good coffee add to the show’s great quality.

So, the countdown begins. See you all there.

Watch for Audiophilia’s detailed, walkabout coverage 9:00 a.m. the morning after the show closes.

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest

Denver Marriott Tech Center Hotel
October 10-12, 2014

Register here.

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Do you have the jitters ? You probably do, if you own compact discs.

The deficiencies in the digital medium have been cited by audiophiles, manufacturers and reviewers. Since the advent of the compact disc, the sound quality of CDs, and playback components have improved. However, problems in the sound quality of CD itself still exist.

Robert Harley has written an article about the problem of read errors and jitter, intrinsic to the structure of CDs, and a second article, discussing an expensive solution. “Jitter, Errors and Magic”, Stereophile, May 1, 1990, discusses defects in CDs, a result of the quality of their plastic material and jitter created during the manufacturing process.

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Monday August 25, 2014 — Toronto, ON. HDtracks and Audiophilia to partner.

First, there was the LP (which made the most magnificent comeback), then the cassette tape, the CD, DVD Audio, SACD, etc. Most dead or thereabouts. Much like the video world, we now download or stream our music. It’s downloaded for home use, on the computer and on the go.

Audiophilia will still continue to review CD versions of releases, and vinyl, of course. But the way of the musical world is digital downloading. The great news is the availability of high resolution files of recordings old and new. As audiophiles and music lovers, we’re lucky. All over again.

So, it is with great pleasure that we have partnered with HDtracks, the world’s foremost ‘hires audio’ delivery solution. They will be our partner for digital downloads used for music reviews and for use in equipment reviews.

Using HDtracks is as easy as going to their excellent website and downloading files to your computer such as DSD and resolutions up to 194/24. If these numbers and acronyms scare the musical bejeezus out of you, as they did me, HDtracks has a wonderful FAQ that will unravel all the numbers and resolutions. It’s an easy read and your ears will thank you for it.

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Attending listening sessions at dealer showrooms are uniquely beneficial because you can experience a wide range of gear that you otherwise would not be able to hear. It was during such a session at Wes Bender Studio NYC that I encountered a couple of Burson Audio products. It wasn’t the headphone amplifier that first caught my eye—rather, it was a pair of bridged power amplifiers. These turned out to be the Burson Timekeeper amps. At first, their diminutive size made me assume that they were class D amps, but in fact they are class A/B 80 watts-per-channel stereo amps, offering 240wpc when bridged. I was quite impressed with the way these tiny amps were able to drive the big Hansen PRINCE E Loudspeakers to wall-shaking levels, with exceptionally deep bass and good overall sound.

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