Creating a one off, great speaker is difficult. Creating a range, a family of great speakers is harder still. The basics of fine speaker design has to be there, of course, but an eye and especially an ear to tune a ‘house’ sound within boxes various takes great skill.

In the last few years, Wilson Audio has done it to near perfection, and, after a longtime house sound that did not float my boat, Focal/JM Labs created its incredible ‘Utopia’ line. Toronto’s Hansen Audio and Minnesota’s Magneplanar are at the top of the page, too. Add Danish company, Raidho Acoustics to this short list.

I’ve reviewed most of the Focal line and now the same with Raidho. Raidho’s team began production with its C and D lines, D being the most expensive (28K and up). Hearing both, I wondered at times why pay extra for the wonderful D line when the C sounds so good? Well, just like everything worth having in life, the steps to get to an audiophile’s decision are long, tedious, and can be painful.

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In the world of audio, there are many types of audiophiles who hold widely varying opinions as to which format will provide the best sound. Tubes, transistors, digital or analogue are but a few areas of debate. I do not intend to take up any of those controversies here. For my purposes, there are basically two types of audiophiles, those who are fortunate enough to have dedicated sound rooms and, those who do not.

For those of you who have dedicated rooms, you can listen to music whenever you wish, anytime day or night. For those of us who are not as fortunate, the situation is quite different. This is especially true if you live in an apartment. Picture it, it’s two in the morning, you’re up with an open bottle of wine and you want to listen to music. You have a neighbor with bat ears who can hear the click of the on switch on your pre-amp. An excellent solution to this problem is headphones. Being an audiophile, you will require a set of high-end headphones.

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In recent months I’ve had the pleasure of listening to several excellent pairs of speaker jumper cables and have concluded they can significantly affect the sonic presentation. Not exactly a glamorous product that every reviewer wants to address, but a necessary one for those whose speakers have two sets of inputs and doesn’t want to bi-wire or bi-amp his speakers.

My current reference analogue and digital interconnects are the Antipodes Audio Reference and Kokiri respectively and when I learned that they made jumper cables, too, I had to investigate Mark Jenkins makes some killer cables and I was looking forward to his take on the jumper cables.

I ordered a set of jumpers (200mm, approximately 8 in.) with banana terminations which made for quick and easy switching in and out for evaluation. They needed some burn-in time and I gave them about 100 hours before serious listening began. If I had to describe their main characteristic in one word it would be ‘naturalness’. They created a feeling of enjoyment without adding aggressive artifacts to the sound. All the detail and resolution you could want was present but without any edge or electronic glare. Imaging was excellent with an expansive soundstage that brought you more closely to the musical venue. They simply created a more intimate connection with the performance.

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I was waiting at the 34th Street Penn Station subway platform in Manhattan to head Uptown the other day, and I heard and saw two young African Americans playing drums using only plastic paint canisters to pound with their sticks and hands. The African rhythms fascinated me and caused me to stay and miss the next train. Why? Because the drumming reminded me of Ginger Baker, my nomination for greatest ‘Rock’ drummer. He recently performed at the age of 74 in New York City, and I had not been able to attend his show for scheduling reasons. I had mixed feelings anyhow: Once, some years ago here in NYC, I met with him (and two of his band members) and tried to engage him.

He was just awful to me; insulting, condescending and arrogant — the kind of person who seems to enjoy hurting peoples’ feelings. Not a new perspective; check out the recent documentary film ‘Beware of Mr Baker’ for a fascinating overview of this great drummer, endowed with a nasty persona: It even begins with Baker breaking the nose of the film maker with his walking stick! The documentary contains valuable interviews with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce (among others); the two, who together with Baker, made up ‘Cream’, one of the all-time greatest rock bands in history, albeit short-lived (1966–1968).

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Beethoven – Piano Sonatas 13,14, and 15 [62:18]
Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont – Piano
Resonus Classics (2014)

Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont’s new CD of Beethoven Sonatas on Resonus Classics brings a fresh approach and a superb recording to these often recorded works. The Parisian born and Brussels based French pianist has a fluent technique and produces a lovely tone, but it’s his musicality that wins here.

For the first in his Beethoven series, Dablemont has chosen three sonatas from Beethoven’s middle period, and what gems they are. Sonatas 13, 14 (Moonlight) and 15 (Pastoral) offer both the power and sensitivity that flows through all of Beethoven’s works.

Dablemont’s interpretations feature faster tempos than my favourite performances in these works, those by Freddy Kempf, Gilels and Schnabel, but they work. And, Dablemont has both the technique and musicality to bring them off. Playing his version of the famous slow movement from the Moonlight directly after Freddy Kempf’s proved a shock. Kempf is so slow (but is wonderful) and Dablemont’s positively races in comparison. Yet, Dablemont is closer to Beethoven’s marking of alla breve than Kempf. Your choice.

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A ‘HiFi Stereo Amp that transforms the way you listen’.

We receive about 100 promotional emails a week from audiophile companies, many of them using a Kickstarter campaign to get things rolling. I’m not complaining. I love how our business is growing and the ingenuity of designers.

I thought I’d direct our readers to one of the more thoughtful and needed Kickstarter campaigns. As many of these campaigns never see the light of production day, I chose one backed by an audiophile powerhouse, Boulder, CO’s PS Audio. Longtime readers of Audiophilia will know of their work and our admiration for their kit.

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When I first acquired an audio cabinet for my system, I had no idea of the evolution my system would go through over the next two years. I chose a wooden cabinet that looked nice in our living room and seemed large enough for the task. Soon after, I realized the hard way that I had not thought this out well. The first challenge was how to fit the cables in through the back of the cabinet: There were only several small (1” diameter) holes for each shelf. This problem was ultimately solved by having my brother come by with a hack saw and removing about two-thirds of the back to allow for cables. My wife was appalled.

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There are lots of audio shows from which to choose and this year Audiophilia has added the Capital Audiofest to our show calendar.

Promotor, Gary Gill is in his fifth year of presenting and we are happy to add a unique type of coverage for our worldwide audience. As such, our full show report will be up by 9:00 a.m. EST on Monday July 28.

It seems like all audio shows are following in Rocky Mountain Audio Fest’s footsteps and adding a mobile/computer/headphone specialty area. RMAF’s is called CanJam and is huge. Capital Audiofest’s is called Can Mania and promises to have all the leading manufacturers showing.

I’m looking forward to attending my first show after being laid up for six months. Actually, I think the term is ‘jonesing’. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to a good time and very much looking forward to reporting it all to you.