We received a SONOS system for review just before Christmas. The review of the three-piece set (Playbar, Sub, and Play 5) continues. Happily, there is a lot of free repertoire and my own library that is helping to evaluate the system, but I’ve been using two paid services, Google Play Music and Tidal, to best complete the review. Both services, and many others, are accessible directly from the SONOS app.

There are many services like Pandora, Spotify, etc, that can be accessed for free, but if you are an audiophile and like classical and jazz repertoire, you will probably prefer a paid service. Rdio and Deezer are two other services I’ve tried, but both Google and Tidal seem to have the strongest lists of the music I enjoy.

The highend is embracing streaming. How can it not? I heard several streamers from quality audiophile companies at last year’s Denver show. I’m expecting to hear a great many more at the upcoming Los Angeles and Vancouver shows. As for the downloading v streaming debate? There’s a reason iTunes is down 13% this year. Let there be no doubt, streaming is the future. The kids have spoken! Remember the CD v LP debate? Cute.

Tidal is the second company to offer lossless playback (Deezer was first).

We have reviews of Tidal and Google Play Music upcoming, with the SONOS review shortly thereafter.

For the streaming uninitiated, there’s a clear description on the BBC website.


I felt compelled to write a brief addition to this mini review that we posted in 2013. My 23 year old nephew has been bitten hard by the audiophile bug. His budget was set and Christmas money was saved, and he asked for a suggestion to jump into the high end. He loves vinyl. It was an easy choice. With his budget, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable immediately came to mind.

Through the kind graces of one of our sponsors, Ian received a good deal on a piano black copy and the very fine Pro-Ject Record Puck.

He’s driving it with a tiny, no name phone stage and through entry level Focal lifestyle speakers. What we heard out of the box was nothing short of remarkable. I cannot emphasize enough that all young people rebuilding the vinyl numbers and shouting its praises should invest in one of these turntables. Very highly recommended. And, I’m adding it to our Star Components list.

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Schumann – The Symphonies [2 SACDs – 133 mins]
Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Ticciati
Linn CKD450 (2014)

As previewed in this column last month, Linn’s recording of the four Schumann symphonies by wunderkind British conductor Robin Ticciati has shared the rapturous reception given his previous work for the label. Just like Beethoven before him, Schumann did not tackle symphonic composition until he had turned thirty. The first attempt flowed quickly; the powerfully emotive, joyful “Spring” Symphony of 1840 was enthusiastically received and a second work quickly followed. This did not go down so well, and eventually saw the light of day over ten years later, heavily revised, as the magnificent 4th Symphony.

Last month, I mentioned how these works have received a fresh lease of life in recent years through their performance by smaller orchestras, which correctly balances the orchestration. Comparing the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln’s recording, another to utilise smaller forces, of the 2nd and 3rd Symphonies under Heinz Holliger (Audite 97.678) with the same works here (using the CD layer of Linn’s SACDs, to maintain parity), left the verdict in little doubt.

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To add to Sony’s ‘Life Space UX’ (its ‘everything connected to your smartphone’ attempt and unveiled at CES), Sony has designed lights (hanging or table) with a built in speaker. Hardly audiophile, but how many times have you sat in a kitchen design store with your significant other nodding in passive agreement over the latest pendant choice? Now, you can suggest one with purity of heart. ‘That one, dear. I love that one’.

Sony uses wireless technology and the glass tube as passive amplification. They are being hush hush about the technology and the price.


When our writer Andy Fawcett suggested a Recommended New Releases (RNR) post nearly six years ago, little did I know it would morph into one of our most popular recurring features. As such, we felt the natural progression was to institute the recording equivalent of our very popular Star Component moniker. Thus, the Audiophilia Star Recordings of the Year was born. We have Star Components, now Star Recordings.

The staff of Audiophilia listened to hundreds of new recordings this year and published reviews of almost sixty in RNR and as standalone reviews. Some recordings nominated were not reviewed, but were in heavy rotation as review repertoire. The staff whittled the many nominations down to twelve we thought worthy of our Star moniker. There were so many incredible recordings this year. If you hunt through Audiophilia, you’ll find a treasure trove of recordings from which to build or add to your collection.

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After my introduction to London Philharmonic Orchestra Label recordings — the Jurowski Brahms 3/4 — I was a little concerned that the tricky (read awful) acoustic of London’s Royal Festival Hall may get the better of Bruckner. For what’s needed is a crack, in tune band (the LPO is surely that) and a refulgent acoustic. One out of two is not good enough these days.

Happily, this LPO sounds much better than the Brahms (a different engineering team was used). Adding to the fine engineering is a superb performance conducted by long-time Brucknarian, Stanisław Skrowaczewski. Skrowaczewski has never been in the top rank of conductors, but much like his B List counterparts Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Volkmar Andreae and the like, he consistently draws out fine performances of the Bruckner symphonies.

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In a recent post, I told you about a brief visit I had with Merrill Wettasinghe and his VERITAS monoblock power amplifiers and how I anticipated doing a full review in the near future. Well, the near future is now. Three weeks went by from the original visit and Merrill notified me that a pair was on its way. I had recently finished my review of his excellent THOR monoblocks and had waxed poetic. I still had them, in addition to my reference Hephaestus Harpocrates SE mono blocks, on hand for comparison.

Before I start I just want to reiterate a few salient points about the VERITAS mono amplifiers. Each amplifier is carved out of a single billet of aluminum with chambers having walls of one inch thickness in order to minimize resonance and vibration. All inputs and outputs are wired with Cardas copper Litz wire and all signal paths are kept as short and direct as possible. The VERITAS uses a fully balanced differential circuit which achieves extremely low noise and improved resolution. Copper rhodium binding posts and gold plated XLR inputs are employed to provide for superb connectivity, and to keep the noise floor as low as possible Merrill uses Synergistic Research Quantum tunneling fuses.

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[The turntable Vegan plate above is nla, but looked perfect as a lead in to this definitely non-Vegan get together - Ed].

When my wife and several of her friends told me they were considering opening a small local catering service for freshly cooked Indonesian food, I snapped into action: I arranged an event at my apartment in New York City.

I invited a small group of my local Audiophilia/audiophile friends to taste a sampling of what these ladies were up to, so as to help them along and encourage them. If my friends had exceptional discerning ears, I reasoned, then they might also have exceptional discerning tastebuds too, right? Besides, this would be a festive opportunity to listen to fine music, eat, drink and be merry—and to personally thank them for all their advice, generosity and encouragement towards transforming my audio system over the last several years into the high-end sound quality system it is now.

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