I must admit, when I first heard that the New York Audio Show had moved out of Manhattan (my home: the center of the Universe!) to the borough of Brooklyn for its 2014 show, I was not happy, and very dubious. But after a while, it seemed to make more sense from both a practical point of view and a price point of view: Manhattan is expensive; the hotel rates are excessive by any standard. Getting a large comfortable space at a more reasonable price is possible in Brooklyn. The population of Brooklyn is the largest of the five boroughs making up New York City, and it contains a mind-boggling array of different ethnic enclaves; there is no lack of great and reasonably priced food and entertainment, and after all, the subway makes it possible to get right back into Manhattan (civilization!) in minutes from the venue: The New York Marriott Hotel at the Brooklyn Bridge, 333 Adams Street.

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Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, must have been shaking his head after listening to and reading the hullabaloo from self satisfied Apple customers after receiving a free album delivered to their iTunes account. The ‘faux pas’ in question, U2’s inventive and purely capitalist rollout (as part of the iPhone 6/Apple Watch event) of their thirteenth studio album, Songs of Innocence.

I wouldn’t call my self a fan, but I wasn’t cynical about the event and thankful for the free album. Others took exception to Apple’s ‘intrusion’ into their iTunes account without their consent. And shouted it loudly, with every blog and newspaper picking up the ‘news’. They’re idiots. Deleting would take milliseconds. Even so, Apple took the exceptional step of providing a one button, idiot-proof delete button. No good deed goes unpunished. My Nan was right.

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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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Photo credit

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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