Like so many die-hard audiophiles I love tube amplifiers. They sound, well, tubey, that is, warmer, richer, and in many ways, more lifelike than transistor based designs. But the other thing about tubes is they look cooler than transistor based amps. Take a gander at these beauties from Emille Labs. Their stunning industrial design, gorgeous machined metal chassis, and solid build quality is altogether lacking in mass market audio components. If you enjoy living well, and like owning well-made products, by all means, check out what high-end audio companies are offering these days.
Pretty much everything about Usher Audio's BE-10 screams "audiophile speaker." It's big, it's beautiful, and it sounds so good you don't even have to be an audiophile to appreciate it. Maybe the "audiophile" tag sounds a tad elitist, but anyone who occasionally gives their undivided attention to the sound of music--meaning they don't read, talk, or otherwise multitask as they listen--could be considered an audiophile. In any case, the BE-10 sounds too good to be ignored, and if that makes it an audiophile speaker, so be it.
Audiophiles with a hankering … Read more
Perusing the August 26th Sunday New York Times Style Magazine, ogling the latest in women's fashion, my mind wanders. Apparently there's an insatiable market for luxury apparel; the 316 page issue is jam-packed with goodies like a $3,495 Chanel Jersey Handbag and a freaky looking $5,390 Louis Vuitton Feather Necklace. Then again, if you really want to make that special someone really happy, go for the $26,500 Hermes Sable-and-Crocodile Kelly Muff or perhaps something more practical like the $23,155 Yves Saint Laurent sweater embroidered by Lesage. I'm sure it's all splendid couture, … Read more
I met Richard D at the Home Entertainment Show in NYC in May and we immediately connected. The guy's a really intense audiophile, equally passionate about sound and music. He's a Final Cut video editor and producer by trade, so sure, he's a total tech geek. Just like me.
Last week I dropped by his Manhattan apartment to check out his hi-fi, and I have to say, it's pretty unusual. I didn't recognize any of his components, except the Atma-Sphere vacuum tube power amplifiers. The tubes illuminated the room with a lovely warm orange glow, so I felt right at home.
The monitor speakers' sides are covered with an exotic knitted weave, and Richard explained his speaker cabinets are made out of the sort of "ballistic ceramic" material used to make body armor. His speakers are, in fact, two-of-a-kind prototypes that were never put into production, probably because they would have been too expensive to manufacture in significant numbers. Oh, and there was a cool looking Raven turntable on a shelf under the amplifiers.
Richard has around 4,000 LPs, and when he played a Louis Armstrong recording from the '50s or '60s the system sounded amazingly good. Pops' vocal and trumpet were three dimensionally present and the sound was extremely precise. I loved the way the speakers communicated Armstrong's energy and rhythm--he sounded absolutely "live." And the band's acoustic stand up bass' percussive pluck and "woody" resonance were exceptionally realistic. The sound was oh-so high-fidelity, it was truly great.
Richard's drawn to gear that pushes the technology envelope, like his Liquid Ceramic Composite Conductor Audio Cables that are as thick as garden hoses. This level of exotica is really expensive, so Richard buys most of his gear second hand from Audiogon, a great source for used audio. Even so the system is worth about as much as "a nice car." He also prefers to buy from folks who allow him to try the gear at home, so he knows if he's really going to like it.… Read more
The very best high-end systems don't have a sound per se, they sound like the music they're playing. That's the goal at least, and the $350,000 system I heard at Bill Parish's GTT Audio & Video shop in Long Valley, New Jersey, was one of the best ultra high-end systems I've heard. And I've heard a lot.
The wild looking MBL 101E Radialstrahler Reference speakers ($49,900/pair) employ utterly unique woofer, midrange, and tweeter technology to radiate sound with perfect, 360 degree dispersion. Sounds technical, but trust me you don't have … Read more
Ezra Dyer's Ferrari F430 road test in the July 1 "Automobiles" section of the Sunday New York Times had me drooling. The lucky bastard didn't just get to tool around in the dream machine, there was something about the way he gushed about the 479 horsepower V-8's "high-pitched, hard edged wail that's unlike anything else you'll hear from a car with license plates," and later on rhapsodized about the car's ability to deliver a "supersonic whip crack from the exhaust that prompts you to look in the mirror to … Read more
As an "investment" video sucks. Before you plunk down big bucks on today's cutting edge video just ponder for a second that what you buy today will be tomorrow's landfill.
Pick up a good set of speakers and they'll stick around for a long, long time. Anybody who dropped $15K on an early generation plasma display has surely replaced it years ago, and is probably on their second or third set by now. So their total investment may be approaching twenty Gs! Remember too that early plasmas were standard definition sets and their picture quality … Read more