Alex Chorine built his very first amplifier when he was 15, and one amp led to the next. He kept building amps for friends and friends of friends. This was in the Soviet Union, where there was no established high-end audio industry. Chorine went on to earn an electrical engineering degree from the Moscow Institute of Technology, and started working with TVs, but audio was his passion. He took on side projects building guitar and bass amplifiers and pro sound systems. He modified European VCRs to work with Russian TVs. He came to the U.S. in 1992, and a … Read more
I don't know how I missed Kudos Audio before, but the company has been in business for more than 20 years. When I heard Kudos' little X2 speaker at Sound by Singer in NYC I knew it was a serious high-end contender, but one that can easily fit in the most cramped apartments. Andrew Singer knows his market, and even fairly wealthy New Yorkers live in small spaces. The X2 is a mere 31 inches high, unusually petite for a tower speaker.
Though the speakers are made in England, the X2's 6-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter are manufactured … Read more
The CD player's days may be numbered, but we're seeing more and more turntables. They all share the common design features of a base, platter, and tonearm, but the Townshend Audio Rock 7 turntable is decidedly less common.
In addition to those three components I just mentioned, the Rock 7 employs proprietary features, mounted on the front of the tonearm, ahead of the phono cartridge. The cartridge and its needle are designed to convert the record groove's tiniest wiggles into electrical signals, but on other turntables the tonearm is unsupported and free to vibrate at the cartridge … Read more
I heard about the Wadia 151PowerDAC from my friends at Magnepan, who make some of my favorite flat-panel speakers. They loved the way the 151 brought their fourteen-inch tall Mini Maggie speakers to life. That's great news, because when I auditioned the Minis at the factory last year (before they tried the 151) the speakers were hooked up to a massive Threshold stereo power amp. The Threshold/Maggie system was, by a large margin, the best-sounding desktop system I ever heard. Using a monster amp like that wasn't a practical solution for most buyers, but now with the … Read more
American speaker manufacturer Magnepan has just launched a program to reach potential customers who would like to test out their speakers, but don't live near enough to a store to hear them in person.
The program, "Maggie Dealer-Direct," relies on dealer expertise to advise customers, but Magnepan ships directly to the customer for a 30-day home trial (in the U.S. only). You might say Magnepan will be acting as the dealer's shipping department.
Some might wonder why Magnepan doesn't just eliminate the dealers and sell speakers factory direct, but they value the depth of … Read more
I recently dropped by EarsNova's spacious new high-end audio store, which has the best-looking showrooms I've seen in a long while. The vibe was relaxed, and the demo rooms' sound was pretty special, but it was the little Magico Q1 speaker that bowled me over.
Were my eyes deceiving me? How could this big sound come from such a small speaker? The sheer physicality and beauty of the sound required some recalibration of my senses to take it all in. Most bona fide high-end speakers are big, imposing things that dominate a room. They're so huge that … Read more
I worked in the high-end audio business for 16 years before I started writing about home theater and high-end audio. I've heard literally thousands of products, and while I've forgotten most of them, there were lots of standouts. I remember the first time I heard a high-end turntable, a Linn LP-12, and was shocked not only by its sound quality, but how it somehow hushed record surface noise, pops, and clicks. Yes, they were still there, but the noises didn't intrude as much as they do with lesser turntables.
When I was selling hi-fis, some of my customers would ask me to recommend a speaker or some other product for them. They'd say, "What do you like?" or "What's your favorite $500 speaker." Fair questions, but my answers wouldn't be all that useful. Personal taste, music preferences, room size, aesthetics, and other factors all play their roles, so my favorites wouldn't likely match my customer's needs. My role as a salesman was to help them find just the right speaker, amplifier, or turntable to fit their exact needs, not mine. It's like asking someone to pick a color for a couch or an ice cream flavor.
John Atkinson's very positive review of the Harbeth P3ESR speaker in the August 2010 issue of Stereophile magazine put me on this line of thought. The very first line of the review, "Everyone wants something different from a loudspeaker." sums up the situation nicely. Atkinson went on to point out that some listeners crave accuracy, some dynamic punch or deep, room-shaking bass, while others prize precisely focused stereo imaging. And unless you're very rich, you can't have it all, you have to prioritize the things that get your juices flowing, and downplay other aspects of sound.
Audiophiliac readers and friends query me about this all the time. "What's the best .....?" or they want a recommendation and the plain fact is, there are no simple answers to those questions. You have to listen for yourself, but brick-and-mortar stores, where you can actually compare A vs. B vs. C speakers are fading fast. People shop online to get the best deal, and rely to some degree on reviews to point them in the right direction.… Read more
"So let's go back to the office and work the numbers."
Those are the words most car buyers dread. They come just before figures are pulled out of some accountant's bottom (drawer) in a room adorned with pictures of large people playing golf.
I can offer you a smidgen of joy, should you be wishing to waft into a Mercedes dealership this Memorial Day weekend.
It seems certain of these exalted places are being equipped with iPads, so your friendly dealer can inspire you to closure without the smell of leather ever leaving your nostrils.
A new arsenal of information technology tools is allowing dealers to welcome Internet-savvy used-car shoppers.
That hasn't always been the case.
Too often, dealers and their used-vehicle sales staffs have dreaded the Web-informed consumer.
Because they have focused their homework on a single vehicle or model, those shoppers can tell the dealers what their competitors are asking for similar vehicles. They know about quality ratings, warranties, and other information.
Dealer salespeople can be at a disadvantage, especially if it's a brand they are not used to selling. For example, a salesperson at a Chevrolet dealership probably knows all about Chevrolet or even General Motors used cars but may not know nearly as much about Chrysler or Honda vehicles.
That's where inventory management vendors such as vAuto, FirstLook, HomeNet Automotive, and DealerTrack come in. They continue to refine software products that put at the reach of a salesperson's fingertips the same or better information than what the Web-surfing buyer has--for as little as $500 per month per store.
VAuto's product lets a dealer pick a radius--say, 50 miles from the store--to see prices that competitors are asking for all similar makes and models of vehicles in their used-vehicle inventories. The dealer then can show the prospective customer that his car is priced at the lower end of the market range or defend a higher asking price than a competitor's on the basis of lower mileage or better condition.
Stephen Zehring, sales manager for the Saturn store at Ingersoll Automotive in Watertown, Conn., said those tools are crucial. He said he likes Web-savvy shoppers because they should be easier to sell to than the uninformed buyer of yesteryear. The new tools allow sales personnel to reassure the shopper that the dealership is offering a fair deal, he said. … Read more
I assume most people who are reading this watched the big game on Sunday, right? Then you probably saw the cute commercial during the second half that depicted "The Green Police" cracking down on people for using environmentally unsound products. But apparently the eco-cops approve of the 2010 Audi A3 TDI Diesel--after all, it was named Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal. Earlier this week we got a chance to get the low down on what the A3 TDI clean diesel hybrid is all about. But we've yet to see what it's like … Read more