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Michael Trei

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Michael Trei Posted: Mar 10, 2006 0 comments
Flexibility and value from a Scottish benchmark.

Imagine what it would be like if shopping for a new car involved the same number of decisions we must make when buying a home theater system. First, we would pick an engine, then we'd need a chassis to mount it in, and, to top it off, we would hire a coach builder to design a body to our specifications. This is, in fact, the way people bought luxury cars prior to World War II, before the car companies came to recognize that advancing technology required them to think of the design as an integrated whole rather than as a hodgepodge grouping of discrete components.

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Michael Trei Posted: Jan 18, 2005 Published: Jan 19, 2005 0 comments
Can more really give you more?

I've always been a sucker for simplicity. Whether it's the functional beauty of a Mies van der Rohe building or a diesel-engine Mercedes-Benz with a manual-shift transmission, the "less is more" concept has always made sense to me. Unnecessary complexity often does little more than dilute a design's original functionality. This way of thinking has also been used in high-end hi-fi design, with some designers on the tweakier fringe embracing concepts like ultra-simple single-ended tube amplifiers and single-driver loudspeakers. Simple designs like these often have a straightforward clarity to their sound; each time you introduce new elements in order to make something play louder, higher, or deeper, you risk losing some of that clarity in the process.

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Michael Trei Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
Trickle-down economics, audio style.

While those on the left and right sides of the political fence are bound to debate the pros and cons of trickle-down economic theory for the rest of time, it's hard to deny the way in which many high-tech developments that began life in projects bearing stratospheric price tags eventually came to benefit the masses, in products we can use every day. Today, many of us can afford gadgets like GPS navigation systems and laser pointers, whereas a few years ago this type of technology was available only to the largest institutions and military powers. This access to technology has had a major effect on today's audio components; for example, most of the latest surround processors have far more computing power than the in-flight computer used for the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

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Michael Trei Posted: Jan 01, 2004 0 comments
The loudspeaker system for anyone who's ever considered installing a Murphy bed.

If Magnepan has a company motto, it might be something along the lines of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." For more than 30 years, this Minnesota company has been busy making its Magneplanar loudspeakers for those audiophiles who care more about great sound than they do about owning the latest candidate for loudspeaker of the month. Magnepan rarely introduces a new model; when they do, it's generally just another evolutionary step in their continual refinement of the planar magnetic approach that they use in all of their products. This conservatism breeds long-term customer loyalty, and Magnepan invariably trumps other high-end manufacturers in the areas of customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Michael Trei Posted: Mar 05, 2003 Published: Mar 06, 2003 0 comments
Yah mo b there.

Having lived in Denmark for a couple of years as a kid, I guess I've learned a little about the Danish mindset. Many Danes display a self-effacing modesty, to the extent that Carlsberg will only say that theirs is "probably the best beer in the world." Yet, in their typically understated way, this little country (with a population about equal to that of Missouri) has made deeper inroads into the lives of Americans than most people think. Just don't blame them the next time you step on one of your kid's Lego blocks.

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Michael Trei Posted: Sep 04, 2001 Published: Sep 05, 2001 0 comments
With the Image Series speaker system, PSB proves that you can cut corners without compromising performance.

Quick, which do you think would be more difficult to do: design a cutting-edge, no-compromises speaker or design a speaker that gives the best possible performance for a very affordable price? While coming up with a mind-blowing design without any cost boundaries is undoubtedly a daunting challenge, I would argue that producing a loudspeaker that can deliver killer results for a very affordable price is much harder. Making great budget speakers involves the art of compromise, knowing where you can save money without sacrificing the sonic results you're after.

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Michael Trei Posted: Mar 31, 2001 Published: Apr 01, 2001 0 comments
The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming! Arcam's first A/V receiver takes music reproduction quite seriously.

After years of lagging behind the colonies, the British are finally taking home theater—er, home cinema—seriously, and British manufacturers have started to make impressive gear using their own characteristic design approach. For years, Arcam has been made up of a bunch of die-hard two-channel-stereo types, yet the company has always been a leader when it comes to new technologies like digital radio. Although they have manufactured surround equipment for a few years now, the AVR100 is their first A/V receiver.

Michael Trei Posted: Nov 29, 2000 Published: Nov 30, 2000 0 comments
Power to the people.

There was a time when playing with audio was a lot of fun. I was a pretty tweaky guy and would regularly try out all of the latest tweaks and accessories. Then, about seven or eight years ago, I kind of burned out. I had gone to visit the home of a fellow audiophile who was so obsessed with adjusting and fiddling with things that listening to music had taken a back seat. Rather than see myself following the same path, I decided to go on kind of an antitweak rant. Sure, careful setup remains important, but enjoying music has become even more so. Consequently, when a manufacturer approaches me with some new device made from Unobtainium that's supposed to make my life better for a mere $299, I tend to get defensive. This, however, was not my reaction when I first saw the PS Audio P300 Power Plant because most of its design approach followed what I had for years thought would be a great way to deal with the crappy AC power most utilities deliver.

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Michael Trei Posted: Aug 27, 2000 Published: Aug 28, 2000 0 comments
Yamaha's flagship RX-V1 receiver has enough power and flexibility to float anyone's boat. Flagship is one of those words like ultimate and reference that just can't seem to get any respect these days. The next time we see last year's "ultimate" product superseded by this year's "improved" model, I think we should all complain to the manufacturer.
Michael Trei Posted: Jun 25, 2000 Published: Jun 26, 2000 0 comments
The B&K Reference 7260 six-channel amplifier proves to be a solid all-around performer.

Like many people, I often dream of what it would be like to have unlimited funds to buy the very best. You know, a Mercedes S500 and a Ferrari F50, along with a Hummer for those off-road adventures (not to mention a ski lodge in Aspen and, of course, a 250-foot yacht in the Bahamas). These are nice to fantasize about; however, when the reality of our lives takes over, most of us would probably buy a more-sensible vehicle like a Honda. While much of the glamour and notoriety in magazines tends to revolve around the most exotic stuff, there are companies that can give you most of that performance for a fraction of the price.

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